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27. Deathtrap in Tottori
~ Tottori Beach – July 1966 – 1 PM ~
Emiko Murakami stared, horrified, out of the helicopter window as Taishen burst from the Sea of Japan and headed for the Tottori beachfront.
She’d seen the serpent before, of course, on the day they rescued her twin sister, but somehow its awfulness had quickly faded from her mind, like the memory of a bad dream. [SS1] Emi wished that the beast had been merely a nightmare, that it wasn’t even now surging past the decoy ships toward where Rin, stood singing, a fragile siren luring the daikaiju ashore.
Emi prayed that Captain Kenji Koizume would be true to his word; that he would protect Rin with his life. Given Emi’s past experience with X-Base, though, she had trouble believing the handsome soldier. She’d tried to convince Koizume and the others to shut the base down; she’d warned them that the compound and its experimental reactor were dangerous—and she had been right.
She just hadn’t expected the danger to come in the form of the giant, fire-breathing monster, Goragon.
Who could have foreseen that?
Mom, a voice in her head answered.
Somehow, her mother, Tsuruko Murakami, seemed to have predicted the disasters that now embroiled all Japan. But Emi still had trouble believing that her mother was psychic. Tsuruko had been playing at card reading and other fortune-telling tricks for years, but it had never been real—at least, not before the monsters came, anyway.
And maybe her mother’s prophecies were still only a lucky guess … a series of lucky guesses.
Now, though, Rin seemed to have had premonitions as well.
Could all of that mystical mumbo jumbo be true?
Emiko did not want to believe that her family possessed the gift of prophecy. She put her faith in science—in things you could touch. She did not want to know the future. She wanted to believe that each person could shape her own destiny.
And she prayed to whatever gods there might be that her sister’s fate was not to be eaten by a sea serpent today.
“Please stay safe, Rin,” she whispered. “Please!”
The monster had passed the decoy boats now, the vessels filled with gasoline and explosives that lined the channel to the beach. Taishen barely gave the big ships a second look.
Apparently, Dr. Shimura had been correct: the beast could sense living creatures—its preferred prey—and the decoys held no interest for it. Emi wished that the army would blow up the ships now and kill the creature.
That wasn’t the plan, though. They needed to destroy the monster on the beach; it would be out of its element and drained of strength there. The daikaiju was much too powerful in the water.
Taishen swam directly toward the barge filled with live pigs—the first part of the bait for this trap. Rin and the Defense Force personnel were the second enticement.
Please don’t let it get that far!
As the monster wrapped its scaly coils around the pig barge, the onshore batteries opened fire.
Bright orange and yellow explosions blossomed on Taishen’s scaly blue-green hide. The monster roared and sprayed gouts of water at the artillery, but the guns on shore remained well out of range of the serpent’s watery breath.
Taishen crushed the pig ship as though it were tin foil. The beast then gobbled up the unfortunate animals, scooping the frightened swine into its mouth and slicing them to bits with its titanic fangs or merely swallowing them whole.
Watching the carnage from above made the whole awful tableau seem unreal. If not for her sister in deadly peril on the shore below, Emi would have found it easy to remain scientifically detached from the dreadful events. Instead, she sat transfixed with horror.
She had to keep reminding herself to take notes. That was, after all, why Dr. Shimura had sent her here—to be his eyes on the scene.
“Don’t worry,” Rika Tadaka, sitting next to Emi in the copter, put in nervously. “It’s all going like those scientists said it would. I’m sure Rin will be fine.”
Please, gods, let it be so! Emi prayed.
Despite Rika’s attempt at being reassuring, Emiko noticed the starlet swallowed hard, her throat dry, and her breath came in short, terrified gasps.
Emi took Rika’s hand and squeezed it. At least, the two of them could be together in their fear. Flying so far above the actual danger, what else could they do?
“Check your straps,” the voice of Sergeant Ito, the copter’s pilot, blared over the com system. “When Taishen reaches the beach, we’re heading for the observation ship … just in case.”
Those last three words sent a shiver through Emiko.
Just in case the beachfront plan failed. Just in case her sister and the rest got into serious trouble. Just in case the monster was about to kill everyone on the ground.
Not even slowed by the cannon fire, Taishen surged ashore. It roared in anger and defiance at its attackers. The blood of a hundred slaughtered pigs covered its snake-like snout in a red mask. Its eyes burned a ghastly neon blue.
The daikaiju sprayed huge jets of water at the mobile guns as the army retreated up the beach. In its fury, the serpent didn’t seem to notice the four heavy-lifting helicopters resting on the beach a short distance away, at equal points around their foe.
But it did seem to notice the truck carrying Rin, who was still playing her guitar on the back of the flatbed.
Emiko could almost feel her sister’s fear. Does it sense that she’s there, somehow? Is it coming just for her?
Moving incredibly fast for something so large, Taishen slithered after Rin’s army truck.
The order echoed over the Chinook’s com system, but it wasn’t their pilot speaking. Rather, the voice belonged to Emi’s one-time nemesis, mission commander Captain Ken Koizume.
Please let this work! Emi prayed while her copter banked over the ocean toward the decoy ships. As their aircraft arced away from the fighting, Emi and Rika had to crane their necks to look out the window and follow the action on shore.
At Koizume’s signal, the four big helicopters stationed on the beach lifted off. Simultaneously, all the onshore batteries fired, clouding Taishen in a thunderous cannonade.
The barrage stopped the monster in its tracks. It roared so loudly that Emi heard its tirade even over the chop of their Chinook’s rotors.
Before the serpent could move again, the four lifting-copters sprang the trap, hauling up the corners of the huge tungsten-steel netting that had lain hidden in the sand.
Caught like a huge fish, Taishen writhed and thrashed, but the helicopters held the monster aloft, denying it the leverage to break free.
“Light it up!” Koizume barked.
Emi gripped Rika’s hand tight, and the starlet squeezed back. Both knew what would come next.
Down on the beach, army technicians threw the switches that connected the net’s trailing cables to Tottori’s main power grid.
Instantly, the netting lit up, as thousands upon thousands of volts coursed through the steel mesh.
Taishen shrieked, its cry ripping through the heavens and shaking the Chinook’s windows and fuselage.
“Kill it!” Emiko whispered desperately. “Kill it!”
The titanic serpent writhed and twisted as enough electricity to power a small city coursed through its scaly body.
“Kill it!” Rika echoed. “Kill it!”
The monster whipped its head from side to side, spraying fountains of water into the air. One of the geysers hit a lifting copter, and the aircraft wobbled precariously.
The net slackened for a moment, and Taishen’s dagger-like teeth got caught in the webbing.
The copter recovered, pulling the snare tight once more.
“More power!” Koizume cried. “Give it all you’ve got!”
The net glowed brighter. Sparks as large as a fireworks display shot from the interlaced cables into the air.
The monster bit down on the reinforced steel and shook its armored snout.
Suddenly, the net broke, and with a flash of arcing electricity, the titanic serpent spilled back onto the sand.
“No!” Emi screamed.
A huge cloud of dust sprang up where the writhing monster hit.
“FIRE!” Koizume yelled, and the beachfront artillery let loose once more.
But they might as well have been shooting pop guns. Taishen rose phoenix-like from the dust and the fiery barrage, fangs gleaming, eyes burning with hatred.
“Prepare to touch down!” the Chinook’s pilot called to Emi and the other passengers. “We have to get to the observation ship. Phase Two of the operation starts now!”
But Emiko realized nothing they could do would be of any use.
Already, Taishen was chasing the military forces across the dunes of Tottori Beach. And in her heart, Dr. Shimura’s assistant knew the monster’s objective—one particular truck, one particular person.
Gripping Emi’s hand almost tight enough to break her fingers, Rika gave voice to Emiko’s worst fear:
“Rin!” the starlet gasped. “It’s going to kill Rin!”
Thanks to David, Christine, and Kiff for beta-reading.