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33. In the Path of Goragon
~ Tottori Beach – July, 1966 – 3 PM ~
Captain Kenji Koizume couldn’t help but find Rin Murakami attractive—she was young, good looking, and a talented musician—but clearly she was also nuts … just like her sister.
He and Rin were safe, standing on Tottori Beach behind the wall of burning tanker trucks that had driven Taishen back out to sea, where the military could destroy it once and for all.
Yet, without warning, the singer had fallen to her knees beside him, clutching at her forehead and babbling about her twin, Emiko, being in danger.
That was impossible, though; Emiko was safe aboard the observation ship. Taishen had fallen right into their trap. The decoy vessels had detonated simultaneously, as planned. Now the sea serpent was on fire, thrashing helplessly in the waves, napalm burning into its armored hide, as JSDF aircraft and artillery shelled it into oblivion.
It was only a matter of time before the beast succumbed to the relentless barrage.
Although … The daikaiju did seem to be taking a long while to die—annoyingly long, in fact. And Rin’s incessant chatter wasn’t making the time go any faster.
“You have to do something!” she insisted. “Can’t you hear the screams?! Can’t you see that they’re dying?!”
“The only thing dying here is Taishen,” Ken assured her.
“Gods, you’re such an idiot! Just like Emi said you were!”
Ken scowled at the girl. “Well this idiot has done a pretty good job of saving your life today.”
He didn’t see the slap coming until his cheek flared with pain. This skinny little thing was fast, and she hit like a boxing champ. Stars flashed inside Ken’s skull.
“Baka!” she cursed. “Open your eyes, will you! The ship! Who gives a damn about the monster? Emi’s ship is sinking!”
“What?” Ken asked, confused.
How could the ship be sinking? They had the monster trapped, penned in…
Then he noticed the towering waves kicked up by the serpent’s thrashing. And beyond the flames surrounding the daikaiju, he could see the destroyer pitching from side to side in the heavy seas.
Ken’s heart sank, but he tried to put on a brave face. “I’m sure they’ll be all right.”
“Are you crazy? I’m telling you they’re not all right! I can see them in my mind. Don’t you understand that? The fire’s not going to stop it. Taishen’s coming for them, and they’re all going to die! We have to do something!”
The place where she’d slapped him still stung. “Look, Rin, I know you’ve been through a lot—more than anyone should have to go through in a lifetime, never mind in one day—but those people out there have been trained to handle this kind of thing. Sergeant Ito—”
“Is dead, and everyone else aboard that ship will be, too, unless…”
She looked up at him with pleading eyes. “Unless we do something! I—”
A powerful explosion cut her off.
Ken spun in time to see the flaming remains of a helicopter falling off the destroyer’s deck. The so-called observation ship was burning now, and listing badly, too.
He turned to Rin. She had been right! He’d only half believed her claims of psychic visions—thought perhaps she was merely more sensitive to some nearly imperceptible sound or odor the monster exuded. That, he’d told himself, was how she seemed to know when the creature was coming.
Now, though, her sister Emiko—the girl who’d given him so much trouble as a protester at X-Base—was in deadly peril, just as Rin had predicted.
“I…” he began, wanting to apologize, but not sure how.
“Do something!” she pleaded.
He reached for his field phone, unsure what he was going to do, unsure what anyone could do. They had plenty of JSDF personnel and equipment in the area, but no more ships—and it would be too dangerous to try and land a helicopter on the deck of the sinking vessel.
His mind raced, wanting to save everyone aboard the ship, but especially Rin’s sister.
Perhaps a copter could hover above the wreck and send a team and a rescue basket down on a line—if they could get near enough…
Suddenly, the beach trembled, and a noise like a combination of thunder and rending metal shook the air. The impact of the sound knocked Ken to his knees, right next to Rin.
“It’s broken through the flames!” Rin cried, clutching at her temples. “It’s going for the ship!”
A cold chill shot through Ken, though not because of what she’d said. Without meaning to, his trembling hand found her shoulder and clutched it.
“Worse!” he said, staring in horror across the dunes behind them.
She turned, an angry retort forming on her lips and then dying. Her eyes went wide.
“It’s Goragon!” Ken gasped. “Run!”
Together, they staggered to their feet and ran.
Ken had no idea of where he was going, and he doubted Rin did, either. The other JSDF personnel who had been near the line of burning trucks scattered in every direction.
The ground shook with each of Goragon’s steps as the fire-monster shambled out of the dunes. Ahead of it darted Adam Nixon’s helicopter, dragging Dr. Shimura’s expensive “lure” through the sky.
Goragon walked through the line of burning tankers as if they didn’t exist, brushing aside the trucks with no more effort than a man might exert kicking aside a child’s toys.
To his great relief, Ken suddenly realized that the monster held no interest in him or anyone on the beach.
Rin must have realized the same thing, because she suddenly stopped running and looked back at the wounded destroyer.
“Emiko!” she screamed.
True to her prediction, Taishen had broken through the flaming barrier of floating napalm and turned toward the listing vessel, sensing the human prey inside.
“Koizume to Ito, come in!” Ken called into his walkie-talkie. “Taishen has broken through! Repeat: Taishen has broken through! You have to get out of there!”
He felt stupid the minute he said it. How could Ito—if he was even alive—get anyone off the ship with his helicopter destroyed?
Again, Goragon’s thunderous roar shook the air.
The daikaiju waded into the surf, water sizzling where it touched the fire-monster’s hide. It was still following Adam’s bait, but it had noticed something else now as well: Taishen.
The sea beast wheeled at the sound and glared at the other monster, neon-blue eyes blazing. As the serpent turned, its immense tail slashed against the side of the destroyer, crumpling and tearing at the ship’s armor.
Taishen didn’t even notice the damage it had done. Instead, it barreled toward Goragon, shrieking a challenge.
The spiked plates along Goragon’s back began to glow orange.
Again, fear shot through Ken. Why had he believed, even for a moment, that any of them were safe? These monsters could kill humans without the slightest thought—without even meaning to.
“Get down!” he cried, throwing an arm around Rin and carrying them both to the ground.
They looked up, their faces spattered with sand, just as Goragon breathed.
A blinding gout of red and yellow flame blazed from the fire-monster’s mouth.
The conflagration blasted across the sea, straight at Taishen.
But the sea serpent dived beneath the water at the last moment, and the hellish inferno missed it.
The flames kept going, their power only slightly diminished as they slammed into the destroyer.
Taishen burst from the ocean, hurtling at its foe. It opened its mouth and blasted Goragon with a jet of water.
The fire-monster staggered, and the serpent lunged, wrapping its coils around its enemy’s reptilian form. Cinders sparked and steam sizzled where the bodies of the two creatures touched.
The artillery on shore and the jets darting overhead kept firing at the daikaiju, but neither beast seemed to take the slightest notice.
Why did we ever think our weapons could beat them? Ken wondered.
Then he felt Rin’s fingernails digging into his shoulder.
He looked at the singer, and she’d gone pale as a ghost, her eyes riveted on the sea battle.
“No!” she whispered.
With a gut-wrenching realization, Ken knew that it wasn’t the monsters she was watching.
Beyond the towering creatures, the destroyer lay heavy in the water, burning.
As Ken and Rin watched in horror, the observation ship gave one final groan like a dying animal … and then heaved onto its starboard side and began to sink.
Thanks to Kiff for beta reading.
All contents TM & © 2014 Stephen D. Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.