Author: Joshua Strittmatter | Banner: Dao Zang Moua

Iceland, December 8th, 2020. 11:31 P.M.

Cold.

That was the first thing it felt when it finally succeeded in piercing a crack through its shelled prison. Bitter, chilling cold seeped through the newly formed fracture, along with the first tiny ray of light the new life form had ever seen. The infant had been biding its time inside its protective shell, slowly growing and developing while curled up comfortably inside. How long, it did not know. But now it was too big to fit and had grown to the point of being physically mobile.

Its time had come.

Rustling sounded from within the elephant-sized egg, followed by another loud crack along its surface. The lifeform within struggled hard as it pushed against the outer shell, chittering pitifully as it desperately tried to enter the world for the very first time. The squeaks of the soon-to-be-born baby grew louder and louder as it continued to push and smack against the shell, crack after crack echoing through the starry night. The shell wouldn’t hold together for much longer, and the infant’s struggles became more intense. The egg continued to wobble around ever so slightly, a hole forming as an entire segment of shell fell off, and a tiny horn attached to a square-shaped snout poked out of it.

CRACK!

The hole finally burst wide open, and the entire dog-like head of the newborn life form finally thrust its way out and into the big, wide world.

The egg continued to crack apart as the four-legged body followed suit, finally splitting in half when the newborn revealed itself. Two floppy ears unfolded from the infant beast’s face, followed by its big eyes opening for the second time ever. A brown, scaly body ending in a lithe tail struggled to hold itself up on four little legs ending in bear-like clawed paws. A tiny horn protruded from its nose, amber in color and texture and occasionally seeming to glow every now and then from within. For a moment, the baby simply lay there flat on its belly, taking its first breaths as it relaxed after a stressful ordeal. Then, when it had regained enough of its strength, it reached out with a single little front paw, and pulled itself forward on its belly. Instinctively it reached out with its other paw and repeated the motion.

Slowly the newborn reptile crawled along the soft earth, testing its mobility–before abruptly stopping at the sight of land dipping into clear blue water.

The infant only now realized it was on an island in the middle of a vast, blue lake; silent and still, with nary a ripple in its surface. But that was not the only thought that strikes home in the hatchling’s little mind. The baby looked to its left, then to its right. Its ears picked up no sounds or vibrations from any other life forms in the area, its nose couldn’t smell any scents other than the sweet aroma of fresh cool water and the soft green grass. No matter what direction it looked in, it could see nothing but distant mountains and land on the other side of the lake.

It was then that the little reptile opened its mouth and let loose a cry, hoping to contact its parent. It was genetically hardwired in the hatchling’s instincts to know it needed a parent to nurture it, provide for it, help it survive. But its cry went unanswered. The baby cried out again, louder this time… … …and the only response it got was its own echo. Confused and afraid, the poor little kaiju screamed a third time, hoping against hope to finally get a response.

Nothing.

Its heart sinking, the infant slowly curled back up onto the ground, shivering in the chilly air. Its big eyes stared down sadly at the ground, it tucked its legs in underneath it as it lay pitifully on the edge of the little island. It knew it would have to swim across the lake at some point, to make its escape and find an area with food, but for now it didn’t have the strength. For now, the lonely animal rested its head down upon the soft earth and slowly closed its eyes, a tiny whimper escaping its throat as it waited for sleep to overcome it once again.

Lost. Afraid. And very, very alone.

*****

30 miles underneath France, 11:40 P.M.

Many miles underground, a prehistoric behemoth began to stir from a comfortable slumber. A peculiar sound had reached his ears, which twitched slightly as his eyelids slowly lifted in awakening. The four-legged beast shifted in his underground burrow as he heard the sound again, and his eyes raised in surprise. Somewhere far away, a peculiar call beckoned. A call that sounded somewhat familiar to the ancient dinosaur. Instinctively, he understood it, recognized it, and heard its meaning. Whatever it was, it called for a parent, a companion.

But most peculiarly, it sounded… young. Infantile. Maybe even newly born at that.

Stretching his legs out like a giant cat, getting the blood flowing into his system, Baragon crushed the soil underneath his claws and began to sink further into the underground void, digging his way northwest. He knew it would take him days, maybe even weeks to reach his objective, but as of now his instincts were focused solely on achieving his newfound goal. He didn’t know what he would find at the end of his journey, but somewhere deep in his gut, his instincts gave him the slightest hunch.

And so Baragon dug deeper.

*****

H.E.A.T. Headquarters, Staten Island, 9:47 A.M.
Three days later.

Nick Tatopolous let out a soft sigh as he watched a powerful snowstorm brew outside with a vengeance. Even through the closed windows and the heaters going at full power, everyone in the room could hear the wind howl eerily as mother nature raged outside. Once again, the state of New York was undergoing another hard blizzard, bathing the little island in blankets of white as high as a grown human being’s waist. In the distance, the city of Manhattan was somewhat visible through the raging clouds of snow, giving it a look of being both beautiful and haunting all the same. And Nick marveled at its beauty.

But more importantly, he enjoyed another sense that the sight of the faintly-seen city gave off: the sense of isolation from civilization. New York was a massive city with a vast population, vast enough that it more often than not felt overcrowded. And at this time of year, everyone was scattering all over the city in a mad rush to purchase Christmas decorations, ornaments and gifts like ants in an anthill that was too big for millions of inhabitants. But here he was, away from all that trouble, safe and warm in a good-sized building on a small island that he and his surrogate family called home. They had already set up their fair share of holiday-themed decorations during their spare time, and now they could all just sit by and rest–at least, until they were needed again–while watching the oddly beautiful snowstorm continue through the safe barrier that was the building’s windows, listening to its haunting whistle as a white noise to soothe their minds.

As Nick sipped the last bits of his cup of hot chocolate, he trudged over to where another one of his teammates sat; said man’s eyes fixed on a computer that showed a live feed of a giant reptilian creature slumber in a deep underground lair, Nick smiling instantly when he recognized the sleeping kaiju as his adopted son.

“How’s he doing, Mendel?” Nick asked.

“Well, he doesn’t seem to care about the cold one bit,” Mendel Craven replied as he and Nick continued to watch Zilla sleep. “Hopefully, all the world’s other mutations don’t feel the same. I could use a real holiday with no aberration of nature to spoil it-”

“That’s EXACTLY what we need!” Randy Hernandez whined behind them. “All we’ve been doing so far is sitting around watching the news while waiting for that freaking storm to let up! What we need right now is some action.” Everyone stared at him with their usual expressions of bored annoyance, clearly not sharing his enthusiasm. “Be careful what you wish for, Randy,” Elsie responded in her typical scratchy tone of voice, “You’re known to be a glutton for punishment.”

“Besides,” Nick butted in, “Everyone all over the world has their own holiday traditions and family gatherings to attend to. They don’t need some strange beast beyond mankind’s understanding ruining their quality time.”

“Too late.” Everyone instantly recognized Monique Dupre’s stoic voice and headed over to the couch which she stood behind, as she turned up the volume for the television, allowing everyone to clearly hear what the news reporter–who just so happened to be Nick’s very own fiancée–had to say.

“We are now receiving word that not one, but two separate kaiju attacks are occurring in different parts of the world,” Audrey Timmonds reported in a clearly distressed tone. “Less than half an hour ago, it was reported that a giant walrus officially dubbed ‘Maguma’ emerged off the shore of Lisbon Portugal, whom is currently out of control in Alfama. At the same time, reports of an unknown entity attacking farmers’ livestock at nightfall in Iceland have come to the attention of many scientists around the world, many of whom believe to be the work of the creature Baragon. No word yet on how H.E.A.T. or Monarch will be planning on taking action.”

At the mention of the latter kaiju, Elsie’s eyes lit up. Being a paleontologist, the crimson-haired woman would be understandably ecstatic to be able to study a kaiju that just so happened to be a species of dinosaur. And for good reason: out of all the dinosaurian monsters on record, Baragon was an anomaly. No paleontologist in existence could determine exactly what kind of dinosaur Baragon was, for he looked like nothing the fossil record had ever seen. Elsie had been dying to see him with her own eyes and study him up close–despite how dangerous she knew he was. The subterranean monster was not only one of the strangest, but also most feral and ravenously predatory kaiju currently known.

Nick turned the television off, then turned to Monique with a peculiar look in his eyes that everyone recognized. “How’s the H.E.A.T. Seeker’s motor looking?” he asked the French former-spy. She quirked her eyebrow in response. “Fully operational and ready for use,” was her reply. Nick nodded at that. “Good.” He turned to the others. “Pack up our gear, people. We’ll hit Iceland soon, but first we gotta take care of Mr. Prehistoric Pearly Whites in Portugal.”

As everyone stood to carry out their newest task, Craven’s face fell. “Ugh…I was afraid you were gonna say that,” he moaned miserably.

*****

Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Atlantic Ocean.

Bubbles of air escaped the nostrils of the legendary giant as he stirred to life after many months of slumber. His eyes flashed open as his ears intercepted not one, but two different calls; very faint and distant, but still clear enough nonetheless. Clear enough for him to, upon taking his time to listen closely, tell that between the two of them one in particular belonged to a beast that was currently on the attack.

And threatening to offset the balance of life at that.

His rocky dorsal spines lighting up with cerulean bioluminescence, the colossal alpha predator scraped the earth with his clawed hands as he summoned his mythical strength, his heart rate picking up to its average active pace. His blood flowing and his muscles feeling alive once more, the titanic reptile pushed against the earth as he lifted himself to his feet, standing to his full intimidating height. His tooth-filled jaws opened slightly, and an ominous infrasonic rumble escaped his lungs that reverberated throughout the ocean for miles, sending cold chills of fear through all living creatures in the vicinity.

With a powerful swish of his giant tail, Godzilla was off as he swam through the depths at speeds that would make a sailfish jealous. He would pay a visit to the second call that had gotten his attention in time, but as of now he had a more important matter to take care of. Apparently, some insignificant monstrosity believed it was above the laws of nature.

He had another pest to put in their place.

*****

Iceland.

The reindeer didn’t even have time to scream before it was impaled between two sets of razor teeth that then set to gulping its corpse down a huge throat. The infant four-legged dinosaur responsible for committing the act relished in ingesting his food, having finally caught a meal today. Even with all the strange, tiny wooden barriers holding numerous types of fauna, food was relatively scarce on this island. It was only day three of merely existing, and already he was struggling heavily to keep himself sustained. The hatchling could barely make a living off the island’s natural terrestrial mammals, and as a result he could only target the habitats of those small, gangly hairless primates, which were occasionally laden with hoofed mammals, if he wanted a decent meal to keep himself sustained for at least a few days.

And even those were limited in numbers. This wasn’t a good place for a 20-meter, 250-ton starving baby to thrive, and at such a young age he could barely swim and wouldn’t make it a few hundred meters if he tried to leave for better land. He had nearly given out just swimming across the lake that surrounded that little island on which he had hatched–there was no way he could make it farther than fifty meters of open ocean.

Ever so slowly, his luck was running out.

Exhaling tiredly, the lonely creature turned away from the kill site and began to crawl elsewhere. His stomach still yearned for a feast, and time was of the essence. His big, dog-like ears perked up as he listened for any familiar bleats of hoofed ungulates that he instinctually recognized as prey, anything that would lead him to finding a feast big enough to last him a few months at the very least.

A booming, screeching cry in the distance caused him to jerk his little head up, eyes widening as his underdeveloped mind was overtaken with a horrible terror. The cry was predatory and unfriendly, and he instinctively knew that if he didn’t make a run for it fast enough, he would soon be on the menu for whatever horrible beast that stalked him.

Unfortunately, the baby didn’t make it more than thirty meters or so towards the nearest small mountain before the source of the roar revealed itself.

The green gargantua, known infamously as Gaira, shrieked once more as he lifted his hideous face above a hill to scour the area for a good kill. He had swum here all the way from Greenland on a course for the heavily-populated country of Europe, stopping here along the way to find a good snack before he partook in an all-out feast on human flesh. But, immediately freezing when his cold eyes caught sight of the fleeing hatchling–who’s appearance looked somewhat familiar–the spawn of Frankenstein raised his arms into the air and let loose another piercing cry that struck terror into the poor creature that fled from him. He didn’t need a feast that was hundreds of miles away; he had one right here in front of him! With the vilest of thoughts entering his dark mind, Gaira began his descent.

The cry ran up the baby’s spine, and his survival instincts kicked into overdrive. Squealing in primal fear, the baby put all the strength he had into his little muscles as he picked up the pace, getting faster and faster with each stride. Before he knew it, he was running so fast he couldn’t halt even if he wanted too, which he most certainly didn’t. Seeing this, Gaira shrieked in fury and began his own mad dash in pursuit of the frightened infant.

On the other hand, though, they weren’t too far away from a small volcanic valley thick with layers of sulfurous fumes, underneath which their thundering footfalls gave way to awakening a different resident…

The baby reached the top of one medium-sized slope before finally pausing to rest, panting for breath like a tired puppy. But even so, he took a few seconds to look back to check on his current pursuer.

Gaira was still gaining on him.

Crying out in a mix of fear and utter misery, the baby dinosaur took one last breath before beginning his descent down the other side of the small volcanic slope–only to be stopped short when another primal shriek echoed through the mountains. A long, spindly arm ending in a three-taloned hand burst from the ground not too far away from Gaira’s position, gaining the gargantua’s attention. A second limb followed suit, then pushed down on the ground and pulled up a scaly, legless body ending in a whip-like prehensile tail and beginning in a skull-encased head, with a mouth full of multiple rows of pointed teeth. Gaira snarled a kaiju’s version of a curse word as he turned to face this newcomer, his attention on his original target all but lost.

Rearing his skeletal head into the air, the mature Skullcrawler released a battle cry towards the intruder upon his home. Gaira eagerly accepted the new challenge with a bellow of his own, raising his arms skyward in an attempt to intimidate the skull-faced lizard back. The attempt failed, and the now aggravated Skullcrawler charged.

The fleeing infant Baranosdragon all but forgotten in their minds, the giants clashed.

Leaping into the air, the Skullcrawler took Gaira by surprise as he made the first move. His prehensile tail wrapping around the son of Frankenstein like a biological rope, the two-legged reptile landed his clawed hands upon his opponent’s shoulders as he lunged for the jugular–only for a sharp-nailed hand to catch him by the throat, stopping him. An angry gag escaped the Skullcrawler’s vocals as Gaira held his upper half up with one hand. Fury glinted in his yellow eyes, and behind that a primal hunger. Gaira had come to a new decision–this larger reptile would be his new dinner! Once he had torn it apart, that was.

Baring his nails in a grabbing motion, Gaira’s free hand flew towards the Skullcrawler’s neck–only for the reptile to surprise him a second time when his jaws snapped open and a lithe, long tongue lashed out like a whip and wrapped around the hominid’s wrist, yanking it towards him before his jaws snapped down on it, drawing the first spurt of blood. Gaira growled furiously as he attempted to yank the lizard off him, but the angry Skullcrawler held fast, growling his own hatred towards him.

Suddenly, the Skullcrawler loosened his bite and dropped his body to the ground, all while keeping his tail wrapped around his enemy. Before Gaira could comprehend what he was doing, the ravenous predator lifted him clear off the ground with his tail, and with his tail only threw him forward. A thunderous quake boomed throughout the island as Frankenstein’s spawn slammed against the slope of the mountain, sending snow and earth flying in all directions. Shaking his head, Gaira groaned as he attempted to regain his senses–opening his eyes just in time as the Skullcrawler gained on him, leaping at him like an airborne crocodile. Gaira defensively held up one arm as the carnivorous kaiju landed hard upon his downed form, pressing his right arm down upon the defending limb. With the other, he pinned the green gargantua’s free hand down against the earth, rendering it useless. With that, the Skullcrawler attempted to lock his jaws around his throat, his preferred method of killing his prey.

But Gaira summoned as much strength as possible and lifted his other arm to protect it, resulting in the reptilian predator sinking his teeth into the defending appendage.

The two predators currently stuck in a deadlock, they glared daggers at one another, both looks they gave possessed the same meaning.

Your move.

*****

Lisbon, Portugal.

Maguma’s trumpeting cry rang in the ears of all within hearing distance as the colossal walrus waded further into the town. The smell of a familiar aroma–none other than the salty scent of fish–filled his sinuses, resulting in him having to follow his nose. But, of course, there were far too many humans around for his liking. They were far too noisy, far too aggressive, and far too annoying for him, and he wouldn’t tolerate them. This may be the spot to catch a feast, but he wouldn’t stay here. Not as long as these damn humans were around–

The oversized pinniped suddenly felt a small tingling sensation on his left flipper and looked down.

“All you do is eat and eat, but you never pay a dollar! Now get out for good!” the small, rover-like robot known as N.I.G.E.L. quipped in a warped voice as he held onto the tip of Maguma’s flipper with a clawed hand, injecting thousands of volts of electricity into the appendage. The giant walrus roared in response, clearly annoyed with the little rover’s attempt to shock him.

Standing on the deck of the H.E.A.T. Seeker, just off shore, Mendel Craven stood in silence at this latest Randy Hernandez prank.

Then, much to everyone’s surprise, the robotics scientist doubled over with laughter. Unlike all other pranks in the past, for the very first time Craven found this one to be funny. “Is the sky falling?” Elsie asked sarcastically, taken aback by her comrade’s uncommon reaction. After a good thirty seconds, Craven finally calmed down his laughter. “Sorry, I just thought that was too perfect,” he chuckled.

Back on land, Maguma was about to put an end to the scientist’s moment of amusement. Raising his flipper off the ground, the giant walrus glared at the little robotic pest that clung to the appendage, growling angrily. “Ooh, a moocha, am I?” N.I.G.E.L. rambled. “Well, then moocha-bye to you–AAAAAAAAAAAUUUUGH!”

Maguma’s flipper came down, flattening the poor robot to pieces and eliciting a cry of anguish from its creator. “Chill, doc. You’ve rebuilt him so many times! You can do it again,” Randy tried to reassure his colleague. Monique, confused at the earlier–and pointless–attempt to take the monster down, turned to Nick. “Why haven’t we called Zilla yet?” she asked. “He is clearly the only way to stop that creature!”

“Because the call signal was on N.I.G.E.L., and N.I.G.E.L. just got flattened for the thousandth time,” Nick answered. “Mendel, how much time until you switch to the ultrasonic signal?!” The robotics scientist’s fingers were a blur as he raced against time, knowing the civilians of Portugal didn’t have much left. “Give me sixty seconds, max!” he replied as he continued to type away at the speed of light. Thinking fast, Nick immediately began to come up with more ways to keep Maguma distracted while Craven finished his current objective. Sixty seconds wasn’t enough. “Monique, how many bullets does your–”

Nick’s sentence came to a stop when an unmistakable noise rang in his ears, causing him and his teammates to run to the other side of the deck. And their eyes widened at what they saw. A massive wave was headed for the shore, heralding the approach of another massive beast. Foaming seawater frothed and churned as three rows of rocky spines weaved in the shape of maple leaves revealed themselves to the surface, catching the eyes of all in the vicinity. At first, the unseen newcomer looked like it was going to collide straight with the H.E.A.T. Seeker.

Then, it stopped short mere inches in front of it.

Small, steady waves rocked the small ship as the team stared with wide eyes, waiting for the beast to reveal itself. There was no mistaking this creature–merely gazing upon its spines was enough. They knew exactly who it was.

“Elsie…”

“…Yeah?”

“You’re gonna be the paleontologist of the century in a few days.”

A booming rumble vibrated through their spines as the colossus finally began to rise out of the ocean, tons upon tons of seawater sliding off his majestic form and splashing back down when he finally stood to his full height. Everyone said nothing, only stared in breathtaking shock as the King of the Monsters himself waded right past the H.E.A.T. Seeker and took his first step onto dry land. Small amounts of salt water flooded a few areas around him, and he took another thunderous step forward. Not too far away, Maguma bellowed a war cry at the newly-arrived leviathan, completely unafraid. His upper lip baring his teeth in a snarl, Godzilla glared almost offendedly at the oversized sea mammal before rearing back his head, inflating his esophagus with air…

“EVERYONE COVER YOUR EARS!” Elsie cried out as she plugged them with her palms as fast as possible, everyone else complying instantly before the nuclear giant lurched forward and released the roar he made famous.

SKREEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOONK!

The roar traveled for miles, vibrating enough to make the earth shake for a good twenty seconds. With his entrance done, the monster king charged. Maguma howled angrily, accepting the challenge without a hint of fear as Godzilla rushed to meet him. Rearing his upper body back, Maguma bared his tusks as he prepared for impact.

The boom of prehistoric flesh colliding with thousands of tons of blubber rang in the air as Godzilla smashed his hands against the walrus’s upper torso and began to push him backward–only to recede in pain when the pinniped lunged downward and jabbed his tusks deep into his chest. Godzilla groaned as he grabbed hold of his enemy’s neck, pushing and shoving upward as he tried to dislodge Maguma’s tusks from his body.

With a burst of both speed and surprising strength, Maguma tackled the monster king off his feet, sending him toppling to the ground and the walrus pouncing upon him. Godzilla snarled in a mix of rage and disgust as he was pinned beneath the mammal’s thick, blubbery body, but nevertheless continued to push and shove with his legendary strength. Maguma wasted no time and raised his head into the air before quickly jabbing it back down, repeatedly stabbing the atomic dinosaur with his prehistoric icepicks. It was like watching a supersized version of a polar bear fighting a walrus, this time with the bear on the losing end of the fight. Even the mightiest predators on Earth failed a kill more often than they succeeded.

But Godzilla was no bear. Nor was he any ordinary predator. And he most certainly would not go quietly into the night.

Maguma raised his head, flinging it down in an attempt to pierce the brain of his newfound prey–only to stop when Godzilla’s hand snapped out and seized his left tusk moments before it could penetrate his skull. Taking advantage of the situation, Godzilla snapped his jaws down on the right tusk, keeping the walrus at bay before he tucked his legs in from under the aquatic mammal. Then, with his enemy right where he wanted, Godzilla flung his feet forward, kicking the massive walrus off him and sending him crashing into several houses.

Releasing a dominating bellow, the King of the Monsters returned to his feet, his segmented tail swaying like an angry cat. Maguma, however, was having a slight amount of trouble. His thick blubber was preventing him from getting back on all four flippers as fast as he wanted. Roaring in rage, the giant walrus thrashed like a beached shark as he fought to right himself.

Godzilla wasn’t so merciful to let this happen, stomping forward before wrapping his scaly arms around the pinniped’s neck and hoisting him up in a choking bear-hug. Luckily for Maguma, once again his muscle and blubber protected him from such a fate of losing air–but he was still trapped in the unforgiving grip of the most powerful creature on the planet. Godzilla sneered as he looked into Maguma’s opal green eyes, but even without any pupils or irises the walrus’ eyes did show emotion that Godzilla could understand.

There was no fear at all in this creature. Only a primordial rage. Realizing he couldn’t intimidate this kaiju into running away, Godzilla came to a decision.

As Maguma continued to thrash and buck, he heard a suspicious noise. It started out sounding like rock and earth shifting–then changed into sounding akin to a generator powering up. Unbeknownst to the huge walrus, for he couldn’t see behind him, the spines at the tip of Godzilla’s tail had begun to glow with an eerie blue light, a glow which began to travel up his back spines as the sound became louder and louder. Knowing that a horrifying attack awaited him if he didn’t do something to intervene, Maguma thrashed ever harder. Fueled by raging levels of adrenaline, he twisted and jerked, slowly slipping out of the monster king’s grasp. Godzilla lost his hold on the mammal as it jerked free at last, but it was close enough for him to let loose.

Puffing up his chest, Godzilla’s jaws snapped open and he let loose his most formidable weapon.

Maguma wailed in white-hot agony as a powerful beam of atomic radiation burst from the dinosaur’s mouth and slammed into his back, burning flesh and blubber to smithereens and pushing him back with concussive force. The tusked pinniped screamed miserably as he was pushed a clear 400 meters away from the nuclear giant before finally stopping. Godzilla sneered a deep growl, gazing contently upon the results of his handiwork. Maguma’s back had a horrible burn just above his rear end, exposing some fragments of his backbone from what he could tell. The giant walrus groaned, his head softly scraping against the earth as he lay all but prone atop several crushed houses and buildings. Onlookers stared in a mix of horror and pity for the wounded beast, unable to imagine the excruciating pain he was undergoing.

Godzilla marched towards the immobile walrus, the ground quaking with every footfall. His golden eyes fixed Maguma with an angry glare. But unlike before, Maguma’s did not give back the same look of defiance or hatred. No, now the injured sea mammal seemed to just lie there and accepted his fate, racked with too much pain to act anymore. His glowing green eyes stared up blankly at Godzilla, waiting for the nuclear reptile to finish him off.

The King of the Monsters stopped mere meters away from the walrus. And he simply stood there, barely even twitching.

Unknown to the countless souls who watched with surprise, Godzilla had fallen into deep thought. For the very first time in his 250 million years of existence, the radioactive dinosaur hesitated at taking another life. The monster king looked over the fallen Maguma, his eyes taking in the sight of his ghastly injuries. His cracked tusk, his burnt back, his charred exposed backbone all sparked something in his mind, something that he had never felt before. And to add onto his broken physique, Maguma wasn’t trying to fight back, nor struggling or even trying to escape. He lay upon the earth, still as a statue, accepting his doom under the shadow of the Alpha Predator as he waited for him to end his misery.

The monster king sighed. Deep down in his gut, Godzilla pitied the wounded walrus. He knew not why it had come here in the first place, but seeing it in a state like this, he couldn’t help but stave off the fatal blow.

But that didn’t mean he was going to let it stay here.

Picking up the groaning pinniped by his hind flippers, Godzilla hoisted him into the air with his herculean strength. Then, after drawing himself back, the nuclear titan jerked forward with all his might and threw the walrus hundreds of meters away, out to sea, where he vanished in a mighty SPLASH!

All human beings within a three-mile radius had to cover their ears once more when Godzilla released a heaven-quaking roar of triumph, announcing his position to the world. The King of the Monsters still retained his crown, and he wanted to make sure everyone knew about it. Snorting contently, Godzilla took a moment to scour the landscape for any other potential challengers, human or otherwise. None made themselves known.

It was then that he noticed something else. A small, white vessel was sailing speedily away across the surface of the sea–though it wasn’t the vessel itself that caught his attention. No, it carried something with it. A strange, peculiar scent that he had never smelled before… … …

Now curious more than anything, Godzilla trudged back into the shoreline, walking faster than usual, and leaned forward to dip beneath the surface before swishing his giant tail and propelling himself forward through the water as he set to swimming after the vessel. In order to completely avoid detection, the radioactive reptile kept swimming until he could no longer see the bottom of the ocean floor, then suddenly dove down into the darkness below. He need not worry about getting lost–he could see perfectly fine thanks to his acute vision. Once he decided he was far down enough to not be detected–if that were even possible–Godzilla continued to trail the vessel from underneath.

Despite his great speed, however, the King of the Monsters was startled to see the vessel overtake him within seconds, soon zooming far beyond his reach. For the first time in his life, he was faced with a man-made creation faster in the water than himself! Within mere seconds, it was gone! In spite of his amazement, Godzilla mentally cursed himself. He could not catch up to the vessel, no matter how hard he pushed himself. As far as he could tell, he would get no such luck investigating the source of the new scent today.

Godzilla turned North, swishing his tail and taking back off through the blue. One objective was finished, another now lay ahead.

*****

Budardalur, Northwest Iceland.

Even though dusk was approaching, every one of the village’s 266 inhabitants were wide awake with a mix of awe and dread. Horrible echoes of the cries of giants clashing somewhere far off in the distance reverberated throughout the islands, soft tremors occasionally shaking the earth beneath their feet as a testament to the unseen combatants’ thunderous battle. People stared off into the mountainous distance, eyes wide with fright as they held tightly the hands of their families and loved ones. The wind sang with distant roar after roar, and everyone could do nothing but stand and listen.

The first shift in sounds that the inhabitants noticed was a faint drumming that began to grow louder and louder, reminiscent of a speedboat engine. A few of the villagers turned to look out into the Greenland Sea, and noticed that sure enough, a relatively mid-sized boat was indeed approaching in the distance. It appeared to have something like a shark face painted on the front of its hull… … …

The second shift became a lot more threateningly obvious when a far greater tremor began to rattle the earth, causing many poor civilians to fall off their feet. The quake grew stronger and stronger, and massive cracks began to rip open the ground as people scattered in all directions. Finally, the center of the quake erupted into a colossal burst of earth and rock as a horned reptilian face lunged forth to the surface, bellowing a prehistoric roar. The thick neck and brown quadrupedal body followed suit, scaly bear-like paws slashing into the earth as the subterranean saurian stood upon the surface.

Baragon announced his presence to the populace as he felt the frigid air make contact with his skin. The cold didn’t hinder him one bit–he had reached his area of destination. His dog-like ears perking as he picked up multiple sounds at once, he turned his head from side to side as he scanned the new environment around him. Over a good two hundred human beings fled from his presence, screaming their strange howls of terror. Normally Baragon would be more than happy to plunge into the crowd and dine on such a feast, but today food was not his pull factor. Instead of pursuing the little hairless primates, Baragon stood up on two legs like a bear and released another bellowing roar that echoed across the mountains.

For a while he stood still, his ears remained perked up as he kept them peeled for any response. So far, all he heard was the distant commotion of two giant creatures duking it out somewhere in the distance, just a few miles over the mountains. Let them fight to the death for all he cared, Baragon kept his ears alert for a different response, one he had been tracking ever since he first picked it up six days ago.

His ears suddenly raised higher. A response came–but it wasn’t the one he desired.

The quadrupedal dinosaur turned around to face the edge of the sea, and his eyes immediately noticed the small, white human vessel floating on the water’s surface only two hundred or so meters away. Baragon blinked in confusion. It had seemed that the sound had emanated from the boat–and yet he knew that boats were not living organisms. They made no such sounds.

So why did he hear it making a high-pitched ringing noise, like the song of a whale? And what did that sound mean?

*****

In a deep underwater cave just a few hundred meters below the Hudson river, a giant stirred to life. Two flaring orange eyes, eyes that belonged to one of the world’s greatest champions, snapped open as their owner awoke like a giant cat. Raising his boxy head off the ground, the reptilian defender known as Zilla rose quickly to his feet. Flexing his long, muscular legs and digging his avian toe claws into the damp earth he previously slept upon, the giant reptile immediately growled and dove into the large pool of water that resided next to his resting place, taking off through the underwater tunnel at his top speed. He had heard the call, and through years of experience he knew exactly what it meant.

His family was in danger from another beast to kill.

His eyes narrowing in determination, Zilla swam faster, exiting the tunnel in seconds and speeding off into the endless blue that went on for miles.

*****

Gaira shrieked wildly, his colossal form colliding again and again with the earth as the Skullcrawler continuously lifted and smashed him like a dog with its chew toy, holding his heel in his tooth-filled jaws. The green gargantua attempted to dig his fingers into the soil to keep himself grounded, but the prehistoric cretin was too strong, and only succeeded in breaking four or five of said appendages before again he was lifted and smashed face-first into the ground. As far as the hominid could tell, until the lizard relinquished his toothy grip there was no getting out of this one. His number one priority as of now was to fight to stay awake, regardless of how many bruises his brain would suffer, and wait for the pummeling to come to an end. All he could do was endure the pain…

The Skullcrawler relished in his revenge as he continued to make a toy of this fool. Feeling the taste of blood run through his teeth, the lizard’s hunger for his opponent amplified, and thus the thrashing became more violent. Harder and harder the Skullcrawler yanked up and down, blood spattering the earth from several injuries to the green gargantua’s face as the cold-blooded creature vented his rage, until, to both of their surprise…

SNAP!

A spray of red flew into the air as Gaira was sent soaring straight up into the air like a trackball, his left leg no longer a part of his body. Blood poured from the stump as the Skullcrawler shook the dismembered leg in his jaws, growling ravenously as he began to tear it open. Gaira could be seen for miles, his bloodcurdling shrieks of agony sounding as if they could split the heavens.

And then he plummeted.

After what felt like forever all contained in seven seconds, Gaira’s 30,000 metric-ton bulk collided with the volcanic earth in a colossal spray of dirt and ash. The green gargantua’s roar of rage threatened to break the Skullcrawler’s ears, but the lizard didn’t care one bit. Slamming his tail into the ground, the Skullcrawler leaped with grim accuracy–and gagged in pain when a curled fist collided with his throat, sending him careening back.

Even with his leg ripped off, Gaira refused to give in to defeat. And with the extreme pain added to his insatiable hunger, he was now angrier than ever. Crawling on his hands, the predatory hominid pulled himself as fast as he could towards his reptilian foe. As the Skullcrawler righted himself, he saw a most grotesque sight. As Gaira began to keep himself pushed up on his hands, the injury where his left leg once was began to fester. Bones lengthened outward and snapped into place, with muscle tissue forming to cover it. Then, at the end, a five-digited appendage formed as the muscle tissue began to be covered by a new layer of green skin. Within seconds, the green gargantua had completely regrown his lost leg, and now stood up once more with a shriek of bloodlust!

The Skullcrawler shrieked right back, his eyes betraying no fear, only his very own insatiable hunger. The reptile lunged forward, covering the entire distance between him and his prey in less than a second. The Skullcrawler snapped his jaws on Gaira’s right arm with lightning speed, once more adding to the assault by wrapping his tail around his foe’s body.

But Gaira’s left hand was free to do whatever it wished.

By the time the Skullcrawler contemplated his error, it was too late. The simian savage snapped his hand forward with fingers outstretched and jabbed two of his pointed nails into the lizard’s right eye, gouging it apart in a spray of blood and eyeball fluid. A booming howl of misery resounded from his now empty jaws as he lost his grip and backed away, pawing at the right side of his face in a feeble attempt to cope with his injury. Gaira seemed to chuckle at his enemy’s agony as he stomped forward, his claws bared and ready to end this creature’s misery. The wounded reptile hissed viciously, an angry warning to back off.

The two combatants took one long moment to glare daggers at one another, each one taking a much-needed breather. Seconds turned to minutes, as the two ignored all outside sounds, instead remaining solely focused on each other. Rage glinted like fire in the Skullcrawler’s one good eye. Gaira remained unfazed, his own eyes bloodshot with a mix of animal fury and painful hunger. With both having the sole goal of feasting on one another’s flesh, the monsters released their respective war cries once more… … …

… … …and got an entirely new reply in return.

Gaira heard it well enough to temporarily stall, but to the Skullcrawler it was louder and clearer than ever. An unknown language, broken down into ultrasonic variations. A language that seemed to be… … …calling. Communicating. A beacon for something else. Perhaps it was a cry for help?

Their thoughts were put on hold when the volcanic terrain they stood upon began to rumble, a faint chorus of new, demonic cries warbling from within the depths of the earth.

Hungry for new meat.

*****

Godzilla was nearly there. The closer he approached this ancient island, one he had visited many times in the past, the more scents he began to make out. One scent he recognized instantly, a member of a species of lizards primarily found on another island he once explored. The other two, however, were like nothing he had ever smelled in his 250 million years of life. Perhaps these were more unnatural monsters. Mutants created yet again by humankind’s arrogance.

Suddenly, his ears were assailed by a new noise. Or rather, a series of noises combined into one frequency. A beacon. A signal.

A call.

But for what? Or better yet, whom?

The King of the Monsters swam faster, unaware that he was being trailed by an unseen entity.

*****

“Looks like the reports blamed the wrong culprit,” Elsie remarked as she stared at the subterranean dinosaur known as Baragon, who stood staring back at them from the edge of the shoreline.

“What do you mean?” Nick asked her.

She turned to him. “If the reports from the locals kept blaming Baragon for the attacks, then how come he’s only just shown up here?”

“Not to mention,” Randy quipped in, “if scaly Scooby Doo over there is as mean as everyone says he is, how come he’s just standing there like a drunk hillbilly instead of making Scooby snacks out of everyone around him? And why isn’t he trying to chomp up or blast us to smithereens right now?”

“Perhaps he perceives more than one location to be his territory?” Mendel speculated. “Scientists theorized that theropod dinosaurs like T. Rex may have done the same. It could be that he’s been visiting this area more than once for food.”

“Maybe… or maybe… … …” Nick wondered, holding his hand to his chin as he pondered over another possibility.

“Maybe… what?” Elsie asked.

“I think it could be possible that the reason he’s not currently attacking us is the same reason he’s here in the first place,” he explained. “I think Baragon may not be the last of his kind like we thought he was.”

Elsie’s eyes widened at the prospect. “You think there’s another one?”

“Perhaps the creature is here because it perceives the other to be a threat to his territory,” Monique gave her piece. “He may be here to see off a rival… … … or attract a mate.”

“Wait–so you’re saying that big bad rhinoceros-dog, meanest and ugliest fish in the sea, is suddenly a pacifist because he’s gone gaga over a girl?” Randy asked in confusion. “I mean, I know what that feels like from experience, but–”

A loud roar from Baragon ended his sentence flat, and the team turned to view what had raised his ire.

The subterranean dinosaur was now crawling fast on all fours, headed northeast from where he originally stood. Every now and then he held his snout close to the ground, sniffing like a colossal bloodhound before looking up as he continued to move. “Looks like rhinoceros-dog has finally found the scent he’s looking for,” Nick stated before turning to his teammates, who looked at him expectantly. They seemed to know exactly where this was going.

“Looks like there’s only one way to find out what that is, I guess,” Craven stated, though instead of moaning in fear like usual, his voice seemed to have a tone of acceptance behind it. Slapping his laptop shut, the robotics scientist put it away as his other colleagues prepared for their leader’s order.

“Wait until Zilla arrives,” Nick instructed. “Baragon hasn’t shown himself to be a threat yet, so once he gets here, I’ll have to call Zilla on standby first. Otherwise, we’ll have a pointless fight on our hands.”

As if on cue, the ocean not far away began to bubble and froth as a considerably large wave began to head inland. Behind it, the H.E.A.T. team could just barely make out the presence of a triple row of pointed spines. “The Z-Man, right on cue as always!” Randy shouted in excitement. But as the wave got closer, Nick took a better look at the spines that broke through the water’s surface–and took note of their unmistakable shape.

“No… … …” Nick shook his head, his hands grasping the deck as the wave drew closer. “It looks like we’ve been followed!”

The wave came to a halt just as it was about to hit the shore, sending small ripples against the shore and eliciting a few frightened cries from the thunderstruck civilians. Then, the water began to billow upwards, the rocky spines flashing blue as their hulking owner’s gigantic shape rose from the falling sheets of H2o.

Godzilla seemed to tower over the world itself as he stood, his nostrils exhaling puffs of vapor as he studied the new landmass. His destination was reached at last, but his objective was somewhere beyond these mountains. He would need to travel deep inland if he were to find it. Looking to his right, Godzilla saw two things that seized his attention. One was that human vessel he had attempted to track after beating Maguma. Apparently just because it had outrun him didn’t mean it had succeeded in avoiding him entirely. Perhaps his senses served him more well than he thought them capable of. Or perhaps there was a different reason it had ended up here with it. It was quite possible that, for whatever differing reasons, he and these particular humans were here after the exact same objective.

But another sight held his notice as well: that strange, floppy-eared reptile he saw trudging slowly up-mountain, seemingly oblivious to his presence. Godzilla roared out to it, only for the beast to turn its eye to him and growl back in annoyance before continuing along its set path.

Baragon snorted. He didn’t have time for this right now. He had more important things to attend to as of this moment.

Before Godzilla could start after him, the sound of a loud rush of water entered his ears. The King of the Monsters turned around, and his eyes widened a bit when he saw another massive form torpedoing through the sea in his direction, its back lined with a triple row of curved triangular spines. Faster than his eyes could keep track of, the unseen beast suddenly exploded out of the water in a powerful burst and landed a mere eighty meters in front of him. This beast was easily dwarfed by him in size, but it was lithe and slender. If Mother Nature designed a version of him that fit the necessary criteria to be a ninja, this was what it would look like.

A chorus of cheers echoed from the isle’s inhabitants as they recognized the creature, who announced his presence with a roar that seemed near-identical to Godzilla’s own. “Ladies and gentlemen,” Randy cheered as he pumped his fist in the air, “he’s lean, he’s mean, he’s New York’s Lizard King!”

Standing horizontally on his theropod-esque legs, the reptilian champion known as Zilla stared his infamous namesake down with his fiery orange eyes, not a hint of fear or intimidation present. He didn’t care how massive or unfathomably powerful this colossus was–if he had to fight the most powerful creature on the planet just to keep his family safe from harm, then he would do so without hesitation. But to his relief, Godzilla didn’t seem to regard him as an enemy. The King of the Monsters seemed to be holding his ground, but no clear signs of straightforward aggression were present. Seeing this, Zilla backed up a little, giving the nuclear giant some room to calm his nerves.

Water frothing just offshore caught both saurians’ attention. Their heads snapping in the direction of the ocean, the two giants watched as a third kaiju emerged from the deep and began to waddle ashore. Godzilla’s eyes raised in surprise at this one. Howling his familiar cry, Maguma flopped his way over to the prehistoric Alpha Predator, who was starting to wonder if sparing the giant pinniped’s life was a decision he would come to regret. Zilla hissed and bent low to the ground in a defensive posture, immediately standing in front of the H.E.A.T. seeker to protect them.

Nick stared at his adopted son in ceaseless amazement. Zilla’s loyalty to his family never wavered, even in the face of odds that revealed to him his true heritage. He would fight to the very last breath to keep them unharmed, regardless of whom or what he faced. “This is gonna be better than the final round of the Super Bowl!” Randy’s excited holler silenced Nick’s train of thought.

But as the gigantic mammal came to a halt in front of Godzilla, the most amazing sight transpired. Maguma shared a stare with the monster king for a moment… … …and then, with a low rumble, lowered his head to Godzilla’s feet, bowing before the massive dinosaur. Godzilla’s eyes lost their defensive look, replaced by one of surprise. Everyone was speechless as they stared at the astonishing spectacle, Randy having mentally decided that this was even better than what he had initially been hoping to see.

After keeping his bow for a good fifteen seconds, Maguma lifted his head to meet Godzilla’s gaze, and the monster king nodded. The look in Maguma’s eyes was entirely different from what Godzilla had seen in their earlier conflict. The tusked mammal was not bowing to his defeater out of fear, for Godzilla saw none in his eyes, but it appeared that their battle had instead awoken something new within the walrus.

Respect.

However, the moment was then broken when a new series of sounds reached the ears, and one that no living soul wanted to hear. The island itself seemed to fall silent with fear as the demonic cries grew louder and louder, as if just beginning to emerge from the depths of the earth itself.

Looking amongst themselves, the three monsters all seemed to nod, coming to the same decision. Together, as fast as their respective legs–or in Maguma’s case, flippers–could carry them, the trio set off upwards, ready to meet whatever new threat that awaited them behind the mountains they trudged towards.

On the H.E.A.T. Seeker, Nick turned to his teammates. “Now, we follow them,” he affirmed with a grin.

*****

Gaira shrieked in alarm as the volcanic vent in front of him cracked open, spewing hot gas and expelling a nightmarish skull, triangular in shape and equipped with jaws filled with hellish teeth. The beast screeched as it pulled itself from the depths of the earth, snapping its arms upwards to reveal they were actually leather wings. As the creature screeched a bone-chilling cry, nine others like it began to crawl from the fissure in its place, warbling hungrily. The Skullcrawler backed away, hissing defensively as the first of the winged demons turned its predatory gaze towards him. Raising his arms like the feral barbarian he was, Gaira tried to intimidate the new arrivals.

But Gyaos, the Shadow of Evil, knew no fear. One instinct and one instinct only drove their primeval makeup–hunger. And these two walking piles of meat would suit them just fine.

Her blood-red flesh glinting with watery dew, the lead Gyaos screeched devilishly and took flight, the nine others that now surrounded her following suit. Their gaping mouths glowed an eerie yellow, heralding the arrival of their signature weapon. Gaira raised his arms, but this time in defense as the horrible birds let loose their infamous sonic beams.

The Skullcrawler was caught completely off-guard as the barrage of yellow rays cut hideously into his flesh, eliciting a primal scream of agony from the two-legged lizard as he instantly set to trying to dodge the cutting beams of death. Gaira wasn’t faring much better than the bony cretin, his hand and fingers shredded apart in showers of blood and crimson cuts lacerated with ruthless precision into his arm and torso. The son of Frankenstein screamed in mindless rage as he jumped into the air, trying in vain to grab at the featherless vultures, only to be met with excruciating failure and fall back to the earth below with a THUD!

Then, the moment he hit the ground, three of the Gyaos dove.

The winged monstrosities were certainly living up to their title as they enshrouded the green gargantua in their shadows, one slashing into his face with its talons while the other two hooked their terrible jaws into his arm and side. Their bites were so painful, Gaira was beginning to wonder whether or not he even wanted to live anymore.

Things only got worse when a fourth Gyaos attacked from behind, tearing mercilessly at the hominoid’s back with its hooked claws. But Gaira was not out of options just yet.

Screeching mightily, the spawn of Frankenstein jabbed out an arm and seized one Gyaos by the throat with his razor-nailed fingers, digging them into the reptile’s neck. The caught Gyaos could only gag in defiance before Gaira dug his ugly underbite into its throat, tearing it out before throwing its dying body away. The corpse hadn’t even hit the ground before two other Gyaos set upon it, displaying their cannibalistic tendencies in full gruesome detail.

The Skullcrawler screeched as he ran, sonic beams lighting up the ground around him. Some he was lucky to dodge, while others carved more horrible wounds into his scaly hide. Unfortunately, his breath began to grow more ragged and painful as his movements slowed. His stamina was running out, and he could not keep avoiding these horrible gargoyles for much longer. Screaming in misery, the Skullcrawler leaped bodily into the air on instinct, trying desperately to catch one of the foul creatures and lessen the assault he found himself faced with–and was met only with failure.

That was the last straw.

As sonic beams lit up the landscape, the Skullcrawler fled without a backwards glance. He had nary a clue as to how he had slumbered alongside these foul creatures and never detected or awoken them in any way shape or form, but he cared not. These terrible beasts were far beyond his capabilities to handle as far as he was concerned. He was a mere animal, and he wasn’t built for this. If he stuck around, he wouldn’t survive the oncoming feeding frenzy.

The lead Gyaos wailed a cry that would’ve made even the denizens of hell wet themselves, and three of her subordinates chased after the receding reptile while the others descended down on Gaira. Slashing his left hand from side to side, the green gargantua tried to keep the demented fiends at bay, but unfortunately the Gyaos were more agile than they looked. Whether by destiny or fate, his nailed hands scored a direct slash across the lead Gyaos’ face, earning an ear-splitting screech that threatened to break the sound barrier.

If destiny was behind such an occurrence, then karma certainly didn’t want to feel left out.

Screaming in unquenchable bloodlust, the red Gyaos snapped her head back up and fired her sonic scalpel point black in Gaira’s face, slicing straight through his right eye and birthing a burst of gory puss that made the Gyaos’ stomachs rumble loathingly. Gaira practically lost all sense of self as he reeled back, his screams of agony making the earth itself quake.

A dinner bell for the Shadow of Evil.

Denouncing the half-blinded hominoid with their screeches, the Gyaos all let loose their sonic beams upon their prey. Crippled beyond comprehension, Gaira barely had time to react as the death rays carved his body apart like hell-forged knives that couldn’t be grasped or stopped. His arms, legs, face, torso… … …all came away in bloody pieces that gave off an odor so sour that even Earth’s mightiest creatures would’ve been tested to their limits. Soon, the once horrific devil that had terrorized so many was nothing more than a grisly pile of disgusting, mutated flesh.

Such a sight would have driven even the most hardened scavengers away, but not the Gyaos. In less than a second, the Shadow of Evil had encompassed the bloody husk, feasting like starving dogs. Rivers of red stained the volcanic soil as the Gyaos dined. Their stomachs were like that of a crocodile–they could digest just about anything, only far faster. Even Gaira’s once infamous teeth were picked off by the reptilian vultures.

But the Gyaos were so caught up in their feast, they failed to notice Gaira’s severed pinkie inching out of the chaotic uproar, slowly creeping into the distance like a mindless caterpillar.

*****

The infant all but limped through the mountains, his stomach growling loudly every few seconds. The hatchling didn’t need to have a fully developed brain to know that he was starving to death. The ache in his belly was so painful, he felt that at any moment it would eat him alive from the inside out. Miserable squeaks left the baby’s throat as he crawled, birds taking flight from the trees he trampled in his way.

Had his eyes possessed tear ducts, the baby’s face would be soaking. If this was all life was, then he didn’t want it. All he had felt from the moment he had entered this plane of existence was fear and pain. Everything was so big, so loud, and everything he had come across wanted to end his life as quickly as it had begun. But the worst pain of all was that everything he needed to grow, to survive, was nowhere to be found. He needed a guardian, a caretaker to teach him how to survive in such a world.

He needed a parent.

The baby’s legs began to shake like dying trees, unable to go much further. His eyes began to lose focus, his vision beginning to waver between normal and blurry. His movements began to slow, his breathing erratic… … …

The Skullcrawler howled in hunger as he burst from the tree line like an alligator, clamping his jaws around the baby’s neck before proceeding to shake his head from side to side. The infant screamed in agony and tried to struggle, but his body felt too weak. He was trapped in a situation he couldn’t escape. His attacker growled savagely as he felt the first droplets of blood flow between his teeth, his hunger amplifying tenfold. He hated that he had been forced to abandon his battle with what could’ve been a much larger meal, but as of now he had just managed to outrun the Gyaos, and the meal before him would suit him perfectly.

Lifting his quarry above the ground, the Skullcrawler threw his head down and slammed the baby into the ground, a painful shriek echoing across the island. Snarling cruelly, the ravenous predator lifted and smashed again, trying to break the baby’s neck. So engrossed in his frenzy was the Skullcrawler, that he didn’t notice the ground beginning to vibrate in rapid succession, growing greater in intensity with each tremor. The Skullcrawler lifted his head and smashed the infant against the earth a third time, the rumbling of the ground drowning out the oncoming footfalls…

Baragon only bellowed in outrage when he was right on top of the reptilian predator. The Skullcrawler stopped and jerked his head to look at him in shock. He tried to move, but he was far too late–Baragon stabbed his horn straight through his neck, impaling him. A hideous retch gagged from the lizard’s jaws as Baragon charged him straight into the side of a rock face, pushing his horn deeper through his neck–and then, with a jerk of his head, the quadrupedal dinosaur ripped it straight out thus tearing the lizard’s throat wide open. But that wasn’t the end of it. With another furious roar, Baragon backed up before charging into the fallen Skullcrawler. His horn pierced a hole in the reptile’s chest, before he backed up and charged again.

Over and over he charged the child’s attempted killer, goring bloody trenches into its frail body until he felt he had loosed enough of his rage. With a feral growl, Baragon finally retreated, leaving the mortally wounded but still-living Skullcrawler to lay unmoving on the ground, its body still twitching with choked breathing as its body became surrounded by an ever-enlarging pool of its own blood.

Demonic cries broke the silence as three winged cretins descended on the dying Skullcrawler, ripping madly into his flesh. Baragon backed away with a startled roar. His body broken and his flesh being ripped from his bones, the Skullcrawler lay helpless as the Gyaos frenzied upon the once terrifying predator, eating him alive.

Instinctively, Baragon didn’t wait. His horn glowing with internal light, the subterranean dinosaur launched his infamous magma heat ray just as one of the winged cretins turned to look at him. Its body was set ablaze instantly, and the Atlantean creation howled a devilish cry as it reeled. Baragon tried to sweep his breath over the other two, but they dove away just in time. A second heat ray burst from the dinosaur’s jaws, engulfing the first Gyaos, and the horrible bird loosed a dying shriek as its flaming body collapsed to the ground.

A scream of pain from behind spurred Baragon into action. Whirling around with a snarl, he spotted the other two Gyaos descending on the baby, giving it the same treatment as the now-dead Skullcrawler. Lowering his head, Baragon charged like a rhinoceros. The first Gyaos fired a sonic scalpel, but the dinosaur ignored it before closing the distance and impaling the evil beast’s throat with his horn. The second Gyaos fired another sonic beam, but Baragon thrust his quarry in the way, and the yellow projectile of death lanced straight through its neck, perfectly decapitating it.

Jutting his horn free, Baragon gave zero breathing room to the third Gyaos as he pounced at it. But the winged kaiju struck equally as fast and managed to hook its ugly jaws around his neck. Beating on the dinosaur with its wings, the Gyaos chewed and thrashed as it held the dinosaur in what it thought to be a killing grip–a concept that the subterranean saurian would prove wrong. As strong as the Gyaos was to hold against the dinosaur, Baragon had a much stockier girth, and when he pushed back, the Gyaos could put up no defense. Bringing his forelegs down like a bear, Baragon brought his enemy straight to the ground before he plunged his fangs into its neck. Beating its wings furiously, the Gyaos screeched into Baragon’s face as it’s throat glowed yellow, heralding the approach of its signature weapon.

It was the last sound it would ever make before Baragon wrenched his head to the side, ripping its throat out.

Baragon didn’t even watch the horrible beast die; screaming his triumph to the sky, he simply turned his back on the perishing Gyaos, satisfied that it would be joining its kin in oblivion. However, as he turned, he noticed that his objective was no longer standing where it had been moments before. A tiny groan made his left ear perk up, and he pointed his snout in the direction of the noise. Baragon’s eyes widened a bit at what he saw.

Only now, in this moment of stillness with no combat or struggling for survival, did the ground-dwelling saurian fully comprehend what he had been protecting from the winged predators moments before, what he was really seeing in front of him. Crawling slowly along its stomach, moaning miserably, was an infant of his species. An infant Baragon.

And it was starving horribly.

Baragon acted without thinking. Had there been any onlookers to glimpse the spectacle, they would’ve gasped nervously as the dinosaur moved towards the helpless infant, presuming he would attack it. It was expected, after all–in the animal kingdom, the males of nearly every species would be prone to attack and kill and sometimes even cannibalize infant members of their species, especially those who were not their own offspring. But what followed instead would cause great conversation in the scientific community for years to come. Lowering his head, Baragon nudged against the baby’s rear end, eliciting a surprised squeak in reply, but nevertheless began to push the infant in the direction of one of the Gyaos corpses.

The moment the baby was within arms reach of the body he dug into it madly, and Baragon watched with relief as at last the youthful cub could finally fill his stomach. Small but powerful jaws ripped chunks of cooked flesh and swallowed them contently with bite after bite. All the while, the once ravenous dinosaur that was Baragon stood silent as a tree, not so much as touching or even moving towards the infant.

*****

“Oh, my god… … …” was all Elsie Chapman could mutter as she watched the incredible sight before her.

“Seems we were wrong right from the start,” Nick added quietly, making sure not to speak loud enough for the resident kaiju to hear. “Baragon was never after a mate. Nor was he seeking to eliminate any territorial threats.”

At this, Craven raised his eyebrow perplexedly. “But why would an infant turn him so docile? Unless that baby is his biological child, I can’t see why he isn’t attacking it instead. I mean…don’t most male animals in general often kill infants of their species, especially if they aren’t their own? In fact, don’t male reptiles in general not take care of their young?”

“Not entirely true,” Elsie replied. “Male mugger crocodiles from India stay behind to raise their offspring alongside their mates. Plus; many species of birds, such as emus and ostriches, partake in male-only parenting while the female simply strikes off on her own. It’s quite possible that Baragon’s species is the same way.”

“Furthermore, it’s not out of the ordinary for animals, male or female, to adopt offspring that aren’t their own,” Nick added. “It’s an altruistic behavior that ensures both parental experience for a future parent and a means of carrying on a future generation, even if that offspring is only distantly related. Recently, a lioness in Africa was spotted adopting a leopard cub due to having just recently given birth to her own litter of cubs.”

“One question though, compadre: how is Godzilla–the real one–gonna react to baby Baragora here?” Randy quipped. “What are we gonna do if he doesn’t take kindly to rhinoceros-dog becoming a proud papa?”

Nick simply motioned to the Gyaos corpses. “I don’t think Godzilla is here for the baby–or at least, if he was, then his priorities changed. Remember, Godzilla only appears when some kind of threat is disrupting nature’s balance–something the Gyaos do for a living.” He nodded at the remains of the slain birds. “I think the moment the Gyaos crawled back out of the woodwork, Godzilla made destroying them his top priority.”

“Which begs another question,” Monique interjected. “How many Gyaos are still around? I thought Gamera destroyed them all in the Great War of 1999?”

“Who knows,” Nick replied ominously, “We know so little about the Gyaos. They’re an irregularity, not even natural animals no matter how you try to slice it. Regardless, what we do know is that we can’t rely on Gamera to exterminate them this time. Godzilla and Zilla have to follow in his footsteps.” He turned back to the sight in front of him. “They’re gonna have to finish what he started.”

*****

Zilla was the first to stop walking.

The massive lizard was sniffing the air like a bloodhound, a confused growl surging in his throat. Godzilla and Maguma noticed their ally’s behavior and halted alongside him, watching him intently. They knew the irradiated iguana wasn’t stupid–something was up, and Godzilla believed him on it. It wasn’t long before the monster king’s nostrils were assailed by the same vile scent and he cocked an eye, unsure of exactly what to make of what he had caught wind of. Maguma followed his new friend’s motion; he smelled it too.

Godzilla wasn’t sure which scent he wanted to go after–the one he had been tracking since his mission began, or the new vile ones he had smelled from the moment he stepped foot on the island. He knew that somewhere on this landmass there was a danger that needed to be dealt with, but he also had no clue what the other scent that he had been tracking from hour one belonged to. Was it a hazard to the world as well? Because while strange, there didn’t seem to be anything threatening about it.

Perhaps they should split up. Cover more ground… … …

And then the vile scent assailed their nostrils, growing stronger every second. Any thought of pursuing the second option vanished when Godzilla grumbled to his fellow monsters, ordering them to keep tracking their main target.

*****

Baragon raised his head with widened eyes as his nostrils caught wind of a most disgusting aroma. He rumbled a soft growl to the infant, who ceased eating and looked up at his larger relative with confusion. When a demonic shriek pierced the air, the baby screamed in fright and crawled quickly behind the larger saurian. Baragon growled more ferociously this time as he bent low, ears furled defensively as his eyes caught sight of the approaching threat.

The Shadow of Evil had found them.

The Gyaos howled horrifically with hunger, their terrible shrieks seemingly distorting the air in front of them as they homed in on their target on a flurry of leather wings. And leading them; towering over her fellow peers and clad in blood-crimson skin, her evil yellow eyes glinting with sadistic delight, was the Super Gyaos.

The infant Baranosdragon shivered violently in terrible fear under the legs of the adult as he watched the Gyaos approach. Baragon seemed to notice his terror, and instinctively stepped over to shield him from the arriving swarm. The subterranean dinosaur was never one to face up against such impossible odds, but he hadn’t come all this way to seek the last hope of starting a better life just to give up. If it was a meal these detestable demons wanted, then he would make them choke on their own blood. Standing up on two legs like a bear ready to defend his cub, Baragon raised his ears in anger and roared louder than he had ever in his millions of years of life.

“Baragon’s not one of the stronger kaiju in the roster,” Elsie cried out, “he can’t handle this many at once! Especially with a Super Gyaos leading the charge!”

Not a second later did Nick turn to Craven. “Mendel–”

“Like you even had to ask!” the robotics scientist replied with a smile as he pulled out his laptop, typing away in less than a second.

Baragon’s horn glowed with amber light, an intimidation display in an attempt to ward off his soon-to-be attackers. The six Gyaos screeched, the air warping and distorting in front of their gaping jaws as they ignored said display and prepared to unleash their most formidable weapons. But all eight kaiju ceased activity when a familiar, high-pitched frequency stung the air. The monsters tilted their heads in confusion as they stilled for a moment, each one trying to take in what that strange… … …call exactly was. Baragon perked his ears as he listened further, waiting to see whether or not the source would call out yet again. The dinosaur’s ears twitched. He could’ve sworn he felt–

A lance of white-hot agony speared into Baragon’s scaly form, spilling a trail of crimson life fluid to taint the ground. The reptilian quadruped howled in misery as his chest bled, setting the Gyaos’ hunger levels to maximum. They wouldn’t wait any longer. With another hideous scream, the Super Gyaos set her underlings upon the dinosaur like starving hyenas. Despite his excruciating injury, Baragon snapped back to reality and reacted fast. His horn flashed like a beacon, temporarily stunning the screeching Gyaos long enough for him to let loose his Magma Heat Ray.

The Gyaos it struck yowled like an injured cat as it screeched its sonic beam into the air, its flesh scorched like Christmas Chicken as it fell back. Roaring, Baragon charged the devilish beast, but a pair of sonic beams lanced into his shoulder, stopping him. A vicious shriek invaded his ears as a set of ugly jaws locked around his neck in a vice-like grip. Baragon bellowed as he attempted to thrash his attacker; the Gyaos increased the strength of its grip as it held on like a crocodile.

Another shriek from behind the subterranean dinosaur, shortly before a second and third Gyaos began to assault him from behind, raking his back with their savage talons. Growling in both pain and fury, Baragon lashed out and slashed one of his attackers across the face in a spray of violet gore. Its left eye taken out, the injured Gyaos howled and recoiled. Baragon fired his heat ray upon the wounded beast, causing it to fall to the ground in agony. However, there were still two of the beasts inflicting injury upon him to deal with, and they needed dealing with quickly.

A body larger than his own slammed into Baragon, tackling him to the ground and locking its talons into his sides. The Super Gyaos grabbed the dinosaur by the neck and shook like a dog as she held her cornered prey, but no sooner than she attacked did Baragon retaliate. His horn flashed once more, causing the lead Gyaos to rear back with a surprised screech. Her grip loosened long enough for the horned reptile to fire his heat ray once more, driving the hideous beast back.

A scream of pain reached Baragon’s ears, one of an entirely different sort from his winged opponent. And he was spurred into action immediately. Ignoring his freshly carved wounds, the saurian beast clambered to his feet just in time to see the other Gyaos attacking the terror-stricken infant, almost seeming to cackle sadistically as they did so. His prehistoric blood boiling with wrath, Baragon stormed towards the Atlantean killers with a powerful battle cry. Three of the beasts were lucky to flap away just in time–one, however, was struck at full force by the infuriated ‘father.’ His horn pierced its chest like a knife through butter, the force of his skull impacting its chest caving its ribs inward, piercing organs and misshaping muscles. Baragon didn’t even give it a chance to scream before he floored it under his claws; with one quick motion, he lunged forward and speared his horn straight through its face.

The Gyaos shuddered once, then stilled.

That left five more to deal with.

Baragon reacted instinctively; he leaped in to shield the infant’s body just as the other monsters unloaded their sonic scalpels. The four-legged dinosaur howled out in agony and distress as the relentless flow of light-forged knives cut hideous slashes into his ancient flesh, his crimson blood spilling to mix with the puddles of violet that lay stained upon the battlefield. But despite the pain, Baragon held perfectly still, his determination to protect the last member of his all but extinct species an immovable rock to the Gyaos’ malice. Nevertheless, the Gyaos persisted, their stomachs rumbling hungrily as they continued to slowly carve the ancient reptile apart; the infant howling in despair as his ‘parent’ drew closer and closer to the verge of death.

Baragon could hold his ground for as long as he liked–he could not do it forever.

A trio of booming roars ended the assault, causing all seven kaiju to look up.

The ground quaking with every mighty step he took, Godzilla glared at the repulsive creatures as he rumbled a hateful growl. His muscles flexing in preparation for the combat to come and his claws grasping the air in anticipation, Godzilla roared his denouncement to the Shadow of Evil as he led his two newfound comrades into war. To his left, Maguma howled at the Gyaos with fearless resolve, rearing up to display his tusks. And to the monster king’s right, Zilla roared along with his kingly namesake, his body tensed to spring at the reptilian vultures at any moment. Together, the monstrous trio marched towards the disgusting blight that was the Gyaos, ready to wipe them off the face of the earth for good. The Shadow of Evil responded to their cries with their hollow shrieks, eyes narrowing in feral eagerness.

Mendel Craven smiled. “It worked!”

Beside him, Randy put a hand on his shoulder. “I hate to admit it, Doctor. C, but I’m really glad you invented that ultra-frequency-whatchamacallit!”

“We better pull back soon,” Nick spoke up, “things are gonna get ugly.”

His notion couldn’t be closer to the truth. Screaming madly at once, the Gyaos all flapped their wings as they flew towards their new opponents, every bit as eager to dine on their flesh as they sounded. The ground began to rattle more powerfully as Godzilla hunched over and barreled into a charge, roaring loud enough to rattle the heavens. Zilla released his own respective bellow and sprinted ahead of him, ready to meet the revolting beasts head-on. And Maguma flopped onward as fast as he could carry himself, daring the Gyaos to come at him. The Super Gyaos screeched evilly as she rushed to meet Godzilla. Her underlings could handle the others–Godzilla was hers and hers alone to face.

Sonic beams lit up the landscape as the battle began.

The Super Gyaos locked her terrible jaws on Godzilla’s neck like a cougar attacking a deer, her cruel teeth piercing his armored flesh with ease. Radioactive blood running forth from the wounds, Godzilla bellowed even louder when the crimson bird slashed away at his stomach with her talons. Godzilla swiped to grab her, but she let go and powered away just in time. Growling with frustration, Godzilla charged at her like a bull, but a sonic scalpel to his shoulder made his eyes widen as a most horrific agony shot through his body. Clutching his shoulder as if his arm were gonna fall off, Godzilla howled with pain before a second sonic beam lanced into his chest, cutting through scale and muscle alike.

The monster king ducked just as the Atlantean creation fired a third time, and ran forward almost immediately. Godzilla did his best to ignore the searing pain when it turned low and stabbed into his back, but decided it was worth it when he successfully rammed into the winged wretch with his full brute power. The Gyaos shrieked as she was floored to the ground, and before she could attempt to lift back off she was grounded underfoot by the mighty King of the Monsters. A fourth sonic beam flew from her gaping jaws as her last defense, piercing Godzilla’s stomach and forcing him to back off. The very moment the dinosaur’s foot lifted off the reptilian vulture, the Gyaos was on him. Snapping her teeth over his face, the genetic abomination yanked her head down and slung Godzilla flat on his stomach, eliciting a painful groan from the nuclear beast.

But Godzilla would prove full of surprises.

The monster king suddenly pushed forward with his arms to lunge like an alligator, snapping his teeth down upon the Super Gyaos’ leg.

*****

Maguma swiped at the Gyaos in front of him but missed by a wide margin. The cackling filth mocked him with its screeches as he swiped again, but with a flap of its wings it dodged yet again. The Antarctic walrus bellowed in frustration as he powered himself forward on his blubbery body, rearing up to try and impale the genetic abomination, only for it to flap out of his reach yet again. The moment his tusks hit the ground, however, the Gyaos lunged forth and bit down on the back of his neck. Maguma howled in pain and reared up to try and dislodge his attacker; a ploy that only half-worked, for the Atlantean beast ripped its head back and tore a bleeding chunk of flesh from his body with it before retreating. Gulping down its tasty prize, the Gyaos was more dangerous than it had been moments prior. Maguma’s flesh tasted fantastic–it craved more!

Screeching hungrily, the genetic demon swooped in like a hawk and swiped at Maguma’s burnt back with its talons. Despite the pain the walrus whirled around to swipe his tusks at the detestable devil, but it was already out of harm’s reach. Eyes narrowing and nerves snapping in an instant, Maguma whirled around and swiped again, just as the Gyaos tried to swoop in from the front, the winged beast flapping back just as the pinniped’s tusks swiped barely past its neck.

The Gyaos screamed for blood and let loose its sonic beam, the lethal projectile stabbing deep into the walrus’ neck to bring forth a howl of agony. The bloodthirsty beast grinned sadistically and fired a second blast into his neck–and raised an eyebrow in surprise when the pinniped fell to the ground with a defeated groan.

His eyes open, his head laying low, the walrus didn’t move.

The Gyaos screeched hungrily as it landed, trotting over the corpse of its fallen foe. Announcing its triumph to the world with a devilish cry, the Atlantean scourge hopped atop the carcass and sank its jaws into the plump, blubbery neck–and screamed in shock when Maguma burst to life with a powerful battle cry! With his superior weight, the oversized sea mammal easily tackled the winged devil and pinned it beneath his blubbery bulk. The Gyaos warbled angrily as it fought to break free, the air in front of its gaping maw beginning to distort as it charged its sonic beam. But Maguma reacted too fast to let it get the chance to use it; with a downward thrust of his mighty tusks, the Antarctic walrus impaled the demonic bird straight through the heart in a spray of purple gore.

A dying gurgle resounded within the Gyaos’ throat as it just barely managed to raise its head… … …then lowered it with closed eyes as its ruptured heart ceased beating.

Pulling his bloodstained icepicks free of the revolting corpse, Maguma howled in triumph, for one less foe needed dealing with. But his call of victory turned to a cry of anguish when another sonic beam lanced into his side, and a second Gyaos lashed forth to swipe past his face with its cruel talons. Maguma held his ground as the abominable bird breathed in to fire a second time–only for the Gyaos to be suddenly blasted from behind by a searing river of flame. The savage carnivore whipped around to see its attacker, and was surprised to see Baragon still standing, despite the savage injuries he had sustained.

The Gyaos flapped its wings as it prepared to charge, but before it could do so it was floored underneath a blubbery body that crushed the air out of its system. As the horrid creature attempted to breathe, Maguma wasted no time and impaled the Gyaos’ skull with one of his tusks, ending its life then and there.

Maguma briefly locked eyes with his dinosaurian savior–then collapsed into unconsciousness from the searing pain.

*****

Zilla screeched an elephantine cry when a sonic beam cut into his back, just next to his spinal cord. The Gyaos above him had been doing nothing but hovering around in circles, spamming him with its sonic scalpel. The irradiated iguana noted this pattern immediately, knowing to avoid that attack from this moment on. Sure enough, another sonic beam lashed into existence from the Gyaos’ jaws, but this time the champion of New York leaped to the side with ease, avoiding it. The Gyaos screeched and fired again, but Zilla sidestepped it once more.

The winged cretin suddenly lunged down like a hunting falcon, jabbing its talons into Zilla’s boxy snout and biting down on his forehead. Thrashing around with a screeching hiss, Zilla snapped in a vain attempt to break free of the vile predator’s foul grasp, a task that proved easier said than done despite the latter’s inferior size. So, rather than trying to force his way out through sheer force, Zilla began to swat the predatory pest like a cat would a mouse. The very moment the Atlantean abomination loosened its clawed grip by the slightest, the mutant iguana struck; lashing out like a leopard, Zilla slammed a paw against the Gyaos, sending it flying back several hundred meters away.

However, the foul beast was cunning, and scrambled to its feet to flap its wings and power back into the air just as Zilla launched his thermonuclear fire, the emerald flames scorching the earth where the Gyaos had been laying two seconds ago. A sonic beam flew from the Gyaos’ jaws in retaliation, but the giant reptile ran to the side like a cheetah, dodging it with ease. His spines flashing, Zilla fired his atomic ray a second time, but the Gyaos flew to the side to evade it. But such a move had been predictable for the giant saurian; Zilla suddenly dashed forward at his top speed, leaping into the air like a grasshopper towards the winged demon. The Gyaos shrieked as it narrowly avoided the lizard’s crunching jaws as Zilla flew through nothing but thin air before landing upon the solid earth in a crouch.

The Gyaos lunged down, firing a sonic beam that sliced into Zilla’s calf in a squirt of red. As the giant lizard hollered in pain, the Gyaos latched its terrible jaws and talons onto Zilla’s tail. But as the beast began to shake its head to tear the appendage, Zilla suddenly whipped his body in the creature’s direction, smacking the Gyaos to the ground a second time–and this time, Zilla took immediate advantage of its predicament. With a graceful bound, Zilla landed atop the thrashing Gyaos, toe claws crunching bone and wing membrane as he did so.

Still, the horrid cretin refused to die so quickly, and shot forth yet another sonic scalpel that sliced through his right leg like it didn’t exist. Zilla howled a hellish cry as he stumbled, the excruciating agony making his vision begin to turn white and his lower body numb. The Gyaos seized its chance and flew forward, knocking Zilla off his feet with its wings. He was all but helpless before the Shadow of Evil, which lunged to sink its ugly teeth into his throat and immediately began shaking like a rabid wolf in an attempt to rip it out.

But like the Gyaos, Zilla too refused to lose his life so easily.

Lashing out with his hand, the mutant iguana slashed the evil beast across the eye with a clawed hand in a burst of purple gore, eliciting a scream of pain so loud it broke the sound barrier–but Zilla didn’t care. Snapping his head in the Gyaos’ direction, a flash of light streaked across Zilla’s dorsal scutes as a stream of emerald flames burst from his gaping maw. The atomic ray engulfed the half-blinded Gyaos, the roar of the searing fires drowning out its screams as Zilla didn’t let up and continued to fire. Even within the roaring firestorm, he could see the thrashing body of the Shadow of Evil, dancing and kicking like a chicken burning in the pits of hell. With a final scream, the Gyaos fell to the ground to die, Zilla cutting off his attack as his opponent’s body was rapidly devoured by a raging jade bonfire.

Rumbling a sigh of painful exhaustion, Zilla summoned all his strength as he rolled over onto his stomach, barely managing to plant his feet into the ground before he tried to stand. His legs shook like dying trees and the agony that suddenly flared in his wounded hind limb was too great for even him to fight, and with an elephantine groan he fell back into a crouch. For the time being, New York’s champion lay low as he took a rest.

As of now, there was only one Gyaos left; he was grateful there weren’t any more.

*****

The Super Gyaos screamed devilishly as Godzilla slammed her to the cold, hard earth with a yank of his jaws. But the Shadow of Evil was stronger than she looked, even compared to the mighty King of the Monsters; flapping her wings like a distressed eagle, the Gyaos nearly dragged Godzilla to his knees in her attempt to escape his grasp. Digging his clawed feet into the earth in an attempt to keep his foe grounded, Godzilla growled like a dog as he pulled and yanked against the Gyaos’ powered flight, but still found himself being slowly dragged forward along the ground as the Atlantean killer persisted.

The Gyaos suddenly turned about to reposition herself, causing Godzilla’s teeth to tear more bloody gashes into her leg, and fired a sonic scalpel perfectly into his right set of gills. The monster king’s eyes shot wide and his jaws gaped loose to release an earth-rattling shrill while the Super Gyaos finally glided free of his crunching jaws, a trail of blood flowing past her all the while. Without paying so much as a second thought to the pain that flared in the injured limb, the Gyaos landed on the earth and stood back up to face the injured Godzilla.

Both had sustained ghastly wounds; but unlike the Gyaos, Godzilla’s were far more severe. The legendary beast was struggling to breathe, but his strength showed no signs of waning as he glared at the Gyaos through narrowed yellow eyes. The Super Gyaos grinned at the state of the weary saurian. She could smell the blood in the air, could literally taste it in her foul maw. She wanted that meat–all 99,600 tons of it. Muscle, fat, blood, bone, meat, EVERYTHING. The so-called “King of the Monsters” would become her next banquet! With her stomach boiling with newfound starvation that could only be sated through the flesh of Godzilla, the Super Gyaos fired another sonic scalpel that lanced into Godzilla’s side.

Godzilla fought as hard as he could not to recoil, knowing the seriousness of the loathsome foe he was facing. He could not allow an opening–one false move, and everything could be lost. So, Godzilla roared in reply and powered his columnar legs forward as he charged the Shadow of Evil.

The Gyaos fired a second beam, but Godzilla ducked under it just in time before suddenly snapping the muscles in his lower body, and he spun on his clawed heels. His massive tail whipped around, and before the Atlantean killer had time to react it slammed straight into her torso with a sound-shattering impact. Knocked off her feet, the super predator shrieked in agony as she fell–but unfortunately, she was only down. She hadn’t run out of continues yet. As Godzilla bore down on her, the reptilian vulture began to flap her wings in rapid, powerful succession. The winds that were thus produced blew into Godzilla’s face, both kicking dust and debris in his eyes and making it hard to breathe. With a booming groan, Godzilla held his hands up in front of his face as he backed off.

The Super Gyaos fired another sonic beam that lanced into Godzilla’s left arm.

The nuclear dinosaur bellowed defiantly as he slammed his tail to the ground, planting his feet firmly into the earth. The Super Gyaos shrieked horrifically as she returned to her feet… … …and then perked her head in curiosity when a strange hum began to fill the air. At first, the Atlantean super predator had no clue what was making such a sound, and narrowed her yellow eyes into slits as she glowered at the King of the Monsters. But then she saw his tail swing around, and noticed that the spines lining it were beginning to light up one by one; traveling up his back as the hum began to deafen in volume, and Godzilla reared up with a growl.

The Gyaos widened her eyes as the kaiju king puffed out his chest.

His eyes sparking a bright cerulean, Godzilla spat forth his infamous atomic ray–and widened them when the Gyaos swerved her head to the right, the nuclear blast missing her head by a couple feet. Instantly, the Shadow of Evil retaliated with her sonic beam–and unlike Godzilla’s heat ray, it struck home.

Godzilla’s throat.

His atomic ray cutting off, Godzilla boomed a gurgling howl as he stumbled back, his vision going white from the agony. Blood leaked from the holes sliced through his neck like a punctured water balloon, the nuclear giant gagging and choking profusely as he struggled in equal parts to breathe and stay conscious–a dilemma which resulted in him not paying attention to how he walked or what was behind him. His right foot slipped out from under him, and due to the intense agony and the air being cut off from his lungs, he could do nothing but shrill in vain as he toppled to the ground with a colossal BOOM!

The Gyaos grinned sadistically as she watched the monster king fall before her might. Wanting to hear him suffer further, she fired a second sonic scalpel that stabbed a bleeding hole in his chest, eliciting another bellowing gurgle of agony from his bloody jaws. The Shadow of Evil hissed with delight as she licked her lips, taking a step forward as she prepared to dine on his flesh–and jerked back with surprise when the ground in front of her exploded outward, disgorging a quadrupedal creature with floppy ears and a glowing nasal horn. The Gyaos howled in shock when Baragon pounced upon her with an angry roar, lunging at her throat with gaping jaws. But the super predator lunged up with her talons and raked them across the dinosaur’s sides, causing him to jump off and land on all fours.

A flash of green light made both kaiju turn around, the Gyaos jolting as she expected a horrifying attack to come at her–and was rather surprised at what she saw. From a distance, Zilla had let loose his atomic breath; but rather than the Super Gyaos, he was blasting Godzilla! The emerald flames scorched the king kaiju’s throat for an impressive twelve seconds–and then, they died down. A blackened, charred splotch now lay upon Godzilla’s throat, the mutant iguana’s thermonuclear flames having cauterized his ugly injury and sealed it up.

A sonic beam sliced the ground in front of Zilla open, a threatening shriek escaping the Gyaos’ jaws as she began to bear down on the still-crippled reptile. But before she could take four steps forward, a burst of searing heat burned into her back, taking her attention back to her quadrupedal foe. As she turned around, Baragon jumped past her; slashing a sizable gash in her head with his claws along the way. A spurt of purple gore flung into the air, and the Gyaos howled angrily as she fired her sonic scalpel at the weak dinosaur.

But Baragon easily avoided the strike, firing his Magma Heat Ray a second time into her face.

Screeching in pain, the winged cretin stumbled back as she shook her head, shaking out the flames that burned her skin. When the last of the ignited gas faded away and her skin felt the cold air once more, she turned back to where the horned quadruped had been standing–and widened her eyes in surprise when the sight of a large hole in the ground greeted her. Baragon’s baritone roar echoed from within the sinkhole, mocking her. Her eyes narrowing as she trudged over to the newborn cavern, she fired her sonic beam down the tunnel, hoping to hit the subterranean dinosaur while he least expected it. A roar echoed up from the tunnel, and the Super Gyaos smiled in glee as everything went quiet.

Another burst of searing flames lunged up from the tunnel to burn her face.

The moment the flames ceased, the Gyaos shot her sonic beam down the tunnel a second time–but she didn’t stop directly down. Steering her head, she cut along the edges of the hole, and soon the tunnel began to cave in on itself until it was entirely blocked off.

Baragon burst out of the ground behind her, blasting her in the back with another heat ray.

Barking to the infant he protected so fiercely, Baragon kept up his heat ray just long enough for the Baranosdragon hatchling to leap down into the hole he had created, before cutting off his attack and retreating quickly just as the Super Gyaos fired her sonic beam down the hole once more. A shriek of fury ripped from the super predator’s jaws as she began to turn about in circles, waiting for the insolent dinosaur to show himself yet again. Once more, everything was still, but the Atlantean creation kept her guard up. She whirled on Maguma and Zilla, but both were still wounded and seemed in no condition to take her by surprise while she wasn’t looking. Snarling threateningly, she turned back to her vigil as she awaited Baragon’s return.

Such a wait didn’t last long when the ground under her feet caved in, a screech of shock leaving her jaws as she plummeted. Baragon roared as he burst from the soil, firing another Magma Heat Ray; but this time he picked a different target–the Gyaos’ left wing. The Shadow of Evil shrieked loudly as the flames seared a sizable rip of the leathery appendage, but by the time she readied her sonic beam, Baragon had already zipped back into his hole. The Gyaos shrieked again. COWARD! Why wouldn’t he come out and face her himself?!

Within the safety of the underground void, Baragon would’ve smirked if he could. The only reason he had been held on the ropes beforehand by these wretched beasts is because of their numbers. But as of now there was only one, her strength in numbers having been wiped out by the others who had shown up and given him time to recuperate, and now circumstances were just right for him to pull this hit-and-run tactic off. Time was of the essence, and every hit counted. Beside him, the infant shivered in fear but remained quiet. The subterranean dinosaur took a second to reach forward and nuzzle the shivering hatchling, then grumbled quietly to him.

For it was time to watch the master at work.

The Super Gyaos flapped her wings as she began to fly out of the hole, her airborne maneuverability not as effective as before due to the injury to her wing. She needed to take this fight to her element, to exit the range of her opponent’s earthly realm and take back the upper hand. Now, there was no way for this insolent reptile to take her by surprise without having to take the risk of guessing where she was first. Now, the playing fields could be steered towards her hand! Howling her devilish trill, the Gyaos hovered in circles around the battlefield, anticipating when the four-legged weakling would fall right into her claws.

The very moment she hovered over one of Baragon’s old holes, a Magma Heat Ray lanced out of the underground void and burned into her right wing. Shrieking in pain, the Gyaos flapped her wings and immediately veered away at her top speed, wanting nothing more than to keep airborne and out of the saurian’s reach. She cursed herself for letting her guard down so soon after swearing to not fall for another of Baragon’s tricks, screeching forth another sonic beam that sure enough missed its mark–

A river of emerald flames suddenly lashed into existence and burned into her left wing, burning it to the bone in seconds. The Gyaos screamed in equal parts rage and agony as she lost the very thing she so preciously wanted to hang onto, and fell to the earth below with a whistling howl. Twisting her body like a cat, she made certain to land on her feet as she turned to look upon her unexpected surprise attacker.

Zilla all but smirked as the nuclear flames dissipated from his toothed jaws, growling pridefully. His ploy had worked perfectly; Baragon had bought him just enough time for his regenerative abilities to kick into gear and heal his sliced calf, all the while he successfully played defeated to perfect effect. He had fooled the Shadow of Evil into thinking Baragon was the only threat she would have to worry about after Godzilla fell, and now his patience had paid off. Now, she had lost the ability to fly, and she was grounded on land.

Exactly where he and Baragon had the advantage.

A sonic scalpel lashed out from the Gyaos’ maw, but like an Olympic athlete, Zilla sidestepped the lance of light and began to slash away at the ground. Rapidly, he dug away and vanished in a cloud of kicked up soil and volcanic earth; the Super Gyaos sprinting towards him like an enraged fowl–only to feel another blast of heat burn into her back. Screaming in absolute outrage as Baragon backed back into the Earth’s crust, the Gyaos let loose the longest sonic beam yet and whirled around, continuously firing in all directions as she tried to confirm a hit on her targets.

But it was futile.

The ground underneath the Gyaos burst open as Zilla snapped his jaws down on her leg like a crocodile. The Gyaos turned down, her gaping jaws flashing yellow as she prepared to slice open the lizard’s face–and yet, whether fate was simply the cruelest adversary or her life was just the laziest written script imaginable, she was again destined to be denied. Something powerful and immensely hot slammed into her torso, Zilla’s jaws letting go as she was sent flying a good distance on her back. The Gyaos shrieked in pain from the force of the attack, though she was silenced when a familiar roar rang in the air.

The earth trembling at his rising presence, Godzilla announced his return to the land of the living with his infamous war cry, muscles and bones cracking back into place as he stood back up; his dorsal plates still aglow with azure bioluminescence. The nuclear saurian let loose a second atomic ray, and like before the attack struck home. The Gyaos screamed in agony as the nuclear flames burned away at her crimson flesh, all the while the kinetic force continued to push her back even farther. Trying hard to fight the scorching pain, the Gyaos reared her head just above the heat ray and loosed a sonic beam. Godzilla reacted just in time and cut off the blast, but didn’t move his head far enough for the beam to slice a wound on his left cheek. The Gyaos gaped to fire a second beam–and the ground behind her exploded, Baragon’s furious roar echoing in her ears.

The subterranean dinosaur pounced on her back, piercing her flesh with his nasal horn before ripping it out in a gush of purple blood. But Baragon didn’t stop there, and fired his Magma Heat Ray into the wound. The Gyaos thrashed like an enraged turkey, trying to buck the saurian quadruped off her–and to her surprise, Baragon leaped off of her. Reflexes snapping at the opportunity, the Atlantean super predator ignored the pain in her back for as long as she could and lunged to her feet, lashing towards Baragon with glowing jaws; seeing nothing but red in her bloodlust as she prepared to kill the horned saurian with a point-blank sonic scalpel.

A booming battle cry nearly broke her eardrums when another atomic ray slammed into her chest; Godzilla letting all the energy he had left loose until there was none left.

The Gyaos landed on the ground, but her torture wasn’t over. Bursting up from the ground like the bad penny he was, Zilla didn’t hesitate and let loose his thermonuclear flames. The Gyaos howled miserably as the jade firestorm washed over her, scorching her flesh. She fired her sonic beam, but through the haze of blistering heat and igneous gas she couldn’t see a thing and missed by the most pathetic margin. Not wanting to feel left out, Baragon stood by the mutant iguana and loosed his respective heat ray, both saurians keeping their blasts up as they roasted the Super Gyaos alive; her howling shrieks of torture echoing all across Iceland for all with auditory receptors to hear.

It took a full minute before Zilla was the first to run out of breath–Baragon, meanwhile, kept going. Even when the winged cretin’s ugly head fell beneath the raging flames, the subterranean dinosaur kept up fire; he wanted this creature dead. As he kept up the assault, a familiar growl reached his massive ears; one that made him take a few steps back as he prepared for the final blow. Still letting loose what flames he had left, Baragon kept burning the loathsome Gyaos as Godzilla waded past him. The floppy-eared reptile only ceased fire when the monster king stepped into the blistering firestorm, his piercing yellow eyes spotting the dying Gyaos amidst the flames that cooked her flesh black. Still defiant in her last moments, the Shadow of Evil snarled weakly as she gaped her jaws one last time, the air in front of her distorting as she prepared to let loose one last sonic beam.

Godzilla brought his foot down on her neck, cracking her vertebrae and pinning her to the ground. Her most formidable attack cutting off, the Super Gyaos could only gurgle one last time before Godzilla then reared his other foot above her head and stomped it down, shattering her skull like an old mango.

Stepping out of the flames that continued to barbecue the lifeless body of the curb-stomped menace, Godzilla reared his head to the sky and bellowed his triumph, his allies following suit. He may have needed help to put this one to rest, but yet another threat to the planet’s well being had been extinguished. All of the Gyaos were dead. Balance had been restored; he had no more business here for today.

As Godzilla’s victorious roar faded away and H.E.A.T. uncovered their ears, Randy slightly grimaced at the sight of the burning Gyaos corpse. “Well… that was anticlimactic,” he whined. As the corpse burned, a most horrid aroma began to assail the air around them, and one by one the team covered their noses in a vain attempt to hold in last week’s lunch. “Oh, well. Anybody up for roasted Christmas Turkey?”

The mere implication of the joke was too much, and Elsie vomited loudly.

*****

A familiar cry echoed from the depths of the earth, causing Baragon’s ears to perk up. It was a cry of distress, a cry that wanted to be heard. A young, infantile screech that spurred Baragon’s newfound instincts into action. Grunting, the Fierce King of the Underground crawled to the hole he had dug earlier in the battle and disappeared into it; Godzilla and Zilla staring after him in interest. It didn’t take long before Baragon re-emerged from the hole carrying the infant by the scruff of his neck, like a lion with its cub. Upon reaching the surface, the subterranean reptile placed the hatchling on the ground; it was now safe to come out.

Still, the infant shivered like a frightened kitten at the vet, cowering upon the very sight of the monolithic behemoth that was the King of the Monsters. Beside his famous namesake, Zilla tilted his head in curiosity, bending forward to sniff the frightened infant–and instantly jolted back when the adult Baragon jumped forward with a reptilian bark. For a moment, Godzilla growled and turned to glare daggers at the timber-colored dinosaur, who stared back just as hard.

“Oh, no…” Nick muttered under his breath.

Merde,” Monique whispered with narrowed eyes.

But before anybody could make any more aggressive moves–or any moves at all–Zilla quickly stepped between them with a barking hiss. It was not a hiss of aggression, but a defensive demand with a clear meaning: stand down. Fiery orange eyes locked with Godzilla’s own yellow orbs in a fearless stare, Zilla stared the monster king down; but his stare was not one that dared the ancient dinosaur to come at him. It was a pleading stare, begging for any unnecessary conflict to end. To spare the subterranean dinosaur known as Baragon for something as simple as protecting one’s young from creatures it didn’t know. The irradiated iguana looked between the two saurians, still keeping between them in case things began to head south. All the while H.E.A.T. held their breaths in painful suspense.

And then… … …Godzilla’s mighty glare softened.

Closing his eyes, the nuclear giant loosed a deep sigh as he stepped away and, to everyone’s surprise, put his back to the mutated lizard as he began to wade past him. Godzilla snorted as he picked up the unconscious Maguma in his muscular arms, grateful to see his wounds were not fatal. The Antarctic walrus would live to see another day; for now, he deserved to sleep on the bed of victory. Turning back to look at his allies one last time, Godzilla bellowed his thanks to them before turning away and lumbering onward, carrying his pinniped ally with him. The ocean called to him, and he would answer it like always upon a job well done.

Not far away, H.E.A.T. breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank God,” Nick exhaled.

Snorting in relief, Zilla turned to look at Baragon, who still stood protectively in front of the infant. Respecting the dinosaur’s space, New York’s Champion stepped away from him with a low grumble, and Baragon’s posture unstiffened ever so slightly. With the mutant lizard an appropriate distance away, Baragon turned down to look upon the still-trembling hatchling. In a move that no human being on the planet thought the ravenous saurian capable of, Baragon knelt down and rubbed his snout gently across the infant, nuzzling it with a low grumble. At first contact the infant jolted, but as seconds passed by and the adult saurian continued to nuzzle the hatchling while emitting the closest sound a reptile could get to purring, the baby’s trembling gradually came to a halt as its stance softened, and its head lifted up. Eventually, the infant felt comfortable enough to waddle quietly under the adult’s legs, rubbing against his forepaws like a scaly kitten. A wave of comfort unlike any he had felt in his short life washed over him.

He was not as alone in the world as he once believed.

Grunting a bass growl, the four-legged dinosaur crawled over to the Gyaos’ still-smoldering corpse, its flesh still being roasted by a makeshift bonfire. Grabbing the leg of his slain enemy, Baragon dragged the corpse towards the nearest hole in the earth, grumbling to the infant to come along. Perking his ears up, the baby instantly followed him, as the two began waddling towards the void that Baragon would come to teach his new progeny about. The void that the baby would eventually come to know as his ally, as his safe haven.

Without so much as a backwards glance the saurian pair crawled into the sinkhole, Baragon dragging the Gyaos corpse inside with him, and sank into the underground tunnel. A loud series of earthen rips and tears echoed from within to signal Baragon burrowing deeper into the earth, headed for wherever he would deem fit.

Above the surface, Zilla let loose one last cry of friendly intentions, wishing the pair the closest possible concept to luck, before turning back to his adopted human family. He knew they would trek back through the island to get back to the boat, and when they did, he would follow them. Watch their backs all the way until they reached the shore. While he doubted it, he didn’t know whether or not any remaining predators still crept about on the island; if they came in the direction of his adopted father and his kin, he would be there to meet them head-on. Like he always did.

For a moment, he simply stood by, watching them take a moment to converse amongst one another in a language he regrettably understood very little. It didn’t take long, however, for that moment to end, and they began to move on. And taking the first step in their path, Zilla began to follow them.

A fading roar in the distance reached his ears, informing him of Godzilla’s return to the sea; exactly where he would take to in short time.

Zilla walked along with his human family, never leaving their side until they had reached the shore.

*****

Kakou Lake, Mt. Shirane
2 days later

Fanged jaws opened to let loose a bassy yawn and a large exhale of icy vapor, a pair of russet lids of scaly skin tiredly lifting to reveal brown eyes. Two dragon-like nostrils flared to life as their owner inhaled the sweet, chilly winter air before exhaling, blowing away the snow in front of his head. Lifting his saurian head off the ground, Baragon stretched like a cat before laying back down on his stomach, looking out to gaze over the alpine landscape around him.

The scenery was a sight to behold. The clouds were puffy and timber-gray, pouring down a tapestry of snow. The trees were doused in the powdery water, with faint outlines of their usual green only just visible around the edges. The cold would give reason for human beings to wear multiple layers of the warmest of winter clothing, but Baragon tolerated it. It was cold, yes, but he could handle it just fine. His horn aglow with internal heat, Baragon used it as a winter lamp as he looked about. Snow melted upon its touch as he lay at the edge of the cave he had been lucky enough to find, small sheets of the frozen liquid piling in the grooves along his back. Inhaling the sweet air a second time, the subterranean dinosaur exhaled another vaporous snort as he picked up the various scents that carried on the wind.

A small shift beside him made him turn his head and look down.

Curled up at his side like a kitten, tail tucked like an embryo, the infant briefly kicked in his sleep before curling his leg back in. Shifting again, the sleeping baby cuddled back against his adopted father’s side. While his blank facial expression did not show it, Baragon stared down at his adopted cub with a clear gaze of fondness. The saurian could’ve never seen this coming in his life, could’ve never predicted it. He had long thought he was the sole remainder of his race, the last survivor of an ancient extinction that wiped out 65% of all life on earth. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, this last remainder had appeared in the world to offer him–offer his species–a second chance. How it had come to be, where it had come from, he did not know. But his feral mind was the closest possible to being thankful that such a gift existed. And if this infant had appeared so long after such a cataclysm, then it was very possible that there were even more relics somewhere out there, lurking in the darkness of the untouched… … …

In his sleep, the infant began to shiver ever so lightly; this, Baragon could see this was not the cause of any nightmares. The cold was beginning to get to him. The dinosaur took one last look at the scenery outside, then shifted as he began to stand. The infant began to stir and shiver, a small groan exiting his jaws as he re-awoke, but thankfully he did not lay exposed to the cold much longer. Baragon’s jaws were among the most ravenous on the planet, with a most foul reputation of carnivorous death and bloodshed. They were lethal weapons often turned on many, and yet with the utmost tenderness the subterranean dinosaur merely picked up his embraced young like a lion with its cub. Then, turning about with a gentle grumble, Baragon carried his son into the cave to find a warmer place for them to sleep.

Happy. That’s the word that Baragon would’ve used had his animalistic mind been accustomed to anything remotely close to words or meanings.

For the first time in his life, Baragon was happy.

Winner: Baragon (Showa), Godzilla (Legendary), Zilla

K.W.C. Kaiju War Chronicles