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Here There Be Monsters

FICTION - by George Thomas









PROLOGUE:



Dearest Anna;

Though it grieves me to have to write to you under these circumstances, I feel we may all be in great danger.

My daughter Kyoko has been researching among the island tribes of the South Pacific, studying their languages, customs and beliefs.. She contacted me just last week, from Kunashirashima.

It seems the Koshida natives have undergone a resurgence of the cult of the Obake, led by our mutual friend Matsu. He has informed Kyoko of certain prophecies which I believe reflect on both the events we witnessed back in nineteen fifty-nine, and those I fear may be yet to come.

The JSDF still maintains a small military outpost just outside Oneda city, and they still patrol that lake, allowing free access only to the natives and the occasional anthropologist. Kyoko informed me that access has now been cut off. Large numbers of armored reinforcements have been arriving covertly from the mainland, and the areas surrounding both the compound and the lake are in a total security clamp down. I fear we both know what this must mean.

Anna, Paul and I are desperately worried for Kyoko's safety. We hope there might be something you or Kenji could do to help.

Sincerely yours,

Shidori

War against the Wild Gods

BOOK ONE: Godzilla Versus Varan

(Originally featured in issue #20 of G-Fan Magazine)







FIRST CONJUNCTION



Ken Bradley did not want to be here. He hated visiting relatives, especially in hospitals, but when his mother received the letter from the Iso's, she insisted that he go.

Oneda may be a modern city, but it was no San Francisco. Ken had a passing command of Japanese (again, thanks to his mother), and managed to obtain a room number and Pass from the desk nurse. Might as well get this over with, he thought.

In the hallway, Ken passed an open waiting room door and, whoa! Back up now, peripheral vision caught something strange in there. Inside were five of the island natives, clad in elaborate ceremonial garb. Embarrassed, Ken waved hello and quickly continued on. Kind of Hare Krisna looking dudes, he thought. Maybe this place was a bit like home after all.

Room one nineteen. Okay, here we go. He rapped lightly, then opened the door.

"Kenji?" Came a soft voice. "Ken Bradley?!" It was Kyoko Iso. On the bed lay Uncle Matsu, eyes closed.

"Hai. It's been a long time, Kyoko," Kenji smiled, then looked to Matsu. "How is he?"

"He is very pleased to see you again, Kenji Bradley!" Matsu's eyes opened, and a wry smile crept across his face.

"You old scalawag!" Ken laughed. "What's supposed to be wrong with you anyway? You faking us out again or what?"

"Kenji, please," began Kyoko. "Our uncle is indeed quite ill."

"Not too ill to visit with my family," Matsu spoke playfully. "Tell me now, how is your dear mother doing these days? I cannot help but remember how hard it was on her when your father passed away."

"My Mom's doing well, uncle. She has taken a small apartment near mine and we visit often. And now, she's sent me all the way here, so tell me, how can I be of aid to you?"

"You cannot," snapped Kyoko. "I am sorry, Kenji, but I never asked my parents to call for you. I need no help in this affair, and you have no business here."

Ken didn't know what to say. He was already well acquainted with the young lady's legendary attitude, and was unwilling to make matters worse. Besides, he thought; she really has become quite a looker!

"Kyoko! Have you been in the jungle so long you forget how to behave like a lady?" Matsu asked, smiling. "You two should learn to get along together, a kiss hello would be a good start."

"Uncle!" Kyoko blushed.

"I agree," said Kenji. "We should cooperate. What would our parents say to see us quarreling so?"

"All right, uncle," Kyoko relented, flashing her pretty smile. "I will relate what we have found to Mr. Bradley here, but I'll thank you not to go making suggestions about whom I should be kissing in the future."

"Um, uncle Matsu?" Ken inquired.

"Just a moment. I'm thinking about it," the old man replied playfully.





Later. Ken and Kyoko sat in Ken's small rented cottage by the shore, sipping tea. The seabirds whistled, calling on the coming of the night. Ken could tell Ms. Iso was still uncomfortable having him here, reluctantly agreeing to accompany him back to his place for a debriefing. He couldn't help thinking; he would have preferred the kiss. "Kyoko, I'm still having some difficulty with all this 'prophecy' jazz."

"Oh, which part?" She asked flatly.

"Which...oh boy. Okay, how about the part where the stars are lining up with these island temples you've been researching for the past three years. How this island is at the center of that configuration. And that unless the Koshida manage to heal their lake of the damage my father wrought on it back in nineteen fifty nine, they fear the monster is going to return to finish what it started forty years ago."

"Oh, that part," the anthropologist replied. "Look Kenji, it was all there in my notes before I even came to this island. But it was not until Matsu told me of the prophecies that I saw the truth."

"Which is?"

"That when those distant stars align, they form three patterns. Patterns which converge..." from her pack she withdrew a small chart. "Right here. That's the Obake's shrine back at the village, Kenji. That is where they pray to the monster."

"Yeah. Varan the Unbelievable. The Obake from the lake," Ken leaned close to her. "I've read all the headlines, the correspondence, the documentation. But those were our parents who experienced that stuff. It all still seems like a scary story they would tell me as a kid. Now that I'm grown up, it's not easy to have to suddenly take it seriously."

"Ken Bradley, I don't think I really care just how you take it anymore."

Uh oh, Ken thought. Here it comes.

"I indulged you this far for Matsu's sake, but you seem to have as little faith in my findings as you do in the testimonies of our parents!"

"Kyoko..."

"I would prefer not to hear it, Kenji." Kyoko finished her tea and rose, gathering her things. "I will be quite busy for the next three days. The first conjunction is coming, and I must negotiate to gain access to the lake."

"Come on, Kyoko! If you really believe in this prophecy of the Koshida, then let me join you. I'm the one who's supposed to heal the lake, remember?"

"And your also supposed to have a perfected version of a failed, forty year old experiment ready to use in less than three days," Kyoko strode briskly to the door. "That's the part where my doubts lie." The door slammed behind her.

"I've got news for you, pretty lady," Ken thought, watching her from a window. "I've already got it."





Three nights later.

"So, Mr. Bradley, that is your proper name, correct?" The name plate on the officer's desk read Ichiro Goro. He wore the bars of a captain.

Ken had made a mistake. A biggie. He had managed to infiltrate the lakesite's perimeter, and lie low in the bushes until dark. There were still far too many guards about for him to make his move and, well, he sort of fell asleep there. Things may have still worked out all right, if only he had not begun to snore. "Yes sir, that's correct."

"And what exactly were you going to do with these then?" The soldier asked firmly, holding forth one of Kenji's chemical filled cylinders.

"I..." Ken began.

"Yes?"

"I am an American citizen and I don't have to say anything until I contact my attorney."

"In that case, I will take the liberty of informing you of our positions, from my perspective. You my friend are Mr. Kenji Lawrence Bradley from San Francisco, USA. You hold honorary degrees in chemical engineering from three stateside Universities. Your mother, Mrs. Anna Bradley, widowed. Your father, the late Major James L. Bradley, a one time special military liaison stationed here with the Japanese forces as commander of operation Shuzuka back in nineteen fifty nine. That project was designed to test an experimental chemical desalinization compound in Obake lake. A compound your father himself had developed. How am I doing so far, Mr. Bradley?" Asked the captain, pacing about.

"Um, quite well actually. Please, continue."

"Domo. That operation, as you know, was a tragic failure. Instead of desalinizing the lake water, it became toxic, and remains so to this day. And then of course, there was the monster." The soldier paused to light a cigarette, offering one to Ken which he declined. He sat then, and continued.

"This base has been maintained as a contingency against the creature's return. A contingency which may need to be called upon very soon.

"I was recently contacted by a young anthropologist named Kyoko Iso. She came to me on behalf of the Koshida, claiming to have uncovered a prophecy which dates the monster's return, as of tonight. She also informed me of your arrival here."

"What?" Ken exclaimed.

"Yes, Ms. Iso was quite clear in her opinion of your activities. She warned me that you might attempt to unleash your own destructive formula into the lake, albeit in what she claimed was 'a misguided attempt' to undo the harm caused by your father."

My God, Ken thought. She set me up.

"I assured the young lady, as I assure you now; there is no way I will allow this island to become a proving ground for anyone's unauthorized experimentations."

She set me up! Ken was stunned, thinking how he could have ever found her attractive.

"Military police have been sent to your residence to confiscate any more of this compound you may have hidden there, and for the next twelve hours, at least, you will be held in custody until the appointed time of the conjunction has passed." Captain Goro stubbed out his cigarette and reclined, obviously quite pleased with himself. "After that, we may just release you, provided you agree to leave this island as quickly as you arrived."

"You don't have to worry about that, sir. I only came here to try to help a friend. That help has been rejected, and there's nothing I'd like more than to get out of here now!"





A lone woman sits by the shore of a lake on a not so lonely island. She watches, the only movement a pattern of stars, shifting slowly out of alignment.

"Kenji. How can I have done this awful thing? My ambitions may have caused me to sacrifice a friend, and for what?" She lamented. "The hour is past, the first conjunction has ended, and the lake remains still and lifeless. How could I have been so stupid as to lose my objectivity, to believe these old superstitions? And worse," she thought, gathering her things for the trek back to the village. "How did I allow myself to betray you?"

Kyoko Iso's footsteps fade slowly from the sand, disappearing into the darkness of the jungle trail home. Yet, as one sound fades, another one builds. It is distant, a series of slow, rhythmic impacts. Building, building, coming closer. Offshore, the sea begins to writhe and boil. The surface breaks, cleaved by an immense serpentine tail. Triple rows of huge abstract dorsal plates rise slowly from the waves, reaching higher, until with a final shrug, the great reptilian head emerges. Eyes scanning, fangs dripping with foam. It seems the monster from the lake should not have caused such great concern after all, for rising now from out of the sea, is the monster Godzilla!





SECOND CONJUNCTION





"Kenji! Ken Bradley!" Kyoko's cries cut through the misty dawn, searching. "Kenji, where are you?!"

The scene was devastation. The military compound reduced to rubble in the monster's advance. They had all but forgotten the detainee when the alarms sounded, attempting to release Ken to safety just a little too late.

"Ms. Iso, he is here!" Cried one of the natives in the hastily formed search party. They all converged on what remained of the detention house.

"Is he..." Kyo asked warily.

"He lives, Ms. Iso," the villager replied.

Thank God, she thought, her heart fit to break at the sight of him. A large black bruise covered the exposed part of his face. From his mouth ran a trickle of spittle and blood. His lower body was trapped, pinned by the blocks that had once formed a wall. Kyo could not help realizing; this was her fault. "Help me get him out of this," she pleaded.





The beast that is more than a beast strode inland, surveying his domain. Something had compelled Godzilla to make this journey. A distant urge that was somehow...familiar. There was something here he had to find.

He had landed on Kunashirashima, and followed the shoreline south, searching. There, he encountered a vast, steaming lake. The lake was dead now, and it reeked of man. A foul, toxic stink so pervasive as if it had been put there to mask some other scent from long ago. Yes, there was another spoor here. Subtle, indefinable, alien. Frustrated, Godzilla moved on. Whatever it was he had sensed here was certainly long gone by now.

Nearby, he came upon a village of humans. They doused their lights and became still at his approach. It was such a small blight, this village. Easily scourged. Yet, the monster hesitated to observe them before he took action. Yes, they were of the Old Folk. The ones who acquiesced to his power, or the power of those that were like him.

There was a central structure where the humans gathered. Within was an image, an icon of some Wild God from long ago. This was, he sensed, a focus for the humans, and somehow also a part of his own quest. Could this be some representation of...brethren? A creature that had once inhabited that lake, before the Modern Folk came and drowned it in their stink? Godzilla advanced to investigate further. He would grasp this small totem, possess it. Examine the nature of its mystery. He took another step forward, then came the attack!

Without warning the pre-dawn light glowed red with the fire of man. They hurled their weapons upon him, forcing the monster back. Godzilla turned to face his attackers, and unleashed the fire of his own! Explosions rocked the landscape as the weapons of the Modern Folk were obliterated, destroyed by the bolts of pure Atomic force which had become the creature's lifeblood. Godzilla could now clearly see the forces that were arrayed against him, their lights massed and reaching off into the distance. Toward another group of structures that could only be their nest.

Behind him, an inadvertent tail swipe had raked the native village, destroying their structures and the icon he had wished to possess. Godzilla had not intended that, sensing their link to his goal. Enraged, the monster advanced upon the enemy, crushing their vehicles and scattering their troops. He had not come here to destroy, but this attack had interrupted his journey. Now he would repay that attack in kind, and destroy the humans at their nest!





The darkness swam before Ken Bradley's eyes, interspersed with pulsing points of light. There was a voice, soft and distant. It called his name, urging him closer.

The sun had risen now. He could feel its warmth on his skin, and as he opened his eyes, its glare obscured the face that hovered over him. Oh no, he thought, blinking as his vision slowly cleared. It's her.

"Kenji. How are you feeling?"

"I'm just peachy, dear. How was your evening?" Ken replied with venom. Then he saw the tears in her eyes, and she spoke through choking sobs.

"Kenji, I'm so sorry! I, I never meant for you to be hurt in any way!"

"Why, Kyo? Why did you set me up?"

"It was my research. I could not allow you to alter the conditions surrounding the prophecy. Unleashing your chemical, no matter how beneficial, would have invalidated three years of my work! I had to determine if these legends would stand by themselves, without interference from any external influence. I'm sorry, Kenji."

Terrific, he thought. She's sorry. She's crying. She's beautiful. What am I thinking? Must've been a tougher shot to the head than I thought. "Kyo, you could have been straight with me, told me how you felt. If you weren't so busy giving me an attitude we may have actually been able to work this out!"

"Ken," she began, but Ken wasn't finished yet.

"I hope you and your research will be very happy together. That beast didn't come from the lake, Kyo. It came from the sea. Varan's a no show. You got Godzilla instead. Godzilla for Christ's sake!"

"Ken, please..."

"No, you please! I've listened to enough crap from you. Ooohh..." Ken's whole body still ached . "I don't know why I'm wasting my breath. It's Godzilla I should be feeling sorry for. If he knew he'd have to face someone like you here he'd..."

Then, she kissed him. A long, gentle kiss. It was soothing. It was nice. She released him, and looked into his eyes. He peered back, and found something there he had never seen before.

"What," Ken was more than just a little speachless. "What was that for?"

"For you, silly," she smiled at him, the most disarming smile that Ken had ever seen. "Uncle was right. A kiss is a good place to begin." She gently stroked his bruised cheek, and leaned closer...

"Ms. Iso! Mr. Bradley," cried one of the locals. Nice timing, thought Ken. The Koshida led a group of his fellows, carrying armloads of bundled burlap. "We finished searching the compound," he placed one of the bundles before them and unwrapped it. "We found these."

Inside was a stack of cylinders attached to long rods. They had found Ken's stock of DSC. "They belong to Mr. Bradley, yes?" Asked the islander. "It is a good thing we have found them for you, yes?"

Ken and Kyo looked at each other and smiled. She turned to the native and agreed. "Yes, my friend. A very good thing."





Godzilla continues his inexorable trek across the island. A wake of nuclear flame burns at his passing. Behind him lay the wreckage of the humans nest, their weapons all wasted, their war machines dead. Was this the purpose behind the strange compulsion which led him here? To scourge this place of humans, cleanse it of those who do not belong? No, that could not be right. Not exactly. This conflict, like most, was mainly incidental. The monster had not sought to initiate these hostilities, they had been forced upon him. The Modern Folk had caused their own destruction, caused it by tempting his wrath.

Once again, the King of Monsters was unopposed. He would continue his quest for the meaning of The Urge. Not a pawn, so much, as a participant. This island was his stage, yet he was forced to search out the nature of the drama of which he was a part. Force it to reveal itself to him.

Something in the air was changing. Obscured by daylight, a conjunction of stars began to align, to form a pattern. There was a hint of conflict, of challenge in the atmosphere. There was also a city. He could smell the human hive up ahead, mixing with the scents of the sea. Godzilla disliked human cities. They stank. Finding no other foes to oppose him, the strange feeling of challenge now charging the very air, Godzilla advanced toward the hive to observe. Perhaps there he would find the meaning he sought. He would reach the city by the time darkness began to fall.





Nightfall at Obake lake. It was a strange tableau. Ken and Kyo led the vigil, surrounded by the remnants of the Koshida, now clad in their ritual robes. Rocket launchers salvaged from the wreckage of the Defense Force base stood smoking, positioned around the lake's perimeter. Their payloads delivered, they had done their job. The lake's surface remained calm, reflecting a pattern of stars high above. The hour of the Second Conjunction had arrived.

From the jungle came the sound of footsteps approaching. Ken signaled for everyone to take cover, and a pair of figures emerged from the brush. The first was Captain Goro, Commander of the decimated outpost. The other was Matsu.

"You may all come out now," the old native cried. "Come and join us upon the shore!"

Slowly, the Koshida revealed themselves, and Kyoko ran forward. "Uncle! Uncle Matsu!" She cried in relief, embracing her mentor. "What are you doing out of the hospital? You should not be here, it is not safe!"

"I am responsible for your uncle's premature release, Ms. Iso," Goro confessed. "Ah, Mr. Bradley!" He called as Ken approached. "I am greatly relieved to see you. I have failed in my duty to see to your welfare, and can only apologize for my part in your current condition."

"Well, we were caught off guard here, captain. It's not your fault we suffered an attack by Godzilla. Apology accepted."

The captain bowed, and Kenji offered the man his open hand. "Ms. Iso seems to have had a change of heart regarding your involvement here."

"Among other things as well, eh Kyoko?" Teased Matsu.

"Uncle, must you always be right?" She smiled. Ken's bruises concealed his blush.

"Let us hope he is correct about our current situation as well," said the captain. "My forces were decimated in the monster's attack. Few of us escaped. We ran through the jungle for most of the day, and finally reached Oneda. Immediately, we were taken to the hospital. That of course, is where I was reunited with Matsu."

"And glad I was to see you, my friend," exclaimed Matsu. "Ichiro here is the nephew of Captain Kishi, the garrison's former commander. I have known him his whole life, and he too is like family to me. Just as you all are!" Matsu made an expansive gesture, including all the Koshida, Goro, Kyoko and Ken.

"I have decided to take Matsu's views under advisement," said Goro. "The city is being evacuated. Replacement troops are now arriving , and being held in reserve at the port. I am still concerned however, with the use of your 'perfected' desalinization compound in this lake, Mr. Bradley."

"It's Kenji, okay?"

"Okay, Kenji," Goro agreed. "So, you timed the chemical bombardment with the height of the conjunction, as Matsu had advised?"

"Well, sort of," Ken replied nervously.

"What do you mean; 'Sort of' ?"

"What Kenji means is that the timing was perfect..." said Matsu.

"But the conjunction was wrong," finished Kyoko. "The primary conjunction was the one where 'The sour water should become sweet'. I fear we may have acted too late. Oh uncle, this is all my fault!"

"What's done is done my child. There is not a one of us who, at some point, has not had to think twice about their own judgment."

"Have you observed any effects yet?" Asked Goro.

"No. Nothing," said Kyo.

"But I think we may be about to," cried Ken. "Look! Look at the lake!"

The surface of lake Obake began to shift and smoke, dancing to the rhythm of the stars that moved above it. But it was what moved below that was the focus of their concern.

It broke the surface then. A row of immense crystal spikes rising from out of a slick, saurian hide. A harsh chemical stench rose with it, mingling with the sharp tang of ozone. It hissed, a cold piercing shriek like a bellows pumping steam through some hellish pipe-organ. The Second Conjunction had passed, heralding the return of Varan the Unbelievable, and the beginning of a battle for supremacy between two of the most powerful creatures that the Earth has ever spawned!





FINAL CONJUNCTION



Oneda city lay empty, sprawling silent at Godzilla's feet. The sense of challenge he had felt now charged the air, electric! His senses were heightened, instincts all firing at once. Conflicting signals which caused him to hesitate, to halt his inexorable advance. The indefinable tension became too much too bear, and he lifted his head and roared, unleashing a blast of energy from his maw!

Again Godzilla roared his challenge, his nuclear beams sparking, cleaving through the heavens like a searchlight to the Gods. Again he raged, and again! Then suddenly, there came a response...

From out of the jungle came a low hissing shriek. A wave of mist rolled in, carrying with it an unnatural chemical spoor. The scent was familiar, it was the smell of the beast from the lake! Godzilla turned, and the true purpose of his journey became instantly clear, for there stood the Obake, Varan the Unbelievable!

Varan hissed in outrage and charged! It's long slumber had been disturbed, shaken from sleep by some strange compulsion. But the chemicals that kept it dormant were still at work. It could not move. Another day passed, and again the Urge had come, but this time it was different. A new wave of chemicals was permeating the lake, penetrating Varan's scaly hide. Assaulting his own biology, as well as the still toxic waters around him. He could feel his body leeching the minerals from the lake, absorbing them. Processing the saline and converting it into raw energy! Varan rose from the water then, hungering for more...

A group of humans had scattered at his advance. Then, Varan saw that one had remained. It was making tiny songlike noises, and Varan had paused to listen. Another of the small creatures approached to join it's fellow, and the Obake swept them aside. He had caught the scent of the invader, saw the scorched earth that marked it's trail, and Varan followed.

Now, he grappled with the beast, smashing and clawing! There was vast power in this creature, power for which Varan hungered!





It was silent on the shore of Obake lake, save for the anguished sobbing of a tortured soul. Kyoko Iso cried in grief as she knelt beside the lifeless body of her uncle Matsu. Nearby, Kenji crossed himself as he closed the eyed of Captain Goro for what would be the final time.

Slowly, Ken rose from the sand and joined Kyoko. It was getting harder to believe this was the same woman he would have gladly strangled only yesterday. Seeing her so hurt, sharing the grief of Matsu's death, he began to realize just how much in love with her he really was. He caressed her then, held her sobbing in his arms. For a little while at least, there was nothing they could say.

"I'm sorry, Kyo." Ken finally broke the silence. "This time, I'm the one who must take responsibility."

"No, Kenji. Do not blame yourself. Matsu did what his beliefs dictated he must. As did Goro, as did we all. Only, it all seems to have gone so horribly wrong! I fear it shall only be the worst aspects of the Koshida prophecy we will see fulfilled."

"The final conjunction is tonight, Kyo. Any idea what we can expect?"

"Hai. Unless the monster Varan can be defeated, the destruction it will cause will not be limited to Kunashirashima. It is said the beast will journey, much as I have done, to the island temples of the other Wild Gods, destroying their people and gathering their powers. It may well become unstoppable then. It may destroy mankind!"

"Kyo, our folks managed to defeat the beast forty years ago, using the prototype on which my current formula is based. Goro's jeep is close by, I'm taking it back to Oneda. If there is truly nothing left of the stockpile they once kept at the port, then I should at least be able to synthesize a sample from the equipment at my cottage. The Defense Force or whoever can take it from there."

"Kenji, you cannot go back there now, those monsters will tear that city apart!"

"So you're saying we're supposed to rely on Godzilla and Varan destroying each other?"

"No. I'm saying that I love you Kenji, and I could not bear to lose you too."

He held her then, and swore to himself he would never let her go. "I love you too, Kyoko. But this is something I've got to do." He kissed her sweetly. "I promise there is nothing that will keep me from coming back to you. Will you be alright here with the Koshida?"

"Hei. We will keep Goro's body at the temple, and prepare uncle Matsu for the sacred rite of passage, from this world to the next."

"Sacred rite of passage?" Ken inquired.

"It is his final duty as their spiritual leader," she replied. "His body, as well as his spirit, will be given back to Obake lake."





Dawn was rising over Oneda city. A dawn stained red with the blood of monsters. The battle had raged for hours now. The combatants, though unevenly matched, were equally relentless in their fury. The stellar forces that had driven them to this conflict now held the two behemoths in an unshakable grip. Locked in a struggle which could only be broken when one of the beasts lay dead!



Commander Yoshi Nakano observed the battle from his vantage point atop the lighthouse. His troops stood ready to advance at a moments notice, and would remain so until he signaled otherwise. Captain Goro had left specific orders to hold the forces at the port in reserve for as long as possible. His own garrison had been destroyed attempting to hold off Godzilla alone. Attacking them both would be little more than a suicide run for these soldiers.

Luckily, the monsters struggles had not intruded much into the city's perimeter, yet. How long, he wondered, could they keep this up? Even beings as powerful as these must tire eventually...



The King of the Monsters was tiring. He had been battling this spike-backed enemy for most of the night. Smashing it with his tail, burning it with his beams, and every time he struck it down, the beast had come back for more! Godzilla bled where the creature had bitten him, the wounds burning as if filled with acid instead of saliva. There was something in the smell of the beast, in the mists that hung around it, that seemed to be draining Godzilla of energy. He was weakening fast, and Varan renewed the attack!

Varan's long whiplash tail snaked out, entwining Godzilla's legs. Its crystalline spikes pierced his flesh, pinning him like some immense iron maiden. Grappling at such close quarters, Varan grabbed for Godzilla's jaws and wrapped his webbed claws around them, clamping them shut. Godzilla too grabbed hold of his opponent's spiky flesh. He dug in his claws, and looked the maddened beast right in the eye...

His dorsal plates flared, sparking into a radioactive nimbus that erupted all around him. From deep within the core of his own atomic mass, Godzilla generated a devastating nuclear pulse! Shockwaves of pure power blast outward, ripping into the Obake and hurling him smoking into the jungle!

The King of Monsters was spent. He may well have let himself fall then, were it not for the length of the Obake's tail that had ripped away from the creature, still digging into his legs. Painfully, he pulled it from his flesh, and hurled it away. He staggered forward, toward the form of his fallen enemy. The creature from the lake lay singed and bleeding in a sink hole formed by its own impact. Godzilla saw the beast was still breathing, Varan was still alive! Consumed by both the irresistible compulsion which held him here, and a burning rage that was all his own, Godzilla raised his scaly head and howled, preparing to finally incinerate the enemy with a direct blast from his maw. The beam shot forth, and suddenly, the beast was upon him!





The Koshida had lain the body of Captain Goro at the foot of the shattered idol, and begun the slow procession back to the lake. Kyoko sang a mournful dirge for her uncle and mentor. The leader of the natives, whose body they now carried behind her. She was their leader now, his place had become hers. The Koshida carried Matsu's form, but it was her duty to carry his spirit, his legacy, back to Obake lake.

It was well past midday when they lifted his body from the palanquin into the boat, launching both he and Kyo from the shore. The natives gathered in and among the immense footprints that lined the beach, and continued the chant as Kyo paddled slowly out onto the lake.

"Matsu," she whispered. "You were like a little brother to my parents, Kenji's too. Every time I saw you there was that same mischievous child they always spoke of. Yet here on this island you were almost like a king. You pursued these peoples forgotten knowledge, and you passed it on to me." Kyoko lifted the body as best she could, then rolled it up and over the side of the boat, to be slowly swallowed by the lake. "I promise you, uncle. That knowledge will survive."





Godzilla's force bolts ripped across the landscape, becoming weaker, losing intensity. Varan's jaws were clamped tight around his throat, keeping the creature out of reach of the beam. Godzilla flailed at the beast, and went down!

Varan could feel the intruder's energies flowing into him, leeching out along with the minerals and isotopes in it's blood. It had fought mightily, but surrounded now in a cloud of toxic mist, the intruder finally succumbed! Varan drank deep of the cup of victory.



Atop the lighthouse, Captain Nakano had seen the monsters fall. Now he watched in disbelief to see Varan alone rising from the parting mists! The beast had changed. Its wounds were healing, and energy danced around its form, generating a cosmic aurora from its spikes. Then the beam burst forth from the creature's mouth, blasting into the structures of Oneda city! Somehow, the beast had absorbed Godzilla's powers. Varan hissed in exaltation, as Nakano finally gave the order to attack!





The jeep spun out into a screeching halt, then stalled. Just as well, Ken thought. There's no way anybody's gonna be driving around that! The road was blocked by a huge section of what could only be the tail of the monster Varan. Spiky crystal projections, some now broken, ran from its tip over fifty feet away, to its shorn and oozing end. Ken touched it, and a chill ran through him. "Damn. Now I'm gonna have to hoof it into town. I'd worry more about heading into a battle zone if I weren't so sure my luck could simply not get any worse!"

Resigned to his dilemma, Ken continued his trek to Oneda on foot. In the distance, he could hear the sounds of artillery fire mixing with a monster's screams. He made a mental note then, to remember to thank his mother for arranging this little trip for him in the first place!





The moon was rising over the Koshida village, and with it rose a low, coiling mist. It crept from the surface of Lake Obake like a serpent, flowing along the jungle trails. It was heading directly for the temple.

The chanting of the natives abruptly stopped at its approach, and it flowed into the temple, filling it with its essence. With a sense of peace, and redemption.

Kyoko bolted awake, touched by the feeling. "Matsu?" She gasped, her uncle's name springing unbidden from her lips. The mist swirled briefly around her, then retreated to continue on its windswept journey. The hour of the Final Conjunction had arrived.





Ken Bradley's trek had not been an easy one. He was exhausted. His injuries sustained in the destruction of the Defense Force garrison were slowing him. His entire body a dull ache he had to force to keep in motion. The distant sound of artillery fire had ceased, his only guide now was the dim glow of the fires that raged throughout Oneda. He had to pause, to rest for just a moment. That's when the mist overtook him.

The mist was like a whirlwind now, a maelstrom! Ken dug in as the unearthly gale whipped past him, yet as quickly as it had appeared, it was over. The strange clouds lingering dregs crept slowly after the main body of the phenomena, leaving behind...a feeling. A subtle sense of peace and well being. Somehow, Ken knew, it was Matsu!

In the distance, Ken watched as the mist began to shimmer and coalesce, settling on what had appeared to be an indistinct area of the landscape. Now, defined by the cloud surrounding it, Kenji could see the true nature of the mists destination. The now glowing nimbus had settled upon the form of the fallen Godzilla!





Godzilla lay motionless, defeated by the beast from the lake. Somehow, it had leeched away his atom spawned energies, replacing them with the chemical toxins which had surrounded it. The King of the Monsters was left dormant and helpless.

A warm wind rose, blowing in from the jungle. It felt...pleasant. Godzilla forced open his eyes, and above him saw a cloud of shimmering mist. Slowly it settled upon him, penetrating his massive body. Imbuing him with a strange sensation. A feeling only half remembered from some dim and ancient past. It was the feeling of peace.

The saurian rose to his feet. His breathing regulated, his strength returned. There were no great flashes of radiation, no lances of power to herald his return. Only a soft golden glow that filled him, giving him purpose. Surrounding him like a halo. Like a fog.

Revived now, his sense alert, Godzilla searches the air currents for his enemy's spoor. There! The Lakebeast has entered the human city, a trail of flame and destruction marking his path. Oneda burned with the power of the atom. The power that is the birthright of the King of the Monsters. The birthright that Godzilla would now reclaim.





PROPHECIES CHILD



Captain Nakano tread stealthily among the warehouses along Oneda's port. Only a handful of his soldiers remained. The rest were either dead, or scattered into the jungle. Varan had decimated his conventional forces, but conventional forces were not Nakano's only resource.

The Markalite harnesses were still only prototypes. Technology had evolved the giant plasma cannons from tread mounted war machines, to wing mounted blasters. Now, self contained personal ordinance had been developed, theoretically at least, giving the user the capacity to slow the advance of the Daikaiju known to invade the mainland. Nakano prayed to his ancestors the weapons would succeed.







Varan howled in triumph! The Atomfire he had stolen from the invader was serving him well. He had felt the passing of the Final Conjunction, the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy. His place as this world's new King of Monsters was now assured. Surely, there was no opponent left here who could withstand him, and soon his journey would begin. The predestined quest to usurp the powers of the other Wild Gods. Soon he would be truly supreme.

A group of humans had fled into the structures where the city met the sea. The tiny, insignificant creatures sought to escape him, but there is no escape from destiny. Varan stalked closer to his prey...

Behind the beast, the night was rent by a sudden glow. Varan turned at the light, to be confronted by a wall of golden mist. The reptile hissed, and from deep within the shining vapor came a low guttural response.

Godzilla emerged from the glowing nimbus, enervated and primed for combat! A positive charge to counter the Lakebeast's negative one. He could smell the Obake's shock at his sudden reappearance turning quickly to fear, and Godzilla attacked!

Varan recoiled, unleashing a blast of nuclear energy from his maw! It struck the invader point blank and was absorbed. Godzilla seemed almost not to notice, continuing his charge without pause. He grappled with the spiky beast, steam rose from its flesh at his touch. Again Varan loosed the beam, and in a strange parody of a kiss, Godzilla opened his own jaws wide to accept the blast!

The creature from the lake was flailing its limbs, clawing and thrashing desperately against the assault. The golden mist that surrounded his enemy was weakening the Obake, numbing him like a drug. The forcebolts he had stolen were useless now, seeming to feed the enemy rather than harm it. Varan struggled with all his will, unable to stop the flow of power. He could not shut off the beam!

Godzilla bore down on the beast, forcing it to the ground. Sparks began to flash, his dorsal plates glowing as the Atomfire flowed from his adversary to be re-assimilated back into his own massive form! The energy charged the living cloud surrounding him, triggering a change, a transfer. The mist was moving away from Godzilla, to settle on the Obake. Its struggles were slowing. The sustained beam it emitted was weakening, losing intensity. Then finally, it was gone. Weakly, Varan faced the invader. Their gazes locked as the Obake hissed a final rattle of defiance.

Godzilla studied the dying, mist shrouded beast. His expression caught somewhere between pity and contempt. He lunged then, jaws open wide to sink his fangs into the Lakebeast's throat!

Godzilla drank, the minerals and isotopes that had been leeched from him now returning with the flow of blood. Again the nimbus arced along his dorsals, mixing with a fading golden glow. The mist was moving away now, moving back to Obake lake. And somewhere not so very far away, an old man's spirit laughed with glee, like a mischievous child always one step ahead of getting caught!





Captain Nakano signaled his men to cut the primers on the Markalite rigs, and the weapons powered down. Quickly, he pulled his squad back among the few structures still left standing at Oneda's port, just as Godzilla came crashing through the one behind which they had been hiding. They watched from the shadows as the monster paused at the dock, then turned back toward the city as if there were something it had forgotten. It swept its gaze across the shattered landscape of Kunashirashima. The blasted jungles, the burning city. And for a moment, Nakano could have sworn he saw a brief golden glow reflected in the monsters eyes. A look not unlike longing had flashed across its face. The beast had regained its birthright of power, once again the true King of the Monsters. Yet it had lost something too. A communion with all that is good in the spirit of humanity, a touch of kindness it was destined to forever be denied. Godzilla raised his massive head and bellowed, the roar carrying with it just the barest tinge of grief.

Without warning, the beam burst from Godzilla's jaws, immolating the corpse of the fallen Varan. His tasks fulfilled, Godzilla turned from the ravaged island, and slipped back into the sea.

"Did you see it, Captain?" Asked one of the men. "That look on its face?"

"Hai. It was almost like regret," Nakano agreed. "I saw it, soldier. I think I shall never forget it."









Sleep had again overtaken Kyoko Iso where she lay in the Obake shrine. Silently, Kenji crept toward her, and leaned close. She's beautiful. An angel, he thought to himself. The angel opened her eyes. "Kenji?"

"Ssshh," he said, bending close for a kiss.

"Your bruises are gone."

"Healed. All my injuries are! There was this fog, and the wind..."

"Then it was not a dream," Kyo realized.

"No. It felt like... well, like it was Matsu."

"I know. He touched me too. Kenji, you must tell me what happened out there!"

"Ever the scholar, eh my love? I'll tell you everything, but first you must come with me."

"What? Kenji, what are you doing?"

"We must go to the lake!" He cried, leading her quickly from the shrine. The Koshida too were stirring from their sleep as the couple raced past them. Waking to see the Obake icon as it burst into golden flames. The image melted and ran, until only featureless stone remained.



At the lakeshore. Ken fumbled through his pockets, looking helpless. "Oh the heck with it!" He said, stepping one foot into the water and scooping up a drink in his hands.

"Kenji, don't...!" Shouted Kyoko.

"Pfflaagh!" Ken spat with a grimace. "It's salt! The formula didn't work. It's still salt water."

"Kenji, I would think you would apply a more precise methodology to your analysis?"

"Yeah, sure. But it's still salt water." He caught her smiling at him, lifting his mood. "So what happens now, Kyo? How would you feel about getting out of the jungle for a while?"

"I am not sure, Kenji. I have a responsibility here, to these people."

"Ms. Iso, Mr. Bradley!" From the trail, a group of Koshida approached. The one called Jinko continued. "After you left the shrine, we watched the totem burning there."

"Burning? What do you mean?" Asked Kyoko.

"The Obake is dead, his temple died with him, as has his cult," the native explained. "Matsu was the one who revived our beliefs, now he has put them to rest."

"But, Jinko, You can't mean you are going to just abandon your heritage," Kyo protested. "The Koshida culture has existed here for centuries. I do not think Matsu ever intended for you to commit ethnicide!"

"We are still a spiritual people, Ms. Iso. Our culture will not die here. It will evolve," Jinko faced his fellow natives. "All of us were touched by the mist. We know what must be done. The shrine will be razed, and replaced with a temple to our new patron; Matsu. He was the true child of the prophecy, his teachings will survive."

Kyo looked at Ken and smiled. "I guess I am not as badly needed here as I believed."

"Not so, Ms. Iso," Jinko laid his hands upon her shoulders. "We need you to do what you came here to do. To chronicle our cultures history, as well as the new chapter which has now begun. Through you we can ensure our future generations continue to move forward. The Obake was a powerful influence on this island, a negative force from which we have finally been released. It was Matsu, the man of the mist, who freed us. He who showed us the way. Go and write your books, Kyoko Iso. Write in them all you have learned here. We will be waiting when you are done."

"Arigato, Jinko san." Kyoko bowed, and the Koshida dispersed, filing back to the village.

Alone on the shore, Ken slipped his arms around his lady. "Have you ever been to America, Kyo? Have I told you of the monsters worshiped there?"

"What on earth are you talking about?"

"Oh yes! Little green monsters with pictures of Presidents on the front, and their temples on the back!"

"Sounds like an interesting place to investigate, but what about completing your experiments here?"

"I've decided to turn my data over to the Self Defense Force. Their scientists can finish the analysis. I am curious though, why the DSC bombardment didn't work."

"But Kenji, it did work."

"How do you mean?"

"Look at it, Ken. Don't you see?"

"Yeah, I see a big salt lake."

"Hai, a big healthy salt lake! There are fish swimming in that water, Kenji. I saw them yesterday when I was out in the boat. It is no longer toxic. You have healed it."

"Well, maybe you have got a point there, but I realize now there was much more than science at work on this island. You taught me that."

Kyoko turned to him, to share a kiss. The dawn's light now breaking on the horizon. "Yes, there is magic here too," she said, smiling. "Forces that I now realize were meant to work together. You taught me that."

A mist was rising along the surface of the lake, henceforth known as Matsuko. Kenji and Kyoko felt a comfort in its presence, and stood to watch as the sunlight warmed them, and tinged the water gold.







Epilogue



Dear Ma,

I regret to inform you of the passing of uncle Matsu. But do not despair, he took the monster Varan with him, and left a powerful legacy for his people. And for us.

Kyoko and I have been married. (I hope your happy!!) It was a small Koshida ceremony, and we'll be staying in the village until we can get transport back to the mainland. I'll write you again from the Iso's (Kyo's writing to them now), and we'll be back home to see you as soon as we can.

And, Ma, I promised myself I'd thank you for sending me to this bloody island in the first place. There are fish swimming in the lake again, Ma. And my eyes have been opened to magic.

Thank you.

Love and Peace,

Kenji