"So... Monique. Wanna go to the Radicals concert tonight?"
Monique, currently practicing her martial art stances, didn't even look at Randy as she answered in an emotionless voice. "No."
"Please? I mean, after all the adventures we've had with the others and Godzilla, I can't believe you still don't want to--"
"The beast's name is Zilla."
Randy shrugged the comment off. "Zilla... Godzilla... What does it matter?"
Dr. Niko "Nick" Tatopoulos allowed himself a small smirk from where he stood watching his "son" frolic in New York Harbor, snapping at passing flocks of gulls. It had been a full six years since the Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team - or H.E.A.T. - had realized that the creature they had been calling "Godzilla" for years wasn't the real deal and Randy still hadn't absorbed it. Unsurprisingly, that did nothing to improve Monique's opinion of him him.
Randy threw his hands up in frustration. "Why do you care so much? I don't think anyone is going to be offended if we call our lizard by the wrong name!"
Monique allowed herself a gentle sneer. "Then I don't suppose you will mind if I call you by the wrong name, no?"
As Randy continued on his rather futile quest for a date, Nick's thoughts were drawn back to 2004, when they had discovered Zilla's true identity. After a worldwide alien invasion and the battle that had stopped it (something Randy had been sorely disappointed they hadn't taken part in), it was reported that Godzilla was the leading force behind the destruction of the aliens and their army of monsters. So naturally, H.E.A.T. was stunned to see amateur footage of of a much larger dinosaurian juggernaut easily slay a beast identical to Zilla. During a brief period of depression for Nick, his adoptive son had appeared, and very much alive to boot. Of course, H.E.A.T. had gotten to the bottom of things. After some persistent investigation, they discovered that for the last fifty-six years, Japan had been plagued by giant monsters - including Godzilla, King of the Monsters. The government had somehow managed to keep the whole thing under wraps until recently. A whole section of the Defense Force was even solely dedicated to combatting these giants. By now, due to the event in 2004, the truth had come out and Japan was now unofficially known as "land of the Giant Monsters." These 'kaiju,' as the Japanese called them, had actually turned out to be surprisingly good for tourism. Japanese scientists had dubbed the creature that attacked New York City in 1998 and its offspring 'Zilla,' in reference to the species' constant misidentification as Godzilla. This knowledge now widespread, everyone now called the infamous mascot of H.E.A.T. by his true name, Zilla.
Everyone but Randy, that is.
As Monique continued her deadpan rejection of Randy's offer, a snarky female voice interrupted Nick's thoughts.
"He's still going after the French Fry, huh?"
Elsie and Craven walked from the lab, N.I.G.E.L. trailing close behind.
Elsie snorted. "I'm telling you, we should start videoing those two. It's only a matter of time before she snaps and hurts him. I mean, really hurts him."
Craven nodded in agreement. "It'd probably be for the better anyway."
N.I.G.E.L. also agreed, apparently. "One of these days! Bam! Straight to the moon!" the robot blurted out in a warped voice.
Craven sighed, shoulders slumping. "And that's exactly why he needs a good smack..."
Of course, Randy still hadn't stopped hitting on Monique during this whole exchange and the French Secret Service agent was seriously considering hitting him back. But even his cheesiest pick-up line and her vilest of thoughts were drowned out by a familiar screech. Immediately, everyone stopped and turned their attention to the harbor. Zilla had gone feral. Reared to his full height, the mutant's lip was pulled into a vicious snarl. The great lizard was regarding the harbor's surface with narrowed eyes, his pupils mere pinpoints. Nick had never seen his "son" like this. The look that passed over Zilla's angular face was one of pure, primeval alarm. And going back to all the adventures they had had, Nick had a pretty good hunch about the cause. The water in front of Zilla began to boil, flashes of bright blue light illuminating the bay and revealing a massive shape rising from its depths. Breaking the churning surface of the water, the dark shape proved to be an enormous animal, dinosaurian in nature and fierce in looks. Seawater dripping from its emerald scales, the beast bellowed a challenge, its shrill roar almost identical to Zilla's. H.E.A.T. largest member answered the cry with a low growl, dropping into a defensive position. The creature observed the irradiated iguana with a look of contempt, its brilliant orange eyes shining hard and proud.
Nick was stunned. The giant now sizing up their own monster was the mirror image of the one they - and most of the world - had once watched obliterate another of Zilla's species in a shaky, grainy video
"It's Godzilla!" Elsie exclaimed, stepping back in horror.
"The real Godzilla!" Craven added in a voice high, girlish from fear.
"No," said Nick with his usual air of authority. "That's not Godzilla. It's too small. And the spines are underdeveloped... That's Godzilla's son, Godzilla Junior!"
Indeed, it was Godzilla Junior. Aside from a smaller stature, stubbier spines and more vibrant skin, the subadult Godzillasaur was the spitting image of his father. But perhaps the greatest similarity was the feeling of awe and intimidation both summoned. Junior was seeking new territory, a kingdom of his own. While he was still only the Prince of the Monsters, he would soon become a king, maturity just on the horizon. Although he cared for his father deeply, two kings, however close, simply can't share the same home. So he had migrated to the Atlantic on a quest for a new residence. But there were too many people in this ocean. Back in the endless vastness of the Pacific, Junior could enjoy sweet solitude for days without end. Here, humans were everywhere, making horrible rackets and awful stenches from their cities, beaches and boats. Sometime Junior cursed his incredible senses. Now he had much more tolerance towards humans than his father, but his temper was just as explosive. So, when he had sensed another giant in the immediate area, he had decided to make a quick detour to vent his frustration. And the soon-to-be victim of his anger didn't look too weak. It was a bit scrawny, but this only made it seem fast and lithe. And there was... something else, an aura of power about it that couldn't quite be placed. Whatever it was, Junior could only hope this beast would at least put up a decent face.
Zilla didn't share Godzilla Junior's enthusiasm. He could tell he was about to tangle with one seriously tough customer. If he had a glow of power, then Junior shone with it, something else the irradiated dinosaur shared with his father. If Zilla was going to survive - let alone win - he needed to rely on his speed, agility and cunning.
As the two titans - both the offspring of infamous creatures - circled one another in a dangerous dance, exchanging roars and snarls, H.E.A.T. stood by in grim silence.
Expect for Randy.
"Idiot, this is serious," Monique said, the deadly softness of her voice vaguely directed towards the young computer whizz. "If their struggle leaves the bay, the damage would be unimaginable. Not to mention the loss of life."
Nick nodded in agreement. "Plus, this may be a fight Zilla can't win. There's no doubt in my mind that Godzilla himself is more powerful. I'm not as sure about the son, but either way this is gonna be the fight of Zilla's life."
Elsie sided with Nick. "Face it Randy; the Lizard King may have just met his match."
"Hey," snorted Randy, crossing his arms. "Never bet against the G--" Monique's eyes began burning holes in his back. "...Uh, Z-man."
Nick only stared ahead. "We'll see about that." He paused. "Is the Heatseeker's motor working yet?"
"Nope," replied Randy frankly. "It's still shot from when we were chased by that humongo flying squirrel."
"What about the mini-sub?"
"Still trashed from the fight with the sea snake mutation," the computer expert shrugged his shoulders helplessly. "Sorry, jefe."
Nick gritted his teeth.
Elsie, sensing his distress, reached for her cell phone. "I'll call General Hicks."
"No!" The sudden outburst from Nick made everyone - Monique excluded - jump. "If there's one thing we know about Godzillas, it's that they do not response well to military fire. Provoking Junior would be the worst possible thing to do."
Elsie frowned. "Then... what do we do?"
Nick remained silent for a moment. "Nothing. Zilla's on his own this time."
Back in the bay, Zilla was having similar thoughts. Sometimes he saved his human family. Sometimes they saved him. But it was different now. Now it was just him and Junior. This was his fight. His chance to prove himself as his own monster, not just H.E.A.T.'s slighty-larger-than-average pet. And he had no intentions of letting that chance go without a fight.
Elsie put a comforting hand on Nick's tense shoulder, looking more somber than usual. "Don't worry. He'll be fine."
Both combatants ready, the clash between the Prince of the Monsters and the world's most accomplished guard dog began.
Zilla struck first. Powerful tail propelling him forward, the swift giant rushed at Godzilla Junior, water gathering at his waist in a great wave. The wave pulled ahead of its source and slapped into Junior, sending water spraying up his body. The seawater struck his eyes with stinging force, blinding him for a spit second. That was all the time Zilla needed to make his move. The mutant iguana slammed his square skull into Junior's gut, pushing the young dinosaur underwater as he doubled over in pain. With an encouraged wail, Zilla dove after his downed opponent...
...only to be blown back out of the water by a burst of atomic flames.
As the seared reptile splashed back down several hundred yards away, Godzilla Junior erupted from the water with high bellow, barring his twin rows of teeth viciously. How dare his foe resort to such a cheap shot this early! Snarling, the Monster Prince fixed his glare at the water before him, burning eyes willing Zilla to appear. Junior's grimace was soon replaced by a look of puzzled disappointment. Had the mutant beast already perished? Or had it fled after the first blow, like a coward? Both standing theories were proven false when Godzilla Junior threw his head back in a scream of pain. As the dinosaur thrashed about, an invisible force yanked him underwater. Junior's eyes opened - their orange glow easily cutting through the murky depths - and were immediately greeted by the sight of Zilla, eyes locked with his boldly and teeth sunk into his thigh. Bony spines crackled with nuclear power. A neon blue glow was visible in Junior's throat. Eyes widening in recognition, Zilla released his bite and darted to the side, arms and legs held straight to reduce drag. As the hydrodynamic reptile jetted to the side, a stream of white-hot plasma roared from Junior's maw. The beam barely missed the tip of Zilla's tail, blasting the brittle seabed to bits instead. Making a wide turn, Zilla charged at Junior's exposed back. Feral eyes narrowed knowingly. In the same moment Zilla outstretched his talons to shred Junior's hide, the Monster Prince swung his hefty tail down, catching the iguana's back. Zilla was slammed into the harbor's bottom with a silent yelp of shock. Pushing himself up to a kneel, the great lizard stretched his jaws open in a roar. Junior gazed down upon his foe in a new light, smiling inwardly. Although the water muffled any sound, the message was clear enough: Bring it.
Flexing is claws eagerly, Godzilla Junior happily complied.
Kicking off the rocky bottom, Zilla bolted towards Junior at an explosive velocity. Lungs shifting forward to throw his great mass into motion, Junior lurched from the seafloor with a grand sweep of his tail. Effortlessly outmaneuvering his slower, clumsier adversary, Zilla twisted himself around to straddle Junior's back. The mutant bit down on the Godzillasaurus' neck, dug his claws into emerald scales, and wrapped his tail around one of the struggling saurian's ankles. Junior's tail wove through the water violently in a fit of outrage, sending both irradiated giants into a wild tumble. As the dueling reptiles spun through the chilled water of New York Bay, the two smashed into the seabed, Zilla taking the brunt of the blow. Crushed beneath Junior's greater girth, the world-class guard dog involuntarily released the Monster Prince, a pained stream of bubbles bursting from his mouth. Twisting himself upright, Junior slashed at Zilla's chest with his clawed mitts. The lithe giant was pushed downward, striking the bottom with a dull thud. Both a plume of sediment and a stream of blood billowed into the water. Eyes hard and unforgiving, Junior unleashed his nuclear breath. The atomic dragon vomited up a column of raw might, pushing Zilla even further into the seabed with its great force. The great lizard went limp, eyes falling shut and head lolling to the side. Letting loose a muted bellow of triumph, Godzilla Junior pushed off the bottom and began his ascent to the surface.
Back at their headquarters, H.E.A.T. waited, watching the harbor intently for movement. The suspense in the air was high enough to match any horror movie, so tight it could be strummed like a guitar string, the tension so thick it could be cut with a--
Randy paced impatiently. "When is that fight gonna come back topside? I wanna see some action!"
Before anyone could open their mouth to tell the computer whizz to shut up again, something broke the surface of the bay, causing five pairs of eyes - and one red, electronic camera lense - to snap back to their positions as anxious sentries. Godzilla Junior was rising from the harbor, water running down his body through the many channels created by his scales. Eyes flaring, the nuclear beast threw back his head in a tremendous roar, shaking the air and sea.
H.E.A.T. was stunned. Even Randy could only manged a stunned "No way..."
Nick almost staggered. His adopted son had lost. He might even be dead. Although he still stood strong, something inside him broke.
"Zilla... no..." Nick's grip on the handrail he leaned upon tightened. Then, the biologist began screaming at the top of his lungs. "Zilla! Zilla you can't give up! Come on!"
On the bottom of the harbor, a pair of glowing eyes snapped open.
Elsie grabbed onto Nick's arm urgently. "Are you crazy?" she whispered fiercely. "We don't wanna attract that thing's attention!"
Unfortunately, it was too late to prevent that. More curiosity in his eyes than anything else, Godzilla Junior turned to face the tiny humans that seemed to be the source of the desperate voice that had pierced the air just moments before. Humans were a very strange beast, but they never had been sufficiently unafraid to make such a noise in his presence. Maybe they were different, like the female he had known so long ago...
Junior would never get a chance to investigate this possibility.
Exploding from the water like a ship-launched torpedo in reverse, Zilla returned from the dead and became airborne, an arc of a impromptu rainfall marking his path. With a mighty screech, the agile mutant assumed the position of a hawk about to snatch up unsuspecting prey and landed right on his mark - on top of Junior. Feet sitting squarely on the Monster Prince's shoulders, Zilla cemented himself to his perch by way of claw and tooth, ripping into Junior's neck with a newfound vigor.
H.E.A.T. erupted into happy yelling.
"Yee-ha! Get him, big guy!" screamed Randy, punching his fist into the air enthusiastically.
Nick cracked a huge grin, his broken spirit mending instantly. Even the usually stoic Monique allowed herself to be carried away, sternly commanding Zilla to fight harder with clenched fists. Elsie jumped up with an excited whoop. Craven and N.I.G.E.L. celebrated together, taking one another hand-in-clamp.
Given strength by his surrogate family's cheering, Zilla threw his weight to the side, sending both himself and Junior toppling into the water with a enormous splash! As the two behemoths grappled for dominance, the harbor churned, as if stirred by a great, unseen hand. The occasional burst of blue light briefly lit up the water, but besides that, nothing was seen of either combatants. As H.E.A.T. slowly fell silent, so did the water. A few tense moments passed.
Craven spoke up. "So... what happen? Who won?"
The robotics expert's question was soon answered, when Junior and Zilla surfaced. The two reptilian giants were much worse for wear, both breathing heavily. Watery blood ran down Zilla's sides and severe burns blotted his body. Junior's regenerative abilities spared him from any serious, lasting injuries, but his outermost layer of skin was torn to ribbons and several gashes too deep to heal right away crisscrossed his hide. The outcome of the battle was now clear.
"...So what now?" It was Elsie, crossing her arms with a clouded look on her face. Nick bit his lip. She was right. If the two were evenly matched, this fight could go on until either on or both giants became totally exhausted and dropped unconscious. Or dead. And by that point, New York could be completely demolished. We need a solution, Nick thought. And fast.
As if by divine intervention, a solution did present itself, even if Nick had preferred that it hadn't been in the form of a second atomic leviathan.
H.E.A.T., Zilla and Junior alike were stunned when a third beast rose from the bay. Junior the most, because the newest arrival was his father.
Godzilla, King of the Monsters himself, eyed the scene before him with a strange intensity, towering above even his fellow giants. While Junior was a beast of great power and majesty, his father vastly surpassed him in both categories. Where Junior's spines were small and immature, really just exaggerated scutes, Godzilla's spines were fully-formed, lining his back like an ivory forest. The Monster King's skin was also much darker and more uneven, a coat of charcoal grey warts compared to Junior sleek, emerald scales. The Godzillasaurs did share the same burning orange eyes though. Zilla growled defensively. Had his foe summoned assistance? A very similar thought was passing through Nick's mind. If his "son" had experienced so much trouble against a younger, less developed Godzilla, what chance did he stand against an adult? Godzilla moved forward. Nick flinched, expecting him to blow Zilla to bits. But the irradiated saurian didn't even glance at Zilla. Instead, the Monster King waded to face his his son. Godzilla and Junior grumbled to each other, conversing, perhaps even arguing. After a deafening roar from Godzilla, Junior gave in. Together, as father and son, king and prince, the two atomic dragons turned and headed back out to sea.
Randy scratched his head in confusion. "Huh? Uh... would anyone mind explaining what just happened to me?"
Monique gave him a rough shove with her elbow. "Isn't it obvious?"
Nick nodded, having realized that very thing himself. "They're going home. Godzilla just came to bring his son home."
Randy still wasn't convinced. "But our Godzilla just ripped up his son," the young hacker said, ignoring Monique scream "Zilla!" at him. "Why didn't he blast him?"
Nick put his hand to his chin thoughtfully. "I'm not quite sure, but maybe out of respect."
"Sure," Elsie piped in. "If there one thing the King of the Monsters appreciates, it's a good fight. And that's exactly what Zilla gave Junior."
As if to prove that point, Junior paused, turning back for just a moment. In that moment, he and Zilla locked eyes. The look that passed between them wasn't one of dislike or scorn as one might expect. No... it was a look of companionship.
"So... the big guy wins by default then?"
Nick, Elsie, Monique and Craven all turned to glare at him.
Randy held out his hands defensively. "Just kidding..."
Craven smiled, realizing something with an incredible impact. "N.I.G.E.L. survived! Can you believe that?" The roboticist clapped his hand together in child like glee. "He wasn't crushed or stomped or blown up or--"
Before the deliriously happy scientist could finish his though, Zilla dove into the bay, a massive wall of water roaring up from the harbor. The great wave crashed over the railing Craven was leaning against, sweeping him off his feet and smashing N.I.G.E.L. to bits against the wall.
Craven, sprawled and soaked, sighed in defeat. "Never mind..."
A choppy roar suddenly filled the air. Descending towards H.E.A.T. headquarters, a navy green military helicopter let down a rope ladder, a man with a grave face hanging from it.
Nick was quickly able to identify the man. "General Hicks."
Jumping off, Hicks greeted Nick rather gruffly. "Hey, Worm Guy, I got several calls about Zilla and another mutation duking it out right here. What happened? Where are they now?"
Randy chuckled. "Missed the whole thing, dude."
Nick cut in, taking command of the situation. "He's right. The other monster - it wasn't a mutation, or at least not one of ours - just left."
Hicks sighed, pinching the crease his of nose. This was gonna be a nightmare back at the office. "Mind filling me in then?"
Nick only smiled in response.
Zilla descended to his lair, in desperate need of rest and recovery. Even if it very nearly cost him his life, he was glad to have his clash today. Otherwise, he may have never met Junior. Were they friends? No. Were they allies? Not quite. The were one, not by genetics or appearance, but in spirit. After all, looking past their outward differences, they were really very similar, right down to the adopted families. Whatever had formed between them, neither of them would ever forget it, even if they never met again.
And for that, Zilla was grateful.