Here There Be Monsters
FICTION - by George Thomas
Ogasawara island. The recent past.
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 lined the monster's spine. The plates began to spark and glow, heralding another blast.
"Kyo," Ken took hold of his wife's hand, the TimeSpace Sphere now grasped between them, shining. "Focus on San Francisco with me, Kyo. Let's do it."
"Kenji, I..." she began to speak as the beam burst forth, sweeping closer.
"Kyoko, now! We've got to go now!!"
The Atomfire swept the shore, engulfing their position and beyond. It passed, and Kenji and Kyoko Bradley were gone...
San Francisco Bay, 2389 A.D.
"Eeyaaah!!" Kenji screamed, gsping desperately for breath as he broke the foul water's surface. "Oh, man, where in blazes am I?" Treading water, he scanned his surroundings, finding only endless ocean.
Slowly, the memories returned. The Aliens, come to avenge the death of Yog. The Starman, sent to protect him. The soldiers, attacked by Godzilla. A wave of fear gripped him as he realized he was now alone. "Kyoko..."
From somewhere far below a pressure wave rose, catching him in a slow but powerful swell. From its crest he could see something moving beneath the surface, something huge. He froze, keeping as still as possible as a great serpentine hump rose from the sea, breaking the surface before him. It began circling his position. It began to hunt.
All at once the creature rose, its snakelike form rearing higher until it towered over eighty feet above him. The beast stared right at Kenji, opened its vast jaws and hissed.
"Uh oh," Ken spoke to himself. "I think I'm in trouble again..."
War against the Wild Gods
BOOK SIX: Godzilla Versus Manda
Part One: The Koshida Wars
Tokyo Harbor. The Present.
"Captain Tanaka!" The voice blared from a bullhorn, somewhere out of sight. "This is General Shinzo speaking. You and your men are hereby ordered to throw down your weapons and surrender, at once!"
Captain Inoshiro Tanaka looked at his remaining troops; Fujiko Yasuda and Kazuki Kato. They were good soldiers, and would follow his lead through the gates of Hell. Indeed, they already had. Around them gathered the rest of their allies. Maki Sato, the once and former H-Man, now returned to human form. Police Chief Komai; Maki's uncle and guardian. Detective Tominaga and his niece Miname Masada who had helped cure Sato's mutant condition. And Anna Bradley, a woman searching for her lost family, accompanied by the strange little dog called Mikki, a creature of great elemental power.
Together they stood huddled amidst the shattered wreckage of what had once been a thriving harbor, taking shelter from the Great Storm that raged ever closer, a storm Mikki herself had somehow summoned. But perhaps strangest of all was the source of their refuge, bracing themselves against the rising winds behind the near-lifeless form of the fallen Godzilla.
"Blast! Shinzo is here," said Kazuki. "That man is notorious for his nasty disposition."
"Hai, as well as his sharpshooting," Fujiko agreed. "Any ideas how to get out of this mess?"
"Let me talk to him, Captain," said Tominaga. "I think we should try to convince him General Iwa's death was not your doing." The old detective rose to his feet, joined by Chief Komai.
"I'm going with him. The two of us will be of far more use as your advocates than in battle. Besides, we are probably the most credible people here in Shinzo's estimation. No offense."
"None taken," said the Captain. "Alright. Good luck."
The men bowed curtly, then Tominaga stopped before his niece and smiled. The young woman hugged him fiercely. "Be careful, Uncle."
"Are you sure this is wise, Komai?" Asked Sato.
"No, but it is necessary," the Chief replied. He joined the detective, and they quickly left.
Again, General Shinzo's voice called for the soldiers to surrender. Tanaka swore to himself, cursing the fool Munabe who was once a part of his Markalite Squad. The man had always resented Tanaka, and found his chance to strike when Old Iwa died while sacrificing himself to help save Sato from the disease that had turned him into a monster. Munabe lied to Shinzo, claiming Tanaka had murdered Iwa instead. Now, tanaka knew he would not suffer for Munabe's lies alone, that his friends would suffer as well. A tight ball of rage grew in the pit of his stomach, and he found himself wishing Munabe was still with them, so he could kill him himself.
"Captain, something strange is happening," said Fujiko. The Markalite harnesses had shut down when the Storm first appeared. Now, the weapons and instruments began to spark slowly back to life.
"The battlesuits are reactivating..." said Kazuki.
"Hai. Weapons systems online, communications, trackers too," Tanaka confirmed.
"Captain, my G-Tracker is picking something up," said Fujiko.
"We're standing next to the beast, Fujiko. What do you expect?"
"That's not what he means, Tanaka," said Sato, peering over Fujiko's shoulder. "A large object is moving just beyond the stormfront." He pointed toward the horizon, beyond the wall of black and menacing clouds that drew ever closer. "Whatever it is, it's huge, and it's coming this way."
Across the sea, beyond the Great Storm, lay the islands called Ogasawara. On a bleak and desolate shore, the ruins of a vst and ancient temple begin to shift, sliding away into the surrounding magma. If anyone were there to witness the scene, they would hear a ghostly chanting like the soirits of a race long dead still calling to their God. They would see a huge coiling mass emerge from the ruins and enter the burning lava. Reptilian scales patterning its impossible length, a wild mane flowing down its spine. Its clawed and stunted limbs propelling it forward, until finally the great head breaks the surface of the volcanic crater and issues a low, threatening hiss from its fanged jaws. The chanting builds to a crescendo, calling out the Hellsnake's name as it pulls itself from its ancient prison. At last, Manda is free!
Kunashirashima, 6000years B.C.
Kyoko Bradley stood shakily among the trees of a verdant jungle, breathing a sigh of relief as she realized she had reached her goal. Kenji was nowhere to be seen, as she expected. She could only pray that he too had reached his chosen destination, safe with his mother Anna back in San Francisco.
Nearby on the jungle floor lay the Sphere, her ticket home. She reached for the alien device, then gasped as the point of a stone-tipped spear is thrust before her. The natives appeared from the brush and surrounded her. They were indeed Koshida, her years of research among their people confirmed it, and she spoke to them in their native tongue; "My house is one of peace. I beg you do not strike!"
The natives looked at each other quizzically. "The stranger knows our words, and the greeting used to profess alliance along the trail," one of them spoke. "What are you called, woman?"
"My name is Kyoko of the House of Iso, recently married into the clan Bradley. I have journeyed many turnings of the Nightstar to come here, and am glad to see the people of Koshida who have welcomed me in the...um, on my other journeys to this land."
"Do not listen, Kalen,"cried one of the others. "She is Mu! Her garb and totems reveal it."
"Quiet, Noga," the one called Kalen replied. "I understand your fear, but do not believe it grounded here. I must ask you, Kyoko, what is it you seek, and where is your ship?"
Kyo knew the Koshida were a people of great intuition. They would surely know it were she to speak anything but the truth, then they would probably kill her. "I seek the one called Matsu, to warn him of a danger I have forseen." Reluctantly, she pointed to the Sphere. "That is my ship."
A smirk spread slowly over Kalen's ruddy face, then he broke into laughter. Kyo smiled as well, then composed herself to attempt an explanation. "I know it sounds impossible, yet you can see I do not lie to the Koshida. Please, allow me to speak with Matsu and I promise I will explain."
Kalen picked up the Sphere. The man sniffed it, shook it, held it to his ear, then dropped it into the pouch that hung about his waist. "Your 'ship' will be safe, stranger, as will you. But there is no one named 'Matsu' among us. Your tongue does move strangely to my ears, perhaps meaning to say the name Mardsoon, though that one is mad and of little use to anyone!" The native held open his pouch and peeked inside, smirking again at Kyoko. "Perhaps you are mad as well, but that is not for me to decide. Join us now, Kyoko. Something tells me we might be able to help each other."
Grimly, Kyoko agreed, and started down the trail. The one called Noga glared suspiciously. "She is Mu," he said. Mu?! Kyoko had intended to arrive in time to prevent her Uncle's death at the hands of the monster Varan. She was beginning to realize, she may have overshot her goal...
The future. 2389 A.D.
Kenji cringed as the serpent coiled before him, preparing to strike. Then, something struck the beast instead. Lances of pure power encircling it in a net of plasmic force! The net was drawn tight, snapping the serpent's
neck with a sudden, violent jerk. The monster fell, sinking quickly into the sea.
A spotlight, impossibly bright, pinpointed Kenji's floating form, and an annoying buzz filled his ears. "Yep. He's Human alright," came a strange mechanical voice. "We've got a live one down here, boss!" Instinctively, Ken swatted at the object, obscured by the blinding light. "Hey, lay offa me, tough guy! I'm trying to get you rescued!"
The light dimmed then, revealing the voice's source. It was a robot, insectoid in configuration, flitting about the air above Kenji's head. "What in the world are you?" He asked.
"Ahoy there!" Another voice, more human this time. Ken spun at the sound, and before him loomed the source of his timely rescue. An immense ship hovered just above the surface of the sea. The craft was huge, submarine-like. Something whose arrival he should not have missed, were it not for the fact it was running dead silent.
"Uh, ahoy the ship!" Ken called. "I sure could use a lift out of here!"
"Hang on, I'll throw you a line. Bug! Get your shiny backside back here now!" said the voice.
Ken grabbed hold and pulled himself aboard. Sprawled on the deck, he remembered what little seafaring etiquette he knew and asked; "Permission to come aboard?"
"Aye," said the strange old man standing before him. You and anybody else we find floating like driftweed in the middle of the ocean." He took Kenji's hand, helping him to his feet. "Welcome to the Atragon. I'm Magu, First Mate, Cief cook and bottle washer hereabouts. And you...?"
"Kenji. Kenji Bradley. Thanks for the rescue. I thought I was snake kibble for sure!"
"Don't thank me, youngster. Thank Bug," said the old salt, as the aptly named little robot buzzed back into view. "He was out reconnoitering when he scanned your biosignal. Weren't sure what you were at first, darndest lifesigns I've ever seen! As for the snake, you were lucky it was one of the little ones."
"THAT was a little one?"
"Very," the old man replied. "Come on, Kenji. We've got to get you out of those sopping duds. Seawater's toxic, y'know."
"Um, Magu, this is probably gonna sound really strange, but where the heck is San Francisco?"
"Where? About a mile and a half straight down, son. Submerged, same place it's been for nearly three hundred years."
"Three hundred...oh my Lord..." Ken crumpled slowly to the deck.
"Aw jeez," said Magu. "Bug, better fetch the Rum bucket. Mr. B here looks like he just blew a gasket or somethin'!"
This was all happening way too fast, and Ken took a minute to let the impossible sink in. Kyoko was gone. California had sunk. He was just saved by a mechanical bug and brought aboard a flying submarine. And that was only a LITTLE snake?! The Rum was starting to sound like a good idea.
The present. Tokyo harbor.
"Holy...!" A gunshot rang in the storm charged air, sparking off Tanaka's armored battlesuit. The squad dove for cover among the debris, separating themselves from the civilians.
"Something tells me Komai and Tominaga were less than convincing, Captain," said Fuji.
"Can you spot the shooter?" asked Tanaka.
"Not yet. Hold it...there he is." The soldier pointed to the tallest rooftop left standing among the rows of warehouses that lined the port, and a familiar face peered back.
"Ha ta. Munabe," said Kazuki with a tinge of grief in his voice.
Those two had been as close as brothers, thought Shiro. He knew it must be horrible for Kazuki to have to stand against his best friend. "Kazuki, I..." Before the Captain could finish speaking, Kazuki leveled his plasma thrower at Munabe and fired, blasting away any cover the man might have had upon the rooftop. "Kazuki, hold your fire!"
"I'm sorry, Sir. I had to. That idiot up there betrayed us. I guess I'm angry at myself for thinking him a friend for so long. Now I find myself wishing him dead."
"I know the feeling, soldier, but let's not live up to his expectations. That can only help his cause in the long run," said Shiro. "Just stay down, and stay alive. That's an order."
From somewhere among the rooftops came another shot, tearing through the pile of wood right next to Shiro's head. The Squad dug in, making themselves as hard to hit as possible.
"Darn it," cried Anna, still huddled with Sato and Masada close to Godzilla's flank. "Soldiers can be such fools! I know, I was married to one for forty years." The old woman rose, and took off toward the little terrier called Mikki.
"Mrs. Bradley! Anna, come back, you'll get shot!" shouted Miname.
"I'm alright, just stay put! Mikki will protect me," she called back. "I hope." The winds whipped fiercely around her as she approached the tiny dog, soaking her with cold ocean spray. Anna braved the wild storm and crouched stiffly by the animal's side. She had already lost her own son, as well as his dear wife, very possibly forever. She swore then that her own life would end before anyone else dear to her suffered.
"Mikki! Mikki!" She called the dog's name. "I know you can hear me. We need your help, girl. We are under attack!" The terrier's only response was a slight tremor as her muscles shook involuntarily. Lightning flashed overhead, and the deafening boom of thunder seemed to shake the very molecules of the air. "The soldiers have come. They mean to kill the Captain, perhaps to kill us all. You've got to help us, Mikki, you've got to do something, please!" Again the lightning flared, sparking even brighter than before. That same elemental brilliance now echoed in the terrier's eyes. Those eyes turned to Anna, and the dog yapped twice in affirmation.
The sea began to churn and foam, like a whirlpool in reverse, giving birth to a spinning, deadly waterspout! The dervish raced inland past the embattled group, striking the port's remaining buildings and smashing them to bits. Onward it raged into the streets of Tokyo, sweeping the Defense Force convoy away in a violent surge of aquatic energy. Then, it died, and the blood red rays of the Sun broke through the clouds. Something else broke through as well...
Across the storm tossed sea, the beast called Manda screamed! It had escaped its prison of mystic stone only to find itself trapped by the great black Storm that raged around it. The serpent knew this power, the Spiritfire that fueled the Storm was part of its own ancient origins, part of its birthright as the Prince of the Wild Gods. A force that it could not withstand.
Then, something happened, a break in the wall of cloud that held it from its goal, a rift through which it could strike! Manda targeted the source of the Storm's raging fury, and surged through...
Kunashirashima, 6000 B.C.
Cookfires burn smokily throughout the Koshida village, casting a strong but hazy light over the scene. The smells of the islanders foods were rich and pungent, not unlike those of their modern counterparts, and Kyoko realized she was very hungry.
"I can tell our food appeals to you, stranger. We eat together, soon. First, I will bring you to the one whose name most closely fits the one you seek," said Kalen leading her through the valley. "For I am most curious to hear your tale myself!"
The village was much larger than its modern form, more like a small city, though it's basic construction was much the same. Thatched, conical roofs topped the open framework of the huts. Nearby was a shipyard where the men built their boats. It was an Anthropologist's dream, a chance to observe an ancient Peoples culture in real-time, to watch it unfold. Kyo cursed herself for being so unprepared for the opportunity, and would have given her sword arm for a camera!
Ahead, a strange structure came into view, rising nearly twice the height of the rest of the buildings. This place was different, built from the rough igneous rock of the island, the fronds of its roofline hanging low down its unfinished sides. Then it struck her; This was the spot where stood the Shrine of the Obake, and a chill ran through her at the thought of the dreadful beast.
Within sat an old man clad in Ceremonial robes. He was carving something from a block of stone, and continued his work as they entered, never looking up. Kalen spoke first, greeting the man in the patronizing tone people use when speaking to one nobody takes seriously. "Greetings, Mardsoon! How goes the work today?"
"Slowly, good Kalen, for I work alone. Too slowly I fear. The attack is sure to come soon." Briefly, the old man raised his eyes from the carving and looked at the pair. "The stranger you have brought is with child, Kalen. Please, bid her to sit and bring her a drink."
Kalen motioned to the grass mats lying over the bare earth floor, and Kyoko sat. She gazed hopefully at the old man, looking for some glimpse of recognition. Then she began to cry.
"She is lost, Kalen. I believe she must have expected to find someone else in my place. Now she begins to see the truth," Mardsoon spoke calmly, continuing his work.
Kyo fought to compose herself, noticing the subject of the old man's carving. There, not yet fully formed, was the idol of Varan. The very same idol she knew from her years spent here in her own time.
"I do not wish to seem unfeeling for your pain, strange one, but my work is critical and I must not stop. The SeaSpirit has warned me, told me to prepare my people for the onslaught of the MU. They shall come in armada, and send the Prince of the Wild Gods against us. I am even now trying to prepare a defense, to summon this land's own ancient spirits to protect us."
"You're going to call upon the Obake, aren't you?" Kyoko asked, choking back her tears.
Mardsoon paused, and looked the young woman in the eye. "It is our only chance. I know the Obake's essence is as vile as that of their own Godbeast, but only it can save my people."
"Mardsoon, I came here to find my uncle. To warn him of the...dream in which he died at that monster's hands. Now I see it was a fools journey, for you are not him, though I feel you too may pay with your life for your dealings with the beast."
Mardsoon watched Kyo rise from her seat and leave the Shrine in silence. "I am sorry, Kalen. You were right about the old man, he is mad."
"Mardsoon swears the Mu will attack soon, with the serpent Manda in the lead. Everyone knows they were destroyed when their land was swallowed by the sea, though there is a small following of idiots who still believe! I wish you could have found what you were seeking, Kyoko, instead of the rantings of an old man. I will return to you your 'ship' now, no questions asked..." Kalen reached into his pouch, deeper, then turned the bag inside-out upon the ground. "I do not understand," he said as Kyoko's eyes went wide with fear. "The shiny ball was right here, but...Kyoko, the ship is gone!"
Part Two: MU II
Kenji sat before an interactive console, poring over the records of the history of this world. Comparing it to his own memories, he became convinced this was indeed an Earth of the future. A future where humans share a kind of symbiosis with the Artificial Intelligence of robots and super computers. The Natural world had been lost to pollution and disease, and is now ruled by a race of beings divergent from mainstream humanity. Like the ancient legends upon which they have based their culture, they are called the Mu, and like the originals, their Empire controls nearly the entire planet.
"Another Rum, Mr. B?" Asked the robotic drone called Bug.
"No, thank you. Bug, you're one of the sentient mechanicals I've been learning about, aren't you?"
"Yup. Whole ship is. Self aware, capable of independent thought and decision making, all the things you Organics take for granted. You can't really appreciate stuff like that unless you know what it's like to be without it. Know what I mean?"
"I think so. I wonder though, how Mankind can accept you as equals. In my time, people had a hard time accepting even each other. Social status was too often based on nothing more than the melanin levels of one's skin, though I'm ashamed to admit it. I know, because my mother was Japanese, my father an American. It is a fact I've been reminded of my whole life."
"Man was forced to grow beyond such prejudices, Mr. B. Most of the population was wiped out when the Mu attacked. Racial interbreeding was unavoidable. Nowadays, most folks are amalgams of the five genotypes, with families of any single ethnicity being the exception, not the rule."
"Guess that makes me an archetype of sorts around here, huh?" Kenji mused aloud.
"I suppose. Though I wouldn't get too cocky about it if I were you. And speaking of cocky..." the little robot scanned the room as if making sure no one could overhear. "The Captain has asked to see you on the Bridge, if you're up to it. You had a pretty close call with that Manda, and we scan a gunshot in your leg still healing."
"I'm fine, Bug. Thanks again for the rescue earlier."
"No sweat," buzzed the drone. "Just don't do any more skinny dippin' without strappin' a Shocknet to yer butt first!"
Soon, on the Bridge.
"Well now, look who's feeling better," said Magu as he rose from his Station. "Cap'n, meet our hitchhiker, Mr. Kenji Lawrence Bradley. Mr.B., Captain Mako."
"Makoto O'Reilly Jinguchi Jones. Irrashaimase, Bradley-san." She bowed. A lovely young girl with dark skin and shaven head. Her brown fatigues hung loosely over her thin, muscled frame. It was the look of a warrior. Ken blushed, unable to ignore her odd but undeniable sexiness.
Ken bowed in return. "Pleased to meet you, Ma'am. I apologize for not introducing myself sooner, but my arrival here has come as quite a shock. I trust Magu has explained it to you?"
"Hai, though such an account is a bit difficult to accept at face value. That is why I've been watching you," the Captain smiled. "You seem to be sincere, Bradley-san. Atragon agrees."
"Thank you, Captain. Please call me Kenji."
"You're welcome, Kenji. I'm relieved at the apparent veracity of your story. It would be a shame to have to kill you, you are very cute," she smiled again.
"I'm very Married, Captain, though flattered by your attentions. Getting back to my world and my wife are my first priorities. I hope you understand."
"Hai, I understand. Got any ideas?"
"Unfortunately, no. The device Kyoko and I were given could have malfunctioned, either that or we used it improperly. Those scenarios are so highly improbable that frankly, I don't know how to explain my appearance here, or how I'm supposed to get back."
Mako watched the young man's expression turn grim and hopeless. This stranger from the past was indeed very likeable, and Mako wished she could help him, or perhaps entice him to stay. "There is another possibility you have not mentioned. Perhaps this Alien had a hidden agenda he could not reveal. Perhaps there is a purpose to your presence, something you were meant to accomplish here? You are a chemist, are you not, Kenji?"
"True. top of my Class and fairly highly regarded in the field. Though the practical applications of my work have been few, I had recently developed a compound that could purify...oh, man!"
"Nani?" asked Mako.
"I can be so dense sometimes! The oceans here are toxic, right? I have a formula that will purify sea water. It might even kill off some of the more unnatural mutations that have developed in it, like those Mandas. At the least, it should give them a nasty headache!"
"You developed a salt water purifier over three hundred years ago? Why do we not have any record of this accomplishment, I wonder?"
To be honest, it was intended to desalinate sea water chemically but failed. The detoxifying action was an unexpected side-effect. I left the original batch in the hands of Japan's Defense Force.
"Nihon was one of the first targets to be destroyed by the Mu. I congratulate you, Kenji. This is something not even our most skilled Technoids have been unable to accomplish. Do you think you could duplicate it for us?"
"I'm sure, though my success was achieved in a lake. Treating an ocean sounds impossible."
"We won't need to treat the whole ocean, just enough to give us some elbow room. We've been on the defensive for a long time now. It'll be good to have a weapon, any weapon with which to strike back!"
Suddenly, a klaxon sounded through the giant ship, and Ken jumped, startled by the sound. The lighting dimmed then shifted hue, casting the Bridge in a glow of amber. It could only mean trouble.
"Cap'n, we've got company. Three bogies closin' fast from astern. Bug's out there now, says they look like Mu Stingers," Magu reported from his Station.
"Let's lose them. Atragon, you know the drill," the Captain barked her orders. With a burst of speed, the amazing modular seacraft rose into the sky, racing back towards its home base. Faster and faster it flew, accelerating in a dizzying display of Atom-powered thrust. The Stingers too were fast but with limited range, and were quickly outdistanced by the giant warship.
Kenji breathed a sigh of relief, watching the enemy craft fade slowly from the screen. That relief was short-lived.
An immense burst of energy flared across the monitors, threatening to overload the ship's sensors as an enormous object appeared in their path! "Cap'n, object sighted dead ahead. Rad levels rising...bio-signature registering now...oh boy."
"What is it, Magu? What in blazes is it?!" Cried Mako.
"It's a Manda. The biggest one I've ever seen."
Tokyo Bay, the Present.
A bolt of fire black and vile burst through the break in the Storm. Higher and higher it arced, disappearing above the clouds, then came rocketing back toward Earth.
"Anna, no!" Miname screamed, racing from her hiding place and hurling herself at the old woman, knocking her clear as the bolt struck home.
"Holy spit," said Tanaka. "Take cover!" The blast was incredible, rivaling the fury of the Storm itself. The soldiers dug in to the wind whipped sands. Sato clung tighter to the huge dorsal frill behind which he hid, pressing closer to Godzilla's scaly flesh. Then the debris began to settle, revealing the aftermath of the arcane assault...
Slowly, Miname rose from atop Anna Bradley's unmoving form. She checked the woman's pulse and found her living. Behind her the dog lay singed and bleeding, and they realized the blast had found its mark.
"Miname!" Cried Sato approaching the scene. The soldiers too pulled themselves from the beach and stared at the brave young woman, her eyes now the color of the Sea. "Miname chan?"
"I..." the woman began. "I am she, known to you as Mikki. My Spirit now shares this form."
Sato found he could only stare dumbstruck, then cast a questioning gaze at Tanaka.
"Look at her eyes," said Shiro. "Mikki, is Miname alright?"
"Hai. Her Spirit sleeps so that I may speak. The time has come for you to begin to understand, Inoshiro Tanaka, so that you all may yet survive.
"Long before there was life on this world, there was the SpiritFire. A force integral to the existence of this universe. From that wellspring of energy arose the Gods of the Earth, the Sea and the Sky. These beings could manipulate the Elements, helping to shape the world as it stands today. Not all were of a benevolent nature, however. Corrupted by the Cosmic Power, some became amoral and wild. It is the Prince of those Wild Gods that attacks you now, the serpent known as Manda. It was his energy that struck me down, forcing me to retreat into this form. My Storm can hold the beast no longer. I'm sorry."
"Incredible," said Fujiko, awed by the tale. Above them, a squadron of Defense Force jets were winging out across the Bay en route to engage the monster.
"Mikki, without your help, how can this 'Manda' be stopped?" Asked Kazuki.
"There is only one other being on Earth with the power to kill a Wild God. He is there," the woman pointed to the giant form that lay where the sea met the sand. "The one you call Godzilla."
"Godzilla? Mikki, the beast is severely injured. Quite possibly near death," Shiro exclaimed.
"As the H-Man, I managed to stop the monster by dissolving part of its primary brain," said Sato. "I thought I was doing the world a favor."
"No, Maki Sato. Though I too have stood against Godzilla when he threatened Mankind, I have fought alongside him as well. The beast will know me, no matter what form I may wear. And right now, the world needs him more than ever before."
"So what do we do now? Call a veterinarian, pray to him maybe?" Sato inquired.
"No, but you can pray for me. The SpiritFire is a force of Creation and healing. With it, I may be able to revive the beast, but it is an effort I will probably not survive."
The men looked grimly at each other, weighing their options. Finally, Tanaka spoke; "What about Miname?"
"The Spirit of Miname Masada is strong. She understands the risk and agrees to it," Mikki replied, but the men still looked unsure. " Surely you do not mistrust me?"
"No," said Shiro. "I know you, Mikki. Your loyalty, your honesty. No man could ask for a greater friend. I just can't help thinking, is the world truly worth saving if it means losing you."
A smile spread across the face of Miname Masada, a smile as wide and warm as the Sea. She moved toward Shiro, and kissed him. "You have saved my own life once already, Shiro. Allow me to try to do the same for you."
"Was that kiss from Mikki, or Miname?" Shiro asked coyly.
"Both. Like it?"
"Beats the heck out of dog drool."
"The serpent draws nearer, Shiro, and time grows short. You must all leave this place. Please, see that Anna and the dog are taken to safety."
"We will, I promise," Shiro bowed before the woman. Kazuki and Fujito bent to lift Anna gently from the sand while Sato picked up the small canine. "Domo, Mikki-chan. Good luck."
Mikki watched through human eyes as the group trod swiftly down the shore. She stood for a moment, then stepped slowly into the Bay, letting the surf wash over her. This was her element, her servant, her Soul, and she immersed herself in its embrace.
Mikki approached the stricken monster and rose before him. Feeling his breath on her, touching his face, she spoke; "Godzilla, King of Monsters, hark now the call of Mikki, Soul of the Sea and Mother of all the Wild Gods. There is one last battle to end this war, one final foe you must face. The Sea is calling you, Godzilla. The planet cries your name. Rise, Godzilla," around her the SpiritFire burned. "Rise and slay the enemies of Nature, the nemesis of all Creation. Rise and kill the serpent Manda!" It flowed from her like a thing alive, surrounding the monster in an aura of cosmic force. "Rise and fulfill your destiny!" And with a final blinding burst of light, it was done.
Miname Masada staggered from the surf and fell upon the beach. Every ounce of strength was spent, drained from her as was the Spirit of the SeaGod. She turned to face the monster still lying motionless on the shore. "Get up, blast you," she spat the words with her last dregs of energy. "Get uhhh..." then she blacked out.
For a moment all was still. Then a spark, and another. Slowly, a glow began to build along the edge of the creature's dorsal plates. Another spark, flashing brighter, til the AtomFire flared across the saurian's back. Building, building, erupting in a flash of nuclear brilliance that arced from the monster into the sky. Its huge eyes opened taking in the light, and Godzilla roared its horrible warcry and rose raging from the sea!
Kunashirashima, 6000 B.C.
Kyoko sat by the shore of Obake lake, alone. No matter what century this might be, this island was like her second home, and she knew it like the back of her hand.
Kalen had tried to be comforting at the loss of the Sphere, perhaps too much so. The native was attracted to her, something she could not find the patience to deal with politely at the moment. What had gone wrong, she wondered. Why had the sphere deposited her here NOW? Kyoko cursed her own willfulness, it was not the first time it had landed her in trouble. This time, it did not look like it would be so easily fixed.
"Oh!" Inside her, the baby moved. Kyoko rubbed her growing belly, and held back her tears at the thought of the child who must also suffer. "It's alright, little one. Momma will get you home. I promise, somehow I'll get us home." Then her tears would wait no longer. "Oh God. How am I going to get home?"
From somewhere near, she caught the sound of voices. Down the shoreline stood a group of Koshida gathered on the narrow beach. Kyo watched as the party knelt before the lake, chanting. Slowly the words became clearer, familiar. They were praying to the monster. "Those fools," she cursed, rising from the sand to confront them. "Stop it," she screamed. "Stop your foolish praying!"
The chanting halted at her approach, then resumed as Mardsoon recognized her. The old man had apparently decided her presence was of no consequence and bade his small group to continue.
"You don't understand the forces you call upon," Kyo raged, her voice rising over the native's prayers. "That beast won't protect you. If it rises now to slay your enemies, then it will surely take their place! You will have unleashed a monster you cannot control. Who will save you then?" The chanting continued. The Koshida refused to hear.
"Mardsoon, please you must listen! I came here from a future world, I have seen what the Obake can do," she knelt close beside the old man, pleading. "That monster killed my Uncle. This journey was an attempt to prevent his death, but something went wrong and I was sent too far into the past to help him. Now I may be trapped here, and I'll not allow you to turn this island into a playground for that beast!"
Finally, Mardsoon turned to her. He raised a hand, and the chanting ceased. For a long moment he just stared at Kyoko. Then, "Your uncle, his name was like mine?"
"Hai. He was called Matsu."
"Matsu..." the old man considered the name. "Yes. Matsu. That is the name the SeaSpirit calls me. She speaks to me you see, she guides me. She bade me to build the Temple and the totem that now stands within it. She told me of an alignment of a pattern of stars amongst the heavens. She said that would be the time when the Mu would strike and the Obake would rise to defend us." The old man looked into the darkening sky above them. "That time has come, Kyoko. It is too late to stop what has been foretold."
"Then we are all of us doomed," seethed Kyoko, gazing grimly into the old man's eyes.
"Kyoko! Mardsoon!" Came a voice, a figure running from the jungle. It was Kalen, spear in hand, a look of wild fear in his eyes. "All of you come with me, quickly!"
"What is it, Kalen? What is wrong?" Asked Kyo.
"Can you not see, strange one? It is as the SeaGod spoke; the Mu have come."
"Mardsoon speaks true," Kalen confirmed. "From the south come wave upon wave of ships, led by a creature risen from the blackest depths of the sea. A serpent so huge it could encircle our village and crush us all!"
"Then we must gather our people and flee into the jungle," Mardsoon advised. "Let the invaders have the village, let them find it empty and without life to threaten. This island is unknown to them and that is our advantage. We can survive if we learn to strike from the shadows, then disappear."
"And what of the serpent," Kalen inquired. "How will we stop THAT?"
"With faith, and the power of the Obake. Even now it stirs, sensing its enemy's approach. Look there,"Mardsoon pointed to the surface of the lake. It had begun to writhe and boil.
"No," exclaimed Kyoko, backing instinctively away. "This cannot be happening." The horror of it struck her as the creature's huge crystalline spikes began to rise from the surface. "Get your people away from the lake, Mardsoon. For pity's sake, all of you get away!"
"Kyoko!" Kalen cried after her, but Kyoko was already gone, lost in the jungle. "Mardsoon, I'm going after her. Take her advice," Kalen called as the monster's spiky head emerged. "And get away!"
With a hiss of seething rage, the Obake men would come to know as Varan emerged from its ancient refuge and rose into the sky. It hovered momentarily, sniffing the air and scanning the horizon. It spied the invaders making landfall to the south and began to fly toward them, preparing a greeting that would let them know exactly how unwelcome they were!
Kyoko ran through the brush, away from the lake and the creature that haunted it. She ran northward to where the shore became steep and rocky, to the caves where she knew she could hide. A voice was calling to her, dim and distant. It was Kalen's voice, and she turned at the sound to chance a peek. There, impossibly high above the canopy, she saw the beast. "Dear Lord, it flies." She halted her retreat at the sight. "It really can fly."
Suddenly, Kalen was there. The native was quick, his approach nearly silent. He grabbed for her and she pulled away, slapping him hard across the jaw. He stood before her, the impact of her strike bringing tears to his eyes. "I had thought you might want my help, Kyoko. A spearman to watch your back. You are not as defenseless as I believed," anger flooded the islander's features. "I will go now."
"Kalen, wait! I'm sorry I hit you. Please don't go," she pleaded, realizing she truly did not want to be left alone. "I...Kalen? Why are you staring at me like that?"
The Islander shook his head fiercely, then stared again. "Kyoko," he spoke, backing away a pace. "Kyoko, you are glowing. It is like a fire that surrounds you! You do not feel it?"
"A fire? Kalen, I feel nothing wrong," she looked around her. "I see no fire, Kalen. Are you sure?"
"Yes! Kyoko you are burning, I swear it!" He replied with conviction.
Again, Kyoko looked, patting down her clothes as she went. Her pants, her vest...her vest! Couched within an inner pocket was something she had somehow forgotten about entirely. A small clay flask containing the sacred elixir of the islanders of Selga. The potion they claimed to be the blood of their God, the SeaSpirit called Mikki. Quickly, she withdrew the flask and held it before her.
"That's it, Kyoko! It glows brightly, blindingly. What is it?"
Kyo thought hard, conjuring a plan. "I think it is something we can use, Kalen. Something that may just stop those monsters in their tracks!"
"I do not understand..."
"I'll explain as we go," Kyo shouted, starting back down the trail.
"Go? Where are we going?"
"To the Village. I must tell Mardsoon of this!"
"Kyoko...!" Kalen shouted after her. "She must like me," he sighed. "She's playing hard to get!"
San Francisco Bay, 2389 A.D.
"Mako, we're gonna hit it," Kenji screamed as the warship hurtled toward the serpant.
"I know. Atragon, activate the tunneller, and fire the Zero-Cannon now!" Mako thumbed a series of switches, retracting the Conning tower and its upper decks into the main hull of the ship. "Magu, seal the blast doors. All hands brace for impact."
Outside, the Manda screamed as the ship blasted it with a beam of cryonic energy. It was supposed to be a humane weapon, instantly freezing its target into suspended animation. This target however, was over twice the length of the ship, and mostly submerged. The monster writhed in agony as its scaly hide iced over, freezing from the inside-out.
Then the ship struck the beast. Its drill-tipped nose cone boring into the serpent's fur lined throat. It tore deep into the creature's flesh, ripping a wide bloody gash and driving the Hellsnake into twisting convulsions. With a move impossibly fast for a beast so huge, Manda dove beneath the waves, sending the warship spinning out of control. The giant craft smashed into the sea, the Zero-Cannon still firing, turning the surrounding ocean into a fast growing glacier that trapped the ship in an icy vault.
"Atragon, stop firing. Shut the Cannon down!" Commanded Mako.
"Cap'n, the icefield's still growing. Gonna have to disconnect her manually," Magu shouted in response. the ship was nearly buried now, encased within a spinning frozen mass of its own making. Only the prow stayed clear by virtue of its whirling drill-tipped nose. "I's no use. She won't respond."
"Atragon, fire the main thrusters. Burn us out of here," cried Mako. Instantly the ship complied, its afterburners shooting out a solid column of flame. The sudden shift in thrust halted the craft's rotation and shattered the bulk of the icefield to bits. The ship began to move, propelled by the growing forward momentum. Then suddenly, it stopped.
An awful noise like ice being crushed against straining steel echoed through the sub, accompanied by a sudden violent lurch! For a moment, silence, then a low growling hiss rang through the Bridge, and they knew they had been caught. "It's got us," said Kenji.
"Magu, talk to me," Mako shouted.
"He's right. Hull pressure's increasing, and we're still near the surface," the first mate replied. "Though probably not for long." Prophetically, the depth gauges began their count, and the sound of metal crunching began again. The sound grew, becoming a wailing, grinding screech!
"What the devil was that?" Demanded Ken.
"It is Atragon," said Mako. "She's screaming."
"We're takin' on water, Cap'n. Accursed snake's ruptured the hull. I didn't think the beasty was born what could do that," the first mate cursed.
"This Manda's different. Bigger and meaner." An ice cold sheathe came over the Captain's features, and she exposed a hidden panel on her control board, revealing an array bordered in the distinctive yellow/black striping that signifies 'Danger'. "Magu, gather the Technoids and get yourself and Kenji to the Safeships. This Manda may kill the Atragon, but she's not going out alone." Mako inserted her bare left hand into a cushioned slot, and clamped it shut.
Kenji went to her side. "Mako, what are you doing?"
"I ask no less of my ship, Kenji, than I myself would give. You did not believe that machines could be accepted as equals, but it's true. What you might have called an Auto-Destruct circuit, we call a suicide pact. My solace is that the blast is sure to destroy the Manda as well."
"Mako, there has to be some other way. I can't just let you..."
With her free hand the woman grabbed Kenji by the hair and pulled him to her, kissing him with all the passion of a spirit born to fight and to rule. The life and death of the moment moved him, and Kenji kissed her back. "Now get off of my ship," Mako smiled and let him go.
"Mako, I..." Ken began, not really knowing what to say.
"Cap'n, I've got a transmission comin' through," Magu advised. "It's Bug! He's above us, back on the surface. He's sayin' somethin' about a 'spear' or somethin'."
"A what?" Asked Mako.
"Signal's breakin' up. Bug, get the bearings outta yer flap and report!" Static was cutting through the drone's barely audible words. "A steer? A sneer? A..."
"A SPHERE, you jerk. I said, it's a sphere!" The technoid buzzed angrily.
"The Sphere!" Shouted Kenji, a look of relief washing over his features. " Mako, it's the device that got me here, it must be! Stop the suicide circuit, Mako. We can use the Sphere to escape!"
"Atragon does not agree. She is badly wounded, and like the beast that grips us, perhaps a little mad. I must stay with her til the end."
Ken thought for a moment, weighing his options. He never asked to be brought to this dying future, and he doubted it was an accident that he was. There was only one decision he could make. "Then I'm staying too." Leaning upon the Selgan Runestaff that had become his cane, Ken strode toward the Com Station. The channel to the surface was still open. "Sphere! Hey, Sphere!" Ken shouted. "If you or your lying alien master are listening, then get this straight; You take me and my friends here to safety, or you make yourself scarce right now. I'm not leaving without them."
A moment, then a reply. Bug's voice buzzed through the receiver. "I...it spoke to me."
"Don't keep us in suspense, Bug. What did it say?" Asked Magu.
"Huh? Oh, uh, I think she wants you to be more specific," the technoid buzzed. "Yeah...I mean, she wants your desired coordinates. A destination."
"I think Bug's in love," smiled Magu.
"I heard that!!" Buzzed the drone.
Kenji looked at Mako, and she turned her eyes away. "Take us to Kyoko," he said.
And then they were gone.
Part Three: Godblood
Tokyo Bay. The Present.
Godzilla stood upon the shore, the surf breaking against his scaly legs. The flow of the waves reminded him of something, of the liquid beast he had come here to slay. That beast was gone now, along with the memory of the battle. No matter. It had surely been defeated, as are all who stand against him.
Another memory soon overpowered any remaining thoughts of the H-Man, the memory of a voice that called to him. It was the voice of the Spiritfire; the strange force that had aided him in defeating the alien Astro-Quasars, then stood against him, allying itself with a pair of humans instead. Now that force had aided him again. He could feel its power lingering within him, calling him to stand against a common enemy. To Godzilla, the Spiritfire was a mystery, but the enemy it showed him was something he could easily understand.
On shore, he spied one of the tiny menthings creeping closer. It had the metal skin of a warrior, like the ones who had recently driven him from Ogasawara. Then Godzilla saw the creature's goal; another of its kind lay wounded at his feet, one of their females. The dregs of the Spiritfire burned dimly around her. Godzilla roared at the pair, angered by the insolence of their proximity. Yet something urged him not to strike. Although he knew their kind could only be enemies, they made no move against him, and so he merely watched as the warrior lifted the female and carried her away.
Then from somewhere out amongst the waves there came a great hissing roar, like the cry of some Wild God gone mad. A foul stink assailed his flaring nostrils, triggering another memory. It was the spoor of the beast he had glimpsed within the haunted Temple that had risen from the depths of his island. The thing he had seen being trapped behind the golden slab was now free, free and screaming for a fight. Godzilla roared in response and waded into the churning sea...
With his people now safely away from the shore, Tanaka watched as the spirit of Mikki somehow revived Godzilla. Then he saw Miname fall, and his heart spurred him to action! She was close to the giant beast, too close, and he knew he had to save her.
Shiro's blood froze as he crept closer to the daikaiju, hoping to escape its notice. He found that hope in vain as the monster turned and roared directly at him. His Fireshield ready, Shiro forced himself onward, lifting Miname from the sand and backing quickly away as Godzilla towered above them, watching. Then the creature turned away, its attention now drawn by the sound of a monstrous, raging scream coming from somewhere in the ocean. Quickly, Tanaka escaped.
A gunshot rang from the wreckage of the surrounding warehouses, and Shiro hit the dirt, shielding Miname's unconscious form. "Tanaka!" screamed a familiar voice.
"Munabe," slowly, Shiro rose to his feet. "Still as poor a shot as ever, I see."
"You think I want you dead, Tanaka? That would be too easy. I want you to suffer," the soldier seethed, glaring at his former commander.
"What is it exactly, Munabe? What makes you hate me so?"
"Don't sicken me by pretending you care. You were G-Force's Golden Boy, rising through the ranks so fast you made the rest of us look like slackers. Then Nakano was killed, and they just handed you his command. Even old Iwa thought you were some kind of Saint. He made you his protege, then you stood by and let the H-Man kill him! I always knew you were a phony, Tanaka. Now you've given me everything I need to prove it," a wild look came over Munabe's face, consumed by an unrelenting anger. "Take off the weapons rig, I'm placing you under arrest."
"Munabe, you fool," spat Shiro, slowly beginning to strip off his Markalite harness. "General Iwa was as good as dead already, and his sacrifice helped save Sato from his mutant condition. You would have known that if you weren't always so self absorbed, and in my opinion incompetent to serve in G-Force. At least you're consistant. You've been blaming others for your own inadequacies for as long as I've known you."
Munabe's face twisted into a burning scowl. "Maybe you are right, Tanaka. Maybe my judgement never has been as good as your own. In fact, I've decided to rethink our current situation. Instead of putting you in jail, killing you now might just be the smartest move I'll ever make..."
Godzilla moved slowly through the choppy bay. Somewhere ahead the beast from the Temple awaited him. He could not see the creature, he was not even sure what to look for, but he could smell the monster's presence close by. A smell of great age and greater power, tinged with a vile reptilian musk worse even than the stink of Man. Far, far worse.
Then, an unholy scream echoed through the air, and the beast appeared! Great spiked horns jutted from its brow and cheeks, framing its burning yellow eyes. Tufts of matted fur hung from its jowls, a wild mane ran the length of its serpentine neck, flowing over its shoulders. The snake reared high above the bay, extending its vestigial forelimbs and clawing at the air in a signal of attack.
Godzilla roared, his own claws flashing in response, and bore down upon the beast. The Hellsnake moved, shifting from side to side like some huge cobra before a charmer's flute. Godzilla watched the dance, matching its motions with his own. He circled the coiling snake, moved by some ancient instinct, a natural defense mechanism keeping him just out of range of the monster's strike.
Manda stretched its jaws wide, hissing and baring its fangs. Its facial spikes seemed to expand outward, framed by its fur-covered jowls in a threat display meant to warn off its attacker. The King of Monsters snarled back, thrashing his tail in anticipation. Then the serpent struck!
With a snap of its head, lightning fast, Manda spit at its foe. Twin streams of venom, thick and black, struck Godzilla in the eyes. The foul liquid burned like acid and Godzilla screamed at its touch. Manda took the cue and lunged.
The Atomfire flashed along Godzilla's spine, and the beam burst from his jaws. The nuclear bolt caught the serpent head-on, burning into its scaly flesh and driving its strike aside. Enraged, Godzilla followed through, grabbing the monster and holding it fast, targeting it for another blast.
The Templebeast thrashed wildly against its opponent's monstrous grip, screaming and twisting to escape. Again the Atomfire flared, blasting at the serpent's hide. Again Manda screamed, and coiled its tremendous length around its enemy's nuclear powered form.
Pure reflex drove the injured beasts. Manda's snakelike body squeezed tighter as Godzilla snapped and clawed at his opponent's flowing length. Then Manda lunged once more, finding his target and sinking his fangs deep into Godzilla's arm. The Godbeast gripped the mutant saurian in an unbreakable stranglehold of death, toppling them both into the churning bay.
Kunashirashima, 6000 B.C.
The Koshida rushed past Kyoko and Kalen as they drew nearer the village, fleeing the titanic struggle now raging through their homes. They watched from the brush as the Mu invaders made their way inland, while beyond, a pair of gigantic beasts could be seen fighting on the horizon. The entire area had become a war zone, one they could not hope to cross and survive.
"Kalen, we must find Mardsoon," said Kyo. "I'm sure this potion can help us, but I have never actually used it. He may be the only person on this island who could make the plan work."
"I still don't understand. The Selga islanders you speak of are unknown to us, what makes you think Mardsoon might know how to use their magic?"
"Because Matsu...I mean Mardsoon, spoke of being in commune with a Seaspirit. The Selgans regard this
elixir as the blood of their own SeaGod, Mikki. I know the Koshida pantheon differs greatly from the
Selgans', but there are universal elements in nearly every Earthly culture I've studied. I'm hoping this is
one of them."
"So you think our Seaspirit and theirs might be the same?"
"Exactly! You're pretty sharp for a jungle boy."
"Kalen!" Came a cry from the trees. It was Noga, one of the followers of Mardsoon. He was covered in blood, clutching at a wound in his side. He ran toward them, and collapsed.
"Noga, you are safe now. Let me see that wound..." said Kalen.
"Never mind about me, the invaders have captured Mardsoon. He is being held at the temple. We must gather our spearmen, Kalen, before they kill him!"
"That wound was not caused by a stone-tipped weapon," Kyo remarked. "That is the cut of a sword blade forged of metal."
"Their weapons are strange. They shine like water, but are as hard as rock," Noga confirmed.
"As I thought. Kalen, if I could get my hands on one of their blades, I could free Mardsoon."
"You know how to use such a weapon?"
"I am near expert in the art."
Kalen shook his head. "The Koshida do not allow women to touch weapons. I cannot permit it."
Kyoko strove against her rising anger. "Kalen, I am Japanese not Koshida, and I'm not asking for your permission. You can help me get a sword or you can stay out of my way. Either way, I'm getting Mardsoon out of there."
Kalen was speechless, then Noga gripped his arm and whispered; "I think you should help her."
"Alright, Kyoko. I will help you, but this future you come from must be a very strange place."
Kyo mearly sighed, wondering just how far back into the Stone Age she had come.
Beyond the village, a battle of a vastly different nature was being waged as the behemoths known as Varan and Manda grappled in mortal combat. The Obake had managed to capsize a number of Mu ships, swooping in low and catching them by surprise. Few of the landing parties made it ashore before Varan confronted them, then the Hellsnake emerged hissing from the waves, calling the Obake to battle!
Driven by both its predatory instincts as well as the commensalistic bond it shares with its worshipers, Manda slunk onto the sands of Kunashira and reared above the Obake, coiling itself to strike. Varan's own territoriality combined with the influence of the stellar alignment, compelling the Lakebeast to stand its ground, assuming its own attack posture before the invading serpent.
The Mu war parties raced inland as the monsters circled each other. The beasts were sizing each other up, looking for an opening to attack.
Varan moved first, sinking to all fours and spinning his crystal-spiked back toward his enemy. His great whiplash tail swung in a deadly arc aimed right at Manda's skull. The snake shifted quickly aside, avoiding the crushing blow, then lunged for the Obake's flank. At the last possible second Varan launched himself from the sand, rising above Manda's strike, then came crashing down on top of the beast.
Varan seized the invader in his webbed claws and roared. His jaws opened wide for a strike as the serpent twisted below him, coiling itself around Varan's massive form and sending the fight rolling into the jungle. The landscape shook as the battle raged, carrying the beasts deeper into the brush.
Suddenly, Manda's great serpentine neck rose high above the trees, blood pouring from a jagged gash in its throat. The Hellsnake hissed with rage, and with fangs bared, it lunged. A piercing shriek rang from the jungle, its source unseen. The sound of it echoed across the island, sending chills through the blood of Koshida and Mu alike. All who heard it knew; It was the Obake's scream.
"This is not good," Kyoko whispered. "The Mu are guarding the perimeter too closely. We'd need a war party to infiltrate that shrine."
From the trees came the sound of soft trilling, like the call of some jungle bird. Kalen turned at the sound, then motioned for Kyo to look as well. Around them, the brush was alive with Koshida warriors. A group of camouflaged spearmen now surrounded the shrine, ready to launch an assault.
Kyoko looked at Kalen and smiled. "You people are incredible. I may not have intended to arrive here at this point in your history, but somehow I'm glad I did." The look on the native's face as he listened to her words was so primal, so pure. The embodiment of all the qualitites she admired in these people. She took hold of his strong hand and grasped it tight. "Among my people, we do this for good luck," she said, bending close to kiss him. "Wait for my signal. I'm going in."
"Kyoko..." A passion burned in Kalen's eyes, one Kyoko feared she too might feel as well.
"No, Kalen," came her simple, firm denial. Her heart belonged to Kenji, no matter how many centuries might keep them apart.
Slowly, the islander released her hand. "Good luck," he said with a smile. Kyoko nodded, and stepped out into the clearing.
"Okay, Kyoko," she thought to herself. "As Kenji would say, it is time to rock and roll." The young woman strode confidently into the village, making it clear that she was looking for trouble. She picked up a hefty, club-like stick and yelled; "Hey, Mu!"
A pair of guards snapped to attention at her cry, drawing their swords. With their language and culture lost to recorded history, Kyo was forced to improvise, drawing upon a concept she had found to be universal in nearly every culture she had studied. She insulted their mothers.
The guards exchanged a glance and some unintelligible words, then came running angrily toward her. "Well, THAT was an inspired strategy!" She thought, signaling the Koshida and trying to move out of the path of any incoming spears. The closer of the guards came at her swinging. Kyo ducked beneath the flashing blade and struck the man's kneecap with her club. The guardsman screamed, feeling bone shatter at the impact. Quickly, Kyo came up with a palm strike to the chin and a kick to the sword arm. The guard was disarmed and out cold in all of seven seconds.
Kyo grabbed the fallen sword and rolled into a defense stance, but found the other guard was already down, taken out without a scream by a spear through his throat. The man had not even come close to her. Kyoko hung her head in regret. This was war, she told herself. One that took place long before she was born, but one she must help win if she wished to see home again. Then Kalen was beside her. "Are you all right?" He asked.
"Hai, Kalen-san. Only, my house truly is one of peace. I fight now only out of the most desperate of necessities, and I enjoy it not at all."
"I understand, Kyoko. I have never before killed a man, until today."
Kyo looked at the dead guard, then back to her native friend. A single tear flowed down his grim-set face. "You continue to impress me. That was quite a shot."
Stealthily, the spearmen joined them. "You two, get into these Mu clothes," Kyo pointed to a pair of the men. "We will trick them. They may not discover the attack until we have left."
The natives complied, and together they crept closer to the shrine. Kyoko found herself leading this war party, a role she had never imagined for herself. No, she thought, that was wrong. Perhaps she had envisioned herself like this once, long ago. A strange sort of dream for just another demure little schoolgirl, and an old saying sprung into her thoughts; "Be careful what you wish for."
Sword in hand, Kyo sent her own "Mu" guardsmen around to the shrine's entrance. The sound of bodies hitting the ground swiftly followed, and she and Kalen slipped inside, pulling the true sentries unconscious bodies after them. There on the floor lay old Mardsoon. his face swollen with the marks of a beating. Blood trickled from the corners of his mouth and his eyes. Kyo ran to him and cradled him against her.
"Mardsoon, it's Kyoko. Kalen and I have come to free you!" There was no response.
Kalen lay his hands upon the old man. "His bones have been broken, here and here," the native pronounced. "I believe he will soon be dead."
"But he is not dead yet,"Kyo replied. From her vest she drew the flask, and put it gently to the old man's lips. "Matsu," she called him, as he said the Seaspirit had. "The SeaGod calls you. Your work is not yet done."
The strange elixir flowed into Mardsoon, and his eyes flashed open wide! "Kyoko. Kalen," the old man spoke. "I knew I would see you troublemakers again."
"Can you walk?" Asked Kalen. "We must leave here quickly. Kyoko has a potion she believes might end this war, but we need you to use it."
"Kyoko is right," said Mardsoon, rising slowly to his feet. "The Godblood is the only magic that can stop the beasts and drive the Mu away. But first, there is one final thing I must do here." Mardsoon reached for his tools and began scribing something into the base of the Obake icon. Kalen and Kyoko watched as the steady glow of Spiritfire began to rise, filling the shrine. The light faded, and Mardsoon rose from his work. His bruises had all but vanished, and he seemed to move again with ease. They looked, and there upon the idol was now graven the symbol of Mikki.
"Should the Obake survive, that will serve to hold it within the confines of the lake. At least until the coming of the next stellar conjunction," Mardsoon explained.
"I understand", said Kyoko, caught in the wonder of watching the birth of a prophecy she had already lived to see fulfilled. "Let's get to the lake."
The jungle shook as Varan screamed, launching himself and his enemy into the sky! The monsters fought with savage fury, still locked tooth and claw as they rose ever higher above the earth. A rain of blood and venom spattered down upon the land as the beasts struggled to decide which one would survive, and claim its place as the true Prince of the Wild Gods.
Koshida and Mu alike stared in awe at the mythic battle raging high above them. The beasts' struggles grew weaker as their injuries took their tolls, and slowly, they began to fall. Soon the monsters were descending quickly, their trajectory sending them right into Obake Lake. Kyo screamed as the beasts hit the water, sending massive waves rushing at the shore.
"Get to that high ground!" Shouted Kalen, indicating a tree-lined rise. The refugees watched as the rushing liquid wall smashed into the earth. Trees were uprooted and rocks torn away to be swept into the jungle. The enormous wave drew closer, pushing a small mountain of debris before it.
"Kyoko, give me the flask," said Mardsoon.
"Don't use it all," she warned him.
The old man agreed, and unstoppered the small clay vessel. The great wave rushed closer. "Seaspirit guide me." He sipped, then spit the fluid out onto the wall of trees standing before them.
The great wave struck. Diminished by distance, yet still strong enough to wash out the hillside, the wave flowed around them instead. The piles of rock and trees it carried built up quickly, then slammed into the small grove they hid behind. The water passed, and the wall of trees held.
"Lord that was close," Kyo gasped. Around them, the wave had reached its limits and begun flowing back to its source. "We've got to get down there while they are both still in the water."
"I know," replied Mardsoon."Let's go," he shouted. "Everyone, let's go!"
The lake's surface tossed and foamed as the battle raged. Together, Mardsoon, Kalen and Kyoko made their way to the water's edge, the flask now shining in the old man's hands. Then another strange glow began to burn in the air above the lake, blinding them. "What is that?" Kalen called above the sound of the churning water.
"I don't know!" Kyo screamed. "Mardsoon! Use it, use the potion!"
The man once called Mad Mardsoon looked sadly at the water. "To think I once prayed to you," he whispered. "Now I know exactly what you are." Mardsoon threw the open bottle into the lake.
Above the water, the strange alien glow took shape, forming a small, shining sphere. "Kyoko, look, it is your ship!" Shouted Kalen.
"It is!" She cried with relief. "The Sphere has returned!"
With a deafening roar the Hellsnake broke the surface of the lake. The creature was covered in a shifting sheath of Spiritfire. It was driving the serpent mad, and Manda writhed wildly as the SeaGod's blood worked its magics against him. The monster Varan was nowhere to be found.
The Timespace Sphere floated swiftly over to land in Kyoko's grasp. Behind her, the Koshida refugees had fled as the MuGod rose. Now only Kalen and Mardsoon remained. The serpent flexed its monstrous jaws, and fixed its gaze upon them.
"I can't leave you here," Kyo realized, looking at her prehistoric friends. "Give me your hands, hang on to the Sphere!" The beast was coiling now, preparing to strike. The trio huddled close together, and hung on. "Kenji," Kyo concentrated as hard as she could. "Take us to Kenji!" The monster loomed above them, and then they disappeared.
Part Four: The Big Bang
Tokyo Bay, the present.
"Magu, where are we?" Asked Mako. "Somebody tell me where in blazes we are!"
"We're in the past. Back in my time, I think," Kenji spoke hopefully.
"I think he's right Cap'n. Our remaining sensors can't believe their own readings! Ozone and carbon monoxide levels are tolerable, and the water!" The first Mate shouted. "I swear, Mako, the readings are comin' in close to pure."
"Pure?" The Captain gasped, staring at Kenji. "Great SeaGod, we ARE in your time." Just then, the ship shuddered violently, and the Manda hissed again. "My orders still stand. I want everyone off this ship now."
"Mako, how much time?" Asked Kenji.
"We haven't decided, but soon."
"WE haven't...? Atragon!" Ken shouted. "Atragon, listen! You know Mako would not hesitate to give her life for you. Please, let her go."
"That's enough, Bradley," Mako countered. "You've got three minutes to get to the Safeships." Again the great ship groaned, and began quickly filling with water. "Leave now before I change my mind."
A strange electronic pulse seemed to echo through the sentient sea craft, its displays all aflash with a single message; "He's Right." With a click, the Atragon released its hold on the woman, and added, "Go."
Mako stood shivering at the console. Her hand was free. The Atragon must have overridden the suicide circuit. It was letting her go. Mako was frozen there, unable to move. Nothing like this had ever happened before between a Technoid and a Human, and the Captain had no idea what to do. Then the ship rocked fiercely, and Ken grabbed the woman and hauled her quickly away.
Shiro's eyes went wide at the sudden appearance of a second Manda across the bay. The beast seemed to be clutching something like some great sea craft, crushing it beneath the waves.
"Nani?" Said Munabe, his revolver aimed at Shiro's scarred face. "Not the old 'Look over your shoulder' bit. You wouldn't..." Just then, a vast black shadow fell upon them, and three people appeared. Shiro swore as he realized one of them was Kyoko Bradley. He swore again, gazing up into the jaws of a THIRD Manda. "What the...?!" Cried Munabe.
"Mrs. Bradley, look out!" Shiro screamed, scooping up the unconscious Miname and rushing toward the group.
Munabe fired his gun in vain as the monster's jaws closed around him. The others kept running, and did not look back.
The great serpent hissed with rage, the Spiritfire still burning at its foul essence. Then it heard another hiss in reply. And another. It turned toward the sea to find two more of its kind, each of them battling against some unknown foe. The creature almost smiled then, for it saw an opportunity to eliminate the two usurpers, and claim ascendancy for itself. The Hellsnake flicked its long forked tongue, licking the remains of Tatsui Munabe from its lips, and dove slavering into the sea.
"Tanaka! You don't know how good it is to see a familiar face!" Kyo threw her arms around the man and squeezed hard.
Shiro allowed himself a moment of laughter and hugged her back. "Mrs. Bradley, what a relief to find you safe! And your husband?"
"I expect that is him now," she said, pointing to a pair of small airships approaching fast from the bay. The ships slowed, then settled on the nearby shore. Kyoko ran to the craft as the hatches flew open and Kenji appeared.
They came together in a fierce embrace as the rest of the strange company gathered around them, staring at each other. "You doing okay?" Kenji asked with a smile. "And the baby?"
"Uh-huh," Kyo replied. "Miss me?"
"Uh huh. I love you, you know."
"I know," she smiled back. "I love you too."
A small buzzing object hovered closer. "This must be the old lady. Not bad. Cute butt."
"Bug!" Ken shouted.
"Kenji...?!" Kyo backed away in fright, then Kalen's spear shot out, barely missing the drone.
"Hey! Call him off!" Bug buzzed.
"It's okay," Ken assured his wife. "Bug's harmless. I think."
"Hello, Kenji," said Tanaka. "Any idea how to explain any of this?"
"Hiya, Shiro! Not a clue!"
"As I thought. Good to have you both back home."
"Thanks, but it looks like we're not quite out of the woods yet. Scope out the bay."
Among the waves the struggle continued, punctuated now and then by the monsters screams. A pair of Mandas now parried and hissed around Godzilla, darting and withdrawing, taunting him into a rage. The venom had left him blinded, unable to see his opponent. He could no longer feel the arm the beast had bitten. Now, he could hear two more of the creatures had come to join the battle.
Godzilla gave a thundering roar, loosing lethal blasts of Atomfire all around him. The power flared menacingly up his spine, coursing along his dorsals, then strangely settled upon his eyes. Godzilla forced them to open, and they burned with radioactive light!
As one, the serpents struck. The Manda from the Temple hit low, digging its fangs into Godzilla's meaty thigh. The Manda from the past went for his throat.
Godzilla looked right at the lunging serpent, finding the familiar glow of the Spiritfire burning around the beast, a glow he could somehow see. He grabbed for the monster and trapped it in his claws. The Manda screamed as Godzilla's grip crushed deeper, forcing the snake's head, fangs bared, right into its brethren's own scaly neck.
The Templebeast went rigid at the impact, its own jaws clamping deeper into Godzilla's flesh. Godzilla blasted the creature with a burst of nuclear flame, and finally, the beast let go. The burning Manda shrugged free, breaking away to join its remaining counterpart still struggling with some great metal ship. Godzilla screamed, and followed...
"No more," said Mako, lifting her flyer from the sands and heading straight for the Atragon.
"Mako, don't...!" The first Mate shouted from the ground. "Aw, Mako."
With a prayer to the SeaGod Mako dove into the fray. Her Safeship had limited armaments; Four shocknet shells, a couple of Zero rockets, and a single Omnigun. It would have to be enough.
"Atragon, it's Mako. Please respond!" Desperately she hailed the ship, but there came no answer. Swooping closer, she could see the Manda had nearly ripped the ship in half. Mako screamed, watching as the monster slowly murdered her closest friend. "Atragon!!"
'Mako,' her monitors flashed. 'Go Quickly.'
"Atragon! Don't give up, sister. I've got you covered."
'It Is Too Late.'
"No, Atragon. Please! We could..."
'No My Sister. The SeaGod Calls Me. I Must Go To Her. She Says It Is My Destiny To Slay The Mandas. She Says There Is A Place For Me In Heaven.'
Mako cried with grief, watching the words scroll slowly by.
'Mako, Have I Gone Mad?'
"I don't know, Atragon," the woman sobbed.
'Will I Go To Heaven?'
"Yes, Atragon," she blurted out, realizing she believed it. "The SeaGod will protect you. She will sail you into Heaven."
An evil hiss cut the air, and Mako turned to find another Manda closing fast on her position. She targeted the snake and fired, blasting it with a salvo of rockets. "I don't want you to go."
'I Will Miss You.'
"And I will miss you too." The Manda reared beside her, and Mako fired the Omnibeam, holding the monster back. Beyond the snake's giant, coiling form, Mako spied another strange beast closing in. Some kind of enormous saurian with great flaring dorsal plates rising sail-like from its back. Mako cut the beam, and hit the Manda with a shocknet. "Goodbye, Atragon."
'Goodbye,' the monitors flashed. Mako fired off her remaining shells, then slowly flew away.
Godzilla followed the burning Manda's light. As long as the Spiritfire was upon it, its trail would be clear. Dimly, his eyes began to register other forms. The vaguest distinctions of light and shadow were beginning to take shape. The serpent's venom was finally losing strength.
Then Godzilla heard the blasts. Explosions, like weapons being hurled at the beasts. Godzilla could feel the waves of intense cold that followed the rockets screams, and knew it must be the humans doing. They were attacking, slowing the Mandas down. Godzilla pressed the advantage and surged closer.
Onshore, Mardsoon looked around in disbelief. "Kyoko, is this your world?"
"Hai, and this is my husband, Kenji," she said, taking Ken by the arm. "Kenji, these people are from ancient Kunashira. Mardsoon, and Kalen."
"Yeah, hi. Kyoko, what the heck were you doing there?!"
"Fighting for my life. Judging by your transport, not to mention your own companions, I'd say you wound up somewhere in the future?"
"Aye, that he did, Mrs. B. Allow me to introduce myself, the name's Magu," the old man cut in. "First Mate o' the good ship Atragon. The madwoman in the flyer's my Captain. Makoto Jones by name. I believe you've already met Bug."
"Yes, I do believe I have..." Kyo replied, looking slowly from Magu to Mardsoon, studying their features. "Kenji, look at them. They could be brothers."
"You're right. And they both kinda look like..."
"Like Matsu," Kyo confirmed. "Kenji, this whole mess is my fault. I wasn't thinking of San Francisco when we first used the Sphere. More than anything, I wanted to warn Uncle Matsu, before Varan could kill him."
Ken stared blankly at his wife. She was undoubtedly among the most intelligent and intuitive women he'd ever known, yet still managed to take the most unwinnable risks she could find! "Do me a favor, sweetheart; warn me next time, willya?" Ken replied, and hugged his wife tight.
The flyer swooped low and settled next to its twin. Mako activated the ship's external speakers and called to the crew; "Everyone into the ships, quickly! We've got to clear this area."
"Alright, you heard the Captain, let's move!" Bug buzzed around the group. "And watch it with that spear, buddy. I bite."
"He's right, folks," Magu agreed. "That ship out there is about to blow."
"Miname! Miname is waking up," cried Shiro.
"Tell her to be quick about it, soldier. We've got a plane to catch," said Kenji, he and Kyo now ushering the natives to the safeships.
Miname stirred, still cradled in Shiro's arms. The young woman's eyes slowly opened, and she smiled. "You came back for me. Thank you."
Shiro bent closer, and pressed his lips to hers. "You're welcome," he said, and they held each other tightly as they ran for the flyers.
The burning Manda coiled fiercely against the shocknet's tightening grip, twisting and thrashing through the waves. The energy lattice was cutting into its hide, digging at the wound left by the Obake's bite. Blood began to seep down the monster's frozen, lacerated flesh, and it screamed.
The final Manda looked up from its work at the sound of its brother's pain. The Futurebeast had been caught with one of the plasma-mesh weapons as well, but the Mu of the future had bred this Manda to withstand human assaults. The serpent abandoned the dying seacraft, bending its snaky neck within reach of its hind limbs and tearing the shocknet free. It turned, diving through the sickeningly untainted water to go to its brother's aid. The monster that protected this world had already slain one of its kind, and the Manda knew it must now work together with its ancient counterpart to survive.
The Primordial Manda hissed at its brethren's approach, hatred burning in its eyes. The Futurebeast hissed back, its tone and movements indicating the common enemy closing fast from the shore. The Primal Manda turned to look at the saurian, and decided its brother was right. With a grunt, it slipped closer to its strange descendant and exposed its throat. The Futurebeast reared, bringing its foreclaws into play, and ripped the shocknet from its brother's hide.
The burning Manda screamed in pain, shifting to a strike stance before its kin. The Futurebeast grunted a warning, pointing its snout at the approaching saurian, and the Primal Manda backed down. Together now, they turned to rise before the mutant beast in challenge. Whatever the creature is, it is no Wild God, and together they would see it dead!
"Commander Tanaka, this is Kazuki. Do you copy?" Shiro's comlink sparked to life.
"Hai, Sergeant. Fixing your position and coming in now," he replied. "Magu, we must rendezvous with my squad. They are there," Shiro pointed. "Among those warehouses."
"Alright, I'll signal Mako. Hang on." The sailor dropped the flyer low and fast, sidling up in front of the buildings. Miname turned pale, waiting for her stomach to catch up with the rest of her. Their sister ship landed beside them, and the Bradley's emerged.
"Tanaka," yelled Ken. "Where are they?"
"Over here!" Came a shout. They looked, and there stood Anna leaning on Kazuki's arm.
"Oh my...Anna!" Kyoko gasped.
"Mom! Are you okay? What are you doing here?!" Kenji ran to greet her.
"Kenji! Kyoko! Oh my dears, Iwa was right. You have returned!" She threw her arms around her son, sobbing with happiness. Kyo ran to join them, and they hugged.
"Hey, you came looking for us, didn't you?" Asked Kenji.
"Uh-huh," Anna confirmed.
Ken looked at his mother in abject awe. "Mom, you are just too much," he smiled with admiration.
"Mrs. Bradley?" Came an unfamiliar voice, calling from inside the building.
"Alright, General," said Anna. Thank you for a moment to greet my family."
"I'm sorry, Captain," said Kazuki, stepping aside as a group of figures emerged. Sato was first, followed by G-Force's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Noto. Ken and Kyo cringed to see the stranger holding Mikki unmoving in his arms, and they stepped toward him.
"Stay right where you are, Mr. and Mrs. Bradley." A huge, imposing figure stepped from the doorway. The man wore the uniform of a Defense Force General. "I am Shinzo. I am here to take control of Tokyo Harbor, and see you all to safety."
Ken glared at the man. "If that dog has come to harm because of you, Shinzo..."
"Kenji, it is not his fault. The General and the Doctor have been as helpful as they can," Anna reassured her son.
"Where is Fujiko?" Asked Shiro. "And Tominaga, and Komai?"
"My apologies, Commander Tanaka, but Sergeant Yasuda's attitude toward my arrival here was decidedly negative. He has been relieved of duty and placed under guard. Chief Komai and his detective friend have been escorted back to G-Command to record their statements officially. You realize, Tanaka, that I must place you under arrest."
"There's a ship out there about to blow sky high. Do you still have personnel in the area?"
"Despite the tornado that attacked us, hai. The convoy waits about a mile North."
"Mako?" Shiro asked, not bothering to word the question. Mako shook her head 'No'. "It's too close, General. Tell them to pull back."
"Shiro," said Kenji. "I think it may be too late."
Across the bay, they could see the monsters fighting, silhouetted against the now flaring form of the sub. Mardsoon stepped close to Kenji, pointing at the runestaff. "Kyoko, that totem can aid us. I can sense it."
"The runestaff? How?"
"Both of you come with me," Mardsoon implored, urging them toward the surf. Ken and Kyo clasped hands and followed.
"I'm comin' too!" Buzzed Bug.
"General, I suggest we all get into these flyers," said Shiro.
Shinzo studied Tanaka's scarred features, then looked back to the battle in the bay. He decided the soldier was not a liar. "Corporal," he shouted to a subordinate. "Release Sergeant Yasuda, and signal the convoy to fall back. Way back. Tanaka, get these people out of here."
Sato and Kalen joined Miname and Magu. Anna approached the Doctor and held out her arms to take the dog. Not looked at Shinzo, then reluctantly turned the beast over.
Tanaka, do you know what they are up to?" The General inquired, indicating the Bradley's, Bug and Mardsoon.
"Not exactly, but whatever it is, I know they won't fail."
"Together now, you must hold the staff together,"Mardsoon instructed, with Kyo translating for Ken. As one they moved, dragging the staff's tip through the sand, forming a line that ran along the shore just above the mark of the tide. "Now we must call the tide inland to fill the small trench. Kyoko, you must blow upon the Selgan conch you told me of."
"The conch? Mardsoon, I left that relic in America. I don't have it with me!"
Across the bay, the Atragon flared brighter.
Godzilla's eyes blazed with power as he closed upon the serpents. His jagged dorsals flashed, and he loosed a burning bolt of Atomfire! The Mandas hissed and dodged the beam, diving below the waves. Godzilla roared, sending his immense tail slamming down upon the Futurebeast, and blasting it again.
The Primal Manda turned to strike. Again Godzilla's tail lashed out, striking the serpent clean across the jaws with a speed that threatened to take the creature's head off. The saurian could feel the Spiritfire surge as he sank his claws into the monster's hide and wrenched it from the waves.
Then Godzilla saw the ship. The huge machine was glowing, emitting particles in the singular pattern of a buildup to critical mass. Godzilla could sense the nuclear forces there about to erupt, and squeezed the wounded serpent tighter in his grip.
With a scream of defiance the Future Manda burst from the waves. It launched itself at its enemy, hissing and spitting venom. The Hellsnake's jaws unhinged, spreading impossibly wide, its fangs now aimed at Godzilla's heart.
Godzilla snarled and raised the Primal Manda's burning body like a shield, catching the Futurebeast's strike. The old serpent slithered free to latch onto its brother with its own deadly bite. The Mandas reeled, churning the water as they fought, the Spiritfire expanding to engulf them both.
Godzilla fired his nuclear beam, driving the struggling Hellsnakes away. He fired again, forcing them toward the warship. The Mandas panicked, writhing to get free, but the Spiritfire held them fast. Godzilla howled in victory, power arcing all around him as he blasted at the Godbeasts again!
Somewhere deep within the ship called the Atragon, a soft voice spoke. It said; "It is time." And the great sentient ship detonated, engulfing the area in a growing ball of pure Atomic force.
Part Five: Valor
The Atragon erupted into a growing ball of fire, and with it, there came a sound. A singular tone that grew loud and deep and low. The mournful song called to the sea, and the sea responded. The fireball raced closer, and a wave broke high upon the shore. The note sounded again, and the tide rushed in around the Bradley's feet, filling the narrow trench.
"Kyoko, I love you," Kenji whispered, embracing his bride.
"I love you too, Kenji," she replied, squeezing her husband tighter.
"I'm too young to die!!" Cried the Technoid called Bug, and then the shockwave hit.
Around them the world became a screaming inferno as the blast raced inland, tearing into the streets of Tokyo and burning across the sands. The Bradley's dared a peek, and saw Mardsoon standing toes to the line, his fingers tracing the surface of the raging sheet of flame that hung before him. Somehow, they were safe, the flame would not cross the Runestaff's trench.
Slowly, the firestorm subsided, and the Bradley's joined the old Koshida. "Mardsoon, thank you." Kyoko spoke in the man's native tongue.
"Don't thank me, Kyoko. Thank them," Mardsoon pointed to a pair of figures kneeling in the sand. One of them was Anna Bradley, cradling Mikki, and holding the Selgan Conch as well. Huddled beside her was Miname Masada.
"Mom!"Shouted Kenji, running to join her. "YOU had the conch! But how...?"
"You left it sitting on the coffee table." Anna smiled at her son, still catching her breath. "This is my good friend, Miname. Please meet my son Kenji, and his wife Kyoko."
"Kyoko, that woman," Mardsoon gestured toward Anna. "She is so beautiful, so brave. You must profess my love for her in the words of your people. I must have her!"
Kyo's jaw nearly dropped at the native's plea. Ken stood looking a bit puzzled as well, then Bug came flitting closer. "Uh, Mr.B, I think the old guy's got the hots for your mom."
"I understand Koshida perfectly well," Anna smiled coyly at Mardsoon, speaking in fluent Koshida. "Play your cards right and I may have lunch with you sometime."
"For you I will spear the fattest boar in the jungle!"
"Thanks, but I'll settle for Italian."
"Hey! What are they saying?" Ken looked at his wife.
"I think they have agreed to date," Kyo replied.
"What? Ma, the guy's like...prehistoric!"
"I like him. Not every man offers to kill a boar for a girl."
Kenji looked at the man once called Mad Mardsoon and shrugged in resignation. "Try to have her home before midnight willya?"
"Miki," gasped Kyoko. "She's opened her eyes." Kyo reached down to pet her, and the pooch licked her hand. Though singed, the terrier looked vital and alert again, yet remained in Anna's arms. Kyoko smiled. "Hello, Mikki."
"Hey little girl," Ken joined them.
Anna sobbed with relief. "Kenji, you must thank Dr. Noto for taking care of Mikki and me."
"Definitely. Tanaka, too. But this little girl..."he stroked the dog's chin. "I could never thank enough." Ken looked up to find Commander Tanaka and General Shinzo approaching. Beyond them came Sato, Kalen and Magu. He rose to greet the soldiers, and bowed. "Shiro. General."
The men's faces were set grim. Shiro turned to Miname, giving her his hand, and together they leaned close to Anna. "Anna, are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Commander. Thank you. You have been a good friend."
"Yeah, Shiro," Ken agreed. "Thank you, man."
General Shinzo's eyes narrowed at their words. Tanaka. Even the dog liked the man. The General would not hesitate to admit an easiness in relating to him himself. Tanaka was a darn good soldier. Too bad it looked like he was going to have to take the fall. "Mr. and Mrs. Bradley, my thanks for whatever it was you did out there. There were casualties, but there could have been a whole lot more. Including us."
"You're welcome," said Ken. "Always glad to lend a hand." Ken shot a wary glance at his wife, not knowing what to expect from the huge, sumo-like General. Then the other flyer landed nearby, and the rest of the crew emerged.
"Well. Quite an eclectic bunch," said the General. "A trio of Markalite Men, a pair of troglodytes, future folk, assorted scientists, and of course, the Bradley's. The daikaiju seem to have left, at least."
"Kyoko, is that man the Chief?" Asked Kalen.
"Like a Chief, Kalen. Yes." Kyo replied.
"Commander Tanaka has briefed me on what details he knows of this situation, but full statements will be required from each of you. To be blunt, we need to determine If any of you might have to be held responsible.," Shinzo concluded.
Above the crowd, a shimmer appeared in the air. The shimmer swirled, coalescing into a small, shining sphere. The object hovered, then drifted down to settle in Mako's grasp. She looked at those around her and pronounced; "We're going home!"
"It's back," said Ken.
Kyo agreed. "It is going to finish what it started."
"Sweetheart, you came back!" Bug buzzed in elation. "Oh, speak to me, gorgeous. Tell me how much you..." The Sphere pulsed, engulfing the little Technoid in its alien aura. "Ohh, baby..."
"Bug, report." Mako commanded.
"Well excuse me for having a life! Unlike some people I know who haven't had a date in..."
"I'll shut up now."
"Good. Magu, bring the other flyer in. Right up close to this one." The woman shot the General a wary glance. "And be quick about it, willya?"
"Aye aye," the First Mate saluted then took off running.
The General eyed the Sea Captain back. "Commander Tanaka, that is the Timespace device you spoke of?"
"Hai. It appears our comrades from the future won't be staying long," Shiro replied, his tone tinged with determination.
The General watched the second flyer approaching from the sky. "Yes. So it appears."
"Bug, I want you to do something for me," said Mako.
"For you, Cap'n? Anything!"
"I want you to stay here in the past."
"Uh, did I say 'anything'...?"
"We don't really know what to expect, Bug. What if we go back and nothing's changed? I need you to stay just long enough to get that DSC formula from Kenji."
"Yeah, and how'm I supposed to get back?
"I'm not sure. Any way you can, I suppose."
"Whoa, wait a minute. You want the Technoid to stay here with us?" Asked Ken.
"Give him the formula, then send him back. I've seen you work, Bradley. If anyone can find a way, you can."
"Kenji, we already have a pet," said Kyo.
"I, uh, I kind of owe these people, sweetheart. The alchemical properties of my DSC compound could be exactly what their world needs to start healing itself."
"I don't wanna!" The drone shook vehemently.
"Consider it an order, Bug," said Mako. "I'm sorry."
"Kenji!" Kyoko cried. "We can't...!"
"Please,"Mako implored. "Please, it means a great deal to the future."
Kyoko looked at the woman, and saw a soldier fighting a war. Kyo knew what that was like now. "Something is telling me I am going to regret this." Hesitantly, she nodded agreement.
Wordlessly, the Technoid turned to hover before the Bradley's, then buzzed past them to settle further down the shore. He did not want to watch the carrier nimbus leave without him.
"Thank you, Kenji...Kyoko," said Mako, Magu now waving from his flyer's cockpit. "Farewell!" She climbed aboard the second flyer and held forth the Sphere. Leaning close, she and Magu grasped the device between the ships, and they vanished.
"Wow. So THAT's what that looks like," said Ken.
Again the air seemed to grow luminous, and the Sphere returned, this time directing itself at Kalen. The Koshida grasped the object unafraid. "Kyoko, Mardsoon! I have the ship now!" He shouted. "Come, Mardsoon, let us do as the two who just left us and..."
"No, Kalen," Mardsoon replied. "This time you must go alone."
"Mardsoon, what are you talking about?" Asked Kyoko.
"I mean to stay. You are familiar with Kunashira, are you not, Anna?"
"Well, yes," she replied in Koshida.
"Then please, take me there. My work in the past is done, but I believe there may be a place for me among the Koshida of this age. I would dearly love to thank the Selgans for their magic as well. Will you come with me, dear lady?" The old man blurted out.
"Okay," Anna replied.
"Oh Lord. What now?" Ken asked his wife.
"Mardsoon is staying. He wants to join his modern tribe, and Anna has agreed to go with him."
For a moment, Ken could only look at his mother in wonder. Then he turned to Mardsoon and spoke; "That is my mother. Know that she is very important to me," the young American spoke emphatically, even though he knew the old man did not understand his words. "You keep her safe."
Anna quickly translated, looking proudly at her son. Mardsoon gave a firm response, and Anna relayed it. "He said he will watch over me always, as the SeaSpirit watches over us all." Anna rose, handing Mikki over to Ken. "Son, I can certainly afford to take a short time to help this man acclimate himself to a new world. You and Kyoko are home and healthy, so my work here is done as well."
"Holy smoke," said Kyo. "Kenji, we forgot to tell her!"
"What?" Said Anna.
"Oh man, you're right," Ken replied. "Well, ma..."
"Anna, I am pregnant," Kyoko pronounced.
"And you forgot to tell me?" Anna gave her daughter-in-law a puzzled look, then smiled. "I am so happy for you, my dears! My family has always been my greatest treasure, and now you shall have your own!"
"Mardsoon, I do not understand..." said Kalen.
"I don't either, good Kalen! I only know that this feels right. That I must stay, and that you must return to teach our people."
"Teach them?" Asked the spearman.
"Tell them of the SeaSpirit, and of the stars that cast patterns in the sky. Tell them not to fear the lake, for the idol will protect them. But most important, tell them never, NEVER pray to the Obake again."
Kalen understood now. Mardsoon was right, it was too important not to return. The Koshida warrior eyed the crowd slowly, his gaze settling upon Kyoko. A sad smile passed between them. "Good luck," he said.
"Good luck," said Kyoko. And then Kalen too disappeared.
It took them all a minute to realize it was really over. The Sphere was not coming back. A mechanical hum rose from nearby, and Bug came flitting into view. "She's gone? She...she's gone."
"For now, Bug," Ken reassured the drone. "Remember this is only temporary."
"I'll try, but it sure doesn't feel temporary."
"Well," began General Shinzo. "I guess the rest of you must belong here. Now what in blazes am I going to do with all of you?"
"Let them go," said Shiro. "I will take responsibility here."
"Commander, you have done nothing wrong," Fujiko interjected.
"I was supposed to protect Tokyo. Look around you, soldier."
"Shiro, my parents can help," said Kyoko. "I'm sure they can find expert legal counsel for you."
"We will fight to keep you free, Commander," said Kazuki.
"Wait. I think there is another way," Shinzo exclaimed. "Sato, Masada, Will you agree to accompany me and rejoin Tominaga and Komai? Kato! Yasuda! Are you men still G-Force?"
The soldiers looked at Shiro, and he gave them the thumbs up. "Yes, Sir!" They replied as one.
"Then escort our friends here back to G-Command. You will be required to file an Official report, then I promise you will be free to go."
Sato and Miname exchanged a glance. They were indeed most concerned about their Uncles. Together, they nodded affirmative to the General.
"And where does that leave us?" Asked Ken.
"I believe your in-laws, the Iso's, have an estate in Hokkaido?" Shinzo began. "Then that would leave you in Hokkaido, Mr. Bradley. Forty eight hours from now, I shall arrive there to pick up your own written statements. By then you will have left Japan. I will leave the arrangements up to Yasuda and Kato."
"I don't want to sound ungrateful, General, but what of Commander Tanaka?" Asked Anna.
"Inoshiro Tanaka will be tried by a military court and most likely sent to prison for a very long time. That is he would be, if he had not disappeared."
"Shiro's eyes grew wide, and Miname clung close to him.
"He could even have slipped away in one of the Sphere's departures. Who knows? Tanaka," Shinzo addressed the man. "I believe in you, but the Brass back at G-Command have tasted blood. Even if you could disprove Munabe's charges, I believe they would find SOME reason to hang you anyway. Officially, you will be held responsible, but you cannot be punished if you cannot be found." Shinzo clasped the man's shoulder, and squeezed. "This one chance is all I can offer you."
Shiro seethed behind a stoic mask. The life he had built had been suddenly snatched away, and cast upon the wind. Beside him stood a woman, beautiful and passionate. A woman he must leave behind along with the rest of his hopes and dreams. He looked deeply into Miname's eyes. "Remember me."
"Something tells me we shall meet again, you and I." They kissed, then Shiro turned away.
He bowed before Maki Sato. "Try to keep your skin on, Sato, if not your pants."
"Good Luck, Commander," Sato replied.
Then Shiro approached the Bradley's. "Anna, you have taught me so much..."
"You are a true hero, and a true friend, Inoshiro Tanaka. You take good care of yourself."
"Kenji, Kyoko. I would love to see YOUR accounts of this affair! I need to know it is over," Shiro looked, and knew they could not answer. "Can any of you tell me it is over?"
Two low yaps came in response, and Mikki shifted in Ken's arms. "There ya go, Shiro. Right from the source!" Ken smiled.
"My parents, Paul and Shidori Iso, can still help you, Shiro. Do not hesitate to call them," said Kyoko.
"Thank you. Fujiko, Kazuki, you do right by your Commander and you will be doing right by me."
"We will be there if you need us," Fuji replied.
"Domo, Shinzo-sama," said Tanaka. The General nodded acceptance, then Shiro turned away, and started off down the beach.
"General, you did the right thing," Anna proclaimed.
"And I am glad of it, Mrs. Bradley. I know none of this was the Commander's doing, neither was it your family's. This was war, and in the end, I believe it is the good guys that have won." Shinzo considered the Bradley's grimly. "Tell me now; Is it truly over?"
"Hai, General," Kyoko began. "This family was somehow chosen to carry this battle from the present into the future and the past. The Wild Gods could not war amongst themselves and leave the Human Spirit unscathed. Luckily, we had a weapon, a protector. We had Godzilla."
"Who thankfully has not reappeared," said Kenji. "I'm not sure the beast even realizes we were on the same side in this struggle, and I don't want to be the one to try to enlighten him! Right, Mikki?" The Terrier yapped twice in agreement, and for a second, Ken thought he saw a tiny flash like lightning spark within her eyes. "Let's go home."
A lone bolt of lightning flashed briefly over Tokyo Bay. A single lance of force that struck the water, and shot into the depths. There below the waves the lightning found its mark, and the King of the Monsters opened his great red eyes and roared!
Godzilla rose from the bottom, surrounded by the wreckage of the Atragon, and the Mandas scattered remains. The battle was over. The SpiritFire's final spark had touched him, released him. Godzilla could sense that strange force was with him now, surrounding him as if it were a part of the Sea itself. Then Godzilla turned away from the mainland. Turned away from the Humans and their foul, stinking hives, to lose himself in the ocean's vast embrace. The War against the Wild Gods had finally been won.