Chapter III: Secrets of Odo Island
By Gwynplaine de Orme
We were not prepared for everything Odo Island was to show us. The island lent itself to the image of an idyllic tropical paradise complete with small but energetic fishing villages, vibrant, sweet-smelling flowers, a plethora of colorful animals -- the whole package. The weirdest thing, however were the islanders themselves. All of them, including the women, were six-foot or more. It was indescribably strange to see people who are largely of Japanese descent be not just taller than the home-islanders but taller than most Americans and Europeans. At six-three, I was used to being the tallest person in a room, but I saw more than one of these islanders a head or more taller than myself.
As we tried not to stare too obviously at them, a thickly-built elderly bronze man with hair that spiked out in awkward ways, dressed in a white and green robe came up to me roughly half an hour after we’d been on the island. He smiled weakly at me, and motioned for me to follow. I grabbed a pad and pen and followed. I was led to a cave that had been turned into some manner of monastery, bedecked with tapestries and scrolls. I followed further and further in, until the cave opened into a gargantuan room, so large that I couldn’t see the ceiling.
There was a stillness in the air, and as we walked to the shrine at the center of the room I started to get goosebumps. It felt as if there were more than just the two of us in there. The shrine was five small pedestals in an x-shape, the center pedestal slightly higher than the other four, each with a small bowl. Three of the outside bowls contained earth, fire and water, with the last containing a bonsai tree that seemed sway with a breeze that was not there. The center bowl contained nothing I could see.
The man who got my attention now turned to look at me and started to change, especially in the face, with the nose becoming more flat, the eyes becoming more pronounced while changing from a dark brown to sea-blue, and the mouth bowing out slightly. He also began to grow quite a bit of hair over his body though the face remaining largely free of it, with his head-hair lengthening significantly. Strangely monkey-like I think might be the best way to sum it up. Curiously, his lips seemed to be malformed or scarred. I think they had always been so, but I don’t recall noticing. He then began to speak, in a voice that while not human was far more pleasant and natural-seeming than Moll’s, and far more friendly. It didn’t sound like something trying to be human. I’m not sure why, but their ‘actual’ voices seem less strange than when they try to emulate us. He also truly ‘spoke’. No telepathy.
“I apologize for the deception, but there is a rhythm and tradition I and my siblings are bound too. You’ve met my Sister. I ask you to forgive her manner, her nor my other Sister are comfortable around man, they do not quite grasp the art of conversation. You may call me Huoxiu. You will find in this monastery all that your society knows of Wani, Gojira, of my Siblings and I, and of some of the beasts that are making themselves known to you now. I can feel your irritation, and I am sorry, but despite wishing to simply tell you everything I am not at liberty to do so. I think you and those you worked with may understand this, however: nothing, once told, is ever truly forgotten, and some things are best left unknown.”
I found myself remembering the words of Oppenheimer and Einstein. We can free all the genies we like, but once removed we can never seem to find the cap again.
“But you will not be alone. Aid will come from all corners of the globe, and we will ourselves help as much as we can, but we must measure our actions with the utmost care. This is not the first time we’ve been called to arms.”
Huoxiu then became quiet, his face grim and gaining the ‘thousand-yard stare’ you find all too often among soldiers who might return home, but whose minds remain forever on the battlefield. He seemed to try and hide it, and looked back at me with another weak smile. He spoke again, trying to hide the regret in his voice.
“We know better now. It won’t end that way again.”
Huoxiu’s bronze glow seemed to dim, his hair subtlety graying and what looked to be age wrinkles appearing on his face. His posture also changed, becoming more resigned and grim.
“Now for the reason I sent for you: Ryujin’s power is failing. I fear he may not be long for this world. Wani’s continued resistance is sapping his power, and it is growing more difficult by the hour for him to keep the prison functional. In eight years time Ryujin will fail.”
On that ominous note Huoxiu simply disappeared, as Moll had done. We knew it wouldn’t hold forever, but we also thought we’d have more time. However, there was more immediate work to be done. Just like he said, the monastery contained a treasure trove of scrolls, codices, woodcuts, tapestries, even a few statues and, most intriguingly, three beautiful puzzle-boxes. There exist volumes dedicated to reproducing what was found there, so in the interests of brevity I will only touch on the most pertinent information beginning with Wani, whose myths are largely what you might expect.
Wani is said to be a sea-monster in the shape of a dragon. This is important, because just as most other Asian myths or folklore, the Dragon is a largely benevolent or at least non-malicious creature, rather than the European conception of a cold-blooded destroyer. In nigh-all stories she is depicted as arriving at night, red eyes glowing, and laying waste to whatever could be found, sometimes until an offer of some kind is made. One instance involved a human sacrifice. Interestingly, there are countless titles attributed to her, some of them being purely descriptive, such as the ‘Tyrant-Queen’, ‘Black Queen’ or ‘Crowned in Fie’‘. A few however, seemed to be genuine attestations such as ‘Queen of the Lost World’, ’Shogun of the Old Realm’ and the most peculiar ‘Vanquisher of the Destroyer’. The name Wani itself shares the literal meaning of the mainland Wani legend, best described as “Crocodile-shark”, which may not seem very appropriate initially, but if you consider how you’re most likely to see her in the water, swimming with only her dorsal spines clearing the surface of the water, it becomes obvious. As an aside, the drawings of Wani all show a creature whose eyes are normal. Strangely colored, tending towards orange or red, but with pupils and the like.This seems to indicate her apparent blindness is a new development.
Gojira is depicted and referred to in each tale with his presence as a benevolent, if sometimes inconsiderate or perhaps merely overly-enthusiastic, dragon who works for the good of humanity. He had a whole list of titles as well, with my particular favorites being ‘Prince of the Beasts’ and ‘Friend of the Seafarers’. The last comes from several stories where in Godzilla carries crippled boats and their crews back to the island after a week of heavy storms. Of other interest is his name, ‘Gojira’. The Japanese were initially confused as it seemed to be a combination of ‘Gorilla’ and the Japanese word for whale, ‘Kujira’. Instead, it is a word endemic to the Ogasawara Islands. A proper translation into English is somewhat difficult (the word Godzilla is the mere result of someone mishearing Gojira over the radio and writing it out phonetically) but the ones I’ve been told are best are “Sea-Fire” or “Ocean-Sun”. I would hope it is self-evident as to why they are descriptive.
Amongst the other beasts the only one we were aware of in 55’ was the ‘Horned One’ who we’d dubbed Angilas. A few that would emerge in later years, in no particular order;
‘Raijin’(somehow picked up the name ‘Gabara’ on the home-islands)
‘Thunder Bird’(Rodan or Radon, not sure how the placement of the a became confused)
‘Fire Eater’(This may be the petrol-consuming dinosaur or dragon that attacked Keijo)
‘Storm Beetle’(the Mu’s weapon, obviously)
‘Plague/Blight Dragon’(bears striking resemblance to the Rhedosaurus creature that found its way to NYC)
‘Last Pretender’(Not sure entirely as to what this might be, the image looks like some kind of theropod with massive, powerful legs)
There are plenty others, but I will leave it here for the time-being.
The next interesting thing comes around 1959, December 22nd. Leave it to fate, I suppose, to bring a…revelation of sorts, at the end of the old world. This decade truly began with Wani and her transformation of Tokyo into a hellscape of twisted steel and blackened glass spires, populated mostly by the burned shadows of its former inhabitants. After the fires died down, we tried to bring in dogs to look for those that might be alive beneath the rubble. They refused to even enter the city, and would bolt as soon as possible, fighting if they had to. Most other animals refused to go anywhere near it, though some would come: ravens and vultures and other carrion eaters, seeking out the stench of death. It lingers in Tokyo. Despite the years, it still smells like a pit of warm bodies, some burnt, some desiccated, there are even a few kids still asking for help and then the ring of gunshots…I try not to visit.
However, a few hundred, maybe two thousand at the most, people populate an area meant for tens of millions. The one thing that is unchanged is the Imperial Palace, which is maintained while the Imperial and Chrysanthemum Banners fly in defiance from its highest point. Other areas in Tokyo that are kept up are the larger shrines, such as the Yasukuni Shrine and those like it. Those holy men are dedicated to their craft, no matter the horrors they must suffer, and for that I have undying respect for them.
As April of 1963 approached, when we were told to expect Wani freeing herself from her frozen prison, the Joint-Pacific Fleet was formed. It was made of obsolete portions of the Imperial Japanese, American and Bering Republic navies; mostly battleships and other heavy-gun platforms that had been rendered less-effective in traditional combat roles by the development of aircraft. However, if you need only to rain steel hell down on a relatively slow-moving target, they were perfect. Cheaper and more reliably accurate than missile technology of the time as well.
The Fleet was made up of fifty-five assorted Battleships and Battlecruisers, a flotilla of submarines, and three aircraft carriers for recon and as a way for me to return to the Home Islands as soon as possible.. In terms of pure firepower that it could lay on a target it was the most powerful conventional force on the planet. Main armament scaled from 12-inch guns on the USS Wyoming to the 24-inch of the IJN Kii-class. We didn’t exactly have the highest hopes for it to actually kill or stop her, we were pretty certain we couldn’t,but at least, we might be able to weaken her enough so that something more her size could force her back.
The fleet set out for Wani on March 31st of ‘63. We arrived April 23rd at a spot in the North Pacific or Bering Sea, I’m not sure; maritime borders can be finicky. To the west was formerly Russian Kamchatka(now Japanese) as well as the Siberian coast of the Bering Republic, the Aleutians(also Bering Republic) were to the north-east and much further away, dead-east, was British Columbia. This time I would be observing from a specially-built helicopter. It was ludicrously heavy, requiring far stronger engines and much more fuel to get the same range as a conventional craft. This weight came from the laminated lead shielding as well as the lead glass. Extremely heavy, extremely expensive, but almost impermeable to the more dangerous forms of radiation so long as a certain distance was kept.
The wait wouldn’t be long. Sometime around dawn on the 26th we got signs of increased movement from Wani and Manda, the latter seeming to be moving frantically, trying to repair the ice as it broke and melt in places. Then, in a brilliant flash accompanied by a scream of rage, the makeshift Tartarus was simply gone. The ice had sublimated, leaving Wani visible. She looked worse for wear, her radiation burns now complemented by both frostbite and what looked like freezer burn.
The Fleet opened fired now. It wasn’t just high-explosive or armour-piercing shells though. New munitions were developed for this task, in particular two that I had a hand in. The first isn’t really a shell in the traditional sense of the word, rather it was a container for twelve flechettes, a solid ‘dart’ of sorts. These were made of cadmium, boron and silver, more or less a weaponized control-rod, the idea being to try and take the wind out of Wani’s fission capabilities by trapping neutrons. Obviously there would be no way to get enough of them in her to completely stop the process, but I hoped it would bring her down a little.
The other was a biological weapon of sorts, a strain of bacteria that could feed off fissile materials and radiation. It was developed by Dr. Genshiro Shiragami initially in 59’ or so, with its technical name being H54-15R08, and the strain used against Wani being H54-15R18. The initial was, to put it bluntly, simply inadequate for the task. It wasn’t remotely aggressive enough. This one however showed immense promise, consuming radiation and nuclear material at an inspiring rate. It still was not going to kill her, but we’d take what we could get.
Through the smoke we could make out Manda-Ryujin unleash the rage of ice, lightning and fire, or Wani attempting to vomit the dragon‘s breath, illuminating their silhouettes and sometimes seeming to simply burn through the soot and vapour. Every so often the steam and smoke would clear enough to see the two titans clearly, mostly by the gale-force winds Manda would conjure to try and topple the nuclear tyrant. But as we watched we all began to commit the cardinal sin of hope.
The torrent of lightning, rain and fire that Manda unleashed...nothing natural could’ve taken that, and for a moment it seemed like the tide had turned in our favor. We thought that the alliance of nature’s raw power and human ingenuity was going to topple Wani. I refuse to believe it was coincidental that the moment our hopes seemed to be highest was when the battle turned irrevocably against us, punctuated by what I can only call hellish laughter. I knew something was wrong when the world began to brighten. I had the helicopter turn, and screamed through the radio that everyone should drop or duck.
This wasn’t the fire, Wani’s Dragon Breath. It has been dubbed a ‘pulse’, though I feel that’s not accurate, or at least not evocative. Instead it seemed to be a very small nuclear detonation, though still managing to be so bright that the sun seemed dim in comparison. All the ships were too far away to be harmed, and while my helicopter was rocked pretty heavily it took it in stride. But the Water Serpent didn’t fare as well. The mass of steam obscured our vision, though we could make out both Manda and Wani’s form through it. A pitiful struggle carried on, Manda’s form seeming to lose and regain cohesion at random, going from ice to flesh to water haphazardly in different places. Finally Wani began to light up again, though she seemed to be ‘inhaling’. I think she was trying to absorb or devour Manda.
That would be the last we saw of the Water Serpent, though he wasn’t eaten. Rather, a barrage of lightning allowed him to disperse into the clouds, though instead of a crash of thunder there was a high-pitched chirp echoing around us. Wani disappeared beneath the water after that. The submarines with us began tracking her, and reported her heading as south-west. She was heading for Japan again.
More submarines, spread out around the Home Islands, were put on alert to look for a radar signature a little smaller than a Destroyer. After my helicopter landed on one of the escort carriers we were given news that froze the blood in our veins. I’d expected Wani to be faster than us, but no one expected her to be capable of sixty-five knots. about seventy-five miles an hour. That may not sound all that fast, but in the water? It’s insane, over double the speed of the fastest ship in the fleet.
However, Japan wasn’t exactly helpless. While she would reach Japan quite a bit before us, over the past decade Japan and the United States had been fortifying the Home Islands. One particularly novel idea was a series of massive power-lines placed around the nine largest coastal cities in a manner reminiscent of the walls of medieval European castles, though these did not completely surround each of the cities, only the general areas facing the sea, with between three and five rows. Providing the technical details regarding amps and volts would likely be utterly meaningless, and I am not an electrical engineer, so I myself don’t understand the figures proper, being I’ll instead use the example said to me by one of the engineers, a ‘Herr Langley’ who’d emigrated from Krim as the Germans are calling it, in ’47. He said that the lines themselves would only last a few hundredths of a second under the power forced through them, and that to ensure maximum effect each line would come on only as Wani touched it. The power going through the line would be more than the combined total power output of both Japan and the United States. How much exactly that was he didn’t say, and I didn’t think to ask.
These power-lines were fed by the only thing capable of supplying that kind of energy as well as the one thing we knew that Wani liked; nuclear fission. There wasn’t anything else you could feasibly build to power such a device, and, knowing that, we took appropriate precautions.. With her ability to hone in on the reactor well-known, I suggested using two different types of shielding. We didn’t know exactly how she sensed radiation, so we went with a scattershot approach. Lead is well-known for its shielding properties, but it isn’t the best material. The best material is known as Osmium, a metal that is prohibitively expensive, but in this situation it was agreed that the alternative was simply unacceptable. So the first layer of shielding was a lead-osmium alloy, coated with a lead-gold paint. The second was to simply have the reactors cooled with lead.
I was flown back to Japan ahead of the fleet, to organize radiation relief efforts. I still have nightmares about the children I had to euthanize, and if I could help it no one was going to have to be in a situation where they would have to make that decision again. I know how naive that sounds, but that wasn’t something I wished on anyone. Something in my gut told me that Nagoya was going to be Wani’s target, so I made arrangements to stay near the city. There was a fierce debate on whether or not to evacuate the city, and eventually it was decided not too. Instead, the coastal areas of Japan were given instructions that any sightings of Wani, or anything that could be her, regardless of the degree of certainty, was to be reported immediately, regardless of time, to the nearest authority figure. It was further stated that officials who failed to pass such reports further up would be investigated and potentially tried for treason and dereliction of duty, with the death sentence effectively a given if convicted.
On May 8th, night fell on Nagoya. The moon was full and beautiful, one of the brightest I’ve ever seen. The skies were stunningly clear and the weather was just right, without a single cloud in the sky. It was one of those nights when all the little worries in your life seemed to take a vacation for a bit and you could live in the moment. It didn’t last long.
As it approached ten or ten-thirty, the wind picked up considerably, and from the roof of the Nagoya University Hospital I saw the gales roll in massive clouds, and soon the whole of the sky was covered, some of the clouds being almost black. Then there was that eerie calm that seemed to come about before a disaster, be it a tornado, tsunami or in my experience, a nuclear detonation. Lightning flashed through the sky and with it came the chirping I’d heard out at sea, echoing across the landscape. An orderly tapped me on the shoulder and told me that my helicopter was picking me up; there was something they wanted me to see. He wouldn’t say what it was, I don’t think they told him.
What they wanted me to see was some kind of gargantuan ape. The thing was a good hundred and fifty feet tall at the shoulder and, despite its immense size, it was the perfect representation of what the mind conjures when you think of a gorilla. His face told stories of many battles, though with what I do not know. Most interesting was what appeared to be clothing of some kind, or at least a head-dress not altogether different from Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs. The wind seemed to rustle the trees and bushes around us, and we all heard gentle whispers of ‘Kong’ and ‘Fujin‘.
He made no threatening gestures and, in fact, seemed to be at ease around us, also demonstrating a remarkable gentleness when he attempted to pick up one of the many soldiers staring at him in awe. The man was understandably terrified and when Kong saw this he pulled back and put his palms up, to show he meant no harm. He then placed his massive hand on the ground and motioned, and, swallowing his fear, the soldier walked into his palm.
He was raised to eye-level and observed with a clear and benign curiosity, before Kong lifted him gently between his thumb and forefinger and placed him back with his squad. Some time later, a high-ranking American officer made his way to the gorilla, a Major Driscoll. His demeanor changed immediately, going to a standing post and using his right arm to beat his chest three or four times. Kong apparently grasped our confusion after a few moments, and shooed the men back. He snapped a thick branch from a tree and pointed towards the city. He made many small(for him anyway) dots on the ground and circled it. Then he pointed at us, and made dots outside the circle. Then he pointed out over the sea and snarled, making a large dot a ways away from the ‘city’ and us. He then smeared ‘us’ and the ‘city’ while leaving the large dot. Things started to click then. Kong quickly redrew the city and ourselves, and then pointed at himself and draw another large dot, between ‘us’ and the ‘sea dot’, and then brought his hand down like a shield.
Simply put, Kong told us that he both knew of Wani and more importantly that he had come to help us. Major Driscoll then handed me a portable phone, to report to his superiors what I thought. Whatever Moll did to me seemed to still be working, and I explained the situation as best I could. Major Driscoll ordered his men to formation and gave a courtesy salute to Kong, which Kong returned with a warrior’s grin and a thump of his chest. We had made our first genuine ally. Kong was certainly strange, but in a way that was comfortable to us, a way we can understand. If anyone doubted his allegiance or motives, those fears would be dispelled that night. However, these thoughts also brought me back to something that troubled me: where was Gojira-Godzilla? Other than a handful of sightings near the coast or out at sea he hadn’t been spotted since ‘55. He had seemed weary after the battle, but eleven years was quite a long while.
I felt the inevitable conflict was drawing near, and boarded my helicopter again. As we were in the air, I saw Kong start to act strangely. He had closed his eyes and seemed to be straining to hear or smell something. Then lightning split the clear sky, striking a craggy outcrop not far from Kong. He tilted his head, and then ran towards it like a creature possessed. When he reached it, he roared in triumph and struck his chest, each time his eyes would start to glow blue or white. His fur began to stick up on end, and when he opened his mouth to roar once more I could see bolts of electricity arcing between his teeth. Finally he took his great right fist and struck the crag, as if he’d grabbed thunder out of the sky and cracked the earth with it.
I would say I was surprised, when within the rocks was an ogre-like figure, covered in sea-green scales but with shoots of orange hair on his head and covering the tops of his arms, but by this point I was becoming adjusted to such things. In the shaggy mess of orange two small, black horns seemed to come from the back of his head, but curved forwards. As far as shape, they shared the same ape-like stance, though in terms of girth Kong was far and away more massive, Kong being built like a gorilla while Gabara favouring something more like a bonobo, lanky arms with a sinewy strength and a noticeable potbelly, rather than the massive bulging muscles found on Kong. This creature, with its brutish-looking face and strange assortment of colours reminded me of the famous Oni legends, specifically of Fujin’s brother and friend, Raijin. I would later learn that Nagoya had a couple of local variation on Raijin’s name, being “Gabara’ and “Gaba-Hara’. For simplicity, I will refer to him as Gabara.
Their skins, too, were radically different. While Kong, as I described, was merely an up-scaled gorilla, Gabara had scales that looked like they belonged on a carp. The face was also strange, like someone managed to breed an incredibly ugly cat and give it the rough warty patches of a toad or gila-monster.
His chest and neck also seemed to have an armour of sorts in the form of rougher, thicker-looking warts that tapered off towards the shoulders and Gabara’s pot-belly. His legs were short, and ended curiously with only three toes, despite having four fingers and a thumb on his hands. Much like a pitbull, he was so unabashedly ugly that it seemed to whip right around and become strangely endearing.
Kong back-flipped in joy and beat the ground at the vision of his friend, making all manner of racket, culminating in a hard but brotherly punch to Gabara‘s shoulder and a playful jab at Gabara‘s potbelly, causing a strange, chuckling sort of frog-like warble mixed with a cat-hiss to emanate from him. A sly grin found itself on Gabara’s face as he gave Kong a shoulder-punch of his own followed by a punch to Kong’s face, knocking him off balance and onto the ground. Kong gave an ape-like hoot of excitement as Gabara chuckled, before offering his other hand to help Kong back up. Then, spitting a little blood, Kong grinned and stood up to embrace Gabara.
As the embrace ended Gabara looked out to the sea, and his features went taught. He hissed into the sky and threw up his arms, beat his chest and threw them up again before he was enveloped in a storm of silent lightning. The world was silent then and I lost all sense of time. I don’t know how long it was before I was shaken from it, before waking up on a stretcher in some kind of tent, only to start dry heaving. I pulled rank on an attending physician and told them to release me, taking my cane as I finished signing the clipboard.
It was around 11, I think. I could just now see the tide receding back out to sea. She was getting closer.
About twenty minutes after one in the morning, Wani’s dorsal fins became visible in the distance. The sirens began to wail and the military mobilized to aid evacuation of the city’s near three-million civilians. It wasn‘t long until the water receded from the beach, the sand strewn with fish flopping helplessly on the exposed bed. Inland, heavy artillery was set in place with flechette or bioweapons rounds, while bombers scrambled with their own air-deployable variants of the same weapons, sharing space with high-powered searchlights.
Given the difference in caliber, there was a change in how the flechette rounds would be used. Land-based guns tend to be smaller than what are found battleships and a bomber has a serious weight-limit as to how much it can carry. This is a serious complication when dealing with Wani’s tough hide, so it was decided that the biological and conventional shells would be used to target and hopefully pierce her armour in specific places to allow for the rods to have full effect by also targeting those weakened areas. Wani was freakishly tough, but not invincible, and with the aid of Kong and Gabara, we were beginning to feel we had a chance to drive her back.
Six minutes after the beach was laid bare, a massive wall of water nearly a hundred and ten feet barreled in, bringing with it a disgusting irradiated sludge of dead fish, whales and other sea-animals similar to the one I’d saw at Tokyo. I looked back out to the sea and saw her approaching, the movement of her jagged plates back and forth glinting in the light had a strangely mesmerizing,hypnotic effect.Kong and Gabara leapt from the cliff onto the beach, preparing themselves for combat. Soon Wani could no longer swim, the water having become too shallow to allow it, and so pushed herself up to walk the rest of the way. The journey had not been kind to her. She managed to look even worse than when she’d freed herself from the glacial prison. I could just make out that she was bleeding from various wounds. Her blood was an extremely dark green, containing more uranium and plutonium than iron. When uranium rusts, it’s black, and while plutonium does not itself rust, when exposed to oxygen it turns anywhere from yellow to green.
By now Wani’s sheer contempt for the world around her was palpable. Kong and Gabara had taken spots on the shore, waiting for Wani to close the distance rather than risk running straight into her hellfire. It felt like it took ages, but as Wani came to the last few thousand yards the two brawlers rushed her amidst the military’s shelling, the two of them being too quick for anything other than a lone round to impact them. With an uncomfortable grunt her back began to light up, but something seemed wrong; the noise wasn’t the normal (or usual) piercing, steadily rising whir but an uncoordinated cacophony of high and low pitched noises. Then she opened her mouth and whined in frustration. There was no beam, just a mostly-liquid and glowing metallic sludge that slopped out of her unhinged jaw. It was hot, but that’s all it was.
Kong and Gabara did not lose stride, however, and made contact while Wani seemed to be trying to swallow the material. They hit her, and hard, but it did little more than cause a distinct ‘ripple’ through her bulky form. She tried to lock jaws on Kong’s shoulder, but her blindness and sluggishness made her just miss him. Gabara threw his arms around her throat, trying to topple her over, but was flung nearly into Kong for his trouble.
Gathering his senses, a strange smirk came over Kong’s face. Gabara grinned as well, and the two barreled forwards, right at Wani. Before they struck, Gabara hunkered down and lead with his right shoulder, while Kong leaped over him with his arms stretched out ahead. Gabara’s blow knocked the wind out of Wani, her mouth gaping just long enough for Kong to firmly her upper jaw mid-jump, Gabara’s own hand darting quickly to grab the lower.
Despite the sickening mix of a wet crunch and a stomach churning ‘pop’ with Wani’s gurgling screams, Kong did not rip her head off. Instead, her jaw was broken in numerous places and the flesh of her cheeks ripped open to her ears, giving her a permanent ‘grin’. Even after healing this could be plainly seen, even her jaw resetting lopsided and wrong. Despite the incredible pain that must have consumed her, Wani’s rage burned even hotter. With renewed vigor she thrashed violently, Kong only barely able to avoid the dervish of claws and spines as he leapt a hair’s breadth out of their reach, a look of surprise on his face at the speed of the attack with which Wani retaliated. As he landed he glanced at Gabara and a dark look passed between them; they both knew how well the battle was so far. Their grit impressed me, though, reminding me of the storied soldiers in the war, and despite the ever-fading hope of victory, they hesitated for no more than a second before immediately returning to the melee with a renewed zeal.
The two kept up their onslaught, growing more and more desperate as she drew nearer the city. What began as a coordinated, tactics-driven combat devolved into a brutal and savage melee as time, as well as their options, began to run out. Kong would throw his entire body into his punches, Gabara would follow up with strikes from his elbows and knees, but this barrage served only to frustrate and slow her. Finally, Gabara and Kong then put some distance between them and her, and looked at one another grimly. With a subtle nod, Kong writhed to loosen his joints, Gabara rolled his head to pop his neck, and they both planted their feet firmly into the ground.
The world darkened, the clouds seemed to crash and roll above us. The sky seemed to roar and scream at Wani, with Gabara and Kong’s hair lifted by some phantom updraft, electricity arcing over their bodies and between them. Wani halted and snarled. The world went deadly quiet then, even the sound of distant artillery seeming to vanish into the ether, before a volley of lightning was sent down from the heavens, the crack of thunder reverberating across the land. Kong and Gabara were both struck, and both screamed at the sky. They looked different, somehow, like their skin had grown tighter or their muscles had grown.
Kong barreled towards Wani like a rabid dog, leaping with his hands clasped above his head. Wani had trouble discerning where Kong was, and seemed almost lost, until Kong’s blow came down on her head like the hammer of the gods. She screamed and flailed her tail, knocking Kong to the side as he tried to land behind her, but he rolled and recovered. Blood was now seeping from her eyes, dulling their ghostly glow.
Gabara then gave a warbling battle-cry, gaining Wani’s attention. She threw caution to the wind and moved as quickly as her titanic body could take her in his direction. He leaped, Wani charging beneath him, throwing down his arms at her, like he was trying to command heaven to strike her down. It obliged.
The world lit up, and the peel of thunder mixed with Wani’s screams of hate and rage, shaking the earth as she was pummeled with the sky’s own arsenal. Wani’s momentum carried her further forward, into the city, halted by a skyscraper that toppled over onto her. The lightning did not cease, and was joined by the blows of Kong and Gabara. She could hardly be seen, an inferno having started and quickly becoming a sea of fire and smoke. This went on for twelve or more straight minutes, Wani sometimes trying to rise only to be beaten back down, and as her attempts to rise ceased Gabara and Kong let up, their hands beaten bloody and raw. For a moment, I thought they might actually do it; I thought this might actually kill her The men, myself, Kong, Gabara and the world seemed to hold its breath. Minutes passed, she did not stir.
I started to hear quiet clapping, some people crying, Kong and Gabara giving one another a weak embrace. Then she snarled. Kong and Gabara took some steps back, Wani slowly rising out of the flames. She glared at the two warriors, and then at the sky. The area around her seemed to dim. The fires were going out. Her eyes were shining brighter, and colder, than ever before. Shadows seemed to creep out from her, as if she were bleeding darkness. A strange sort of fog seemed to envelop her and her surroundings. The cries of countless people started, but were abruptly silenced.
In that fog I thought I saw human shapes, being dragged to Wani and then dissipating. In spite of her blindness Wani was able to lock eyes with Gabara. . I think this rudimentary ’sight’ became possible when she figured out how to consume power from life itself, or at least able to discern roughly where a living being was. He was met with the whir as she prepared to burn him alive, though now quite different: higher, less consistent, as if it were a chorus For the merest instance, shock crept onto Gabara’s exhausted face, but was then replaced with a look of the most sublime and beautiful acceptance I’ve ever seen, the old warrior fully prepared for the end of his time. Then hellfire literally screamed from Wani’s maw as a look of vengeance fulfilled crept onto her face.
Kong let out scream of anguish to the sky that I felt in the pit of my stomach, aware he was about to watch his comrade at arms be turned to ash. But as before, when Gabara had called down the lightning, the heavens answered his call. Bolting down from the sky came a specter composed of all the colours of the heavens: brilliant golds, fiery reds, tranquil blues, foreboding blacks and pristine whites in the shape of a gargantuan moth placed itself between Gabara and Wani’s death breath as the clouds and wind rang out with calls of “Mosura” and “Shinatobe”. Mothra is how she would be known to the rest of the world, and as she was struck we heard the same chirping cries we’d been hearing since Wani escaped.
The blast was dissipated up, seeming to carve a wound in the sky as it burned its way through the clouds. As soon as she had appeared, Mothra dissipated, Gabara having quickly moved after being shielded. Wani’s roar, the sound of twisting steel and screams of the damned, swept the landscape. She lit up again, far faster than I’d seen before, and swept her head from left to right blanketed Nagoya in nuclear fire. She turned to face Kong and gave a roar of challenge, her gargantuan form crushing everything between the two.
Gabara then displayed one of his more interesting traits, specifically that he had far more courage than brains. He rushed and tried to tackle Wani from the side to stop her. It failed. She managed to grab onto his body, the light beginning on her back and visible from her mouth. Kong intervened, and as if he were wrestling a crocodile he forced her jaws shut and forced her head away from Gabara. The heat set Kong’s hands on fire, covering them with molten metal, some of which dripped onto Gabara’s chest as he wrestled to get free. Once Gabara was clear, Kong released his grip but Wani smashed into his ribcage with her skull before he could get far enough away to avoid reprisal.
Regaining her posture, she abruptly turned her head and lumbered back towards the city, almost as if she’d forgotten Gabara and Kong were even there, and as she walked she looked to be scanning the area, her head panning left and right. The glow, the crescendo as she readied the hellfire, and released it howling across the cityscape quickly after, drowning Nagoya in fire.. Frustrated by their impotence despite their courage, Kong and Gabara looked on darkly, their rage almost palatable.
Wani stood like a conqueror, the intensity of the flickering fire making her look like a figure made of shadow. Wani then seemed to ‘breathe’ in and again the screams and inferno were snuffed out, the same unnatural darkness and silence spreading out around her, the glow in her eyes surging brighter, cold and manic. More nuclear fire erupted from her maw, now just scorching the countryside randomly. Her movements were no longer deliberate, she seemed almost drunk, screaming challenge to the earth, the sky, to fire and water. Then she was quiet. Kong and Gabara stepped back, fear overtaking their rage.
Wani was searching frantically around her now. She was hearing something we couldn’t. She started shrieking, screaming, as if at something only she was aware of. Our protectors parted timidly, deliberately leaving open a route to the sea. She took it. As quickly as her bulk allowed, she ran, or the closest thing something that massive can approximate to running, for the ocean. She did not slow upon reaching the water, and once the depth allowed, she disappeared entirely into the deep.
The world stopped again as Wanit vanished beneath the waves. I was met with a figure I’d not seen. Similar to Moll, but rather than a holy, if strange, light it was an all-encompassing and peaceful darkness. It, or I suppose she, tried to appear human, I think, but her form would flicker revealing at different points things that reminded me of red crocodile hide, black and yellow insectoid chitin, green copper skin and crusted magma. There were no eyes, just holes from which the darkness could seep out. There was no conversation, just a message that felt like a silk nail driven into my mind.
“To kill The King in Gold, the Black Queen crowned in fire made. Dead thing, birthed in desperation by dying powers, in the shape of the Dead. Unclean vine to bear clean fruit whether it will or no.”