By C. L. Werner
Koumajutsu: The Coming of Bagan
Interlude - [Chapter 15] -
The Abominations of Science
The demon roared his grunting howl, his horned snout rearing into the heavens. Power, unholy and dark surged through his form, darkening his hide to a deep charcoal grey. Fire seemed to writhe beneath his skin, glowing between the joins in his armour plates. Bagan's energy wings briefly blazed into life, now crimson and sheathed in flame. The demon had tasted a portion of the lost Heart of the Dragon, imbibed the merest fraction of that which he lusted after, the very essence of death. He could sense the gem, so very near now. The moment of his dark ascension was drawing near.
General Shinzo frantically gave the order to attack the new-born demon. The American laser cannon flashed into life, delivering a blast of blazing, searing death. Bagan leared downward, answering the beam with one of his own, a blast of black lightning that absorbed the laser, and followed the beam back to its source, immolating the mammoth American weapon and its crew. The ash of the destroyed weapon carried backwards, blinding the marching figures of the Russian Cossack battle suits. The armoured robot machines raised their weapons, determined to fire despite the sensor-corrupting dust of metal and ash. But their chance never came as a sheet of flame washed over them, cooking the pilots in their armoured cockpits and detonating the warheads of their ordnance.
Bagan's snarl of contentment was drowned out as again the circling squadron of UNGCC super attack craft descended upon him. Pulse lasers gouged holes in his blackened armour, even as sonic beams and gravitic pulsations tore at his flesh. The demon grimaced from the pain, then turned his head skywards. Opening his maw, the dragon sent a gout of fire to mix with the black-lightning racing from his horn. The resulting mixture of demonic flame washed over the Kyofu, and the ship exploded in a shower of metal and flame.
Roaring, sneering at his foes, the demon began his assault in earnest. A whirling blade of crimson energy flashed from his hand, searing through the wing of the Toryu even as the vehicle's massive pulse cannons again tore through Bagan's vitals. At the same instant, the black lightning lashed out, devouring most of the Chinese element as it played across the harassing artillery fire of General Shun's forces. The Toryu's wing ripped away from its massive frame, its integrity compromised by the deep tear in the metal. Rolling, the pilots of the stricken ship aimed it downwards, straight at the monstrous figure of their destroyer. The Toryu exploded against Bagan's body, obscuring sight of the monster as smoke and flame engulfed him. Overhead, the Drakken and the monstrous Hiryu circled the scene, raining death upon the cloud of fire that concealed Bagan's terrible form.
Black Lightning again danced from Bagan's maw, blasting through the Drakken's cockpit with supernatural accuracy, consuming its crew before they were even aware of the attack. Bagan emerged from the smoke, his body raw and wet, great patches of armour burnt away by the Toryu's noble death. But death was the very life-force of the demon and as horrified soldiers desperately fired missiles and artillery pieces into the beast, the plated armour began to regenerate, covering the gaping, gleaming flesh. The Hiryu brought its gravity beam into play, trying to blast the demon's eyes and perhaps blind it long enough for a retreat to be executed.
Bagan retaliated, blasting a gaping hole in one of the Hiryu's wings. The mechanized serpent's head warbled in a simulation of pain as the craft plummeted from the sky. Bagan watched the great winged snake fall, enjoying even this false pain, this shadow of true emotion that the weapon was simulating.
Then real pain lashed through Bagan's body. A sharp metallic shriek rent the air. Bagan's left eye clouded as fiery ichor dribbled into it from the ghastly cut in his forehead. As the demon turned, a massive ball of steel slammed into his skull, staggering the dragon. His attacker shrieked in triumph again, and sent his clawed, hook-like left arm scything through Bagan's chest. Then the cyborg monster sent his mace-like right arm smashing into Bagan's head, rattling teeth from his jaws.
In her desperate hour, Japan had turned to the champion her fear had made her shun. Now, it would be Borodan's time to prove himself, to prove that the cyborg was not a menace, but a savior.
'How long now?' barked Commander Aso. Beside him, Dr. Asimov looked up from the terminal readouts, his face strained by the tension of the past few hours. An unexpected leak in one of the coolant systems had disabled the gigantic weapon housed in the hangar below the command center, delaying its depolyment to augment the forces under General Shinzo's command on the Kanto Plain.
'They are working as fast as they can to replace the tubing,' Dr. Asimov explained, not for the first time. Commander Aso shook his head.
'That demon bastard is back on his feet and ripping through everything the Chinese Neutron Mine left intact like nothing!' snapped the UNGCC military official. 'I even ordered that cyborg abomination Borodan sent in. If he goes berserk, at least we can hope he kills Bagan first!'
'Just be glad that the safety check caught this before we did deploy,' Dr. Asimov retorted, somewhat hotly. 'If this coolant system had failed in the middle of battle, we could have lost the entire machine.'
'Just get it fixed, Doctor,' came the calm yet eager voice of Captain Takya Sasaki from over the intercom system. Seated within the cockpit of the massive weapon, the Captain and his crew had been on edge for hours, chomping at the bit to be unleashed upon the dread beast that threatened their nation.
'Then we'll show you that your money was not wasted on us. And we'll stick Bagan's head on the spire of the Diet to show those naysayers in the parliament that as well.'
Colonel Kuroki and Phillipe Roache marched through the sterile halls of the hospital in Kyoto. At their side, the wizened wizard Hoichi hobbled along. Some strength had returned to the mystic, but there was yet a weakness to his step. Behind the men, British folklorist Aaron Vaught hurried, his arms ladden with heavy books, still trying desperately to find some clue to Bagan's destruction in the myth cycles of the ancient world.
The members of KNIFE weaved through the crowded halls. Many of the soldiers injured by the detonation of the Chinese Neutron Mine had been taken here for treatment and the halls were crowded with moaning, wretched forms, many sporting hideous radiation burns.
Colonel Kuroki stopped before the door of a private recovery room. Knocking once, he opened the door. Miki Saegusa rose from her seat beside the bed where Shinjo was healing from the injuries inflicted upon him by the necromancer Kato.
'I am sorry to intrude, Miss Saegusa,' Kuroki apologized, removing his peaked officer's cap. 'But we need your help.'
'I can't,' Miki protested, drawing away from the officer, a look of horror on her face. Hoichi pushed his way into the room, a look of anger on his face.
'Craven woman!' he bellowed. 'Sit here and damn us all then!' The old wizard shook off Roache's hand as the Frenchman tried to restrain him. 'You felt it too! You know what has happened. Can you imagine what will occur when that power is housed within Bagan!'
'But,' a look of horror crossed Miki's face. 'I can't use my powers, I can't. He will find me!' A sneer of contempt curled the wizard's lip.
'Yes, he can sense you, and you can sense him.' The wizard tried to contain the anger and frustration that was threatening to unbalance him. 'That is the price for having touched the mind of the demon. It will never leave you until you or him are dead. Which will it be?'
Miki stared up at Hoichi, tears in her eyes. Tears of shame, and tears of fear. 'What would you have me do?'
'Miki,' Phillipe Roache said, his voice gentle. 'Someone has gotten hold of the last part of Bagan's soul. They have used it…'
'Used it to resurrect King Ghidorah,' Miki gasped. 'I felt his mind, the familiar taint of his evil. I had prayed it was a nightmare.'
'It is all too real,' Kuroki said. 'Katagiri, Chief of the CCI was behind the demon Varan, the monster that caused the defeat of the guardians in China. Now we think that whatever sorcerer helped him awaken Varan has gained possession of the heart and is using it to control King Ghidorah.'
'The Heart of the Dragon is a part of Bagan,' Hoichi explained. 'Your mind has touched Bagan, you can sense his movements now. You can also sense the movements of that which is a part of him.'
The wizard drew his lean frame upright, drawing strength from within. 'You must help us find the Heart of the Dragon. It is our last hope.'
Outside, in the corridor, a sickly-looking Caucasian man sat in a wheel chair. He was one of many who had been brought in to be treated following the disaster on the Kanto Plain. He had been with the Rolisican forces, acting as advisor for their atomic cannon. Seated near the room that contained the injured Shinjo and the talking KNIFE members, the man overheard their conversation. As the group of Japanese and their European allies left, a smile spread across the man's lean, cadaverous face. He pulled a small cellular phone from the pocket of his suit coat.
'Get me Riker,' the man's voice snapped. 'I have something for him to do.' Chairman Carmichael of MARS smiled again. He was not sure if what they said about this heart of the dragon was true or not, but he did know one thing. Any object that could give a man control over the likes of King Ghidorah was worth securing.
The armoured figures in their masked helmets saluted as two men emerged from a dark black armoured car. Neither man returned the salute, but pushed past the elite Capital Police, the Wolf Brigade. One of the men was a dark visaged man in a black suit, a long top coat covering much of his body. The other was a withered, frail looking old man dressed in a black robe, a small round cap fixed to his head from which scraggly tufts of wisp-like grey hair protruded. The robed man did not spare a look at the soldiers, hobbling past them, clutching some object to his chest with both hands. The man in the coat paused, waving the officer in charge of this platoon of Wolves to his side.
'You will hold your position here, Sergeant,' Katagiri stated. 'We are not to be disturbed.' The politician's face became dark and a worried expression crossed it. 'If we succeed here tonight, we will have saved our homeland.' Lighting a cigarette, Katagiri waited a moment, then followed the sorcerer Eiji into the lobby of the structure the elite police force surrounded. Tokyo's City Tower.
In the lobby, the politician and his sorcerer passed two silent sentinels of steel and wire. The two machines craned their box-like bodies around, the massive rail-guns mounted on either spontoon-like arm training on the two men. Katagiri muttered a voice over-ride and the torsos of the two robots swivelled about. They adjusted their position by shuffling on their thick, piston supported legs and were still once more.
The two men walked in silence to the bank of elevators and entered one, taking it all the way to the roof of the building far above the streets of Tokyo. Katagiri let a moment of marvel overtake him as he stared at the impressive sight. The sprawl of Japan's mightiest city was spread out before him, driving home to the politician the enormity of what was at stake this night. In the distance, like a haze, the blazing fires and smoke of the yet-distant battle against Bagan could be seen.
Eiji emerged, striding to the very edge of the roof. The sorcerer spread his arms wide, his robe fluttering about his skeletal form like the wings of some great bat. Throbbing, pulsating with an inner darkness, the Heart of the Dragon covered much of Eiji's now all but fleshless right hand. The dry crackle of the sorcerer's laughter echoed from the rooftop.
'Behold my great city!' he laughed. 'The seat of my power!' The laughter trickled away and the wizard turned a side-wise glance at Katagiri. 'Such an ugly thing,' he muttered. 'We shall have to tear it down, build something even greater, something worthy of a living god.' The sorcerer's skull-like head bobbed up and down, like some reptile creature. 'Yes, make it of stone and wood, not steel and glass. And there shall be fountains and birds, and splendour undreamed of.'
Katagiri stepped forward, intruding on the lunatic's musings.
'First we must destroy Bagan,' the politician said, his voice level, soothing. He had watched the maggots of madness devour what passed for sanity in his companion, but the politician knew that this madman was Tokyo's best chance for salvation. And Katagiri's best chance for power.
Eiji turned his head around, a dry crackle seeping from his toothless gash of a mouth. 'Yes, you are right of course. I must summon my steed! I shall ride him into battle and crush the demon beneath my heel. Then will all know that a god walks among them!'
The sorcerer turned away, facing into the west. He held the Heart of the Dragon before him. Words conceived by no human tongue slithered from his lips. A fell chill seemed to trickle into the atmosphere and Katagiri pulled the coat a bit tighter about him.
Eiji was calling to his slave.
From the cockpit of the MDH's Gryphon, Col. Ripper watched as the two immense figures moved about the blasted landscape. The sleek, scaly figure of the Japanese cyborg monster Borodan was more agile than the bulky, massive dragon-demon, dodging the demon's clumsy swipes of claw and bladed tail. The cyborg would dodge, then strike suddenly, slashing at the demon with a scythe-like hand, bludgeoning him with a knobby fist of steel. As the furious Bagan lurched toward Borodan, the cyborg seemed to laugh a sharp shriek. The gem-like facet in Borodan's forehead glowed to life and a ray of brilliant light shot forward, searing the demon's skull, burning a black charred patch between Bagan's eyes.
The demon reared back, then erupted into a frenzied all-out assault. Black lightning and crimson fire seared all around him, catching the cyborg as it tried to again dance away. The demon was through playing with Borodan. The blast caught the cyborg, tossing him several miles from the dragon, black hissing smoke rising from Borodan's body as it crashed into the side of a hill. Bagan's roar was deafening and the demon stomped toward the downed cyborg.
'Right,' Colonel Ripper said to his crew. 'Looks like the Japanese have crapped out. It's up to us to finish this. We'll come in fast and hit the bastard hard in the arse. Send him back to Hell before he knows what hit 'im.'
The Gryphon streaked forward, its engines running silent, no sound betraying the sleek aircraft's presence. The weapons ports on the wings of the MDH strike craft opened and the prism-like cannons emerged. With a snarled command, Colonel Ripper ordered his crew to fire. The Corona beams scorched the hulking demon as he bent over the wounded Borodan. Bagan lifted his horned head, wailing in pain as the cosmic energy seared his form.
The Gryphon turned about, missing the fiery reply Bagan's jaws sent streaming after the sleek attack craft. The silver plane then dove towards the monster, the Corona beams repeating their deadly work on Bagan's chest. Great bubbling wounds appeared in the demon's armoured breast, fiery ichor bleeding from each of the semi-fluid pustules. The demon again staggered, snarling and bellowing at the nimble MDH weapon.
'Ready Dr. Delambre's weapon,' Colonel Ripper ordered. He stared at the image of the reeling demon on the screen before him. 'Time to see if the damn frog's weapon really works,' he muttered to himself, rubbing a hand along his shaven skull.
Bagan stared at the Gryphon, watching as the machine settled to a hovering position, watching as another weapon port opened in the underside of the machine. A large-barrelled device emerged from the chassis, pointing at the demon. There was a whirring sound, and Bagan watched as air was sucked into the weapon, as a dark glow began to gather about its muzzle.
'Fire!' barked Colonel Ripper. The weapons tech stabbed a finger into the activation stud, then stared at his commander, a look of horror on his face. The commander rolled his eyes. 'Bloody useless French,' he snarled.
The demon's maw dropped open, and energy crackled about his massive horn. He watched as the dark glow about the weapon in the Gryphon's underside faded, as the device powered itself down, its firing mechanism jammed. The demon let a grunt of satisfaction seep from between his fangs. Now it would be his turn.
Bagan's stream of fire and lightning licked the side of the MDH attack craft. The crew scrambled to quiet blaring warning sirens and flashing beacons. Colonel Ripper looked at his screen as it blinked back into life. He muttered a gasp of astonishment, understanding just how closely they had all come to destruction.
'Okay,' he said. 'We get this crate landed and fix whatever gremlin is in the weapon system.' He stared again at his screen. 'I hate to say it, but I think he'll still be waiting for round two when we get back!'
The Gryphon streaked away from the battlefield. But the demon did not watch his prey depart. Bagan's claws were closed about the scythe-like claw that had punctured his leg, ripped through the flesh of his knee and caused the dragon beast to stumble, upsetting his shot at the attack craft. Borodan shrieked up at the demon's face, lashing out with a beam of solar energy. The demon staggered back, dragging his attacker with him. The whirring saw on Borodan's chest activated and the cyborg leaned into the demon, letting his metal blade slash into the monster. Bagan howled in pain as molten slag from within his body spattered across the landscape. The lava-like blood also coated Borodan, smoking and sizzling from scales and armour.
The demon sent a clawed foot crashing into Borodan's leg, nearly snapping the metallic bones. Then the massive bladed tail smashed into the cyborg's body. Borodan shrieked again, but the sound was distorted, almost pained. Bagan roared as he felt the lack of true emotion, true life in the sound. His clawed hands gripped Borodan about the arm and shoulder. With a strength born of fury, the demon ripped Borodan's claw from his body and sent the cyborg flying. Borodan landed in a heap some distance away and slowly began to return to its feet.
Bagan stomped forward, a great deep gash running down his chest, a slimy rope of entrail smoking and ripping from his belly. As the monster's rage and wrath grew, the wound began to heal, the organ began to recover and sink back into his body. Cyborg or not, Bagan would feed from this creature, if he had to rip every scrap of Borodan's flesh from his steel bones.
Sizzling light ripped across the sky, immolating the flight of F-18s with the awesome power of gravity gone mad. The US interceptors joined the long list of destroyed aircraft that the cackling laughing devil had claimed. Iranian, American, Syrian, Saudi Arabian, Iraqi, Saradian, the fiend made no distinction. All who thought to oppose him met the same fate. King Ghidorah's golden shadow filled the expanse of the vast Saudi oilfields, even as he sent another squadron of American jets from Prince Sultan Airforce Base, scurrying from his wrath. The three-headed terror snickered to himself. He would feed first, then he would pursue them, catch them, and destroy them.
The desert floor burst asunder in scores of places, black fountains of ebon tar streaking into the air as the oil below the sand smashed its way through earth and rock. The liquid swirled about in the sky, rippling unnaturally above the desert before streaming into the winged monster, seeping into his scaly form to feed the ravenous appetite of the space monster. The play of gravitic forces continued, making the desert ripple like the sea as more and more of the earth's black blood was pulled into the ether and drawn to the malignant force of King Ghidorah's will.
The devil paused in his feast, turning his heads again to the east. Once more the call, strident, commanding, wracked his very being. King Ghidorah again tried to ignore it, but the hold of the Heart of the Dragon was too strong, to impossible to resist. With a growl of fury, King Ghidorah turned. Slowly flapping his wings, the monster began to fly towards the call, towards Tokyo and the master of the Heart. Behind him, the oil he had not yet consumed fell back to the sand in a great sheet of tarry liquid, blanketing hundreds of acres of desert in a greasy film of midnight. King Ghidorah's left head craned about, sending a last spear of crackling energy searing into the oil. The liquid was put to flame, bursting into a great conflagration that would burn for years.
King Ghidorah crackled with mirth as he saw the flames and smoke leap into the sky, his terrible triple laughter booming down upon the survivors below like the bellow of a malevolent god.
Warning sirens warbled from the waterfront of Tokyo Bay. A massive shape emerged from the water, shaking sheets of brine from his armoured back as his low, moaning bark echoed across the evacuated city. The gigantic brute lumbered onward, heedless of the structures he crushed underfoot and the shrieking sirens. He had been here before, not so long ago. Then, he had been in the company of his own kind, the super-saurs of Dr. Mafune. He had come here to fight a grim and terrible battle. And it was this purpose which brought him once more to Tokyo. But where once he had stood with the likes of Baragon, Titanosaurus and Gorosaurus, now he awaited the coming conflict alone.
Anguirus raised his horned head to the sky and barked his strange wail into the empty city. Come what may, he would not retreat. He would meet the coming challenge, overcome it if he could, fall before it if he could not. But he would not retreat, he would not give ground to the unholy force that was coming.
Bagan advanced on Borodan. The cyborg sent another solar beam crashing into the demon, but the monster shrugged the attack off. As he closed, Bagan's huge tail whipped about, slamming into Borodan's chest, slashing the cyborg's flesh with its bladed tip, warping the teeth of the saw with its mace-like mass. The cyborg staggered back again, black synthetic fluid drooling from his injuries. Bagan snorted with contentment.
A blast of gravitic energy smashed the demon back. Bagan turned his horned head skyward and saw the snake-like body and gigantic wings of the Hiryu hovering above him. The demon's horn blazed with energy, a golden glow gathered about his hands. This time the steel snake would stay dead.
An explosion ripped the ground at Bagan's feet even as the demon himself was engulfed in flame from dozens of napalm warheads. The demon staggered from the ruin, enraged at the attack that had struck him. Another salvo of missiles crashed into him, pushing him back. Then a steady stream of colorful, yet devastating light rays hit the demon about his head and chest, puncturing his armour, searing his innards. The demon roared again, but as he did so, a great wash of smoking blood vomited from his innards. Bagan staggered as the crippling pain lanced through him.
'You've been a bad boy,' Captain Sasaki declared within the cockpit of his craft. He looked around the control room, smiling at the rest of his crew. Lt Berger was monitoring the weapons systems, delivering the steady stream of brilliant death searing into the huge demon. The psychic, the woman Meru, was guiding those shots, determining where best they might harm Bagan, though her brow was beaded with sweat and she trembled as if on the verge of a fit. Clearly the endeavour was not an easy one on her. Lietenants Imai and Sonezaki were also busy adding their efforts to the magnificent weapon's performance, Imai watching the defense systems, Sonezaki firing the batteries of missiles. Sasaki smiled and moved the titan forward.
The sun gleamed off the towering mass of steel. Over 80 meters tall, it dwarfed even the hulking Bagan. Gun-metal armour plates covered it, beneath which a second plating had been placed, so that even a blow that penetrated three feet of steel would need to penetrate another two to deal any real damage to the machine. The entire surface was coated in NT-34, an improved artificial diamond chemical that allowed even more rapid and expedient absorption of heat and radiation by the internal energy collectors, small devices scattered and embedded in the hull. The machine was almost man-like in shape, its limbs sporting angular plating to spread an attack that struck them, rather than allowing the blow to concentrate on one place. The angular armour was repeated in the chest and arms, and the length steel tail that depended from the machine's abdomen. A square head, that of some grinning steel dragon rose from shoulders brimming with missile batteries, glaring at the demon with a look that promised no quarter and no mercy.
It predecessor had been a machine built of sleek curves and light alloy. This was a machine designed to take damage, and return it a hundred fold. It was a machine designed for the long fight, not the fast attack warrior designed before.
Huge maser cannons tipped each of the forearms, serving as lethal fingers. A heat beam slashed out from each of the eyes set above the grinning steel jaws, the crimson rays digging into the charred hide of the demon. A huge iris cannon opened in the robot's midsection, sending its blinding beam of death slamming through Bagan's stomach, bursting out his back. As the demon sent a slasher disk whirling at the robot, a bright flash of light stopped it some ten feet from the robot's hull and the small horn like protrusion atop the robot's brow winked back into darkness, dispelling the energy field it had summoned. The British had not been the only ones to unlock the secrets of Space Godzilla.
The machine lumbered forward a few steps. Then stood still. In the air above, the Hiryu began to descend, turning upright. Steel cables snaked from the back of the larger machine, meeting ports in the serpent-like hull of the Hiryu. The cables pulled the craft close, joining it to the back of the larger robot. The serpent like head arced over the head of the other robot, like the tail of a scorpion. The wings spread out to either side of the massive machine, like the pinions of an angel.
A sharp metallic cry sounded from the open maw of the dragon-face.
'Captain,' reported the calm-faced Lt Berger. 'The Hiryu has docked. Mechagodzilla 2 is now at optimal fighting ability.'
A smile spread across Captain Sasaki's face. 'Let's teach this pile of garbage a thing or two about pain.'
Mechagodzilla 2 advanced slowly. Before it, Bagan lifted his head, ichor oozing from every pore. And a tense world waited, waited for the conflict, the clash of the champion of science and the dread terror of sorcery.