Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

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Ashram52
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Ashram52 »

Just a quick update.

I got back from vacation and have managed to wrap up the writing and editing for chapter 16. It’s the third largest chapter to date, so it took a minute.

Unfortunately, I still need to do all the miniatures work, which is going to be a little time consuming because there are shots of 2 cities involved with this chapter. I had hoped to have everything done and put out this weekend, but looking at what I have left to do, it’s just not going to happen.

However, I believe I will be able to wrap it up by this coming weekend. Hopefully no later than Sunday afternoon. So be on the look out for that in the near future. :D
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Ashram52
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Ashram52 »

---

Chapter 16: What you Leave Behind.


Penwood descended the stairs bringing him into the record's room. It was quiet. No sign of Admiral Marcus, which was strange. The old man had regularly beat him down there since they had started their project together. Penwood wandered through the dark columns of case files looking down the aisles to see if the admiral was already looking for their next folder to compile into the report. Still, nothing to be found.

Penwood grunted and figured that he must have simply beat Marcus in that morning. However, when he went to his desk, he discovered that he was quite wrong in his assumption. There he found an envelope with his name on it and a stack of case files under it. He opened the letter and found a wad of hundred-dollar bills. Penwood was shocked. It was a significant amount of cash. Under the money he also found a letter, it read:

'Penwood,

I regret to say I will not be able to continue. The reasons why should become clear in time. I hope you understand. I've been impressed with your dedication to this project and entrust the ongoing work to your capable hands. Enclosed is some money for your services. I have requisitioned one-thousand dollars a month out of my research pool to pay for any expenses you may encounter until the report is complete. Use it in any way you see fit, a small thank you in advance for soldiering on alone. I just cannot bring myself to continue.

-Admiral Marcus Ryan.'


Penwood stood there for a moment thinking before he took the money and put it back inside the envelope. He took the letter and went upstairs. He briskly walked to Admiral Ryan's office. A secretary intercepted Penwood on the way.

"Can I help you?" She asked.

"Is Admiral Ryan in?" Penwood replied. "I need to speak with him."

"Oh, I don't think he is." She answered. "I believe he took some leave."

"Are you sure?" He asked.

"That's what I was told." She replied. "Well, I suppose I could check to see if he already left." The secretary opened to the door to his office and found the lights off and his desk empty. Penwood could see it from over her shoulder. "I'm sorry, it looks like you missed him. Would you like me to take down a message for you?"

"That's ok, I guess I'll try to catch him another time." Penwood answered. He retired back down to the record's room. Upon arrival, he sat down behind his desk and put the envelope inside the top drawer. Penwood eyed the stack of casefiles. He took the top one off the pile and it read:

'The Mystery surrounding the Italian Fleet.'

---

Marcus, Admiral Nimitz, Brock, and Lt. Commander Williams returned to the USS Reeves in southern France. The destroyer had completed its repairs and was ready to transport them to Taranto Naval base to join up with the international fleet that was gathering there.

Marcus was less than thrilled to be going back onboard the Reeves. The last voyage abroad her was a truly unique experience that would stand out in his memory in a life that would prove to be full of misadventures. Captain Shack's skill as a commander had improved very little in their time apart.

The journey started off quietly enough. The Reeves sailed down the coastline of France for a few hours before setting course out into the open ocean. This time there was no tidal waves or storms to greet them. Instead, the waters were relatively calm. Thankfully, Captain Shack did not try to impress Admiral Nimitz and therefore managed to avoid any embarrassing or dangerous situations. The captain simply focused his efforts on getting the Reeves to the rendezvous without incident. A task force from the Atlantic fleet was meant to meet them there, but they had a head start on them and should arrive first.

While aboard, Marcus and Brock had no official duties as they were still just part of Nimitz's entourage. The only standing order the admiral gave them during the journey was to stay out of trouble. For the most part, they did just that. Brock and Smitty traded stories while Marcus mostly preferred to listen. Between the two veterans there was a treasure trove of experience.

About the time the Reeves had reached Italian waters news reached the ship about the battle in Egypt between the British, Italians, Kameras, and Mothra. The British had taken the biggest beating of all the combatants, but overall, had not taken many losses comparted to previous encounters with Kaiju. Mothra had arrived on scene before Kameras could do too much damage.

Kameras meanwhile had been driven back into the Ocean and had not been sited again since. It was the second time in as many weeks that Mothra had neutralized another monster, seemingly banishing them beneath the waves. This had an interesting effect on how she was perceived by the governments of the world and people in general. Mothra was now seen more as a friend than foe, though she was still looked on with a healthy bit of skepticism by some.

On her way to attack Kameras, Mothra had apparently flown over eastern Europe to avoid being spotted on radar. She also was flying too high up to be seen by the naked eye. This demonstrated that she was more intelligent than just an average animal. That was a fact that made some hopeful, but terrified others with the implications it presented. It was easier for some to see all the giant monsters as big dumb brutes.

Brock and Smitty were discussing just that in the crew quarters. Marcus mostly just listened, not wanting to tip his hand any more than he had to. They concluded that there just was not enough evidence one way or the other to decide if Mothra was a friend or foe and caution was warranted where she was concerned. Lt. Commander Williams joined them about the time the conversation wrapped up.

"Well, we can see the Italian coastline now." Williams reported. "Still have a couple of days of sailing before we hit port though. Brock your family came from Italy originally, right?"

"Yep, my great-grandpappy came over on a boat years ago.” Brock replied. "Couldn't say as to exactly when though."

"Does your family honor many Italian traditions?" Marcus asked.

"Well... I like the food." Brock answered." They all waited for him to say more, but he didn't.

"You don't look that Italian to me." Smitty pointed out.

"My mother was Swedish." Brock answered.

"My background is primarily English." Lt. Commander Williams chimed in.

"That makes sense." Brock said dryly. "What about you Marcus?"

"Mostly German, I think. A mix of a few things. A little Swed too."

"Ha, so you're a mutt." Smitty snickered. "Same as me." He winked at Marcus. "Too many different things to count'em all."

---

Before too long the Reeves was passing near to the city of Rome, where ambassadors and military personnel of several nations had gathered to discuss the international fleets plan of action. Something quite similar to the Zao-Ming Conference, but with a more secure location. With Kameras seemly out of the picture, their main target was now Gezora.

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While the delegates rejoiced that one apparent threat had been vanquished, no sooner had they started to pop the champagne when word came arrived from Japan that they had yet another monster threat in the Pacific. The jubilate and hopeful atmosphere at the conference died quickly with that bit of news.

There were Japanese ambassadors on hand at the conference who extensively downplayed the attack. However, in reality the Imperial Fleet had taken a thrashing and was in shambles. Though the numbers of actual casualties and ships lost had not been tallied up yet, they already knew they had taken big loss in material and manpower. They were forced to once again forced to ask the international community for help. The burden of the request would fall mostly on the United States, as they by far had the largest fleet and most assets available in the Pacific.

---

In the Pacific, it was the morning after the attack. Akira and Shiro were still on their lifeboat waiting for a destroyer to pick them up. They were low priority compared to the hundreds of other sailors scattered across the battle area who were floating helplessly on open water. Most of them were lucky if they had life jackets, many were forced to cling onto debris. The misfortunate ones drowned before help could arrive. Akira and Shiro did what they could and were in the process of rowing over to the nearest survivor. Around them, the burning remnants of the fleet were still sinking while the intact warships tried to regroup.

"What was that thing?" Akira asked bewildered as he continued to row. "How could it have such powers?"

"It's not as strange as you might think." Shiro grunted his he fought with his oars.

"What do you mean?" Akira asked. You've seen something like that before?"

"My father is a fisherman." Shiro began to explain. "From time to time he will catch a peculiar type of manta ray, a so called 'electric ray’. I spent time helping him when I was younger. He taught me if you ever see one in your nets not to go near it. A ray could shock you if you touched it with your bear hand. If it were a big enough one it could even kill you. I think that monster was using a similar power to attack the fleet."

"Do you think the monster could use its electric attack at a distance too or does it require direct contact?" Akira asked.

"Well, from what I understand, if a man were standing in water and scared a nearby ray, it could discharge electricity in the water around it. If the man were within several feet, it could shock him through the water without touching him. I don't see why it would be any different with this creature."

"Chikusho, how close to death was I just now? A few more meters…? Feet?" Akira got a chill up his back remembering his legs in the water. He tried not to dwell on the thought. "How do we fight something like that when we can't even get close to it?"

"Couldn't say." Shiro answered. "The best way to avoid the shock of rays is to avoid them all together."

"Well we can't just avoid this thing." Akira growled. "It's coming after us. We need to get stronger. Between this thing and the Rodans we are hopelessly underpowered to properly fight them. We get our asses kicked every time we try. We just need to get stronger."

---

The Reeves arrived at Taranto naval base. Marcus and company made their way to the top deck to get a good look. The British task force was already there. Their destroyers were outside the harbor patrolling the nearby waters. The battleships and other large vessels were inside the harbor anchored.

As the Reeves entered the harbor the view was shocking. The wreckage of Italian battleships was still plain to see scattered around the bay. Marcus had seen monsters destroy small, less armored, naval vessels before, but battleships were by a wide margin made to be the toughest ships a fleet could offer. They were the pride of most navies. To see so many of them destroyed in a single location was sobering. Any confidence Marcus had melted away. He knew from that moment on their new opponent was dangerous.

Upon reaching the harbor’s landing, Admiral Nimitz disembarked to meet with Italian officials to start discussing a plan of attack. Marcus, Brock, and Williams all accompanied him. The plan thus far was pretty straight forward: Seek and destroy. The monster had more or less disappeared, so they'd have to go looking for it.

There was also a short briefing about the new monster in the Pacific who had been named Manda. He had also mysteriously disappeared following his attack. The briefing was being led by the Japanese officials and the notable Italian marine biologist Dr. Orsini.

Even though the briefing had nothing to do with their present mission, Marcus decided it would be in his best interest to attend. However, by the time Marcus arrived, the briefing was for the most part over. They were already at the Q and A portion.

"How was it able to kill so many men inside the ship so quickly?" Marcus heard an Italian captain ask as he walked in the lecture hall.

"Apparently the creature is able to create a deadly electrical field around itself." Dr. Orsini answered. "It is not unheard of in the animal kingdom, but not very common. It is certainly unprecedented in something of this scale, but then again, creatures of this size are not all that common in general. At least they didn't used to be. It is a little terrifying that even one of these monsters has appeared, let alone, what is it now we are up to, six? Each of them similar in size and destructive potential, and yet still quite unique from one another."

"I'm not familiar animals who can create electrical fields doctor. Could you example that a little more?" The Italian captain asked.

"Certainly Captain Garibaldi." Dr. Orsini answered. "Think of it in these terms, you've heard of an electric eel?" Dr. Orsini asked. Captain Garibaldi shook his head no. "Alright then we'll start there." Dr. Orsini began. "It is a South American river fish which found in certain jungles there. It is able to create an electrical discharge using specialized internal organs made up of electrocytes, or "electric cells", to stun prey or defend itself against predators. They have been known to pop out of the water and lunge at men who have thread into their territory. Their electrical shocks can be lethal. Basically, what happens is they disrupt the natural electrical activity of the heart and cause the heart muscles to stop beating properly. A strong enough electrical discharge can even burn flesh. I've seen it, the smell quite is horrific."

"How does that apply to the monster’s attack?" Garibaldi asked.

"In the case of the attack on the Japanese naval vessels, their hulls were mainly made of metal, which conducted electricity throughout their ships." Dr. Orsini answered. "Without anything to insulate a person against the electrical current the monster could theoretically kill an entire ship's crew in a matter of seconds." The room went grimly quiet.

"Do you have any idea of the range of the electrical attack?" Marcus broke the silence with a question of his own.

"It's difficult to say what the range this monster's attack would be." Dr. Orsini adjust his glasses to get a better look at Marcus in the back of the room. "Most sea life with this unusual adaptation can only project a field within a few feet of their bodies. But a creature of this scale, who knows. If it is proportionate to his body size, then I'd say maybe a couple hundred meters? But that is just an educated guess. For all I know it could only project within a couple feet of its body. More research is needed. All I can say for certain at this point is it can use its electric attack on anything it comes in direct contact with. That much has been proven, as some very unfortunate Japanese sailors have discovered. In a case such as this, I think it is better to error on the safe side an assume that its attack range is beyond what is within its reach."

"Is there any reason to think it can attack at a distance outside of the water?" Marcus asked.

"I would venture to say that its ranged electrical attacks should be limited to the water. I find it highly doubtful that it could manifest shocks through the open air and certainly not through the ground." Dr. Orsini answered.

"So, airstrikes might be a safe way to approach it?" Captain Garibaldi suggested.

"That is possible." Dr. Orsini nodded. "I'd advise against trying to attack it by sea though. Are there any more questions?"

"Dr. Orsini, I wanted to run something else by you." Marcus raised his hand.

"Proceed." The Doctor invited.

"There have been attacks on two of the world's most powerful naval forces in the space of two days. In each case the monster hit hard and then disappeared. Doesn't that seem strange to you? It cannot be just a coincidence. Do you think they could somehow be connected?"

"It is very strange indeed." Dr. Orsini agreed. "At this point there is no evidence to tie the two cases together, but the timing is very suspicious." He scratched at his chin in a thoughtful gesture. "What about the monster Kameras? How do you see him tying into all of this? You do not feel that he is also connected?"

"No, I don't." Marcus replied simply.

"Really...?" Dr. Orsini raised an eyebrow, intrigued. "Do go on."

"I personally think there is a direct correlation between the appearance of Kameras and the earthquake in Africa. I think he was released by it. However, I don't think he's connected to Gezora and Manda. When Kameras appeared, he went on a rampage that lasted days. The monster's attacks were not focused, and he didn't seem to have any goal in mind. He basically just wandered down the African coast mindlessly destroying anything that came across his path. He did not stop until he was forced to stop. Gezora on the other hand hit the Italian fleet specifically, then withdrew, and hasn't been seen since. At almost the same time on the other side of the world, Manda hit the Japanese fleet hard, withdrew, and also hasn't been seen since. Each of them appeared to have had a particular goal in mind. The appearance of these two monsters feels different from the ones that came before. It's almost as though there's something organized behind them."

"That is very interesting." Dr. Orsini noted. "I too have seen a pattern, but it's not just these two attacks or Kameras." Dr. Orsini began. "Giant monsters have been popping up regularly over the last year and a half. In the scientific world we don't believe in coincidences like that. There has to be something connecting all it, perhaps even triggering it."

"What do you think that is?" Marcus asked.

"I have to admit I haven't the slightest clue." Dr. Orsini replied. "There's not enough evidence to make any kind of sound theory. But I will say this, I don't think it is done. In fact, I think it's going to get far worse before it gets better." Dr. Orsini said darkly.

---

Later that night, elements of the American Atlantic fleet arrived at Taranto. Sailing in under the command of Admiral Ernest King. In the lead was an older battleship, akin to the refit battlewagons Marcus was accustomed to seeing in Pearl, the USS Texas. Despite her age, she served as the Admiral's flagship. The admiral perhaps preferred something with a couple miles on it.

Coming in behind her were the new and impressive sister ships, USS Washington and USS North Carolina. The pair of modern battleships were fresh out of the construction yards. They looked twice as large as the Texas and were on par with the largest Italian battleships stationed in the harbor. The new warships were bristling with guns. The most impressive, their main sixteen-inch rifles. By comparison, the Italian battleships only had fifteen-inch guns.

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Following the new battleships, the carriers of the task force sailed in. They were the USS Ranger and USS Wasp. Each of them was impressive, though older and smaller than the Enterprise. The Ranger did however have the distinction of being the first U.S. vessel to be designed and built from the keel up as a carrier. All ships prior to her had been converted from other types of warships once air power at sea had shown its value. Bringing up the rear were the cruisers, led by USS Omaha, and the smaller support craft.

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The U.S. taskforce dropped anchor and settled in for the evening. They were to re-supply, refuel, and then set back out the next day with the British and Italian fleets. The French Mediterranean fleet was to meet them in the open water the next day. If they tried to join them now their numbers would severely overcrowd the already limited space in Taranto's harbor. The French had set sail from Toulon two days after the Reeves had departed.

Of all the forces committed to the battle, the French contingent was by far the strongest. Over half of their fleet was already stationed in the Mediterranean to counter the Italian's ambitions. Ironic that they would end up fighting alongside the remnants of the fleet they were designed to fight against.

---

In the early hours of the morning the fleet set sail. One by one the warships left the harbor. There were so many ships that the process was going to take hours to safely complete. The British were given the lead, followed by the Italians. The American fleet was still loading supplies as the process began, so they were naturally designated to go last.

Admiral Nimitz decided to take on the carrier USS Ranger as his flagship during the mission. He was in command of air operations as he was more familiar with that while Admiral King would focus on the battleship force and coordinate the other surface ships. Marcus naturally joined Nimitz along with Brock and Williams.

"What do you think boys?" Admiral Nimitz asked as they walked up the boarding ramp.

"Well Sir, she's not the Enterprise." Marcus noted.

"True, but she should serve our purpose." Admiral Nimitz smiled.

Marcus smiled back, but stopped short of the ramp, holding up Brock who was behind him. He had a foreboding feeling about boarding the ship. Something was telling him not to.

"What's wrong?" Brock asked coming to Marcus' side.

"You ever get that feeling that something is awfully wrong, but you can't figure out what it is?" Marcus asked.

"Yeah, in the jungle while in combat." Brock answered. "Sometimes to get the feeling you're being watched out there. But there's no danger here, don't let your nerves get to you kid." Marcus just stood there looking up the ramp. "Come on, this stuff I'm lugging around isn't light you know. Get a move on!" Brock nudged Marcus forward, breaking the tension.

Marcus shook off his misgivings and started up the ramp.

---

A few hours later the fleet had gathered several miles south of the harbor. The French were waiting for them. It had been decided that the fleets would break up into smaller subsections to search through sectors of open water. However, they would not completely split up. The idea was to stay relatively close together. That way each fleet would be able to support each other if they should come under attack.

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Despite speaking three different languages between the four fleets, communication was relatively easy. Each flagship had an extra liaison officer who spoke at least two languages who could quickly translate messages for the commanders. For messages that were not very urgent, individual ships could communicate via morse code using signal lamps. As most navies already used them under regular combat conditions as a secure source of communication to avoid radio transmissions that could be intercepted, it too helped overcome the language barrier.

The fleet broke up and moved into their assigned search areas.

---

Days passed and there were no signs of Gezora. Destroyers used their recently acquired sonar to sweep the ocean floor while the surface of the ocean around the fleet was constantly monitored by rotating teams of men with binoculars. If Gezora so much as raised a tentacle out of the water, it would be spotted. Still, despite the numerous men and technology, nothing was found. The monster must have retreated out of Italian waters altogether.

As the days went by, grid after grid was cleared and it was decided that the fleet would move out into international waters to search for Gezora. With no official assignment, Marcus and Brock spent most of their time helping to scan the surface with the spotters. They talked to break up the time. Williams for the most part stayed by Admiral Nimitz’s side on the bridge of the Ranger. From time to time he would stop by to visit them.

Marcus and Brock had taken up a position in one of the gunnery stations at the base of the carrier’s island. That way they would be close to the bridge should they sight anything. On the seventh day of the search Williams came down to see them with some news.

"We just got word." Williams said as he came in and sat with them. "Mothra has been spotted flying east."

"East...?" Marcus asked surprised, he got a hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"What the hell?" Brock interjected. "Shouldn't your big bug friend be out here helping us?" He asked Marcus disgruntled.

Marcus was too lost in thought to answer. He had been certain Mothra would be there to help them fight Gezora when the time came. But with her out of the picture he suddenly felt a lot less confident about their chances. They were on their own.

"Well, unless she learned how to swim, I don't know how much she was going to be out here." Williams noted.

"If she's not sticking around here, then where the heck is she going?" Brock asked impatiently.

---

Mothra meanwhile had made it to the southwest border of Russia. The Russians still lacked radar, but their spotters on the ground managed to sight her as she glided into their airspace. Alarms were raised air defense bases in the area were alerted.

German High Command intercepted their transmissions and radioed Moscow trying to warn them that engaging Mothra in the air would be a fruitless effort. Despite their efforts, the Russians still scrambled fighters to meet her. They just couldn't allow her fly through Russian airspace unchallenged.

The fighters were directed to intercept Mothra just before she passed over the city Stalingrad. Joseph Stalin himself insisted his generals fight as hard as possible and hold nothing back. He either wanted to keep up the general appearance of Soviet Russia still being strong after its string of recent defeats or perhaps it was simply because the city bore his name and his personal vanity required a good show defending it. In either case, the result was the same. It was a public relations disaster.

The air attack was delayed due to poor weather conditions on the ground slowing down take offs. Because of that, Mothra advanced much further into Russian territory before the flights of fighters could close in on her. As a result, the Soviet's attack on her began while she was just beginning to fly over Stalingrad instead of taking place miles outside of the city.

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Mothra, for her part, tried to avoid the Russian planes. However, there were so many of them that avoiding the attacks of some meant colliding with others. The Russians had problems of their own with so many aircraft converging on one area. Instead of coordinating with each other and attacking in waves, all the Soviet warplanes zoomed in a free-for-all style. The idea was that they would be able to overwhelm Mothra with sheer numbers, but the tactic backfired spectacularly. Mid-air collisions and the accidental strafing friendly planes with machine guns fire occurred frequently.

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Plane after plane when down, and because they were over the city, the resulting crashes ignited several fires. One of the planes even hit a chemical plant, which exploded. Toxic fumes began to pour into the streets and endangering the residents of the city. Upon seeing the noxious cloud seeping its way down the city street, Mothra swooped down to meet it. She beat her wings, blowing the cloud back the way it came. She followed the cloud to its source and beat her wings even harder. What remained of the chemical plant collapsed in on itself and smothered the flames.

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Other fires were still burning in the city, but there wasn't much else Mothra could do without causing more harm than good. The force of her wings would level buildings trying to blow out fires. The situation would only continue get worse if she lingered. Having no better option, Mothra retreated maneuvering her way around the Russian fighters and then got clear of the city. The fighters tried to pursue, but it did not take Mothra long to outpace them.

---

By the beginning of day eight, the admirals in command of the international fleet began to become impatient with the lack of progress in their search. They radioed Dr. Orsini to see if he had an opinion on something else they should be doing.

Dr. Orsini, as it so happened, did have a suggestion: chum. He noted that some ocean predators, such as sharks, were attracted to the smell of blood in the water. They could detect a single drop from miles away. Dr. Orsini suggested that they might be able to draw Gezora's attention in a similar fashion.

The admiral’s liked the idea and relayed orders back to base to set things in motion. While the warships continued their sweep, cargo ships in Italy and France were loaded with frozen beef taken from slaughterhouses. Blood that would normally be discharged was also collected and put into barrels.

After a few days, the cargo ships began to arrive and join the fleet. Some of the cargo ships remained with the fleet to become “chummers”, while other just transferred their cargo over destroyers so they could return to port to retrieve a second shipment of bait.

One of the destroyers chosen to take on the chum as cargo was the USS Reeves. It happened to be nearby the Ranger and Marcus was watching as an Italian cargo ship pulled up alongside her and began to move barrels over to her.

Unfortunately, Captain Shack was still in command of the Reeves and was distracted by the transfer of barrels to notice that his destroyer had drifted off course and into the path of one of the cruisers following behind it. The cruiser's captain was paying attention and was forced to take evasive action to avoid colliding with the Reeves. Captain Shack noticed his mistake after it was too late and likewise gave orders to avoid being rammed.

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The Reeves shuttered as the engines fired up and managed to get out of the way of the cruiser, but not before the erratic maneuver caused four barrels on her deck to fall over and break open. One-hundred and seventy-six gallons of blood spilled onto the Reeves' deck. The sailors who had been helping unload them were drenched in the blood from head to toe, their white uniforms permanently stained red. Other crew members rushed in to help but slid and fell into the blood, adding to the mayhem.

The blood had not been refrigerated during the trip and had started to turn putrid. The smell the blood was so thick in the air that even Marcus could detect it from the Ranger’s deck two-hundred yards away. In fact, he had to cover his nose. Marcus could see that crew members on board the Reeves were getting sick on the deck. Finally, damage control teams on the Reeves found their way to the disaster on the deck and used hoses meant to put out fires to wash the blood overboard. The whole episode was revolting.

Admiral Nimitz had also seen the drama unfold from the bridge of the Ranger and was so feed up with Captain Shack's incompetence that he signaled for the Reeves to discontinue its assignment loading barrels and reassigned the destroyer to the outer perimeter of the fleet for recon duty for the rest of the mission. Marcus assumed the admiral just wanted the ship out of his sight.

As the Reeves changed course and began moving away Marcus saw Smitty on the aft deck. He had managed to completely avoid a blood bath. The crafty old sea dog had apparently sensed trouble coming and dodged it once again. Smitty spotted Marcus looking at him through the binoculars and gave him a smirky salute as he sailed away.

While the incident had been disgusting for everyone involved, on the plus side, the spilling of so much blood did show some merit to Dr. Orsini's plan. It attracted sharks by the hundreds. If it would attract Gezora though remained to be seen.

---

Meanwhile, Akira and Shiro had been rescued and taken back to Yokosuka naval base to recover from their ordeal. What remained of the Imperial Japanese Navy returned to port with them. They were a shadow of what they used to be. There were numerous new and powerful warships being built, but in most cases, it would be months if not years before they would be completed. In the interim, the number of active and undamaged warships could not be maintained with the losses they had taken.

Worse for the Japanese, while they had been distracted fighting Baragon, the Rodans, and Manda, the Chinese had been making plans of their own. They took advantage of the breathing room they had been granted while the Japanese were still preoccupied fighting the Rodans to reorganize themselves and quietly build up their forces on the boarder. Once they were ready, the Chinese launched an all-out offensive against the remaining Japanese army units occupying Chinese territory.

The Japanese Government had kept it a secret for as long as they could. They felt as soon as they had dealt with the Rodans they would be able to redeploy their men and resources and defeat the rejuvenated Chinese. However, both situations had spun out of their control and had reached a critical level.

The Rodans were never properly defeated and instead the Japanese took heavy causalities in their failure. The Chinese meanwhile had overwhelmed the Japanese army with crushing numbers and had them on the run. They were on course to push out the Japanese and reclaim all their lost territory.

The Japanese had hoped to bring in reinforcements, but with the fleet in such bad shape after a second devastating battle and the ongoing threat of the new monster lurking in their home waters, there was not much they would be able to do. Plans had already been drawn up to withdraw their remaining ground troops from mainland Asia.

Word finally leaked out about it and the stunning string of defeats stirred up unrest amongst the common Japanese citizens. There was a lot of fear and anger circulating around the country and everyone was looking for someone to blame. Even the most loyal Japanese soldiers had grown frustrated with how many of them had died with so little gained.

As it turned out, The Japanese Emperor found the perfect sacrificial lamb to feed them. He summoned Hideki Tojo, the Prime Minister and head of the Japanese military, to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to answer for his failures. Tojo was the man at the top calling the shots, so it was he would shoulder the blame. For a man who had failed as completely as he had, there was but one recourse.

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Tojo was brought into the throne room. He expected he was going to be reprimanded and chastised by the Emperor, perhaps even dismissed from his office, but as he approached the seat of power of the Japanese Empire, he found the Emperor was there waiting for him with a ceremonial katana in hand. A pair of armed guards began to shadow him as he was brought before the Emperor.

Tojo dropped to his knees in front of the Emperor, only then realizing his fate was sealed. He bowed with his head on the ground in respect. He held the bow as long as he could. Before long, the room was full of murmuring amongst the occupants of the court. Tojo had stalled long enough and was feeling the sting of his peers. Finally, he looked up. The Emperor refused to meet his gaze or even speak to him. He only held out the sword for Tojo to take.

"It is better for a Japanese soldier to die than to be dishonored!" One of the Emperors guards shouted from the back corner of the room. The words echoed through the hall for everyone to hear.

Tojo felt a small ting of pride and summoned up the courage to take the sword. The guards surrounding him stepped in close just in case he should he decide to use the sword for any purpose other than what it was intended for. Tojo however only bowed for a second time to the emperor and then left the room with the sword in hand followed by guards.

Tojo was allowed to enter the Imperial gardens and took his time to make peace with the Emperor's request. He kept his composure, and with the assistance of one of his closest aids, carried out the Emperor's request.

News of Tojo's death by traditional ritual seppuku was broadcast to the nation. The shrewd, if not ruthless, political move on the part of the Emperor achieved its intended purpose. Several other high-ranking members of the military felt shamed and followed Tojo's example, though most not by an actual sword. This placated the people's needs.

In the aftermath, the Emperor ordered a new and more moderate government to be organized in place of the intensely militaristic one than had come before.

---

The International fleet had been chumming for several days. They continued to attract plenty of sharks, but no Gezora. The Mediterranean was a big space though and it was determined that they were not covering enough ground, condensed as they were. The four commanding admirals agreed that it would be best to break up the fleets to cover more ground. They would remain within a couple of miles of each other in case any of them came under attack by the monster.

The American formation made up the right wing, the English made up the left wing, the Italians took right center and the French the left center. After redeploying the formation to apply the changes, the entire fleet changed course, sweeping eastward through the middle of the Mediterranean. That put the American force the furthest south.

A day after redeployment was implemented the American wing came across an archipelago of islands. It was not directly in their path, but the small islands confused their sonar. Gezora could have been hiding behind them if he were clever enough, so the Admiral wanted it checked out visually. The water near the islands were too shallow for big ships to get close, so he ordered a detachment of destroyers to sail around and investigate.

The operation was basically a milk run, so the Reeves was assigned to the flotilla. The four destroyers involved broke formation and sped off full speed ahead to investigate. Two destroyers broke off to the right, one of them broke left. Captain Shack however decided to take the Reeves directly through the middle of the archipelago. It was ill advised. Entering it was easy enough, but the depth of the water thinned out towards the middle.

Admiral Nimitz spotted the Reeves heading in and figured out what Captain Shack was up to. He had the radio operator contact them and ordered them to reverse course. By the time they had establish communication the Reeves was already well into the archipelago, so reversing course would be difficult. Instead of backing out as directed, Captain Shack elected to go in further and attempt to navigate his way out. It did not go well. He managed to run the Reeves aground in the sand and got the destroyer got stuck. Meanwhile the other destroyers completed their sweep and confirmed the area was clean.

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Upon seeing the Reeves beached, Admiral Nimitz was not pleased. It was already high tide, so they couldn't just wait for the water levels to rise for the destroyer to be freed and there weren't any ships in the fleet small enough to safely pull the Reeves out of its predicament.

Nimitz couldn’t ask the other four fleets to halt and wait for them while he figured out a solution. The only thing he could think of was to have a skeleton crew remain with the destroyer while the majority of them were evacuated unto other ships in the fleet. In the meantime, they could move on and request a few tugboats come out and retrieve the trapped ship.

Admiral Nimitz issued the necessary orders. In particular, he requested that Captain Shack be brought onboard the Ranger so he could dress him down personally. Nimitz was more comfortable leaving Shack's X.O. in command of the Reeves while they waited for help to arrive. The process of retrieving the crew took some time and meant that the U.S. portion of the fleet fell behind the rest. Nimitz was annoyed about it but felt confident that they would be able to make up ground later.

On the plus side, Smitty accompanied Captain Shack as he was brought aboard the Ranger.

---

As the day pressed on the American task force sped up to close the gap between themselves and the rest of the fleet. The Italians sent out a single destroyer to help guide them back into formation. It was a couple of miles ahead of them. As it grew dark, it used its signal lamp to message them.

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"Isn't this about the area where the Italians were testing their new Neptune depth charges?" Marcus asked.

"Might be. I think it was a little further north of here." Smitty answered. "Near enough anyhow."

"It's too bad they don't have any more of them." Brock noted. "I think they would have come in handy when we find Gezora."

"You still think we will?" Marcus asked. "We've been at this for almost two weeks already. I think if he wanted another fight, he would have found us by now."

"Maybe he's dead." Brock pointed out. "The Italians managed to hammer the hell out of him in the harbor. They tore him to pieces from what I understand, so he may have succumbed to his wounds in the meantime."

"We can always hope so." Marcus laughed. "At the very least he shouldn't be up to speed if we do find him."

"The Italians are still flashing, what are they saying Smitty?" Brock asked. Smitty paused and watched for a moment.

"Still just given coordinates by the look of things." Smitty answered. "Nothing too special."

"How can you understand all of the blinking?" Marcus asked.

"When you've been in navy as long as I have you pick up a few things." Smitty smirked.

"I'm not sure what the point of that is." Brock said. "The Ranger already sent off some scout planes to ensure we end up in the right place."

"I guess they just want to make double sure." Smitty replied. "Can't be too careful."

"I wouldn't want to be those pilots coming back and trying to make a night landing on the deck in the dark." Marcus said, shuttering at the thought. "I think we should head inside before they get back here by the way."

"I think you got a point there." Smitty agreed. "Carrier landings are tricky enough during the day. A pilot has got to have big brass balls to attempt it at night. Not sure we want to be anywhere near that mess."

The flashing of the Italian destroyer off in the distance stopped.

"Ah good, they are finally giving it a rest." Brock sighed.

"They stopped during the middle of their transmission." Smitty grunted, seeming a little concerned. He sat there, waiting for them to resume. Brock and Marcus stopped and looked too.

"Maybe their light just burned out?" Marcus suggested.

They all just continued to watch the dark void. There was an explosion on the horizon, which gave them a brief glimpse of a dark silhouette against the fire.

"poop, it's him!" Brock jumped up.

The bridge crew must have seen the explosion too. The general quarters alarm began to blare and the whole ship came alive.

"Time to go." Smitty noted. The trio ran up towards the bridge through the stairwell. When they arrived, admiral Nimitz was barking orders.

"Tell the aircrews to get to their planes." The admiral ordered "I want every bird off the deck ASAP! Tell the battleships we are going hard to starboard to put some distance between us and the monster. Admiral King should know enough to get his battlewagons between us and it."

"Admiral, target bearing one...five...zero... Speed.... thirty knots." The Ranger's captain reported. "It's coming right at us. Should be within visual range now sir."

"Verify with optical check." Admiral Nimitz ordered.

"Aye Sir." The captain took out his binoculars. They were a superb Japanese model that were better suited for night operations compared to the standard American ones. "Confirmed admiral."

"Pass the information to the Washington and North Carolina." Nimitz ordered. "They should hopefully already be working on a targeting solution. Let the boys in the gun gallery know where to aim. And signal the fleet to light up."

A moment later Marcus could see the search lights of every ship in the task force turning on and panning in the direction of Gezora. The monster was still too far away to be seen in the dark though. As the Ranger maneuvered away, the Washington and North Carolina steamed into view. Marcus could see their heavy turrets beginning to wheel around towards the horizon.

The row of barrels on the sixteen-inch guns were uneven as they prepared their first salvo. Their radar guidance would get the shells close, but the fire control teams would need to see where their shells landed visually to make corrections to pinpoint it. For Battleships, long range accuracy was not quite there from the get-go. The idea of splitting the elevation of the barrels was to have one shell fall short, one shell fly long and then narrow cannon barrels closer together with the subsequent volleys to narrow down the proper range.

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The battleships opened up, sending impressive plumes of smoke out of their barrels in their wake. Marcus had never been so close to a battleship when it was firing before. The bridge of the Ranger reverberated with the shots. Moments later the shells began to fall all around Gezora, but none of them hit. The battleships started narrowing their barrels in preparation for the next attack.

Meanwhile several destroyers had moved into place and were launching their torpedoes. They managed to coordinate quite well, and their torpedo spreads hit the water within seconds of each other. Altogether, about thirty-two torpedoes were speeding towards Gezora in a tight cluster. If Gezora had been an enemy ship he would never have been able to avoid all of them. However, the monster had alternative options beyond just turning left or right. He saw the incoming danger and dived straight down under the long line of torpedoes.

As the guns and the torpedoes of the surface ships were no longer useful on a submerged target, the line of destroyers prepared to deploy their depth charges. They could not be fired at long range though. Those were weapons meant to be used at relatively close quarters. The destroyers would have to wait for Gezora to close the gap. The sonar operators listened closely to give their ships the best possible information about their target. Finally, the heard the gush of water they were looking for.

Dozens of explosive barrels were fired into the night air and then fell back down into the water. Within moments huge columns of water exploded up to the surface. So many were going off at once that it almost formed a wall of water. They had all missed though. Gezora was moving through the water so quickly that he was able to get clear of the blast radius before he depth charges went off.

Within moments, Gezora had advanced far enough to be within the task force's perimeter and was intermingled with the ships. He surfaced, which send out a cascade of waves which rocked the ships around him. Search lights panned over to him, giving the fleet their first good look at him.

"Jesus, there isn't a mark on him, is that even he same monster?" Admiral Nimitz remarked. "Contact the Italians. Inform them that we are under attack and need support now!"

"Aye Sir!" The radio operator replied.

"How long until our birds are in the air?" He asked the captain.

"Not soon enough Admiral." The captain answered. "They are still being armed as we speak."

"Damn." Nimitz cursed. "Helm, change course to one… three… zero…, full speed ahead." He said to the helmsman.

“Yes Sir!” The sailor replied and started to turn the wheel.

"Sir, I'm not getting any response from the Italians." The radio man reported.

"Keep trying." Nimitz replied.

By that point Gezora had taken hold of one of the cruisers, USS Omaha, with his tentacles. The monster pressed the ship on both sides until it started to fold over and eventually rip in two.

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"Holy poop, that thing just bent three inches of armored hull like it was a piece of cheese!" Williams gasped.

The rate of gun fire around Gezora increased as the Omaha sank. Watching the cruiser get bent like a pretzel inspired a lot of fear amongst the crews of the other ships of the task force who began to fire wildly. Gun crews became less conscious of friendly ships within the target zone and ships began to hit each other as the fight grew more intense.

The main search light from the Ranger's tower was irritating Gezora, who broke off a piece of the Omaha and flung it at the light in response. He hit his mark. The lamp was shattered and the sailor who had been operating it was crushed along with it. Inside the bridge they could hear the clang of metal on metal as it impacted.

With the light out, Gezora dove back down into the water to avoid taking more fire from the surface ships. He traveled under the water until he passed under the Ranger. Once on the other side he resurfaced used the carrier to block much of the incoming fire.

The Ranger being in the line of fire did not stop all the ships from firing though. Marcus heard a five-inch shell ricochet off the island's armor near him. The gunners were doing their best, but stray shots were bound to miss their mark in the chaos. Gezora was being hit though. The monster roared as a seven-inch shell from a cruiser exploded against its head.

In his rage Gezora slammed one of his tentacles across the deck of the Ranger. It landed near the back side of the island. Planes that were waiting to launch were smashed, while others were knocked overboard. The impact was strong enough to rattle everyone on the bridge.

"Where the hell are those damned Italians?" Admiral Nimitz cursed.

Gezora clasped onto the Ranger, pulling himself in tight against the ship. The escort ships had an increasingly difficult time getting a clean shot. The admiral was torn about what to do next. Part of him wanted to tell the rest of the fleet to fire at will, but that would increase the odds of getting the Ranger shot up in the process. On the other hand, if he did nothing the monster was likely to pull the whole ship under.

"Captain, order all ships to open fire." Nimitz relented, coming to a decision. "I'm not letting us go down without a fight."

"Yes sir..." The captain resigned himself to carry out the order.

The barrage of fire intensified. Small caliber rounds dinged against the armor almost nonstop. The ship shuttered as Gezora moved in protest, absorbing more and more fire. They could hear the metal armor belt buckle under the stress.

"Sir, we are getting reports of hull breaches opening up amidship." The Captain reported. “We’re taking on water!”

"See what damage control can do about it to by us some time." Nimitz replied. "We can't abandon ship while that thing still has a hold of us. Maybe we can even still save the ship." The captain nodded.

The Ranger tilted to starboard under the weight of Gezora. Marcus could see out the window that they were listing so badly that more of the Ranger’s planes were falling over the side of the deck. He could also see the battleship Washington lining up her guns to port about three hundred yards away. Before he could say anything, the Washington’s guns fired. He could see three yellow balls of flame headed right at them.

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The sixteen-inch shells were heading right for the Ranger's island. One of them directly hit the base of the tower and exploded, rocking the carrier. The second one missed the Ranger and the monster altogether. The third shell ricocheted off the bridge and into Gezora's face. The force of the shell passing through the bridge scattered glass and shrapnel all over and knocked every man inside off their feet. The whole room was filled with smoke.

The explosive force from the detonation loosened Gezora's grip on the carrier. Chunks of his blue flesh rained down and landed all over the deck. The explosion had not killed Gezora, but it did damage him enough to make him reconsider the level of threat around him. He needed to make himself less of a target and so he slipped back beneath the waves.

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Marcus coughed and tried to get back to his feet. The bridge was still full of smoke, so he reached out for the wall to help orient himself. He felt a pain in his side as he rose. The smoke began to thin, pouring out into the open night air. As it did, the seriousness of the situation clear. Most of the bridge crew were dead. The men stationed near the front were more meat-pies than men. The shell had passed right through their stations and obliterated them from the waist up. There was not much left to identify.

If Marcus had been closer to window, he would probably be dead too. He could see he was bleeding from a wound just under his rib cage. And there was something else. He felt like something wet was on his face. He thought it was seawater. Marcus reached up to wipe it off but found that it was not water. His hand was full of red, it was blood.

Marcus was unnerved; he must have been bleeding from his face. How bad was it? He started to panic as he felt around to see if he was missing anything that should be there. Nothing felt out of place and he did not have any pain. That seemed odd, then it hit him: It was not his own blood. He looked back to the bodies that had been blown to pieces. The realization almost made him feel worse.

Marcus tried to compose himself. He remembered that several of his friends had also been on the bridge. He needed to find out what happened to them. He found Admiral Nimitz first. It was clear from the moment he found him that he was dead. He was not torn up like the men in the front of the compartment, but a large piece of the hull was imbedded in his chest and there was no life in his eyes.

"Oh God... no." Marcus began to panic again. He did not know what to do. At that point, Williams came up behind him, having also survived the explosion. He touched Marcus' shoulder, startling him. It did not help that he was also covered in blood.

Williams looked like something out of a nightmare, but somehow was keeping a cool head. He did not say anything to Marcus but got straight to work. He carefully collected the gold naval pendant from Admiral Nimitz's uniform. Marcus assumed it was so he could send it to his family. If he weren’t so out of sorts he would have been moved by Williams' loyalty to the admiral.

Having collected the admiral’s pin, Williams' next move was to send a message out to the rest of the crew to abandon ship. As he was the highest-ranking officer left alive on the bridge, it was up to him to make the call. He had served on enough ships to know when one was going down. Even from the top of the bridge he could tell the ship was riding much lower in the water than it should be. The Ranger was sinking.

Marcus heard a groan just outside the hallway and Brock came in. He had apparently been knocked into the metal wall of the corridor and hit his head. He had a small bleeding gash. It wasn’t serious but was pissing him off. Brock saw the admiral dead and he came to terms with it very quickly. He had seen comrades fall in the heat of battle many times before. His first instinct was to protect Marcus and Williams. He understood immediately what needed to be done, get off ship as quickly as possible. There was an explosion somewhere below them. The sixteen-inch shell must have caused a fire that was spreading below decks.

Brock grabbed Marcus, who was still in a state of shock, and began pulling him down the hallway. Williams was right behind him. Along the way they found Smitty laying on the ground. He must have been trying to sneak away before the Ranger got hit. Brock reached down and paint-brushed Smitty on the back of the head to rouse him. It worked, Smitty angerly popped up to his feet. He was a little unsteady, but able to walk.

As the four men came to the stairwell that would take them to the deck, they found the shell that had hit the base of the island had blown away a sizeable portion of the stairs. It was too wide a gap to jump across and way too far to jump down from. They had no choice but to backtrack and find another way down.

Brock could tell the situation was getting worse by the minute. He could feel the heat from a fire somewhere below them spreading further. The damage control teams were most likely not fighting them as they too were probably finding a way off the ship. Their best bet was to go to the far side of the island and find another stairwell. Hopefully the fire wouldn't spread that far by the time they got there, or they would be in a real tight spot.

Brock found the stairwell and began to descend it with everyone else in toe. When the group got to the bottom, they came across the hatch that would lead them to the flight deck. It had been sealed when the Admiral called for general quarters. It just needed to be cranked to unlock it. Brock went to open it, but the wheel had been damaged during the fight and was jammed into place.

"skreeonk, son of a female dog, you have got to be kidding me!" Brock cursed in frustration. "It's busted, I can't freaking believe it!" He did not waste another second on it though and kept everyone moving. "We're going to have to try the mid-island entrance instead." He announced.

It was going to be risky and they all knew it. Going back that way would take them in the direction of the fire. Still, there was not a better option. Such as it was, they set out.

The metal deck was getting hotter with every step they took. The rubber on their shoes was even beginning to shimmer like they were walking on a stove. Marcus was getting scared. Even step was more dangerous than the last. Suddenly they heard a crackling under them. It sounded like someone was setting off fireworks.

"What is that?" Williams asked. They all paused to listen, sensing danger.

"That's ammo stores donating!" Smitty warned, but it was already too late.

A large explosion erupted below them rocking the ship. The corridor ahead of them twenty yards tore open and a piece of debris ripped right through Williams. Marcus managed to stay on his feet, but Williams knocked Brock to the ground as he fell. Brock reached out to break his fall and ended up burning his hands on the cooking deck. He sprang back to his feet to avoid getting burnt any worse than he was.

Marcus looked over to Williams who was quickly bleeding out. There was nothing to do for him. The wound was too big to put pressure on and had obviously hit a major artery judging by the copious about of blood pouring out of him. The color was quickly melting out of Williams’ face and Marcus looked back at him in horror. With the last of his strength Williams reached out, trying to hand the admiral’s pendant to Marcus.

When Brock recovered and saw what was happening, even he was shook up by it. He came over just in time for Williams head to slump forward. The pendant dropped out of his hand and rolled over to the corner of the corridor. It was already too late for Williams, but Marcus could still honor his wishes. He slid in his blood trying to retrieve the admiral's pendant. Brock meanwhile recovered his composure and tried to get them back on track.

"Marcus, we don't have time for that!" Brock yelled over to him. Marcus ignored him and scooped up the pin. "Come on, we have to go now!"

The next challenge was getting the rest of the way down the hallway. The explosion had left a gaping hole in the corridor. Smoke was rising from it and Marcus could hear water pouring in below. The explosion must have opened another hull breach. It was just a matter of time before the water got up to them. They had to get across before that.

"Smitty, you go first." Brock barked to the old sailor. He was the smallest of the three men; thus, he had the duty.

It was Brock’s way of testing to see if the sliver of metal floor would hold their weight. Smitty did not protest. He knew that it was still their best hope of escape. The hatch was just down the corridor a few more yards beyond the hole. If they could pass this one last obstacle, they would be home free.

There was a bit of pipe running along the hallway above them. Luckily for them it was hanging low enough that they could all reach it and put some of their weight on it as to not overburden what remained of the hallway floor. Smitty wasted no time making his way across. He got to the other side and waved for them to join him.

"Marcus, you go next." Brock said.

"Are you sure Brock?" Marcus asked. "Maybe we..."

"I said it didn't I?" Brock growled. "Now get going!"

Marcus did not argue. He climbed up and clung to the pipes. As he shimmied along the pipe, he could not help but glance down into the hole below. It looked like a mouth waiting to swallow him. He pressed on and within a few seconds was across. Finally, it was Brock's turn. His hands hurt as he gripped onto the pipe, but he powered through it and kept going.

A second smaller explosion rocked the ship and made Brock lose his grip. His full weight came down on a narrow part of the floor and it gave way under him. Marcus could only watch as the whole thing played out in front of him. It was like everything was moving in slow motion.

"Brock!!!!!!!" Marcus yelled tearing up his throat and diving down in a hopeless effort to grab him, but Brock disappeared down into the hole. Marcus tried to get down onto his hands and knees to get a better look but burnt his hand on the floor as he did. The smoke stung his eyes as he crouched down next to the hole. "Brock!" Marcus yelled down into the hole. He heard no response.

"There's nothing else we can do here kid." Smitty came up and put a hand on Marcus' shoulder.

They both waited there for a full minute, waiting for a sign that Brock was alright. Another explosion rocked the area and Smitty finally started to pull Marcus towards the exit. As Smitty dragged Marcus out into the night air they found the remains of Captain Shack. It appeared that he had fallen while trying to escape and landed into a cluster of Gezora's poisonous barbs.

"You dumb son of a female dog, finally got yourself into a situation you couldn't get out of." Smitty half-heartedly lamented.

"Hey sailors!" Someone shouted from across the flight deck. "Get over here and help me with this!" Marcus looked over to see a bomber pilot trying to push his plane into position to launch. The tail of the plane was over the edge of the deck and the pilot did not have the strength on his own to pull it back up. Marcus and Smitty ran over to the man. They could see that all the other planes had been dumped over the edge already.

"Help me get this bird ready and I'll take you with me." The pilot offered.

"Are you sure that is the best way to go?" Marcus asked the pilot.

"Are you kidding? I'm not taking my chances in that water.” The pilot replied. “Thanks to all that chumming we've been doing this whole area is full hungry sharks.”

"What happened to the rest of your crew?" Smitty asked.

"They went overboard." The pilot replied. "They’re probably somewhere out there floating. When that bastard hit the flight deck, he took out most of the planes and my aircrew with them. If they are still alive, they won't be able to get back up here before the Ranger sinks. We have to go now." The pilot insisted.

Marcus took the time to look over the side of the Ranger. The flight was tilting more by the minute as they took on more water. They were only a couple yards above the waterline as it was and did not have much more time.

"Ok, let’s do it." Marcus agreed. The three men quickly got to work.

Marcus and Smitty got behind the wings and started pushing forward while the pilot grabbed the tail of the plane and pulled as hard as he could. Slowly, the bomber moved forward, and they got the tail back on the deck. The pilot ran to the front of the plane and got Marcus and Smitty to help him start up the engine. Then they all scrambled up the side of the plane to take their seats.

Marcus' heart was pounding as he buckled himself in. His fear of flying was about to be tested under the harshest conditions possible. The bomber nudged forward and started to gain momentum as it taxied down the deck. Because of the tilted runway the wing of the bomber came close to clipping the Ranger's island, but the pilot narrowly kept them on course. Marcus took on last look at the central hatch for any signs of Brock as they passed, but the doorway was empty. The plane continued to pick up speed and caught air just before running out of space.

The bomber skimmed the water, managing to stay just a few yards above the reach of the waves, but soon another problem became apparent. The course of the ongoing battle had brought Gezora into their flight path.

The bomber was struggling to gain enough altitude to go over the monster, so they were going to have to fly past him instead. Unfortunately, the monster had noticed them and was beginning to reach out with one of his tentacles. The bomber was not a fast plane and it would not be much trouble for Gezora if he decided to swat them down as they went by.

As Gezora turned to face them, a spray of bullets from a pair of wildcat fighters stuck him in the back. The Ranger's scout planes were beginning to return and distracted the monster just long enough to allow them to sneak by. Once they were clear, Marcus could see Gezora had managed to destroy several more ships, though the Washington and North Carolina where both still in the fight. The attacking fighters were buying the ships time to withdraw from the battle area.

The bomber pilot took them higher and higher, far out of the reach of Gezora. Now that Marcus thought that they were safe his adrenaline started to wear off. The weight of everything that had just happened came crashing down on him. He started to cry in the cockpit. The other two men could not see Marcus, and he hoped they could not hear him over the hum of the engine. Blood from Marcus’ face dripped down onto his pants as the tears rolled down his cheeks. Just when he thought they were going to leave the area the pilot turned the plane around.

"What are you doing?!" Smitty yelled to him from the back.

"I'm not leaving this fight without getting a lick in." The pilot said with a determined tone. "I have a thousand-pound bomb onboard this bird and I'm not quitting until I get a little payback. I need whichever one of you who is in the middle seat to arm the bomb and hit the switch to drop it when I give to the say-so." Marcus realized that was him.

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"I've never done anything like that before!" He shouted up to the pilot. "I'm not sure I can do it."

"Hey, I need someone flip that switch for me and right now it just so happens to be you in the seat." The pilot barked back to him. "You have the chance; don't you want to fight back?"

Marcus sat there and thought about it for a moment. He thought about Admiral Nimitz, Lt. Commander Williams, and Sgt. Brock. He started to get angry.

"Ok. I'll do it." He said to the pilot. "Just walk me through what you need me to do."

"That's the spirit!" The pilot almost cheered. "Hang on for just a moment. I'll get us back over the bastard and then tell you exactly what to do."

It only took moments before they were hanging a thousand feet above Gezora. The monster did not notice them because the Wildcats were still strafing him. The pilot began circling overhead.

"Alright, first thing." He began. “You're going to see a switch board in front of you. Take a close look at it. To the left you are going to see the arming switch, flip it forward.” Marcus followed his instruction.

"Ok, done. Now what?" Marcus asked.

"Wait just a moment, I'm going to get us into position." The pilot replied. "But when I do, you're going to see a switch next to arming switch that says fire. I give you the word you're going to flip it forward like the arming switch, ok?"

"Sounds easy enough." Marcus noted.

"It is." The pilot assured him. "Ok, now be ready." The bomber banked around and then started flying straight forward again. "Ready… steady… GO! LET HER RIP!!!" Marcus hit the switch.

"Ok, now what?" Marcus asked.

"Now we watch the fireworks from a safe distance sailor.” The pilot laughed.

Below, the bomb came down with a whistling sound. It missed Gezora, but only just. The bomb hit the water right next to him and ended up blowing off the tip of one of his tentacles. Gezora squealed in pain so loudly that they could hear him a thousand feet above over the engine.

"I'd say from the sound of things we did some good boys!" The pilot announced. None of them could see the actual damage. "Time to get out of here. If we don't reach the British carriers before we run out of fuel, we're going to be in a world of hurt."

"Can't we just fly back to Italy?" Smitty asked.

"No, it's too far." The pilot answered. "We'd never make it. Neither Italians nor the French fleets have carriers either. The British are our best hope. "

"Hey, what is that?" Marcus interrupted. There was a light coming from below. Whatever it was, it was close to Gezora. The pilot tilted the wings and pressed into the turn so they could take a better look.

"That looks exactly like what I saw." Smitty told Marcus, seeing the light for himself. "You know, in the story I told you."

Below them there was a pale light blinking next to Gezora. The monster saw it and began to retreat under the waves. Marcus and Smitty could only stare. They did not know what it meant.

"I'm retiring from the service after this." Smitty announced. "I've seen enough."

---

About fifteen minutes later, the bomber was coming through a bank of clouds.

"We should be getting close to the Italian fleet now." The pilot announced. Maybe an hour or so after that we should be landing on a British carrier.”

As they came through the clouds the Italian fleet came into view. The sun was just starting to creep up on the horizon, which gave them enough light to see all the plumes of smoke rising into the sky.

"Holy Jesus!" The pilot said as he saw the entire Italian fleet was burning below him.

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"What happened?" Smitty asked. "This couldn't all be Gezora's work, could it?"

"No way, he was too busy with us." The pilot replied.

---

Down below, on the bridge of the battleship Littorio Captain Garibaldi was struggling to keep his heavily damaged ship afloat.

"Captain, I have a damage report." Commander Giovanni announced. "The engines are badly damaged; we’re barely making ten knots. We have fires burning through the aft and midship sections, there's also heavy flooding. We've sealed the hatches, but I think we've already taken on too much water. I don't think we can go much further in the shape we're in.

“What about weapons?” Garibaldi asked.

“Only the turret A and B are still operational." Giovanni answered. “C has been blown completely off. Not sure about the secondaries.”

“Have you sent out a distress signal?” Garibaldi asked.

“The rest of the fleet is already going under.” Giovanni replied. “We can’t raise any of the other fleets on the radio because the transmitter has been knocked out. Sir, what should we do?”

Garibaldi was not given the chance to answer. A narrow green ray cut through the bottom hull of the Littorio and hit the main powder magazine. What was left of the battleship went up in a huge explosion. There were no survivors.

"What was that?" Marcus asked watching the ball of flame engulf the Italian warship. "Did you guys see that…?"

---

In the weeks that followed, the fleets pulled back and Gezora did not attack anymore. The area around the battle was marked hazardous and no-go area for any shipping.

Dr. Orsini studied the sample of Gezora flesh that had been recovered and discovered they had a remarkable ability to regenerate. Sadly, the revelation came too late to warn the fleet hunting it.

After defeating the Russians, Mothra flew across rest of Asia and disappeared. The pair of Rodans quieted down following her disappearance. They were still active, but only attacked intruders who came into the territory they had claimed as their own.

The U.S. fleet was able to safely withdraw, minus the USS Ranger, USS Omaha, and several destroyers. Survivors were rescued from the water by float planes, including one grumpy Marine Sargent. He was reunited with his elated comrades who found their way onto HMS Eagle.

The French and British fleets returned to port taking no losses during the operation. The Italian fleet was officially labeled as being sunk by the monster Gezora, but in reality, remained a mystery the authorities struggled to explain. Any relevant information and evident was collected and classified.

Admiral Nimitz was honored for giving his life in service for his country along with the men who fell beside him. His naval insignia was returned to his family along with an American flag. What remained of the American task force returned home for repairs.

---

-End of The Awakening Arc.
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Living Corpse »

I was gonna comment Captain Shak is gonna get people killed but he dead now. Mothra putting out the fire should probably buy more good will from people. So I'm guessing that light in the water was Godzilla. And a green energy ray? Trying to think of a monster that has a green energy ray.
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

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Living Corpse wrote:I was gonna comment Captain Shak is gonna get people killed but he dead now. Mothra putting out the fire should probably buy more good will from people. So I'm guessing that light in the water was Godzilla. And a green energy ray? Trying to think of a monster that has a green energy ray.
Oh Living Corpse my old friend,

There are only three reasons I continue to write this story and one of those reasons is the feedback I get from you. Always makes my day.

With Captain Shack, I’m personally not going to miss him as a character. Believe it or not, he is based on a real life person. Not a real historical figure, but his personality is very much like someone I have come across in my travels.

The real life person must have A.D.D. Brain because I occasionally watch him play strategy games and he never fails to skreeonk something up. He consistently losses way more units than he needs to because he is not paying attention or gets distracted. He’s entertaining, but always frustrating to watch.

I’ve always say: “I’d hate to be one of the men under his command” because his casualty rates are so high and that eventually led to him inspiring my version of captain Shack.

It was almost a different, more popular, character who bit the dust in Shack’s place, but then I came to my senses. I figured it would be more of a crowd pleaser to kill off Shack. I was hoping he was pissing off readers as much as the real life Shack was pissing me off. :lol:

Yeah, you would think people would like Mothra more now, but probably not the Russians so much. ;)

As for your guess about Godzilla. WRONG!!! Very, very wrong. :huge: :lol: :)

I can’t explain why it’s wrong at this point (due to spoilers), but I will say that you should begin to understand within the first paragraph or two of the next chapter. Things are going to start out with a bang.

The next chapter will begin the entire next story arc. I know a lot of people are probably anxiously awaiting for the Big G to show up, but we are now inching our way towards some proper Godzilla action. He’ll be a big part of the next arc, Promise. :g2k:

Oh, you’re also on the wrong track about the green ray too. But don’t worry about it. I like to surprise people. I’ve been dropping clues here and there, but I wouldn’t want to make things too obvious. A little mystery is good in a story. So I’m glad to hear that I haven’t made things too obvious.

There might be some clever folks out there who have figured out what I’m doing, but for now I hope not. :D
Last edited by Ashram52 on Thu Oct 22, 2020 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Living Corpse »

Well, obviously the atomic tests will tie into Godzilla being pissed off, I didn't know if you had him already existing and being disturbed by them or being created by them.
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Ashram52 »

Living Corpse wrote:Well, obviously the atomic tests will tie into Godzilla being pissed off, I didn't know if you had him already existing and being disturbed by them or being created by them.
I’ll let which route I go remain a mystery for now. :huge:
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

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Chapter 17: The War.


Ten...

Nine...

Eight...

Seven...

Six...

Five...

Four...

Three...

Two...

One...

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It cannot be stressed enough how much the appearance of Kaiju changed the world. Politics, economics, military doctrine, systems of belief. Nothing was left untouched. There was not a person on the planet who did not take pause to consider their place in the world.

In the United States, congress decided they needed better weapons to combat Kaiju. Conventional forces like tanks and planes simply were not enough. They wanted something more powerful, thus began numerous secret projects. One of the plans bore fruit in the form of the atom bomb.

The research and develop of The Manhattan Project began in 1939. Five years later, on July 16th 1945, the first atom bomb was tested in Los Alamos, New Mexico. It was known as the Trinity Test. The test was a resounding success, producing an explosion that had a yield of over 22 kilotons of TNT. It would change the world in ways no one could foresee.

While observing the test, the famous physicist Julius Robert Oppenheimer was reminded of a verse from a Hindu holy book: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one.”

Later, Oppenheimer would also explain another verse entered his head during the test. Quote: “We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed; a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says: Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

A year later, on July 25, 1946, a second series of nuclear tests were carried out at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Codenamed Operation Crossroads, the explosions were twice as large as the first test in Los Alamos, with an explosive force of 42 kilotons. Decommissioned warships were used as the target, as well as installations on the surrounding islands. The second series of tests would have further reaching consequences than the first.

Another byproduct of the appearance of Kaiju was that battleship development continued. The tactical usefulness of battleships was in question in the 1940s and likely would have been eclipsed by the reach of aircraft carriers. That was true under normal combat conditions, but battleships had been proven to be at least somewhat effective again Kaiju at close quarters. Because of that, obsolete battleships had been given a new lease on life and a role to play in the fleet. The service lives of existing battleships were extended, and new designs were developed.

Countries that could afford it began to build and launch what would go on to be known as the super battleships. They were bigger, badder, and carried more firepower. The first examples were the Yamato and Musashi from Japan launched mid-1940. The sisters-ships both carried eighteen-inch guns, by far the largest naval cannons ever mounted to a warship up until that point.

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The United States was close behind them with the launch of the Iowa class of battleships in 1942. Altogether, four of the ships of the class were build. They only carried sixteen-inch guns but were faster and their cannons fired more accurate than the Yamato class. They also had advanced radar, which would give them the advantage in a gun duel.

However, not to be outdone by the Japanese in terms of firepower, the United States launched two Montana class battleships the following year in 1943. The Montanas were similar to the Iowa class, but beefed up in almost every way. The main guns were upgraded to be on par with the Yamato but went an extra step further by adding a fourth turret, bringing the total amount of eighteen-inch guns to twelve as opposed to the nine guns the Yamato class boasted. The ships were longer, the armor was heavier, and they carried more firepower than their predecessors. The USS Montana, and her sister ship, USS Nebraska were two warships you would not want to see across from you on the aquatic battlefield.

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The British built four battleships of the Lion class. While less powerful than the Yamato or Montana classes, they were still impressive in their own right. The Germans built the Friedrich der Grosse, which was essentially as enlarged and more powerful version Bismarck class of ship. The Soviets built the Sovetsky Soyuz, and the French built two Napoleon class battleships, which were basically slightly larger Richelieu class ships with an additional turret on the bow with for cannons.

In the air, several countries had begun to develop Jet aircraft, which were designed to be much faster than propeller aircraft, have further range, and would be capable of carrying heavier armaments. Bomber designs got bigger too, meant to carry heavier payloads over vaster distances.

On land, tanks were becoming more heavily armored and featured bigger guns. German designs in particular were superior to their competitors. Though, in general, they were more expensive and more difficult to produce in high numbers.

The effort of countries to produce better weapons to protect themselves lead to competition and eventually an arms race between the major powers. As the years went by, the threat of monsters returning began to fade into a memory and mankind did what it does best and began to fight among itself again.

New main threat for western powers was communism. The Soviets were desperate to recover economically from their losses and saw expansion as the way to do it. The Rodans were still a threat in the east, so they had to look west.

Initially the Russians were successful in gobbling up several of their smaller neighbors, such as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They even managed to do so "peacefully" in nations like Moldova by boosting communist values in the population and encouraging unrest. When communist revolts broke out in those countries the Russians would intervene on behalf of their communist brothers and sisters.

They would then annex the territory to “protect” them. This was their way of avoiding threats from France, England, and the United States who were quickly starting to fear the expansion of Soviet power. The western powers had to resort to guaranteeing the independence of eastern European nations. If the Russians invaded outright it would mean war.

The Germans were also growing very wary of the Soviets who were creeping ever closer to their border. Th Germans however were still recovering from the dam incident Varan had caused, which had damaged much of the country’s infrastructure. Just the same, they were slowly and secretly preparing to counter Soviet aggression.

In the east, tensions were also growing. The Chinese Communist party shocked the world by toppling the legitimate Kuomintang Government in a civil war and taking over. After cementing their hold over China, they began to move to copy Russian successes by spreading their own brand of Communism throughout southeast Asia. This brought together the Japanese and United States, as both powers did not want to see the expansion of communism into their spheres of influence. They feared a domino effect of smaller Asian countries being toppled by communism one by one.

By 1945, the Russians were beginning to make aggressive moves towards Poland and the Chinese were trying to expand their influence into Korea. The situation was a powder keg waiting to go off, finally it did. The Russians gambled, thinking the western powers would not go to war over Poland, and so they invaded. It was a tragic miscalculation.

Not only did France and England declare war, but surprisingly, Germany also joined them a few days later, having their own interests in Poland. The United States was slower to action. They did not instantly declare war, but did begin to heavily supply the French, English, Germans, and Polish, becoming an the so-called Arsenal of the West.

The war began with the Russians making quick gains in Poland. The Poles were having a difficult time fighting them on their own. It was going to take time before their allies could mobilize and be able to support them. Until then, the Polish were fighting the Russians, who outnumbered them considerably, solo. Over half of Poland was occupied before the first German units began to arrive at the front lines. Warsaw, the Polish Capitol was overrun before they could make an impact.

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However, when the Germans entered the fighting in force, they immediately brought the Russian onslaught to a halt. While still outnumbered by the Russians in the sky and on the ground, the Germans had much better equipment and training.

The Germans were the first country to mass produce jet fighters and the only country who had significant number of them available at the outbreak of the war. Their Messerschmitt Me 262 “Stormbird” lived up to its name. While the Soviets had begun to experiment with jet aircraft, they were still relying heavily on propeller driven aircraft at the time. Whenever the advanced German jet fighters found soviet planes, they dominated in air combat. The kill to loss ratio was 18:1 in favor of the Germans.

Very quickly the stormbirds chewed through soviet air power, reducing their numbers to a point where the Germans gained total air superior within mere weeks. Losses for the Soviet air force were extreme, estimated to be as high as 85% of their initial fighting force. What was left of their aircraft were quickly withdrawn out of range of the German jets.

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On the ground, the German armored core was ripping into the Soviet lines. The main problem for the Russians was their own tanks could not penetrate the heavy armor of their German counterparts. The Germans had a vast number of powerful Tiger tanks leading their spearheads and Russian rounds would simply bounce off the front and side armor of Tigers.

Russian tanks could only kill Tigers if they managed to flank around and hit them from behind. However, by the time they managed to do so, their own forces would be so depleted that they could not sustain the attack anymore. Their losses were quickly stacking up. Because of this, the Soviets were quickly pushed out of Poland.

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A month later, the Russians were fighting on their own soil and still losing ground. Soviet commanders were struggling to find a way to deal with the German’s technological advantage. Each of their counter attacks were blunted by the German fighters who ruled the sky above them without opposition and would strafe their advancing columns.

However, the Russians did gain an advantage being pushed back so far. As they were driven out of Poland, the front expanded to include Lithuania, Belarus, and the Ukraine. The length of the front line more than doubled it original length. The Germans were still winning, but they were forced to stretch their resources thinner and thinner as they advanced. Eventually this led to the Germans slowing down, which gave the Russians a chance to regroup.

The Russian army used this time wisely, developing tactics to fight against the more advanced German tanks and beginning to field tank designs that could at least compete with the Tigers. As the German’s momentum was checked, the fighting became a stalemate and casualties on both sides began to climb sharply. Each side was hoping to wear the other down. The Soviets still had a crushing numbers advantage and were threating to envelope the Germans on their flanks as they brought up reinforcements.

Finally, after two months of fighting had passed, the British and French armies begin to arrive on the battlefield. The British reinforced the northern frontier while the French came in through the south. The Soviet attacks on the flanks found much sturdier resistance than expected and was repelled. With that, the front was once again stabilized for a time. The British and French collected their strength and launched a counterattack. The Soviet defenses buckled and the advance into Russia resumed once again.

On the high seas, the French, English, and Germans commanded a vastly superior navy to the Soviets, but Russia was too big to effectively blockade the whole country. Instead, the allied powers chose to target several key ports to focus on them. Submarines and surface ships patrolled just outside the range of Soviet aircraft and would seize or destroy any shipping attempting to enter or exit the ports.

The overwhelming naval superiority of the Allied powers for the most part was not able to prove decisive in what was mainly a land war. However, there were three notable exceptions:

First, the Russians wished to gain naval superiority over the Germans in the Baltic so they would have the option to navally invade around the front lines if they wanted to. They also wanted to ensure that the Germans would not be able to mine the sea lanes of their home port of Leningrad. If they did so, the Russian Baltic fleet would be effectively trapped for the rest of the war.

Such as it was, the Russian fleet sailed out aggressively, attacking shipping in the Baltic to force the German navy out to engage them. Seeing little other choice, the commanders of the Kriegsmarine obliged, readying their own fleet for combat. It took a little time, but eventually the opposing fleets made contact in the Western Baltic.

The ensuing confrontation saw the bulk of both surface fleets face off in a gunnery duel. The pride of both fleets was present. On the German side, it was the battleship Friedrich der Grosse, supported by the Bismarck, Tirpitz, and Molke. On the Soviet side, it was the battleship Sovetsky Soyuz supported by Kronshtadt, Izmail, and Kirov.

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The Germans won the engagement, but not without taking significant losses. The duel resulted in both fleets decimated. Numerous ships were either heavily damaged or sunk. The German flagship, Friedrich der Grosse, survived but was heavily damaged. She would sit out the rest of the war while being repaired. The Tirpitz and Scharnhorst were both sunk along with a lot of other smaller support ships.

The Russians meanwhile limped back to port in Leningrad. Their flagship Sovetsky had also survived but was battered. Kronshtadt, Izmail, Kirov were all sunk. Tactically it was a drawn, but strategically, it was a win for the Germans. The Russian Baltic fleet was weakened to the point where it did not venture out again during the war.

The second occasion was the French naval invasion of Ukraine. The first few months of the war for the French saw slow gains along their front line. The Germans and British were making better gains in their sectors. French command thought an attack from the south could help break things open. They negotiated with Turkey to allow French warships to pass though the Bosporus Strait and into the Black Sea.

The Turks had been longtime rivals of the Russians and had fought them on numerous occasions in the past. They too saw the expanding power of the Soviets as a threat and so it took very little effort on the part of the French to strike a deal with them. The Turks would remain neutral in the war but would allow French ships pass for a reasonable toll.

With an understanding reached, the French secretly sent the bulk of their fleet into the Black Sea and crushed all the Russian warships they found there. The Black Sea Fleet was neutralized but unfortunately the French had underestimated the remaining strength of the soviet air-force, which was still strong to be a threat to their invasion fleet.

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Before the French fleet could make landfall, they were accosted by Soviet fighters and bombers. After a few hours of fighting the French fleet withdrew, losing several ships along the way. The majority of the French fleet suffered damage of some type. However, they very narrowly avoided a disaster. While losses had been taken, the majority of their capitol ships survived the encounter as well as their troop transports. It was a tactical loss, and yet, they could still claim a strategic victory.

The French had destroyed the majority of the Soviet Black Sea fleet, ensuring they would not be a threat to shipping in the Mediterranean. In addition, they had shot down a significant number of Soviet fighters in what was an already depleted air force. Most importantly, they had forced the Russians to divert more troops into the area to protect against any future attempts by the French to land there, troops who might have been better used at the front.

In the third case, the British successfully convinced Finland it was in their best interest to join the war before the Soviets once again turned their eyes towards them. Norway and Sweden remained neutral, but allowed the British military access through their territory, which lead to thousands of British troops landing there to supporting the Finish offensive. When the Fins finally declared war, their attack from the north caught the Soviets completely off guard.

The front in the North surged as British and Fin forces gained ground. The Russians were in trouble. Leningrad was surrounded and put under siege within weeks. The situation only changed when the Russian winter started to descend upon the battlefield. The Allies had to suspend their offense as heavy snows congested the fields and roads. Things slowly settled back into a stalemate.

---

In the east, about two months after the war in Europe began, the Chinese made their own move into Korea, forming a formal alliance with the Russians. Simultaneously, they began to move in on the interests of the French and English in southeast Asia. Also under threat was the Philippines, which was still a protectorate of the United States.

The situation had finally deteriorated beyond the point of what the United States was willing to just sit back and watch. They declared war on both Russia and China. In the months leading up to the declaration, the United States had secretly been moving men and materials into the Philippines, seeing the writing on the wall.

The United States continued to support the allies in the west against the Russians with war materials, but they focused their military efforts on the east. The full might of American industry began to churn out ships, planes, and tanks while the U.S. Navy was deployed to their forward bases.

With the United States on the move, the Japanese government decided to throw their lot in with them. They declared war on China two weeks later. It was a move of enlightened self-interest rather than morality. If the Japanese did not take a stand and oppose the Chinese in Korea, the communists would be knocking at their own door in time. Korea was too close to the Japanese home islands for them to ignore it.

The Japanese began moving troops into the southern portion of Korea while dispatching their fleet to the Chinese coast to begin raiding shipping and hitting infrastructure in the port cities. It would be a while before they could put boots on the ground on the mainland, but they wanted to soften up China’s industry as much as possible.

The Japanese had a technological advantage but did not have the numbers necessary to invade China. They needed to wait out support from the United States. The best they could do in the meantime was hold as much of Korea as possible and slow down the Chinese advance there. It was a narrow front, where having better artillery, tanks, aircraft, and a strong navy would trump any numerical advantage of ground troops. The strategy proved quite effective. The Chinese threw wave after wave of massed infantry assaults at the Japanese defensive line, but each time were repelled with heavy losses.

As the weeks rolled on, more and more support began to roll in from the United states. They had an entire ocean to cross but they also had the largest navy in the world to handle the task. The Philippines was once again used as a staging ground to build up men and materials. The first thing the Americans did was establish large scale bases for their new heavy bombers to conduct air raids from. The bombers could fly thousands of feet higher than Chinese fighters could climb and thus could attack targets far into southeast China unopposed.

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The British meanwhile mobilized their forces in India and Australia. The French did the same in Indochina. The Japanese were still holding strong in Korea while the Western allies began to invade from the southwest, forcing the Chinese to split their resources fighting a war on two fronts. It was slow going at first in the south. The western allies had more material to work with but getting enough of it into place was simply a slow process.

The United States had a force of twenty-four Essex class carriers. Each carrier could carry well over a hundred attack aircraft. Once they reached the Chinese coastline, they were a game changer. Their fleet admiral developed a simple yet effective tactic. They would pick a designated area, usually a city center, sail into strike range of their aircraft, and then quickly launch more planes than the local Chinese air defense units could possibly match, overwhelming them.

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When all twenty-five hundred American warplanes of the fleet were in the air at once, they looked like a swarm of locusts approaching on the horizon. Chinese defenses were quickly swept aside and annihilated. The carrier fleet moved up the coast, pulverizing everything in a given area, and then moved on to the next target.

The U.S. surface fleet also got involved. The new Iowa and Montana class ships could fire their sixteen- and eighteen-inch guns twenty-five miles inland. They came in to mop up anything the fighters managed to miss. By the time the United States’ naval invasion started in the southeast, there was no meaningful opposition to it. The countryside had been picked clean of targets.

With a foothold established, the American army landed thousands upon thousands of troops. They fought their way north, eventually the linking up with the French and English troops coming from the southwest. Together they began to fight their way north. Much like the war in the Europe, the further they advanced into Chinese territory the more bogged down they got in hard fighting.

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The Americans had been developing a jet fighter of their own and introduced it into service in the east to help keep up their momentum as they got further away from the coast and naval support. The jets could be flow deep into Chinese territory on put rockets into specific targets with accuracy that high-level bombers lacked. They were used to strike military headquarters and government buildings to disrupt the Chinese command structure. They also flew close air support missions for the ground troops to great effect. Suddenly, tough Chinese defensive positions began to crack one by one.

In the west, the Russians had managed to capture and reverse engineer a German Messerschmitt. It gave their own jet program a great leap forward. As the war dragged on through winter and into spring, Soviet jet fighters began to appear in the skies. They managed to make a more even fight against the Germans, though they were still lagging behind in numbers, quality, and pilot skill. The Germans had grown quite used to their machines over the course of the war while the Russians were trying to narrow the learning curve.

The Russians sold blueprints of their jet design to the Chinese who began to mass produce fighters of their own. However, by that point in the war, Chinese industry was getting hammered daily by United States air raids. Key fighter components were very hard to come by and so only a couple handfuls of Chinese Jets were produced and found their way into combat.

After a year of war in the east, the United States and Japanese had captured the entire Chinese coast due to their overwhelming naval and air superiority. The Chinese had also been pushed completely out of Korea and southeast Asia. They were being pressed in on three sides on their home turf.

The Chinese had the manpower to fight on for years if they wanted to, but their industry was already in shambles and getting pounded into the dust more and more with each passing day by air attacks they could not defend against. They did not have enough rifles, ammo, or support equipment to supply their armies. They realized that it was only a matter of time before they would be defeated. They opted to make a separate peace with the western powers rather than fight to the death.

Because the war in the west was still ongoing with the Russians, and it would save countless lives, the western allies were willing to come to relatively lenient terms with the Chinese. The Communist government would be allowed to stay in power so long as they agreed to four conditions.

First, they would not to mettle in the affairs of their neighbors and respect their sovereignty. Second, they had to cede some land to Korea. Third, they would return Hong Kong to British control. Fourth, they would cede three other trade cities to the United States, Japan, and France for thirty years. Fifth, they would pay war reparations. Sixth, they would not develop nuclear technology.

The treaty was agreed to by all parties and signed. It was a hammer stroke for the Russians. It had all but sealed their fate and was regarded as a betrayal by their communist brothers. With China out of the war, it was certain that the United States would focus all their efforts on Russia and tip the balance of power. The soviets were already fighting tooth and nail for every inch of their territory and were slowly giving up ground.

The Americans wanted to open on a second front in the Soviet far east, but there was one major problem. The Rodans were still the Kamchatka peninsula and would attack anything than came too close to their territory. The Japanese opposed the idea, fearing the Rodans might relocate if disturbed. It was deemed too risky to go that route but as it turned out a new invasion was not necessary.

The Germans already had a plan to bring the war to a swift end. They had been working on nuclear weapon of their own since the start of the war and had finally come to the point where they were preparing to test fire the weapon. Once that was done, they intended to deploy it in combat against the Russians.

The German plan was to lure in the Soviet’s newest and strongest armored corps into a predetermined location and use their weapon against them in a grand show of force. The next German offensive was to be against the city of Kursk, and so they used the existing plan to their advantage. The Germans did everything they could to ensure the Soviets aware of the attack. They allowed intelligence leak out which outlined their entire battleplan. The Germans exaggerated the numbers because they wanted to draw in as many Russians units as possible into the area.

As it turned out, it was the perfect plan. The Russians could not ignore the planned assault. If the Germans managed to break their lines at Kursk, they would be within striking distance of Moscow itself and the Soviets could not allow that. The Russians fortified the area around Kursk as much as possible and rushed in as many reinforcements as they could in and around the city.

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In all, over three-thousand tanks and nearly two million fighting men were in place to repel the expected German assault. Among them, some of the best units the Red army had to offer. German recon planes were watching the area very closely, seeing their every move. The Russians had fallen for the trap, and now it just needed to be sprung.

The French and British governments agreed to the plan. The war in the west had grown into a meat grinder, eating up men, materials, and money. They just wanted it to end. The United States was horrified to learn that the Germans had developed a nuclear bomb of their own. It was well known to British and U.S. spies that German scientists had been studying fission for years and even developed nuclear reactors, but they had not discovered they’d managed to weaponize it yet. It meant that the United States no longer were the only ones with nuclear power at their disposal.

In the end, United States agreed to deploy the weapon for the same reasons as the French and British. The Russians started the war, but they intended to finish it. With that, word was given to proceed with Operation Fornax. The first thing the Germans did was pull out all of their forces along the Kursk Line overnight.

In the morning, Russian defenders were shocked to see miles and miles of abandoned German positions along the front. They sensed something wasn’t right but did not realize just how wrong the situation was until it was already too late. Front line soldiers reported back to HQ in the city and the Russian commanders didn’t know what to make of it. They were just about to send scouts into the German lines to investigate and report the strange situation to army headquarters in Moscow. They did not get a chance though.

Russian soldiers within the city could hear German fighters approaching. Soon they were flying overhead. The Russians looked up to see the fighters escorting a huge bomber. Just one though. That was very odd. However, they could not understand the significance of it. Some of them took cover, having been bombed by the Luftwaffe plenty of times in the past. This time however it would not matter.

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There was the familiar sound of a bomb being dropped but was not the same as before. Usually there were so many bombs falling all at once that there was no way to distinguish one from another. This time it was a singular sound. For forty-five seconds it got closer and louder, louder and closer.

There was a flash of light. It was brighter than the sun. Anyone looking at it was instantly blinded. A moment later, all of the buildings, all of the soldiers, all of the tanks, and all of the citizens within a mile and a half of the city center disappeared in an enormous ball of fire. It vaporized them into oblivion. The heat of it was equal to that of the center of the sun.

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Within seconds, a thermal pulse of intense heat shot out and everything within eight miles of the ball of fire burst into flames. Anyone who happened to be in streets directly exposed to it fell over and began to cook on the pavement. The outline of their shadows were burnt into the cement. Trees were on fire, houses were burning, ponds evaporated, vehicle tires and paint melted away.

Next, the blast wave from the explosion came down like a hammer and mowed down everything in its path for thirteen miles. Building after building collapsed while tanks melted into place or were sent toppling away like tinker toys in the wind.

The blast radius was large enough to cover the entire city and a portion of the surrounding area. Soldiers in defensive positions outside of the blast radius were still burnt by the initial flash and pelted by debris from the city. The majority of Russian forces in the area were annihilated in a few short moments. Those that were left where either badly burnt or blinded by the explosion.

Minutes later, the area was covered in radioactive dust falling from the mushroom cloud. Those Russians who were still fit to fight in the surrounding area came out from their hiding places to witness the aftermath and unknowingly exposed themselves to the fallout. Within a day, many of them were started to show signs of severe radiation contamination. Two days later most of them had died.

Meanwhile, about a hundred miles north, the Germans were just starting to launch their big push towards Moscow, breaking through the Russian lines. Russian high command could not understand what was happening. They had lost all communication with Kursk. They sent a reconnaissance flight to see what the situation was there and found the smoldering crater and the remnants of the city.

The following day the Germans radioed Moscow, informing them what had happened.

Following the bombing and subsequent success of the German offensive towards Moscow, the Allies requested the Russians’ surrender. Stalin, true to form, refused to capitulate. He assured them that they would fight to the last man. In response, the Germans threated to use a second nuclear bomb against Moscow itself. It was a bluff though. In truth, they had not yet constructed a second bomb. The bluff worked however.

In the days that followed, there was coup against Stalin. It was led by other high-ranking soviet officials who seized the capitol and arrested Stalin. Once he was secured, the Soviets made contact and surrendered unconditionally. Orders were issued for all their forces to lay down arms. Within days, only isolated pockets of diehard Stalin loyalists continued to resist but were easily crushed.

Despite the coup, the Russians did not get off as easily as China. In the end, the Soviet Union was forced to disband. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan were all granted their independence from Mother Russia.

Stalin was handed over to the allies and put on trial. He was found guilty of war crimes against several eastern European countries and against his own people, having been responsible for the deaths of twenty-million Russians during his reign. He was publicly executed in Red Square.

The Russians were required to pay war reparations and the western portion of Russia was occupied by Allied troops to ensure the peace was protected and a new government could be elected. Interestingly, a communist leader managed to prevail at the polls, though it was a more moderate communist government that took power.

The new Russian government agreed not to develop nuclear technology, but secretly went back on their promise as soon as allied troops had left their borders. They recognized it as being essential for the future of their country and could not afford to ignore it.

The Allies were prepared for the destructive potential of the A-bomb but did not fully appreciate the lingering effects of the weapon. The survivors of Kursk and those living in the surrounding area would feel the effects for the rest of their lives. Birth defects and cancer killed so many long after the war was over. Did using the bomb potentially save more lives in the long run? Perhaps, but the use of the weapon was argued for decades to come. Strong cases could be made from both perspectives.

Seventeen Million people had died as a direct result of the war, notably over a million just from the use of the single A-bomb at Kursk, including those who died from the later effects. The war had been one of the shortest and yet deadliest conflicts in human history.

In the hopes of preventing another war like it in the future, the great powers came together and formed the United Nations. Its aim was to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relationships among nations, achieve international cooperation, protect human rights, deliver humanitarian aid, and upholding international law. It quickly grew to become the most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world.
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Living Corpse »

And now history diverts and take an alternate path from our own.

EDIT:

I can't believe I didn't think to say this.

Ashram52 wrote: Mon Nov 30, 2020 8:46 pmIn the United States, congress decided they needed better weapons to combat Kaiju. Conventional forces like tanks and planes simply were not enough. They wanted something more powerful, thus began numerous secret projects.


War has changed...
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Ashram52 »

Good spot Living Corpse. I did mean for it to mean the A-bomb, (but not only the A-bomb.) ;)

Anyhow, been a minute since I did a monster stat card. So.....

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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Ashram52 »

---

Well, to celebrate this topic going over 20,000 hits I suppose I should do something to celebrate.

Now I would have liked that to be a new chapter. I expect a lot of you out there would also prefer that. But sadly, for now, we're all going to have to settle for another catch-up monster profile or two. With the addition of these two, I think I'm all caught up on monsters. I do have two more military unit profiles I can still do, but I'll save those for when I'm between the next two chapter updates.

As far as next chapter news goes, I have finished the outline and will begin principal writing as soon as the holiday season is over. Until then, I simply have too many distractions to get much work done on the story.

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Other news..... Oh, I've stopped posting this story on Fanfiction.net. I was not getting the kind of support I need to make it worth while posting in two places. So this is the only place you can find it. If you are a reader from over there, welcome to Tokyo Kingdom. As I said over there, you get the richer experience here anyway. If you are reading this, then you understand why that is by now.

If you want to ensure that story continues strong here, I'd suggest making a profile and throwing a little support or encouragement my way. It only takes a few seconds out of your day to type up a short message and it goes a very long way in keeping up my moral.

Anyways, hope to have the new chapter out sometime in January.
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Ashram52 »

---


Chapter 18: Signs and Portents.


-July 14th, 1954. North Island Naval Air Station, San Diego, California.

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A navy pilot puts on his flight suit in the base locker room. He grabs his helmet from the shelf, zips up the suit, and makes his way out to the hanger. Waiting for him inside is a brand-new fighter. It is a F-86(E) Sabre, a specialized variant of the aircraft that has been altered to allow it to operate off of an aircraft carrier. The pilot’s orders are simple: Test out the new plane to ensure it is in mission ready condition and to familiarize himself with the controls to get a feel for how the aircraft handles.

As he approaches, the pilot is greeted by the ground crew. They push stairs into place which allows him to climb into the cockpit. The pilot puts his helmet on and climbs inside. He gets settled in, checking the controls and preparing the jet to taxi towards the runway. With the click of a few buttons the canopy closes, and engine begins to hum and whistle as the systems start up. The aircraft begins to creep forward slowly out of the hanger. The ground crew clears a path and the jet inches its way into the light of the early morning sun. The pilot lowers the sun-visor on his helmet to compensate.

“Tower to Seadog One.” A control operator’s voice crackles over the radio. “You are cleared for takeoff. Proceed to runway number two.”

“Acknowledged tower.” The pilot replies as he continues his way towards the runway.

The pilot’s mind begins to wander as his craft slowly approaches the final stretch of concrete of the airstrip. He thought back to the past.

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---

“You know kid, you should really consider a change in career.” A voice told him, echoing in his head. “You don’t want to be a sitting duck the next time this happens, do you? I’m telling you, in the air is where it’s at.”

---

The pilot came back to the present as he absent-mindedly lined up his plane for takeoff. He had done it so routinely by that point that he could practically do it in his sleep. He recalled back to the first time he had done it. It was quite a different story.

---

He throttled back and the plane lurked forward. The force of it took him by surprise. The hair on the back of his neck began to stand on end. The aircraft gained more and more speed as he went. His initial nervousness had transformed into excitement but was threatening to spill over into fear. His breathing increased and became somewhat irregular as he tried to contain himself. He could feel the lift under the wings of the plane starting to catch. He tightened his grip on the controls.

‘Oh poop!’ He thought as he realized there was no turning back anymore. ‘poop, poop, poop.’ His plane completely lifted off of the runway. He needed to release some pressure. "Aaaaaaaarrrrrhhhhhhh.....!" He cried out loud, no longer able to hold it in. His stomach felt like it was floating. The plane bound up into the sky and he started to feel pure excitement and joy. "Yaaaahhhhhhooo!!!" He exclaimed.

"Cadet Ryan, you’ve left you Com on.” His commanding officer’s voice boomed over the radio. “We can still hear you down here."


---

Marcus smiled, thinking back to it. He was embarrassed and caught a little hell once he landed, but he had successfully flown on his own. A major accomplishment in his book, he had come a long way. Marcus’ first time flying solo was a mixture of fear and frills. It was one hell of a rush, one he learned to enjoy over time. Being in control made him feel so much more comfortable in the air. Landing though was still pretty scary most of the time.

Marcus lurked backward as he throttled up. His new Jet had a lot more kick to it than his first plane, or even the last jet he was in. He got a little thrill out of it, though it was a lot tamer than it used to be for him. Marcus rocketed down the runway and caught air, zooming up into the clouds. Once he had reached the proper altitude and leveled out the Sabre, he pulled a few basic maneuvers to get a better feel for the controls, just to see just how sensitive they were. It was so second nature to him his mind began to wander again.

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---

A lot had changed over the years. Once his initial tour of duty in the navy had ended, Marcus settled down back in the States with Shauna. As they were both free from the military, they decided to get engaged to be married. Joe said it was a little premature, that he was still so young and needed to get out and live a little more, but Marcus was certain it was what he wanted to do.

---

Marcus lifted his hand from the controls and fidgeted with the ring attached to his dog tags. Years later and he still knew it was the best decision he had made in his life. Shauna made him happier than anything else on the planet. She was the perfect woman for him.

---

The wedding was held in San Francisco. Leading up to it, Shauna made good on her promise to show Marcus the whole city. It was one of the most charming and relaxing cities Marcus had ever been to. He loved every moment of it, aside from the trolley ride on one of the steepest streets in the country. It actually looked like the big drop of a rollercoaster from the top. Shauna kissed Marcus to help distract him. It worked pretty well.

The pair went on to ride cable cars, feed the seals bread at Fisherman’s wharf, walk through the art museum, attend a Giant’s baseball game, walk in the park of the Palace of Fine Arts, try new and interesting food in Chinatown, take a tour of the harbor on a boat, got a real close look at prison on Alcatraz, and finally crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge in a taxi to climb into the hills. They ended the day by getting a breathtaking view of the city’s skyline. It was somehow better than their time in Paris.

They stayed with Shauna’s parents. As it turned out, she was not joking when she said they were well off. Her parents lived in what could only be described as a mansion on the waterfront. Shauna’s father was some type of real-estate tycoon who was really starting to make it big. Their wealth made Marcus a little uncomfortable. His own beginnings were quite humble by comparison.

Shauna’s parents were more than welcoming to Marcus though. They seemed to respect his uniform and service record. Shauna had been talking him up for months, laying the groundwork for his introduction. She was as skilled a diplomate as she had been a nurse. She may have done too good of a job. Marcus was a little overwhelmed by their friendliness. It was like they already knew him in and out, but to him they were perfect strangers. He was at a real disadvantage.

Much like Shauna in their early days, her parents were always a few steps ahead of him in conversation. They saw to his every need. It was the first time in a long time Marcus felt like a child being pampered. His head was spinning by the time he went to bed that night.


By the next morning, Shauna and her mother were already at it talking about making their plans for the wedding. Marcus left them to it. He knew well enough to let the girls handle the details and to simply nod his head if they asked an opinion from him.

Instead, Marcus focused his attention on tracking down his friends and family for the wedding. He devoted a lot of time to writing letters. Priority one was his own mother. He had not seen her since sneaking away to join the service and he was dreading coming face to face with her again. Marcus had given his mother plenty of reasons to hold a grudge against him and it was time to face up for his many crimes against her.

Marcus mailed his letter of apology and then waited. In time, his mother wrote him back. He was almost too afraid to open it, but when he finally did, the letter he got in return surprised him. His mother had not only forgiven him but was proud of his accomplishments. She was delighted to hear that he was home, safe, and seemed to have matured. In part though, she lamented that he had grown into a man and was already getting married.

Marcus wired his mother some money so that she could come out ahead of the wedding and meet him face to face again for the first time in years. Marcus chose to meet her in at a café along the waterfront and made his peace with her. As a bonus, Marcus’ kid brother came along with her. He had grown two full feet since Marcus last saw him. He was two years into high school and had fortunately not followed in his troublesome big bother’s footsteps thus far. In fact, he was really more of a teacher’s pet.


While the wedding plans were still being made, Marcus also wrote Joe and the rest of his surviving friends from the Enterprise. Brock was still in the service himself, as he was a career marine, but he was able to take some peacetime leave to join them. It was a tough choice whether to make him or Joe the best man, but Brock had the advantage of saving Marcus’ life twice during their travels, and thus gained the honor. He was surprised to say the least but honored.

Joe was not sore about the choice. He was more interested in chasing the bridesmaids around anyway. Best-man duties would only be a distraction for him, he had not changed much. Joe ended up getting slapped pretty hard by one of the bridesmaids during the wedding reception but found comfort and sympathy in the arms of another one later in the evening.

Shauna meanwhile got the fairytale wedding she was hoping for. A grand church, white flowers, an amazing dress, a beautiful reception hall, elaborate decorations, and best of all, Marcus spent all his money on a huge rock for her to show off to all her friends. It was the whole nine yards. She loved the pageantry, the music, the dancing, and most of all, securing her hold on Marcus for good. He did not mind though. She was worthy, and well-worth surrendering to. He was going do his best to treat her like royalty for the rest of her life.

---

Marcus continued to put the Sabre jet through the normal paces. All the systems seemed to be in good working order. The controls felt a little tight, but that was not usual for a plane fresh out of the factory. It just needed to be broken in a little more to loosen it up. Marcus guided the plane over to the gunnery zone and picked out a few test targets. He checked out the cannons first, finding them to be satisfactory as he tore up a dummy truck to shreds.

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Marcus then looped back around and armed his rockets. He lined up his sights and pressed the button on the stick to fire them. Two rockets whooshed away from the wings and down towards a decoy tank. One of the rockets missed to the left, but other one landed right beneath and sent the tank flying up into the air. The weapons seemed to be functioning properly.

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“This is Seadog One.” Marcus picked up his com. “Testing complete, no issues to report, returning to base.”

“Roger Seadog One.” The tower operator replied. “Proceed.”

Marcus banked the Sabre left and started back to the airfield. He flew back the scenic route which brought him by the harbor. He noted a carrier in dock that had not been there the day before. He shook it off and let his mind wander to what happened after he and Shauna were married.

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---

The world in general had quieted down for a time. A few years of relative peace followed after the disappearance of the monsters. Only the Rodans remained semi-active, but as long as they were left alone, were not a serious cause for concern. The sightings that did occur were few and far between. Marcus credited Mothra for it. After defeating Kameras, she seemed to be keeping the other monsters in line, or at least out of trouble.

Marcus could only assume that though. Mothra herself disappeared off the map after flying east. As the years went by, Marcus could not help but wonder where she had gone and what was she doing. He felt slightly abandoned and disgruntled by her suddenly leaving. After all, whatever connection she had to him was strong while she was around. It was a source of him strength for him.

After Mothra’s departure, most of her influence had gradually faded away from Marcus. There was at least one lasting effect, a gift off sorts. The traumatic stress from Marcus’ past was not affecting his day-to-day life. He was able to live very normally for someone who had seen the things he had.

Regardless, Marcus still felt some resentment towards her. There had been a place inside him which was once filled with her warmth and light. It had gone dark in her absence. What was left in its place was an empty feeling, and he did not like one bit. It was like a part of him had left with her. He had to learn to live with the felling of not being whole.

Marcus and Shauna had been married for a couple years when the war broke out with Russians and Chinese communists. By that time, they had a little daughter named Lilly and Shauna was pregnant with a boy. They had a nice house with a white picket fence and a good little dog-o to patrol the yard.

A call went out for ‘All Good Men to Come to the Aid of Their Country’. There was talk about a draft being instituted. While it pained Marcus to leave Shauna, he felt honor bound to answer the call. He knew they were going to need good fighting men and he was the right age and had plenty of experience. Shauna hated to see him go but understood. She had her parents to fall back on should the worst come to pass.

Marcus didn’t just barrel into the war head first though. Instead, he decided to follow the advice of Roger, the pilot who had saved him years ago on the Ranger. Marcus joined the Naval Academy Flight School in Annapolis. It requires two years of previous service of sea duty, a requirement which Marcus easily met. The training was meant to take twelve months, but in light of the war breaking out, they rushed new recruits through the process. In the end, it only took only half the time.

On graduation day, Marcus walked out of flight school with the rank of Cadet Chief petty officer. But there was a catch. He had to agree to serve for seven years, even if the war did not last that long. Marcus was going to have to put his civilian life on hold for a while.

When Marcus had reached the front lines of the war, the navy was already starting to phase out older propeller planes models in favor of jets as their primary strike craft. With a little extra training, Marcus adapted to them. The missions were pretty easy for a time. What passed for the Chinese air force was already in shambles. The majority of Marcus’ early missions were just strafing runs on ground targets. As the war moved into its final stages, Marcus was involved with several air-to-air dogfights against Chinese jetfighters.

The Chinese hardware was up to the challenge, but by that point in the war, the American pilots were highly experienced tacticians in the sky. Their skills were far beyond that of the Chinese rookies who were still struggling to adjust from obsolete propeller aircraft. When the ceasefire was finally declared, Marcus had downed four enemy aircraft all on his own. He fell a little short though, one more air-to-air victory and he would have achieved the status of Ace.


----

Marcus was over the airbase again and brought his Sabre back in for a landing. The wheels of the jet squeaked as they hit the runway and the plane began to slow down gradually. Marcus taxied the aircraft back into the hanger. His canopy opened as he came to a stop and the crew wheeled the stairs back into place to allow him to exit.

“How’d she handle?” The ground chief asked as Marcus came down the stairs.

“No problems Rich.” Marcus smiled to him. “Why did they want me to test this one out anyhow?”

“Well, this is a new type of Sabre Lieutenant.” Rich pointed back to the aircraft. Marcus looked to see the aircrew folding up the wings. “This particular type is meant for carrier operations. They wanted to make darn sure the wings would hold up under the usual stresses of combat. My understanding is there’s a whole litter of them waiting to be loaded up on the Essex.”

“The Essex huh?” Marcus grunted. “I thought I saw an extra carrier in the harbor as I passed over.”

“Yeah, there’s something odd going on around here today.” Rich noted. “I saw a whole drove of new officers on the base earlier today. Didn’t recognize any of them. They had a different type of unit patch I’d never seen here before.”

“Oh yeah, what did it look like?” Marcus asked.

“I think it was an owl with its wings spread like an eagle.” Rich replied. “It was clasping a black and yellow shield with a coat of arms on it. What was really weird is it looked like there was a dragon, a microscope, a book, and an atom symbol all in the coat of arms. What the heck is all that about?”

“Lieutenant Ryan report to the Admiral Evan’s office.” The PA system in the hanger crackled to life.

“Maybe I’ll find out.” Marcus shrugged as left Rich behind in the hanger. “Hope they don’t want me to test out all of those new jets.”

---

Marcus entered the administration building, wondering what he was being called in for. Surely Admiral Evans did not want to get the field test report about the Sabre directly from him? That would not be very like him. The admiral was a very ‘by the book’ officer and that would break the usual chain of command.

When Marcus reached the corridor just outside of Admiral’s office he came upon a zoo. The area was filled with men and chairs. A hastily thrown together lobby was put up in the nearby rec room. Marcus just stopped, taking it all in, and asked himself what the heck was going on. Had a war been declared that he was not aware of?

The men around Marcus were not from his own unit. In fact, as he scanned the room, he discovered that most of them were not from any single unit. Instead, the room was filled with a hodgepodge of soldiers and sailors from all sorts of backgrounds. Some of the men were even different branches of the military entirely. There were even a few civilians mixed in.

As Marcus continued to look around, he noticed two guards outside of the Admiral’s office wearing matching uniforms. They happened to be wearing the same unit patch that Rich had described. It was the owl with the odd coat of arms. Marcus noticed a new detail that Rich had left out. Above the coat of arms, it read ‘Archimedes’.

Marcus was aware that Archimedes was both the name of a famous Greek inventor and also the name of Merlin’s pet owl, but he had never heard of a military unit by that name before. Marcus also noted that the dress uniforms of the guards were not associated with any branch of the United States’ military he was aware of. Like the unit patch, the uniform colors were primarily black with yellow trim here and there. For a moment, Marcus wasn’t even certain the guards were American, but the uniforms did resemble Marine Corps dress uniforms, colors aside.

As Marcus stood there trying to figure out the puzzle, someone came out of the Admiral’s office, someone he recognized. It was Brock, wearing a more traditional Marines uniform. He caught sight of Marcus and made a B-line towards him.

“Brock, what are you doing here? How the hell are you?” Marcus greeted him. “I haven’t seen you since the wedding!” He grabbed the big man by the shoulders and giving him a big slap on the back.

“I’m fine Marcus.” Brock shook him off, obviously a little uncomfortable. “Remember where we are.” He leaned in, scowling slightly at Marcus. Some of the other soldiers around them were staring.

“Your right.” Marcus agreed. “I just got a little excited, that’s all.” He stood up strait and offered him a hand to shake instead. It seemed to please Brock. After the handshake, he saluted. Marcus returned the favor.

“You outrank me now.” Brock mourned, pulling at the bars on Marcus’ uniform. “I’m going to miss the days when I could order you around and bark at you whenever I wanted.”

“I don’t think I’ll miss that as much as you do.” Marcus laughed. “It looks like you’ve put on a little rank yourself since the last time I saw you, ‘Staff’ Sargent.” Marcus admired the additional stripes on Brock’s jacket.

“Yeah, well they weren’t easy to come by.” Brock smirked. “There were a bunch of Chinese I ran into who preferred I not be around to wear them, but I set them commie-bastards strait.”

“I believe you did.” Marcus nodded. “In the traditional Brock way, I’d assume?”

“Damn skippy, I told you they would end up turning on us in the end.” Brock remarked. “I was ready when they finally did. Anyways, that’s history. Right now, I’d wager you’re here for the same reason I am. I was summoned to this base to be recruited and I reckon they’re going to try to do the same with you.”

“Recruited… for what?” Marcus asked confused. “I’m already in the navy. Who are these people Brock?” Marcus motioned to the pair of odd guards. Just then the office door opened again, and an ensign popped his head out.

“Is there a Lieutenant Ryan out here?” The ensign asked.

“Present.” Marcus replied, raising a hand to draw his attention. The ensign spotted him and waved for Marcus to join him in the office.

"You’d better go.” Brock said. “Remember lieutenant, you salute the rank, not the man." He saluted Marcus and went on his way. Marcus didn’t like something about the way Brock said it. It did not feel like he was trying to poke fun at him. Instead, it rather felt like a warning.

Marcus started for the door, not having much of a choice. He wished that he had a little more time to talk to Brock and ask a few more questions. He had no idea what he was walking into, but there was a pit in his stomach that told him he was not going to like it.

Marcus entered the office to find that Admiral Evans was not there. In his place, he found a different Admiral. Marcus noted that his uniform had the same patches as the guards outside. He was a heavy-set man and carried himself more relaxed than most men who attained the rank of admiral. He had his feet up on Admiral Evan’s desk and was smoking a cigar. If Admiral Evans had been there to see it, it would have sent him straight through the roof. Marcus stood at attention and saluted for a few seconds before he was noticed.

“Ah, Lieutenant Ryan, I see they found you.” The admiral behind the desk spoke. “Good, I’ve been looking forward to this.” He took his feet off the desk and sat forward to get a better look at Marcus. “I’m Vice Admiral Malek. You must be wondering why you are here, come on in and have a seat.” He gestured to the chair in front of the desk.

“Yes sir.” Marcus replied.

“Well, I’m not one to beat around the bush.” Vice Admiral Malek began. “I’m assembling a team and looking for qualified personal. I’ve been given leave to cherry pick anyone I want from various branch of service. And what I want is people with experience. This is not going to be a burger and fries’ outfit. Oh no, I only want the best. Do you know what I mean son?”

“Well, not really sir.” Marcus replied. “You haven’t said what your team is for.”

“Didn’t I?” Malek asked before quickly recovering. “Well, it’s actually quite simple. I’ve been put in charge of what we are currently calling ‘Special Branch’. It is an international military organization under the supervision of the U.N. security council. It is primarily a research division meant to study monsters, but also has the potential to hit those big bastards hard when the need arises. Does that help clear it up some son?”

“Yes sir.” Marcus replied. “It does.”

“Good.” The Vice Admiral smiled before continuing. “At this time, Uncle Sam is providing the majority of the military hardware and other resources, but other U.N. member countries are providing specialists and other support personnel. Mostly scientists who are experts in their fields of study. There are a few faces you should remember. I believe you are acquainted with Dr. Orsini for instance. He is to be one of our principal researchers.”

“Yes sir.” Marcus answered. “I remember him.”

“Our branch of the organization is primarily naval based, but we will be acting in conjunction with of elements of the U.S. army, Airforce, and Marines, as well as the armed forces of many foreign allies. Like the recently established U.N. ‘peace keeping’ forces, we will have access to territory that would otherwise be out of our direct jurisdiction. Meaning if a crisis should arise somewhere in South America for example, we would be able to gain military access with relative ease.”

“A benefit of the war coming to an end is the U.S. Navy has more warships than it knows what to do with. The majority of the capitol ships in the fleet are just sitting in port collecting barnacles. The surplus is in our favor. I’ve been put in command of several vessels that were not on active duty. It is only a handful of ships for now but given time we will grow. Though my command only encompasses a relatively small force, it will still have some good hitting power. We will be able to hold our own in a fight.”

“Our main purpose is to try to study the Kaiju. In case you haven’t heard the term before, that's the name the Japanese adapted for the giant monsters that appeared sixteen years ago. It translates to 'Strange-beast'. The name caught on at a conference some time ago and it has become the common term for those things now.”

“Our organization is not formally part of any of the existing branches of the military. It is relatively small for the time being, but I’m hoping that it will grow when we’re proven our worth. The organization’s aim is to gain a better understanding of the kaiju so that we can better combat them."

“I see from your file that you served under Admiral Nimitz for quite a long time.” Malek noted. “From 1938 to 1941, a very interesting time to be in the navy, wouldn’t you agree?”

“I saw a lot of things.” Marcus agreed. “Admiral Nimitz was a fine man and a good officer. I suspect he would not approve of me turning into a flyboy.”

"I would say you have seen a lot of things.” Malek ignored the comment about Nimitz. Instead, he was intently reading through Marcus’ file, seeming to take notes. “We need someone who is very experienced and versatile." Malek looked back up at him. "Which is why you are here. I need men with a certain type of experience. It says here that during the war you had four confirmed kills in a Sabre jet fighter and flew over fifty sorties?”

“Well, it was actually older jet models for a time early in the war.” Marcus noted. “But yes, I eventually flew a Sabre jet. That was when we started using forward airbases for operations that were too far inland for carrier strikes. Near the end of the war, we just couldn’t get too much work done from a carrier because the flight time from the coast took too long. It didn’t leave us with enough fuel for combat operations.”

“And in addition, I see you flew a Chickasaw helicopter too?” Malek asked. “How did that come about?" “Cross-training to fly helicopters, that's a little unusual, isn't it?"

"It is.” Marcus agreed. “The trouble with operating out of a forward base is sometimes it’s a little too close to the action. A Chinese infiltration unit managed to attack our airfield in the last year of the war. They were on us before we knew what was going on. The first couple of mortar rounds came in barracks of the helicopter pilots. The Chinese killed a number of airmen before the base garrison was able to repel them. After that, we were a little short on pilots." Marcus explained. "We ended up having more machines than men. Our captain was a pragmatic man. He ordered that myself and a few others were trained to pull double-duty until we could get replacements. It took a while though. I mostly flew med-evac missions with the helicopters, no actual combat.”

“And when you got back to your carrier it says your ship’s captain also had you preform anti-sub recon missions in helicopters, is that correct?” Malek asked.

“Yes, when he learned I knew how to fly choppers I got put into the rotation.” Marcus answered. “He thought it would help take some of the pressure off the regular guys. Fighters pilots weren’t seeing as much flight time with most of the action happening inland. It was something to do, so I didn’t mind. After a while, my motto became: If it flies, I can fly it."

“You served aboard an Essex Class carrier for the most part, is that correct lieutenant?” Malek moved forward with his questions.

“Yes sir.” Marcus replied. “And a Yorktown class before that.”

“For our organization’s purposes, we’ve specially modified the USS Essex to carrier Sabre jets.” Admiral Malek noted.

“Ah, that would make sense sir.” Marcus remarked.

“How so?” Malek asked curiously.

“Well, I was ordered to test out one of those new Sabres today and saw that there was a new carrier in the harbor.” Marcus answered.

“Well spotted lieutenant.” Malek smirked before returning to the file. “Now this I do find very curious. It says here that you have a fear of heights. I can’t help but find it amusing that you’d chose to become a fighter pilot when being up in an airplane must bother you.”

"That’s a pretty fair point admiral.” Marcus smiled. “My wife asked me the same thing back then. It requires a little explaining. When I was a kid there was big bridge than ran across the river near my hometown. When my family would drive over it, I’d cover my eyes it scared me so much. When my father found out, he insisted I sit up front with him. He told me: ‘You have to face down the things that frighten you. Otherwise, you'll be running away from things your whole life.’ I don't remember a lot about the man, but I do remember that. He drove me across that bridge back and forth a couple dozen times until it did didn’t bother me anymore."

“Your old man sounds like he had a good head on his shoulders.” Malek observed.

“I’m sure you’ll find the battle of the Ionian Sea somewhere in that file.” Marcus continued. “At the end of that engagement with Gezora, a few things became very clear to me. First, where monsters are concerned, you are generally better off in the sky. The pilot who saved me that day pounded that message into my head. His name was Roger, and he was correct about that in my estimation. When you have seen a Kaiju as close up as I have, the fear of heights drops a couple of rungs on your priority list. It seems trivial in retrospect. Being in control of your destiny makes a difference too. I learned that there is a great deal of difference between flying yourself and being flown. I think half of my issue was just the feeling of not being in control.”

“I can see the logic there.” Admiral Malek agreed.

"I’m curious sir.” Marcus changed the subject. “There were better pilots in my squadron, men with a lot more kills, why do you want me?"

"There were more aggressive pilots, yes, but looking through your entire record, not just counting your time as a ‘flyboy’ as you put it. You've consistently shown better instincts and deductive reasoning than your comrades. You’ve also had a much broader experience. The way I see it, you are a ‘think before you act’ kind of guy. You analyze a situation before making a move. While hesitation may by a disadvantage in air combat, being cautious and using your head serves my purpose better than someone who is just trigger happy and gets a lot of kills. But let’s not downplay your piloting skills too much, you were a good pilot when it counted. You never lost a fight anyways. My old C.O. used to say any mission you come back from is a good mission."

“Sir, permission to speak freely?” Marcus asked.

“Granted.” Malek replied. “What is on your mind?”

“It feels like all of this is a little too late.” Marcus remarked. “The kaiju that appeared sixteen years ago have all but disappeared. Sightings are very rare these days and attacks are even rarer. What is there to study? Aren't the monsters all dormant at now, so what's the point of all this sir?"

"Dormant perhaps." The Vice Admiral Malek noted. "But I fear they won't stay that way forever lieutenant. Sightings are not so rare as you might think. You’ll recall the incident in New York that happened during the war?”

“I do.” Marcus answered. “But that creature was significantly smaller than the other kaiju, does it even qualify? Also, didn’t that one die after it fell off the Empire State building?”

“Well, there are a couple things about that case that are not common knowledge.” The Vice Admiral replied. “If I tell you, it doesn’t leave this room, understand?”

“Yes sir, you have my word.” Marcus agreed.

“Most of this information is classified.” Malek began. “The government’s official stance is that the creature who fell from the top of the Empire State building and was mortally wounded before retreating out of the city. The official report states that they found a body sometime later, confirming his demise. That however… is a grossly misleading statement. Only about one-quarter accurate. The creature did indeed fall from the tower under heavy machine gun fire from swarming fighters, but he in fact managed to grab a hold of the building on the way down, catching himself before hitting the ground. He then proceeded to retreat into New York harbor to escape the planes, but no body was ever found. The government spun out the story about a corpse to prevent a general panic in the New York area. The thought of the creature continuing to run free in streets would cause problems. They figured it wasn’t going to return, so a little white lie wouldn’t hurt anything. Well, maybe it is a ‘big furry lie’ in this case.” He smiled. “Anyhow, the people responsible for bringing it into the city were quickly hushed. It was not hard to convince them. Their silence was the only way they were going to avoid huge fines and lengthy prison sentences for all the destruction the creature had caused in just a few short hours.”

“I didn’t know about any of that.” Marcus admitted. “I’m a little shocked they were able to cover it up so well.”

“The streets had been cleared of civilians for the air attack.” Malek pointed out. “Only a hand full of people outside the military saw what really happened and those who did see were paid off.”

“Pretty amazing story.” Marcus remarked.

“Oh, well there’s even more.” Malek continued. “Before the creature escaped, we managed to get a man on the inside to study the specimen for a couple days. He made a remarkable discovery about it. Through some blood tests, and other methods of analysis, he determined that subject wasn’t fully grown yet.”

“Are you saying it was just an adolescent?" Marcus asked in astonishment.

"I'd say more like a toddler." The admiral replied. Marcus’ jaw fell open slightly.

“A toddler did all that?” Marcus commented. “I wouldn’t want to see what his papa was capable of.”

“Best we can determine, he’s the only one.” The vice admiral replied. “No others were discovered on the island he was found on. But I am certain he has been growing over the years. Before too long, we are going to have to worry about what he is capable of doing on his own. There is no way to know how quickly he’ll mature. But there are more pressing things to worry about presently.” Malek pulled out another file and put it on the desk. “This is a secret report that describes a string of ships that have gone missing in the Pacific of the last three months. More importantly, there’s also this:”

The Vice Admiral pulled out a picture from the file. He handed it across the desk to Marcus. It was grainy, but Marcus knew immediately that it was a photo of the monster Kameras. The moment he saw it he also realized that it was not an old file photo from Kameras’ first appearance. The monster looked to be on a tropical beach somewhere. The topography in the background could not be mistaken for being anywhere in north Africa.

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“When was this taken?” Marcus asked.

“The better question is where?” Malek pointed out. “It was taken three weeks ago on Pango island in the Pacific.”

"So, you think Kameras is on the loose out there and sinking ships?” Marcus asked. “How the heck did he get there? The last he was seen was in the Mediterranean fourteen years ago."

“I imagine he swam there.” Malek answered. “He’s had plenty of time to do so. As to whether he is responsible for the ships disappearing, we’re not certain yet.”

"Another great question is why is he out there?” Marcus noted. “It doesn’t make sense to me that he’d swim thousands upon thousands of miles away from his home territory unless he had a purpose in being there.”

"We don't know that either.” The Vice Admiral admitted. “It's honestly a bit of a mystery and that is what we are heading out there to find out. It may have something to do with the type of ships out there that are going missing.” He noted. “You want to know something else strange? The missing ships are almost exclusively large Russian freighters.”

“What do you know much about the ships?” Marcus inquired.

"Not much." Malek replied. "What we do know is that the Russians are pretty upset about them disappearing. They will not say what the cargos were, but clearly it was something important to them. Meaning, they were likely not just a regular merchant ships. They were most likely military ships in the guise of civilian freighters. We suspect they were carrying something either illegal, valuable, or both. Beyond just monster hunting, that is something we are hoping to learn more about while we are out there. The regular navy has been on the lookout for wreckage, or even better, and intact cargo vessel to detain and search. So far, no dice though."

"How far away were the ships that disappeared from Anguirus' last known position?" Marcus asked.

“See, now that is the type of thinking that landed you here in this office Lieutenant.” Vice Admiral Malek smiled. “You like consider all the options, not just what is in front of your face. But to answer your question, it’s not so far away, but I’ve been keeping tabs on the patrol ships that still swept the trenches where Anguirus was last seen. They have reported no unusual activity, but that doesn’t mean Anguirus didn’t sneak away in the night or something. I find it is best to be prepared for anything where Kaiju are concerned. Underestimating them in the past has cost countless lives.”

“Oh, and there was one more thing that’s probably worth mentioning.” Malek noted. “Mothra was also spotted in the Pacific.” Marcus flinched when Malek said the name. The admiral spotted it straight away. “Yeah, I thought that would interest you. They lost her quickly and have no idea where she was going or what she was doing. This was before the ships started going missing, so it’s just one more mystery floating out there in the vast Pacific.” Marcus sat there letting the information sink in for a moment before speaking.

“Sir, you are aware my service obligation is almost up?” Marcus remarked. “By the time we sail all the way out there, I’ll only have a few weeks before my time is up. I’d be coming back home before doing a whole lot. I’m not sure what good I’ll be to you in such a short amount of time.”

“Oh, that won't be a problem Lieutenant Ryan.” The Admiral smiled. “I've gone to the trouble of having your tour of duty extended for two more years.”

---

An hour later, Marcus was on the phone with Shauna sharing the news with her. It was not going well.

"That trumped-up turd! Can he do that?!" Shauna shouted so loudly and angrily that the phone practically shook in Marcus’ hand as he held it. “Who the hell does he think he is?!” Marcus had the hold the receiver away from his face to wait out the barrage. He didn’t hear every word Shauna said but he picked up enough to know she was very upset. When she quieted down Marcus began to speak again.

"Yes, I think he actually can.” Marcus acknowledged. “I realize that it is not fair, but I don’t think there is anything I can do about it. The same thing happened to a few of the other guys in my squadron and they are tearing their hair out right now trying to find a way out of it. I think we aren’t going to have any recourse but to accept it."

“I just don’t believe this.” Shauna said, calming down some. “How can this be legal?”

“The other guys say that he activated a special clause in our terms of service.” Marcus explained. “Something new they put in during the war to prevent veteran pilots from dropping out of service during at crucial moments. The Admiral is bending the clause as far as it can go with this, but it seems like it is going to hold up under scrutiny. I’m at the mercy of his whims for now."

“Do you want me to get daddy to help?” Shauna asked. Marcus’ father-in-law had done quite well during the war. He used his considerable wealth to invest heavily into arms manufacturing and made millions of dollars in profit. After the war, he used his fortune to support a run for a Californian Senate seat in Congress and had won. He was not only rich, but also powerful and influential. However, accepting his father-in-law’s help would be emasculating for Marcus. He preferred to stand up and deal with his problems on his own as a man.

“No, I don’t think that would help.” Marcus answered. “The Vice Admiral couldn't have done this on his own. He has connections somewhere high up the chain of command, likely in the Pentagon and perhaps even as high as the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I think it would do more harm than good to try to push this. It might even damage your father’s pollical career if he got involved. I think it is better if he stays out of it."

“What happens if you just refuse to report in?” Shauna asked.

“Well…. first I’d be arrested and dishonorably discharged from the navy.” Marcus began. “Then I’d likely spend three to five years in prison, then I’ll get fined somewhere between three to ten-thousand dollars, and finally I’d end up with a criminal record for the rest of my life, which would prevent me from being hired at most jobs.”

“Well daddy could easily cover your fines and give you a job.” Shauna pointed out. “And he might be able to do something about the jail time too.” Marcus was more than a little surprised with Shauna. Was she suggesting her father would try to bribe a federal judge?

“Honey…?” Marcus began unsure of what to say next.

“I’m sorry.” Shauna quickly cut him off, perhaps realizing the gravity of what she had just suggested. “I don’t know what I am saying, I’m just really upset right now.” Marcus could hear her tearing up on the other side of the line. “I just can’t believe this is happening right now and that we are so powerless to do anything about it.”

“I know sweetie.” Marcus did his best to comfort her. It was so difficult to hear her so upset without getting upset himself. “If I thought I could get away with it, I’d disappear off base tonight and come to you now.” He wished he could hold her and tell her everything was going to be alright. “But I just think it would make things worse. It’s better to serve out my time in the service than either on the run or in a jail cell. I promise I’ll get back to you as soon as I can, it is my only priority now.”

---

The very next day, the official transfer orders came down and Marcus was instructed to report to the USS Essex for duty. Marcus was feeling low as he trudged up the ramp onto the carrier, like an indentured servant coming to work off his debts. He found a few other members of his squadron who had been called up like he was on the flight deck. They were also wearing their gloom for the situation pretty loudly. Standing amongst them was someone Marcus hadn’t been expecting to find, his old mentor Roger.

“Roger! They dragged you into this too?” Marcus lamented.

“Yep, they said I had the right ‘experience’.” Roger answered. “Guess that’s what I get for dropping a bomb on that overgrown squid all those years ago.”

“Yeah, they gave me a similar line too.” A voice rose from behind Marcus. He turned to see it was Joe.

“Oh no Joe, not you too.” Marcus moaned.

“Reporting in as gun captain I’m afraid.” Joe replied. “I guess ‘not dying’ a couple times makes me some kind of expert on monsters.”

“Wait a sec, are…?” Marcus began.

“No.” Joe interrupted him, anticipating the question. “The rest of the boys from the Enterprise were smart enough not to stay in the service. It’s just me they snagged.” He let out a sigh. “You know, it is a damn shame they decommissioned the Enterprise, but she just wasn’t big enough to launch fighter jets. I guess this heap will do.”

“It’s going to have to.” Marcus agreed.

Marcus turned to see another group of men coming up onto the deck. Brock was among them leading the way, but he wasn’t the only person Marcus recognized. Several men in civilian clothing were right behind him. First there was Dr. Orsini and close in toe was an Asian man. There was something familiar about him, then it hit Marcus, it was Ling, the translator he had met at the Zao-Ming conference in China. Marcus walked over to greet them.

“Doctor, it is pleasant to see you again.” Marcus offered his hand, which the doctor quickly accepted and shook. “Glad you have you with us.”

“Did they force you in too?” Joe asked, coming up from behind Marcus.

“No.” Dr. Orsini laughed. “I came voluntarily. The Science alone is all the motivation I needed.”

“It doesn’t hurt that they offered him a huge payday either.” Brock spoke up, somewhat cranky. Dr. Orsini smirked, but did not answer, seeming somewhat embarrassed by Brock’s statement. It must have rung a little true. There was an awkward silence, so Marcus changed the subject.

“Ling, is that you hiding in the back?” He asked.

“It is.” Brock grumbled, not letting Ling have a chance to answer for himself. He pushed his way through the crowd and walked away. “But I can see how you’d be confused, they all kind of look alike to me.”

“You’ll have to excuse him.” Marcus scrambled. “He’s not himself today.”

“I think that’s exactly who he is every day.” Ling countered calmly. “I’ve spoken with him before. Pay it no mind my friend. I am not so easily offended as that. In China, one learns to weather mean spirits.”

“Alright, no reason to dwell on it then.” Marcus shrugged. “Instead, let me ask, what are you doing here? You’re pretty far away from the old country.”

“Sadly, I have not been to the old country in a while.” Ling answered. “My family was forced to flee when the communists took over. I’m afraid rich old noble families do not hold with the same honor and prestige they used to there. If we didn’t leave the country, our wealth would have been confiscated and we likely would have been persecuted. Fortunately, I made some contacts within your government during the Zao-Ming conference and was able to make arrangements to have my family and property brought here to the United States before the whole country was overrun.”

“That’s terrible.” Marcus remarked. “But I’m glad you found your way here to the States.”

“Yes, it has worked out well so far.” Ling smiled. “This is a great land of opportunity for my family. Your Admiral Malek recruited me as a linguist for your organization. Like Dr. Orsini, I am a civilian contractor. I am not getting paid quite as well as he is, but I feel I own a debt of honor to your country for taking in my family. My skills should prove quite useful, I was meant for a position like this.”

“How many languages are you fluent in now?” Marcus asked.

“I’ve actually lost count.” Ling smirked. “But I’ve brought my books in case we run into something I’m not familiar with.”

“Show off.” Marcus smiled.

---

The fleet departed around noon. It consisted of the carrier USS Essex, the battleship USS Nebraska, the Battlecruiser USS Alaska, and a modest number of escort ships, including several small escort carriers, and a few cruisers and destroyers. The Admiral was correct, a small fleet, but it could punch above its weight class.

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The Nebraska was the muscle if they ran into trouble at close range. Along with her sister ship, the USS Montana, her cannons had the highest hitting power of any ship in the U.S. fleet. Vice Admiral Malek requested both of the super battleships for his special task force but was granted the services of only one. Fleet Command did not want too many expensive eggs in one basket.

The escort carriers were too small to launch jet aircraft, but they were well-equipped to base scout helicopters for search missions. They escort carriers were cheap and easy to produce, which made them ideal for high-risk missions. With an engine upgrade, they would be able to keep up with the flagship, the Essex.

---

It took weeks for the fleet to reach their destination, and in the meantime, they had received an interesting report for Fleet Command. Wreckage from one of the missing Russian freighters had been discovered. The ship was found aground on a beach and had been gutted. Whatever cargo the vessel had been carrying was gone, along with half of the ship. She had been torn in two and only the fore section of the ship remained. What was especially odd was that when the ship’s wreckage was swept over with a Geiger counter the device detected a massive quantity of ionized particles, indicating a substantial amount of radioactive contamination.

This was significant, because American Government had suspected for months that the Russians were trying to smuggle radioactive materials to a secret Chinese base hidden somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. If the Chinese were developing nuclear technology, it would violate their treaty and upset the balance of power in the region. There was plenty of suspicion, but zero evidence up until that point.

U.S. spies on the Chinese mainland had found nothing to indicate there was any nuclear development there. An island base however would allow them to do their research quietly, far away from prying eyes. The Chinese organization believed to be conducting the research was codenamed ‘The Red Bamboo’, but as of yet, there was no solid proof that they even existed. The discovery of the radioactive Russian freighter was the first real clue that supported the theory.

Vice Admiral Malek was given a new set of orders, ones that were top priority. While he was permitted to continue his search for Kameras, he was also to search for another Russian freighter that had gone missing just a few days prior. Malek’s task force just so happened to be within range of her last known coordinates. He was given three primary mission objectives: #1 locate ship and determine its destination. #2 Find evidence of nuclear materials. #3 Find the Chinese base and covertly recon it.

Vice Admiral Malek determined the best way to accomplish all three objectives was to locate the ship and shadow it. If they could follow the freighter undetected, then they could at the very least determine its course and identify the most probable areas the base would be located. If they were very lucky, they might be able to follow the ship all the way to its destination.

Marcus pointed out to Admiral Malek that there was another possible way to find the Chinese base without having to locate the Russian ship first. If they were to equip their search aircraft with Geiger counters, then they might be able to detect radiation escaping from the test area. The Vice Admiral loved the idea and had the fleet alter course to the American base near Bikini Atoll. It happened to be the location where the United States’ nuclear tests had been conducted. There they could collect all the gear necessary to make Marcus’ plan feasible.

Upon arrival at the base, Vice Admiral Malek discovered it in a bit of an uproar. It had been recently discovered that nearly all of the radiation in the test area had disappeared. Only trace amounts of radiation remained, a fact which seemed impossible given its history. The nuclear scientists projected it would take many years before the radiation levels would drop to such a low level. They were baffled, having no reasonable explanation.

With the equipment collected, Admiral Malek had the fleet set back out to begin their search. They left the mystery at Bikini Atoll for the scientists there to unravel. Search helicopters were deployed and started to sweep the ocean for any sign of the Russian freighter. A few days into the search, one of the scout helicopters had a hit on its Geiger counter. There was a trail of particles which lead them to a nearby island.

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Marcus flew an investigation team to the island in one of the Essex’s helicopters to have a closer look. They landed near the shoreline to make a horrific discovery. The beach was covered in dead sea life. It was mostly fish, but also dolphins, sharks, and seals.

“Jesus Christ, what happened here?” Marcus asked dismayed.

“Don’t touch any of them.” Dr. Orsini warned the group. “Don’t even go near them. I’m detecting high levels of radiation.” He was wearing a radiation suit and pointing his Geiger counter towards the bodies. The needle was bouncing up and down forcefully.

“How far out of the Bikini contamination zone are we?” Brock asked.

“We’re over a hundred miles into what should be the safe zone.” Dr. Orsini replied.

"What? That can’t be right.” Brock barked back to him in disbelief. “You think the radiation just got up and walked its way over there? We have to still be within the contamination ring."

“No, we’re defiantly outside of the contamination zone.” Dr. Orsini countered. “Whatever happened to these animals was recent, they’ve probably only been here a day or two.”

“I don’t like this, lets get out of here.” Marcus suggested.

---

The fleet kept on the trail of the irradiated particles, which eventually lead them to another nearby island. The second island showed signs of being inhabited. Small huts could be seen from the search helicopter. Another team was put together, this time Ling was brought along.

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When the team landed, they found the beach of the second island was in similar shape as the one before it. Worse, the local people were found to be suffering from a strange illness. Ling was able to communicate in part with them. The islanders told him there was a terrible storm that passed through two nights ago, one which had ruined many of the homes in their village and killed many of their people.

Ling also discovered that over half of the tribesmen had already eaten the fish from the beach. Upon hearing that, Dr. Orsini tested them for radiation. Sure enough, the people were found to be contaminated with lethal levels of radiation. There wasn’t anything that could be done for them. Several tribe members had died already. Ling warned the unaffected tribesmen about the fish, telling them they were cursed and not to eat them. There was nothing else to do.

As the night closed in, Marcus lifted the search team off the beach in the helicopter and returned to the Essex. They could see funeral pyres beginning to burn below. The chopper was dead quiet, except Brock began to sing softly.

“I’ve seen bodies turned blue, their eyes turned white, fires burning their remains in the night, and I think to myself, what a terrible world." The rest of the team only listened, chilled by it.

---

The search helicopters briefly lost the trail of radiation but managed to pick it up again a day later. The trail led them to their biggest discover yet, a damaged Russian freighter stuck in the middle of a coral reef. The ship was mostly intact, but the portside hull had massive damage amidship. The vessel’s structural integrity overall appeared to be holding together.

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They were not registering any distress call from the stranded ship, but attempts were made to establish contact with any survivors who might still be aboard. First, the Essex tired her signal horn. No response was given in return. Then Admiral Malek tried using the signal lights, with similar results. Finally, a short-range radio transmission was sent. Admiral Malek did not want to risk alerting any other ships in the area to what they had found. Again, there was no response.

Marcus was dispatched to do a close fly by to investigate the deck, just in case the Russian ship’s radio equipment was nonfunctional. He noted some of the lifeboats were missing, but not all of them. No one was on the deck. The ship was quiet as a grave and appeared deserted.

Vice Admiral Malek meanwhile sent a coded message to Naval Headquarters, reporting their discovery and looking for further instructions. As expected, headquarters wanted the ship boarded and investigated. If the vessel was abandoned, then it was all the better for them. By maritime law, any ship left abandoned on the sea could be legally boarded. The vessel itself and anything found aboard could be seized by the party who discovered it. It was the perfect situation for them as they wanted to do just that.

The freighter was sitting too high in the reef for a boarding party to climb aboard by boat, so it was decided that instead they would land on the deck to investigate the craft. Marcus once again got the duty to fly over the boarding party, but this time it was not Dr. Orsini and Ling accompanying him, but instead a squad of fully kitted-out marines. It wasn’t said, but Marcus assumed that if there were still Russians survivors found aboard, there wouldn’t be any left alive by the time the marines were done sweeping the ship.

“Why us?” Brock asked the marine officer in charge of the boarding party as they climbed aboard the helicopter. “This wasn’t our mission. There are other navy ships who have been assigned specifically to this task who would be better prepared for it. Can’t we just wait for them to arrive?”

"Unfortunately, no Sargent.” The officer replied. “There is a short window of opportunity here and we're the closest ship.” He began to explain. “HQ reported that there were Russian ships dispatched to find this vessel after it disappeared. We do not know where they are now. They could arrive at any time for all we know. Therefore, we can’t afford to wait. That ship could be holding proof that the Russians are providing nuclear assets to the Red Bamboo for weapons development. Moreover, it is perched in a very precarious spot. There is no telling how long it will stay nestled in that reef before the waves knock her out of place. We need to get in there before she sinks.”

“Great, so potentially drowning is also a distinct possibly on this mission.” Brock complained. “It just keeps getting better. I hope landing on her doesn’t throw off the balance too much. Hey Marcus, better be gentile!” He shouted up to him. “Otherwise, we all get to take a swim!”

“Aye, aye!” Marcus replied before taking the helicopter up.

“How’d that son of a female dog end up in such an unstable spot to begin with Sarg?” One of the other marines asked.

“Hell if I know.” Brock replied. “Probably involved vodka comrade.”

The helicopter left the deck of the Essex and flew towards the Russian ghost ship. The dark hulk didn’t look too welcoming to Marcus. It did not help that it was already dark. Marcus remembered going to a spook-house when he was a kid, and the feeling was the same.

“Remember marines, we’re looking for two things.” The marine officer reminded them as they approached. “A manifest and any type of physical proof we can pin on the Russians. Ideally, we walk away with both.”

“What, the pictures of the ship they took earlier isn’t enough?” One of the younger marines spoke up.

“Nope.” The officer simply replied. “We wouldn’t be here if it were. The Admiral wants something more concrete.”

“Don’t worry private, this is going to be fun.” Brock joked. “It beats the hell out of staying on the ship playing cards. Just watch your step in there.”

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The helicopter came over the hull of the Russian vessel. Marcus looked for a good place to land. The ship was fairly level, so it was not going to be all that difficult. Still, finding a spot that was clear of debris and flat took a little doing. Marcus spotted a suitable location and brought the chopper in slowly, ensuring that the spotlight from the chopper and the side gunner were both facing towards the ship’s superstructure to keep an eye out for trouble.

As they landed, Brock opened up the side door and the marines poured out of the helicopter, spreading out along the deck looking for cover. There was no opposition though. The deck only had random debris here and there. Marcus shut down the engine and the helicopter blades slowly slowed came to a halt. The marine officer left the cockpit and gathered his men up to enter the vessel.

Marcus’ job from there on out was simple: wait out the search team until they returned. The side gunnery would stay at his station to keep Marcus company and mow down anyone who wasn’t a returning U.S. marine. The operation was meant to take thirty minutes in and out.

---

An hour later, neither half of the squad had returned or reported in. Marcus attempted to radio them but got nothing but static in return. He was starting to feel anxious. It had been far too long, something was wrong. The gunner suggested that maybe the metal hull of the ship was blocking their short-wave signals.

Marcus thought it was possible, but what was keeping the team? Maybe they had stumbled onto something more significant than they were expecting and it was just taking more time. The only thing that bothered Marcus was if they had just lost their radio signal or run into some type of obstacle inside, then they should have sent a runner back to report the situation. That had not happened. Marcus sat their stewing on the situation, weighing the options. He took one last look as his watch and finally got impatient. He decided he needed to do something proactive.

“I’m going in there private.” Marcus told the gunner.

“You’re what?” The gunner replied.

“Just stay here and keep your eyes peeled soldier.” Marcus barked at him impatiently. “I’ll be back just as soon as I find out what is going on. Until then, cover me.”

“Yes sir.” The gunner replied, not knowing what else to do.

Marcus took off his helmet and took an assault rifle from the rack as he exited the helicopter. As he walked out into the cool night air he fidgeted with the weapon, trying to remember all the ins and out of the gun. He wasn’t used to handling a weapon like it. Marcus attached the bayonet to the tip, loaded in the cartage, and then took the safety off.

‘Ok, I should be ready for just about anything now.’ Marcus thought to himself as he walked towards the door.

As he got close though, Marcus noticed just how dark the corridor and was suddenly a little less certain of himself. He had to remind himself that he was a grown man and shouldn’t be afraid of the dark. He took out his flashlight, clicked it on, and shined it down the passageway. It was empty.

Marcus took a few steps inside the corridor and got a cold chill down his spine. His instincts told him he should turn around and go back the way he came, but he knew he needed to press onward. Members of his team were missing. More importantly, his friend Brock was missing. He could not just leave without them.

Marcus continued further down the hallway, panning his flashlight from side to side. He was being as quiet as he could and listening for any sounds to give him a clue what was around him. He didn’t hear anything but could smell something odd. It was not the sort of scent Marcus was used to smelling on a ship. He couldn’t identify what it was.

Marcus made his way to a stairwell and began to walk down. He could only hear the sound of his boots hitting the metal stairs. He thought about calling out to see if any of the team were close enough to hear him, but something told him that was a bad idea.

As Marcus continued to descend the stairs, he spotted something out of place on one of the steps. It was some type of goop. He bent down to take a closer look and noted was white, slimly, and dripping down. He almost touched it with his fingers, but then thought better of it. Marcus shined his flashlight upwards to see if there was a leak coming from somewhere above him in the ceiling but couldn’t see any source for it.

Marcus continued on and reached the bottom of the stairs. There he found another long corridor. This corridor had a number of rooms branching off every couple of feet. They looked like crew quarters. Marcus wished that he had brought the door gunner with him at that point. Every doorway he had to cross had another one on the opposite of it, which meant to check one he’d have to turn his back on the other one. Marcus very carefully and quietly poked his head around the corner of the first room. It was empty. He turned and looked into the one on the opposite side and found it equally vacant.

One by one, Marcus began to clear rooms. There was no sign of the marines having passed that way, but also no signs of the crew of the ship. Marcus began to wonder what happened to them. Had they abandoned ship? If so, why?

Suddenly Marcus felt awfully stupid. The freighter was supposed to be transporting nuclear materials. What if there had been a radiation leak that caused the crew to abandon ship? If that were the case, the freighter could have been drifting for days, leaving the trail of radiation they had been following. It would explain the dead fish and poisoned villagers they had encountered along the way. It fit, and in a bad way. The gash in the freighter’s hull could have been cause by a collision and resulted in it spilling radioactive waste everywhere it went.

In his haste to rush in, Marcus had not grabbed a Geiger counter to check for radiation inside the ship. For all her knew, he could have already walked through enough radiation to seal his fate. It would explain why none of the marine team had reported in. They might have opened up the wrong door and contaminated themselves. For all he knew, they were already collapsed somewhere below decks dying.

As Marcus stood there contemplating his possible death, he started to become aware of a noise coming from behind him echoing in the stairwell. It was almost like a rhythmic tapping of finger or nails along the metal walls. From time to time there was also a soft, low toned, chirping. Marcus had no idea what was causing either noise, but it was unnerving. He started to step backwards, shinning his light towards the stairwell.

Marcus stood there waiting for whatever it was to come into the light. He raised his weapon, ready to fire. There was something moving in the darkness of the stairwell, but it was on the far side of the wall and Marcus couldn’t get a good look at it. He didn’t want to fire without knowing for sure what he was firing at. The hair on the back of his neck was standing on end.

All of the sudden, whatever was in the stairwell let out a loud shrill chirp, which made Marcus jump and loose a little of his composure. Afterward, Marcus heard the noise of rhythmic scampering coming from the metal ceiling above him and several other areas, all moving towards the stairwell.

Marcus knew it was time to run. He turned away from the stairwell and made a break for the far end of the corridor. He ran, trying to hold onto all his equipment, in particular keeping his flashlight steady enough out in front of him to see where he was going. The last thing he needed was to trip on something he couldn’t see. Marcus came to the end of the corridor and then took a left turn. It brought him to a large metal door, one which required him to turn a wheeled hatch to open.

Marcus had no choice but to briefly pocket his flashlight and shoulder his rifle while he used both of hands to open the hatch. He was briefly in the dark and defenseless while doing so. He cranked as fast as he could until finally, he heard the pop of the door seal. Marcus scrambled into the room on the other side. As he closed the door, he could hear the sounds of scurrying in the dark corridor he had just been in. Marcus used the wheel on his side to seal it shut again.

Marcus took a moment to take a deep breathe and try to recollect himself. His heart was pounding, and his breathing was heavily after running so hard. He grabbed the flashlight back out of his pocket as he caught his breathe and took a look around at his surroundings. To his horror, he found himself standing in the middle of a room full of bodies. Marcus lost his nerve for a moment, realizing he was hardly safe where he stood. He recognized that the corpses around him were Russians, and that they had obviously been part of the ship’s former crew.

Marcus needed assess the situation and make some quick decisions. He could see that the dead Russians were armed with small arms and melee weapons, but they did not do much good against whatever attacked them. He saw a little blood that was green and obviously wasn’t human, so the sailors were able to wound their attackers, but didn’t actually kill any of them. There were only Russian bodies scattered about. Marcus saw that there was food and water stacked up inside the room, so it looked to him like the Russians were trying to hold out until help arrived.

Marcus panned the flashlight around and spotted a door on the other side of the room which looked like it had been broken into. It was clear to him that whatever had attacked them was strong enough to force its way through the door given enough time. Marcus took a closer look at the nearest corpse and noticed the man hadn’t just been killed, but rather there was something wrong with the body. The corpse looked emaciated. The eyes were sunken in and the skin was wrinkled, as if the man had been sucked dry of his body fluids. Upon further inspection, Marcus did find puncture wounds in the man’s chest. He felt sick, realizing what had happened to all the men around him. They had all died horribly.

Marcus could hear the sounds of whatever attacked them at the door he had closed, they sounded like they were scratching at it. He was not about to find out what they were. He ran over to the broken door on the far side of the room and tried to open it. It was no good though. When the door had been broken though, the latch that opened it had been bent, there was no chance of getting it open that way. Instead, Marcus gave it a good solid kick, hoping to break it open, but to no avail. The metal was not going to bend to his will.

The noise he made, however, seemed to gain the interest of whatever was behind the door on the far side of the room. Marcus could hear them beginning to test the metal and force their way through. Worse, he could hear other noises above him starting to move around to the other side. If they got there before he could escape, he’d be trapped.

Marcus had one last option though. He could get down on his belly and try to squeeze himself through the hole in the door. It was going to be tight, but he guessed that there would be enough space for him to force his way through. Marcus slid his weapon and flashlight to the other side and then climbed through. He did manage to tear his uniform on the metal as he passed, but he made it.

As Marcus cleared the door he got to his feet and decided that he needed to get back topside as soon as possible. He could hear noises around him closing in. If any of the other team members were still alive, they were on their own. Marcus took off at full speed, looking for another stairwell.

He found one a minute later and began the climb up. As he did, Marcus heard a noise above him. He moved the flashlight just in time to see something coming down at him. He didn’t know exactly what it was, but he did know that it wasn’t a man. Marcus dropped the flashlight to his side and reached out with his rifle to deflect whatever was coming at him.

Marcus couldn’t see his attacker, but he felt the weight of whatever it was hit against his weapon. It was heavy enough to knock Marcus off his feet, but it never actually touched him. His assailant hit the floor with a thud and let out a loud screech. The bayonet on the tip of Marcus’ rifle was lodged deep into whatever it was. Marcus tried to pull the knife out and leave, but it was stuck pretty tight. Marcus did not want to give up his only weapon, so he pulled the trigger on his assault rifle and let loose three rounds into his attacker. The force of the bullets ripping through flesh was enough for Marcus to finally tear his bayonet free.

With weapon in hand, Marcus continued to climb up the stairwell. He did not hear the sound of his attacker following him, so he assumed that it was either badly wounded or already dead. Either way, he did not care much so long as it didn’t get back up again. Marcus took his flashlight out when he felt like he was out of immediate danger to take a look back at it. However, he was already too far up the stairs to get a good look at its body. He could only see some green blood that had spread far enough out into the stairwell to spot. Though curious, Marcus was not about to go back and take a look. He just needed to keep moving.

When he had reached the top of the stairs, Marcus doubled back through the corridor, trying to make a B-line back to the helicopter. He moved as quickly as he could but was also being cautious of his surroundings. Failing to see another attacker could mean instant death.

Marcus kept going until he found the body of one of the marines. He stopped to take a look at him. Unfortunately, he was already dead. He had been killed the same manner as the Russian sailors. Marcus didn’t know any of the marines well enough to know which one it was, but it definitely wasn’t Brock. The body was far too small to be him.

Marcus noticed the dead marine had a folder in his hands. It appeared to be the ship’s manifest. Marcus grabbed it. If he left it behind, then everything he had just went through would be for nothing. He stuffed the folder into his flight suit and quickly moved on.

Marcus continued down the corridor full speed, looking and listening for any would be attackers. As he came to an intersection of corridors, he ran into Brock coming from the other direction. The two men pointed their weapons at each other for a second before recognizing one another.

“Marcus, we need to get the skreeonk out of here.” Was all Brock said before taking point and leading the way forward. Marcus said nothing and followed. As they drew near the exit, Marcus could see Brock carrying a case with a Russian star on it.

The pair finally reached the open air of the deck. They were just seconds away from the escape helicopter. The other Marine officer had already made it back to the chopper, but with only two of his men. The door gunner briefly turned his weapon towards them but did not fire when he recognized them. As they reached the helicopter the marine officer began to speak.

“Sgt. Brock, are any of your boys still alive?” The officer asked.

“No, nobody else in my group made it.” Brock answered. “I did manage to get this though.” He handed the case over the officer.

“What you see is all I got left too. The rest are KIA.” The marine officer replied, taking the case. “We got the manifest from the captain’s quarters, but then lost it on our way out.”

Marcus was getting the helicopter prepped for takeoff but was listening to the conversation. He took the time to pull the folder out of his suit and handed it to Brock, who in turn handed to the officer.

“Outstanding boys.” The marine officer said with glee. “Well, there’s no point in staying any longer then. Lieutenant, get us the hell out of here.”

“Roger.” Marcus replied, a cold bead of sweat running down his forehead.

As the chopper began to lift off the deck, the door gunner spotted movement near the passageway and opened fire. Marcus was focused on flying and could not turn his head to see, but the powerful machine gun poured a stream of shells into the corridor and only a green mist poofed out as they tore through. When they radioed what had happened to Vice Admiral Malek, he had USS Nebraska, along with USS Alaska and USS Baltimore, turn their guns on the Russian freighter and tore her to pieces bit by bit.

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The Admiral already had everything he needed from the freighter. He had the photographic evidence of the ship’s existence, the ship’s manifest, which included a list of all the ship's cargo, and thanks to Brock, he had a uranium rod that was meant for a nuclear reactor, physical evidence of what the ship had been carrying. There wasn't a need for the actual ship anymore, so anything else on board the vessel was going to get shredded by USS Nebraska’s eighteen-inch shells. The unknown hostiles that attacked Marcus' team were going to end up pulpy meat pies on the cold ocean floor.

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By the time the super battleship’s guns fell silent, there was not a trace of the Russian freighter left. However, the mission wasn’t over yet. Now that they had proven the Russians were trying to smuggle nuclear materials to the Chinese, they needed to locate the Red Bamboo’s secret base.

---

NOTE: (That's all for now folks. That was the official start to the second story arch.)

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Last edited by Ashram52 on Sat Jan 16, 2021 3:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Ashram52
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Ashram52 »

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Chapter 19: The Folly of Man.


Marcus and the surviving members of the marine squad landed back on the Essex. They were met on the deck by a medical team and were taken to sickbay to be evaluated for radiation exposure following their investigation of the Russian ship.



"What the hell?" Private Simmons complained. "Nobody said anything about us being contaminated by anything before we left and now all the sudden it's a big deal?"

Simmons' protests were mostly ignored as he and the rest of the team were scanned by men with Geiger counters wearing radiation suits. Oddly though, just small traces found were found on Brock, and that was only because of his close proximity to the case with the Uranium rod. Everyone else tested completely negative.

At that moment, Admiral Malek entered through the sick bay door and approached the team. The chief medical officer, Dr. Carter spotted him and signaled for him to stop while he was still in the walkway. Unlike the medical staff, the admiral was only wearing his regular uniform and left completely unprotected from possible radioactive contamination. The admiral looked impatient but stopped in his tracks.

Meanwhile, Dr. Carter had Brock put the case containing the uranium rod on a shelf and then continued to pan over him with the probe. Brock registered no radiation and was in the clear. Only then did Dr. Carter looked back over to Admiral Malek and give him the thumbs up that it was safe to approach. The marine captain who had led the mission saw the Admiral as he entered and stood up.

"Officer on deck!" Captain Lennox announced, bringing everyone to attention.

"At easy." Admiral Malek replied. "I heard you boys were successful. Congratulations are in order."

"Yes sir." Captain Lennox replied, handing over the manifest to the admiral before retrieving the case with the uranium rod inside. Admiral Malek took the manifest but let one of his aids handle the case. "I would have retrieved the captain's logbook too, but we ran into some trouble over there sir." Captain Lennox reported. "I lost several good men."

"Yes, I heard something about that." Admiral Malek replied. "You'll be happy to know nothing aboard that derelict ship could have survived the hammering we just gave it. I'll see to it that the appropriate letters are sent out to the families of the men you lost." He assured Lennox. "The captain's log could have potentially contained useful information too, in particular where the ship was heading, but we'll make do without it." The admiral started to inspect the manifest. "What you got us was good enough."

"Sir, would you like a report about what we encountered aboard the Russian ship?" Captain Lennox asked. The Admiral meanwhile was distracted, thumbing through the pages of the ship's manifest. He noticed it was entirely written in Russian. The admiral started to turn to leave, seemingly having not heard Lennox's question. "Sir…?" The captain began to repeat.

"What..?" Admiral Malek asked, looking up at Captain Lennox. "Oh… yes. Write up a report and I'll look it over in the morning. "For now, I'd better get this to Ling to translate." Malek left sick bay without another word.

"Yes sir." Lennox replied. "I'll have it for you tomorrow."

When the admiral was out of earshot, Private Simmons spoke up.

"Well Captain, I don't want to wait for the report." Simmons began. "I want to know right now, what the hell were those things that attacked us in there?"

"I'm honestly not sure myself, did anyone get a good look at them?" Lennox asked. "Marcus...?" Marcus said nothing, but shook his head no. He looked over to Brock.

"A good look...?" Brock began. "No. But in the light from my muzzle flashes, they looked like some sort of giant bugs to me. What do you call those little bastards that get in your house and eat through the pages of newspapers?"

"Silverfish? Captain Lennox guessed.

"Yeah, that's it, they kind of looked like silverfish, only with big nasty mandibles poking out from under their shells." Brock noted. "Couldn't see much beyond that though."

"Whatever they were, the admiral sent us in there unprepared and less than half of the squad ended up coming back." Simmons added. "And he doesn't even seem to care. What kind of poop is that?"

"Calm down Private." Brock barked. "He couldn't have known."

With that, Marcus unexpectedly rose to his feet and started walking out of the room. Since he was cleared of contamination, he was free to venture back out onto the ship as he pleased.

"Hey Marcus, thanks for coming in after us, even if it was stupid." Brock called from behind him.

Marcus did not say anything in return, and instead just kept walking.

"Hey, don't you ignore me." Brock came thumping down the hallway after Marcus. "I was only half serious. I'm not trying to give you poop, but let's be fair, if you went down in that wreck, the rest of us would have been sitting ducks without a pilot." Brock pointed out.

"Yeah, I suppose you are right." Marcus conceded as he kept walking. Brock had been expecting more protest from him and sensed something was amiss.

"You were uncharacteristically quiet back there." Brock observed. "I've known you long enough to know when something is on your mind. Spill it."

"I'm a little concerned, that's all." Marcus replied.

"Concerned about what?" Brock grunted. Marcus stopped and looked around, ensuring no one else was within ear shot.

"Didn't it strike you as a little odd that Admiral Malek didn't seem very surprised or even interested by our run in on board the Russian ship?" Marcus asked. "If you were him, wouldn't you want to know more about what happened? Several of his men died and he doesn't even have one follow up question about it?"

"What are you saying?" Brock countered, somewhat confused.

"I'm saying that maybe he knows more than he's letting on." Marcus whispered. "Something doesn't feel right here."

"Don't you think that sounds a little paranoid Marcus?" Brock replied. "I mean, I get it, we both almost died in there and that has a way of getting your blood up. And sure, Admiral Malek is kind of a prick. It's easy to see the worst in a person like that, but it doesn't mean he is in on some type of conspiracy. I know you're not irrational type, but right now you're sounding a little like that hot head Simmons."

"Simmons might have been upset and speaking out of turn, but he was right about a few things back there." Marcus countered. "Think about it, we went to the trouble of going out of our way to gather radiation suits back at Bikini, why didn't they have our team put them on prior to entering the Russian ship?" Marcus asked.

"Go on." Brock invited.

"You can choose to see it one of two ways." Marcus continued. "Either the admiral doesn't care about grunts like us, or alternatively, he knew ahead of time that we wouldn't need radiation suits on the Russian ship. To the former, Admiral Malek hand-picked most of the men of this crew. Now maybe the man does not place a high value human life, but he did put a lot of work into filling out his roster. I figure a man like him doesn't waste resources when he doesn't have to."

"Fair point." Brock agreed.

"To the latter." Marcus went on. "The admiral has plenty of radiation suits at his disposal and chose not to utilize them in this case. I do not think that is a simple oversight. You can say many ill-things about the admiral, he may be callus, but I've never seen any needless malice in his moves. If he thought we'd need radiation suits, I believe he would have made them available for us. I think he somehow knew the suits wouldn't be necessary for our mission."

"Wait, I know you are a smart guy Marcus, but that sounds all sorts of stupid." Brock grimaced. "For your theory to work, that would mean the admiral somehow knew the radiation levels on the Russian ship would be well-below lethal levels. But how could he have known that for sure? I can tell you from first-hand experience the Russian ship was carrying radioactive materials, and a lot more than the single uranium rod I found. There was a whole compartment half-ripped out of the ship with empty containers. So, the freighter was definitely carrying a lot of heavily radioactive cargo."

"But despite being in that room, you came back with hardly a trace of radiation on you." Marcus pointed out.

"Yeah... I guess that is pretty odd." Brock admitted. "If there was such a big breach, I should have had some contact with it. Enough to be in a decontamination chamber right now buck-ass-naked being scrubbed down and not standing here talking to you."

"Thanks for that mental image Brock." Marcus winced.

"Come to think of it, how did the fleet follow a trail of radiation to the Russian ship if it wasn't leaking radiation?" Brock went on, ignoring Marcus. "That doesn't make any sense."

"Maybe something absorbed it ahead of us?" Marcus suggested.

"Let me get this straight, your argument is hanging the theory that something came along and soaked up the radiation ahead of us and the admiral already knew about it?" Brock frowned at him. "What the hell could do that?"

"I don't know." Marcus admitted. "I'm not saying that there is anything like that. All I'm saying is there's a piece to the puzzle we are missing, and I think the admiral knows something about whatever it is. Did you happen to notice how he was going to waltz right into sick bay without any sort of protection?" Marcus raised an eyebrow. "He didn't have a care in the world. The only reason he stopped was because of Dr. Carter."

"Wait, I didn't see that." Brock interjected.

"Yeah, you were too busy still being scanned down by the doctor, facing the wrong direction." Marcus replied. "From where I was sitting, I could see the whole thing. "The admiral looked pretty put-out having to wait. I don't think the doctor was acting on the admiral's orders. I'd say he took it upon himself to give us the examination. It is his job to think about the safely of every member of the crew. Since the admiral failed to act, he must have felt compelled to."

"If that's true, then we just have to take a peek at the medical logs to know for sure." Brock noted.

"It's on my to do list." Marcus replied. "I might need a diversion for that though."

"I'm good for that." Brock smirked.



The next morning, Brock was in the galley when he fell ill with a sudden bout of sharp abdominal pain. Dr. Carter was rushed to the scene with all of the on duty medical staff in toe to evaluate him. Upon close examination, they dismissed Brock's symptoms as only being a bad case of indigestion.

When Brock told them that he had eaten two helpings of the chef's infamous 'mystery-stew' for breakfast, they laughed the whole thing off. Afterwards, Brock thanked Dr. Carter and then found his way to Marcus' quarters.

"I was right Brock." Marcus began. "The doctor was acting independently last night. He even noted that the admiral sending us in without suits was unusual and irresponsible. He made sure to note that he played no part in it. I guess he was worried about an official inquiry if things went south."

"Well, that is troubling." Brock joked. "First my breakfast was ruined, now this?"

"That's very funny Brock." Marcus shook his head in disapproval. "All of these strange, unanswered questions around us. Nothing adds up. The Admiral is acting too casual to be in the dark as much as we are. In his position, I'd be looking for answers. The fact that he isn't asking any questions whatsoever makes me suspect he has more information than we do. I'm not saying that the admiral up to something nefarious, but I'm certain he's holding something back."

"Have you come up with anything new since last night?" Brock asked.

"Something has occurred to me." Marcus answered. "The admiral told me during my interview that there were previous attacks on Russians ships, but they hadn't found any wreckage until now. What if that wasn't the whole truth? What if they had found another semi-intact ship before and had a similar experience?"

"You mean to say that Admiral Malek previously found a ghost ship with no traces of radiation and also infested with some type of unknown hostile organisms?" Brock asked.

"Exactly." Marcus confirmed. "That might explain why he is so unphased by all of this and seems to know so much ahead of time. I suspect there is a greater mystery out there. The Admiral has a few clues already, but even he isn't one-hundred percent sure what is going on. Maybe it's just one more reason he has collected us and brought us out here to investigate."

"I had given this some thought too." Brock replied. "Could the giant bugs be soaking up all the radiation? Maybe that's part of the reason they are so big?"

"Maybe, but I don't think so." Marcus answered. "If that were the case, both of us got close enough to them to be swimming in radiation. I even got some of their blood on my flight suit, but the Geiger counters didn't even bobble when their probes went over it. Still, those bugs have to be tied into whatever is going on somehow."



Without a logbook to indicate the Russian freighter's destination, the fleet had little other alternative but to resume the hunt with their scout helicopters. The crew of the Essex hunkered down into what they anticipated would be a lengthy, labor-intensive search. However, to the surprise of everyone, almost immediately something unexpected was found. The trail of radiation that had brought them to the freighter had not come to an end at the ship as they had assumed it would.

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Instead, the trail continued onward out into the ocean and no one could quite explain why. The ocean's current was flowing in the opposite direction, which meant that the radiation could not be coming from the remains of the sunk Russian ship.

After giving it some thought, Dr. Orsini came up a possible explanation. He suggested that perhaps some of the surviving crew members from the Russian freighter had removed the missing reactor rods when they realized their ship was hopelessly stuck in the reef. It was feasible that they were close enough to their destination to make it in just the lifeboats. Marcus had noticed about half of them missing in his flyover, so there was some evidence to support the theory.

It was also possible that some of the fuel rods were cracked and the Russian sailors did not realize it. That could be what was leaving the trail. If that were the case, the survivors were getting poisoned slowly by the leaking radiation without even knowing it. Radiation was tasteless, odorless, and certainly could not be seen by the naked eye. The Russians would only notice something was wrong after it was already far too late. The bigger question in Dr. Orsini's mind was would they be able to reach their destination before succumbing to the radiation exposure?

With a path to follow and a sound theory to explain its existence, it was not difficult for a decision to be made. The fleet was going to follow the trail and see where it led them. The Essex and her escorts tracked it for the rest of the day.

After many miles, the search choppers discovered something else that was noteworthy. The radiation level they were detecting was actually increasing in intensity. As luck would have it, Marcus happened to be the pilot of the search helicopter that made the discovery and reported it in.



'What the hell?' Dr. Orsini though confused as he stood on the bridge of the USS Essex. "Marcus, this is Dr. Orsini." He said as he depressed the button on the radio. "These reading don't make any sense. Are you sure they are correct?"

"I'm not an expert Doc." Marcus' voice crackled back in reply over the radio. "Only telling you what the instruments are telling me." Dr. Orsini sat there thinking for a moment before reaching for the radio again.

"If the men on the lifeboats are leaving a trail of radiation this strong, they would be dead within a day or two." Dr. Orsini remarked. "They definitely wouldn't have the strength to row anymore. If they got this far, they would not likely get much further, not against the current."

"Acknowledged." Marcus replied. "Orders?"

"Admiral?" Dr. Orsini turned to ask Malek who was sitting in his chair listening.

"Continue the search." Admiral Malek replied.

"Remain on the trail for now and keep an eye out for them Marcus." Dr. Orsini said. "I'd be very surprised if you didn't see something soon."

"Roger." Marcus replied. "Over and out."



An hour later, Marcus finally spotted something, but it was not a lifeboat on the water. Instead, he saw a column of smoke rising on the horizon. Marcus was about to change course to investigate it, but then he noticed the trail of radiation was already steering him right towards it.

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"Search chopper one to Essex, search chopper one to Essex." Marcus signaled. "Come in."

"This is the Essex search chopper one." The radio operator answered. "Proceed lieutenant, what do you got?"

"I got a huge pillar of smoke." Marcus reported. "Looks to be coming from an island maybe twenty miles away. Looks like the radiation trail will intersect it. Please advise."

"Affirmative search chopper one." The operator replied. "Please stand by."

"Roger." Marcus waited patiently while there was dead space on the radio. He stared off towards the plume of smoke. He got feeling of foreboding about it.

"Search chopper one." The radio man crackled back on abruptly. "Return to the Essex immediately."

"Order confirmed." Marcus replied. "Returning home now."



When Marcus' helicopter reached the Essex, he could see strike aircraft being prepped on the deck. They looked like they were ready to launch at a moment's notice. He radioed the tower to ensure they still wanted him to land, as he would be in the way of the fighters. The tower confirmed the order, they wanted him to land. With their confirmation, he swooped around and brought his chopper in.

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Upon touching down, members of the deck crew ran over and began to refuel Marcus' helicopter. A few moments later, Marcus saw a group of men heading his way from the carrier's island. Dr. Orsini and Admiral Malek were leading them. Brock and Captain Lennox were close behind armed. When they reached the chopper, the air crew were wrapping up and beginning to withdraw. Admiral Malek and his escort opened the doors and entered.

"Alright Marcus, take us to the island." Admiral Malek shouted to him over the hum of the helicopter's blades.

With the helicopter refueled, they lifted back off and were on their way again. As they drifted away from the fleet, Marcus could hear the fighters being launched behind them. The Sabres kept their distance but were shadowing Marcus' helicopter, an escort in case they ran into trouble he guessed.

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However, as they gathered more and more Sabres behind them, it became clear they were more than just an escort. When the total number of fighters had reached ten, eight of the Sabres broke off and accelerated ahead of Marcus' helicopter. Within a few seconds he was barely able to see them anymore. Though they were still quite a way off, Marcus could see the Sabres darting towards the island and the plume of smoke.

'I guess if it is a Red Bamboo Base, those fighters are going to make sure its defenses are flattened before we get there.' Marcus thought. Out of the corner of his eye he could see other helicopters from the escort carriers beginning to form up into a tight cluster. They were far away, but each looked to be full of armed marines.

Marcus felt a little tinge of anxiety and tightened his grip on the controls. His search mission was quickly starting to feel more like a full-scale assault. He had a flashback to one of the particularly hairy missions flying an evac chopper out of an active combat zone during the war. The other pilots used to call those hot drops. Marcus hoped this wouldn't be as exciting as those were.

The fighter jets ahead of Marcus disappeared off into the distant sky while the two that remained nearby were joined by another freshly launched squadron. Marcus wished he were flying in one of the nimble strike craft and not a clunky search helicopter full of VIP passengers.

Minutes passed and the island off in the distance grew larger and larger with each passing moment. Marcus was scanning the sky, looking for any sign of the fighters that had taken off ahead of them, or worse, enemy fighters who might be targeting them. He found neither though. Marcus was a cautious flyer however. He never took an unnecessary risk when it came to potential combat, so to be extra careful, he flew in a little lower to the sea, which would make them harder to pick up on radar.

Moments later, they were flying over the actual landmass of the island. The terrain was very hilly and full of trees. That was bad. If the Red Bamboo had AA-guns, it meant they could easily place them at higher elevations and with good cover. It would be very difficult to avoid them. A slow-moving helicopter would be an easy target. Marcus tried to keep an eye out for arcs of fire that might suddenly come up at them, but thankfully, that did not happen.

Marcus maneuvered them through the hills, staying on course towards the giant plume of smoke. Now that they were closer to the source of it, Marcus and company could see that along with the main pillar of smoke there were also several dozen smaller ones. They were all scattered around one localized section of the island.

Marcus brought the helicopter over one final hill, and as they crested it, they came upon a shocking scene. It was the shattered ruins of what had once been a military base. As they passed through, they saw utter devastation in the valley below. Only burnt-out structures that had once been buildings remained.

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In all, there were at least twenty-five structures, but nothing was left standing. The remnants were crumbling and smoldering. Even the grounds of the base were damaged. The foundations were mostly built on rocky terrain, but the places where there was loose soil, the areas were torn up good. It was not very clear what happened, but the impression was complete carnage.

When the initial shock began to fade, the team could see the main source of smoke was large building at the base of a stone hill on the far side of the base.

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"Dr. Orsini?" Admiral Malek gestured to the building. "What do you make of that?"

"That could be the remnants of a nuclear reactor." Dr. Orsini replied.

"Take us in a little closer Lieutenant." Admiral Malek ordered.

Marcus obeyed and guided them towards the smoldering building, which looked like it had exploded. Pieces of the building were definitely blasted away. What remained of the structure and the ground around it were charred black from being on fire.

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"Looks like there was an explosion." Admiral Malek remarked. "Do you think the reactor had a melt down?"

Admiral Malek directed the question to Dr. Orsini who did not answer. He was too busy studying the damage. Marcus meanwhile switched the Geiger counter in the nose of his helicopter back on. The needle bounced up immediately. Dr. Orsini poked his head up into the front to get a better look at the readout.

"Well, there's definitely radiation being detected down there, but if the reactor core went critical and caused an explosion big enough to level the rest of the base, I'd expect a whole heck of a lot more radiation than we are picking up." Dr. Orsini remarked.

"Sir, over there, starboard." Brock spoke up, drawing everyone's attention to something else. Just about a hundred yards outside the perimeter of the base there was wreckage from a crashed jet. Marcus anticipated they would want to get a closer look, so turned the stick and took them over to it.

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"Do you think someone already attacked the base?" Dr. Orsini asked, looking over to Admiral Malek. "Maybe the regular navy?"

"No." Admiral Malek shook his head. "I've heard nothing about an operation."

"That jet is not American." Brock pointed out. "See the red star on the tale? That means it belongs to either Chinese or Soviet air force."

"Are you sure?" Dr. Orsini asked. "It looks a lot like a Sabre."

"No doctor, that is a mig-15." Marcus replied. "Very similar design, but I can tell the difference. I've seen enough of them to know. Look closely at the fuselage."

"There's another one over there." Admiral Malek noted. "This is starting to look more and more like a fight."

"You think the Russians launched an attack?" Dr. Orsini asked. "They hit the reactor from the air?"

"No, that's not what I mean." Malek replied. "Never mind. Lieutenant, take us to the shoreline if you would."

Marcus banked the helicopter left and came around towards what used to be the base's port area. The wooden planks that had made up the docks were splintered and scattered. What remained of them was being tossed back and forth by the tide or had already washed up on the beach. Two decent sized passenger ships were sunk at their moorings. The tops of their towers were still peaking out above the water, which gave them away.

"What about radiation here?" Malek asked. Dr. Orsini looked at the gauge again.

"Still present here, but a lot less of it." He replied.

"Alright, I think we've learned about as much as we are going to from up here." Admiral Malek announced. "We are going to go back to the ship, suiting up, and then taking a closer look on the ground."



Within two hours, the team had returned to the demolished remnants of the base and were walking amongst the ruins. On the ground, they could see just how many bodies were left in the wake of the base's destruction. Nothing and no one were left standing.

At ground level, it was a lot easier to identify what things had been, including the bodies. The men were Asian and the writing on the buildings was clearly Chinese. The admiral had brought Ling along this time and he could confirm that much. While it was safe to assume the men's nationality was Chinese, pinpointing exactly who they were wasn't as simple. They were undeniably soldiers, but they were not wearing a standard issue Chinese army uniform, which would make it difficult to directly connect them with the Chinese Government.

The foot soldiers wore tan fatigues and very odd cylindrical hats with a symbol no one in the team could identify. It seemed to signify their organization. The officers wore a more traditional military hat with the same red symbol. They were only armed with small arms and machine guns, though the base itself had heavy weapon emplacements built in with much stronger firepower. As the team continued their investigation, they walked past a smashed AD turret which contain a powerful AA-gun.

"Not much left Admiral." Dr. Orsini observed.

"No, not much at all." Admiral Malek agreed. "But we are bound to find something useful, even if it's on a body. We've taken plenty of pictures, but I want more."

As they talked, Captain Lennox came up to them to report on what his group had found so far.

"My men have discovered at least seven downed fighters scattered around the base's perimeter so far Admiral." Lennox informed them. "Looks like an entire squadron. There may be more, we're still looking."

"Have you found an airfield?" Admiral Malek inquired.

"No sir." Captain Lennox replied. "The search helicopters have combed over the whole island. They haven't found a thing. I don't know where the fighters came from sir, but it wasn't here."

"Anything else you can tell me soldier?" Admiral Malek asked.

"The pilots are too burnt up to be identified but appear to be Chinese sir." Captain Lennox replied. "Looks like they may have been called in from the outside to defend the base. We found a record of a coded message being sent out from what used to be the headquarters here. We don't know what it said, but we will have the code breakers take a crack at it when we get back aboard the Essex. My gut tells me was a distress call for fighter support."

"That means there is at least one more base somewhere out there like this one." Admiral Malek remarked. "And it has to be with the range of the jets. What is the operational range of a Mig-15?"

"Somewhere between seven-hundred and fifty to a thousand miles sir." Lennox answered. "Marcus could probably tell you more about that. Would you like me to go find him sir?"

"No, that won't be necessary." Admiral Malek replied. "You've at least narrowed it down for me some."

"That is a lot of area to cover if you want to go looking for it admiral." Dr. Orsini noted.

"When we are done here Captain Lennox, get on the radio and make sure Captain Hillard on the Essex knows he should be rotating our own fighters in constant air combat patrols." Admiral Malek went on. "If there is a Chinese airbase nearby, the situation will get real sticky if their fighters see a US fleet within striking distance of their wiped-out base. I don't want to get caught with our pants down if they decide to get trigger happy."

"Yes sir, I'll make it a priority." Lennox agreed. "One more thing sir, the burning and burnt areas of the base are too radioactive to search. Even in our suits, they're too hot for us to get close to."

"It's strange, you'd think the whole base would be too radioactive for us to set foot anywhere on it." Dr. Orsini observed. "As it is, there are just certain hot spots, doesn't make much sense to me. A reactor explosion should have left this whole area uninhabitable."

"When we find the reactor, I imagine we'll have a better understanding of what happened here." Admiral Malek remarked.

"I'm not sure that we will find it." Captain Lennox noted.

"What…? Why not?" Admiral Malek asked confused.

"The engineers told me that the large building over there contained the reactor core." Captain Lennox began, directing their attention over to the still burning structure at the base of the hill. "If it did contain the reactor, what's left of the equipment is too badly damaged to be certain one way or the other. What you see now is mostly just the shell of the structure. The actual hardware would have been where you see that big the burnt-out crater."

"Are you are saying that the reactor core is missing?" Admiral Malek asked.

"Well, if it was even there to begin it." Captain Lennox replied. "But there's definitely not one there now."

"Admiral, we've found something you really need to see!" One of the marine grunts can up running.



"One… two… three… four toes." Admiral Malek counted. "Dr. Orsini, would you say that this fits the characterization of a giant footprint?"

"Yes, yes I would." Dr. Orsini agreed.

Yeah, I was afraid you were going to say that." Admiral Malek signed.

"I guess we couldn't see them from the chopper since most of them are here in the tree line." Dr. Orsini remarked.

"How wide across is it?" Admiral Malek asked.

"Well, let me put it to you this way: I didn't bring my measuring tape, but even if I did, it wouldn't be big enough for this." Dr. Orsini observed. "You said Kamerus had been sighted in the area. I'd say there's a good chance he has something to do with this base being destroyed."

Admiral Malek didn't respond to Dr. Orsini's comment. He just stared at the footprint intently.

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"Well, if Kameras was here, then I'd say he's got himself a big problem." Dr. Orsini went on. "He must have soaked up a great deal of radiation from the reactor core. The footprints heading back towards the sea are registering really hot on the Geiger counter. I guess he stepped on the wrong building at the wrong time. Maybe the core was smashed down into the ground before exploding. Might explain why we can't find any of the hardware and the giant crater."

"Also, why the whole base isn't contaminated." Captain Lennox added. "I wouldn't go digging around just now."

"Sir we've found a survivor!" Brock came running up to them. "You'd better come quick. He's hurt pretty bad."



By the time Admiral Malek, Dr. Orsini, and Captain Lennox made it on the scene, the witness was already dead. Marcus and Ling had found him and did the best they could for him. It wasn't enough though. His injuries were just too severe.

"What can you tell me Ling?" Admiral Malek asked.

"The man was defiantly Chinese, and he witnessed the whole attack. He said they were attacked by a monster." Ling reported.

"That makes sense, we just found footprints in the jungle." Malek replied.

"We didn't get too much more out of him Admiral." Ling went on. "He was suffering from shock. The man just kept rambling. He was terribly frightened."

"He was scared to death?" Malek asked.

"No, that's not really what I meant by shock." Ling began to explain. "I mean it more in the sense of overwhelming physical trauma to the cardiovascular system."

"Well either way, that's too bad." Admiral Malek replied. "There's no telling how much information we could have gotten out of him alive."

"He's the only one we've managed to find alive so far, how many dead?" Dr. Orsini asked Brock.

"So far we counted up to eighty dead, but there's no telling how many more bodies we would find if we excavated all of the collapsed buildings around us." Brock replied.

"We don't have the time or equipment to do so." Admiral Malek noted. "Have the men continue to sweep the island." He instructed Captain Lennox. "I'm going to return to the Essex and report what we have found so far."



Later that evening aboard the USS Essex, Marcus was sitting down with Brock, Captain Lennox, and a few other marines in the mess hall. Each man was recounting their experience on the island.

"I was with the admiral and saw them for myself." Captain Lennox continued. "Big nasty footprints in the forest. I'm a little surprised word hasn't gotten around about them yet. I guess the admiral isn't in a hurry to stir up all the grunts with the news of a Kaiju being responsible for all the mayhem yet. But plenty of ground-pounders already saw the tracks. Size ten-thousand snicker prints complete with four big pointy toes, there's no way to keep all of the boys quiet about that. The Admiral sounded pretty sure they belonged to Kameras. I'd say the news will travel around the whole ship by morning."

"Except Kameras only has three toes on each foot." Marcus muttered.

"Wait, what?" Lennox asked with half a smirk, not having heard Marcus clearly.

"Kameras only has three nubby toes." Marcus repeated more clearly. "Not four sharp ones."

"Are you sure?" Brock asked leaning forward in his chair warily.

"Positive." Marcus replied coolly. "I saw a file photo right before we left." He assured them. "Three toes."



An hour later, the whole ship was buzzing. The commotion was emanating from the brig. A second survivor from the Red Bamboo base had been found on the island and had been taken into protective custody for questioning. The man had been trapped inside of one of the collapsed buildings for over a day before one of the marine squads found him. He had seen better days, but his life was not in danger. His wounds were only superficial.

Dr. Carter patched him up and then had food and water brought to help him regain some of his strength. Soon after, Ling was brought in to interview the man to see what he could tell them. When an hour had past, Ling came back out. Marcus and Brock were loitering in the hallway, waiting to see what he found out. Ling spotted them and instantly cut off any of their questions.

"I can't say too much at this point." Ling informed them. "Admiral's orders. However, I can say our friend in there did not witness the actual attack. He didn't even make it outside before the building he was in caved in around him. He was lucky to have endured long enough for us to find him and pull him out."

"Did he say anything else?" Marcus asked.

"He said it was monster." Ling answered. "There was more but…." Ling paused, as if to consider his words. "I think we are heading towards something real bad."



The next day, Admiral Malek ordered the fleet to set sail. Marcus found the orders curious because he felt like they had not really finished searching the base. There could have potentially been more clues about the Red Bamboo organization and what had attacked him, possibly even more survivors. The admiral however did not appear concerned about any of that. Instead, he just seemed to be in a hurry to move on.

The search helicopters were sent back out. It was Marcus' turn in the rotation to be on standby while other pilots went out, so he spent his free time trying to gather more information about what was happening. Clearly there was more going on than he was being told. He happened to be walking by the Admiral's quarters when he overheard him and the Captain of the Essex having a conversation with about their guest in the brig.

"Let me make this clear Captain, there were no survivors from that base." Admiral Malek said plainly. "Our embassy spoke with officials in Beijing just this morning. According to the Chinese Government, they have no knowledge of any overseas military bases in the pacific. So, this man officially does not exist, meaning we can do anything with him we like."

"Sir, I must inform you I'm not entirely comfortable with this." Captain Hillard remarked. "This seems to be pushing certain articles of the Geneva Convention."

"The Geneva Convention only applies to prisoners of war." Admiral Malek countered. "There is no war, and he is not a prisoner." He reasoned. "Don't worry Captain, he is our guest and will be well taken care of. He may only be a low-ranking officer, but he is bound to have some information we can use."

"Admiral, surely…" Captain Hillard began.

"I'm not going to let him go until he does." Admiral Malek cut him off. There was a pause and brief quiet in the room. "I have to get back to my duties now Captain. I hope this little chat has helped to put your mind at ease." Marcus could hear Admiral Malek moving towards the door and bolted around the corner to avoid be see by him as he came out.



Meanwhile on the bridge, the executive officer of the Essex had gotten word from one of the search helicopters that they had picked up another radiation trail. Admiral Malek had left specific standing orders in that event. The X.O. ordered the fleet to change course in order to follow the trail and summoned Admiral Malek and Captain Hillard to the bridge over the P.A. system.

It did not take long before the fleet came to their next stop. Only a few hours later, the radiation trail had brought them to an archipelago of small islands. Upon arrival, Admiral Malek issued out his orders and the fleet slowly began to circle the islands. Marcus watched and waited for nearly three hours as the fleet went in circles. In that time, most of the scout helicopters returned to the fleet. Marcus was watching from a port hole as the last of the choppers touched down on one of the escort carriers.

As Marcus stare out the window, someone came up behind him. He turned to see that it was Dr. Orsini. The doctor had come to quietly collected Marcus on admiral's behalf. The doctor brought him up to the flight deck and Marcus could see that he had been mistaken. It turned out, not all of the search helicopters had returned from scouting. One of them was missing.

Marcus also noted that Admiral Malek was nowhere in sight. He looked over to Dr. Orsini looking for answers. The doctor did not explain, but instead instructed Marcus to fly him to the main island in the center archipelago. Marcus shrugged and went along with it, quickly getting them underway.



"Ok doctor, what's going on?" Marcus finally asked as they were roughly halfway to the island.

"Sorry about the secrecy Marcus." Dr. Orsini began. "The Admiral insisted I say nothing while we were on board the Essex, too many prying ears. The scouts found something on the island and the Admiral wants both of us to come see. He said he didn't want the whole crew to know about."

"And what is that?" Marcus asked. "Since we're alone now, I think it would be ok."

"He didn't actually say." Dr. Orsini replied. "I don't think he wanted to mention it over the radio. He just told me to come and to bring you with me."

"And that was it?" Marcus asked impatiently.

"No, he also said that we'd know where to land once we got there." Dr. Orsini replied. "All I know beyond that is the Admiral spoke with one of the scout helicopter's pilots when he came back to the Essex, then he took off again with him and a small detachment of marines. I could see them from the bridge. Once they took off, he radioed in and ordered the rest of the choppers back to the fleet until further notice."

"Cryptic." Marcus remarked. "Alright, I guess we'll just have to look for the admiral's helicopter and go from there." Marcus grumbled.

"Indeed." Dr. Orsini agreed. "But at least it's exciting, no?" Marcus glanced over at the doctor with some irritation.

"The admiral has been acting pretty sketchy since we found that Russian freighter." Marcus remarked. "Do you happen to know why doctor?"

"I couldn't say for sure." Dr. Orsini responded. "I've always found the man to be a little dubious. However, his behavior as of late has been even more evasive than usual." The doctor grinned. "I'd say there is something bothering him."

"So, you've noticed it too?" Marcus remarked.

"Yes, I have." Dr. Orsini acknowledged. "Logic would suggest it is related to recent events, though I must confess, I do not know why. I believe you heard that we found tracks yesterday. The Admiral believes they belong to a monster, and there's no doubt in my mind that he is correct about that. However, Admiral Malek became noticeably more agitated after the discovery. But why should that disturb him so? That is after all part of our primarily mission and Admiral doesn't strike me as the timid type. Our mandate is to hunt down and study monsters." Dr. Orsini observed. "You would think he'd be more excited. If anything, I'd say he's worried."

"Well doctor, I've been around enough monsters not to get excited about the idea of getting close to any of them." Marcus countered. "If the admiral is afraid, it just means that he still has some good sense left in him. Whatever is scaring him, my gut tells me we won't like the answer when we finally get it."

Marcus and Dr. Orsini exchanged concerned glances. They were both quiet for a time, just listening the hum of the engine as it brought them over the landmass of the island. The sun was hanging low in the side and was maybe an hour away from setting.

"There, I think I see the admiral's helicopter at the base of that hill." Dr. Orsini announced. "About two o'clock low."

"I see the helicopter, but you had better get your glasses checked doctor, that's no hill." Marcus observed.

"Oh my goodness gracious!" Dr. Orsini exclaimed. "That's the monster Kameras!"

"Yep, that's what it looks like to me." Marcus agreed.

From their vantage point, Marcus and Dr. Orsini could see the back of the giant's turtle-like shell. The position of the setting sun behind it did indeed give impression of Kamera's silhouetted shell being a simple hill. However, it did not hold up under close scrutiny.

"He is just laying down there." Dr. Orsini noted. "And the admiral's helicopter is parked right next to him. Is he sleeping?"

"I don't think so." Marcus answered. "I don't see any signs of breathing."

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"Ah, I see." Dr. Orsini announced as they got closer. "The radiation must have gotten to Kameras. Looks like he couldn't handle the exposure to the reactor core after all. Do you see the Admiral's party down there? Take note, they are all suited up and keeping their distance. Kameras must be emitting a fair amount of radioactivity. I am a little surprised it killed him so fast though, I would have thought something his size would have lasted a few more days." Dr. Orsini remarked.

Marcus did not contribute anything to Dr. Orsini's thoughts. Instead, he was quiet and began to circle the helicopter around towards the front of Kamera's body. As he did, he and noticed something that killed Dr. Orsini's theory on the spot.

"Take a look at the neck doctor." Marcus directed his attention. "Do you see what I'm seeing?"

Dr. Orsini looked down to find what was unmistakably a nasty bite wound on the side of Kamera's neck. There were two parallel lines of deep puncture wounds which curved together forming a red semi-circle. As the helicopter continued to circle, they could also see a significant burn mark present on the chest-portion of Kameras' shell. The shell had not been penetrated, but the damage to the top layer of armor was plain to see. It was blackened from being scorched. Finally, there were four significant claw marks scratched into Kameras' right forearm. They had not pierced through to the flesh below though.

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"I think you'd better take us down for a close look lieutenant." Dr. Orsini requested.



A short time later, Marcus and Dr. Orsini had joined Admiral Malek, Brock, and Captain Lennox on the ground. They began discussing what they had found.

"So, what do you make of this doctor?" Admiral Malek asked.

"Well for starters, Kameras couldn't have been here for very long." Dr. Orsini began. "Maybe… two days at the most? There is very little decomposition to the body."

"What about the unusual burn damage on his chest?" Captain Lennox asked. "Could it be a result of the explosion of Red Bamboo reactor core? We have found strong traces of radiation on the body, particularly around the burnt area."

"It is possible, but there is no way to know for certain without getting some equipment to perform further testing." Dr. Orsini answered. "The one thing I will say with some certainty is that Kameras was attacked by another monster. There is something else out there, and it must be bigger and nastier than Kameras was." He paused to adjust his slipping glasses. "In fact, I'm not convinced Kameras was the one committing any of the recent attacks."

"Who do you think fought and killed Kameras then?" Captain Lennox inquired.

"To know that, we have to look at Kameras' wounds." Dr. Orsini began. "The key clue is the bite marks on the neck. That is, after all, what did Kameras in. The bite was deep enough to nick his jugular artery and it appears that Kameras bleed out from there. However, what is not clear is if the battle took place nearby or somewhere else. It may even have taken place in the water."

"What makes you say that?" Admiral Malek asked.

"There is very little blood to be found here on the scene." Dr. Orsini pointed out. "That suggests Kameras came from somewhere else and collapsed here before dying."

"That might explain why the landscape seems mostly undisturbed." Brock observed. "If a kaiju battle took place here, you would expect to see a lot more torn up soil and downed trees."

"Indeed." Dr. Orsini agreed. "With that said, let us run through the list of probable murder suspects. By my estimation, there are only two monsters that we know of who could have inflicted such wounds. The first is Anguirus. He has big nasty jaws which could have inflicted the lethal bite and we are not so far away from where he was last spotted. His front claws could also account for the marks on Kameras' forearm."

"Who's the other primary suspect?" Brock asked.

"Manda is also a good candidate." Dr. Orsini continued. "This patch of the Pacific Ocean isn't very far away from where he attacked the Japanese fleet. It could be that Manda considers this area to be part of his turf. The fact that Kameras invaded his territory is a good motive for the attack. Like Anguirus, Manda's jaws could fit the bill for the bite wound."

"If Manda was responsible, it could explain the burn mark." Brock pointed out. "Japanese sailors came out of their battle with Manda with horrific burns from his electric attacks."

"True, but if the battle took place underwater, as our working theory presumes, then Manda's electric attacks shouldn't have burnt Kameras." Marcus noted. "Also, the claw marks on Kameras' arm look too big for Manda to have inflicted them. His appendages are pretty undersized, I doubt they could do that kind of damage."

"What about the Rodans?" Captain Lennox suggested.

"No, if either of the Rodans had moved out from the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Russians would be all over it." Admiral Malek noted. "Every time the Rodans so much as sneeze, it sets off alarm bells all over the Russian Federation. We closely monitor their signals and there has not been any significant radio chatter over the last two months. As you already pointed out, this kill is still somewhat fresh."

"Also, the Rodans have beaks, and wounds made with them would not be consistent with what we are seeing here." Dr. Orsini added. "I think we can safely rule them out."

"Ok, who else?" Captain Lennox asked.

"Varan is another possibility, but I'd say him being behind this is very unlikely." Dr. Orsini remarked. "We are very far away from his last known position. However, it is noteworthy that Varan is one of only a handful of monsters that has fought another Kaiju."

"If that makes him a suspect, then there is also Mothra." Captain Lennox observed. "She was spotted in the Pacific somewhat recently right? Maybe she came to finish the job?"

"Mothra and Kameras have certainly had their differences in the past." Dr. Orsini agreed. "But I don't see how she could inflict the wounds we are seeing with her options of attack. Additionally, I suspect she could have killed Kameras in their last encounter if she had a mind to. Nothing about this fits her character at all."

"I'm not sure if the character of a giant flying bug factors too much into it." Brock scoffed. "Otherwise, your reasoning is pretty sound Doc. What's left? I think we are fast running out of candidates."

"There is Gezora, but in addition to residing in the Mediterranean, he also has no claws or jaws to speak of." Dr. Orsini remarked. "I think we can one-hundred percent rule him out too."

"There's Baragon." Brock noted. "The scoring on Kameras shell could have been a result of his flaming breath, he definitely bites, and he's got claws too."

"That is all true, but I'm not sure that Baragon swims." Marcus reasoned. "At least not this far out. In our prior dealings with him, he mostly stuck to the land. Also, if it was Baragon, I think he would have taken more than just one bite out of Kameras. In fact, I don't think there'd be much left for us to find if he were behind this."

"Good point." Brock smirked. "He did have quite the appetite."

"There is one more possibility that we have not discussed." Marcus noted. "It could be that we are dealing with a completely new entity, one that we do not understand yet. We have been trying to hammer circular pegs into a square hole, trying to make them fit the mold. The answer may be that there is simply something else we haven't seen yet."

The group was silent, though Marcus did catch and thoughtful glance from Admiral Malek. The silence was broken by the pilot who had brought Admiral Malek to the island.

"Admiral, I just got a message from Captain Hillard." The pilot began. "He wanted you to know that the Essex in picking up an S.O.S. from a ship called Eiko Maru, it sounds like a Japanese merchant ship. They say that they are under attack."

...
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Ashram52
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

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...

Alright, I need to say something and it has been a long time coming.

I have to confess, I’m disappointed. I’ve reached out several times asking for more audience participation in this topic. Be it a nice review, a little casual encouragement, a simple thank you, or even constructive criticism. Any type of banter would have been welcomed. Each attempt has generally been ignored. The one main exception is Living corpse. And I tip my hat to you sir. You have been great. You’ve been carrying the load for the other readers all on your own for a while now. This project is a heck of a lot of work for me and the only consistent interaction or thanks I get has been from you. I have, and always will, appreciate your support.

I’d like to say that’s enough on it’s own, but it’s not. This topic gets a least a thousand hits with every chapter update I do, so I know lots of people are reading it. If it was bad, I would assume my numbers wouldn’t be so consistently high. But if I’m wrong in that assumption and the story is bad, just let me know guys. That way I can stop wasting my time and quit altogether.

With all that being said, this will be the last chapter I update here unless things change. There will be no chapter 20 or beyond unless I get the impression that the story carries value here. If that fails to happen, I’ll either move on with the story somewhere else or just quit where I am. Because this is too much work for me not to get something out it and I’m fed up.

If this topic has value to you, make it known now. If not, do nothing.

I’ve spoken my peace, the choice is yours.
Last edited by Ashram52 on Sat Feb 20, 2021 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by SoggyNoodles2016 »

Alright, I will be honest here, I haven't followed followed this story but I have enough to truly enjoy it, so I feel like I should speak up.

I'm going to be completely real. Me personally, I hate commenting on stories this way. Like I can do it in a separate thread but in the middle of the thread, it drives me nuts, because it prevents me from following the story well. It also drives me nuts when I HAVE posted works I'm working on to fourms. That is why I haven't commented, personally, and I don't want to speak for anyone else.

I also want to say that I feel like, again, speaking personally, there really HASN'T been a chance for interaction. Like aside from the story itself and occasionally dropping like info on the monsters and ships, there hasn't been any real call for like, comments or suggestions. The ONLY time you have brought it up is when Corpse comment. Like, I'm not saying it is your fault but keeping in mind my belief about comments in between stories, I legitimately thought you had no interest in it.

That, for me is why. I really don't want to see this story go but if you do, I can't exactly judge you.
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They could talk to each other?

To a degree we never imagined......

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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Ashram52 »

Ashram52 wrote: Fri Dec 13, 2019 6:19 pm Quick little heads up, if you have gotten this far, it means you must like something about the story. I like feedback.

The best way to ensure I update the story here is to give me some feedback. What you like, what you don't like, things you might want to see, or just a little bit of encouragement if nothing else. I'm even willing to listen to suggests as long as they don't depart too far with my own vision of what I want to do with the story. I have a pretty good idea of where I'm taking things, but someone might inspire me to think about things in a different light.
You see this Soggynoodles? This was posted months and months ago. You know how many people have responded since I posted this? Two. And one of them is Living Corpse, who was already commenting regularly anyway. So only one person listened, and that pisses me off.

I’m going to share a little story. Maybe a year or so ago I saw to 2 members of this forum discussing the fanfiction section, I don’t remember their names. One of them had been away for awhile and asked the other guy if this section of the forum was dead. His friend replied that it pretty much was. I wish that I had chimed in then, because I could have told them why that is.

It’s because people here don’t support projects. I want to make this point very clear, if you don’t show appreciation, and take things for granted, content creators get frustrated and give up. I don’t get paid for any of this. The only thing I will ever get out of sharing this is the occasional complement. And those are pretty sparse here.

I’ve given this forum nearly 20 chapters of what I consider good quality content. So I feel like I deserve just a small about of recognition. Not a lot. I don’t expect a thousand comments. In fact, a very small but loyal following telling me that they like my work is all it would take to keep this going. A single person (Living corpse) should not have to carry that responsibility on his own and he has been for months.

The funny thing is, I have so much more material I had planned. Lots more story, lots more monsters, and lots more miniatures. We’ve maybe hit 1/4 so far. I have yet to even get close to my most impressive set work. Haven’t come close to the best parts of the story either. But the lack of appreciation is wearing on me. This topic has hit another thousand views since my last post, so a lot of people have read my warning, and yet you Soggynoodles are the only person who has said a thing.

So here’s how it’s going to work from here on out. I’ve going to give the readers of TK until I finish chapter 20 to make a few reasonable comments. I’m ‘maybe’ halfway done with chapter 20 as we speak. I have a very specific number of comments in mind I want to see. And honestly, it’s a pretty modest amount. If I get to that number of comments, I post chapter 20. I don’t get them, I simply won’t. Y’all have to earn it this time and one comment ain’t gonna do it.

If you think it will help other people be more vocal Soggynoodles, I’ll make a separate topic tomorrow specifically so people can comment about the story and not interfere with other people’s ability to read the main topic. But if that doesn’t work, I’m continuing chapter 20 somewhere else. Living corpse will get the link to it, maybe one or two other guys here, but that would be it.

No one else here has earned enough loyalty from me to warrant a favor.

Added in 2 minutes 2 seconds:
SoggyNoodles2016 wrote: Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:43 pm Alright, I will be honest here, I haven't followed followed this story but I have enough to truly enjoy it, so I feel like I should speak up.

I'm going to be completely real. Me personally, I hate commenting on stories this way. Like I can do it in a separate thread but in the middle of the thread, it drives me nuts, because it prevents me from following the story well. It also drives me nuts when I HAVE posted works I'm working on to fourms. That is why I haven't commented, personally, and I don't want to speak for anyone else.

I also want to say that I feel like, again, speaking personally, there really HASN'T been a chance for interaction. Like aside from the story itself and occasionally dropping like info on the monsters and ships, there hasn't been any real call for like, comments or suggestions. The ONLY time you have brought it up is when Corpse comment. Like, I'm not saying it is your fault but keeping in mind my belief about comments in between stories, I legitimately thought you had no interest in it.

That, for me is why. I really don't want to see this story go but if you do, I can't exactly judge you.
Also, I do appreciate you speaking up. Forgot to say it before.
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Ashram52 »

...

Chapter 20: “Big and Terrible”.

In the ready room aboard the USS Essex, Admiral Malek gathered the investigative team to discuss the most recent developments. In particular, they were deliberating whether or not they should remain on the scene to further probe into the killing of Kameras or set out to investigate the sinking of the Japanese merchant ship.

“Ling, do you have a copy of the distress call from Eiko Maru?” Admiral Malek asked.

“Yes Admiral.” Ling replied.

“Could you read the translated transcript for the rest of the team?” He invited. Ling nodded, then stood up and cleared his throat.

“Mayday, Mayday, blinding flash of light.” Ling began to read aloud. “The ocean has burst into flames. Ship burning, Sinking fast. It ends there.” He put the paper back down on the desk.

“It is very strange.” Dr. Orsini remarked. “I only wish there were more information. This could be something, it could be nothing.” He shrugged. “For all we know, it could simply have been an accident. Maybe something as simple as a leaking fuel line that someone threw a burning cigarette into. There’s nothing definitive to suggest that it is anything more than just an awful mishap.”

“Dr. Orsini makes a fair point.” Captain Hillard observed. “We don’t know if there is a connection to the SOS and our new mystery monster. There is nothing conclusive in the recording. The ship could have been sunk by a drifting sea mine left over from the war or even an underwater volcanic eruption.”

“I still think it’s worth investigating.” Admiral Malek remarked, eyeing Dr. Orsini and Captain Hillard. “We have received no reports of unusual seismic activity and a mine would have had to drift a very long way from the coast to end up all the way out here.”

“If we rush over there, what would we even find?” Dr. Orsini countered. “That patch of ocean is quite different than our present location, far deeper water. The Eiko Maru reported that it was sinking to the bottom. We may have diving teams aboard the Essex, but I have some experience in that area. I’ve logged quite a lot of time diving for my marine biology research, and I can tell you, that wreck would to be much too deep for divers.”

“Captain, how long would it take us to get there at full speed?” Admiral Malek’s gaze shifted over to Hillard, ignoring Dr. Orsini.

“If we left right now, I’d estimate just over three days Admiral.” Captain Hillard replied.

“I think there is more value to staying here at this point Admiral.” Dr. Orsini persisted. “We can collect tissue samples from Kameras and perform a chemical analysis, try to figure out what made him tick. There is a lot we could learn. Maybe we would even determine what makes these creatures so darn resilient. If we can identify what makes them so durable, then we might be able to devise an effective countermeasure.”

“Sir, shouldn’t we at least leave a research team behind to study Kameras’ body?” Captain Hillard asked.

“Admiral, the Japanese will no doubt send a search vessel of their own to go looking for the Eiko Maru.” Marcus pointed out. “We’ve already found something of value here. Given that a component of our mission is to gain a better understanding of Kaiju, we shouldn’t pass up on a golden opportunity to do so. I suggest a compromise. We have ample ships and men to pursue both tasks. What if we dispatch a few of our destroyers to help aid in the search for the Japanese ship instead of committing the whole fleet? We can easily monitor the situation from here as it develops.”

“Marcus, I think you have the right of it.” Admiral Malek grinned. “Dr. Orsini, begin making preparations for your tests. You will begin in the morning. Captain Hillard, signal the destroyers Laffey, Phelps, and the Hoel, to break from the fleet and resume search operations with the jeep carrier St. Lo. Ling, you will be joining them in case they run into any Japanese warships. That way we can avoid any international incidents due to a miscommunication.”

...

The next morning, the radioman on board the Essex intercepted more Japanese transmissions. With Ling’s help, they quickly deciphered that the Japanese had indeed dispatched a rescue ship to find out what happened to the Eiko Maru. As it turned out, it was her very own sister ship, the Bingo Maru. The two vessels were both owned by the same shipping firm, the Southern Sea Steamship Company, and they were anxious to find out what had become of their missing crew and 7500-ton freighter.

The Bingo Maru had already been in the area searching for schools of tuna anyway, so she was the ideal choice to get on the scene quickly. The most recent transmission indicated that the Bingo Maru was quickly approaching the last known coordinates of her missing sistership.

Meanwhile, Dr. Orsini was preparing for his scientific expedition to the island. He chose Marcus to be the pilot to taxi him over. The two men were hard at work packing gear into the helicopter from the deck. Before the rest of Dr. Orsini’s research team could join them, there was a call over the intercom ordering both of them to report to the bridge. They dropped what they were doing and briskly answered the call.

When they arrived, Captain Hillard told them that the Essex had picked up another live Japanese radio broadcast just a few minutes earlier. This time it was in morse code, so it did not take them very long to decrypt it. The transmission was another SOS, this time from the rescue ship Bingo Maru. The Bingo Maru’s message read almost identical to the Eiko Maru’s. Captain Hillard let them see the transcript for themselves. It read: ‘Distress, bright light, flames, fire.’ Then stopped abruptly. Whatever happened to the Bingo Maru apparently had wiped the ship from the surface of the ocean in just a matter of seconds.

“Admiral, I’ll happily stay here and continue to the analysis with just a small team.” Dr. Orsini offered, turning to Malek who was sitting quietly in his command chair.

“No, I’d prefer you stay with the main fleet.” Admiral Malek answered. “But we will leave a detachment behind for research purposes. Captain, signal to the St Lo that there is a change in orders. They are to remain here. I’ll be sending over Dr. Richards once I’ve had a chance to brief him.”

...

An hour later, the fleet was formed up and Admiral Malek walked back onto the bridge of the USS Essex.

“Course is set admiral.” Captain Hillard reported. “Dr. Richards is on his way over to the St. Lo. All is in readiness. We can depart as soon as you give the word.”

“The word is given.” Admiral Malek replied. “Full speed ahead.”

“The search helicopters we dispatched earlier have picked up on a renewed radiation trail sir.” Captain Hillard remarked.

“Well… what do you know, we have a trail to follow again.” Admiral Malek mused. “Does it follow our established course?”

“Roughly.” Captain Hillard replied.

“Have the choppers stay on it, but keep our heading as is.” Admiral Malek ordered.

“Aye sir.” Captain Hillard answered.

The fleet began moving forward, picking up more and more speed until they were going thirty-three knots. The scout helicopters were out in front, looking for any signs of trouble. Now that it was clear they were on the trail of a monster, the air crews were being extra cautious and taking no chances.

The caution grew into anxiety as the day pressed on. Some worried that they wouldn’t be able to find the monster, others because they thought they would. It only got worse as the daylight faded and evening set in. The chopper crews switched on their search lights to scan small patches of ocean at a time. To make matters worse, the strength of the radiation trail began to dissipate, getting weaker and weaker until it finally vanished altogether. It not-so-coincidentally happened to coincide as the fleet hit the deeper waters of the open ocean.

In no time at all, the flight leader came to the realization that they had lost their only means to track the monster, meaning it could be lurking anywhere in the vast ocean around them and they wouldn’t know it. The commander had his pilots spread out in a vain attempt to reacquire any trace of the signal. They did not succeed.

When the flight leader finally reported it in the bad news, Captain Hillard asked Admiral Malek if he wanted to press onward under the circumstances. Malek didn’t answer him right away. He seemed to be weighing the options carefully. He sat forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his thighs while his hands were clutched together. All of the time he was resting his chin on them thoughtfully. The admiral stared forward blankly, looking at nothing in particular, his brow furrowed. Ultimately, he decided to keep the fleet on course.

...

As the evening pressed on, a radio signal was detected coming from a small island named Odo. The natives reported that they had found a survivor from the Bingo Maru. One of their small fishing boats discovered him floating on a piece of debris and had brought him home to try to save his life. Unfortunately, the sailor succumbed to his wounds before they could do much for him. The man had been very badly burnt. The islanders recounted one thing the man said about the incident before dying: "The Ocean just blew up."

The USS Essex continued to monitor the radio chatter from the island and that evening a fishing boat from Odo went missing as well. The only clue was a fire out on the water the villagers could see from the beach. Signals from Odo became more and more frequent as the anxiety and agitation from the attack spread. The radio men aboard the Essex enlisted the help of Ling, and through him, learned that the fishing catches on Odo island had dropped to nothing over the last couple of days.

After a third incident in less than three days, even Dr. Orsini came around to the idea that the new monster was responsible for the missing ships Japanese ships. And in addition to that, the monster was also likely to blame for the missing Russian ships, Kamera’s death, the contaminated fish, and the attack on the Red Bamboo’s base. Whatever this new monster was, one thing was for sure, it was extremely bold and aggressive.

The fleet made a slight course correction, adjusting its heading to redirect towards Odo Island. Unfortunately, they were still about two and a half days away from the island.

...

The next morning on Odo Island, one of the native fishermen turned up floating on a raft. He had miraculously survived the destruction of his vessel. Upon being revived, the sailor confirmed that his boat had been attacked by a monster. Through further intercepted radio signals, Admiral Malek learned that the Japanese Government took the man’s story seriously enough to dispatch an investigative team on a fact-finding mission to try to get to the bottom of what was going on.

Regrettably, before the team could interview the man, the island was rocked by a monster storm which badly damaged seventeen homes and killed nine of the natives, including the fisherman who had allegedly seen the new monster. The investigative team’s helicopter had also been destroyed during the storm, smashed against the rocky cliffs near the beach.

However, there was also some good news. Following the storm, the investigators sweep the island for clues. The natives insisted that the storm alone could not have inflicted all the damage to their isle, and it looked as though they were correct. Giant footprints were found, and radiation was emanating from them. For Admiral Malek, it was far too similar to what they had encountered at the Red Bamboo base to be a coincidence. In his eyes, it confirmed what he had suspected all along.

As the investigators continued their sweep of Odo, an alarm was raised from the village tower and everyone was drawn up into the foothills on the far side of the island. It was there that they finally found their definitive answer.

The crowd was making their way up a narrow dirt path when a monster’s head rose up over the peaks of the hills. It turned and spotted the crowd. The monster’s mouth opened up and scattered the villagers with just one massive roar. Dr. Yamane, the scientist leading the investigative team, managed to keep his composure long enough to get a photo of the creature before it disappeared from the hill and back into the ocean.

...

"Do you think that’s our creature?" Brock asked as he read through the intercepted radio logs that Ling had translated.

“There’s no doubt about it.” Marcus answered. “We have been at least two days behind it every step of the way so far and Odo Island is roughly two days sailing away from where we are now.” He pointed out. “Then there’s the radiation and the footprints, it unquestionably has to be the same monster we’ve been tracking."

“Captain Hillard said they took witnesses from the island to interview on the Japanese mainland.” Brock noted. “Not sure what they hope to get out of them that we do not already know. But if nothing else, they have given the monster a name.” Brock pulled the report he was holding closer to him. “Godzilla.” He read it carefully to be sure he got it correct. A chill ran up Marcus’ spine as Brock read it, as if someone had walked over his grave. “The name comes from a mythical creature from the local’s folklore.” He noted.

...

At Yokosuka naval base near Tokyo, a Japanese fleet was preparing to depart. Their mission was simple: sail out to the waters off of Odo island, locate the monster newly christened as Godzilla, and depth charge him into oblivion to neutralize the threat. The fleet was comprised of only cruisers and destroyers. There was talk of bringing the battleships Yamato and Musashi down to join in the attack, but it was determined it would take too long to get them battle-ready and sail them down from their home port. The admiralty wanted the strike to commence as soon as possible.

The Japanese had developed their own version of Neptune depth charges and had kept them in storage for years while the war had been going on. There had been no monster threats to combat, and the Neptune charges were considered overkill to use on a standard submarine when regular depth charges were more than enough to get the job done. However, with the newly risen threat of Godzilla, the Neptune charges had a purpose once again and were brought out of mothballs.

As the evening progressed, the Neptune charges were moved on the main floor of several ammo warehouses in preparation for loading. The fleet was to sail out in the morning, but as the witching hour approached, the quiet naval base was rocked by a series of explosions. The ammo warehouses were going up one after another. Fortunately, nobody was inside them at the time, but there were some injuries in other parts of the base as burning debris came raining down.

The resulting fires threatened to engulf the buildings around them. Fire trucks were swiftly summoned to douse the flames. The firefighters managed to get the situation under control, but not before thousands upon thousands of pounds of ordnance in the ammo warehouses detonated one by one in a chain reaction that sound like an over-the-top fireworks display. It took the rest of the night to ensure all of the fires were totally extinguished.

In the investigation that followed, it was found that every single Neptune charge had been detonated in storage. At first, it was thought to be some type of terrible accident. Perhaps the weapon crews had improperly stored the ordnance? However, an explosives expert was brought in and quickly ruled out that the charges had gone off by themselves. In fact, he found fragments of an unknown device inside the remnants of one of the warehouses. It was starting to look like someone had intentionally sabotaged the Neptune charges.

Figuring out who had done it and why was a different matter altogether though. There was not much left of the suspect device to incriminate anyone in particular. It was no doubt some type of an incendiary charge, but it wasn’t wired like anything the explosive expert had ever seen before. The incident made the Japanese government very paranoid, and as a result, the permission for Malek’s fleet to enter Japanese waters was rescinded. No foreign ships would be allowed to enter or exit Japanese ports under they had a better understanding of who had attacked them.

The order also denied Admiral Malek access to the area around Odo Island, which was just within the perimeter of Japanese jurisdiction. Such as it was, the admiral’s next best recourse was to move the fleet to Utagawa Island, a forward U.S. naval and air base located near the southern tip of Japan. It was about forty miles outside of their formal territorial waters. The base had been granted to the U.S. by the Japanese during the war, during which time, it had been used as a springboard to launch countless attacks on the Chinese. Through some savvy negotiations and political maneuvering, the U.S. government had managed to hold on to the base after the war.

...

Because Admiral Malek was sidelined and had to rethink what his next move would be, the crews of the fleet were given some shore leave. The port at Utagawa was jammed packed with ships and sailors eager for some time off duty. The island was small, but it had restaurants, nightclubs, and other entertainment businesses nearby the base. Because it was major U.S. military hub, the islanders saw a steady enough stream of personnel pass through to support a healthy strip of businesses.

The Utagawa shopkeepers were on full alert with such a massive influx of new patrons flooding in all at once. They could smell fresh dollars in the air and came out to meet the new arrivals. One by one, the businesses filled up to capacity and beyond. In some cases, owners of restaurants resorted to sending their youngsters home to collect their own person chairs and tables and setting them up outside to increase their space. An opportunity like this could not be passed up on.

There was excitement in the air. The population of the island increased by ten-fold in the space of a day and business was booming. Goods were flying off of shelves, drinks were flowing like a steam, and kitchens were rushing out plate after plate of hot cuisine. The dance clubs sprang to life. It was an absolute frenzy. The sailors were happy to be there and, for the most part, the islanders were happy to have them there.

Marcus’ first priority was to call home and talk with Shauna, but Brock convinced him to get a bite to eat first. They found a place called The Blue Oyster Club at the end of the business strip. It was a seafood place run by some of the Japanese locals and the only place that wasn’t already overrun by sailors. Captain Lennox and a bunch of marines tagged alone too.

Marcus agreed, but was out of his element. He had never tried Japanese cooking before and had no idea what to order. They settled in and Brock ordered fried calamari for him. Marcus did not know what calamari was, but he thought the name sounded interesting. Only after they had brought it out to him did he discover that calamari meant squid. Marcus’ stomach turned just thinking about it. Eating slimy, suction-cupped limbs was simply not appealing to him. Marcus eyed Brock with distain, realizing that he’d been-had.

Brock smiled sinisterly and insisted that Marcus at least try it before calling in the firing squad. The other marines joined in with a mixture of taints and encouragement. Marcus finally relented, and to his surprise, he found that it actually wasn’t that bad. It was very different from what he was used to, but not bad. The breading made the squishy meat much more palatable. The marines cheered for Marcus as he finished the first bite and went for another. None of them had any qualms about eating oriental cuisine and they dug in. Marcus learned an important lesson about expanding his horizons.

After Marcus finished his squid, he went to go sit in the lounge to rest. There he noticed a newspaper printed in English sitting on one of the tables. It was a copy of United World News. The frontpage had a huge attention-grabbing headline that read: “BIG AND TERRIBLE.” It was written by an American journalist by the name of Steve Martin. Below the headline, there was a picture of Godzilla taken on Odo island courtesy of Dr. Yamane.

Image

The picture was only from the neck up, and it wasn’t the best possible quality, however it did give a good impression of what the monster looked like. The photo gave Marcus pause. He could see that Godzilla’s skin appeared to be badly burnt. It was uneven and coarse. The monster’s mouth was open in the photo and Marcus could see it had sharp rows of nasty looking teeth. There was something very unsettling about the monster’s eyes too. Even though it was just a photograph, the eyes seemed to pierce through him.

As Marcus sat there staring, the photo tapped into a primal fear inside him like nothing else in his life had previously. Though he had seen several other kaiju in the past, he could tell that this one was different. He somehow recognized that what he saw before him was significantly more dangerous than the others. Marcus started to remember his dream in Paris, it felt like a warning and...

“What are you reading?” Brock slapped a hand on Marcus shoulder, making him nearly jump out of his seat. “Woah, at ease sailor, I didn’t mean to scare you. Must be a pretty intense article, huh?”

“It’s about the new monster.” Marcus adjusted in his chair, regaining his composure. He quickly found something to talk about to draw Brock’s attention away from his discomfort. “It says here that it’s estimated to stand fifty meters high, the tallest monster yet by a wide margin. Unlike most of the Kaiju we have encountered, he stands upright.”

“You’re too easily impressed Marcus.” Brock grunted. “So he’s tall? Meh, what else you got? I’ll tell you one thing though; he isn’t much of a looker. Check out at that mug, yarg... Someone was left in the oven too long.” He smirked. “You think that’s why he’s so grumpy?”

“I don’t think you’re taking this seriously enough Brock.” Marcus frowned at him.

“Hey, don’t sweat it Marcus.” Brock shrugged. “We’ve overcome monsters before, this one won’t be any different.”

“I hope you are right Brock, I really am.” Marcus looked back at the picture in the paper.

...

A few minutes later, Marcus was leaning against a wall holding phone up to his ear and staring off out a window.

"Marcus, are you alright?" Shauna asked on the other side of the line.

There was a long silence.

"I just miss you is all." Marcus finally spoke again.

“This phone call has got to be costing you a fortune and you’ve barely said a word so far.” Shauna pointed out. “You’ve let me do all the talking.”

“I don’t mind, I like listening to your voice.” Marcus replied. “Reminds me of home. Listen sweetie, I’m going to have to go soon, but give the kiddos a kiss for me and tell them I love them. Tell Lily papa is going to come back home just as soon as he can.”

“I will.” Shauna replied. “I know it’s been hard for you to be away this long. Your daughter misses you too, but she is proud of you. She knows you are keeping the monsters away.” The statement hit home with Marcus. Made him feel a little choked up.

“Ok.” Marcus said gruffly, keeping any tears at bay. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Shauna replied.

Marcus slowly and reluctantly hung up the phone, cutting off his lifeline to home. He stood there and took a deep breath, having to reacclimate to reality of where he was. The marines had already left the restaurant. Marcus assumed they were trying to get into the nearby nightclub. They weren’t likely to succeed.

...

As Marcus came out the restaurant, he saw Ling walking towards him. His face was red. Behind him were two Japanese merchants who had been trying to sell him some of their wares. Judging by the stunned looks on their faces, Ling must have told them no in a harsh manner.

“Ling, you good?” Marcus asked as Ling trudged up on him.

“I just want to get back on the ship.” Ling said sharply and uncharacteristically.

“What happened?” Marcus began to walk alongside him. “Those guys bothering you?” Ling stopped and exhaled as if he was letting out some steam.

"They thought because I’m wearing an American-styled suit, that I am an American.” Ling remarked.

“Well… you are an American.” Marcus observed. “Strictly speaking, you are an American citizen now I mean.”

“That is technically true.” Ling agreed. “But in my heart of hearts, a part of me will always be Chinese first. And while the Japanese might be allies to the United States now, they are still being led by the same men who invaded my country. Their soldiers are still the same men who butchered my people, raped our women, and defiled our temples.” Ling stood there for a moment, subduing his anger and collecting his thoughts. “It's hard for me to say who I hate more, the communists who took over my home and forced my family out or the Japanese Imperialists who made it possible for them to do so. I’d lean towards the latter. It’s not easy for me to be here on Japanese soil, having to tolerate the smiles of people who are by all rights my enemies."

“I’m sorry Ling.” Marcus began. “It had not occurred to me. I guess I have too many other things on my mind.”

“It’s fine.” Ling replied. “I’m getting well-paid to be part of this mission and I’m happy to be doing something that will make a difference in the world. I thought I’d be able to get off the boat stretch my legs a little, but it was a mistake. I’ll just be happier when we leave this place.”

...

Over the next few days, the shipping lanes between Odo island and Japan became extremely hazardous to traverse. The monster Godzilla attacked several more times and it was worse than before, no survivors, no maydays, no traces. Just utter carnage.

After being delayed by the ammunition explosions at their Tokyo base, the Japanese fleet finally dispatched seventeen warships armed with regular depth charges to Odo. None of the Neptune charges had survived the fires, so to help compensate for the loss of armaments, the warships were overloaded with more than double their standard loadout of regular depth charges. While it was dangerous to do so, they wanted to bring all the firepower to the fight possible.

The Japanese fleet steamed its way to the target area and proceeded to saturate-bomb each and every sonar ping they could detect. With seventeen warships continuously firing, huge pillars of water exploded up to the surface constantly. Detonation after detonation cascaded, bursting high up into the sky like fountains. They kept up the water show for seven hours straight until they had exhausted their entire supply of depth charges.

With their ammo expended and the fleet commanders satisfied that there was nothing left alive below, the Japanese ships began to turn and set course to return to port. Back home on the mainland, the Japanese public breathed a sigh of relief. For them, the attack by itself was enough to presume they were safe and could return to their normal lives again. After all, what could withstand such an overwhelming barrage of the Imperial Navy’s firepower?

Some in the scientific community felt very differently though. The paleontologist Dr. Yamane in particular was angry. He had been against attacking Godzilla altogether. Above all, the doctor wanted to study the monster. He reasoned that there was a lot they could learn from him.

...

The research team aboard the Essex gathered together to listen to a radio broadcast. It was a recording from Dr. Yamane’s a briefing about Godzilla from Japan’s National Diet building. The doctor was speculating about the origins of the monster. While the world had seen giant monsters before, this one stood out for a variety of reasons. In particular, the enduring presence of radiation wherever the monster went. Its very existence raised an alarming question, where did it come from?

Dr. Yamane proposed a possible answer. He theorized that Godzilla had been awakened by, or possibly even created through, the repeated testing of Nuclear bombs in the Pacific. He pointed to the traces of Strontium 90, a product of the H-bomb testing, found in Godzilla’s footprints on Odo Island as a strong piece of evidence. At that point, there was some commotion in the recording as several outbursts came from members of the audience listening.

The ruckus died down and Dr. Yamane continued. He described Godzilla as being a mutation. That prior to his exposure to radiation, he had been a type of dinosaur which lived both on the land and in the sea. An ‘intermediary animal’ was the way he put it. Dr. Yamane estimated Godzilla was four-hundred feet tall based on the photo he had attained on Odo island. The remark drew more reactions from the audience.

A member of the military spoke next, asking how they would be able to kill such a monster. Dr. Yamane replied that he didn’t think they would be able to. He inferred that the creature was indestructible. That comment did not go over well with the crowd at all. There was audible shouting and arguments breaking out in the background of the recording. The reported wrapped up Dr. Orsini turned off the radio.

"Do you take that theory serious Doc?” Captain Hillard asked. “Seems a little out there.”

“I don’t think it is out of the realm of possibility.” Dr. Orsini replied. “Dr. Yamane’s theory may be a little premature and will require follow up investigation, but it’s also too soon to dismiss it. We have seen a great many odd things in the last decade. This would be just one more step further into the realm of the extraordinary. There is plenty of evidence to support Dr. Yamane’s theory. The traces of radiation for instance and what appears to be scarring on Godzilla’s epidermis.”

“Yeah, I guess it would explain why his face looks like a burnt potato.” Brock smirked.

“I wouldn’t take this new monster too lightly.” Dr. Orsini warned. “We’ve already seen some evidence of what it can do. It flattened the Red Bamboo base, somehow fought off a squadron of modern jets despite a lack of wings, and it killed another Kaiju. As best as we are aware, that is a first. There is no doubt in my mind we are dealing with a powerful entity, one we know very little about it so far. We need to be cautious.”

“So, you don’t think the Japanese naval attack was successful?” Marcus asked.

“I very much doubt it.” Dr. Orsini replied. “Though I obviously have no proof one way or the other, my gut tells me that it was not.”

...

About twenty miles off of the coast of Japan, a small fishing boat, the Lucky Dragon, was on the trail of a school of tuna. They had been waiting for the big catch and it looked like it was finally within their grasp. The Lucky Dragon’s captain eyed the fish jumping out of the water ahead of his vessel with his binoculars. He turned the ship to port and had his crew readied the nets.

A light squall was moving in on the vessel from the east, but the captain judged that it wouldn’t prove much of an obstacle for them. He was determined to prevail in any case. The company he worked for had not had a decent catch in weeks and this would quickly turn their fortunes around. The nets were put down just as it started to rain.

The crew started to settle in while the nets did their work. It was too rainy to be out on the deck, so they crowed around a card table in the lodge until the captain called for them to return. The captain meanwhile was at the wheel keeping an eye on things. As he anticipated, the storm had not amounted to much. The sea was calm aside from the pitter-patter of rain on the seawater.

Suddenly the fishing boat came to a halt on the water, making the captain and the crew lurk forward slightly. The captain looked around confused. He had no understanding of what was happening. Had they snagged their nets on a reef? He had been careful to study the reef charts before putting the nets down, so that shouldn’t have been a problem. The captain did not have any more time to think about it though. The Lucky Dragon began to move again, only in the opposite direction that it had been going.

The captain tried to increase power to the engines as he fought with the wheel to keep control, but it was no use. Their nets were caught on something and it was overpowering them. The Lucky Dragon was being dragged over the waves by something that was tremendously strong, and they were helpless to do anything about it.

At first, being pulled along was fairly smooth but then the line connecting the ship to the nets began to tug violently and vessel began to tremble. Seawater poured over the side of Lucky Dragon as she tipped, sending the crew into a panic. If they took on too much water, they’d certainly sink. The crew manned the pumps and grabbed buckets to scoop out water little by little. The captain grabbed an ax and started to chop at the net lines, hoping to cut them free. It went on like that for a few terrifying moments until there was finally a snap.

The tension on the line slackened and the Lucky Dragon began to lose speed as their momentum died down. The ship came to a halt and the crew regained their composure. The captain ordered their nets to be brought up only to discover that they had been sheared in two.

...

A half hour later in Tokyo bay, a party boat full of people was taking a pleasure cruise across the bay to celebrate the Japanese fleet’s triumph over Godzilla. There was music and dancing on the deck. Drinking was plentiful and there was an all-around sense of relief. The peace was not to last though.

There was a tremendous thump on the seafloor out along the port side of the ship. The noise was loud enough to get the attention of everyone aboard and the passengers all ran to the side just in time to see a gigantic head breaching to the surface. It was Godzilla. His unmistakable solute was outlined against the glow from the lighthouses behind him. There was no sign of damage from the navy’s attack on him.

The passengers all panicked and ran as the crew tried to keep them calm. There was nowhere to go though. They were sitting ducks should Godzilla decide to turn his attention in their direction. However, after a moment of looking around, the monster’s tail flailed aimlessness and he dove back down beneath the waves without further incident.

...

The next day the Tokyo newspapers had a field day, streaming out headlines about Godzilla being Spotted in Tokyo Bay. The city was on high alert. The Counter Godzilla Headquarters, which had been established in Tokyo only a few days earlier, started mobilizing all its forces to respond to the threat. They calculated it was just a matter of time before the monster landed on mainland Japan.

The army began to move into the city. Tanks and artillery cannons massed around the harbor district. Infantry men filled the streets to help the police oversee and direct those civilians who chose to leave the city, though an official evacuation had not been ordered yet. Most impressively, a colossal electric fence was being built. Forty-five-meter-tall powerline towers with fifty-thousand volts of electricity were being erected to encircle the heart of the city.

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Japanese air defense units were also brought into the fold. At Yokota Air Base, the fighter squadrons were put on standby. They were ready at a moment’s notice to be called into action. The Japanese main attack aircraft was the American-made F-86 Sabre. During the war, the Americans had lend-leased their fighter designs to Japan along with tanks and other equipment that was mass produced. The Japanese still had an impressive stockpile of war materials, a stockpile that was to be utilized in the defense of Tokyo.

Akira found himself assigned as the flight commander of the 1st air defense squadron. He and his boys would be the first called into action when the time came. Like Marcus, Akira also served as a fighter pilot during the war, though more successfully so. Akira had racked up a significant number of kills against the Chinese and was already a triple-ace. He had quite easily adapted over to jet fighters and developed a very high level of skill behind the controls.

Akira’s new squad mates on the other hand were not as accomplished as him. When the war had ended, many of his experienced comrades had retired to civilian life. Akira stayed on, deciding to go career military. When it came right down to it, he could not see himself doing something mundane, like being a grocer, after having lived in the skies for so long. The new crop of pilots Akira had taken on in the meantime had not fought in the war. Whatever came to be over the next couple of days, it would be their first taste of real combat.

Akira sat in his bunk reading through the front page of the newspaper. The headline was about Godzilla being spotted close to Tokyo, but a couple of lines below that there was a story about a scientist named Dr. Serizawa going missing. His home near Tokyo had been found ransacked and the police suspected foul play. The investigation revealed that there was a hidden laboratory in his basement that had been trashed. Any documents about what Dr. Serizawa had been working on were gone and his equipment was smashed. There was no ransom note to be found, but the police’s theory was the doctor had been kidnapped.

“Who would do it such a thing?” Haruki asked as he read over Akira’s shoulder. "Who is Dr. Serizawa?"

"I think in this case, it's more of a question of what he was working on." Akira replied, looking over his shoulder annoyed with Haruki for invading his personal space.

“What was he working on?” Haruki asked, seemingly oblivious to Akira’s annoyance. Haruki was a good-natured young man. He looked up to Akira like an older brother, but like many younger brothers, he could be intrusive and irritating. He followed Akira around like a puppy and it infuriated him.

“Dr. Serizawa was known to be a bit of a recluse and nobody knows for sure what he was studying.” Akira replied. “He worked from home and had yet to publish any papers. You can read it for yourself.” Akira handed the paper over to Haruki. “There are very few clues and no leads. The only thing they know so far is the doctor is missing and his home is a disaster. But with a monster on the loose, I’m not sure why he’s so important anyway.”

“He’s Attacking!!! He’s Attacking!!!” Sasomori ran into the bunkroom shouting frantically. “Godzilla is attacking the trainyard in the Shinagawa docks!”

“What, why hasn’t the alarm been raised?” Akira asked impatiently. “Why aren’t we being scrambled?”

“The attack started twenty minutes ago.” Sasomori answered. “They say that Godzilla is already withdrawing back to the bay. By the time we’d get there, the monster would already be gone. He just stomped through the station and then turned back around.”

...

“Jesus, can you believe this…?” Brock murmured.

Marcus, Brock, and the rest of the team were watching footage that a cameraman had captured from the hills nearby the trainyard in Shinagawa. They were sitting in front of a television in the officer’s club hundreds of miles to the south at the naval base. The broadcast showed Godzilla rampaging through the yard. He was stepping on and crushing train cars with people still inside them. Those who had managed to escape were scrambling in terror at his feet. The monster moved on, kicking up debris with each step he took.

The cameraman panned up and they could see that Godzilla had a train car clutched in his jaws. The monster opened his mouth, releasing the car and allowing it to drop down to the ground. The resulting impact killed both the survivors inside the car and more people below that it landed on. There was no sound, but they could see the monster roar as it left a trail of destruction in its wake. The dead quiet as black and white picture flickered in the dark was eerie.

Marcus watched the screen carefully with a grimace on his brow. The silver monitor followed every movement of Godzilla. The monster thrashed his tail knocking over a water tower. Finally, Godzilla smashed his way through a set of bridges before disappearing back into the waters of Tokyo Bay.

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With that, the picture came back to a Japanese newsman who began to comment on the attack. Ling offered to translate, but no one else seemed interested. Everyone already understood well enough. Most of the group just sat silently, reflecting on what they had just seen. For some of them, it was the first time they had ever seen a Kaiju. Even if was only on film, their reaction was a mixture of shock, aw, and horror. Before, it would have been hard for them to imagine anything dwarfing the power of man so blatantly.

...

After the viewing, Marcus went back to the Essex and was walking along the deck, thinking. As he did, he accidently kicked something with his boot. It slid along the floor until it hit the metal frame of the wall, making a metallic clank. Marcus bent down to see what it was and found a gold pin. It had the insignia of the Red Bamboo on it.

‘How the heck did this get here?’ Marcus thought. He could not dwell on it too long before a voice called out to him.

“Hey Marcus, did you hear?” Brock came up to him. “They cracked the Red Bamboo Officer. I heard from one of the marines on duty that he spilled everything he knew to the admiral. They said they’re going to release him now since we’re so close to the Chinese mainland.” Marcus looked down to the pin in his hand, pondering.

“Brock, I’ve never thought of you as being naive.” Marcus remarked.

“What do you mean?” Brock glowered at Marcus.

“If that man really did break and give up information about his organization, there isn’t a chance that Admiral Malek will release him.” Marcus began. “What would stop him from telling his superiors everything he told us? The admiral wouldn’t risk it. He would want to keep any information he’s learned a secret.”

“Well, who cares about him anyway?” Brock remarked. “He’s a commie.”

“He’s just a soldier like you or me Brock.” Marcus countered. “He didn’t choose to be stationed where he was any more than you and I chose to be under the admiral’s thumb. If we don’t act with any more morality than our enemies, how are we any better than they are?”

“Ok, so what do you want to do about it?” Brock sighed, seeming to surrender.

“Nothing.” Marcus replied. “I don’t think there’s anything we can do about it now.” He tossed the pin over to Brock.

...

From his command bunker in Tokyo harbor, General Nigao Gokita watched the dark waters of the bay through his binoculars. Gokita was in charge of the city’s defense and he felt confident that he had the tools at his disposal to do so. The electrical lines were up and running at full power. The final testing had been completed just hours prior. His artillery was in place just beyond the wires. The general’s plan was for Godzilla to be held up by the power lines so his artillery could concentrate all their fire on him and cut the monster to pieces.

Before Godzilla could even get to the power lines, he would have to pass through the first line of defense. General Gokita had dug out machine gun and mortar emplacements all along the harbor’s entrance in overlapping fields of fire. Any landing would be met with a thunderous barrage of firepower. The general thought it might just be enough to turn back the monster’s attack on its own if they were lucky.

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In the unlikely event that both defensive lines failed, General Gokita had tank platoons stationed in key positions all over the city to counter-attack the monster. He figured a strong, concentrated counter strike at the right moment could drive the monster back.

If all else failed, the general had airwings at his disposal on standby. He could bring in wave after wave of fighters armed with powerful rockets should the need arise. However, General Gokita was hesitant to call the fighters in right from the get-go. While their rockets were powerful, they were also unguided and hard to aim with precision. The rockets would undoubtedly cause lots of collateral damage once deployed.

General Gokita sat patiently, looking for signs of the monster. The wait was a short one. At about 8pm Godzilla’s head sprang from the water and into view. He had used the darkness to get in close to the harbor undetected. The alarm quickly went up in the city, and in the darkness, units began to mobilize. Search lights came on and narrowed their beams on Godzilla, making him easier to spot for the front-line defenders.

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A young solider by the name of Shoji was in the front line and was one of the many machine gunners who sprang into action. He was excited as he aimed his weapon. He looked to his sides and saw dozens of other gunners readying their weapons. Shoji felt confident, he had been looking forward to this moment. The opportunity to defend the city and show the monster what the Japanese army was made of was upon him.

The men on the shore had standing orders to shoot on sight, but Godzilla was still pretty far away in the water and out of range. It was hard for Shoji to resist the urge to open fire though. From where he was, Godzilla’s head just look like a melon with a target on it. Shoji started chewing on a piece of gum to help pass the time. All he needed was an order and then he’d get after it.

A minute went by and Godzilla got closer. And as he got closer, he got bigger too. The melon Shoji had been targeting at the end of his machine gun had grown into the size of a truck and Godzilla was still very far away from his position. Shoji’s confidence was a little less than it had been before. He was beginning to understand what they were truly up against.

Godzilla finally came within range and the order to fire was given. Shoji’s confidence rose again as he let lose, rattling off of some rounds with his heavy machine gun. Red tracer ammo streaked from the harbor into the bay. Shoji quickly shot through an entire belt of ammo and his loader feed a second one in. Shoji resumed firing and rapidly used up the second belt. By this time, Godzilla’s body had started to emerge from the water.

The end of Shoji’s gun barrel was red hot from the non-stop firing, and he was starting to sweat. He continued shooting, starting to eat into his third belt, but Godzilla just kept coming. Over two-dozen machine gun teams were concentrating everything they had on him, but the bullets were having no visible effect on the monster.

Civilians who had chosen not to evacuate earlier took to the streets as they heard the sirens. They began to panic as they heard the machine gun fire, realizing that Godzilla must be closing in on the city. General Gokita had planned for such an eventuality and had his troops stationed to direct them away from the oncoming threat.

However, despite the general’s preparations, the sheer number of people jammed up the streets, which slowed the evacuation and prevented military units in the city from maneuvering effectively. Too many people were concerned with their material possessions and trying to bring them along instead of just getting themselves out of harm’s way. Some individuals even tried to get to the dock area, foolishly trying to get a better look at Godzilla. General Gokita had to divert some of his infantry to block the way.

Back at the front line, Godzilla had closed the distance to the harbor and the mortar crews began to join the fight. Their ordnance rained down and exploded all around Godzilla, sending up jets of water high enough to reach his face. Shoji had been shaken by the complete failure of the machine gun attacks but thought the mortar’s extra firepower might make a difference. However, Godzilla did not seem impressed by them and continued his march towards the docks. The monster roared and the sound echoed throughout the defensive line, testing the bravery of each man.

Shoji and the other soldiers of the front line dutifully stood their ground as Godzilla closed in, but it was clear to General Gokita, who was now watching from his command tank, that their attacks were pointless. He radioed for the front-line troops to withdraw behind the second line of defense. Word of the retreat order spread fast, and the sandbag nests emptied out rapidly.

Shoji grabbed his heavy machine gun, threw it up over his shoulder, and ran as swiftly as he could towards the safety of the power lines. He and the rest of the front-line soldiers got out with only a few moments to spare. Godzilla came to shore, smashed through the docks, and trampled right over several of the empty positions as he made his way towards the power towers of the second line.

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Shoji’s heart was pounding by the time he reached the protection of the second defensive line, both from the strain of running with heavy equipment on his back and also the fear that was growing in his mind. He tried to recenter himself and regain his poise. He was still a soldier and he still had a job to do. Sure, the monster had sent his unit running, but they had only been using infantry weapons against him. They hadn’t really been expected to stop the monster, just to slow him down. Shoji assured himself the second line was where all the strength of the defense lied.

Shoji reset his weapon on a small rise about thirty yards ahead of the artillery and waited. In front of him, he could see the electrical lines bouncing more and more with each footfall Godzilla made. As Shoji lay on the ground in firing position, he could feel the thumps of the footsteps vibrating in the ground below him too. The confidence he had regained was beginning to faulter again. He could see Godzilla in his entirely now and the massive fifty-meter monster was stomping his way right towards him.

As Godzilla approached the power lines, he slowed and seemed to survey the towers curiously. He came to a complete stop for a few moments, looking past the wires towards the lights of the city beyond. Suddenly Godzilla stepped forward and entangled himself in the power lines. Sparks flew and hissed. The surging electricity erupted, popping as the energy burst against the monster’s skin.

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Godzilla did not stop, but unlike the machinegun fire, the shocks from the power lines did get his attention. He roared in anger and the sound reverberated in the bones of every soldier within earshot. As Godzilla struggled against the wires, Shoji and the machine gunners resumed their fire, hoping their added attack wound be enough to drive the monster back. It was not.

Godzilla thrashed with his claws against the wires and broke several of them. It looked as though the tower defense was going to fail after just a few seconds. General Gokita recognized the need for immediate action and ordered his artillery cannons to open fire. It no longer mattered if they hit the towers, their best chance of containing Godzilla was already slipping away anyways.

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When the first barrage of cannon fire hit Godzilla, it temporarily distracted him from the power lines. Unfortunately, it was already too late. As the monster pulled back, he tore loose the only remaining power cables. Thus, he could move forward again at his leisure. Oddly though, Godzilla didn’t. Instead, he focused his rage on the power towers, as if they were a living enemy to crush. It was like he wanted revenge for the pain they had caused him.

Godzilla stepped forward and grappled with the tower to his left, toppling it over, then he turned his attention to the one to his right, knocking the top portion clean off the base. Some residual power from the wires cracked as he touched them, giving him another jolt. The artillery cannons meanwhile continued to hammer away at him, but Godzilla either did not notice or he did not care. He was fixated on the power towers. He kicked the bottom out from one with his foot and then knocked down another one with a swing of his tail.

General Gokita could see that the cannons alone were not enough, so he sent in his first platoon of tanks join the fight. While the tanks did not possess stronger firepower, they could adjust their aim much easier than the artillery. Gokita instructed them to target Godzilla’s face. Their only hope for victory now was a lucky shot to a sensitive area.

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The tanks rolled up and started picking their shots carefully. The general watched with his binoculars to see the effect and soon a shell did go off just next to Godzilla’s ear. The monster paused for a moment and then something bizarre happened. The spines along his back began to light up. Gokita was confused. Was the lightshow an odd defensive mechanism the monster possessed, meant to distract or intimidate his enemies? Very promptly the general found out that wasn’t the case.

Only a few seconds after his spines began to glow, Godzilla opened his mouth and from it came a stream of blue fire. The fire hit two of the remaining power towers that were still within close proximity to him. The pylons instantly turned red hot and shortly thereafter became to white hot. At that point, the metal girders of the towers began to melt like cheap wax. The superstructure of each bent backward from the force of the heat ray. Shoji could feel the skin on his face sting from the intense heat from the attack. When the heat ray ceased, what was left of the towers looked like molten slag.

Godzilla seemed satisfied with the damage he inflicted and turned away from the towers. He began to advance towards the city again. General Gokita ordered the second line of defense to fall back, but it was already too late for the soldiers directly in Godzilla’s path. He was striding faster than they could retreat. Shoji was one of those soldiers. He abandoned his equipment and position even before the retreat order could reach the line. Any notion of victory for Shoji was gone, it had turned to ashes in his mouth. Inevitable crushing defeat however was right behind him and gaining ground. There was only the shrinking hope of survival now.

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As Shoji ran for his life in terror, he looked back. He could see the hulking figure of Godzilla in the dark closing in on him moment by moment. He could feel each step the monster took bringing him closer. There wasn’t any chance for escape, and he knew it. One final step and it was over for an entire regiment of soldiers. Godzilla’s foot came down and he didn’t even notice their deaths. He just kept moving towards the city trampling anything and anyone in his way. General Gokita could only watch in horror as his men died step by step.

Shoji looked up as he lay on his back. Godzilla’s foot had landed just a few feet from where he had been running and knocked him to the ground on impact. It had missed him, but only just. The monster had stopped to roar, announcing his arrival to all of Tokyo. Shoji was frozen to the ground, so frightened that he could barely even breathe. Every muscle in his body was paralyzed. His only hope for survival was that the monster did not notice him.

Godzilla began to move again and left Shoji laying there. Still frozen, Shoji watched helplessly as Godzilla’s massive tail hung above him in the air trailing behind the monster. If it came down upon him, that would be it for Shoji. His relatively young life would be cut short. Shoji still could not move, but he teared up contemplating his death, trying to understand his final thoughts as they flashed by. There was so much he had not accomplished. So much he had not gotten the chance to do with his life.

As Godzilla’s steps got further and further away, the threat of his tail to Shoji’s existence faded. The young soldier’s muscles began to relax, and his paralysis waned. Shoji turned on to his side and curled up into a ball. The trauma of what just happened hit right away. He wept and could not even begin to imagine getting up at that moment. It was all he could do to contain himself. He just stared off into the near distance.

As his conscious mind began to reassert itself, Shoji became aware of the numerous bodies of his former squad mates crushed just a few yards away from where he lay. There wasn’t much left to identify who they were anymore. The bodies of his friends were little more than chumps of broken flesh congealed around red stained uniforms.

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The background sound of air raid sirens going off throughout the city greeted Godzilla as he entered Tokyo proper. The monster paused, scanning the skyline. Then he turned to his right, rearing back his head, and unleashed a blast of his heat ray. His target was a large apartment complex. The wooden building went up like a box of matchsticks as the stream of fire hit it. The monster’s breath also hit several other buildings behind the apartment. The intense fire that followed immediately grew out of control, spreading to other nearby structures.

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Turning to his left, Godzilla let loose another spray of lethal fire. He was aiming for a department store, but a large group of soldiers and civilians who were running away nearby got caught up in it too. They immediately burst into flame and fell over. The people at the center of the blast were evaporated down to the bone, while those on the outer edges merely cooked on the pavement. The building behind them burst into a raging inferno.

Firefighters were alerted to the blaze and rushed onto the scene. Meanwhile Godzilla seemed to run wild with his heat ray, unleashing its destructive force upon anything nearby that had been untouched up until that point. Two large grain silos exploded as the grain dust inside ignited. The resulting blast spreading flaming debris around for hundreds of yards in all directions.

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Between the massive detonation, and catching his first glance at Godzilla, the driver of the first firetruck lost control of the wheel. The fire engine skidded off of the road and slammed into a nearby store’s front window. The second truck, which was following closely behind the first, had to swerve to avoid the wreck and lost control after hopping the curve. The second engine rolled over several times, tossing most of its crew off, before crashing into a parked car.

In the aftermath, all of the firefighters were either killed or too badly injured to carry on. Just like that, any chance to contain the fires was gone. Other fire crews would follow, but by the time they got on the scene, they would be too overwhelmed by the monstrous inferno to do anything about it. An ambulance came wailing down the street next, but the driver had the good sense to turn around once he saw Godzilla. The fires had spread over the entire block by that point anyway.

The onslaught continued unabated. Godzilla marched forward tirelessly and flattened everything in front of him. He smashed through buildings and trampled people as he went. General Gokita watched the carnage unfolding and radioed the nearest tank platoon forward to confront Godzilla. Gokita realized that there was little hope his tanks could stop the monster, but he wanted to at least slow down his advance some, if only to buy the fleeing civilians a little time to escape.

The tanks rolled forward and thundered off several shots at Godzilla with their main cannons. They hit home and the monster stopped in his tracks taking notice of them. The tanks continued firing, landing several more hits each. Godzilla roared, seemingly angered that they dared to challenge him. He changed directions, coming for the tanks.

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The tank commanders were smart enough to know that it was time to get the hell out of dodge. They turned their vehicles around and began to withdraw. Unfortunately, Godzilla was not about to let them escape. He turned his heat ray on them, not stopping until he had hit every single tank. One of the commanders popped out of the top of his tank, desperately trying to escape. The intense heat around him was too much though and he dropped into the fire burning below.

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The massive fire Godzilla had started spread until it was encroaching into other districts of the city. Anyone who was not fast enough to say ahead of the blaze was consumed by it. Wood, clothe, and flesh, it all burnt. Even the buildings made of stone would burn if Godzilla’s heat ray hit them directly, such was the intensity of his heat beam. By contrast, the monster itself seemed impervious to the fires he created. He moved around freely in it with impunity.

Godzilla’s attacks were relentless and before long the heart of Tokyo was little more than a sea of flames around him. The smoke from it choked the night sky. General Gokita could only watch from a hill in shock. It was unreal. This was worse than he could have possibly imagined, the whole city was burning. Beneath the flames, thousands lay dead or dying. Even from the relative safety of where he sat, embers were drifting up to him. Gokita could swear he smelled burning flesh. The flickering yellow light of the fire reflected in his eyes. He could hear the terrified shrieks of the survivors as they struggled to survive in the ever-worsening situation. A tear formed in the corner of his eye. Seeing the capital, the pride of his nation, going up in flames was too much for the old soldier. He must be in hell.

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Below, Godzilla’s shadow loomed over the city from the light of the fires. To Gokita, he looked like a demon revealing in the inferno. To make matters worse, the monster was moving towards the capitol building. It looked as though the National Diet’s destruction was imminent. That was a step beyond what General Gokita could personally endure. He had seen too much already. Gokita ordered his second in command to take charge of the city’s defense and to call in the air strike. Gokita meanwhile sped away down into the smoldering city streets in his command tank.

Godzilla continued on his path of destruction, shattering buildings as he walked right through them. He happened upon a group of police officers and soldiers gathered around a squad car listening to their orders. Godzilla roared, announcing his presence, and then unleashed his heat ray down upon them. The men tried to run when they spotted him, but it was already too late. The officer inside the car died instantly as the gas tank exploded. Those who ran caught flame and began to burn too. Running away had only made their deaths slower.

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A block away, a woman and her three children sat helplessly on the pavement, trapped by the flames around them. Her husband had been killed moments earlier by falling burning debris. The woman pulled her children’s faces close to her, shielding their eyes from the horror closing in around them.

A clock tower began to chime the hour and drew Godzilla’s attention. He went over and grabbed the tower, pulling it away from the rest of the building to silence the bells. Little by little, it crumbled in his arms. General Gokita’s tank arrived on the scene just in time to see the rest of the building collapsing. Several people had been hiding inside and were running out, trying to avoid being buried alive.

Gokita pressed his tank forward, firing at Godzilla’s face. Inside the tank, the general yelled a war cry at Godzilla, incensed that the monster destroyed so much of his city and killed so many of his people, both of which he had failed to protect. If he could only prevent the monster from destroying the capitol building, he might retain some of his honor.

Godzilla turned to face the tank, and in doing so, knocked loose a large chunk of building with his hand. The debris fell down towards several of the fleeing people. For the people at the front of the pack, they were already in the clear, but for three men in the back, they were in the drop zone. The men stopped and looked up just time to see the wreckage coming down at them at terminal velocity.

Time slowed down for the trio. The grey cement blocks grew closer second by fragmented second. The man in the middle of the group fell backwards while the other two tried to move forward out of the way. The concrete finally found its mark and crushed the two men in front. The third man was spared death but got spattered by the droplets of his two friend’s blood.

The poor man sat there in disbelief as red tears dripped down his face. In front of him was a twisted mixture of masonry work and body parts. As the reality of what happened sank in, the man shrieked in horror and frantically tried to get the blood off of him. He tried to use his shirt to dry his face, but it also had blood on it which just smeared more on.

Meanwhile, General Gokita’s tank continued to rush forward. It passed the man sitting on the street in a suicidal charge against Godzilla. As they closed, Gokita opened the hatch from the top of the tank and used the machine gun mount to fire on the monster. He got about ten rounds off before Godzilla’s foot came crashing down upon him, killing both the general and his loyal crew.

Undeterred by the distraction, Godzilla resumed his rampage towards the National Diet Building. The capitol was empty but remained the symbol of the Japanese Government and its destruction would be a major blow to their national pride.

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Godzilla advanced on it slowly but turned just before reaching the main dome. Instead, he crashed through the west wing of the building. The solid grey stone walls fell to pieces under Godzilla’s weight. The monster passed right through, toppling the granite wall in front as he came out the other side. In the end, the building was badly damaged, but not completely destroyed.

Godzilla’s next target was a radio tower where a group of newsmen and photographers had gathered to get the best view of the monster’s rampage. The cameramen were very foolishly taking pictures of Godzilla with their flashes on, which attracted his attention. Their lack of wisdom would cost them all dearly. Any chance of going unnoticed was gone and their fates were sealed.

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As Godzilla got within striking distance, he lashed out with his fangs and bit into the metal frame of the tower. The steel beams instantly started to buckle under the strength of his jaws. Godzilla came forward and leaned his weight on the tower, it was more than enough to bend the frame in half. Those reporters who were fortunate to still be alive came crashing down as the tower split in two and collapsed.

Seeming to be satisfied with the damage he had inflicted upon the city; Godzilla made his way to the river which would lead back into Tokyo Bay. He destroyed a bridge on the way out, apparently not able to ignore one last opportunity for destruction. As the primary structure fell into the water, it sent out a large wave that crashed into the small boats anchored in the nearby harbor. The boats rode the wave over the wall of the pier and crashed into the buildings beyond.

Just as Godzilla got hip deep in the waters of Tokyo Bay, a noise rose in the skies over the city that drew his attention. His gaze drifted upward, and he spotted three full squadrons of Japanese Sabre jet fighters surging through the smokey night air. The sound of their engines cut through the still of the night.

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From his cockpit, Akira surveyed the situation. The city below was a hellscape of crumbling buildings, flames, and death. It was worse than anything he had seen during the war. Even the most bombed out cities he had seen were never this bad. Akira could see Godzilla retreating and hatred swelled up in his heart. He was not about to let the monster leave without a fight.

“All wings on me!” Akira ordered firmly. “Arm rockets and ready your cannons.” Akira waited just long enough for his squad mates to get into position before dipping down into a thirty-degree dive. He grasped the stick tightly and thumbed the safety switch off. Akira wisely chose to approach Godzilla from behind so he could not see the line of planes coming at him.

When Akira’s Sabre was within two hundred yards of Godzilla, he let loose with everything he had. Rockets came shooting away from their racks and the cannons began to roar out rounds. Most of the salvo poured into Godzilla’s back, but some of the rockets whizzed by him. Godzilla impulsively batted at a rocket that came close to his ear like he was swatting at a fly.

Akira pulled up and away, watching out the side of his cockpit to see how the follow up attacks went. In general, the rest of his squadron got lower scores for their marksmanship but given the sheer amount of firepower coming down at Godzilla, enough was hitting the target to keep Akira happy. However, to Akira’s frustration, the attacks only seemed to annoy the monster. Godzilla was easily shrugging them off.

As Akira regrouped with his squad, he saw something that annoyed him even more. The second squadron had not followed his cautious example and were attacking Godzilla from the front. Haruki was part of the second squadron and was the third plane in line to attack. Akira fumbled for his radio.

“Togo wing, pull up.” Akira warned them. “Disengage!” But it was too late. The fighters were already diving down for their attack run. Godzilla immediately spotted them and reared his head back. His spines lit up and his heat ray erupted forth. The first two planes burst into flames rolled over into Tokyo Bay. One of them exploded as it hit the water nearby Godzilla.

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Haruki fired his rockets and banked out of the way of Godzilla’s attack. The monster roared as some of Haruki’s rockets popped against his skin. Water splashed up over him as one of the stray rockets detonated the bay. The other fighters behind Haruki’s plane heeded Akira’s warning and broke off their assault. The third squadron attacked from Godzilla’s flank while he was still concentrating on the second wave. However, their attack was not any more successful than the first two had been.

After the three strikes, Godzilla was still moving forward unabated. Akira ordered any fighters who had not expended all of their ammunition on the first pass to swarm the monster. The surviving members of second squadron rallied and rounded on the monster joined by elements of squads one and three. They were closing in on the Godzilla from every direction.

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Godzilla however, was already shoulder deep in waters of Tokyo Bay and dipped down just as the fighters began to unload on him. Fountains of water exploded up as rockets rained down where the monster had been. The battle was over. Godzilla had retired from the field.

“We did it!” Haruki’s voice crackled over the radio. “We won!” He announced triumphantly. Akira could hear other pilots joining in with cheers.

“What are you idiots celebrating!?” Akira bellowed over the intercom exasperated. "The capital is lying in ruins below us, thousands of our countrymen are dead, the monster is alive and far from defeated, and you fools are acting like we just won some great victory!?" Silence fell over the radio. “All wings return to base. This is far from over.” Akira growled.

...
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by mpsoldier »

I've been reading this story for awhile; I found it on fanfiction originally. I have to say I absolutely love it. The detail the author goes into with both the historical setting and the modelling is very impressive. I also very much appreciate the attempt to give the monsters "personality," ie Anguiros attacking the base due to the oil slick polluting his water and not the standard "GRR ROAR I KILL EAT CRUSH" that monster movies typically go for. He is a creature defending his home and food source, not something there just to cause senseless destruction. Additionally the effort to create regional characters is well done and gives it much more of a global feel; something akin to the World War Z book. (NOT the incredibly unfaithful movie adaption) Honestly as a fan of Kaiju related works I generally dislike human characters stealing the show or sometimes even being in the show but this is one of the few works where the humans complement and not over power the Kaiju in the narrative. Excellent work.


The only major complaint I have aside from the oft mentioned spelling errors is the way humanity ends up erupting into WW2 anyway. I felt given the overall attempts to be historically valid and in general simulate the situations of the era a world war was just thrust in independent of the facts of the time period and the way history was massively changed by the Kaiju arrival in the story.


A prime example is the way was China portrayed. The Chinese rallying and being able to oust the Japanese due to the horrific losses Japan suffered and the inability to provide support anymore is understandable. But the communists taking power and immediately becoming a powerful contender is way out of probability. The communists were not expected by many to win out in China and did so only after the reigning government was exhausted by the long war with the Japanese. Had the Japanese been kicked out of China that would have been a major victory for the Kuomintang and Chang Kai Shek. This would very much have legitimatized his government and cemented their role as the overall party in power. The allied nations favoured that outcome greatly, China going full communist in this timeline would be a long shot. Secondly the Country was infested by various warlords, bandit groups and quasi militias. Even if the Communists by some insane luck had taken over the country they still would have had a long, hard fight pacifying their own nation before getting involved in WW2 and invading Korea.


WW1 was still very much on the minds of Europeans. The British and the French went to great lengths to try and accommodate Hitler and the majority of the American people until Pearl Harbour were set against a war. Mussolini in Italy admitted to Hitler he was not ready for war and begged for another year. The sudden addition of Kaiju wrecking countries left and right as seen in the story would have left most of the WW2 combatants hurting badly and not looking for war. The public would have been quite rightly terrified of the Kaiju. A military build up after the attacks would definitely happen; but with so many Kaiju posing legitimate threats to national survival both the governments and the people within would have been dead set against such a massive scale war against a human enemy. The arrival of one Kaiju might not have changed things so much; but the sudden arrival of so many in such a short period would have created global panic. While I can see Stalin perhaps forcing Russia against Finland or the Japanese trying an attempt in Manchuria again such actions would have been limited in scope and receive intense international criticism. Remember Mussolini later admitted that if the League of Nations had embargoed Italy he would have had to abort his African Campaign. With the loss of their fleets and resources Japan and Italy would have been in very bad situations and international pressure or interference could easily cripple their economies and stop military build up.

But the story train running on despite these problems is very much appreciated. This is a masterwork. You can always tell when someone is actually passionate about what they do and that comes through here in both the story and modelling. Keep it up please. You are really helping tired Kaiju fans find some joy in this rather harsh Covid era.

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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Ashram52 »

mpsoldier wrote: Fri May 21, 2021 7:44 pm I've been reading this story for awhile; I found it on fanfiction originally. I have to say I absolutely love it. The detail the author goes into with both the historical setting and the modelling is very impressive. I also very much appreciate the attempt to give the monsters "personality," ie Anguiros attacking the base due to the oil slick polluting his water and not the standard "GRR ROAR I KILL EAT CRUSH" that monster movies typically go for. He is a creature defending his home and food source, not something there just to cause senseless destruction. Additionally the effort to create regional characters is well done and gives it much more of a global feel; something akin to the World War Z book. (NOT the incredibly unfaithful movie adaption) Honestly as a fan of Kaiju related works I generally dislike human characters stealing the show or sometimes even being in the show but this is one of the few works where the humans complement and not over power the Kaiju in the narrative. Excellent work.


The only major complaint I have aside from the oft mentioned spelling errors is the way humanity ends up erupting into WW2 anyway. I felt given the overall attempts to be historically valid and in general simulate the situations of the era a world war was just thrust in independent of the facts of the time period and the way history was massively changed by the Kaiju arrival in the story.


A prime example is the way was China portrayed. The Chinese rallying and being able to oust the Japanese due to the horrific losses Japan suffered and the inability to provide support anymore is understandable. But the communists taking power and immediately becoming a powerful contender is way out of probability. The communists were not expected by many to win out in China and did so only after the reigning government was exhausted by the long war with the Japanese. Had the Japanese been kicked out of China that would have been a major victory for the Kuomintang and Chang Kai Shek. This would very much have legitimatized his government and cemented their role as the overall party in power. The allied nations favoured that outcome greatly, China going full communist in this timeline would be a long shot. Secondly the Country was infested by various warlords, bandit groups and quasi militias. Even if the Communists by some insane luck had taken over the country they still would have had a long, hard fight pacifying their own nation before getting involved in WW2 and invading Korea.


WW1 was still very much on the minds of Europeans. The British and the French went to great lengths to try and accommodate Hitler and the majority of the American people until Pearl Harbour were set against a war. Mussolini in Italy admitted to Hitler he was not ready for war and begged for another year. The sudden addition of Kaiju wrecking countries left and right as seen in the story would have left most of the WW2 combatants hurting badly and not looking for war. The public would have been quite rightly terrified of the Kaiju. A military build up after the attacks would definitely happen; but with so many Kaiju posing legitimate threats to national survival both the governments and the people within would have been dead set against such a massive scale war against a human enemy. The arrival of one Kaiju might not have changed things so much; but the sudden arrival of so many in such a short period would have created global panic. While I can see Stalin perhaps forcing Russia against Finland or the Japanese trying an attempt in Manchuria again such actions would have been limited in scope and receive intense international criticism. Remember Mussolini later admitted that if the League of Nations had embargoed Italy he would have had to abort his African Campaign. With the loss of their fleets and resources Japan and Italy would have been in very bad situations and international pressure or interference could easily cripple their economies and stop military build up.

But the story train running on despite these problems is very much appreciated. This is a masterwork. You can always tell when someone is actually passionate about what they do and that comes through here in both the story and modelling. Keep it up please. You are really helping tired Kaiju fans find some joy in this rather harsh Covid era.

Thanks for the feedback,

You secured another update for TK. It was starting to look in doubt. Ironic that it took someone from over on fanfic to give me feedback here. This was about to be a fanfic only affair and pictures to be found elsewhere on the dark web.

As for that next update, sadly I have not put much work into it yet for various reasons. It’ll be at least another month before anything new gets posted anywhere.

I appreciate that you like how the characters work in the story. I try to keep them simple and as least intrusive as possible while giving the readers reasons to either like or dislike them. I aim to make them feel at least a little bit like real people without taking the focus on what is actually important in the story. I follow the thought process that ‘characters should serve the needs of the story’, and not that ‘a story should serve the needs of the characters’, which I think is a pitfall a lot of writers stumble into. While character development is important, it should be the plot the drives a story forward more than anything else.

In concern to the war subplot. A few notes:

It might be my fault for not making it clearer, but there was meant to be a several big time jumps over the course of one chapter. In the opening scene where Marcus is test flying a new Sabre jet he is flashing back over a couple years of events. I don’t specifically remember how many years without looking, but somewhere between 5-10 years.

I wanted to give Marcus a couple of peaceful years with his family, but I also knew that I would have to do it in a time skip to pull for pacing reasons. I figured that the average reader wouldn’t have the patience to wait out family drama without a war or monsters to liven things up.

Anyways, moving on to the political aspect of the fictional war. World war 2 was primarily fought in the early 1940s. I can’t remember off the top of my head, but my fictional war started either in the late 1940s or even in the early 1950s. So it wasn’t just a rehash of world war 2. The sides were different, the weapons were different, and the reasons were different.

By the way, I appreciate that someone here seems to have solid understanding of world politics from the time. I’m glad to hear I’m not wasting my time trying to keep certain things in line with what actually happened. And also how politics would change under these alternative circumstances. This story is as much a political drama as it is anything else. Good to see someone enjoying that aspect.

Anyways, the war in the story isn’t really an alternate WW2, it’s more along the lines of a ‘Hot’ Cold War. This fictional war didn’t involve the whole world, just a few prominent power players trying to maintain the balance of power.

While it is true that a lot of countries took losses during the initial Kaiju emergence, it isn’t anything like they would have suffered during an actual war. You mentioned the Italians specifically, who did basically get their whole fleet wiped out. But I think it’s worth pointing out that they didn’t actually enter into my fictional war. Best I can remember, I actually had them sit it out. Aside from France, Britain, and Germany, most other European countries did not join in the actual fighting. Well, Finland did, but they had a pretty good reason.

But it wasn’t so much that most of the countries invovled were looking for a war. Stalin basically kicked off the war and didn’t really give the other major powers much choice but to fight. He is just the sort of man to grab something that is not his. Real life Stalin was a grade-A dirtbag and didn’t much care about his countrymen dying so long as his goals where met. In story, he made the same mistake as Hilter and assumed that the west would not fight a war over Poland.

The British and French did have a real life defensive guarantee with the Polish. That is a fact and is why WW2 kicked off when the Germans attacked them. I don’t see why that would be much different with the Russians. And in story, I had Stalin grab up several other territories before attacking Poland, mirroring real life events. So the British and French would have been eyeing the developing threat for a while.

Appeasement didn’t work for the British and French for Hilter and, in story, it didn’t work for Stalin. The way I see it, the attack on Poland was the final straw.

It’s fair to note that in story the British and the French both did not suffer much significant damage fighting Kaiju. The French were dealing mostly with Mothra who, more than anything, just damaged non-essential crops and not the French military itself. There was also Varan, but he was turned back before even entering France.

The British only fought Kamerus in one land battle and thanks to Mothra avoided serious loses as well. The British fleet suffered no great losses fighting Kaiju that I remember.

You have a point about Britain and France wanting to avoid war, but the way I see it the Russians crossed a red line they couldn’t ignore with Poland. The French and British certainly would not want the Russians to expand into Europe. The Crimean war was fought for similar reasons. The French and British did not want Russia to expand into the Balkans. They didn’t want them growing any more powerful than they were.

Moving on, the United States was involved with a fair amount of Kaiju encounters too, but they also never took a devastating loss. They didn’t win a lot per say, but they did manage to avoid taking heavy losses of men and material. They would definitely have a stake in blocking the spread of communism as seen in the actual wars in history.

As for Japan, They were also drawn into the war. I’m not sure I made this very clear, but Korea was still very much within the sphere of Japan’s influence, so the Chinese attacking there left them with little choice but to go to war. And after a couple years of the time skip, the Japanese could have easily recovered from their earlier ship losses. During actual WW2 they continued to build new ships. The United States was destroying them faster than they could be replaced. In story, the Japanese lost more than a couple capital ships, but not their entire fleet.

While it is true the German army was pretty beat up after fighting Varan, as I have pointed out several times already, years had passed. So militarily and economically they would have recovered quite a lot of their strength prior the outbreak of the war with the Russians. They also would have good reason to block the expansion of Soviet Russia and would absolutely be afraid to share a border with them. Poland is, and always has been, a good buffer for the two countries.

Now I will freely admit I really glossed over the Red Chinese takeover of China and I probably shouldn’t have since it was important to the plot. I don’t remember if I mentioned it or not in story, but the idea was that the Russians were heavily supporting the Red Chinese and that’s how they won their Civil war. For the sake of efficiency, I didn’t take too much time with it. So you absolutely have a point there.

But for story purposes, I needed the ‘red Chinese’ to come to power. In particular, the storylines following the Red Bamboo. I had always assumed they were related to communist China in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, even though they do not spell it out for the audience.

I think it’s fair to re-enterate that the vast majority of Kaiju had disappeared for a number of years prior to the human war breaking out. The Rodans were the only active monsters anyone could be certain of their whereabouts. And they were, in fact, one of the catalysts for the Russians to try to expand westward. :Rodan56:

But otherwise:

:Anguirus: -Anguirus had been missing for quite a long time already, presumed mortally wounded.
:Baragon: -Baragon was MIA too, with no one knowing for sure if he was still alive or not.
-Varan was missing following his fight with Mothra.
-The same could be said for Kamerus.
-Gezora and Manda had both mysteriously disappeared following their attacks.
:Mothra61: -Even Mothra disappeared after the rest of the Kaiju had seemingly become dormant.

Spoiler alert: None of these characters are dead. (Well, except Kamerus now) There is a reason they haven’t resurfaced yet, but my thought was that many governments had decided that were no longer a major pressing threat given their years of absence and inactivity.

For story purposes, I needed the war to happen for several reasons:

First, there needed to be a reason for nukes to get tested and used in a combat situation. Because I really wanted to describe in detail just how nasty a nuclear attack on people is. (Trying to keep in line with the traditional anti-nuclear message of the Godzilla franchise.)

Second, I needed Marcus and other characters to have a reason to have experience with jet fighter combat. Marcus in particular I needed to get out of a traditional sailor role and into a pilot role. For story reasons, but also for the sake of variety, Marcus’ character needed to evolve into a different role for the things to come. A war breaking out gave him a good reason to re-enlist, but with a fresh start in flight school.

Third, I needed to speed up the story to get to Godzilla into the plot faster. I was over twenty chapters in without Godzilla showing up, which was understandably starting to irritate people since his name was in the title. Since you can’t really have Godzilla without nukes, and I didn’t want to have governments trying to use nukes on another monster before Godzilla showed up, a war was the quickest way to introduce the nuclear element to the story.

Fourth, I needed a reason for the UN to be created. Because I got rid of WW2, I erased the primary reason for the UN’s creation. So there needed to be another large scale human conflict to necessitate it’s existence. Certain organizations I want to introduce down the line in the story can’t come to be without the UN still existing in the story’s world.

Anyways, I hope that clears up my thought process and any confusion. I try to run a pretty tight ship, but sometimes I miss things. The Chinese subplot is an example of that. I didn’t think anyone was paying much attention to the political stuff, but clearly someone is. :huge:
Last edited by Ashram52 on Mon May 24, 2021 7:41 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by mpsoldier »

Yes I'm the sort of guy who goes to lengths to make sure things are as reasonably authentic as possible. Bit of a historian and a multiple veteran so I tend to aim for military logic. Overall excellent work on your story and you did clear up some things. I still think even with most Kaiju MIA the sudden appearance of so many all within just a few years would put the planet on high alert. A Kaiju isn't like a Tsunami or an Earthquake. You don't hear of one on the news and mentally shrug if it's not in your region. The planet would have been thrown into terror at seeing them and seeing what they were capable of and even a quiet period afterwards of a few years would have done little to pacify public fears. Humanity suffers from arrogance; and a wake up call like that inflicted on the worlds reigning super powers would not have been more or less shrugged aside. People would be dumbfounded and terrified; then most nations would have gone into preparation for any further Kaiju activity. If five or six Kaiju show up the world would see that these things exist and if that many exist who is to say there are not more? Furthermore the Rodan's are active; and the prospect of a male and female same species Kaiju like Rodan is truly terrifying. The prospect of baby Rodans alone would have been a world wide concern.


I think Nukes would also have occurred in the same general time 1940's-1950's time frame. Aircraft took a giant leap forward thanks to being a huge WW2 priority and most military nations getting some serious combat experience to learn and test. In this reality I don't think fighter craft would be as technologically progressed; however I think they would have been up-armed to better counteract Kaiju. You would not see alot of fighters and certainly not bombers equipped with rifle rounds like the .303 or any of the 7.62's; rather I think most would have upgraded to some form of 50 calibre ish round and increased bomb size.


But one area I suspect would be actually more progressed in this timeline would be submarines and related under sea equipment. With so many Kaiju being water related and the Oceans being so totally unexplored I suspect that naval tech would have seen a giant leap forward as the world tried to keep tabs on Kaiju and see if there are any more of them.


And like we see in the modern Monsterverse with Monarch delving deeply into myth and legend for any information in Kaiju I think we would see a vast resurgance in interest in mythology and related fields like cryptozoology. This would be a very different 1950’s then what we had.


As bizarre as it sounds consider the case of chocolate. Sure parts of humanity had known of chocolate for 000’s, maybe even 0000’s of years. But it was a niche market for the rich mostly; it wasn’t really common knowledge for much of the world. But with WW2 and the US noticing “hey; this stuffs huge in calories and gives you a quick boost” it went into mass manufacture and a whole generation of men got to experience it. It put chocolate on the map and led to it becoming a staple. There are hundreds of examples of this sort of thing. Blood plasma for another. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” WW2 was a massive turning point; I think society as we know it would have diverged massively in this story.

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Re: Godzilla: Tactical Assault.

Post by Ashram52 »

...

Chapter 21: Aftermath.

A soldier walks across the cold runway of an airbase towards an awaiting helicopter. It is a soviet-made Mil mi-6 heavy transport chopper readying for takeoff. As the soldier approaches the helicopter, he notices a sign that reads: 'No vehicles beyond this point.' at the edge of the camp’s fence. The sign was located at the eastern boundary of the camp next to the exit gate which led into the wilderness beyond. The soldier thought it strange, he had not seen such sign on the western side of the base.

As the soldier boarded the helicopter, he could see the rest of his new unit was already there waiting for him. Most of the men had strapped themselves into their seats, but one of the officers was standing in the front walkway with his head between the passenger area and the cockpit, talking to the pilots. The stripes on his jacket gave his rank away. The officer seemed to hear the late arrival step aboard the helicopter. He leaned back to take a look and then leaned forward again to say one last thing to the pilots before turning to face the new arrival.

"You won't be needing this." The officer took the rifle from Niko’s shoulder, checked to ensure there was not a round in the breach, and then unceremoniously tossed the rifle back out of the open side-door of the helicopter. "I can see that they did not properly brief you." The officer went to work, removing the ammo from Niko’s various pouches and likewise throwing them out the door. Finally, he unfastened Niko’s grenades. Those, the officer did not toss out. Instead, he carefully placed them into a compartment inside the chopper. "There, your burden has been lightened comrade. Have a seat over there, we will be taking off shortly."

Niko did what he was told but was confused as to why he had been so thoroughly disarmed. As he took his place amongst the row of soldiers, he noticed that none of them had any weapons that could be seen either. It made him nervous. He did not understand why they were setting out on their mission seemingly defenseless.

Before Niko knew it, the helicopter was taking off and the officer was taking the last remaining seat next to him. The helicopter only raised about a hundred feet into the air before it turned and started moving forward. It stayed around that altitude, skimming just above the tree line. Niko was right next to a window and could tell that they were flying unusually low. If the pilots were not paying close attention to their surroundings, they could easily collide with a taller than average tree or simply run into a hillside. The terrain around them was mountainous and uneven.

"I'm guessing this is your first trip out here?" The officer observed. "I can tell that you are confused by all this. It's understandable. What have they told you so far?"

"Before being transferred out of my old unit, my last C.O. said that I would be taking part in a mission to the Kamchatka peninsula. That I was replacing someone who fell terribly ill last minute." Niko answered.

"Yes, my regular radio man." The officer noted. "His appendix burst two days ago, the lucky bastard.” Niko just sat there blank-faced, not sure how to reply. He didn’t understand why that would make him lucky. “I get the impression that you are lacking vital information about the mission.” The officer continued. “I’m First-Sargent Dimitri Petrovitch. I am in command of this mission. The air base we just left is about two-hundred miles away from our objective, but the chopper can't take us all the way there. We are going to fly until we’re about fifty miles away from the target area, and from there we will set out on foot. That is, if we make it that far.” Dimitri noted, almost sinisterly. “Even flying this low, and at dawn, it's still pretty risky. The Rodans tend to be less active during this time of day, but we have lost other expeditions miles before reaching the forward staging area. Our objective is to locate the exact position of the Rodan's nest. I'll tell you more after we land, but for now I suggest getting some rest. You are going to need it."

---

Marcus sat in a dark room watching footage of the aftermath of Godzilla's attack on Tokyo. The picture on the black and white screen panned from left to right, slowly showing a mostly flattened landscape within the city. Far in the background there were still fires blazing.

"Marcus, are you still watching that?" Brock asked, entering the room. "You've been up all night." Marcus didn't answer Brock and instead just kept watching the television.

The picture meanwhile had lurched back to a few hours earlier to a live recording of the monster's attack. Even hours later, and after multiple viewings, the scenes of utter destruction felt unreal. It made Marcus sick to his stomach. In the footage, Godzilla inflicted damage to the city at will. He toppled Tokyo block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood. Fire, death, and carnage on an industrial scale. It was horrendous to witness, yet mesmerizing.

In the aftermath, the dead in the city outnumbered the living. Those who were still able-bodied tried pick up the pieces but simply could not keep up. Bodies were stacked up in the streets for collection and burial, but there were so many of them. To make matters worse, it was hard for relief vehicles to drive through the streets since most of the roads were still obstructed with large chunks of debris. As a result, the dead were piling up like heaps of cordwood on the sidewalks. Many of the victims were so badly burnt that they hardly resembled people anymore.

The camera from news station tried not focus on them, but they could be seen in the background of numerous shots. The broadcasters described it as 'The Nightmare in Tokyo'. The name was fitting. So much human suffering and death all at one. The imagines were unearthly, as if they weren't real. The raw horror of the situation was incomprehensible.

The world as a whole was left in shock. To think that a single monster could wipe out an entire city in the space of twenty-four hours. No one would have thought it possible before. The true depths of the threat Godzilla posed were finally beginning to be understood. Other monsters had caused damage and went on rampages, but he was unlike anything that had come before him. Godzilla was far more destructive and dangerous to mankind than any of his predecessors. What scared people most was the fact that it could happen again at any time in another city. There wasn't a thing standing in the monster's way. No weapon the military had in their arsenal was capable of stopping him.

"Marcus, we have new orders from the Admiral." Brock began again. "The Japanese have rescinded their orders to stay out of their waters. They have mobilized their fleet and requested aid. I think they are scared shitless by this new monster. We are to set sail and rendezvous with them at Odo island."

"Ok Brock, I hear you." Marcus acknowledged. “Let’s go.”

The pair left the officer's club and walked back out into the daylight. The world felt different walking the streets of the town. There was an emptiness compared to how it had been just a day ago. It was as if the whole planet had shifted on its axis and was slightly off kilter. There was a feeling in the air that things had changed and would never be the same again.

Brock and Marcus passed by a newsstand that sold newspapers in English for the GIs. The front-page headline read: “Godzilla Flattens Tokyo!!!”. Dr. Orsini happened to be standing there reading through the main article. He looked up as he heard Brock and Marcus approaching him. Brock said nothing but motioned for him to join them on their way to the ship.

“I’ve never seen the likes of this." Dr. Orsini said, coming alongside them and rolling up his paper.

“None of us have.” Brock agreed.

"There have been monster attacks before, but nothing so… menacing, so outright hostile towards humanity.” Dr. Orsini went on. “Other monsters have caused serious damage, but that was incidental. This one… it seems to revel in causing destruction. Not causing damage in pursuit of its goals, but rather its goal was to cause as much damage as possible. A monster has never leveled a city before or killed some many people. How are we supposed to stop something like that?"

"They tried to warn me.” Marcus said quietly.

“What?" Dr. Orsini asked confused. "Who did?"

“What do you mean?” Marcus replied.

“You just said ‘they’ tried to warn me.” Brock pointed out.

“I did…?” Marcus answered surprised.

“Yeah, you did.” Dr. Orsini agreed. “What does that mean?”

“I have no idea.” Marcus replied. “I didn’t even realize I said it.”

---

In the ruins of what had once been Tokyo, Shoji shuffled his way through the streets. He was on his way to a hospital. The hospital was located in an area of the city that had not only avoided being trampled by Godzilla, but moreover was untouched by the fires that had run rampant the night before. The neighborhood around it was likewise relatively intact. There was a stark contrast to the decimated area that Shoji had just wandered out of compared to what looked like a ‘save haven’ ahead of him.

For Shoji, it was like he had finally drifted out of the nightmare of the attack from the night before. The morning’s light had bought him to a comforting symbol of the Tokyo he remembered from the past. Shoji’s newfound peace was short lived though. As soon as he arrived on the hospital's grounds, the horrific reality of the situation came crashing back down upon him. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of wounded people spread out on the lawn outside of the main building of the hospital.

Shoji stopped in his tracks and scanned over the scene. He had been feeling ill all morning and just then it came back with a vengeance. He needed to take a moment to recollect himself. Shoji wasn’t sure what was wrong with him. Despite the fact he didn’t have a scratch on him, he felt terribly unwell. After a moment of nausea, Shoji pressed on towards the hospital. It took him several more minutes to shamble over to the entrance.

Upon entering the facility, Shoji discovered why so many people had been forced outside into the grass. Both the building and the staff were completely overrun by the desperate, the wounded, and the dying. The smell of burnt flesh was heavy in the air. Bodies of the wounded and dead lined every foot of the corridor. Shoji could hear the crying of a small child. She was being carried away from her dead mother by one of the hospital’s volunteers. The girl was wailing with grief as she was hurried past him. A tear formed in the corner of his eye. These were the people he failed to protect, and this was the consequence of his failure.

Shoji continued down the crowded hallway, trying to stay out of the way of men carrying people in and out on stretchers. He saw a doctor using an odd device to scan another small child for radiation. The machine made a scratching-like noise, which indicated the presence of contamination. The child was either unaware of what it meant or simply apathetic to her situation. She had no discernable reaction and only stare blankly at nothing in particular.

The doctor set down the device and went to fetch something for the child. While he was away, Shoji took the device and used it to scan himself. As he suspected, the machine’s readout bounced up and down, making the same scratching sound as he ran it up and down his torso. Shoji’s hand started to shake, and he felt like he was sinking into the floor. He had to grab a nearby counter to steady himself.

As he stood there, Shoji came to accept the simplicity of the situation. He had gotten way too close to the monster and there were consequences for that. Ironic, Shoji thought that he had survived the attack last night, but really, the monster had just killed him slower than the rest of his squad mates.

Shoji set the device back down where he found it and started to move back towards the entrance. There was nothing they were going to be able to do for him and his presence in the hospital was only going to make things worse for everyone around him. He decided that it would be better for him to go off on his own.

At that point, emergency rations had just arrived by truck and were being handed out. A young nurse offered some to Shoji as he passed her, but he just waved his hand, declining. She didn’t understand and only watched as he kept walking towards the door.

When Shoji reached the outside, dark clouds had gathered on the horizon. He was slowing down, and he knew it, but there was still time. Shoji walked around the corner of the building and found a quiet spot away from everyone else. As he sat down, he pulled out one last cigarette to smoke. It felt good to sit and rest. He found his lighter and managed to ignite the cigarette.

Shoji didn’t know why, but he was suddenly remembering some music one of his pals had him listen to earlier in the week. His friend called it ‘The Blues’. It was something he had brought back from a visit to the Americas. The song Shoji had listened to in particular was just a single musician playing a sad, slow melody on a saxophone. Shoji did not like it at the time, but now he was starting to see something of value in it.

As Shoji puffed on his cigarette and thought about the soft piece of music, rain began to fall down on him. He looked into his hand. The water collecting in his palm was black. All of the fires burning the night before had carried huge quantities of smoke and soot up into the clouds. The contaminates mixed in with the moisture, resulting in black rain.

Shoji didn’t much care. His strength was all spent. It was time. He just leaned back against the concrete and let the dark water wash over him, soaking into his clothes. He lay there for several more minutes staring up to the sky. The dark rainfall put out Shoji’s cigarette about the same time the last breath left his body.

---

In the mountains of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Mil mi-6 helicopter had arrived safely at the forward staging area. The base mostly just amounted to a landing pad that had been cut out of the surrounding forest. It was barely wide enough for the helicopter to land without catching its blades the tree branches around it. The few soldiers who could be found manning the far-flung outpost removed the camouflaged canopy to reveal landing zone’s existence. The remainder of the base was found under the relative safety of the trees and built upon what used to be a large hunting lodge.

Upon touchdown, the soldiers in the helicopter very quickly disembarked and got clear of the landing zone. As soon as the last soldier was clear, the helicopter immediately took off again for home. No time taken to refuel, and no time taken by the pilots to rest. They just got out of there as quickly as they could. The instant the helicopter was gone, the camouflaged canopy was put back into place, preserving the secrecy of the base.

Dimitri led the group to check in with the base commander, who was an old friend of his. They had brought to the outpost several things: news from the outside, orders from their superiors, and fresh supplies to help keep the base in operation. The small military outpost was the only Russian base still standing east of the airbase they had just departed, and furthest piece of real-estate the Soviet’s still possessed so far east since the arrival of the Rodans had cut them off from their coast.

Niko followed Dimitri inside the main building and noted that there was no radio equipment to be seen. An oddity in his eyes. There was also a large fireplace within the lodge, but it wasn’t lit and appeared not to have been used for a very long time. The building was instead heated by a gas furnace that had been brought in from the outside. Like the soldiers of his own group, there was not a firearm in sight on the entire base.

Niko decided to just sit at one of the tables in the center of the room. From there, he watched Dimitri talk with the base commander, who was sitting behind his desk. Dimitri handed the commander several letters. The commander examined their contents before setting them aside and continuing to talk with Dimitri.

At one point during their conversation, the base commander pointed over at Niko. Dimitri glanced over his shoulder at him and went back to talking with his friend. Niko was too far away and could not hear what they were saying, but it didn’t seem to matter. The conversation was very short and ended almost as quickly as it started.

With orders and supplies passed out, Dimitri got to work readying his men for their expedition. They changed into their heavy layered gear inside the lodge and then gathered outside, double checking to ensure they had all their vital supplies. Niko saw that most of the men were shouldering bows and arrows in place of their normal rifles. He almost asked but decided to stay quiet. He himself had the heaviest burden of all, the radio transmitter. Dimitri helped him strap the pack onto his back.

With that accomplished, the team finally set out. They walked into the woods and left the few comforts the camp had to offer behind them. Dimitri made sure to keep Niko close by to keep an eye on him and bring him up to speed.

"Alright rookie, they should have already told you all this before, but I want to re-iterate some things.” Dimitri began. “There’s a different set of rules out here, things you need to know to keep yourself and your squad safe. We don’t work like the regular army. This isn't going to be like any other mission you've taken part in before. Life out here is harsh, and you are going to need to learn fast how it is. Things that are normal and routine anywhere else in the world will get you killed out here. First, you will note that we are walking. That isn't just because the terrain is too tough for vehicles to handle.” Dimitri noted. “It's because the Rodans have very acute senses and can smell the exhaust from trucks or tanks. The first couple of expeditions out here were crushed before they even got close to the Rodan's nest because they smelled them coming from miles away. Thousands had to die before that lesson was learned and it wasn't the last lesson that had to be figured out through trial and error.”

“Yes sir, understood.” Niko replied.

“No, you don’t understand.” Dimitri went on. “But eventually you will. You're our radio man, but you have no doubt noticed your equipment is not turned off. Unless I say otherwise, it is to stay that way. After the first couple expeditions were wiped out, the brass wised up to trying to use vehicles, but whole divisions on foot were still being picked off time and time again. Do you know why?"

"The Radio signals?" Niko answered.

"That is correct." Dimitri replied. "The Rodans are somehow able to detect radio frequencies. Too many men had to perish before some egghead finally put that one together. That is how they find ships on the water, planes in the sky, and even small search teams on the ground." Dimitri frowned.

"So why have a radio if we aren't going to use it?" Niko asked.

"It's here if we find the nest and that's it.” Dimitri answered. “Even if we run into an emergency out here, we can't use it to call for help. The Rodans would arrive much faster than the helicopter ever could. Using a radio is like ringing the dinner bell for them. It doesn’t matter much though; the helicopter pilots have strict orders to never fly beyond the helipad of the forward base in any case. Even if they were willing to ignore those orders, the pilots are smart enough to know the likelihood of coming back from this far out shrinks more and more with each mile. The brass back in Moscow still think of this as our territory, but make no mistake, this is their territory now. They control what goes on here. Play by their rules or don't come back. It’s just that simple.”

"How many of these missions have you been on?" Niko asked.

"Too many." Dimitri answered. "And each time we come out here, we get sent packing empty handed. The further we make it in, the more dangerous it is. Every time I've come out here, it has been with a smaller and smaller group of men. It has taken years and countless lives to figure out these lessons, but brass will not give it up. They value the Peninsula too highly to let the Rodans keep it.”

“Why is it so important?” Niko inquired.

“The strategic importance of this area is invaluable to the government.” Dimitri answered. “They want their naval base back and the Rodans have made a huge disruption to shipping lanes and trade routes. The topography of the area also has some unique mineral resources due to all of the volcanoes. If nothing else, it’s a matter of national pride. The powers that be can’t tolerate an inch of our territory out of their control. It makes us look bad in the eyes of the international community. We are the only country in the world to have lost any of our sovereign soil to a monster. So, we have to reclaim it to save face."

“I see.” Niko replied.

“It's not just the Rodans that are dangerous out here.” Dimitri went on. “The cold is one of our biggest enemies. For the same reason we cannot use vehicles, we can't light campfires out here either. The light, smoke, and smell are too obvious. The Rodans are much like modern birds of prey. They got sharp eyes and a terrific sense of smell. If you are foolish enough to light a fire at night, it only ends up bringing the monsters down on you. A team might get away with it once, maybe twice, but play the odds long enough and eventually your luck will run out. Anyways, as I was saying, the cold is the second biggest reason men have been sent out here year after year only to end up dead. The extra layers of clothing help, but if you don't find what you are looking for or give up soon enough, the winter will get you without the aid of fire to stay warm. Even on the warmest nights, it still gets cold out here. We are too close to arctic circle this far north. You have to adapt to the cold and respect what it can do. We sleep multiple men to a tent for warmth. So, you'd better start making friends quickly. We have got maybe three months out here to search before we need to start heading back to the basecamp. If we are out here much longer past that, the Rodans won’t need to worry about finding us."

“Well, this just keeps getting better and better all the time.” Niko noted.

“That’s not even the half of it yet.” Dimitri continued. “I hope you don’t smoke cigarettes, otherwise you’re going to have to stop cold turkey today. We can’t take the risk on that. I’m not positive the Rodans are sensitive enough to pick up on those, but it’s not worth the danger.” Niko signed, pulling out a new pack of cigarettes and throwing them away.

“Just easing my burden a little more sir.” He remarked with a smile.

“You made the right choice; those things really will kill you out here.” Dimitri smirked. "You've seen the bows by now. We have some supplies to start with, but we are going to be out here for a long time, so we have to hunt to survive, and we can't use guns. The sound of firearms would invite unwanted attention. That is yet another hard lesson we’ve had to learn. I’ve been part of expedition’s that have made that mistake. The Rodan's use some sort of acoustic triangulation to find prey. Make too much noise and those bastards can zero on your location. That also means no shouting. Do not get separated from the group or you are on your own. If you do get separated, use the compass and map in your pack to make your way back to the forward base. It sounds hard, but I had to do it once myself. It is manageable. Just don’t panic if you find yourself in that situation. Keep your wits about you and you’ll be ok.”

“I’ll remember that.” Niko assured him.

“You’d do well to.” Dimitri assured him. “Everything we do out here has to revolve around the basis of not being detected. It is our only hope for survival. And the Rodans will come looking for us regardless. There have already been too many expeditions out here over the years. They've come to expect us anymore. And just in case you think you are safe this far out, guess again.” Dimitri pointed to the tree line just a couple hundred feet down the ridge.

“Woah...” Niko could see the tops of an entire row of trees had been sheared off. In the area next to it, the forest and been cleared out entirely.

“I always go this routine when I got rookies, just to show them this.” Dimitri remarked. “It lets them see right away this is no joke. Take everything I’m telling you seriously. Make mistakes out here and it will cost you dearly. If the monsters don’t get you, your comrades will. Most of the men you see around you are veterans. This isn’t their first trip out. The majority of them have had former squad mates make mistakes that put the whole team in peril. Believe me, they would rather have an odd soldier disappear out here and make up a story rather than have their lives put in jeopardy again.”

“What else do I need to know?” Niko asked eagerly.

“Since we can’t make fires out here, we can’t cook. So, you are going to have to get used to eating raw meat.” Dimitri answered. Niko got a dismayed look on his face. “It isn’t that bad.” Dimitri assured him. “The Japanese have been eating raw fish for centuries, you’ll survive. Ivan over there has methods of making it safer and more appealing. There are abandoned salt mines all over the area, he uses it to cure the meat.” Dimitri could see that Niko still did not look convinced. “You get hungry enough and you’ll be surprised what you can eat.” He assured him. There are other alternative things you can eat in the wild too. Berries, bugs, roots. You have to get out of your comfort zone to survive out here.”

“Yes sir.” Niko answered. He was finally starting to understand why having your appendix burst might be the better option as opposed to coming out to these woods.

“That reminds me, time to start masking our smell.” Dimitri stopped and signaled to the other men. “I don’t know if they can detect us by our regular body odor, but I know I’ve never taken the chance. Being a little paranoid helps extend your life expectancy as a soldier, especially in these circumstances. Hope you like smelling like a woodshop.” Dimitri took out a hatchet and started to chop at some pine branches. He took the dripping sap and spread it over his clothes.

‘Better to be smelly and safe I suppose.’ Niko thought, following Dimitri’s example. “You’re sure the Rodans have nothing against trees, right?”

"Pretty sure.” Dimitri replied. “But it's also good to remember that the Rodans aren't the only predators out here. There are plenty of hungry bears, tigers, and wolves in these woods who wouldn't mind making a meal out of you. Without the luxuries of guns and fire, they aren't as afraid of us as they used to be. In fact, with so many men dying out here regularly, they’ve gotten pretty accustomed to the taste of man flesh. If you do happen to encounter them, don't run. Their predatory instinct will be to chase you if you do. Instead, stand your ground and look as big and imposing as you can. Make some noise, though not too much. Remember, there should always be other soldiers around to back you up. Predators don’t generally want to work hard for their meals, they want an easy target who isn’t likely to injure them in return. So, keep your knife handy, be aware of your surroundings, and always stay within eyesight of at least two other members of the group. Don't be shy about going to the bathroom in front of the other guys either. We've lost men that way in the past too.”

“Ironic that two dinosaurs have reduced us to cavemen, without even the luxury of fire.” Niko pointed out. “Isn’t it?”

“Ha, a sense of humor.” Dimitri laughed. “Now that will be useful. It should help pass the time. A good sense of humor will help you through any situation.”

“Is there anything else I should know?” Niko asked.

“Sergei back at basecamp told me that we're not the only team out here.” Dimitri answered. “There are at least two or three other squads out there already trying to find the nest. But since they are not allowed to use their radios to report in regularly, we have no idea what their status is. Even if we were foolish enough to turn our radio on, theirs should not be. However, Sergei told me their missions were to check two sectors adjacent to ours on the map. So, it is possible we will run into them. Since we have not heard anything prior to coming out here, we have to assume they have not been successful up until this point. Generally, the only way we find out how missions went is when squads return on their own, and sometimes they don't.”

"What happens if a team is successful?" Niko asked.

"In that event, the orders are to call in the coordinates and then get the hell out as quickly as possible." Dimitri answered. "There's an evacuation zone set up for the helicopter to pick us up closer than going all the way back to the base camp. It is marked on the map here.” He pointed. “Whatever they have in mind, they want us out of the way quickly. When the helicopter is on its way, there is a remote radio transmitter set up to the north to pull the Rodan's attention elsewhere. That gives us a better chance to escape unnoticed. But before leaving, we are to set a up another radio transmitter on the site of the nest. It can be set to activate on its own after a certain amount of time has passed."

---

"General, we are receiving a transmission from ground team one.” Captain Dominov announced. “They report having successfully located target: ‘Vulture’s Rest’. They are ready to set their remote lure and are preparing to pull out to the evac zone."

"Understood." General Stanislav acknowledged. "Have the bombers go to standby."

"Sir, we still have other teams in the area." Captain Dominov pointed out, turning in his chair to face the general.

"I'm aware of that, but we have no way of contacting them." General Stanislav replied. "We can’t let this opportunity slip away. We'll just have to hope that they are outside of the target zone."

"Yes sir." Captain Dominov replied, spinning back to his console. "I'm sending the standby code now.” He typed into his keyboard. “Stick to the standard-established attack protocol?"

"Yes.” The general replied. “Have the bombers approach from a southern trajectory. The diversionary countermeasure is set up in the north."

"Yes sir." Dominov responded. "Diversionary countermeasure activation protocol is fifty minutes into flight time."

"That should be satisfactory." General Stanislav observed, leaning forward in his chair. "After years of cat and mouse, we can finally complete our mission. Notify ground team one that their message has been received. Have them set their remote lure for twenty-four hours and tell to be well clear by then. Is that enough time for them to reach the evacuation zone?”

Captain Dominov pulled out a map with a ruler, examined team one’s position in comparison to the E.Z., and then started to do the math. It only took him a few moments to come up with an answer.

“Barely.” Dominov reported.

“Then tell them to double-time it.” General Stanislav replied. “I'll inform Moscow of these developments."

---

Marcus looked up and saw an ancient alter in front of him. It was made out of stone and had an odd inscription carved into it. He did not recognize the language. To him, it was just incomprehensible glyphs. There was also a prominent symbol etched in the center of the altar he had never seen before, though at the same time, it was oddly familiar to him. As Marcus tried to examine it more closely, a breeze came in through the stone hallway behind him. It blew past him and interrupted his train of thought.

The gust of wind grew stronger and stronger until it was whipping the collar of Marcus’ shirt and pushing him forward towards the altar. The wind swirled around the platform and a yellow light emerged from the top of it. The symbol began to glow, followed shortly thereafter by the rest of the glyphs. Slowly but surely, the light swelled more and more until it filled the dark corner of the chamber. The light was warm and bright against Marcus’ face. Soon, it was too bright for him to look at it directly. He had to shield his eyes. Over the whistling of the stirring wind, Marcus could make out a voice. It said to him:

"You have unleashed a power that cannot be contained." The very rock of the altar itself began to glow. It grew brighter and brighter until the stone exploded into a hundred pieces in a blazing inferno.

The light from the fire turned from yellow into blue and Marcus found himself under water. But not just under water, but rather hundreds of feet under water. Marcus panicked at first, thinking that he would drown, but then realized he was somehow breathing normally despite being submerged. He was standing on a tall underwater ridge.

Passing right in front of him, walking along the seafloor, was the now dreaded city destroyer, Godzilla. The massive reptilian monster dominated landscape and was blotting out the light of the sun from the surface. Marcus was shrouded by his massive shadow and feared the monster would cut his life short at any moment. Godzilla however did not seem to notice him. The monster simply walked along, ignoring Marcus’ existence.

However, Marcus was so close to Godzilla that the water current the monster produced just from walking by swept him off his feet and pulled him into the ocean trench below. Marcus was dragged down into the dark abyss, losing sight of Godzilla as he went further and further into the depths. He drifted for an indeterminable amount of time.

Finally, Marcus settled on the bottom of the dark channel. He was so far down that he couldn’t even see all the way up anymore. The light of the sun was all but extinguished by the mass of water above him. As he was not able to see properly, Marcus just sat there for a time until his eyes started to adjust. Once they finally did, he attempted to swim back up but found that he was too heavy. Each time he got a few feet up he was pulled back down into the sand like he was wearing weights around his feet. Seeing little other choice, he just stood there and waited for something to happen.

Finally, something did. Out from the darkness, a soft blue light appeared in front of Marcus. It was slowly coming closer and closer to him until he recognized it for what it was. It turned out to be a giant tentacle. The very moment Marcus understood what it was, the light from the tentacle expanded, revealing Gezora’s body in its entirety. One of the squid’s giant red eyeballs was staring right at Marcus and the monster was reaching out for him.

Marcus immediately started to swim the other way in an effort to escape, but the monster’s tentacles were closing in all around him. Suddenly an ocean vent erupted beneath Marcus and a pocket of hot air bubbles shot him upwards out of harm’s way. When he came back down to the ocean floor he landed on his hands and knees.

When Marcus looked up, he saw a large stone statue looking down on him. It had an angry human face carved into it and eons of undersea life growing on it. In Marcus’ peripheral vision, he could see something moving behind the statue. He stepped around it and found the monster Manda. The giant sea dragon was curled up in his own coils and sleeping amongst some rocks.

Further beyond the monster was a source of light in the dark water. Marcus strained to get a better look at what it was, but it was hard to focus on. It just looked like a grouping of light off in the distance. But there were hundreds of them. Just as Marcus’ vision was becoming clearer, Manda began to rouse. Though Marcus had made no noise to give himself away, the monster somehow seemed to know that he was there. It snarled a warning, letting suds escaping out the sides of his mouth.

Manda thrashed his tail, which collided with a column of rocks. The column shattered into a thousand smaller pieces, raining boulders over the entire area of the seafloor. Many of the rocks came crashing down around Marcus. A hundred-ton rock landed right next to him. Five more feet to the left and it would have crushed him where he stood.

Marcus tried to run on the bottom, but his progress was excessively slow. As he ran, all sorts of sand and debris were being kicked up by all of the commotion and displaced rocks. Through the murky water, Marcus could see two large mounds off in the distance ahead of him. Each of them had spiked protrusions on their crests. As he got closer, he realized one of them was moving. The mound to the right shifted and then lifted off the bottom of the ocean entirely before starting towards the surface. As the murkiness of the water started to settle again, he could finally see that it was Anguirus swimming.

As Marcus continued to look up watching Anguirus, he tripped on a hooked piece of coral and fell forward. He closed his eyes, anticipating a painful landing into the sharp edges of the reef, but there was no impact. Instead, he felt himself flip forward a full three-hundred and sixty degrees. When he opened his eyes, he found himself floating amongst clouds. Or perhaps he was just falling slowly.

Marcus spotted a city off in the distance. He recognized it immediately. The city was a place he knew all too well. It was San Fransico. As Marcus watched, the city began to change. Columns of clouds sprang up all over the place, slowly obscuring his view of the city until it was completely gone.

As Marcus continued to fall, he spotted something approaching off in the distance. It was Rodan flying. The monster was coming right at him. Behind the monster were streaks of black smoke and fire in the sky. Rodan was moving so fast that it only took seconds for him to be right on top of Marcus. Marcus meanwhile was helpless to do anything other than continue to fall.

Finally, Rodan blew past Marcus at incredible speed. The ensuing torrent of air spun him head over heels cartwheeling towards the ground. Marcus remembered some of his parachute training and held out his arms, angling them in an attempt to regain some control over his freefall. The spinning slowed and Marcus gradually reclaimed some influence over his descent. It was none too soon. Any longer and he was going to get sick.

As Marcus began to regain his bearings, he became aware of his surroundings once more. He could see an island off in the distance. Its most notable geographic feature was a huge mountain near the center of the island. There also appeared to be a nasty storm brewing around it. Lightning was flashing regularly. Beyond and above the island, there was a patch of sky where the stars were poking through. A constellation Marcus didn’t know burnt red, making the rest of the stars fade into the background.

A final wall of clouds formed below Marcus and a noise he recognized drew his attention down to it. Beneath the clouds, peaks of mountains and jets of fire were shooting upwards. As Marcus approached the cloud wall, still in freefall, Baragon’s head sprung out from of it. The monster spotted Marcus and opened his maw, anticipating the moment he would snap his waiting jaws shut on the fresh meat. Marcus came down and Baragon’s sharp teeth closed in around him.

Marcus' eyes opened wide, and he found himself laying in his bunk on the Essex. He wiped droplets of cold sweat from his brow. He had been sleeping for ten hours, after having stayed up all night watching Godzilla wreak havoc in Tokyo the previous night. Marcus sat up in his bunk, kicked his feet over the side, and shook out some of the cobwebs. Despite all the sleep, he felt worn out. He struggled to remember what he had been dreaming about. It was already fading fast. Despite his efforts to focus, it was evaporating from his memory.

Marcus finally gave up and got dressed. He soon found Brock, who had to remind him that Admiral Malek's fleet was the beginning their second day out of port sailing northeast on its way to Odo Island. It was nearly breakfast time, and Brock said that the cooks were preparing a hardy meal of steak and eggs. He suggested they get their early so they could ensure their food was as hot and fresh as possible.

Marcus could hardly say no to that. Steak and eggs for breakfast was a bad sign though. From Marcus’ past experiences in the navy, whenever his CO’s feed the crew streak and eggs it meant that they expected an especially challenging day ahead of them. Usually a fight.

Marcus and Brock quickly got through the chow line and found a place to sit. Brock quickly destroyed his steak before turning on the eggs. He finished his meal in record time and went for a second round before Marcus could even finish half of his steak. Being as big as he was, the cooks did not hassle Brock about another portion. He had always eaten more than the average sailor and they’d pretty well come to expect a request for seconds from him.

Meanwhile at the table, Marcus sat there deep in thought trying to remember his dream. Before he knew it, he looked up and saw that Brock had returned, but he wasn't alone. Dr. Orsini, Captain Lennox, and a few of the other marines had joined them too. Marcus felt like he had missed a big chuck of conversation while he was chewing and daydreaming. They were discussing Dr. Yamane's position on Godzilla.

Dr. Orsini was attempting to defend Yamane’s position of studying the creature. Perhaps even finding a peaceful way to co-exist with it. The word co-exist in particular caught Marcus’ attention. Something about it lit a fuse inside him. Dr. Orsini continued to explain the scientific perspective until Marcus finally could not hold it in anymore.

"Peace was never an option." Marcus said, cutting into the conversation abruptly. "Dr. Yamane is a fool." He added in an uncharacteristically cold tone. "I'm sure he realizes that now that Tokyo is in ruins." The whole table went quiet.

"Geez Marcus." Brock broke the silence, raising an eyebrow. "And here I thought you were going to speak up for the scientific point of view."

"We should only study the corpse." Marcus said coolly. "If can even kill it to begin with."

"Ok, I can see that you didn't sleep all that well after all." Now both of Brock’s eyebrows were lifted in surprise. "Maybe I should get you some coffee."

"No, I think Marcus kind of has a point." Dr. Orsini spoke up. "I shared Dr. Yamane's enthusiasm for studying giant monsters. I was even looking forward to my first up-close encounter with one. But now that we are on the verge of such an encounter, I'm not so certain anymore. With this case in particular, I think I would be much happier with a sample piece in a jar to work with. Tokyo was a city of eleven million people. It was ripped apart in just one night. Think about that. New York has a population of only eight million. If it can happen to Tokyo, it can happen anywhere. My family, your families, they could be killed the next time this thing strikes.”

"Nothing makes you feel your own mortality quite so keenly as a close call with a Kaiju." Brock remarked. "We think of ourselves as the masters of this world, that mankind is at the top of the food chain and there's nothing that can challenge us, but these things not only make you question that belief, they shatter the entire notion outright. I won't ever forget that night when Baragon attacked the Zao-Ming conference. Marcus and I were moments from death on at least three separate occasions. To say that we were lucky to get out alive would be a gross understatement."

“They tell you about it, but nothing prepares you for a firsthand experience.” Captain Lennox spoke up next. "I was with the pacific fleet in the China Sea when Rodan attacked us during the night. I was on the next destroyer over from the one that got obliterated. I remember thinking how easily it could have been us afterwards. I still do if I’m being honest. Just a flip of a coin and that monster could have come crashing down on us instead. As it was, our ship nearly capsized from the impact anyway."

"It was Anguirus for me." Private Simmons chimed in. "I was on the beaches in the Philippines when that beast came crashing through our defensive lines. We threw everything we had at it, machine gun nests, mortars, tanks platoons, mines, aerial bombings, and artillery. The monster just took the beating with a smile and then asked for a second helping. At one point, I was so close to the monster I could smell his breath when he roared. No… more than that, I could feel the heat from its mouth and saliva droplets hit my face. Plenty close enough for me. I lost several buddies from my former outfit in that fight. I had nightmares about it for months after that."

"I guess I can see how everyone got picked for this job." Dr. Orsini remarked.

"Yeah, I'm willing to bet almost everyone on this ship has a similar story." Brock observed. "But some of us have more than others, eh Marcus?"

"You say that like it's a good thing." Marcus shook his head.

---

After hours of walking, Dimitri and Niko’s patrol was entering their assigned search zone. One hour into their search, they came across a less than encouraging discovery. It was the remnants of a previous patrol’s campsite. The whole area had been thrashed with giant claw marks in the ground. It was difficult to say how long ago the attack had taken place and it wasn’t clear if there had been any survivors. The Rodans had not left any bodies behind to be found.

Some of the tents had been blown up into the tree branches and at least one of them had an occupant at the time. Niko could see dry blood on the fabric of the tent. The man inside had apparently been impaled on the branches. Niko hoped that he had died quickly.

“This reminds me of one of my first patrols.” Dimitri remarked. “We were camped along the ridge of a rockface near a stream. In the early evening I went off to get some fresh water with one of the other guys just before the sun went down. I don’t know exactly what tipped them off, but one of the Rodans came in low to get a closer look at the camp. As it flew overhead, it sent a whole platoon of soldiers inside their tents flying into the rockface and trees. Those who weren’t dashed against the rocks were skewered by the trees. A corporal and myself were the only survivors left to tell the story. We had to hide out in the brush until it was dark enough to recover what supplies we could and get the hell out of there.”

“Glad I wasn’t along for that trip…” Niko began to say, but Dimitri shushed him, getting a very worried look on his face. He could hear something he was all too familiar with. Dimitri signaled for all his men to quietly take cover as quickly as possible behind something solid.

A moment passed and nothing happened. As Niko sat in his hiding place, he began to wonder if Dimitri had just been on too many trips and was starting to become overly paranoid. But then Niko heard a noise too. A few seconds later, one of the Rodans passed over their heads. It was not swooping down at them though. Instead, it seemed to be flapping its wings to gain altitude.

The monster was not going full speed, but the shockwave that it left behind in its wake was still strong enough to send debris flying everywhere. Loose and dead branches began to fall from the trees, raining down all around the squad. Even a squirrel lost its grip and came tumbling to the ground. It regained its footing quickly and shot right back up a tree once it spotted Niko nearby.

When the shower of sticks had subsided, the men began to emerge from their hiding spots. However, there was still something more that followed. Another odd sort of precipitation. As the soldiers stared up to the sky, a thick cloud of grey dust began to drift down upon them. On closer inspection, it wasn’t dust at all, but rather it was ash. More and more of it came falling down, the bigger pieces looked like grey snowflakes.

Niko was puzzled by the situation, but Dimitri quickly put all of the clues together. The Rodan had just taken off from its nest which had to be inside of a volcano. Dimitri got his team up and moving again, and in the direction that the Rodan had come from. The nest had to be located somewhere nearby. Based on how the monster was flapping its wings and the amount of ash still clinging to it, they had to be close to wherever it had taken off from.

---

“The northern decoy transmitter has been activated general.” Captain Dominov reported. “I’m picking up the signal.”

“Good, the planes are already in route.” General Stanislav replied. “All is in readiness.”

---

Over the sea of Okhotsk, a group of Soviet aircraft were just starting to make their way across the body of water and towards the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Out in front, fighter escorts were scanning the skies for any potential trouble. They were followed by numerous medium bombers. The medium bomber’s primary function was to screen the entire air group during the operation. The Russians meant to stay undetected by the Rodans while they were over the target area, and they were going to use an old British tactic to do so.

In the 1940s, the British had developed an anti-radar system called “Window” to jam enemy radar systems. Window utilized aircraft to spread a cloud of small and thin strips of black paper backed with aluminum foil, called chaff, across the sky in a target area. The chaff would either appear as a cluster of primary targets on a radar screens or simply swamp the radar with multiple returns. Thus, it would overwhelm a radar system’s ability to identify legitimate targets with false echoes.

The Russians were hoping to jam up the Rodan’s ability to detect their strike force by the same method. It was still largely unknown by what exact process the Rodans found targets in the sky, but it was hoped at the very least the operation would confuse them. In the very best case, the planes would reach the target completely undetected until it was already too late.

“Once we get close to the target area the smaller escorts will accelerate ahead of the main body. Hopefully, the monsters will be so concerned with the strong radio signal coming from the ground on their own doorstep that they won’t even notice us coming from such a high altitude, but the jamming effect from window should also help camouflage us too.” Gregor explained to the observer he was carrying in his fighter.

Gregor was the lucky pilot picked to have a government representative assigned to his plane. His fighter had been specially altered to allow for a single passenger, though at the cost of comfort to the pilot. Given the importance of the mission, the soviet government wanted a firsthand perspective on the operation. Gregor was not given a choice in the matter, but he was making the best of the situation.

“So, you think we’re going to be safe?” The observer asked nervously.

Gregor smiled. Apparently, the observer had not been given a choice in matter either. It must have been hard for a bureaucrat to be on the front lines of a battle. Gregor quietly wondered to himself what the man must have done, or who he must have pissed off, to be assigned to such a high-risk mission.

“In just a little while the remote decoy radio in the north should stop transmitting and the ground team’s device should be taking its place, lurking the Rodans back to the target coordinates.” Gregor looked at his watch. “We should arrive there in just over two and a half hours. The monsters should arrive before us and not be able to ignore the ground team’s transmissions. The device is supposed to be well hidden by the soldiers, so with any luck, both Rodans will be busy scouring the forest on the ground trying to find it when we arrive.” Gregor further explained. “The timing is important.”

---

Dimitri and Niko were still following the ash trail through the woods, hoping to locate the Rodan’s nest. They were blissfully unaware that a fleet of Russian aircraft were already on their way to the site.

The team came to a clearing and found a harrowing sight. It appeared to be a graveyard of whale bones and other large sea life which took up an area the size of two football fields. Dimitri smiled, even as everyone else in the squad stood there in astonishment. While it was a daunting sight, it was also the most certain sign yet that they were close to the Rodan’s lair. The trail of ash passed right through the graveyard.

Not seeing much other choice, the team pressed onwards and entered the boneyard. It was eerie, even for the more experienced soldiers. Some of the fallen whale’s rib cages were taller than the men were. Niko had to step over or through a number of skeletons to avoid going too far around. As close to the nest as the team must be, every minute they lingered put them at higher risk of being discovered, but the men could feel that their goal was within reach.

As Niko passed under a section of bones, he saw something that made the chilling situation feel that much worse. It wasn’t just the remains of sea life that littered the valley. No, Niko found what was unmistakably a human skull sitting amongst the other bones. The sight stopped him in his tracks. Niko took a good long look around him, closely studying his surroundings, and realizing the individual skull was far from an isolated case. In fact, the boneyard was full of human remains.

From the ridge above, the party had been too far away to notice before, but now that they were in the middle of it, Niko could see the remains of hundreds, if not thousands, of human corpses. Most of them had been picked clean and left to bleach in the sun, but Niko noticed a section of fresh kills that still had strips of flesh on them. He realized it could only be from one of the other search teams. Niko started to feel weak in the knees. All of the bodies around him had to be from fallen soviet soldiers.

“Keep moving.” Dimitri ordered, coming to his side, and urging him forward. “Try not to think about it.”

With Dimitri leading the way, the team pressed on as quickly as they could. Soon enough they found the other edge of the boneyard and reached the relative safety of the trees again. By this point, they could smell something in the air. It was something similar to rotten eggs. The smell was pungent and stung at the edges of their eyes.

“What is that?” Niko asked, tearing up. “More bodies…?”

“Sulfur.” Dimitri answered. “We have to be nearby one of the volcanoes.”

---

Almost two hours later, the team was indeed near the base of an active volcano. Dimitri could see through his binoculars an opening that was large enough for the Rodans to emerge from. The area below the opening had displaced rocks and loose soil around it. Some of it looked fresh. The team had spread out to look for any other positive signs of the Rodan’s presence, but Dimitri was already sure enough.

“This has got to be it.” He announced. “Niko, get your equipment ready. I want to be transmitting and on our way out of here in fifteen minutes.”

“Yes sir.” Niko replied, beginning to take off his pack and take out the transmitter.

“Sir, I found something you need to see right now!” One of the other soldiers named Peter came up and grabbed Dimitri by the arm. “It can’t wait.”

“Continue preparations.” Dimitri ordered Niko. “But do not turn it on and absolutely don’t start transmitting until I get back.” He warned. Niko nodded in understanding.

Peter brought Dimitri to the edge of a nearby patch of woods where they could see a mechanical box sitting on its side in a ravine below. Dimitri immediately recognized what it was and quickly made his way down the hill to take a closer look at it. He slid the last couple of feet on the loose soil until he was right next to it. He turned the heavy box off of its side and examined it closely.

Dimitri knew that the machine could have only come from one place: One of the other teams that had been dispatched out there. It was the exact same model Niko was carrying. Dimitri could see that the machine was left on and still had power. Whoever left it there could not have done so very long ago.

At that point, Dimitri got a cold chill down his spine. If another team had been there and left, that meant that an airstrike was probably already on its way and his team was in danger in getting caught up in the pending attack. He needed to know for sure before he did anything else. Dimitri looked to see if the automatic decoy transmitter had been set. Peter caught up with him by that point, sliding in next to him.

“Something went wrong here.” Dimitri told him. “It looks like they called in the position of the nest, but the auto-timer countdown for the decoy function isn’t set.”

“Why wouldn’t they do that before leaving?” Peter asked. “Weren’t they supposed to set it and then hide the device afterwards? Why would they just leave it sitting here in a ditch?”

“Something went really wrong here.” Dimitri looked around for any signs of the other team. Just then a drop of blood hit him on the cheek. Dimitri looked up and saw a body hanging in a tree branch above him.

“MY god!” exclaimed Peter. “That’s one of the Moltov’s men!”

“We need to contact headquarters right now.” Dimitri started to fidget with the nobs on the radio. “poop, the transmitter is broken!” He jumped up and started to make his way back towards Niko and his radio. Dimitri fought his way up the hill, knowing that time was precious.

“What’s going on?” Niko asked confused as Dimitri ran up on him frantically.

“Shut up, we’re in trouble.” Dimitri pushed Niko aside, turned the radio on, and started to dial in the proper frequency. “This is Sargent Dimitri Nikita of ground team three calling headquarters, come in.” He waited briefly for a response. “I repeat, this is Sargent Dimitri Nikita of ground team three calling headquarters, come in!”

“This is Captain Dominov at headquarters.” A voice finally answered. “What do you have to report?”

“We are at the Rodan’s nest site.” Dimitri began. “Team one was already here and appears to have been discovered by the monsters and killed. Are the bombers already on their way?”

“Affirmative Sargent.” Dominov replied. “Those birds have flown.”

“Do you know far away they are?” Peter interrupted, trying to speak to Dominov himself. “Is there still time for us to escape?”

“Shut up private.” Dimitri waved his hand to get Peter to settle down. “Is there still time to call them back? Team one did not set their decoy transmitter. I repeat, team one was killed prior to setting up their decoy.” There was a long silence. “Sir, those pilots are in danger of being detected.”

“The bombers are already approaching the target area and they are operating under strict radio silence.” Captain Dominov informed them. “There is no way to call them back or warn them. If they are still on schedule, then they should be arriving on site in under an hour. Your orders are to immediately activate your decoy transmitter and then hid it as best you can.”

“Understood.” Dimitri replied, cutting off the transmission.

“What? If we do that, we’re going to get bombed by our own air force!” Peter shouted. “And that’s only if the Rodans don’t find us first! They expect us to sacrifice ourselves, just like that?”

“Yes, just like that, for the motherland.” Dimitri replied. “This is the best hope to free our people from the threat of the monsters. Get ready to transmit the signal Niko.”

Peter didn’t look very convinced. His hand started to reach down his left pantleg, moving towards his hunting knife. Just then a shadow loomed over the group. It was one of the Rodans passing above them. The monster was headed south in the direction of the incoming airstrike.

“It’s already too late.” Dimitri announced.

---

Fifteen minutes later, the air group was beginning to break up into their various squadrons for the strike. The largest aircraft, a Tupolev Tu-95 was using signal lights through its windows to alert and coordinate the other planes. The Mig-15 fighters were hanging back with the large bomber while the medium bombers were starting to peel off and begin dropping their bundles.

It became apparent almost immediately that the rest of the mission was not going to go according to plan. There was a flash of light as one of the medium bombers exploded midair. The eyes of every pilot were draw to the fireball. One of the Rodans had somehow been alerted to their presence and was on the attack. The monster had pulled the cockpit of the bomber clean away from the fuselage with its talons. The other bombers evaded, getting clear of the immediate danger.

Meanwhile, the Mig fighters dropped their fuel pods in preparation for combat. Two of the squadrons spilt up and approached the monster from both sides. A third squadron hung back to defend the Tupolev. Rodan eyed the two groups of planes approaching, seeing their planned hammer-and-anvil style attack forming around him.

Instead of increasing speed and pressing forward to avoid the attack, the Rodan instead swung around and came right at one of the squadrons trying to attack it. The monster plowed right through three of the planes, shattering them. The turbulence-wake following behind the monster spun the rest of the planes in the formation out of control. Some of the aircraft were able to recover, but several were not. Two fighters spun out of control towards the ground below.

After winning the first engagement, the Rodan accelerated, pulling away from the fighters in the second squadron who were moving in behind it. The pilots were trying to maneuver themselves into a perfect firing position and were nearly there. The monster banked hard, sensing its attackers nearby. The fighters meanwhile launched their rockets in an all-out attack, but the monster was already arching out of their way. The unguided rockets simply streamed past it leaving vapor trails of missed shots.

With the attack evaded, Rodan changed course again, moving towards the large bomber at the center of the main formation. The monster seemed to recognize the other planes were protecting it, or perhaps he simply saw it as the largest opponent and sought to eliminate it as a threat. Whatever the reason, the monster made a B-line for it.

“poop, he’s going after the Tupolev!” Gregor exclaimed. From his position, he could see everything that was happening but couldn’t do much about it. His squadron was out of position, situated on the far side of the formation from the outset of the battle. They were still trying to get into the fight.

The fighters from the pursuing squadron were struggling to keep pace with Rodan and out of rockets. It was clear that they were not going to be able to intercept the monster before it reached the main body of the formation. In desperation, they fired their cannons. They knew it wasn’t going to stop the monster, but it might distract him from his intended target. Unfortunately, it did not.

The crew of the Tupolev in the meantime saw the trouble coming at them and were attempting to maneuver out of the way. It was hopeless though. The heavy bomber was far too cumbersome to escape the much more agile Rodan. The monster came right behind the plane and sheered the left wing off of it. With a wing and two of its engines gone, there was no chance the Tupolev could remain airborne. The bomber fell from the sky in a corkscrew nose-dive. Gregor saw everything and watched the Tupolev all the way to the ground. He prayed that the payload wouldn’t go off.

However, upon impact, an immense explosion erupted from the crash site. A vast section of woods vaporized instantly. At the same time, even more of the forest caught fire in a perimeter that reached for miles around. Gregor avoided looking directly at it, but some of the pilots around him were blinded by the flash of light and went tumbling from the sky.

Gregor pulled the sun visor on his helmet down and by the time he looked back down again, a mushroom cloud was already pushing its way up towards him. The worst-case scenario had come to pass. The bomb had gone off and neither of the Rodans were anywhere near it when it did. The mission was a complete disaster. The only thing to do at that point was to collect whatever aircraft were left and retreat back to base.

Rodan had other plans though. While many of the pilots were either distracted or blinded by the nuclear blast, the monster was busy sweeping them out of the sky one by one. There were only two members of Gregor’s squad left by that point. He very quickly decided that he was not going to stick around a moment longer.

And it wasn’t a moment too soon either. Rodan was already coming for Gregor and his wingman. Both fighters dove down to avoid the monster, but the creature managed to clip the second plane. The fighter disintegrated it into fragments and components of an aircraft. Gregor meanwhile reached terminal velocity heading down hard for the deck to escape. He only started to pull up on the stick at the last possible moment, skinning the surface of the burning trees. His heart was pounding and sweat was running down the side of his face. His breaths were fast and shallow.

Gregor continued to skim the surface, gritting his teeth. His mind was racing as he dodged around obstacles close to the ground. He expected to be plucked out of the sky at any moment, but the moment passed, and he just kept on flying.

After a minute hard flying, Gregor pulled up slightly so he could look behind him without risking colliding with anything in front of him. He was still anticipating death to be nipping at his heels. He scanned the sky all around him feverishly, but everywhere he looked was just empty space. Slowly, he came to realize that he wasn’t being chased after all. Gregor didn’t question it and instead just flew on, focusing on what was in front of him.

Gregor heard a whimper coming from behind him while flying and only then remembered that the government’s observer was still behind him in the cockpit. The man must have been pretty terrified by their shared experience. Gregor said nothing, but he exhaled hard, letting out some of the tension.

In the skies behind him, Rodan was still hunting down the remaining aircraft that lingered above the burning forest.

---

This chapter goes out to the following readers:

MpSolder and a special story follower who I'll just call "JD".

Hanging by a tread at this point.
Custom Godzilla Modeler

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