Here There Be Monsters
FICTION - by George Thomas
San Francisco. A corner table at the 'Cosmic Cafe'.
"My dears, I'm so happy you are both finally home and safe! To think of all the trouble I put you through..." Anna Bradley clasps the hands of her son and daughter in law across the table. Their dog, Mikki, asleep on her lap.
"You sound just like Kyoko's mom now," said Kenji.
And I will tell you exactly what I told her," Kyoko began. "If not for you, Kenji and I may never have found each other. Do not ever regret you involvement in that, Anna." Kyoko smiles sweetly at the elderly woman. Kenji cannot help but blush.
The tinny sound of a bell rings through the small cafe, signalling the entrance of a patron. Mikki snaps awake at the noise, and yaps in happy greeting as the stranger approaches.
"Well hello! What a sweet little dog you have here," said the man, bending to pat her. He was Japanese, unusually tall and impeccably dressed in a tailored Armani suit. Curiously, Mikki continued her vocal greeting, woofing and mewling at the man.
"Wow. I've never seen her react to anyone like that before," Kenji remarked, amused at the scene.
"Hei, little one, I know. But do not worry for your freinds, I am here now." Spoke the strange gentleman.
"Summimasen, excuse me, but what on Earth are you talking about, sir?" Asked Kyoko.
"Nothing on Earth I assure you," the stranger began. "Mikki tells me the three of you are very special to her, Mrs. Bradley. She loves you all very much, and wishes to protect you from the danger you must now face."
The Bradleys looked at each other quizzically. "Um, Mikki told you?" Kenji asked.
"Hei," the man replied. "She is quite an intelligent little canine."
"Wait a minute!" Cried Ken. "Did Tanaka send you to bust our chops? Or was it old Iwa?"
"I know neither of the persons of whom you speak, Mr. Bradley."
"Well since you do seem to know who we are, how about telling us just who the heck are you?"
"My God," said Anna. "I cannot believe it..."
"Ma, what's wrong? Do you know this guy?"
"Yes, I...but it's not possible...!"
A broad smile spread over the stranger's features, and he laughed. "No, Anna Bradley. You are niether mad nor mistaken. I can see in your eyes, you know exactly who I am!"
A look of sheer delight overcame Anna's face as the man turned to Ken and Kyo. "Allow me to introduce myself, Mr. and Mrs. Bradley. My name is Starman."
War against the Wild Gods
Book Four: Godzilla Versus StarMan
Part One: The Enthrallers
Ogeshewara Gunto, a chain of islands just south of the Japanese Mainland.
Captain Inoshiro Tanaka leads his team slow and silent through the dense jungle. The force is small, four soldiers armed with the latest anti kaiju weaponry G-Force's research wing has designed. Their mission; to field test the devices and evaluate their effectiveness. Their target; Godzilla.
"Munabe!" Tanaka barked sharply over the squad's comlink. "Close ranks, and watch your step, damn it. You'll give away our position."
"To who?!" Replied the soldier, causing a chuckle among his teammates.
"Quit it, soldier. Now fall in!" The Captain ordered.
"You're really gonna piss him off one of these days, Tatsui!" Munabe's friend Kazuki Kato chastised him, whispering past his microphone.
"I'm not scared of that blowhard," Munabe replied. "He thinks he knows everything since General Iwa took him under his wing. Personally, I'm not impressed."
"He is still in command, hotshot." Kazuki warned. "I would advise you not to forget it."
"Captain," began Fujiko Yasuda, the teams surveillance man. "The G-Tracker is showing a radsurge about forty meters ahead. Godzilla should be in the valley located just over that rise."
"Domo, Fuji, but I can verify that reading visually," said Tanaka. "Look at the sky."
Beyond the rise, the sky was lit with a pulsing, shifting glow reflecting off a pall of low clouds which seemed to hang motionless over the valley. The rest of the sky was strangely clear. The men looked questioningly at each other, something did not seem right.
"That's him," said Tanaka. "Let's go."
Osaka. G-Force Command.
Maki Sato sits before the tracking console monitoring the team's progress. The young scientist shakes suddenly, an uncontrollable and violent shudder passes through him, leaving him sweating, breathless and weak. This has happened much too often lately, and he knew, something very strange was going on.
"Sato san, what's the matter?" Said General Iwa, entering the room.
"Nani? Oh, it is you, Iwa sama," Sato gasped, startled. "I think I am getting sick, General. Might be the flu."
"You have been through a lot lately, Sato. Not the least of which was the death of your father. Perhaps I can arrange a few days off duty," Iwa offered.
"Perhaps, but I think I can hang tough until the field test is complete."
"Alright. But don't be a hero Sato," Iwa warned. "You look like hell. Tell me, how is the squad's progress?"
"So far so good. They have reached Godzilla's coordinates, and entered the distortion field. As I suspected, direct comlink has been lost. I still cannot explain it."
"Could it be an effect of the Radion bombardment you subjected Godzilla to, after he defeated the monster Dogorah?"
"Ie, General. That energy was merely an irritant to the beast. He shunted it long ago," Sato confirmed. "I'm afraid we will have to wait until the mission is finished to get the answer."
"I see," the ancient soldier agreed. "Please let me know at once when contact is reestablished." He turned to leave. "You sure you'll be okay. Sato?"
"Hei. Domo Arigato, Iwa sama." Sato gave a quick bow, and the General left the room. Alone now, Sato again shuddered fiercely. He knew for sure, he was not okay.
"Ha ta!" Tanaka gasped, awestruck by the sight of what lay before him.
Atop the rise, the valley sloped steeply away and below them. The dense jungle gradually giving way to a clearing of scorched and blackened earth. At its center lay Godzilla, but the beast was not alone. Around him swarmed a hoarde of strange crablike beings, hauling what appeared to be devices of some kind. But strangest of all was the now visible source of the glow they had spied reflecting off the clouds. It was an enormous spaceship.
"Captain?" Fuji began, then fell speechless.
"I know, Fujiko. Our eyes play no tricks here, as hard as that may be to believe."
"What can they be doing to him?" Asked Munabe.
"I'm not sure, but it can't be good," Tanaka replied. "Munabe, I want you and Kazuki to get back to the ship, beyond the interference of the distortion field. Contact G-Command. Fuji and I will stay here. I want to try to figure out what these beings are up to."
"Oh, great," said Munabe. "What am I supposed to tell them?"
Tanaka glared at the man. "Tell them we're in trouble, Munabe."
Munabe could tell, the Captain was now officially pissed!
"Starman, huh? Very sixties," said Kenji. "I knew a guy named Scorpio Moon once. He used to preach the Neo-vegetarian psychedelic enlightenment trip down at the Haight. Maybe you know him?"
"Kenji!" Anna spoke sharply. "This is not some flower child, he is the Starman. The Starman!"
"You mean like tights and a cape Starman?"
"No cape. Glider panels," the stranger corrected. "Everybody did capes. I like to think I was ahead of my time."
Two short yaps from Mikki signified she agreed. Kyoko could not supress a laugh.
"Kyoko, really. You are as bad as your husband," Anna scolded.
"Oh, Anna, I am so sorry! I have to admit though, I cannot believe you are truly serious!"
"It's alright, Anna," the stranger smiled. "We cannot blame them for doubting me. I have appeared only rarely for over forty years. There must be many among you who have never even heard of me."
"I could never forget you, Starman sama. Always you were Japan's greatest hero!" Anna beamed.
"Thank you, dear lady. Just doing my job."
"Okay, 'Starman', you here to reminisce with my ma, or is there something we need to know?"
"I'll give you the whole story, Kenji Bradley, so that you might understand what is at stake here."
"Cool. I'll try to keep an open mind."
"Cool. Now then, it was nearly three hundred thousand years ago on a world called Kartane..."
"Oh, brother," Ken lamented.
"When the Enthrallers first appeared," the well dressed stranger continued calmly. "Species after species were wiped out, rejected, before they found a compatible life form, one they could control. But the possession had changed the Kartanan beasts. Slowly, they became sentient, evolving into a society, technological and dangerous.
"Eventually, the Kartanans overthrew the Enthrallers influence and struck out on their own. Today, they too have become a race of Enthrallers. The beings who once controlled them now revered as a God, responsible for their evolutionary kick up from bestiality."
"Okay," said Kyoko. "And where exactly do we fit into all of this?"
"The original Enthrallers are known to you, Kyoko. They were the creature you called Yog," the stranger watched the shock hit the Bradleys at his words. "The two of you helped destroy it, now the Kartanans have come for revenge."
"I think we've cleared the distortion field, Tatsui. Try the comlink again."
"GFC, GFC, this is M Squad Four. Do you read? Over," Munabe called angrily into the unit. "GFC, this is M Squad. Please respond!"
"Damn it!" Cursed Kazuki. "We can't get through. What should we do, Tatsui?"
"I don't know!" The soldier shouts. Then, from the direction of the ridge comes the flash of laserplay, and a familiar 'zapping' sound. Munabe thought he heard somebody scream. Wordlessly, the men exchanged a single glance, and powered up their Markalite rigs.
In the valley.
The creatures were making the final connections. The Control Implant was in position now, among the scaly ridged crests atop Godzilla's skull. Captain Tanaka and Seargent Yasuda stared immobile at the scene. They were captive, they were thralls. Their faces remained expressionless as a pair of the creatures approached them.
"The Humans are primitive but dangerous," one of them spoke. "Luckily, they were enslaved before they could do any damage." The creature 'sat' before the men, folding its segmented torso and disjointed limbs into a compact squat. "You may speak, human."
Tanaka blinked rapidly, his steady breathing readjusting to the partially regained control. "What is going on here? What do you want from us?"
"We want nothing from you, human. It was you who chose to interfere in our affairs," the alien replied accusingly. "What are you doing on this island?"
"We too hunted Godzilla, to test our new weaponry. We discovered you by accident," the Captain explained.
"An unfortunate event for you. As for ourselves, we are the Kartanans. Your Godzilla is now our thrall. The rest is not for you to know." The creature rose, and trod away with its companion. The men presented no challenge for them, and so were ignored.
"Fuji, you okay?" Tanaka asked, unable to turn to look at his friend.
"Yeah, sure. Definitely."
"Can you move at all?"
"Nope. Unh-unh. No way."
"Me niether. Munabe and Kazuki had better get word through, Fuji. Or else I think we're screwed," Tanaka observed. He got the feeling that Fuji agreed.
A great shout rose from the swarm of creatures as the valley flashed bright green, blood red then back. The soldiers watched as the things quickly removed the braces, cables and harnesses from the monster, and withdrew back toward the ship. A painful electric buzz rang through them as the Atomfire danced along the tips of Godzilla's spine, and the monster rose.
"Fire!" Cried Kazuki, as twin plasma bolts struck the beast! Godzilla reeled, unprepared for the attack. The weapons were indeed having a disruptive effect on him!
"Teleport the beast, quickly! And get those humans before they damage something." Tanaka heard one of the creatures shout.
"Oh, Munabe," he thought. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"Let me get this straight," said Kenji. "These Kartanan things have like already landed on Earth, and you think they're gonna come after us?"
"That's right," the stranger replied.
"And you are here to warn us?" Asked Kyoko.
"No. I am here to protect you. I think the first thing we should do is get out of the city."
"How come?" Asked Ken.
"Because the aliens won't be attacking you directly, Kenji. They'll send Godzilla to kill you."
"Godz...waitress! More coffee please!"
"Oh my dears, not again!" Cried Anna.
"Try not to worry. Do as I say and you'll be okay, I promise." The stranger reassured them.
"And why exactly is it we should listen to you again?" Kenji inquired, still skeptic.
"Because I am the Starman, mightiest warrior of many worlds. Sent by the Council of the Emerald Planet to protect mankind from all interstellar threats," the stranger rose and stood back from the table. "I had thought that my work here was done," a brief, brilliant glare lit the room at his words. "I was wrong."
The stranger stood before them transformed. A form fitting uniform of auric and white. A broad black belt at his waist, glider panels at his sides, and twin antennae that sparked with power rising in a V from his cowl. He smiled, and Anna swooned.
"Oh, Ma!" Ken moved to support her, before she fell from her chair.
"Kenji?" Began Kyo.
"I'm impressed," she stated flatly. "I recognize him now. I think we should listen to him."
"Me too," he agreed. "You okay, ma?"
"Uh-huh. Got a cigarette?" She joked.
"Yeah, you're fine. Hey, Stardude, sorry for doubting you, okay?"
"I'm just doing my job, Kenji. You, however, should learn to listen to your mother when she tells you what is so!" The hero laughed heartily.
Outside, in the distance, a flash of green light broke somewhere high above the surface of San Francisco Bay, a burst of red from far below.
"Um, excuse me, table nine?" The waitress called out. "I think I just spotted somebody who must be looking for you."
At that, they raced out into the street. Crowds had stopped moving, to stare in awe at what now rose from the bay. Only a few even noticed the costumed superbeing in their midst, but Starman was sure he had heard one of them call his name. It still fealt just as good, even after all these years!
"We are too late, the aliens have found us. Godzilla has arrived," the Starman remarked. "Stay here, while I attempt to turn the beast..."
"Starman, you cannot! One man alone has no chance against that monster!" Anna warned.
"I know, Anna. But I have no choice." The Alien Avenger kissed the old woman's cheek, then bowed to Ken and Kyoko.
"Good luck," said Kyo.
"Kick his ugly butt," said Kenji.
Starman smiled and rocketed off, launching himself into the sky! It had been a long time since he had seen any action. He was going to enjoy this!
Part Two: POWERPLAY
Godzilla rises from strange waters. Before him lay some vast human hive. Its stench differed greatly from that of Asian cities, but was just as foul. He would leave this place immediately, if he could. But somehow, at the moment, his will was not his own.
What passed for sentience within his mutated reptilian brain watched with detachment as his physical body raged toward the shore. Strange, he could not understand why his target would be a single pair of humans. Stranger still, he knew exactly which ones they were.
Suddenly, a flash of Starfire hurtling toward him, and a mighty impact smashes Godzilla across the jaws! Whatever it was took a few of his teeth with it. Godzilla turns, searching for the foe, when he fealt the weight of the tiny thing atop his skull. A surge of Atomfire coursed quickly up the triple dorsals and along the scaly crest, striking the small attacker! He watched it fall burning from his head, and into the waters of the bay.
Below the waves. Starman took no comfort in the sea's cold embrace. This creature weilded a singular and powerful energy, and it hurt like hell!
The twin antennae aglow with anger, the Starman bursts burning from the waves! A halo of Starfire arcs, sparking from his head to his hands, focusing into a powerful beam and blasting back at the scaly giant! If he could manage to remove the control pod, to free the beast, there was a chance the creature would leave on its own. He hoped.
"Nice move, Munabe. Now the whole squad's captured," Fuji spoke harshly to his teammate.
"That's just the good news," said Kazuki. "We couldn't get through to G-Force. They don't know we're in trouble."
Again, a pair of the aliens approach the immobilized soldiers, and one of them speaks; "I have just finished reviewing your psidata, Captain Tanaka. It seems you know our quarry personally."
"What quarry? What do you mean?" Asked the Captain.
"The Godslayers. The executioners of Yog. Kenji and Kyoko Bradley are their names," the creatures rage was fearful to behold. "They are the ones who must die!"
"The Bradleys?! I don't understand," said Tanaka.
"And you need not. You need only obey," the alien replied. "Prepare the humans. We may need to deploy them as well."
The forcebolt burns into Godzilla's skull with the power of a billion billion stars, incinerating the Kartanan control pod! The giant saurian screams in pain, the rage coursing through him now fully his own. Instinctively, he blasts, a beam of thermonuclear fire exploding from his jaws, striking the tiny assailant head on! The two beings seem to pause for a moment, hovering on the brink of renewed violence, then both the King of the Monsters and the Stellar Crusader fall unconscious into the bay!
On the shore,a great cheer rises from the gathering crowd. There was applause and whistles, and even a few calling Starman's name.
"My God, Kenji. He did it!" Cried Kyoko. "That was amazing!"
"Yeah," Ken agreed. "Except for one thing. He's not coming back up."
Slowly, the realisation spread through the crowd, and the cheering stopped. A silence hung over San Francisco Bay, like a shroud. Nothing moved to break the waters surface. The battle was over, and the scene remained dead still.
"Um, is your friend gonna be okay?" Asked the Waitress from the Cafe. It seems she had stuck close by to catch the action.
Anna turned to the young woman, spotting the little greeting badge she wore. "Leslie, is it?" The waitress nodded affirmation. ""Leslie, do you know who that man was?"
"He said his name was Starman, right? Some kind of super-hero."
"Yes, my girl. Starman. Only one of the greatest of heroes," a single tear escaped Anna Bradley's eye. "Please, try not to forget him again."
"I, I won't. I promise," the waitress agreed, then slowly left the scene, returning to her small cafe. The rest of the crowd as well began to thin, dispersing back to the routines of their normal lives. For the Bradleys, however, this sort of thing was normal.
Behind them, a luminous flash of green, shifting quickly to red. Arcs of power flare across the field of living light, and it bursts! Their vision slowly adjusting from the sudden brilliance, the Bradleys could see a group of armored figures coming into focus. They were relieved to find them familiar ones.
"Tanaka!" Cried Kenji. "How the heck did you get here?!"
"You are still in great danger, Mr. and Mrs. Bradley. Please, let us take you to safety," Tanaka spoke flatly.
"Kenji, wait!" Kyoko yelled. "That flash just before they arrived, it was just like the one we saw when Godzilla appeared."
"You mean the aliens sent them?" Mikki growled at Ken's words, yapping twice in agreement.
"You will both come with us now," Tanaka repeated, pointing the business end of his Markalite at Ken.
"Mom, take good care of Mikki," Ken spoke, never taking his eyes off the enemy. Slowly, he and Kyo approached the enslaved squad, the dog still snarling fiercely at the men.
Tanaka nodded to Fuji to initialize the remote teleporter, but as soon as he had turned his head, Mikki leapt from Anna's arms and snatched the unit from Fujiko's hands! The Captain fired once at the dog before Kenji knocked him to the ground. Munabe stepped in, and with a quick kick, knocked out Kenji. Kyoko ran to help him, but Kazuki held her fast. The dog disappeared into the hilly streets.
Anna watched as the Captain motioned for Munabe to use the back up unit. She fealt scared, and angry, and very, very old. The device activated, green-flash-red, and they were gone. Then Anna Bradley stood alone, forcing herself not to cry.
Osaka. Sato's quarters.
General Iwa had come through again, arranging for ten free days to allow Sato time to recover. Sato took advantage of the time, his first order of business being some much needed rest. The sedatives he bought worked like a charm.
That's when the dreams first began.
Long, brightly lit corridors. An antiseptic smell. A hospital. Sato stood outside his father's room. He was shaking again.
"Go in, Sato san," said Masayo, his aunt. "Go in and see your father." A cold fear creapt upon him as he slowly reached for the door. Reflexively, he withdrew his hand.
"Go on, boy," said his Uncle Komai. "Kirino has been waiting a long time for this."
Sato wanted to explain, to question, to speak, but his voice was not there. He girded himself, and opened the door.
Inside, it was very, very dark. The only sounds those of the life support equipment mingling with his father's labored breath. Even in the darkness, Sato could see the pocked and uneven masque Kirino's face had become. The cancer was raavaging the man, eating him alive. It was an unbearable sight.
"Father," the barest of whispers. "I tried to save you. I wanted only to make you well."
"You can do nothing to help me, Maki Sato," his father's voice! "I am already dead." Kirino's shrunken eyes grew large and bright. "I hate you, Sato." The eyes flared, lighting the room with an intense green glare. "I hate you for what you did. I hate you for what you are!" Kirino seethed. "I hate you!"
"No," Sato croaked, watching as not only Kirino's eyes began to change, but the rest of his body as well.
"I will never forgive what you have done, Sato," Kirino spat, his flesh now green and glowing. His body seemed to shift its shape, to liquify. He was melting!
"No!!" Sato screamed, waking shivering from the dream. Then he saw his own hands before him, a green and liquid mass.
"Noooo!!" He screamed again, this time, snapping truly out of sleep. His hands looked human again. Normal. The nightmare had ended.
San Francisco Bay.
A figure clad in gold and white floats motionless on the water's surface. The tides pull the body closer, and wash it upon the shore.
From the darkness, a smaller golden figure comes running toward the man, dropping the strange device it carried in its jaws. It is Mikki, now yapping and licking the face of the fallen Starman.
The Emissary from the Emerald World revives, slowly opening his eyes. A single cough clears his lungs of fluid, and he fills them once again with the atmosphere of the Earth. "Mikki!" He greets the pooch. "What a good girl! Thank you very much for helping me!"
The little dog responded, urgently communicating the message she knew he would understand. It was part of the legacy that made the man a hero; the ability to understand all the creatures of the Earth.
"Oh no. They have been taken?" Starman inquired. The dog confirmed it, running back to retrieve the device she had stolen from the enthralled soldier. Mikki presented it to Starman, hoping he would know what to do.
"You are right, little one. It is a Kartanan remote teleporter," the alien confirmed. "I believe it will bring us to where they have taken your friends."
Again, Mikki yaps her intentions.
"Godzilla?! And why exactly do you think Godzilla would help us?" He asked.
The dog's response was a seething glare.
"Ah, so. Revenge," the Starman surmised. "Good, then I will talk to the monster in terms it can understand. Sounds like a dangerous plan, Mikki girl. I like it!"
In the center of the valley now stands the aliens' massive matter convertor. At its edge, the even larger assault ship. Inside, Kyoko scans her surroundings, Kenji immobile by her side. What she see's amazes her!
The room itself was unique in structure; the equipment and wall panels overlapped each other in layers. There wasn't a smooth, unbroken surface in sight. The place looked segmented, disjointed, much like the creatures who built it.
Kyoko watched them. Squat, crablike beings with tripedal locomotion and almost simian like forelimbs, save for the great jagged claw mounted from elbow to wrist. Their faces all eyeballs and mandibles set beneath a wide, hooded brow. She found herself wondering about their culture. Their science and beliefs. Then she remembered, they were going to kill her.
Straining her peripheral vision, Kyo saw a pair of the beings approach the still unconscious Kenji.
"I want to rend the shell-less worm right now, leader!" Kyo's heart sank at the creature's words, punctuated by the sharp clatter of its chitnous claws.
"Soon now, warrior," the leader spoke. "Their forms will serve us well, once we have destroyed their life-energy. What the Earthers call their souls. Ahh," it looked at Kyo. "This one is awake!" The aliens came closer, and her heart sunk again.
"We know you now, Yogsbane. We know you, Kyoko Bradley," spoke the Enthraller. "Now know you this; You and your man have broken cosmic law. You have slain a God."
It motioned at her, and she was free to speak. "We sought only to defend ourselves, our world. Where is the crime in that?"
"The children of Kartane are Yog's children! We alone hold the right to question the Father. To revere him, reject him. Surpass him, slay him..." the creature's claws clamped compulsively at the thought. "When you killed the Yog, you became greater than they. You stole my peoples destiny! That, Earther, is why you must now die."
Kyoko considered the alien's words. She thought, finding only one hope, one response; "Starman will stop you, monster!"
San Francisco Bay.
Godzilla snaps awake as the steady glow of Starfire washes over him. Regaining his footing, he calls a low and threatening growl at the fiery humanoid floating in the sea before him. Flashes of energy spark into patterns around the tiny form, and the monster knows, the being is trying to communicate.
"King of Monsters, hear me!" the tiny figure spoke. "I am the Starman. I am not your enemy!"
Godzilla howls, raging into the sea! Making it clear, he would be the judge of who is an enemy and who is not!
"The Enthrallers, the aliens who took control of you, they sent you after the Bradleys. Humans I believe you have encountered before."
The aliens. The pair of humans. Godzilla knew them both.
"My job was to protect the humans. Thanks to you, I have failed. The aliens have them now."
"They have yet to be dealt with, do you agree?"
"Excellent! I know your power, Godzilla. You know mine. You know that it was I who freed you from the Enthrallers control. Teleport with me now to their nest, and we shall destroy them!"
The enormous saurian bellows his assent, dorsals flashing, and cleaves the surface of the bay with a burning beam of Atomfire!
The Starman smiles at his success, for which is the greater victory; Leaving an opponent you've defeated, or gaining one as an ally?!
Part Three: CONTROL
A burst of green light in the sky offshore. A flash of red, then back, and a strange and incredible trio materialize onto the scene! A small, paranormal pooch. An alien superhero powered by the stellar energy of the galaxy, and an immense, radioactive saurian engine of destruction! The Starman and the dog fly inland. The monster treads the surf. It is not yet his time to strike.
"Godzilla can be quite agreeable once you know what motivates him," the Starman remarked. Mikki yapped and bared her teeth. "What do you mean, 'It's different for dogs'?" He joked. "Come on, girl. Let's go save your people!"
In the valley, Starman and Mikki pause at the perimeter of the Kartanan base. The area was dim and quiet, with little activity left outside. The man and the mutt share an unspoken signal, and Mikki takes off like a bullet!
The guards stand perplexed as the tiny terrier sprints past. She has caught her friends spoors, and locks on to track them down! Through the halls she races deeper into the craft. Most of the Kartanans have little time to react to the shaggy blonde blur. Then, she stops. She has reached her goal.
A large room, full of the alien beings. The soldiers stand unmoving at one end, Kenji and Kyoko at the other. Mikki howls. The sound echoing through the ship, amplifying into the fearsome and primordial warcry of some angry God-Beast! She springs, and launches snarling into the room!
On the shore, Godzilla cocks his head, as if trying to catch some half familiar sound. There! A cry of rage and defiance! The monster knew he could wait no longer, and begins to stride inland...
Moving near the speed of light, the Starman shifts unseen among the soldiers. The control pods burn at the touch of his hand, and slowly, the Markalite Squad begins to revive.
"Captain Tanaka," the Starman began. "You must take the Bradleys and escape from here!"
Tanaka stared numbly at the costumed adventurer, and the chaos the alien control room had become. The Bradleys' dog was bounding about the place, snapping at alien flesh and playing hob with anything not nailed down! The tiny dog was fighting like a dervish. For Tanaka it was pure inspiration! "The Bradleys," he gasped, regaining control. "Where?"
"I will free them now. Rally your men, Captain," the hero replied. "For battle!"
Mikki was tiring of the merriment, and took off when Starman made his move for Ken and Kyo. Many of the Kartanans, now frustrated and bruised, followed the dog, enraged! The chase was a welcome relief from the close quarters hit-and-run assault she had demonstrated for the aliens amusement, and she ran!
The terrier bolted through the ship, vexing the Enthrallers at every turn. Every turn save one. That one was a dead end.
Suddenly the air was filled with snapping pincers and alien curses as the Kartanans bore down upon the dog. Mikki threatened and dodged, but was blocked from any escape. The claws jabbed closer...
"Well, this place could use a bit of brightening up!" The Kartanans turned at the voice, and Mikki hid her eyes, as the Starman loosed a pulse of pure cosmic light! The photonic surge blinded the Enthrallers, and Mikki took advantage to escape.
"Stop right there, defiler!" The Kartanan leader appeared, screaming. "Why do you strike against the children of Yog, stranger?"
"Because you have struck first, against the children of the Earth."
"Bah! The humans and the monster are but a meager recompense for the death of a God!"
"Maybe so," said Starman. "But they are my friends." The hero stood confidently amidst the closing crowd of creatures. "As with all truly sentient beings, you now have a choice; Leave here now, and we will have no further quarrel. Continue these hostilities, and my friends and I will be forced to destroy you."
"Eeeyaaaahh!!" The leader screamed, answering the ultimatum with an all out attack!
Alien claws clamp down around him, and Starman flings the beasts aside. Wave upon wave of the invaders fall upon him, the sheer number of them was forcing him to keep moving, to keep striking back. "Delightful," he thought. "I may just break a sweat today."
Tanaka's squad blasts a path to freedom through the corridors of the slaveship. This would be one heckuva field test, thought the Captain, as the Markalites burned down the creatures and into the hull of the craft itself! Sato's refinements were effective indeed!
Kenji limped along as quickly as he could. His right leg still recovering from the injury sustained when the squad's former leader, Nakano, had shot him. Not to mention his more recent lumps, thanks to Munabe. His head was throbbing with every step now, only pure will keeping him moving. That, and his wife's supporting arms around him.
Kyoko struggled to keep her husband moving. She wished she had her Katana to strike at the beasts instead! Then, a final burst of gunpower, and they were free! They raced through the valley and into the jungle beyond. They did not stop running until they were deep among the trees.
Exhausted, Tanaka and Kenji stared at each other regretfully. There had once been room for a sort of trust between them that was no longer there. The Captain broke the silence. "Bradley san, I apologize for the actions of myself and my men while under the aliens influence."
Ken and Kyo shared a glance, and Ken spoke. "We know, Tanaka. It wasn't your fault. By the way, thanks for getting us out."
"You're welcome. Now, would somebody tell me just what the hell is going on around here?!"
With that, a terrible roar splits the air, and the sky lights with arcs of Atomfire lancing back into the clouds. A great black sillhouette is cast against the brief but brilliant flash. The sound of massive footfalls rumble through the terrain, as high above the canopy rises the gigantic form of Godzilla!
"God, I hate my life!" Said Kenji.
Godzilla treads across the landscape of Ogeshewara, heading for the source of the unearthly stink that is the aliens nest. This time, he would raze their ship before they could make him sleep. His power was his alone to command. This the Kartanans would now learn!
Then, another scent cuts through the alien stench. It is subtle, but familiar, and keys the monster's curiosity to its source.
There, among the trees far below, he sees them. A group of menthings, probably seeking refuge from the coming battle. Four of them in metal skins, armed with energy weapons of some kind. Godzilla could smell the power they hold, and roars! These beings, he knows, are abusers of such power. That is how he himself was reborn to become King of the Monsters.
The other two have power as well. He remembers how the Spiritfire had spoken to him through the man, helping him to destroy the energy beast called Yog. How the female had called upon it to summon the aid of the tiny Wild God that now ran with them. These were the two the Enthrallers wanted dead, reason enough for Godzilla to leave them in peace. He growled, the sound was a warning for the humans to remember. They were not his enemies now, but that could very easily change.
Godzilla continues past them on his mission to reclaim the island from those who have already proven their evil natures. Now, the Enthrallers would die!
The battle raged through the halls of the slaveship as the Cosmic Warrior called Starman held his attackers at bay! The assault force was formidable by any planet's standards, taxing even Starman's powers in an effort to hold them back. The hero was beginning to tire.
A powerful impact hit the warrior, and he found himself held fast in the grip of alien claws. Somehow, his stellar strength was fading. This time, he could not break free!
Limping and bloodied, the Kartanan leader approached, a control pod held in its outstretched claw. "Feeling a bit drained, Emissary? The children of Kartane are feared not only because we control the actions of other beings. We control their knowledge as well." The creature lunged, grabbing the hero by the throat!
"Like yourself, our ship is also powered by stellar energy. That siphon array beside you is now absorbing yours. A process we learned from the mineral creatures of your own homeworld."
"My world?" Starman asked in disbelief.
"Yes, warrior. Your world was but one of many, most still unknown even to you, where we exerted our control," the creature moved the slave pod closer, positioning the device in line with Starman's antennae. "This small blue Earth shall be no different."
A blaring scream born of agony filled the spacecraft, but it was not the Starman's scream. It was the Enthraller's. From out of nowhere, Mikki struck! The dog's teeth and claws clamping deep into alien flesh! The Kartanan dropped the control pod and released the hero's throat, the powerful claw now raised high to smash the tiny beast.
"Mikki!" With the last of his starborn strength, the Cosmic Warrior slammed his captor backwards into the wall, raised his mighty fists, and brought them crashing down into the siphon array that was draining him! The array explodes in a burst of static and flame! The twin antennae flare, absorbing the blast, restoring more of Starman's strength. Enough, he hoped, to get the job done.
The descending claw is caught mid-strike, and the Enthraller catches a bare knuckled fist with its face! Reflexively, it releases the dog as it hurtles off its feet, slamming into the shattered bank of equipment. The jagged edges pierce the creature, pinning it dying to the wall.
The scene begins to shake. Tremors vibrating through the shp, accompanied by the tortured sound of metal being wrenched apart.
Mikki prances and yaps at the hero. Starman nods, bending to retrieve the fallen control pod, and place it upon the alien leader's brow. "You are my thrall now, animal!" The Starman spoke in anger. "You will now feel the pain you have inflicted upon others for so very long. You all will, I command it!"
At his words, the pod begins to flare, sparking a psychic chain reaction. One by one the aliens fall before the discharge of torment and pain! Feeling their very wills being ripped from them, the Enthrallers lose control.
Again the earth trembles, shifting the entire ship. Mikki yaps determinedly at her costumed comrade. It was time to go!
The Starman looked upon the crowds of Kartanans now writhing in defeat around him, the near lifeless form of their leader pinned bleeding to the wall, and he wept, realizing it was he who had truly lost control.
The earth shook again.
He bent close to the Enthraller, and whispered something awful in his ear. Then the aliens all lay still. He scooped up his canine ally and trudged wearily out of the doomed ship, and into the valley. Above them hung a star filled sky.
Godzilla stands defiantly before the spacecraft, the matter convertor now demolished at his feet. He watches as a pair of familiar beings emerge, and he gestures, sweeping one gigantic paw before him. The meaning was unmistakable; Get out of my way!
Ken, Kyoko and the soldiers take cover along Ogeshewara's stony shore as an enormous explosion rocks through the island, and into the very sea around it! Tanaka and Kenji share a grim expression, Kyoko one of relief. They all knew, Godzilla had reached his goal.
"Good. Good for them!" Munabe cried in anger. "I hope they're all dead!"
Tanaka considered the man for a moment. "So do I, soldier. So do I." On this, he found he had to agree.
"Hey, Bradley," called Kazuki. "That was the Starman who saved us, right?"
"You get an 'A' in post-war Japanese retro heroes, soldier. That was him."
"He had your dog with him," said Fuji. "She really gave those aliens a nasty turn! Where'd you ever find a dog like that?"
"I summoned for her with a mystic conch," Kyoko stated flatly. "I just hope she made it out of there."
The squad looked questioningly at each other, then they all noticed the sky. It had rapidly begun to brighten.
Sheathed in a glowing nimbus of force, the Starman and Mikki appear from high above, drifting gently down to land among the humans. The little terrier springs to her friends, kissing them both with glee!
"We missed you too, sweetheart," said Kenji, as he and his wife embraced their truest friend.
Spontaneously, Kyoko grabbed the Starman in a hug. "Thank you, Starman!" She squeezed him hard, and Kenji joined her. The warrior laughed and hugged them back, the soldiers all smiling at the sight.
"Domo arigato, Starman sama," said Tanaka, giving a low bow.
Mikki squirmed in Kenji's arms, yapping for attention. The little dog seemed to speak to the superhero. She seemed to be asking him something.
The warrior looked at those around him, his expression that of someone reluctant to speak.
Mikki repeated her signal.
"Mikki, I realized too late to change what I'd done. I acted in anger, we both saw the results." Again, he looked at his human companions, and continued. "I did something back there I cannot be proud of," Starman admitted. "I gained control of the Enthrallers, and I commanded them to die."
For a long moment, there was silence. Then Kenji spoke; "It must have been horrible for them, losing control like that."
"And we know Godzilla was going to destroy them no matter what," Kyoko added.
"I'd say you were being merciful, Starman." Tanaka agreed. "Perhaps too merciful."
Mikki yapped twice, and Starman allowed a brief grin to cross his features. "I have killed before, but I have never once enjoyed it."
"We know that, Starman," said Kenji. "I don't know of another man on Earth who could do your job, or would even want to try."
The warrior's smile returned, and he bowed low before them. Then, the twin antenae brightened. "I am recieving a signal. Sadly, I must leave you now. The Emerald Council has summoned me, and I must go."
"Starman, we need to ask one last favor of you," said Kyo. "Can you please get us back home?"
"Oh, I had thought Captain Tanaka might aid you."
"On the contrary," the Captain replied. "I'm afraid the Bradleys are currently persona non grata here in Japan. If they were to remain, I would be obligated to arrest them."
"Arrest them?!" The hero was shocked.
"It's a long story," said Kenji.
"Well, I don't normally do this, but..." Starman cupped his hands, and focused. Starforce flares from antennae to palms, and a shining sphere is formed. "This sphere is a connection to the tip of a Cosmic String. Like a shortcut through space and time. The physics behind it are a bit complex, suffice it to say, if you picture where you want to go, it will take you there."
Kyoko grasped the object in awe. A shortcut through space and time! She had wished only to get back to the States with Kenji, now that was but one of many possible destinations. "There is no way we could ever begin to thank you for your help, Starman," Kyoko bowed. "We will always remember you."
"That alone is thanks enough! Be careful with the sphere now. It's intended to be a one way ticket, but there are 'safety factors' you can trigger in case you get lost," the Starman reassured them. "Please give my regards to your dear mother, Kenji. Oh, and congratulations as well!"
"Congratulations? For what?" Asked Ken.
"Kyoko is pregnant. You are going to have a child!" The costumed adventurer rose from the ground, smiling. His form growing brighter as he floated higher aloft. "Farewell, my friends!" The Starman said, and was gone.
Ken and Kyo stared slack jawed into each others eyes. "We're gonna have a baby?" Said Ken.
Mikki yapped twice, and Kyoko smiled. "If Mikki agrees, then I guess we are."
The monster Godzilla raised his scaly head and watched the photon trail of Starman speed away from Earth, like a comet in reverse. Til now, he had known only evil to come from the void between the stars, like that which now lay burning at his feet. But that being was different, and Godzilla knew; he was not an enemy.
Here on Earth, however, his enemies abound. Not the least of which were the menthings. Specifically the modern folk with their weapons and war machines. Godzilla could smell their lingering presence. He could smell their latent power. He was sure the ones in the metal skins had come here to challenge him, but the aliens had beat them to it. The aliens have been dealt with. Godzilla decides that now, it would be the humans turn!
"Avenging the Yog, eh? Fits with the story the ET's gave me. Still..." Tanaka remarked. Having gotten the explanation, he found he was not wholly satisfied.
"All of it true, Captain," said Kenji. "Look, I can tell you're having a bit of a hard time trusting us. Believe me, we would love a better explanation for all the weird stuff that's been happening as much as you would! I hope you'll agree though, that your predecessor's viewpoint on it was a bit extreme." Kenji clutched his wounded thigh.
"Oh I agree with you on that! Do not worry, Bradley san. My methods and outlook are a far cry from the late Captain Nakano's."
"Thank goodness for that!" Said Kyoko.
"Can we agree then, to reimplement the terms of your original release?" Asked Tanaka. "The two of you will remain outside Japanese territories for the duration of one year, so that we may gauge Godzilla's reaction, if any, to your absence."
"Of course, Captain. That was our intent all along," Ken agreed.
"Good. Tell me, where will you go now?"
"Far away from Markalites and monsters. We'll go back to San Francisco, my mom must be flipping out!"
"She did not seem pleased when we, uh, kidnapped you," said Fuji, a subtle tremor punctuating his words.
"Yeah, she did look pissed," said Munabe. Another tremor, stronger this time.
"Speaking of pissed," said Kyoko, as Mikki began to growl. "I think I hear some unwanted company coming our way!"
The tremors grew in both force and volume, like the footfalls of some titanic beast. That is exactly what they were!
Kyoko took Mikki, allowing Kenji to get maximum speed from his injured leg. Together, they scrambled down the shoreline for cover.
"Get back to the ship," Tanaka ordered his men.
"But Captain, the Bradleys..." Munabe protested.
"I said fall back, soldier!" The Captain repeated, the words barely escaping being drowned out by the warcry of the King of the Monsters. The men began to move!
Mikki growled a challenge of her own. Stirred by some primordial instinct, the canine leapt free from Kyo's grasp and raced through the sand to confront the monster!
"Mikki, no!" Kyoko screamed.
"Mikki! Mikki!!" Kenji echoed, watching as the tiny dog stood barking at the monster's feet.
Tanaka watched as well, and reacted. "Prime the Markalites. Fireshields as well," he turned to his men. "I want you to scatter, try to draw his fire. I'm going to go get that crazy dog."
The Captain primed his own plasma energy generator, and drew the discharge rifle from the sling on his back. Then he began to run.
The triple dorsals flashed, Godzilla glaring at the dog. Kenji held his wife, forcing her back as she screamed Mikki's name. It was the hardest thing he had ever had to do.
Tanaka deployed his collapsible Fireshield, polarizing it into a refractive, radproof barrier, and poured on the speed.
The Atomfire burned, a brilliant beam blasting forth from Godzilla's gaping maw! Tanaka dove blind, a yelp at his impact told him his aim was true. He curled around the squirming dog, tucking them both tight beneath the shield as the thermonuclear ray struck home!
"F, fire!!" Screamed Fuji, shocked at the scene. The laserplay danced over the monster's form, detonating in a unique reaction to Godzilla's own protective field of Atomic force. The saurian staggered for a second, shook his head and raged, then strode further onto the beach to press the attack!
"I think we made him mad," said Munabe, raising his weapon for another blast.
Godzilla's dorsals flashed again, and again the beam shot forth. Ogeshewara's shore was fast becoming a radioactive inferno! Stone melting to liquid, sand fusing into glass. The surf itself begins to boil, filling the air with toxic, searing steam!
"Kenji, where's Mikki? Where is she?!" Kyo shrieked in anguish.
"I don't know, sweetheart. I can't see her anywhere," Ken replied. "Tanaka got his shield up. I think they're okay." A thick beam of Atomfire swept over the shore. The fight was getting closer. Too close. "Kyo, we can't outrun that death-ray, and we don't have any fireproof armor. We've got to use the sphere, Kyoko. We've got to go now!"
"What about Mikki? We can't leave her behind!"
"I know, baby. I love her too, but we don't have to die here to prove it!" Kenji's voice was calm but intense, his heart breaking at the thought of leaving his canine companion behind. He could never forget that dog had saved their lives.
High above the smoke and haze, Ken could see the Markalite beams burning around Godzilla. Power arced from the great beast's form like lightning, dancing along the bony plates that line the monster's spine. The plates began to spark and glow, heralding another blast.
"Kyo," Ken took hold of his wife's hand. The sphere now grasped between them, shining like a beacon. "Focus on San Francisco with me. Let's do it."
"Kenji, I..." she began to speak as the beam burst forth, sweeping closer.
"Kyoko, now! Go! Go! Now!!"
The Atomfire swept the length of the shore, engulfing the Bradleys position and beyond. It passed, and the Bradleys were gone.
Tanaka came running, Mikki in his arms, from out of the thickening wall of steam. Kazuki, Fuji and Munabe stared at their Captain, his armor now blackened and singed, Markalite overloaded, its components fused into a useless mass.
"Everybody into the ship," he ordered. "This field test is over. Godzilla has won."
The dreams were getting worse now. Sato found he could no longer really sleep. He shook constantly as if in a perpetual chill, yet his skin was hot to the touch. Too hot.
As the fourth sleepless night had come and gone, he found himself lapsing instead into what he could only think of as out-of-body experiences. Strange and frightening periods when he could feel his body melting from him, his consciousness somehow slipping away. It was a familiar feeling. It began the day he was caught in the Radion blast that drove Godzilla from Dokowan Bay.
He found himself at the hospital, standing before the room wherein his father died. Komai and Masayo were there, still bidding him to enter, but he could no longer bring himself to open that door. Not again.
A strange green liquid began to seep from beneath the door. It massed and flowed, creeping closer. Sato was frozen with fear.
Then the glowing fluid began to change. It frothed and foamed, coalescing and building itself from a mound, to a pillar, to a strange almost humanoid form. The still flowing mass stood before him, and spoke the words he dreaded most. "I hate you, Maki Sato."
The creature reached for him, and Sato snapped 'awake'. He breathed deeply then, the sound harsh and rattle like, as if fluid filled his lungs. Hesitantly, he looked at his hands. They were glowing green, with a flowing, liquid surface, and Sato screamed!
This time, it was no mere dream...
Far across galactic space, near the center of the M4 spiral, there is a world called the Emerald Planet. The Starman stands before the Council, a group of delegates from the nine primary worlds, united in the pursuit of peace between the countless lifeforms of intersellar space.
They regard their agent with grim satisfaction, and speak; "As always, my Starman, your assigned goal has been executed with utmost proficiency. Let us confirm now, the Earthers accepted the Sphere without question?"
"Yes, Leader," the hero replied. "And with more than adequate impetus to use it as well."
"Excellent. You understand, we are not in the habit of deputizing agents without their consent, but the forces which now threaten the human world are not of an interplanetary nature," the Council Leader explained. "And thus are beyond our jurisdiction.
"Unable to interven directly, we of the Council decided to try an experiment; provide the humans with a tool with which they might at least have a chance to save themselves."
"I understand the plan, though I regret the deception needed to implement it," the warrior lamented. "I confess it is not my only regret regarding this mission."
"We know your thoughts, warrior," began another of the delegates. "As well as your quandry. Your nature is that of a protector, yet when the Kartanans revealed their plunder of your own homeworld eons ago, your only motivation was anger, and revenge." The delegate narrowed his gaze. "For the first time, you allowed yourself to lose control."
The Astral Avenger bowed low before his masters. "You are right, of course. This Council has entrusted myself alone with powers and talents gleaned from many worlds. I have abused that power, and am ready to accept whatever judgement you choose to render against me."
The delegates considered their agent's words, and replied; "Your shame is punishment enough, warrior, and the benefits of your talents far outweigh the risk of any further misuse. You are aware of the consequences of your actions? The results of the line which you have crossed?"
"Yes. I am," the Starman confirmed.
"Then the Council has faith, you shall not cross that line again."
"Thank you, leader!" The hero replied. "There is one last concern I would adress here..."
"The humans, Kenji and Kyoko Bradley," the leader surmised.
"Yes! Please tell me, where exactly have they gone?"
"The Bradleys have been placed upon a most dangerous path. One that is partly of their own making. The Sphere will carry them to specific focal points in the timestream, Where they will either cause or prevent certain circustances to manifest," the leader explained. "Success in this venture will ensure the survival of life on Earth. Failure, well, failure would result in cosmic traedy."
"Do you really think they will succeed, leader?"
"Depends? On what?"
"An infinity of factors," the leader professed. "But foremost among them, is the monster called Godzilla...