Author: Forrest Freund | Banner: Christian Salabert

On the shores of Birth Island, a tragedy of nature had taken place; a pod of sperm whales had beached ashore. As the leviathans lay dead and dying, the charnel stench seeped into the water and air, drawing in thousands of scavenging seabirds. It also drew the attention of something from the depths. His sense of smell titillated by the odor of decaying flesh, Gezora swam towards the scent. Reaching the beach, Gezora crawled out of the water and lumbered towards the mass of dying whale meat. Thousands of seabirds scattered as the massive cuttlefish pulled chunks of whale meat off the dying animals and began to feed.

Meanwhile, deep in the interior of Birth Island, the scent of dying whales reached the nostrils of another creature. Rousing from his slumber on an outcropping of rocks, Baragon’s nostrils twitched in anticipation, as the smell of whale meat awaited him. Slowly standing up, Baragon shook himself lazily and lumbered towards the scent.

When Baragon climbed over the crest of the hill that led to the enticing scent, he noticed that he was not the only creature who had followed the smell. Driven by instinctual ferocity and hunger, Baragon screeched a challenge at the creature feeding on the dead whales and charged at the gargantuan mollusk.

Gezora, startled by the sudden noise, turned to see what made it. Noticing the other creature charging towards him, he likewise began to charge, determined to protect his meal from the newcomer.

Once he was within range, Baragon used his powerful leg muscles and leapt into the air. Gezora was stunned at the sight as Baragon landed on him, driving his claws and teeth into his flesh. However, Gezora recovered quickly and wrapped his tendrils around Baragon. Exerting his strength, Gezora constricted Baragon onto his freezing body.

Baragon screamed out in pain as the numbing cold of his foe’s touch slowly leached the life giving heat from his own body. Baragon struggled to break free, but the strength of his foe, along with the numbing cold, made it impossible. Gezora tightened his arms around Baragon, making it harder for him to breathe and drawing more heat from his body.

Baragon, realizing how much trouble he was in, opened his mouth and fired his volcanic flame blast. The searing heat struck Gezora, causing his flesh to blister and crack. Reflexively, Gezora released Baragon as he rubbed the burnt patch of flesh in an attempt to stop the pain. Landing on his feet, Baragon took the opportunity to leap away.

With distance between them, Baragon turned to face his enemy, who had stopped slapping the burnt patch of flesh and directed his attention back on him. Crouching low to the ground, Baragon hissed ferociously, demanding the meal. Gezora croaked at Baragon and moved towards him, tendrils lashing.

Baragon, not wanting to get caught in his foe’s tendrils again, rapidly tunneled underground. Gezora reached Baragon only seconds after he had completely disappeared underground.

Gezora, believing that he had driven Baragon away, returned to the dying whales and lumbered back towards them. He resumed feeding; because of this, he failed to notice the small furrow in the ground that was heading towards him. Suddenly, Baragon’s head emerged from under the sand and fired his heat ray at Gezora. Gezora was taken aback, completely off-guard as the heat beam charred another patch of his flesh.

Gezora groaned in pain and turned towards the source, but Baragon had already retreated underground. Gezora began to wander about, his massive eyes looking about for the creature that dared hurt him. Baragon, sensing Gezora pass over him, waited till his foe was some distance away. He poked his head through the sand again and shot Gezora with his heat ray again.

Gezora turned just in time to see Baragon’s head duck under the sand. Somewhere in his brain, Gezora made the connection to the subterranean terror and the heat-induced agony. Gezora lumbered towards the water, leaving his meal open. Once under the surface of the water, Gezora plopped in the cold shores and covered himself with sand, concealing his massive bulk. Now, he had to wait.

Baragon, having sensed Gezora slipping into the water, emerged from the safety of the underground and surveyed the beach. Gezora was nowhere to be seen, and the feast of whale meat was his for the taking. Waddling over to the whale carcasses, he picked up a large one in his fore-claws and began to gnaw on it.

Seeing Baragon distracted by the whales, Gezora launched his arms from the water. Baragon was caught by surprise as Gezora’s arms wrapped around his legs and tail. Pleased by his ambush, Gezora tugged on Baragon, trying to drag him into the water, where he would have the advantage.

Baragon tried to twist over his own body to reach the tentacles that slowly dragged him into the watery depths. When that didn’t work, he rolled onto his back and curled his body up. Now within reach of the arms grabbing him, Baragon savagely chomped and clawed at them. Below the water, Gezora winced in pain, releasing his grip on Baragon and withdrawing his arms into the water.

Baragon quickly rolled back onto his feet and bombarded the water with heat rays, trying to drive his enemy into the open. Gezora, shielded by the water, swam away from where Baragon was firing, instead moving to flank his right side.

After a little while, Baragon stopped firing and looked around to see if Gezora had emerged elsewhere. Convinced that he had driven his foe away, Baragon turned back towards his meal. Gezora suddenly rushed out of the water towards Baragon. Caught off guard, Baragon barely managed to move before Gezora wrapped his arms around him and pulled him into his freezing grip.

Baragon, driven berserk from the icy pain of Gezora’s touch, ferociously bit and clawed at his foe. This time, Gezora refused to let go, and instead slithered back to the water with prey in tow. Baragon came to the realization that he would drown if Gezora managed to get him underwater. He thrashed about more furiously than before, determined to break free.

As Gezora almost reached the edge of the water, Baragon noticed a patch of charred flesh from one of his earlier heat rays. Taking a desperate gamble, he thrust his horn into the blistered tissue. Throwing his head back with all of his might, Baragon tore the hardened flesh free, revealing a hole to the internal organs of his foe. Gezora shrieked in pain, constricting down tighter on Baragon.

Baragon’s vision began to swim as his body was leached of its heat. Hearing the sound of water below his enemy, he panicked as time was almost up. Opening his mouth, Baragon stuck his head into the torn hole and fired one last heat beam.

Inside Gezora, there was a hideous burst of steam, the sickening sound of rupturing organs. A hellacious scream of the giant cuttlefish resounded as he was cooked from the inside by his foe’s attack. As a stream of liquefied viscera burst from Gezora’s siphon, the massive cephalopod’s grip slackened and he collapsed into the water.

Baragon slowly pulled his head free of his deceased foe, shaking his face rapidly side to side, blood and organ bits splattering everywhere. Backing off of Gezora, Baragon grabbed his fallen enemy’s arms in his mouth and slowly dragged him onto the beach. Once he had brought Gezora’s carcass to the sandy shore, he began to tear great chunks of the cooked flesh off and consume them.

Several hours later, after feasting on most of his foe’s body and several of the dead whales, Baragon curled up on the warm sand and fell asleep, purring contentedly.

Winner: Baragon (Universal)