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Here There Be Monsters

Fiction - by George Thomas







PROLOGUE



Far beneath the surface of the Pacific, at the bottom of the Regasala trench, an enormous creature slides along the ocean floor. The area is pocked and strewn with garbage, a dumping ground where the currents have deposited all manner of jetsam and waste. The creature comes here often. It comes here to feed.

Its many tentacles sluice across the piles of accumulated debris, disturbing a cache of tiny cylinders. A few of the containers rupture as it passes, releasing their contents. The monster's senses alert it to the presence of the strange new substance. Not organic, exactly, but consumable.

It settles its bulk in position, and begins plucking the small containers from the surrounding waste, passing them into its snapping beak. Bits of the rotting metal shells are swallowed along with their contents, and some bits break away. They all bear one thing in common; the markings and symbols That designate the nature of their contents. They all bear the identifiers of drums of nuclear waste...



The Last Godzilla Story

by George Thomas



"Damn it, not again!" A fist slammed down hard on the monitor console, the control center's klaxons all blaring at once. Combat status indicators strobing off the displays like they were having hot flashes. A monster had been sighted in Osaka Bay, and worse, the General was pissed!

"Which one is it, Colonel Saegusa? Gojira?"

"It's Angilas, sir."

"Excellent. Him we can repel. I want it done, Colonel. Drive it out to sea. You know the drill."

"Yes sir!"

General Akira 'Ahab' Munabe rose from his station. There was a slight pause as the synaptic impulse to walk was translated into an electronic signal that his artificial legs could respond to. He strode across the command center, and entered the war room.

"ARES, activate display." He instructed, and the room responded. A translucent wall opaqued, generating an image of the globe. Locator circuits kick in, transmitting coordinates to the screen. A pale green light casts over the man as position indicators begin filling the display, showing the locations of Earth's monsters. The main cluster, as always, was around the islands of the Pacific. Right around Japan.

"Okay, ARES, give me the numbers." The display condensed to the right, allowing numerical readouts to fill the left side of the screen. They were accompanied by the deep metallic voice of the system's audio program.

'System parameters set for twenty subjects: 14 terrestrial/ 5 aquatic/ 1 in geosynchronous orbit. 3 subjects are currently active, 4 remain unlocated.' The computer pronounced.

"And where is Godzilla?"

'Unknown.' The machine replied. It had been over five months since they lost track of the beast. Munabe preferred to know his enemy's location, his strengths and weaknesses. Lack of information was like a window of opportunity, an invitation for attack.

"List active subjects," said Munabe, and the screen responded.

'First Subject: Juvenile Godzillasaurus mutation, codename; Gigantis. Location: Ogeshewara island./ Second Subject: Insectivorid larvae mutation, codename; Mothra Alpha. Location: Pacific Ocean 130 miles south of Philippine Islands./ Third Subject: Anguirusaurus mutation, codename; Angilas. Location: Osaka Bay. Attack on Japanese mainland imminent.'

"I know that, ARES. List unlocated subjects," Munabe instructed.

'Cephalopod mutation, codename: Devilfish.'

"We're always losing him. Go on."

'Presumed saurian mutation, codename: Baragon./ Mutant arachnid, codename: Spegiah./ Mutant saurian, codename: Godzilla,' ARES concluded.

"Can you elaborate on probable location of last subject?"

'The highest probability shows Godzilla within the magma layer just below the continental plates.'

Inside the planet, Munabe thought. It is hiding inside the planet. The heat and pressure there must be incredible! He must think he's safe there, he knows I cannot find him. That must change. I will find a way to track the beast, and then I will destroy him!





Yukio Saegusa stared from her office window, lost in thought. In the Atrium, the children gathered around the great Cherry blossom. They sang to the lovely tree as they did every day at this time. It was the last one left blooming in all New Tokyo. Soon, she feared, it too would be gone.

It was a matter of economy, the Council had told her. Budget cuts were unavoidable. The funds were needed to support other more promising enterprises. The Stratoshield; designed as an artificial ozone layer. The retrocloning of aquatic resources, now that all the whales had been hunted into extinction. And the ARES Defense Net that monitors both natural and electronic activity all across the globe.

This was the age of the cyberspy, the Council had explained. The artificial intelligence achieved by modern computers was at a level where the talents of the students and faculty at the Psionic Research Institute would soon be obsolete. They had been categorized as a non essential expenditure. Nothing personal, they assured her. Nothing personal. Yukio was shaken from her brooding by a knock on the door. "Come in," she said blandly.

"Mother!" Colonel Eiji Saegusa entered. Her only son. So handsome, she thought. The very image of his father. "Mother, I have important news!"

"Eiji, please have a seat. Is this an official, or a social visit?" Yukio asked, amused by her son's enthusiasm.

"Both," he replied. "You have heard the reports of our route of the monster Angilas no doubt?"

"Angilas? I'm sorry, son. I've been preoccupied, I had no idea."

"Oh, mother you are out of touch. The General put me in charge of the operation, my team drove the beast away! I was then summoned to attend the General in the war room..."

"In the ARES Nexus? But noone is permitted to enter the Nexus but Council members!"

"You are right. I have been incepted into the Council." Eiji smiled.

Yukio was stunned. "That's wonderful, son," she replied, trying to seem truly pleased.

"I'm sorry I cannot reveal any details to you, but it involves a leave of absence for the General. He has decided to leave me in command of the Nexus," Eiji hesitated. "Conditionally."

"Can you explain, Eiji? What conditions do you mean?"

"The General asked me to forward a message for him." Eiji took an official looking packet from his coat. "I do not know what this is about, but the message is for you."





Godzilla drifts within the flowing magma deep beneath the planet's solid crust, searching. Following a trail of trace elements, isotopes that would lead it to the deposits of heavy metals it seeks. It was ingesting the radioactive substances, absorbing them. It had come here to feed.

The waves of atomic particles grew stronger. The scattered pulses of energy becoming a bombardment, penetrating the beast, enticing it deeper and deeper toward the planet's core. Godzilla could feel the heady rush of the forces surrounding its massive form. It was sensual, intoxicating. Slowly, the creature began to propel itself closer to the source of its objective. The source of its power.





The Council Hall stood empty, the officials and staff had all gone home. Yukio's footsteps smacked sharply through the wide, dimly lit corridors, approaching the conference room where Munabe requested they meet. She felt vulnerable and alone in the vast complex, and was relieved to find the appropriate door. She rapped firmly on the simuwood surface.

"Araishimasse," a voice bade her enter.

"Konban wa, General," Yukio replied, closing the door behind her.

"My thanks for your cooperation, Saegusa san. It is a very important matter I wish to discuss. One that involves you, and your research. Please, be seated."

"General, may I speak freely?" Yukio inquired, scanning the meeting room.

"Hei. This meeting is unofficial and unmonitored. You may speak as freely as you wish."

"Domo. General, as I'm sure you are aware, 'my' Institute has lost the funding it needs to continue our research into Psionics. Research pioneered by my grandmother, Miki Saegusa. My son has informed me of his 'conditional' induction as a member of the Council that cut that funding. And I find myself here, responding to a request for assistance from you sir, my son's commanding officer," Yukio continued, looking vexed by the circumstances of which she spoke. "Frankly, I am anxious to hear the purpose of this sequence of events, for I do not like the direction they seem to be leading either myself or my son."

"Saegusa san, you are quite direct in conveying your position. I shall endeavor to extend you the same courtesy," Munabe began. "I need you to help me locate the monster Godzilla."

"Locate Godzilla? Why?"

"So that I may destroy the beast, of course."

"General, surely the ARES system can..."

"ARES cannot find him. We lost track of the creature nearly six months ago. All my attempts to discern the monster's whereabouts have been fruitless. You are my last resort, Saegusa san."

Now Yukio knew why she had been summoned here, and she could tell what was coming next. Carefully, she considered her response. "And what makes you think I am even capable of such a feat, General?"

"Because your grandmother was. Your own studies indicate these talents tend to skip a generation, then remanifest. Your mother, Emiko Saegusa, was a Telekinetic, and so I understand is your son. Your own empathy to psionic activity in plant life has been well documented, as was your grandmother's. I believe the Psychic link she established with Godzilla was passed along with it."

Yukio held her anger in check, trying not to reveal her outrage. Munabe had her cold.

"As I stated previously, this is strictly an unofficial meeting. You can choose to walk away, and things will remain as they are. Except of course for Eiji's Council appointment. That would be forfeit. If however you agree to assist me, I can ensure both your son's new position, and the continued funding of your work."

"I suppose then, unofficially of course, I may consider this blackmail?" Yukio growled, no longer able to deny her anger.

"Unofficially, Saegusa san, yes, you can."





The Pacific ocean; US. waters north of the Caroline islands.

The creature known as Mothra Alpha swims northward, back to the islands of Japan. The giant larva undulates its segmented body fiercely, racing against the waves. Racing to warn its brother. Below, something had been awakened, something that now gave chase!

It had almost reached the Equator when it sensed the enemy, its instincts triggering its flight. It was vulnerable here to such a foe. The open ocean was no place for battle with one of its kind!

The water temperature was changing, becoming cooler. It would follow the cool currents home. Suddenly, an immense tentacle broke the surface! Colors shifting across the slimy flesh like an oil slick. The alpha larva reared and screamed as another of the whiplike members rose. Then another, and another...

There was no way out now. Mothra began firing its webbing around the beast's massive arms. The arms rose higher, then crashed down upon the giant caterpillar! One by one they coiled around him, twisting and pulling the larva down. It thrashed and heaved in the creature's grip to no avail. A look akin to terror swept over the Mothra's normally placid visage as it disappeared beneath the waves. In a moment it was over, and the monsters were gone, leaving only a growing slick of ink and blood to mar the ocean's surface, and stain the water black...





The Nexus.

"Phase one has been initiated, ARES. Have the subprograms been encoded and installed?"

'Affirmative. Authorization for response to colonel Saegusa's input has been confirmed.'

"What about his mother, Yukio Saegusa?"

'Psionic link transfer will begin at your command.'

"Probability of success?"

'Success of transfer now at 99%. Safety override factors are all offline.'

"Excellent. The operation begins at dawn." General Akira 'Ahab' Munabe allows a brief smile to settle on his grim, radiation scarred features. A shame, he thought, the Saegusa's would have to be sacrificed, but personnel have always been expendable in this line of work. What cost a handful of lives compared to the thousands lost in the fight against the monster? A noble cause, he told himself. An honorable death.

The Council would never officially condone this course of action. That is why those among them of like mind had formed a Cabal. An inner circle of power and influence whose agenda mirrored Munabe's own. Now that agenda would be fulfilled. Now he would have his revenge on the beast that scarred and crippled him. Now he would see the monster Godzilla dead!





Eiji stood at the Atrium door, unwilling to intrude upon the happy scene before him. His mother led the students in song around the Cherry blossom tree. Eiji could feel the soothing melody in his mind and in his heart. He knew his mother's talents allowed the tree to feel it too, and he smiled.

She was such a gentle soul, he thought. So much in contrast to the intense hostility of his commander. The man was called 'Ahab' for good reason. Why, he wondered, had Munabe requested that meeting? He had come here determined to find out.

The final notes faded, and Yukio led her students in a bow. "Arigato children! You may play for one hour while Mr. Noguchi and I prepare your next lesson."

"Domo arigato, Sensei!" The children chimed as one.

"Eiji!" Yukio beamed, spotting her son. "Children, please welcome my son, Colonel Eiji Saegusa of ARES Command."

Arrashimasse, Colonel Saegusa san!" They again spoke collectively.

Boy, Eiji thought, was it cute when they did that! "Konichi wa, children. I applaud your beautiful song!"

"Arigato, colonel Saegusa san!" There they go again, Eiji smiled!

"So, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?" Yukio asked, leading her son from the Atrium as the children dispersed. "Nani?" She exclaimed, feeling a tug on her coat. It was little James, the school's youngest charge. A telepath from North America.

"Sumimassen, Sensei," the child waved her closer, to whisper in her ear. "He wants to know why Ahab sent you a note!" He explained with an impish grin.

"Thank you, James. Now go on and join the others."

"Hei, Sensei!" He replied with a giggle.

"Gomenasai, my son. I'm afraid James' talents still far surpass his tact!" Yukio explained, embarrassed.

"It's alright, mother. He was quite accurate. I am extremely curious as to the purpose of that meeting you told me of. I believe my promotion was somehow contingent upon your response, and my promotion has just been approved. So tell me, shall we celebrate these developments, or is there cause for me to decline the offer?"

"No, Eiji. You must accept the job," Yukio said quickly. "The General sought only my approval, due to what happened to your father when he held that position." That hurt, she thought. To lie in the name of her late husband, lost in an assault on Godzilla. An assault Munabe had ordered. It was believable at least, and she knew she could no more deny Eiji this opportunity, than she could admit to him the truth behind it. Then there were the children. The funding of her research would now be assured. All she had to do was help Munabe. That, and deceive her only son.

"I'm relieved to hear it. Of course I will accept the position, but first I insist we celebrate! Will you join me for dinner, before I must report back for duty?" Eiji smiled warmly.

"Hei, I would be happy to," Yukio replied. Before I must report for duty as well, she thought.





Far below the Earth's surface, Godzilla's feeding was done. It had consumed vast deposits of radioactive elements, recharging itself. Augmenting the invisible plasma field generated by its massive form. The field that keeps it safe within the magma.

Sated now, Godzilla begins to rise, propelling itself away from the planet's molten core. Its long sojourn beneath the crust was over, the time had come for it to return to the surface. The time had come for it to return home.





ARES Command.

"General, incoming message for you, sir. Priority One."

"I'll take it in the war room, Lieutenant. Colonel Saegusa, you have command." Munabe rose, and entered the Nexus. "ARES, access comlink, and take your monitors off the line." The General faced the screen, and the shadowed image of his associate, 'Mr.Sin'. It was a codename, of course. Being a member of the Cabal, you were either discreet, or you were dead. This contact at the Nexus could only mean trouble. "Mr. Sin. I don't suppose you bring me good news."

"No, Ahab. I do not," the image replied. "As instructed, ARES has been forwarding all Biotracking data to my location so we may control the information released to the Colonel. Something has happened. The system has lost track of Mothra Alpha."

"What do you mean, 'lost track', Sin?" Asked Munabe.

"According to ARES, the creature has just disappeared. The problem is, he is not the only one. This is not some systemic glitch, Ahab. A report from an American cargo vessel confirmed it. They said the larva was attacked by what appeared to be a cluster of giant tentacles."

"Tentacles? Devilfish!" The General swore.

"Hei, I believe so. ARES recorded only a temporary radioactive surge, but the Americans report they are tracking a vast slick of what appears to be ink, very near the Regasala trench."

Damn it, thought Munabe. Damn it! It was as if the beasts too were working against him! How could the octopus avoid the sensornet, or defeat almost any of those other monsters? It had always been among the least troublesome of their number, yet four other creatures were also missing. Could they all have met the same fate as the Alpha Larva? No, not all of them. Not Godzilla.

"There are far too many unanswered questions surrounding these events, Ahab. Your project must be delayed."

"Mister Sin," Munabe began, intense. "Our Cabal was formed to work outside the Council's non-agressive norms. To stand against these monsters, not coddle them. I have had to pull some very sensitive strings to procure the resources I need for this mission, and I cannot let this opportunity slip from my grasp now."

"Ahab, I am talking about an event which took place in US. territorial waters. It cannot be hidden from either the international community, nor the Council. They will demand we take action, a job they will not leave up to anyone but you. Your mission will proceed once the matter of this Devilfish has been resolved," concluded Sin. His tone confirming the Cabal would not tolerate Munabe's contention.

"And what of the Saegusa's?" Asked Munabe. "Their part has already been initialized."

"Mrs. Saegusa's funding has been restored, her son his Council seat. You will instruct her to remain patient and quiet if she wishes to keep her school, and her son, alive."

"This is the Cabal's final decision?" The General asked.

"Any other course of action would compromise our long range plans. I know you understand."

"I understand, Sin. ARES, cut the link." It was a contemptuous dismissal. Munabe didn't care. God damned monsters, God damned politics! The Cabal was as bad as the Council, drowning in the very system it was created to oppose! Still a few hours until dawn. Time enough for the General to play his Ace. The entire Nexus stood ready for him to assume control, and with it, access to the one weapon he knew not even Godzilla could withstand. The G-Bomb, a weapon deemed far too deadly to ever be deployed. He had but to give the word, and the ARES network would be his alone to command. The mission would commence. He finally had the means to destroy his enemy, and if necessary, the Cabal as well.





Eiji closed the comlink access panel and unplugged his ear jack. There was something about his mother's manner during dinner that had left him suspicious, and uneasy. He did not have to be telepathic to know she was hiding something. Now he was sure. Munabe must intend to use her psilink to track down Godzilla, Eiji surmised. The Nexus was becoming less reliable in that capacity by the day. At least the monsters are not playing by Munabe's rules. The Devilfish had delayed the mission, and bought Eiji some time. He would confront his mother about the entire matter tomorrow. Perhaps together they could find a way to thwart this "Cabal", and end the General's mad agenda of revenge.





The ocean could be such a vast and lonely place, and the monster Angilas had had quite enough of it. He had attempted to make landing on the Mother island, but the tiny menthings that dwell there had forced him back. No matter, he was heading away from them now, back to his caverns on Ogeshewara.

A strange scent was sifting in the current, catching his attention. Angilas stopped his advance, floating still upon the water. There was something moving up ahead, closing in from the horizon. Something big, and fast. The creature knew, it was coming for him.

An enormous wake of jet propelled speed exploded from the waves as the Devilfish attacked! The giant octopus encoiled the spiked saurian in its atom powered arms and squeezed. It dare not try to crush him as it had the insect, lest its flesh be shredded against the creature's bony spikes. It could however, force the air out of the beast!

A groping tentacle drew close to Angilas' jaws. The monster lunged, biting down on the slimy appendage, slicing off a fair measure of its length! The Devilfish shifted color, changing from dull orange to deep blood red. The red turned to purple, so dark it seemed the very color of malevolence. The octopus extended its horny beak and drew it tight against the unarmored underbelly of its opponent. Like a switchblade, the rasping tongue shot forth, its barbed tip penetrating Angilas' hide, disemboweling him. The monster trembled and screamed. It died long before its dim brain would even register its own defeat.

The Devilfish labored with its catch, forcing it down below the waves. It would drag the carcass back to the trench, to join the others now rotting at the bottom of the sea. The strange substance it had consumed had somehow increased its power, giving it an instinct that bordered on intellect. The Devilfish had learned a behavior it had never before known. It had learned to hoard its food.





TWO



Dawn in Osaka. Inside what was once the nerve center of G-Force Command. Munabe escorts Yukio into a vast, unused submarine bay.

"This," he announced. "Is our transport. The Bushido Maru." The ship seemed relatively small for its purpose, perhaps forty feet wide, nearly twice that in length. It was bullet shaped, roughly. Its narrow, flattened deck curving gracefully down into a wide, blunted prow.

"I suppose this beauty serves as an airship as well?"

"Actually no, Saegusa san. More of a hovercraft. Come, let us enter, and prepare." Munabe had used up every contact, every resource, to access this ship and its deadly payload. His bullets serving as well as his bribes. As always, his main weapon was ARES. The Nexus was shielding him. Making him invisible, undetectable. Almost like the mutant Devilfish had become. The irony struck him, and he laughed at the thought. Inside now, he began activating the onboard systems.

"Can I assist you, General?" Asked Yukio.

"Not yet, Saegusa san. The ship was designed for easy use. We will be on-line momentarily. Please, sit here at the interface console."

Yukio sat, and Munabe took the helm beside her. He opened the small case he had brought with him, and withdrew two strange looking devices. He passed one of them to Yukio. "What are these?" She inquired.

"Modems. They will link us to the ARES net. Please insert it like so," he pushed the device into a slot in the console, Yukio did the same. Instantly, the ship sprang to life, startling her. "It's alright, Saegusa san! ARES, are you with me?"

'Affirmative.' The machine replied from the craft's intercom.

"Excellent! Give me an onboard status."

'Bushido Maru systems all activated and on-line,' ARES replied.

"We are ready to begin then?" Munabe looked at Yukio.

"Ready," she replied.

"ARES, commence launch. Hold on Saegusa san, we have begun!"

Yukio glared at the General, praying it would all soon be over.





Eiji had gone straight to Yukio's apartment. There was no answer, so he let himself in, realizing he was too late. His mother was gone.

Outside, he could see the old man across the street was keeping an eye on the place. Or on him. Eiji focused, and the man's worn fedora flew from his head. Startled. the old man hurried after the rolling chapeau. TK could be so useful on occasions!

Apparently, Munabe had chosen to ignore the order to delay the mission. Yukio's absence confirmed it. He could not go to ARES for help, but then neither could the Cabal. The Nexus was Munabe's toy now. No, there was only one place left he could go...





Deep within the Regasala trench, the Devilfish lolls bloated on the ocean floor. All around it, the sea has emptied of life, avoiding the area as if it were filled with poison. Viewing the scene of accumulated garbage and rotting flesh, one would not hesitate to testify that it is.

A distant tremor rumbles through the ground, and the Devilfish stirs. Again the sea floor shakes and subsides. The immense octopus is wary now, its instincts alerting it to danger. It sluices forth from the debris as the terrain erupts with sudden volcanic fury! An enormous gash rips wide the earth, venting plumes of sulfuric gasses. The ocean boils as magma spews forth, forming a cone of molten ash. The Devilfish lies caught between its curiosity and its urge to flee, as a massive paw rises and grips the rim of the cone. The cephalopod shields its eyes as the trench is filled with an intense blast of light, and ghostlike, the monster Godzilla rises steaming from the magma and into the sea!





"General, I think I feel something happening," said Yukio. The Bushido Maru had been cruising the depths for hours. Hours in which Yukio had begun to see through Munabe's pretenses. He had broken into battlesong in a peak of elation, then sunk back into a grim mood. He was acting like a man who has nothing left to lose. Such men were dangerous, sometimes even mad. Determined not to slip into panic, Yukio knew she had no choice but to cooperate, lest Eiji and her students suffer as well.

"ARES, are you reading anything?" Asked the General.

'Sensors registering increase in radiation levels, as well as volcanic and psionic activity. Unable to locate source of phenomena, although the Psionic surge has been pinpointed as manifesting from within the Bushido Maru. Its source is Yukio Saegusa.'

"I believe you have found him," said Munabe. "Can you lead us there?"

Yukio tensed, concentrating. "I cannot. It is as if the energy surrounds us, almost a part of the sea. I am sorry, General."

"It's alright, Saegusa san. I have come prepared," Munabe hit a sequence of controls, and the ship's forward motion stopped. "ARES, maintain position." He stood, and took another strange component from his case.

"Saegusa san," the General began, attaching the device to the ARES modems. "Yukio. This is a psionic interface lattice. It functions on much the same principle as the internal units which allow me to control these artificial legs." Munabe was attempting a reassuring tone. He wasn't very good at it. "It will serve to process the biomagnetic field generated by your psilink, and convert it into electronic impulses." Munabe completed the primary connections, then unfolded a slim head band. He passed it to Yukio. "The Nexus will use those impulses to create a program that should be able to mirror your psychic connection, establishing a permanent electronic fix on the beast."

Yukio considered Munabe's words, as well as the device she now held in her hand. She had gone far beyond any fear or trepidation toward the man. Beyond even anger. "General?"

"Yes, Yukio?"

"General, you have made it quite clear to me how important this mission is to you. I have agreed to aid you for the sake of both my son and my students. I am prepared to fulfill my obligations to your cause, as I know you will fulfill yours to mine."

"You are a most noble woman, Yukio Saegusa. You would make any commander proud, as has your son." The General was moved by the woman's conviction, and bowed before her.

"However," she continued. "I have one final obligation here. One which I must now make clear to you."

"Go on, Yukio."

"I have realized that the Council has had no part in sanctioning our activities here. I believe you would go to any length to reach your objective. You would disobey orders. You would lie. You would even kill. I believe it was not only your body left scarred by the monster, but your mind as well."

Munabe remained expressionless as he listened to her, his face betraying no emotion at her words.

"General, I promise you, if anything untoward happens to my students or my son because of your quest for revenge, somehow I will be there, to see that you pay."

"Honorable, and direct," sighed Munabe. "Again, Yukio, I salute you." Munabe bowed, and Yukio placed the lattice across her brow, affixing it from temple to temple. Munabe held the last of the connecting lead wires ready.

"General, one final thing," she looked the soldier dead in the eye now. "Don't call me Yukio." There. That got an expression out of him!





The Institute.

Eiji had been hoping to avoid the watchers, but the watchers were already there. No use being subtle now. He parked at the main entrance, and went inside.

The school was silent, empty. Eiji prayed no real trouble had occurred. Up the stairs, the door to his mother's office was ajar. Slowly, he entered. The place appeared to have been searched. "Where the hell are you, mom?" And where were the children? He peered out the window, into the Atrium. There they were! Relieved yet still wary, Eiji rushed to join them.

The coast was clear all the way. Mr. Noguchi and the students sat in silence around the great tree. They all turned sad eyes to him as he appeared in the doorway. Not one of them rose or spoke a word as Eiji stepped into the room. It was like he was entering a church. Or a funeral.

"She is gone, Colonel," it was little James who spoke. Mr. Noguchi continued.

"Yukio told me she would not be in today. This morning, three men arrived. They said they were government agents, and insisted they examine her office."

"They were lying," said James. "They really wanted to stop her from helping Ahab," the child proclaimed. Eiji knew he was right.

"Can you tell me where she went? Can you help me find her?"

"Hei. I think so," said the boy. "We thought about it real hard. We all did, together. I know this sounds funny, but your mom got ate by a goat."

"A goat?"

"Hei, colonel. A strong image, like a sheep with big horns."

"But it was really like a machine," cried one of the others. "Like a big mechanical ram."

"ARES," Eiji gasped. The image was now indeed clear, but what could it possibly mean? He would have to go back to the Nexus now, to find out.

"Colonel Saegusa, the men outside got guns. You gotta be careful!" James advised.

"Arigato, James." Eiji turned to leave. "Domo arigato Noguchi san, children. Thank you all!"

At the main entrance, Eiji watched the watchers. Two in a car, another conspicuously casual reading a newspaper on a bench. Got to take out the vehicle first.

He focused, and blisters of high pressure air rose upon the tires surfaces. Eiji willed them to balloon and burst! The watchers drew their guns as Eiji raced for his jeep. The one on the bench had a bead on him. Eiji's mind forced the weapon groundward as it fired, shooting its wielder in the foot. His partners took aim as well, and Eiji jammed the triggers tight!

So much for fun and games. He had to get back to the Nexus. ARES was the only one left who could tell him what happened to his mother. Eiji sped away, praying she was all right.





Godzilla stood his ground and roared a muted challenge into the depths! The Devilfish responded, shifting color from a blood red to a violet so dark it was almost black. This beast, it sensed, would be no easy catch!

The saurian stepped closer, and the devilfish unleashed a cloud of choking, blinding ink! Godzilla withdrew a pace, seeking to avoid the noxious spew. He scanned the area, but the enemy was hiding in the murk. Again he roared, and loosed a bolt of nuclear force from his jaws, blasting at the spreading black nimbus!

With blinding speed the Devilfish burst from the cloud, ramming Godzilla with its spiky cranium! Godzilla screams with rage, biting and clawing at the sucking adhesive arms encoiling him! He blasts at the mollusk, it squirms but does not let go. The octopus tightens its sinewy coils around the monster king. The spark of malevolence that burns within its mutant brain fans into a pyre, anticipating the victory. Anticipating the kill...





ARES Command.

The control center was in chaos. Systems cross currenting throughout the network. Functions shunting from station to station. Strange images flash across the displays, combining with the digitized memory of the Nexus' programs. Colonel Eiji Saegusa stood in the center of the maelstrom, and took control.

"Everyone, listen up! Maintain your stations. Monitor this activity only. Do not attempt to interface with the system until I give the order." The crew's frantic activity ceased, and slowly, they became aware of a pattern within the chaos. There was a kind of sequence to the flashing lights, the strobing displays. A subtle order to the bursts of static and energy. It was almost like a melody. Like a song. Eiji marched across the command center, and entered the Nexus.

Inside, the subsystems pulsed to the same strange rhythm, only slower. More peaceful. Eiji was terrified as he realized he knew this melody! It was the song his mother sang to the Cherry blossom tree at the Institute.

"ARES," Eiji called. "Activate and display." The subsystems pulsed, then skipped back into tune. "ARES," he called again. "This is Colonel Saegusa, respond please." Another pulse, then a pause. Then the world seemed to fade as the great display filled with light...

'Eiji?' The voice echoed from the audio system. His mother's voice!

Eiji's knees began to tremble, and he let them drop him to the floor. "Mother?"

'Eiji, I cannot see you. Open a comline.'

"What?" He replied in shock.

'Open a comline, Eiji. Please!' He crawled to the command station and activated a sequence of controls. The display began to focus, and the image of Yukio Saegusa appeared on screen. 'Eiji, my son.'

"Mother, how did this happen? What is going on?"

'It was Munabe,' she exclaimed. 'He sought to tap into my psionic link with Godzilla, and encode it into the Nexus. The process worked, only too well. My mind is inside the network, Eiji. I have become a part of the machine.'

"But what about..."

'My body? I do not know. I believe it may be dead.' The image shifted its gaze, as if focusing on something far away. 'It is so different here, Eiji. I am linked with so many things. Aware of so many things...'

'Mother, how can we stop him? Where has Munabe gone?"

'I am so glad to see you again, Eiji. Have I told you how proud you have made me?'

"Mother, mother you must listen!" Eiji wanted to keep her attention. He wanted to keep her alive. "You must tell me how to stop him. Tell me!"

Yukio's gaze returned, and she looked deep into her son's eyes. 'I do not know. The entire Nexus is his to command now. And yet...'

"Talk to me, mother. There has got to be a way!'

'Perhaps there is. Perhaps together we can succeed!' The image smiled from the display. 'Eiji, I think I may have found the answer.'





The Bushido Maru streaks purposefully through the subsea depths. Munabe was doing his best to ignore the corpse of the woman that lay bundled on the floor behind him. The transfer had succeeded. ARES had locked on to Godzilla! The General squeezed the speed from the ship, racing madly toward the signal's source. Racing down into the carnal house that the depths of the great trench had become.





Godzilla lay pinned beneath the giant mollusk's bulk. The Atomfire was almost ineffective against the beast. Godzilla kept blasting it anyway! Shifting its grip, the Devilfish reared to expose its beak. A stream of thick, fibrous ink shot forth and clung to Godzilla's jaws like a muzzle. Or a web.

The mutant saurian was almost completely immobilized now. Almost. Godzilla tensed, swinging the immense length of his tail up and over, snaring the Devilfish round the base of its balloon like head! The tail coiled tight, trapping the enemy. The mollusk could not squeeze free!

The seabeast spewed its ink and altered its outer skin, transforming the jelly like membrane into a sheath of spiky armor. Godzilla's tail twisted tighter, and with a single mighty thrash he tore the monster loose and smashed it down to the cold ocean floor!

Godzilla rises to stand before his foe. His triple dorsal spines flaring with power as the beam blasts forth, disintegrating the webs. The Devilfish lay pale and stunned, writhing weakly as the King of the Monsters treads closer. Colors shift across the mollusk's hide as it slowly regains its senses. The beast inhales, filling its saclike cranium with water, preparing to jet away. Godzilla's massive tail crashes down, expelling the fluids and smashing the monster senseless! The Devilfish could only shudder and crawl as Godzilla battered it again. And again!

The beast that was once the very bane of the ocean now lay beaten and powerless, its multiple arms drifting freely on the subsea currents. Godzilla grasped the enemy, bending the head back toward the cluster of arms. He lunged, a single savage bite at the stalk of the neck, and the Devilfish was dead. Godzilla raised its fearsome head and roared its triumph into the sea!





Now, Munabe attacks! Godzilla reels as the tiny warship fires its own beams of living light, slicing through his scaly hide. The monster drops the lifeless octopus and turns to confront this new enemy.

Munabe glories in the battle, throwing the ship's entire arsenal at the beast! How he has longed for this moment, plotting his revenge for nearly a decade. He revels in the knowledge that it is he who holds the true power here.

The Bushido Maru was a suicide ship. Like the ancient code of the Samurai for which it was named, it was created to serve a single master. Its destiny to die in service to him, to die in battle. This was the craft's maiden voyage. It would also be its last.

"ARES," the General growled. "Prepare the G-Bomb."

The system pulsed. 'Preparation in progress,' ARES replied. Its voice caught Munabe's attention. There was something about it that reminded him of the words of Yu... of Mrs. Saegusa. Not only your body, she said. It scarred your mind as well. She knew what was coming when she put the lattice on. Be there to see that you pay...

Munabe shook that line of thought, and focused on the monster. Outside, the sea was filling with shrapnel and blood. Godzilla had been wounded. Badly. The General decided he would cripple the beast first. Perhaps then he would kill it. Perhaps.



Godzilla staggers against the warship's assault. Its weapons were penetrating the monster's protective plasma field, ripping into his reptilian hide! What unnatural fires had the humans harnessed now? They were hopeless, destined only to destroy themselves. Godzilla loosed the nuclear beams, trying to incinerate the ship. Munabe kept clear of the deadly salvo, hiding among the lingering clouds of ink, and piles of debris.

"ARES, I want that weapon ready now!" Munabe screamed.

'Preparation in progress,' the machine replied.

The General primed the ship's last volley of force harpoons, and fired! They struck the beast at the base of the neck and detonated, The combined concussive force slamming Godzilla to the ground! Now Munabe roared in victory, a sound to rival the warcries of the monsters themselves! He slumped into the command chair, spent and exhausted, struggling past the sounds of his own labored breathing to listen...

The sounds of the ship were combining, becoming synchronous. The monitors and lights joined in the pattern, creating a rhythm. Creating a song.

Suddenly, the ship was rocked by an enormous impact! The General was thrown from his station and sent flying across the cabin. Something soft had cushioned his fall, and he struggled painfully to his cybernetic knees. "ARES, report! What is happening?" Munabe screamed as the ship bounced fiercely. Something was dragging it across the ground. Something struck him from behind, and he grabbed at the air in panic. "What is happening?!!" He turned, and the face of Yukio Saegusa stared blankly from its khaki shroud.

'It is revenge, Ahab,' The voice replied from the intercom. Her voice! 'It is what you have always desired.'

Had the lips of the dead woman parted just then? Munabe threw the body aside and ran to the main screen. The landscape shifted as the craft was dragged along the trench's floor, toward the still spewing cone of the volcano. In the distance lay the motionless form of Godzilla. Closer, a tentacle's trailing edge. The screen was blocked as a huge suckered arm encoiled the ship, and thrust it into the flames!





Eiji Saegusa opened his eyes, and wiped away a tear. Munabe was dead, leaving Eiji looking forward to what would be a most interesting court martial. He raised his eyes to meet Yukio's, gazing back at him from the screen. She was a part of the Nexus now, and for a few brief moments, he had joined her.

'We did it, Eiji! I thank you, my son. Only your TK abilities could have moved that monster,' Yukio spoke proudly.

"Mother, we can get you out somehow. Make you another body, maybe..."

'No, Eiji,' the machine intoned. 'I already know where I am going. Like Munabe, it is where I have always wanted to be.'

"Mother, we need you here!" Eiji pleaded.

'Trust me, I will always be with you. Don't you hear the song, Eiji? Is it not beautiful? I don't believe I have ever really taught it to you. Listen, I will teach it to you now.'

Eiji stood before her image, and she began to sing. There was a kind of majesty in her tone. A haunting reverence in her voice that lifted his heart. He joined his voice with hers, and together they sang to the rhythm of the Nexus. Eiji tried to hold on to the spark of joy in his voice as his mother slowly faded from the screen, reverting to electronic pulses. Soon they too were gone. The song was over, leaving only silence.





Godzilla rose from the carpet of bones and garbage that line the bottom of the trench. Somehow, the tiny man-ship had nearly defeated him. His gaping wounds a testimony to its power. He had felt the rage and madness that emanated from the warship's human master, like a nexus for the very forces it was his destiny to oppose. Those forces had almost destroyed him, when something incredible happened. Something that moved the form of the fallen Devilfish and killed the man-ship weapon. Something Godzilla had once been connected with long ago. Something buried deep beneath all the hatred and ignorance that poisoned the heart of man. The Devilfish and the man-ship were burning in the volcano now. Burning in the fires of redemption.

Somehow Godzilla knew, mankind had just saved themselves .





EPILOGUE



The Institute.

Eiji smiles as he gathers the children in the Atrium. Mr. Noguchi joins them, accompanied by the Prime Minister and a delegation from the Council. "Children, please welcome our honored guests."

"Irrashaimasse!" They echoed together.

The Colonel was right, the PM thought. It sure was cute when they did that! "Domo arigato, children," the PM spoke. "We all know what really happened now. How Munabe turned renegade, and your teacher Yukio Saegusa worked to save us all. The Cabal too has been exposed, thanks to you all, but we have come here today not only to thank you, but to decide what happens next." He looked at the students approvingly, and smiled. "We would like you to help us make those decisions."

The children bowed in agreement, and joining hands, they gathered around the tree. Little James approached Eiji, and held his tiny hand forth. Eiji grasped it, and began to listen with his mind. The Officials observed, unsure what to make of it. Noguchi just smiled, he could guess what they were up to.

The link was complete, and trance-like, Eiji began to speak; "A lesson has been put before us, one that began the day Godzilla first appeared. For too long we have refused to see, seeking to destroy what we do not understand. That was Munabe's mission, only he was prepared to destroy the rest of us as well.

"It is our own madness that remains the true monster here. Godzilla could only warn us, remind us of that danger. Show us the horrible consequences of the self destructive nature that overcame the spirit of Munabe. He was trying to prevent us from destroying ourselves."

Eiji gasped, blinking open his eyes. He looked at the children, and they all sat down upon the floor. Noguchi and the delegates joined them as Eiji closed his eyes and resumed.

"Ahab's death must be conclusive. With him must die the self destructive instincts which have plagued us for so long. Only then can we achieve our goals, only then will we be free from Godzilla and the rest of his kind. I cannot provide the answers you seek, but I can leave you my own reminder." Again Eiji broke the connection, catching his breath.

"Just a little more, Colonel. You can do it," said James.

Eiji nodded to go on. "I promise you all, for as long as a single blossom blooms upon this tree, the monsters will plague you no more. It will be up to you now, to all of us, to strike at the abusers of power, the enemies of nature, the deniers of compassion. Only you can heal the wounded spirit of humanity. Godzilla will not be there to do our dirty work anymore.

"If you should fail, and the madness continues, then the tree will refuse to bloom, and Godzilla will return to finish what we ourselves have begun. Choose wisely your destiny, and tend your planet and your future well. I wish you luck."

Eiji drew a slow breath, and opened his eyes. The Delegates stared back in awe. His mother's words had not been wasted, he could see it in their eyes. They were beginning to understand.

"She is in the tree," said Noguchi. "Her spirit dwells there now."

"As does her link to the monster," Eiji observed. "That is how her promise will be kept."

The Prime Minister stood, attempting to collect himself. They had all learned more than any of them could have bargained for this day. "It is indeed a great lesson we have all been shown. A basis for a new, long range agenda. I vow we shall work together, to heal the scarred heart of humanity. To set an example of brotherhood the whole world will come to embrace. I suggest we begin right now."

Little James began to sing, the song of the Cherry blossom tree. Eiji joined him, then Noguchi. The other children followed, then the officials caught on, completing the chorus. The blossoms seemed to brighten at the sound, and they knew that within the subtle glow of the countless tiny flowers, Yukio Saegusa was singing too.

Perhaps there was still some hope left for humanity after all. Perhaps this would be the last Godzilla story.





END