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35. Last Chance
~ Tottori Beach – July, 1966 – 4 PM ~
Captain Adam Nixon watched with mingled awe and horror at the unearthly spectacle unfolding in the Sea of Japan below him.
Goragon stood waist-deep in the ocean, barely a tail’s length from the foundering destroyer. At forty stories tall, the monster was easily as large as the ship was long. Steam billowed from everywhere the sea touched the daikaiju’s molten hide.
Taishen slithered around its blazing foe, wrapping huge coils around the fire-monster’s upright torso.
Safely above the fray in his helicopter, the sight reminded Adam of a boa constrictor trying to crush a man to death.
The two creatures snapped their reptilian maws at each other and bellowed loud enough to shake the windows of the Adam’s skycrane. Goragon’s claws ripped at the sea-serpent’s hide, but Taishen’s iron-hard scales turned back the worst of the damage.
Adam shook his head. He’d seen what the creatures could do to buildings and ships. It seemed impossible that anything could take the kind of punishment the monsters were dishing out to each other. Of course, just the fact that daikaiju existed seemed impossible.
“Some show, eh?” Kobayashi, Adam’s co-pilot, enthused.
“I’d rather this show came to an end, to tell you the truth,” Burr told the military men. Seated behind the pilots, the reporter mopped his forehead with a well-worn handkerchief.
“Me, too,” Adam agreed. “But there’s nothing we can do about it at this point. We convinced these babies to fight each other; our job here is done.”
“So, we’re leaving?” Burr said hopefully.
“Not on your life,” Adam replied. “We ain’t heading for home until we’re sure this thing is finished.”
“And when will that be?” Burr asked.
“When both those monsters are dead … or we are.”
“You’ll pardon me, Captain Nixon, if I’m hoping for the former.”
Adam chuckled. “You and me both, pal.”
Burr shut up after that—a rarity in Adam’s experience—as all three of them watched the battle.
The bait they’d used to bring Goragon here—the package containing the experimental reactor borrowed from the US and a few special extras that Dr. Shimura had cooked up—dangled limply from the cable below the copter. The fire-monster had paid little attention to it since the clash with Taishen began.
That was fine with Adam. He’d rather the daikaiju concentrated on each other and left humanity out of the equation entirely.
But he couldn’t help but worry about the people on the observation ship: Dr. Shimura’s assistant Emiko, that singer, and Adam’s fellow X-Base personnel.
The destroyer looked awfully fragile down there, amid the struggling titans. The ship had already taken substantial damage. It was listing to port, its starboard armor had been crumpled, and numerous fires—from Goragon’s breath—flickered across its length.
Through the smoke, steam, and spray, Adam could barely make out the tiny figures moving across the crippled ship’s deck.
“I hope they’ll be all right down there,” Burr mused, as if reading Adam’s thoughts.
“I’m sure they will be,” Kobayashi said.
“They knew what they were getting into when they signed aboard,” Adam replied. “Being in the military isn’t a walk in the park, you know.”
“I was thinking about those two women—Miss Murakami and that singer,” Burr said. “I think this may be more than they bargained for.”
Adam pursed his lips. “Yeah. I’m worried about them, too.”
Fire blasted forth from Goragon’s mouth, searing through the air with a brightness that rivalled the sun. Taishen twisted out of the way, though, and looped its tail around the fire-monster’s neck.
It squeezed, and molten scales broke away from Goragon’s throat and fell steaming into the water hundreds of feet below.
Goragon bellowed, though the noise came out as a strangled cry compared to the monster’s previous roars. It scraped one huge claw across Taishen’s scaly face, raking at the serpent’s blazing blue eyes.
Taishen shrieked and released its hold on Goragon’s neck. The sea monster slithered back into the ocean, only to rise again and blast its foe with a powerful jet of water.
The fire-monster reeled, shaking steaming water from its face, slashing blindly with its immense claws. Goragon’s talons began to glow, as did the spikes at the end of its tail.
It whipped the tail around, aiming for Taishen—but the destroyer had floated in too close to the combatants.
“Look out!” Burr cried, though no one below could hear them.
The blow from Goragon’s tail slashed through the ship’s hull, and everything the glowing spikes hit turned into stone.
The sea serpent tried to dodge, but the spikes caught the side of its head and its neck.
Taishen screamed and thrashed, blasting wildly with its water spray, trying to defend itself as the eerie petrifaction crept across its scaly body. .
The sea monster’s writhing and its water blast kicked the sea into a white-water froth. Huge waves crashed across the deck of the crippled destroyer, rushing into the superstructure through the holes made by Goragon’s tail.
“Damn it!” Adam cursed. If the battle kept going this way, the people on the observation ship were doomed—assuming they hadn’t been killed already. Clearly, now, the destroyer was sinking, and there was nothing Adam or anyone could do to save her or any people aboard.
Adam slammed his fist into a strut near the helicopter’s window. If only he could do something!
As he, Kobayashi, and Burr watched, helpless, the monsters broke apart and circled at a distance, eyeing each other warily.
Apparently, neither enjoyed the damage the other had inflicted, though both seemed to be recovering from their wounds quickly. Even now, Taishen’s scales were turning from petrified gray back to their normal blue-green, and molten blood was flowing over the breaks in Goragon’s hide and cooling to rock hardness.
Burr pounded his fist onto his armrest. “What does it take to kill these creatures?”
Adam shook his head; he didn’t have any better idea than the newspaper man did. He did, however, have some notion of what they could do next:
“Time for emergency double back-up Plan Beta.”
“But Beta is only supposed to be used as a last resort,” Kobayashi protested, looking uneasy for the first time this whole mission.
“And if this ain’t the time to use it, Kobayashi, I don’t know what is.”
The co-pilot nodded nervously. “Hai, Captain!”
“What’s Plan Beta?” Burr asked.
Adam shot him a wry grin. “You beta hold on to your seat, ’cause this ride is about to get a whole lot wilder.”
With that, he pushed the Sikorsky Skycrane’s stick forward and aimed the nose of the copter toward Goragon’s head.
“Are you crazy?” Burr cried.
“Nope. Just following orders.”
“Well, your ‘orders’ are going to get us all killed!”
“Not if the plan works,” Adam replied. “And you better hope it does. ’Cause if it doesn’t this whole operation’s going down the drain—and maybe the rest of the world with it.”
“Hold tight, Mr. Burr,” Kobayashi echoed.
Adam didn’t dare look back—this maneuver was going to be tricky enough with both eyes forward—but he could hear Burr trying to pull his safety harness tighter. Despite the gravity of the situation, a smile crept across the airman’s lips.
Fortunately for all of them, Goragon’s attention was so focused on Taishen that the fire-monster didn’t notice the copter’s approach until it was right on top of him.
Goragon turned as Adam swerved, and the package—dangling at the end of its line—passed within a few yards of the monster’s face. Goragon snapped at the lure, and Adam noticed a angry glow flare in the monster’s eyes.
Please, don’t breathe fire! Adam prayed, as he steered the copter away from Goragon and toward Taishen. He knew they’d violated Shimura’s rule, and gotten too close, but there was no other way to do this.
“Kobayashi, prime the pump and start spraying!” Adam commanded.
“Hai, Captain!” Kobayashi began fiddling with the special controls Dr. Shimura had installed aboard the copter.
“What pump? What spray?” Burr asked.
As he asked it, nozzles opened on the side of the package and began filling the air with a fine, red-brown mist.
“Essence of pure Kobe beef,” Kobayashi explained. “Guaranteed to arouse the appetite of even the most finicky sea monster.”
“We hope,” Adam added. “Hang on!”
Taishen had noticed them now. It opened its massive jaws, and Adam could see bubbles frothing at the back of its throat and around its lips.
He veered the copter left, just as the daikaiju’s jet spray blasted forth.
The attack missed the Sikorsky, but caught Goragon—following close behind the copter—right in the chest. The bipedal monster staggered and roared in anger.
“Ha!” Kobayashi said. “That’s done it!”
“Not quite yet,” Adam replied. He aimed the helicopter up above the huge serpent’s head, almost certain that Taishen would lunge for them. He hoped he’d calculated how far the daikaiju could reach. “Kobayashi, stand ready to cut bait.”
The Sikorsky soared high over Taishen’s head. Adam prayed that the sea monster needed a few moments to recharge, and couldn’t hit them with its jet spray so soon after the last blast. He prayed to God that this crazy plan would work.
As they hovered above Taishen, the titanic serpent threw its jaws wide and sprang, rocketing up, out of the water.
“NOW!” Adam shouted.
“Bombs away!” Kobayashi replied, flipping a specially prepared switch.
With a soft foof, explosives severed the lure from the cable attaching it to the copter.
The package containing the beef essence and the borrowed experimental reactor plunged straight down Taishen’s gullet.
The monster’s jaws snapped shut with a sound like thunder, swallowing the lure whole.
Adam pulled back the stick, and the Sikorsky soared into the sky, quickly leaving the angry daikaiju behind. He smiled. “Bullseye!”
“Y-you dropped the reactor!” Burr exclaimed, shocked.
“You betcha,” Adam replied.
“But it didn’t belong to you! It belongs to the U.S. government!”
“I’m an American citizen, ain’t I—and an employee of the government, to boot.”
“But there was only one of those left in the world!”
“What’s more important, what happens to one piece of machinery, or what happens to the whole flippin’ planet?”
Kobayashi nodded. “The needs of all nations outweigh the needs of any one nation.”
“I’m not sure I follow you,” Burr said. He pressed his face to the window, watching the monsters as the copter left the battlefield.
“Goragon wants that reactor, right?” Adam replied. “And he’ll do anything to get it. Right?”
“He followed us all the way across Japan to get it,” Burr admitted.
Adam grinned, feeling confident for the first time since this whole ruckus had started. “Well, now we don’t have that gizmo anymore—Taishen does. But Goragon still wants it. Nothing in the world can stop those two fighting now. They’ll keep going until they’ve ripped each other to pieces.”
Burr nodded grimly. “Captain Nixon, I hope that, for all our sakes, you’re right.”
Thanks to Kiff for beta reading.
All contents TM & © 2014 Stephen D. Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.