Author: Nickolas A. Brand | Banner: Landon Soto
“Revenge, compassion, pride, and duty. These ingredients are all present in the strongest storms. Revenge against the land which had previously contained the now furious water. Compassion in the form of life-giving rains. Pride in being the strongest force in all of the land. Duty in the yearly advances as dictated by the great fire in the sky. The greatest of all storms will one day wield each of these traits in equal measure. It is this storm which will herald the return of the godslayer to these lands. With fury and might he will defend these lands against all challengers, be they gods, animals, or dark beasts.” – Paleolithic Appalachian Folklore
The trees leaned and jerked violently, threatening to topple in the unyielding winds. The great hurricane had made landfall many hours ago, but its power had barely diminished as it pressed inland. As was so often the case with these eastern North American storms, local people were forced to take shelter lest they risk injury and death as ancient trees splintered and collapsed in the squall. This storm was different though, made unique by the waiting trio of towering figures that had arrived just before the winds picked up.
A young man named Kahlo held his little sister’s hand and repeated the story he’d been telling her. “Don’t worry, the guardian of the mountains will appear to make them go away. I’m sure of it!”
Despite his efforts to calm her, the little girl cried even louder in response. Other tribe members occupying the rock shelter shook their heads in frustration. Storms happened every year, and none should cry in fear after their third year. The noise was aggravating, but no one was willing to risk venturing outside and infuriating the three gods that were towering over the mountains to escape it. Especially when the guardian was said to burst from the heart of the mountains themselves in times of need.
“Look over there, that must be him!” The young man pointed to a nearby peak as boulders and uprooted trees began to cascade down the forested slope. The ground heaved and stony cliffs split open in a deafening cacophony. A terrible roar added to the noise within the cave, ushering screams of pain and terror as the sounds threatened to burst eardrums and shake the structure apart.
“It’s him. See sister, I told you! It’s the godslayer coming to save us!” Kahlo was jumping up and down with anticipation, however, his words sounded muffled and distant to his own ears. Despite his role in protecting his sister, the man was still too young to fully appreciate the severity of the situation. Hushed murmurs and conversations eventually broke out as hearing returned in stages. A towering presence rose from the crumbling remains of what the people had for so long called Elkshot Peak. Striking white armor and red flesh were visible, even through the pounding sheets of rain. Large projections from the kaiju’s shoulders and a distinctive three-horned head confirmed Kahlo’s excited words.
“The Godslayer is here. It’s the guardian. It’s Bagan!”
Bagan let loose a furious roar that disturbed even the hurricane winds which lashed around the gathered monsters. The oceanic maelstrom may have served to help awaken him from his slumber, but it was the interlopers’ presence that he was here to correct. These forests and these mountains were his territory, even if the beings who had set him to the task of conquering and holding them were long gone. Their arrogance had caused the once called “Guardian of the Mountains” to end their puny species, and these three gathered foes would be no different. It did not matter which manner of beast or being stepped forth into his land. All were slain like the animals they were, and animals was exactly how Bagan saw each of his foes that had gathered waiting for his arrival.
The first was none other than Godzilla. His hulking frame blended into the mountains that stretched out around them, and parts of his body were shrouded as storm clouds were thrown over the rocky peaks in the gale. When Bagan had erupted from the ground, Godzilla’s clawed hands clenched, and his dorsal spines repeatedly crackled with blue light. A deep, threatening growl emanated from the amphibious monster as he bared his teeth in challenge to the demonic dragon before him. His eyes did not leave Bagan’s, nor did they blink. The white kaiju thought this challenger was familiar, but couldn’t place how. Despite this, Godzilla’s body language was as plain as the fact that these lands belonged to Bagan. He was here not to fight, but to kill.
Gamera had also made the journey when he sensed Bagan’s impending awakening. The massive turtle stood motionless as he observed the others. No fire yet crackled within his maw, but his tusks and teeth were threat enough. While he had in the past deigned to ignore the emerging monster’s presence, this time was different. There seemed to be an especially strong darkness surrounding this area and that was a direct threat to the fledgling species that Gamera had since decided to protect. If this creature decided to leave the confines of its supposedly “sacred mountains” and rampage as it had done once in the past? Then the true guardian kaiju may well have nothing to protect anymore.
Gamera could simply not allow that to happen. Whether or not he had help, the massive turtle would be here to give the humans below who mistakenly worshiped Bagan as some sort of deity a fighting chance in this world. The demon’s final opponent was found in the sky, despite the vicious winds raging around them. Grand King Ghidorah’s golden scales were illuminated by occasional bolts of lightning that danced around his three-headed form. Like Gamera, he was here to protect something, and yet, he was here for himself. After his defeat millions of years ago at the wings of that overgrown insect, Ghidorah had waited patiently to recover his power.
In that battle his tail had been cut off, and while the rest of his body was destroyed, his spirit and purpose lived on. He’d regenerated from that lost limb, and for millions of years he’d inhabited this planet rather than destroying other ones. Until the day that Mothra Leo showed himself once more, Grand King Ghidorah would remain, and until that day, this planet was his. These mountains, and these forests were his. No so-called “guardian” would stop him — no demonic power would fall on him. If he had to cooperate with these other, lesser creatures to root out this pretend king, then so be it. Their own time would come soon after.
It was Godzilla who made the first move. With an air of bloodthirstiness the titan had seldom shown before, he rushed forward with a roar that cracked stone. Each footfall crushed hills, and his sweeping tail ruined the forests as he went. Bagan was ready for his opponent and moved with a speed unimaginable for a creature of such bulk. A closed white fist drove itself into Godzilla’s underbelly and stopped the aggressor in his tracks. Before the king of monsters could retaliate, Bagan’s other fist smashed into his shoulder, driving Godzilla to the ground. There was something familiar about this pretender to the title of king, but Bagan’s memory remained clouded. The white dragon’s snarl of laughter was cut short by a plasma fireball exploding against his torso. As the searing flames were quickly extinguished in the driving rain, thick black plumes erupted and intermingled with the storm clouds to obscure the battling kaiju.
Gamera waited for the smoke to clear before deciding on his next course of action. The storm wasn’t helping visibility, and each passing second felt like an eternity after seeing a creature as indomitable as Godzilla so easily floored by their opponent. King Ghidorah, on the other hand, was not waiting to see his opponent and did not care if he injured the others in his quest to purge his planet of his enemy. Yellowed gravity beams streaked through the deep, black smoke banks and shrieks of pain washed over the drenched landscape. Smoke curled and wisped as energy bolts lanced through it, but it continued to obscure what was happening inside. The three-headed dragon delighted in the suffering of his new enemy, but Gamera realized immediately that those were not Bagan’s howls they were hearing.
A giant form broke through the smoke, and Ghidorah didn’t realize what was happening until it was upon him. Godzilla’s airborne body collided with the golden dragon, bringing them both crashing to the ground with bone-shattering force. The three headed dragon snarled in outrage and squirmed beneath the already moving form of his circumstantial ally. Godzilla crawled at first, and then rose. He roared defiantly, signaling that he would not be bested so easily. The message was clear. He would see Bagan dead. No matter the price of that endeavor. Gamera had already taken to the sky and Ghidorah’s wings brought the golden dragon into the air to join the guardian turtle. The combined force of the golden tyrant’s wings and the natural storm winds finally managed to dissipate the smoke, offering a view of the white demon once more.
Bagan stood unharmed, observing the blackened mess of burning and dead trees that surrounded him. His visage contorted in fury as he registered Godzilla’s defiance. There had been others like him before… The atomic saurian charged. Bagan took note of all of the ruined forestland, his forestland, around him. The white demon’s taloned hands rose palm up and a strange, salty smell permeated the air. Godzilla was closing the distance. A lightning bolt came down from the hurricane clouds above, striking Bagan, but causing no harm. Though the ground cracked beneath him from the force of the bolt, the electrical energy it had contained circled around his three horns. More bolts of lightning rained down at increasing speed. The very air around the white kaiju shimmered. Godzilla was mere seconds away, his maw opening to reveal an azure flame-like energy. Gamera could sense that something was amiss, but his growl of warning was cut short when he finally realized what was happening. Silently, the three horned demon brought his arms down and unleashed hell in the Appalachians.
Thousands of white, glowing diamonds descended from the sky as the heavens opened with an outpouring of lightning from above. The Grand King’s energy barrier easily repelled the lightning, but the diamond onslaught was too much to prevent. Gamera retreated into his shell mid-flight, but Bagan’s attack smashed craters into the keratinous armor. Both the behemoth terrapin and the dragon kaiju were brought back to earth, bleeding and frustrated. Godzilla had fared little better, yet was once again the first to his feet. Blood trickled out of massive gouges left from scales and flesh that would no longer adorn his hide, but his eyes had lost none of their resolve. Even as the foreign projectiles lodged in his flesh burned away, he unsteadily lumbered towards Bagan. As his balance returned, the ancient predator broke into a charge. Bagan simply waited for his opponent to repeat his earlier mistake of rushing in, but the King of Monsters hadn’t earned that title through stubbornness alone.
As his feet barrelled through broken earth on his way to the demonic guardian, Godzilla’s dorsal spines pulsed blue. The titan’s entire body flexed with power as his jaws opened to unleash a torrent of blue radioactive energy. The stream washed over Bagan’s torso, burning away armor and flesh alike as the demon shrieked in agony. It had been so long since he’d last felt pain. Though the force of the attack slowed his advance, Godzilla’s feet pushed into the ground and continued bearing him forward. Bagan was blinded as the atomic ray washed over his face. Armor cracked and melted from the heat but somehow the demon remained standing when Godzilla collided with him. Undeterred against a foe even larger than himself, Godzilla exerted his strength and continued to let loose with his breath at point blank range. The azure blaze boiled away Bagan’s eyes before moving to unleash its fury on his already ravaged torso. With the atomic ray still firing, the king of monsters bit down onto Bagan’s left shoulder and shook his head. The blue glow finally dissipated, but the alabaster kaiju was offered no respite.
Within seconds, his assailed limb fell to the ground in a shower of blackened blood. The twin roars of the dueling kaiju shook the landscape. One of triumph, the other of torment.
Gamera and Ghidorah rose in time to see the results of their ally’s assault. The golden king took to the skies once more while the benevolent guardian rushed overland to join the melee. Cinders gave way to a raging blaze inside the turtle kaiju’s mouth as he advanced on his foe. Two plasma fireballs exploded into Bagan’s already healing side. Unfazed, the one-armed menace pulled a fist crackling with electricity backwards before delivering it straight into the side of Godzilla’s head. Though Bagan’s eyes were not fully regenerated, it was hard to miss a target that close. The nuclear behemoth reeled backwards from the impact, shaking away the dizziness. Godzilla hadn’t even cleared his vision when Bagan’s white hot plasma beam leveled him. The attack lasted for seven full, agonizing seconds as the plasma burned away at the grounded saurian’s scales and flesh. When it stopped, the king of the monsters at last lay still. Before Bagan could press the attack, gravity beams from the airborne Ghidorah ripped across his chest. The monster howled in agony as the bolts tore into the still-raw wounds Godzilla had opened. Sensing that his enemy was beginning to falter, the world-eater pressed his advantage and let loose bolt after bolt in order to prevent another diamond storm attack.
Bagan’s recovering vision found the muddied form of Ghidorah in the sky and he began to prepare a plasma beam. Gamera’s fist interrupted the attack and sent sharp teeth flying from the so-called “guardian of the mountain’s” jaws. The demon whirled on his new target. Claw met claw and tooth and tusk countered each other in what quickly became a bloody mess of a brawl. The turtle kaiju was more ferocious than the demon anticipated, though both combatants knew it would take more than tenacity to bring Bagan down. Gamera’s claws raked into his opponents’ torso, stopping as they struck gleaming armor that was beginning to reform. Bagan retaliated with his own claws, his eyes finally healed enough to allow a clear view of his target. The demon’s claws cut through flesh, met the armored shell and kept going with little effort.
Undaunted, the bleeding turtle brought his elbow into Bagan’s torso and drove a spike straight through the monster’s armor plated chest. Bagan lunged forward to bite the upstart kaiju’s throat, but was rewarded with a quick plasma fireball straight to his face. The demon’s eyes closed against the attack and his nostrils were scorched away by the burst of heat. A bludgeoning back-fist slammed against Gamera’s cheek and sent half of a tusk soaring towards the horizon. Before Bagan could capitalize, a gravity beam struck through his muzzle and exploded into the dirt out the other side.
The regeneration of flesh was quick, but bone took longer. The white demon’s still healing arm was a testament to that. The guardian turtle grabbed Bagan by the horns and locked his own jaws down on the area where he’d just seen Ghidorah’s attack pierce, ignoring the stabbing pain in his broken tusk. The sound of crunching bone echoed throughout the mountains. Bagan’s muffled scream followed. Despite the immense pain, the alabaster kaiju had the wherewithal to twist his body as a gravity beam bore down upon him. The attack struck Gamera’s shell, allowing the demonic dragon to shake the turtle off of him. Bagan lashed out with a burst of his own plasma beam. The energy crashed into his opponent’s chest, and had scarcely dissipated when Bagan’s claws carved a bloody gouge through the superheated flesh and shell.
The two traded blows through the onslaught of gravity beams raining down upon them. Although the golden dragon made no special effort to avoid striking Gamera, he managed to bring most of his force to bear on his intended target. With only one working arm, Bagan was infuriatingly unable to get the upper hand in combat. He knew he should be playing with Gamera, yet here he stood being pummeled into a bloody mess by an inferior monster under a rain of dirt flung up from the descending beams of another inferior monster. The pale titan was angry, but the emotion was currently worth its weight — nothing. Gamera unleashed another plasma fireball at point blank range, burning once more into the unarmored flesh of Bagan’s pink, healing neck. A well placed gravity bolt dug deeper into the very same soft tissue, which was struggling to repair itself beneath the onslaught of the unlikely allies.
Seizing the opportunity, Gamera thrust a clawed hand into his opponent’s lacerated throat and squeezed down. Bagan’s windpipe was crushed, and no sound escaped the demon’s mouth as the organ was pulled from his neck unceremoniously. His horned head flailed soundlessly as Gamera unleashed another point blank plasma fireball into his wound. Around them, the wind suddenly abated, as if the storm itself was holding its breath in anticipation. Thick, towering walls of storm clouds could be seen in all directions. The local peoples called this calm area the storm’s eye, because it was from here that the storm watched for the foolish to go outside before suddenly overtaking them. Free from the swirling gusts, the smoke cloud thrown up by the fireball offered a reprieve for which Bagan was ashamed to be grateful for. Shame. That was an emotion the alabaster titan had never felt before. But why should he be ashamed? Because he was failing in his goal of keeping his land free of interlopers?
Because he was going to be killed by inferior creatures. Disgusting, pathetic inferior creatures.
Gamera had retreated from the smoke cloud to assess the condition of his foe. He’d fought with some of the most powerful creatures this world had ever seen, and all too often they had a way of coming back with a vengeance from injuries that should have left them dead.
Without the rain and winds, the dust and dirt hung above the ground like a dark morning fog. High in the sky, Grand King Ghidorah waited eagerly for the mess to dissipate and reveal the lifeless corpse of Bagan. From his vantage point, Ghidorah could see where the storm clouds ended behind him, and where they began miles and miles ahead.
The ancient, astral conqueror thought it fitting that this pretender to his throne would die here, as if trapped in a ring made by the very planet itself. Perhaps the Earth was finally warming to his rule after all?
Gamera’s focus, meanwhile, remained trained on the spot where he’d engaged his adversary in melee. What he saw put the guardian of the fledgling man on the defensive immediately. Thick tendrils of white light sprouted calmly from the smoke like fresh spring sprouts jostling for sunlight.
Two. Four. Then finally six.
Slowly, they shifted back and forth, in and out of the smoke. Had their source not been known, the sight would have been more mystical than menacing, but Bagan’s opponents knew exactly to whom the tendrils belonged. Gamera raised his clawed hands in anticipation, but had no way to react to how quickly the white demon burst from the smoke on tentacle-like wings of light. In mere seconds Bagan covered the nearly mile-long distance and delivered a devastating hammer-fist to the top of the guardian turtle’s head. The stunned, titanic terrapin spun through the air before obliterating a mountainside. Bagan was there immediately. With his good arm the white dragon reached into the literal mountain of rubble and pulled out his opponent by the throat.
To Gamera’s horror, he witnessed an almost completely regenerated windpipe nestled inside a rapidly closing wall of muscle in Bagan’s neck. As the organ completed itself, the demonic dragon gasped in a breath of air. The realization that the creature at least needed to breathe was of little comfort to the guardian turtle. Never before had he clashed with such a seemingly unstoppable foe. The guardian of Earth struggled against his opponent’s newfound strength, and fought the incoming blackness. Life was being choked from Gamera. Fast. Embers ignited in his throat, but the demonic guardian saw them and squeezed even harder, preventing the attack before it began. Somewhere inside that mind of Bagan’s something had snapped. Defending his land was secondary. Painfully obliterating these would-be usurpers was the only thing that mattered.
Grand King Ghidorah watched the assault with surprise. What in the hell was this thing? Were there limits to its power? How could any creature of this universe stand up to the combined might of himself, Godzilla and that damned turtle? The golden king despised the other two, but their strength was worthy of acknowledgment, if not a measure of something approaching respect. Yet here was some dark force that he had assumed was a pretender to his reign over this world… and that pretender was abusing the three most powerful life forms this planet had ever seen at the same time. His three heads hissed back and forth, unsure of what to do next.
Were they afraid?
Grand King Ghidorah did not know fear!
He knew only destruction and the death of his foes! That newfound resolve turned to gnawing unease when the golden king noticed that the stump that had once been Bagan’s severed left arm was regenerating even as life was being squeezed from his supposed ally. Knowing that time was of the essence, all three heads unleashed a sustained burst of gravity bolts towards their white-winged nemesis. Sensing the incoming attack, Bagan pivoted at the waist and brought the struggling form of Gamera in between him and the blasts. The benevolent guardian tried to scream as the bolts tore into the back of his carapace, but Bagan’s hold was still too tight.
Sadistically, the white kaiju relaxed his grip for a few moments. Green blood shot from his victim’s mouth and spurted onto Bagan’s face and chest. Not wasting time, Ghidorah flew around for a different angle.
Still grasping the limp form of Gamera, the white winged kaiju shot into the air directly at the golden dragon. Taken aback, Ghidorah paused mid-flight and released a barrage of lightning bolts from his wings. Bagan was too fast. A concentrated beam of plasma lanced into the three-headed kaiju’s energy shield. The burning white plasma dispersed across the barrier, blinding the golden king before burning through the shield. A pain unlike any other he had ever felt gripped the golden conqueror as the plasma beam melted briefly into his torso. Ghidorah’s vision returned in time for him to register Bagan upon him in the sky. Using Gamera like a club, the demon slammed his captive’s hard shell against Ghidorah and sent the great golden dragon plummeting to the ground.
Consciousness returned slowly to Godzilla. The ancient saurian had yet to experience such a dizzying sensation in his millions of years. Memories spewed forth uncontrolled as his mind raced to piece his situation back together. There were others like him, but no more. He had conquered many challengers.
All of them.
Almost all of them.
He had slept for ages. Then the rage. The hateful, blue-burning, all consuming need for vengeance. Reptilian eyes opened to reveal a cerulean inferno. Dorsal spines first pulsed then remained bathed in a blue glow. As the ancient beast rose, the trees around him withered and burst into flames as the radiation flowing from Godzilla’s body washed over the battlefield. The predator snarled and his keen eyes scanned the landscape for his prey even as the rocks around his feet began to melt from the radioactivity assailing the environment. Ghidorah was laying motionless some distance to his left. Where were the other two? Sensing his quarry, the burning titan looked to the sky. He had just enough time to register the pair before they struck. Bagan grasped the guardian turtle. There were white lights. They were coming straight for him. The atomic king has no time to retaliate before the white demon slammed Gamera down on top of him and transformed what little remained of Elkshot Peak into an impact crater.
Rocks fell in the back of the cave, and the ground shook from the force of the impact. Kahlo hugged his sister tightly, until the shaking and rumbling subsided. Then, dragging her by the wrist, he led the girl to the cave’s entrance. “See, the guardian is doing it! He’s fighting all three of those other monsters by himself. His arm is even better now!”
A confident grin settled onto a face which was only recently beginning to bear the hairs of manhood. He took a seat and watched the combat intently, never once registering that the look of fear on his sibling’s face had morphed to one of hopelessness and terror as she watched Bagan descend into the craterous scar his attack had rent into their mountainous homeland.
Gamera awoke to an all-encompassing sensation of pain. Every part of his armored body hurt. What started as an opportunity to defeat a terrible darkness had become a desperate bid for survival. The colossal turtle began to crawl towards the rim of the crater, but the earth shook beneath him, and a contorted laugh intermingled with the dull thud of footfalls. Fresh pain registered in Gamera’s tail as his attacker crushed the appendage beneath a clawed foot. Knowing that it was all or nothing, Gamera ignored every cell in his body that was sending pain signals and began to charge a plasma fireball in his maw, keeping his face hidden from the demonic guardian’s view.
Bagan stomped on the downed kaiju’s tail, but was disappointed to not elicit a cry of pain. He stomped harder on Gamera’s carapace, cracking the shell but still not getting that satisfactory squeal of anguish from his opponent. Irritated further, the crimson and white beast delivered a powerful kick to the side of his opponent’s shell, flipping the guardian kaiju over to reveal a roaring inferno within his tusked mouth!
Having charged the plasma fireball to nigh unimaginable power, Gamera unleashed the attack into his assailant. Even had Bagan’s wings been active, the sphere of incendiary plasma would have been too close and too large to avoid. The blast detonated on Bagan as a firestorm of roiling flame fused the dirt to glass beneath him. With the familiar heat of his own flames warming him, the guardian turtle stood. He knew many of his bones were broken.
They had hurt less when he was lying on the ground, but to continue laying still was suicide. Summoning his strength, he bull-rushed the white demon, finding his form in the smoke and biting repeatedly onto his face and nasal horn. His attack had destroyed most of the demon’s armor, and the exposed flesh was bloody, burned, and raw. Despite the injuries, Bagan continued to fight back.
Gamera clamped down hard and tried to crush his enemy’s horn, but he no longer possessed the strength to accomplish this goal. Bagan struggled to force the tenacious behemoth off of him. Gamera kept pushing forward. Kept snapping. Carried on clawing. Continued moving in order to stay alive. Finally, his good tusk found purchase into his opponent’s eye, which elicited a scream of suffering from the sadistic guardian.
Wrath once again overtook the complacence brought on by his earlier domination of his foes. Bagan pushed through the pain all over his face and lashed out with his claws. His talons found purchase on Gamera’s throat, bringing the terrapin to all fours. The demonic guardian
leaned over his benevolent counterpart and contemplated the many ways he could snuff out the turtle’s life. Sharp pain registered in his abdomen and worked its way up to his torso. Still unwilling to go down, Gamera had impaled the distracted titan with one of his elbow blades. Ripping his arm back down at an odd angle, Gamera broke his own elbow spine off when it failed to rip out through Bagan’s regenerating armor plates. Even as the surge of new pain tore through his arm, the warrior turtle slammed a clawed fist into the base of the embedded spine. Bagan grunted in pain as the spike passed through the rest of his armor and into the flesh beneath. Too deep to pull out, the frustrated monster was forced to suffer through the pain caused as his flesh healed around the foreign object, trapping it inside.
A long, deep bellow emanated from behind the brawling kaiju. Bagan knew what was coming even before he registered a flash of blue light. He reached down and seized Gamera as a second flash lit up the crater. The third flash was Godzilla’s attack. The returned monster unleashed his fully charged atomic breath directly at Bagan. The demon whirled, putting his helpless opponent in between himself and the king of monsters. The beam struck Gamera head on, who was too exhausted to struggle against his foe. Every broken bone ached, every skin cell cried out in agony as it was stripped away and the wound cauterized before being opened again under the radioactive assault. Unaware of the situation, or simply not caring, Godzilla continued to spew his azure fury.
Despite knowing his death was imminent, the turtle was at peace. As he came to terms with his demise, he foresaw events that fulfilled him. Gamera’s pain ceased as his mind burned away in the blazing light. His body persisted, however, and served to shield Bagan from the brunt of the atomic kaiju’s assault.
Godzilla finally relented. His ribcage flexed back and forth as he worked to catch his breath after such an exertion. The charred form of his occasional ally sloughed to the ground with a sickening slowness, leaving no obstacle between the two enemies. Godzilla snorted and held Bagan’s gaze. The white demon was struck with a sense of familiarity once more. That’s when it hit him. There had been others of this one’s kind. Much smaller and certainly less powerful, but they had been there when Bagan had first come to this world. Oh, how he had reveled in their destruction. Apparently, he’d missed one. That was just one more mistake that he’d have to fix today. Neither titan moved. The guardian of these lands was content to allow his unique physiology to continue repairing his armor and flesh. It seemed that his simple-minded opponent hadn’t realized that.
There was no warning before the twin gravity beams scored agonizing trenches from the demon’s flesh. Bagan looked up for that three-headed irritant, but his world turned upside down. More pain flooded his senses as he crashed onto his back. How had that overgrown lizard closed the distance so fast? There was no time to ponder this. Not when the beast was already upon him. Bagan struggled to bring his horns to bear against his assailant, but the king of monsters was too close. His thick, powerful arms wrenched glistening pieces of armor away from Bagan’s torso in periodic showers of thickened, black gore. Teeth and claws assailed the tender flesh beneath with a vigor unbecoming of one who had so recently been brought low.
Bagan’s claws reached out for the ancient predator and their wild arcs found purchase in the saurian’s thick hide. The king of monsters howled as blood poured from the wounds in his chest and splashed down into his prey’s mangled flesh. Bagan rolled to escape, but Godzilla was already upon him and flipped the white demon once more onto his back. He attacked his downed opponent again. Bagan was ready though, and managed to meet hands with the enraged titan. Godzilla pushed down with all the strength his body could produce, his unyielding rage amplifying his already terrifying abilities. Bagan pushed back, unwilling to be brought down and made it to one knee. The familiar sting of a gravity beam momentarily stunned him and the demon was forced back to the ground.
Grand King Ghidorah watched the fight with frustration from the sky. He didn’t care that the turtle kaiju was gone, though the fool had certainly picked a sorry time to give up and die. Now his other main competition for control of this planet was preventing him from bringing suffering to his newfound nemesis. Just like that damned turtle, there’s no way Ghidorah’s beams would make it through the lizard and into the demon. As he watched his two enemies wrestling on the ground, the astral emperor groaned internally and resigned himself to getting his own teeth dirty. It turned out that you couldn’t rely on even the most formidable of lackeys to do your bidding. Quietly, his wings bore him towards the ruined and burned forest below.
Godzilla’s eyes widened in surprise, then narrowed in determination. Bagan had forced his way up so that he was on one knee and one foot. The king of monsters pushed harder still, but made no progress against the might of his opponent. With a great, final heave Bagan was standing once more. Now he was able to show this wretched beast how outclassed he was. Godzilla’s face remained stone-still save for the quivers of exertion as he was forced back step by agonizing step. In order to keep from being leveled, the king of monsters was forced to close his eyes and focus every ounce of his attention on the contest of strength. He had to dig deep and find a way to stop the murderer of his kind. Without warning, his foe’s advance halted. Godzilla’s eyes opened to witness a golden splendor around Bagan. Ghidorah had made his presence known in the thick of the fighting. His middle neck was wrapped around the demon’s throat as his other heads bit down on Bagan’s arms. Taking advantage of the opening, Godzilla untangled his hands from those of his opponent and swiped at a chest that had been almost completely restored.
Bagan thrashed against the hold of the three headed dragon and wrenched his arms forwards to try and free himself. The demon was rewarded with the intense pain of the gravity beams, but spread throughout his body. Electricity arced along Ghidorah’s scales, as he directed this energy into his opponent. He had no way of knowing that this energy caused Bagan far more pain than either Gamera’s plasma fire or Godzilla’s atomic fire, but was proud of his efforts nonetheless. The white demon thrashed in misery as the energy wreaked havoc on his already taxed muscles, forcing convulsions throughout. Godzilla’s claws finally made their way through Bagan’s chest armor. Without the distraction of having to keep the beast grounded, his assault was unforgiving. Flesh and gristle were thrown about. Godzilla’s claws reaped their way deep into the bones of the ribcage. An uncharacteristically sadistic snarl crossed the face of the ancient predator that gave even the vile Grand King Ghidorah a moment’s pause. The golden king wasn’t able to see the radioactive reptile reach inside Bagan’s thoracic cavity and grab his ribs, but he felt each break as the concussive snaps vibrated throughout the God of Darkness’ body.
The alabaster demon’s agonized flailing intensified. This was not how this was supposed to go. Bagan had come so close to finally humiliating both of these so-called kings. How was it that their lowly alliance could trump a being such as himself? It wasn’t just unthinkable, it was impossible!
He hadn’t breathed in minutes now. He simply couldn’t with the strangle-hold the golden dragon had gotten around his neck. When the electricity had finally abated, the radioactive one had begun to break bones. Through the hazy, hysteric state induced by a combination of adrenaline, asphyxiation and unending pain, Bagan’s mind managed to formulate a plan. So long as he could survive Godzilla’s assault, and he could, he could avoid the electricity.
Ghidorah felt the sick laughter through Bagan’s form and at first mistook the punctuated shakes for convulsions. The white demon’s arms lifted to the sky as if to plead mercy from his attackers. The tyrant king’s satisfaction was lessened as he recognized the hint of a smirk on his enemy’s battered face. Petty as ever, the middle head coiled even tighter and bit down on the side of his foe’s head before delivering another potent dose of electricity. Bagan’s arms lowered, but only slightly.
Godzilla roared out in pain as he grabbed at exposed bone and received a horrid electric surge. He recognized this pain. He’d felt it earlier when the golden one’s careless attacks had struck him. In anger, the king of monsters delivered a brutal swipe. Red blood pooled in elongate gouges carved into the golden scales of Ghidorah’s left neck. Godzilla roared a warning at his temporary ally, and returned to his evisceration of the real enemy. Bagan’s hands were palm up now in a gesture of submission, but the vengeance seeking saurian had already decided this feud only ended when one of them died. Bagan fell to his knees as weakness washed over him from the combined assault.
Both Grand King Ghidorah and Godzilla towered over his kneeling form. In the uncomfortable stillness, Godzilla noticed that the golden dragon had released his grip on their foe. The unlikely duo stared at each other over the slumped form of Bagan. Neither was willing to back down in the face of perceived wronging. Neither realized the importance of Bagan’s arms still being held towards the sky.
Ghidorah’s three heads wailed a counter-warning.
Strike again, and you die like the demon.
The ancient predator shook himself and roared his defiance.
Watch your attacks and I let you live.
Ghidorah took in the moment with disbelief. It was rare, even among entities of his own scale, that the weak tasted a hint of the pain he could inflict and continued to defy him. Sure, this reptilian beast was strong, but he was only able to keep up with their opponent because he had Ghidorah’s help. The Grand King needed no help with this alabaster wretch, of course, but who was he to deny gestures of servitude from those beneath him? A twisted approximation of grins revealed the three headed dragon’s pointed teeth as he feigned the part of a more generous ruler… Very well. I’ll be careful.
Satisfied with the reply, Godzilla’s mind returned to the task at hand. The dull anger brought on by the cosmic dragon’s carelessness was drowned beneath the deep-stabbing fury that motivated this crusade as Godzilla gazed back down at his hated foe. The beast was already healing, albeit slowly, in the time it had taken the twin kings to settle their quarrel. While his chest had little of the armor that had made it nearly impervious early in the fight, Bagan’s muscle had already begun to return in a patchwork of red-weeping fibers. The titan’s body surged with anticipation as he stepped towards his kneeling opponent. It would feel so sweet to tear that healing flesh to ribbons once more. But first, it had to burn.
Upon seeing the first flickers of radioactive fire in his ally’s maw, Grand King Ghidorah’s heads returned to their work of assailing the pretender to the throne of this region. Three sets of jaws punctured through the armor and flesh of Bagan’s upper arms and rostrum. Ivory lightning surged across the white kaiju’s horns as he spasmed in misery, but his squeals weren’t as satisfying as they had been earlier. Bagan almost sounded resolute to the cosmic conqueror. Why was he no longer despairing? The chance to worry about the implications of this development was robbed as Godzilla’s dorsal spines began to light up in sequence. The three-headed dragon used the strength of his jaws and necks to pull Bagan’s arms apart and head back. The demon’s vulnerable torso would be an easy target, and Ghidorah’s own heads would be spared having to deal with attack.
This was to be the end of things then. The golden king would have to decide how it would deal with Godzilla after this was done. Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Each head had the thought as one. Each head was too preoccupied with their victory to fight back as Bagan roared to the heavens and brought his arms down. Lightning rushed across his three horns before streaking into the sky with enough brightness to illuminate mountains as far away as Ghidorah could see, causing even Godzilla to hesitate and hold back from his attack. The light coalesced into shapes that brought dread into the heart of the three-headed dragon. All the diamond shaped stars of the night sky rained hellfire onto the ruined ridgeline.
Bagan rose to his feet quickly after his gambit. Even his own eyes were having to repair the retinal bleaching his colossal attack had caused. Neither of the fools had been paying attention to him. He’d have been insulted if their arrogance hadn’t given him the opening he needed. As usual, no force in the universe could withstand the full force of a diamond storm. Despite having recovered enough to stand, the white demon’s torso was still ravaged. Bone and muscle had healed, but regenerative cells were hard at work restoring sensitive skin and armor. Now that the battle was over, at least, he’d —
As Bagan’s eyes began to deliver vision once more, he caught that familiar shape standing in front of him. Godzilla not only lived, but remained standing! The beast’s craggy hide was riddled with cauterized pits and exposed flesh from where scales had been ripped off. No creature had ever received Bagan’s full power and remained standing. The demon glanced over his shoulder and confirmed that the golden dragon was down. His ruined scales were a testament to that troublesome energy barrier of his not working at close range. The pretender king had been good at delivering pain, that much was true. But he evidently couldn’t take as much as he could give. That meant that Bagan only had to deal with Godzilla now. Would the brute even care that his allies were gone, or would a personal revenge be more satisfying? Bagan looked back to his remaining enemy, content to let his body repair itself while he contemplated the many ways he could finally finish his extermination of its species.
Godzilla gave the tyrant precious few seconds to work with. Pushing through the pain that rang across so much of his body, the saurian titan willed himself to step forward. The other foot followed, and the pain lessened some. Now that the self-absorbed dragon was out of the picture, he could do this his way. His pace quickened to a run just before Godzilla charged into his foe and delivered a massive claw to the demon’s lower jaw. Bone shattered and black blood intermingled with loose teeth. The white demon tried to retaliate with a hook of his own, but Godzilla deflected the blow and rewarded Bagan’s effort with atomic fire to the face. The demon screamed in pain as the blazing energy struck his face and injured jaw. Reflexively, he lashed out with his claws. Godzilla swayed clear of the attack, but recoiled in surprise when the attack still cut into him.
Bagan wasted no time in taking the upper hand. He seldom used this ability of his, but as much as he hated to admit it, this fight was about survival. Three more times he swiped at the atomic saurian with his claws, and three more times the kaiju avoided the initial attack only to have his scales flensed by an almost imperceptible energy. Not to be dissuaded, Godzilla turned with the force from the final blow and delivered a momentous tail strike to the side of Bagan’s cranium. The demonic kaiju’s form was driven stiffly to the ground and the radioactive titan moved to make his revenge certain.
The white demon’s mind reeled from the force of the tail-strike. He shook his head to clear his blurry vision, and felt a jolt of protest from his still-broken jaw. He should be healing faster, but this battle was dragging on. He’d never needed so long to kill his enemies, though he’d never fought a smattering of, dare he think it, powerful foes like these. The earth shook from approaching footfalls, and reminded the godslayer that he needed to act fast. His sight was still rippling like the surface of a muddy lake, but he squinted hard and forced composure. His missing hearing ensured that he felt Godzilla’s roar of triumph more than heard it, but he could certainly see the pinprick of cerulean light forming above him. This was going to hurt, but he needed to end this now.
Hatred drove the titan as he planted his feet and prepared for one final atomic breath over his adversary’s prone form. His dorsal spines flashed in a frenzy of lights and crackles of energy as he built up the necessary power to put this monster down. The kaiju’s shoulders and head drew back as his body channeled violence and intensity into the strike that would avenge his kind after so many thousands of years. There was nothing graceful about the way his fingers jerked with the barely contained wrath that bordered on madness. The king of the monster’s body had become a vessel of nuclear savagery, and he breathed in one last time before opening his maw to deliver justice.
Bagan’s jaw howled in protest as the force and heat of the energy atomized still healing flesh. His eyes were once again blinded by an overpowering light. These pains were a minor price to pay for the plasma beam he launched as his opponent was making a show of expected victory. The beam lanced forth and struck Godzilla in the face just as he’d been about to release his own beam. The built up radioactive energies gushed forth and carved a canyon into the already scorched earth to Bagan’s left. The demon wasted no time in coming to his feet and getting closer so he could end the fight. As his ability to see returned, his eyes locked with the one-eyed gaze of his foe.
The right side of Godzilla’s face was a mess of vaporized scales and molten bone. Teeth in that half of the saurian’s jaws were variously missing, dripping away, or charred black. An empty orbit that used to support an eye now only gazed hatefully back at Bagan. Despite the shock of such an egregious injury, the king of monsters barely paused. His remaining eye shone with renewed malice and the promise of a painful death for the demon. Onwards he came, clawing and biting wildly so as to take advantage of his foe’s mistake in closing the distance. Having sustained so much damage, however, his stamina was finally nearing its limit. The titan was brought down to his hands and knees after a combination of punches. Bagan delivered a kick to his opponent’s midsection that shattered bone. From Godzilla’s screams, the demon assumed he’d punctured a lung. Not one to repeat the mistakes of others, Bagan wasted little time in preparing a final plasma beam. Even in death, the king of monsters never gave up. His clawed hand reached up to dig into his enemy’s foot even as the white-hot plasma extinguished his reign as apex predator of the Earth.
After waiting some time to ensure his foe wasn’t going to continue to resist death, Bagan surveyed his territory. It lay desolate. Whole ridge-lines had been leveled, Forests burned in flames of blue and red. His land had been ruined. Would his creators be disappointed? It didn’t matter. They had answered for their crimes, while Bagan answered only to himself. A flash of lightning made the demon look back over his shoulder. It was not the golden dragon again, but the return of the storm that had helped rouse him from his slumber. Rain started lazily at first, but picked up until blankets of water could be seen flowing down the hills. Temporary rivers quickly overflowed with debris as the storm raged like it had never even stopped. Bagan turned away and contemplated his situation. He was technically the guardian of these lands, yes. That his guarding of them had ruined them mattered little. They were ruined all the same. It was time for Bagan to find a new territory. Somewhere he could-
That intense, familiar, searing, electrifying pain wracked the white kaiju’s back once more. The shrill cry of Grand King Ghidorah pierced through the roar of the returned hurricane. Bolt after bolt of electricity streamed from the triple heads. His armor still not fully regenerated due to the brawl with Godzilla, Bagan was forced to turn and close the distance. He charged the golden dragon and slashed at his chest. Ghidorah took to the air, but not in time. Red blood gushed from the ripped wing membrane like water rushing past a burst dam. In agony, the astral conqueror crashed to the wet earth. Bagan let loose a plasma beam which sizzled in the rain, but the white ejecta washed harmlessly over the astral tyrant’s energy sphere. Ghidorah retaliated with yet more gravity beams that carved sick trenches through Bagan’s exposed chest and legs. Fighting through the pain, the white demon pushed forwards until he had reached his victim.
The pair of oppressive tyrants grappled for position among the muddied forest and rubble. Bagan ripped with claws and slashed with his horns. Ghidorah bit down with his teeth and delivered lethal doses of electricity. Every time Bagan finally grabbed a hold of one of those noodly throats, Ghidorah’s rain drenched form was able to slip away. In contrast, the guardian of the mountains was unable to wrest himself free of Ghidorah’s grip even though he could heal faster. How could this pretender be keeping up with him still? Surely he had to be as tired if not more so than Bagan? The demon’s mind pieced together the answer to his dismay and the moment of realization cost him dearly. The outer two necks of the golden tyrant found their opportunity, and gnawed their way into Bagan’s unarmored chest.
Ghidorah had coasted through this fight. The understanding struck Bagan as painfully as the pair of rabid maws tearing him apart. Bagan had brawled with Godzilla and Gamera both. What had Ghidorah done? He’d remained away from the action and only attacked when it was convenient. He faked his own demise and left the radioactive titan to die. The three headed kaiju wasn’t a dragon… he was a snake! Enraged, the three-horned demon lashed out at the necks attacking him. That ghostly light of the slasher claws trailed off the tips of his taloned fingers. The left neck of Grand King Ghidorah flailed aimlessly as the severed head took its last bites inside of Bagan’s torso. The astral tyrant screamed in disbelief. Desperately, he tried to create distance between himself and this unyielding demon, but Bagan had grasped the head that remained in his chest cavity and held tight. The dust and mud of the crater floor had become thick and muddy, and even a creature of Ghidorah’s size couldn’t get a good enough footing to gain real leverage. The right head began frantically searching inside Bagan’s chest for anything solid to bite down on. As it locked eyes on the strange, sharp bone it felt the heat and agony of the middle head as it was burned away with a concentrated gout of plasma. This close, Ghidorah’s energy shield was no use. Desperate, the final head of Grand King Ghidorah bit down on the end of Gamera’s still-trapped elbow spine and let loose with all of its electric energy!
Bagan reveled in his victory. He was the demon. He was the dragon, and he would not be felled by some cowardly, common snake! Ready to be done with this exhausting ordeal for good, the white demon raised his clawed hand and prepared to remove the final head of this serpent. There was a sound like a distant explosion, though suddenly Bagan couldn’t feel anything. His wounds and fractured jaw were no longer protesting his every movement. Not even the raindrops on his unhealed flesh registered. What was happening? The world began to close in on itself. He remained vaguely aware as the final head of Ghidorah wrested free from his grip. The gore-stained visage had something between its teeth. Bagan’s consciousness was lost to the void before he ever got to make sense of the shattered remains of something in his opponents jaw. The internal damage was simply too great for his body to repair after such an extended ordeal. The demon’s black heart, safe as it had been tucked behind his thick ribcage and lungs, had been torn apart by fragments of the turtle guardian’s elbow-spine as it’s tip had exploded after Ghidorah’s discharge. At last, Bagan’s duty had come to an end.
He was stunned. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. Even as the body of the guardian of the mountains rest unmoving upon the earth, Kahlo refused to accept it. The fact that his sister had been openly cheering for that disgusting three headed beast simply didn’t make sense. Around him, elders sat in silence or sobbed openly for the loss of their beloved guardian. Suddenly irate, the boy lead his sister away from the others, near the mouth of the cave.
“What are you thinking Aska!?” he demanded. “What kind of person cheers against the guardian protecting them!”
The girl looked down sadly before speaking. She didn’t make eye contact with her older sibling. “I had a dream last night that said our real guardian would make sure we were safe. I think he did!”
The young man shook his head. “Are you telling me that three headed… demon was our real guardian? You’re crazy!”
She huffed at him, and sat down against the cave wall with her arms hugging her knees. “No. He wasn’t the guardian, you jerk! The turtle was. Didn’t you see how hard he fought to keep these mountains safe? The others ruined the valleys!”
It was Kahlo’s turn to wear a sulky expression. Now that he thought about it, she was right. Only the giant shelled monster had fought without damaging the land. He took a seat beside his sister and hugged her with one arm.
“Guardian or not, at least we all made it through this mess. If they’d have fought any closer the whole cave would have collapsed.”
A grin returned to Aska’s face as she gratefully accepted the gesture. “Now hurry up and get inside. You’re going to get soaked if you stay that close to the rain.” The girl shook her head with a wide smile. “I can’t! I’m waiting on the guardian! He told me in my dream that I should wait for him here!”
The young man looked at her with concern, but didn’t press the issue. He wasn’t entirely sure he’d ever be able to handle arguing with children, much less his own little sister. The pair watched the water falling from the slope of the rock overhang and Aska fell asleep. Kahlo tried to remember the details of the creatures that had fought so he could tell the best stories among his friends. Only when the little baby turtle poked its tusked head through the incessant rain did the boy finally wake his sister.
As his opponent finally crashed to the muddied ground, Ghidorah cackled and spit out the warm, glowing bone unceremoniously. His own maw was riddled with holes and gouges from the exploding bone he’d bit down on. He’d been lucky that only the tip of the spine had burst, or he’d have died alongside Bagan.
It hurt so badly to laugh, but the pain of victory was a sweet sensation. It reminded the tyrant that he was not yet done. Not with other worlds, and not with this one. He beamed with pride to know that two of the planet’s greatest defenders had fallen here today. Even one of its greatest threats had fallen, and he had seen to that himself. Godzilla’s quest for vengeance had cost him in the end. All of Gamera’s care for that savage species of primitives that inhabited this planet hadn’t saved him. Bagan’s prerogative to defend these lands had resulted in his death.
That wouldn’t be the case for the golden dragon of course. He was the rightful ruler of these lands and all other lands on this pathetic rock. He would “protect” them from interlopers until his real foe finally returned. After he slayed that insect he would take further pride in destroying this rock and forgetting its name as he continued across all of space. The universe belonged to Grand King Ghidorah, and oh how great it felt to be the king.
Winner: Grand King Ghidorah