By C. L. Werner
Koumajutsu: The Coming of Bagan
11 - [Chapter 12] -
The warm waters of the Pacific Ocean lapped slowly against the sandy shore of the tiny island. A mere flyspeck on the surface of the Earth, it was, never-the-less one of the most mystical sites on the entire planet, hidden from the eyes of mortal beings, protected by a barrier that would permit no human to ever find its forested hills or craggy cliffs. An older and wiser Power had hidden this place, and only those few beings permitted by Him could discover what had been hidden.
A strange apparition made its way toward the shore, crossing the barrier that separated the island from the natural world. A horned head, fringed by a frill of spikes carried a massive brown, grub-like shape in reptilian jaws. The huge dinosaur's taloned feet crunched into the soft sand of the beach, his eyes traversing the terrain, looking for any sign of danger. Despite the sense of peace and safety that surrounded him, the giant reptile was taking no chances. He lashed his long spiked tail, splashing it in the water.
A low, mournful chirp came from the creature clutched in the jaws of the dinosaur. Anguirus snorted, the only sound he could make with his mouth closed about Mothra's ravaged form. The spine-backed dinosaur stomped deeper into the ancient forest that covered most of the island. The ancient trees seemed to part before him, not a one of the wizened boughs being trampled under the leviathan's lumbering steps. At last, Anguirus carried his charge to the centre of the island. The dinosaur's eyes grew wide with wonder as he saw the mammoth shape looming above him.
The Tree of Life, loomed over the forest, a skyscraper of leaves and wood. A full hundred meters high, the oldest living thing on the face of the earth towered above even the immense shapes of Anguirus and Mothra. It was to this place that the elder Mothra had come when her own mother had perished fighting the evil Death Ghidorah. She had called upon the power of the Tree, the distillation of the life energy of the Earth itself, to imbue her with the power and strength to overcome Death Ghidorah.
Anguirus gently set the ravaged body of the giant caterpillar down upon the ground. Mothra looked back at the giant beast, a final mournful chirp passing her massive mandibles. It was a sound of farewell, a note of thankfulness. Then the giant insect turned upon the Tree. Painfully, she scuttled to the base of the trunk, rolling onto her back, the wound in her body still oozing ichor as she moved. Mothra's jaws parted again and a film of silk began to shoot into the sky above her, slowly floating back down to cover the monster's body. Anguirus turned away from Mothra, leaving her to her labours as she began to cocoon herself against the Tree. The giant dinosaur lumbered back to the beach, returning to the warm water of the Pacific.
There had been a note of intelligence in the reptile's eyes as he parted from the stricken insect, as though some grim foreknowledge had been passed on to him by the goddess. It was with purpose that Anguirus swam away, each powerful stroke of his limbs and tail speeding him north, to the battle he now knew was yet to come. The battle that would decide the fate of a world.
Hoichi stared up at the looming shape of the ancient Inca war god. For the better part of a day, the massive stone idol had stood immobile, only the massive footprints sunk deep in the ground behind him giving evidence that the huge statue had not always stood so, had not indeed emerged from the sea to stand before the fast setting sun. A cordon of Chinese armour had been established around the silent behemoth, the soldiers clearly disturbed by the tense sense of expectancy that seemed to exude from the ancient war god.
'Tuol,' Hoichi said. 'So, one of the survivors from the battle that imprisoned Bagan in the dawn of history has come to defy the demon once more.' Hoichi bowed his head and offered up prayers of thanks to the silent, brooding figure.
'But will the others come?' asked British folklorist Aaron Vaught. Vaught had been late catching up with the rest of his KNIFE comrades, having remained behind at the Okinawa temple to decipher some ancient legends regarding the Shisa and King Seesar.
'The monster Death Ghidorah is already awake and free once more,' Hoichi replied. 'I do not think that can be coincidence.'
A Chinese officer nearby nodded his head. 'That is so. Our radar stations have picked up a large blip approaching from the direction of Hokkaido. It may be the monster Death Ghidorah.' A grim look entered the communist soldier's eyes. 'We will know for certain when the fighters intercept the object.'
Hoichi shook his head. 'You should not spend the lives of your men so needlessly. It will take more than a squadron of mere fighter planes to fend off the spawn of Ghidorah. And it is doubly needless, for Death Ghidorah is not our greatest enemy. It is Bagan we must overcome.' Hoichi set his stern gaze on the defiant face of the Chinese officer. 'There is a saying in the Islamic world that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Prophecy dictates that Bagan cannot be defeated unless he is first overcome as he was in days of old, unless seven great defenders oppose him and combat his evil.'
'That is all well and noble for you to say,' the Chinese officer replied. 'But this battle occurs here, in my homeland. Would you be so eager to allow such a wanton destroyer free passage if it was Japan that would suffer his depredations?'
'I would,' Hoichi answered solemnly, 'because it is the only way.'
A group of uniformed men advanced toward the two. The new arrivals were all Japanese, various officers of the JSDF and UNGCC, come to observe the coming battle against Bagan, to try and see if any weakness in the demon's defences could be found before it was too late. At the head of the officers was Colonel Sho Kuroki. He saluted the Chinese officer, but soon drew Hoichi to the side.
'I heard about what happened in Okinawa,' Kuroki said. Hoichi nodded his head, a grim expression on his face.
'The gains we made there may come to nothing if the seven great guardians do not gather to oppose this fiend. Even if he has truly been destroyed, the evil of Kato Yasunori survives him.' Hoichi pointed a grizzled hand at the form of Miki Saegusa. The young psychic's face was screwed in a grimace of pain, her hands clenched about the heavy mass of the Shisa. 'She can sense the monster. He is coming.'
'I came because the Japanese government is loaning the Super X-3 to help the Chinese, but right now I find myself wishing it was Godzilla we were facing.' Colonel Kuroki removed his cap, running a hand through his straight black hair. 'I imagine that Commander Aso is having a quiet moment right now waiting for news of my failure here.'
'I do not think anyone will be pleased if Bagan emerges from this battlefield in triumph,' Hoichi said.
The great horned head tilted backwards upon the massive armoured shoulders. Bagan gave a great bellow, and reared forward. The shells and missiles of the Chinese tanks and artillery were nothing to the demon, impacting harmlessly against the brown plates that encased his evil form. But the gout of searing flame that emerged from the pits of the demon's gut, that washed over the weapons and soldiers like a river of fire was not so ineffectual. Men and machines alike were turned to smoking piles of cinder, pale smoke coiling from charred twisted metal.
Bagan gave another snort of annoyance as the squadron of Chinese fighters swooped down towards him. Missiles impacted against his head, dazzling his eyes for a moment with the intensity of their explosion. Thick canisters of napalm gas dropped onto the monster, momentarily engulfing him in a blazing ball of orange flame. But it took the demon only a moment for his armour to become hotter still, magma boiling about his body, consuming all oxygen in the air about him, suffocating the flames that thought to feed on his flash.
The fighters wheeled around, already almost to the limits of the dragon's sight. Energy crackled about Bagan's horns and once again the brilliant electrical discharge flared from the massive nasal horn, lashing out across the miles between Bagan and his fleeing attackers. The planes exploded in puffs of smoke and heat. Only two of the retreating fighters escaped the demon's wrath.
Bagan lumbered onwards, past the scorched remains of ten thousand Red Army troops, his demonic furnace already hungry after consuming their petty essences. He could sense older, longer lived souls ahead, essences that would satisfy his terrible hunger far more than the puny lives of little men.
'He has broken through the outer defence cordon,' a Chinese officer announced to the commanding general. General Wo Ping Shun placed his field glasses to his eyes. There, in the distance, lumbering from a bank of thick black smoke the general could see the oncoming demon. He turned toward the Japanese observers and the strange Japanese mystic who had preceeded them with tales of ancient guardians and apocalyptic battles.
'I think it is time to show the demon what cards we have left,' General Shun commented. 'Is your craft ready?'
'The Super X-3 is standing by,' Colonel Kuroki responded. 'We await only your word to engage the monster.'
General Shun turned his eyes back into the field glasses, observing the titanic enemy. A mere pinpoint to the naked eye, the monster would cross the plain soon enough. 'Give the order. The Super X-3 will co-ordinate with our own elite Black Goblin squadron.' General Shun sighed loudly. 'If you worship any gods, pray to them now.'
'With respects,' Hoichi bowed to the general. 'It is in the powers of light that we must trust. Only they can prevail here.'
General Shun pointed a finger at the looming shape of Tuol, standing only a few hundred meters from their position. 'The enemy draws closer, yet I have seen nothing that indicates your friend here will do more than wait to be destroyed when Bagan has finished with my men.'
It was Miki Saegusa who answered the general. Her voice was strained, her words little more than a whisper. It was obvious to all that the closing proximity between her and Bagan was becoming increasingly painful to the psychic.
'Tuol is indeed waiting,' she said, and as she said the words, the eyes of the statue in her hands began to glow. 'He is waiting for the others to arrive.'
The black metal surface of the speeding Super X-3 glistened in the light cast by the fires of Bagan's rampage. The JSDF crew within the armoured flying tank muttered in awe and fear. They had been fully briefed on their adversary, seen what film documentation of the beast could be had. Some of these same men had even partaken in the final battle of the old Godzilla, fired the shots that had ended the life of Destroyah. Yet there was a power and malevolence about this thing they now faced that cowed them, one and all. Voices in the cockpit of the Super X-3 sank, as though fearful that the sounds might attract the demon's attention. As if by unspoken agreement, none of the crew employed his name, referring only to 'the target', lest he hear and take notice.
'On my mark, fire the cold lasers,' Colonel Hikari commanded the weapons officers. The gunners ensured that the weapons in question were fully powered, giving their commander the signal that all was in readiness. Hikari wiped the sweat from his brow as he watched the demon loom ever closer, the beast's eyes staring at the onrushing craft. He could see the crackling electricity gathering about the beast's horns. The armour of the Super X-3 had been designed to withstand the force of Godzilla's ray. But could it shield the craft from Bagan's fury?
The answer came as the searing lightning blast sped from Bagan's central horn, engulfing the Super X-3 for the briefest of moments. The world beyond the ship was obscured as cameras mounted in the hull blinked out, half of them shorted by the electrical discharge. The men held their breath, thinking that it could well be their last. But the moment passed and as the blinding light dissipated, the pilots could again see the world around them. Their craft had survived the electrical maelstrom. Now it would be their turn to attack.
'Let me know the instant the Chinese are on their way,' Hikari ordered the communications officer. The man nodded his head in affirmation. A moment later he relayed to Colonel Hikari the message that the Black Goblin squadron had arrived.
They dropped from the clouds, five harshly angular aircraft the size of gunboats. They were a universal chrome colour, their shining hulls catching light and reflecting it back at its sources like a mirror. The fruit of countless spies and traitors, the planes were the cutting edge in the Chinese arsenal. Employing American stealth technology, Japanese NT-20 armour technology and countless other 'borrowed' sciences, the fighters of the Black Goblin squadron were as yet untested on the field of battle. Now they surrounded the Super X-3, hurrying toward their assignation with the demon and their baptism of fire.
Bagan's central horn blazed again, and the searing lightning crackled about the screaming Chinese fighters. The armour on the fuselages of the planes did its work, though, and not one of the racing silver objects dropped from the sky. As the demon reared back, perhaps startled by the resiliency of these tiny foes, the Chinese pilots acted. From the base of each plane, a missile rack opened. As one, the Black Goblin squadron fired, fifteen missiles hurtling at the demon in the same instant. The missiles were also cutting edge, designated as 'Silkworms'. Wire-guided, the missiles unerringly struck their target, the mechanized borring heads of the warheads activating as they struck, drilling their way into Bagan's body.
The demon roared, playing his fiery breath about the Chinese planes even as the missiles that had sunk into his flesh detonated within him. Chunks of meat and hard armour plates flew from Bagan's stricken body. Patches of raw muscle and sinew were displayed all about the demon's torso. Hiraki noted the monster's wounds and gave the command to engage.
The super-cold rays of the Super X-3 lashed out at the stricken demon. Bagan's grunt-like wail froze upon his fangs as ice formed about his head, the glistening meat of his injuries frosting over in an instant as the rays chilled the air and the demon's flesh. Ice had imprisoned the demon for countless ages. It was hoped that cold could again be employed against him, trapping him within a frozen tomb. The more sceptical hoped to at least cripple the demon, wound him in order that he might be made susceptible to the other weapon that had been made ready.
Hiraki thought of that other weapon and a grim smile froze upon his face. He would stop the demon, he would make that weapon's use unnecessary. Even if they were willing to employ such a terrible thing on their own soil, Hiraki was determined that it would not be used. For he knew there were six, not five planes in the Black Goblin squadron. And he knew that the sixth plane bore a weapon older and more awful than Silkworm missiles.
If they failed to stop the demon, the Chinese had one last ploy. The nuclear bomb in the belly of the fighter was small as such weapons were judged, but it was hoped that it would be enough.
A tremendous glow surrounded Bagan's body, an eerie blue radiance that crackled with chaotic energies and sizzling electrical charges. The demon seemed to regard the aircraft striking him from every side with an arrogant contempt. The armoured eyelids shut about the demon's eyes, and a great pulse of crackling electricity spread from the demon, engulfing all within a sphere nearly three miles wide. The Black Goblin squadron was caught in that discharge, as was the Japanese Super X-3. The electrical energies could not damage the armoured hulls of the combat vehicles, but it could ravage the internal electronics within those hulls. Fuses melted into slag, wires burned and seven aircraft fell from the dark sky.
The planes of the Black Goblin squadron struck the earth like miniature missiles. Only providence and the natural safeguards built into the weapon prevented the atomic warhead within Black Goblin six from detonating as the tiny aircraft exploded. As it was, the dust from the plutonium warhead would poison this ground for centuries.
Colonel Hikari frantically tried to keep the nose of his ship in the air as the Super X-3 fell to earth, spiralling down like some damage kite. The immense craft dug a trench in the ground as it struck. Immediately, Hikari took assessment of the damage done to the Super X. There were no casualties amongst his crew, a miracle if ever there was one, and some systems appeared still in functioning order. Hikari snapped orders for his men to begin scavenging wiring from the functioning systems to get the Super X-3 airborne again. It was a desperate measure, but with the demon looming ever closer, despair was almost all the crew now had room for in their hearts.
Bagan stomped forward. He had watched with a sense of satisfaction as the little silver birds crashed to the ground and became bright flowers of flame. He had savored the tiny shriek of the small thing within each of the birds. But the larger black bird had not exploded, indeed, it was still largely intact. There had been no brief, satisfying flash of pain and death from the black bird. Bagan snorted and lumbered forward, determined to remedy that situation.
Suddenly, a low rumble made the very ground tremble. Bagan turned his horned head, glaring angrily at whatever being thought to disturb his pleasure. Too, faint stirrings of memory recalled the sound to the demon dragon, echoes of a distant past that was as fresh in the demon's mind as if it were yesterday.
Near the command center, Hoichi and Kuroki watched in awe as the towering figure of Tuol came to life. First there had been the deep, reverberating growl that had issued from the statue's body. Then, slowly, one ponderous foot rose, falling back to the earth dozens of feet away, setting the ground shaking as the stone foot dug a hole in the ground with its impact. Step by step, the ancient Inca war god advanced, again issuing his deep rumbling challenge to his eldritch foe.
Fire billowed about Bagan's steely fangs, spewing from the inferno of the demon's inner soul to bathe the lumbering war god in crimson flame. For a moment, the gigantic idol was lost to view, engulfed utterly within the searing hellfire. But then, slowly, a shadow appeared, a dark shape striding through the firestorm. Tuol emerged from Bagan's pyrotechnic assault, his stone skin unharmed by the fiery attack.
Bagan roared, swinging his head back and forth. The brown plates of his palms began to glow, the rocky surface oozing into molten magma. With a rapid swing of his claws, the dragon sent two globs of searing rock hurtling at Tuol. The ponderous giant made no effort to dodge the attack, one of the magma blobs smashing against his shoulder, the other clinging to his right forearm. The black rock steamed as it burnt away at the ancient stone of Tuol's hide, but it did so for only a moment. Rapidly cooling, the black tarry rock slid from Tuol's surface, leaving behind two scars of heat blasted rock, smooth as glass. Tuol lumbered onwards, heedless of the attack, unaware of any pain he might have been expected to experience.
The demon snarled his wrath, rearing back to deliver another attack. But it was the oncoming giant of carved stone that would unleash the next assault. Tuol lifted his mighty fist, slamming it into the ground. A fissure crackled away from the blow, snaking across the plateau to where the looming demon-dragon stood. The ground at Bagan's feet crumbled, flaking away, shattering like a pane of glass. A deep chasm yawned beneath the demon and Bagan uttered a deep howl of surprise as he plunged into the darkness of the cavern.
Tuol strode forward, grumbling like a glacier grinding against rock. The ancient Inca war god was under no illusions. He knew that he had awakened after the ages for a titanic battle. And he knew also that that battle could not be so easily won.
A roar spilt the air and the atmosphere seemed to crackle with static. A gigantic brown shape emerged from the pit, crackling wings of electricity flapping from the demon's back to keep his tremendous mass aloft. Bagan snarled down at the advancing Tuol, and a blast of electricity sped from his massive central horn to sear into the giant idol. Tuol stopped, energy crackling about his frame. As he stood immobile, Bagan descended, his weight causing the ground to tremble. Energy glowed about his left hand and the demon swipe the claw at Tuol. A whirling disk of energy slashed into the stone statue, scarring Tuol's forearm, digging deep into the statue. Blood, crimson, human, oozed from the wound, the blood of the numberless sacrifices the Inca priests had exacted from their people to give their creation life. Tuol staggered, reaching at the wound with one of his hands. A snarl of satisfaction spread across Bagan's armoured face. The demon gestured again and a second slasher disk struck the mighty idol, slashing at the exact same point on Tuol's powerful frame. This time, the statue's hand intercepted the slasher disk, and the whirling blade of energy sheared through two of Tuol's stubby fingers. They fell to the ground with the crash of boulders falling from a mountain. Blood fountained from the injury and Tuol drew away from his foe. But he did not retreat far, fixing his feet firmly when he overcame the shock of Bagan's attack, facing the gloating demon with his expressionless gemlike eyes.
Bagan snorted contemptuously at the yet defiant stone war god. Energy crackled about his clawed hands, gathering into the brilliant hued crescents of laser-sharp cutting energy that had so ravaged the primordial stone giant. Tuol let a deep rumbling bellow issue from his form. The Inca war god would not give ground before this demon of the night. Nor would he allow the demon his revenge without exacting what toll he might from the fiendish beast.
The slasher disk shot from Bagan's paw, but it did not strike Tuol. Instead it was cut short, its awesome energy intercepted by a tongue of eerie blue fire. A sharp cry echoed down from above. Bagan's horned head snapped upwards. The dragon glowered as a huge form descended from above, landing to stand beside the crippled Tuol. It was a tall, lean reptilian beast, a long spined tail stretching away from its almost humanoid form. Great wings spread from its back, a mane of hair about its tall, beak-faced head. The monster waved its clawed hands before it, again uttering a sharp roar of defiance and challenge. Gappa had arrived.
Bagan snarled his own contempt for the newly arrived enemy. It did not matter to the demon how many foes he butchered this day, whether it be one or twenty. He did not know pain, he did not know fear. Only that there would be death, only that the fires of the unholy furnace that blazed within him would be stoked, this was all that concerned the titan of doom. Bagan grunted, taking a thunderous step forward.
The earth trembled yet again, but this time it was not the doing of Tuol and the incredible shockwave of his blows. A keening wail resounded as a plume of dust erupted from the ground behind Tuol and Gappa. Bagan watched as a shape emerged from that fissure, a shape his memories at once recognized. It was the shape of the beast who had ended his reign of terror long ago, the horned, insectile creature that had been born in the hour of his own defeat. The long armoured caterpillar scuttled from the tunnel it had wormed across half a continent, his horned head bobbing up and down as multi-faceted eyes gazed once more upon a foe the monster recalled from his first incarnation. Battra roared again, his huge limbs propelling him to take a stand beside his ancient ally Tuol and the Polynesian protector, the gargoyle-like Gappa.
The dragon might have smiled then, had his cruel, armour-coated face been capable of such an expression. One of those who had defeated him in the dim past, denied him in the very hour of his dark ascension had already fallen before him, every last drop of agony wrested from her ravaged frame. Now, two more appeared to offer themselves to his fury. An almost unknown feeling seized the evil beast for a moment, a feeling of contentment. It was only right that they should be here, only right that they should taste the death and torment that should have been theirs long ago.
Bagan's taloned foot slammed into the ground as he took another step forward. But even as the demon raised his other foot to take the next step, the ground before him was transformed into slag, engulfed in a burning pool of molten magma. Bagan's turned his body, roaring at this new attacker. He was answered by a high-pitched trumpetting shriek. Again, Bagan's mind returned to the distant past as another of his old adversaries appeared. An immense, four-legged shape descended upon scarlet-hued leathery pinions, three horned heads hissing in hate at the looming brown dragon-beast. Death Ghidorah had come, come to feed upon the monstrous beast that promised him the most nourishing of all life-forces, the very essence of destruction and corruption. As Death Ghidorah's immense body slammed into the ground, his four-clawed feet digging into the bedrock, each of the horned heads uttered a trumpetting wail that bespoke of death, each armoured neck waggling madly above the immense mass of the beast. Death Ghidorah stomped forward, to take position beside the others.
The demon roared again, letting his energy wings briefly flare from his back. Such a battle he had not fought since his long ago imprisonment. Four great beasts, three of them his ancient enemies. A truly epic battle. A worthy test of his blossoming energies. A worthy meal for the hell-pit of his demonic maw. Bagan let his roar trail off into an almost mocking simulation of Death Ghidorah's own cry, bringing a new hiss of rage from the eldritch terror of Pelucidar.
Once again, the earth trembled, even as the mighty Bagan took the measure of those standing against him. The ground seemed to swirl as a great patch of earth sunk into the inner recesses of the hollows. A greenish-gray clawed hand gripped the edge of the resulting pit, followed by another. Bagan watched as a huge reptilian snout emerged from the pit, a long horn upon its nose. He watched as the great, gigantic lizard pulled himself from the burrow, rising upon two scaly bole-like legs to tower into the brightening sky. Yongary turned his head, his snake-like eyes glowing as he sighted the evil demon of death. Yongary let his grating roar drown out the snorts of his enemy. The giant lizard brought his clawed hands before his body in a curiously human gesture, almost the very imitation of a Buddhist monk at prayer.
Then, the glow about Yongary's eyes spread, swiftly encasing the monster in a terrible silver light. All who looked upon the glare were forced to turn their heads, even the gigantic demon from the dawn of history. The silver light only blazed for a moment, however, for almost at once, it dissipated. But it had wrought a change in the sleek, lean-limbed reptile it had engulfed. Yongary's bulk had increased tremendously, his body now encased in a dull gray-green armour of hard bony-plates, not unlike those of Bagan himself. A great spiked crest guarded the back of the monster's neck and head, massive plates like studded shoulder guards covered his upper arms. Yongary threw back his head and uttered the same grating cry, but now the sound carried with it a new note of challenge, a new promise of defiance.
'Incredible!' declared Aaron Vaught as the KNIFE team and the Chinese generals watched the monsters gather before them. 'The old guardians have returned!' the British folklorist beamed. 'And now there are two more. The one with wings looks like cave-drawings from Ponape and the Polynesian islands, one of their protector spirits. Its name is Gappa. The other, I think, is the great beast Yongary, who was a legend before Korea had its first king!'
Colonel Sho Kuroki cast a side-long glance at the grim face of the wizard Hoichi. 'Why so dour? Surely Bagan cannot prevail against so many.'
Hoichi shook his head. 'Bagan is no natural creature. He must be defeated as he was long ago. There is power in numbers, Colonel, and for a demon, the power of seven is a lethal one.'
'The Shisa!' Miki exclaimed. 'Somehow we must use it, awaken King Seesar.'
An embarrassed look came over Aaron Vaught's face. 'I spent some time pouring over the ancient texts in the temple.' He licked his lips for a second. 'Apparently, the Shisa can only be called upon when innocent blood is shed upon the statue's crown.'
Colonel Sho Kuroki rolled up the sleeve of his tunic and pulled his combat knife from his boot. 'If that is all it needs,' he commented, placing the edge against his palm. Aaron Vaught motioned for him to stop.
'Perhaps I should have said, virginal,' the folklorist amended. The words brought a flush of red in Miki Saegusa's face and she cast a guilty gaze at the stone lion in her hands. Sho Kuroki and the other officers looked at Vaught. 'Sorry, despite what you might be thinking, I don't qualify either.'
Hoichi stepped forward, taking the knife from Colonel Kuroki. 'As you said, Colonel, if that is all the Shisa needs.' Kuroki fixed the mystic with a questioning stare as he made a cut into the palm of his hand. 'Wizards are much too busy to bother about such things,' the old man winked.
With the cries and growls of the monsters echoing around them, Hoichi placed his bloodied hand against the crown of the Shisa statue's head. The red liquid seeped into the recesses of the old carving. Light glowed in the eyes of the statue.
Bagan glared as a second brilliant light savaged his vision. Where the glow about Yongary had been silver, like the moon, this was golden, like the rays of the sun. The light grew from the merest of specks to a pillar of sunlight, burning away the night all around it. As Bagan's evil stare adjusted to the glow, he could discern a figure within the light, or perhaps it was the light that was assuming a figure. The demon paused, his mind trying to discern what manner of foe was emerging from the light to oppose him.
The light slowly faded, retreating back into the gem-set crown of the huge shaggy creature that now stood upon the plateau. The huge leonine head with its massive ears flopping to either side so that they hung almost to the line of a ponderous fang-ridden jaw shook as the monster uttered a deep booming growl. His body was covered in scales, despite the mane of fur about his head and covering the tuft of his short tail. His hands were the paws of a tiger and as Bagan watched, sickle-shaped claws emerged from the pads of those paws, preparing for the coming attack. It was the Shisa statue come to life, as the stone within Miki's hands had reacted to the blood of the wizard, and slowly faded from reality, a more majestic shape had appeared to replace it, the embodiment of the mystical energies housed within the Shisa, the ancient protector of Okinawa, King Seesar.
King Seesar strode toward the other monsters. Bagan hissed as he watched the guardian of Okinawa assume a vanguard position, almost like a captain taking command of his troops. A note of warning sounded within the demon's brain, an only now realized threat, a memory of that other great battle so long ago. Bagan's hiss turned into a growl of anger. No, this time the foes would not overcome him. This time he would achieve his dark ascension.
Fire spewed from Bagan's jaw, blasting across the ground before the guardians, creating a curtain of flame. For a moment, the demon was lost to the vision of his enemies. In that moment, the dragon acted. As the fire dissipated, four brightly glowing slasher disks flew from Bagan's claws, whirrling toward Death Ghidorah and the glowering Battra. First, Bagan would destroy those who escaped his wrath before, then he would introduce these new creatures to the universe of pain.
The disks never struck their targets, however. Brilliant spheres of purple light danced about the intended targets, intercepting the disks. The demonic electrical discharges were consumed by the spheres, utterly absorbed. Then the spheres retreated back to their summoner, the hulking shaggy lion-god King Seesar. The spheres sank into Seesar's body like waves crashing upon a shore. The red eyes of the lion-beast blazed with energy and a stream of power flew from the burning orbs to blast Bagan' armoured chest. Sparks and fire rose from the wound, the fury of Bagan's attack visited upon the demon who had unleashed it. Bagan roared in agony and rage, fury warring with pain for mastery of his form.
But even as Bagan's great snarl ravaged the ear drums of the tiny humans who watched the conflict begin, the sound was drowned out by a still mightier shriek. Blue gleaming flame shot across the plain, blazing into the wound King Seesar's counter-attack had dug into the demon's breast. Bagan shuddered, hunching over to try and protect his chest with his armoured shoulders and back. The demon's horned head looked up from his half-crouch, determined to see what new foe had so abused him with but a single strike.
A mammoth mountain of black scales, still wet with the water of the ocean lashed his long tail, sending trees and boulders scattering. The reptile's jaws opened and another shriek tore apart the first long shadows of the dawn. The eyes of the atomic monster narrowed as he thundered forward, to take his place amongst the other defenders of the world.
'Godzilla!' gasped the Chinese General Shun. It was clear that the Chinese recalled the old Godzilla's rampage in Hong Kong shortly before his death. It was equally clear that he was terrified by the prospect of such carnage being repeated in China.
'He has come to fight the demon,' Miki said. 'Even in the deeps of the sea, he heard the call of King Seesar. Even at the bottom of the world, he could sense the hour of his home's need.'
'They are seven now,' Hoichi smiled. 'The might of numbers is with our cause. Against the holy number, the demon cannot stand, for it is a greater magic he now faces, an underlying power beyond even the combined strength of all his tremendous adversaries.'
'Then we have but to wait for the demon to be destroyed?' Aaron Vaught asked, his voice both doubtful and hopeful. Hoichi's lips parted to form and answer, but his response died upon his face as a shadow fell upon them all. Craning his neck skyward, the assembled observers saw a sinister shape hovering, its smooth, reptile-like mass curled into a sitting posture, its clawed hands folded upon its chest.
'The Obaki!' gasped Aaron Vaught, his eyes wide with wonder. As the men watched, the hovering red-skined demon flexed one of his clawed hands. The air began to spin, forming into a mass of boiling, rolling heat, as if the miasma drifting from a hot asphault road had been gathered into a transparent cloud. The demon let the mass gather for a moment more, then sent it speeding toward the gigantic brown-plated dragon-beast. The heat latched onto Bagan's armoured shoulder, clinging and burning like a mass of semi-visible napalm.
Varan hissed with sadistic pleasure and the levitating demon of the lake slowly floated towards the battlefield.
'Whatever that is, at least it is on our side,' Phillipe Roache commented, trying to hide his discomfort behind the jest. Miki turned a stunned face toward the Frenchman. She had sensed the evil dripping from the sky-faring demon. True, it was nothing beside the limitless malevolence of Bagan, but it was more than enough to sicken the young psychic. Hoichi's face was no less disturbed.
'Mr. Roache,' the wizard said, his voice uncertain, 'the prophecies are very clear. Seven must defy the demon, seven must overcome him.' Hoichi cast a questioning look at the hovering mass of the spine-backed creature. 'Can the seven overcome Bagan when they are eight?'
The only answer that Hoichi received was the gurgling bellow of the levitating Varan as the demon closed ranks with the other monsters and the tense stand-off erupted into battle.