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Jun-19-14, 00:07 AM (EDT)
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"GA: Cold Fire"
   LAST EDITED ON Jun-20-14 AT 09:23 PM (EDT)
Oh hey, so I forgot to mention when I posted this that it's a prelude-slash-teaser for a full-length story, currently un-working-titled.


Monday, July 12, 2275
Sogell Island, Zipang
Enigma sector, United Galactica

GOJIRA WAS LOST: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.

He wasn't terribly concerned about it, however. He came to Zipang to get away from everything for a while anyway, and it wasn't as if he was likely to starve or die of thirst on a lush tropical island. Nevertheless, he was quite indisputably lost. He'd misplaced the trail some time back, and the dense fog that had settled in as the day wore on into afternoon didn't help his efforts to find it again one bit. His backup plan, navigating by the sun, was tricky when you couldn't see it either.

Eventually he hit on the idea of just always going uphill. When he ran out of uphill to go, he'd be at the top of the mountain, and presumably at that point the trail back down to the boat dock would be easy to find. It meant a more strenuous cross-country hike than he'd originally planned on, but hadn't he come all this way to get off by himself and do some thinking? He wasn't going to get a lot more off-by-himself than this.

Time ceased to have much meaning as Gojira plodded through the foggy forest. From time to time he encountered a thicket that there was no clear way around, but that, as he occasionally joked to his costars while filming, was why Tsuburaya gave him such a splendid tail.

It was ironic that he'd think of that joke, and indeed of Tsuburaya, since the whole reason he was out here was the increasing doubt he'd lately been feeling about the validity of his film career. What had once been fun and fulfilling had lately come to seem like a chore, and he evidently wasn't the only one who thought so. Oh, he'd always have his diehard fans, and his films had never been what a person would call serious art, but lately even those critics who would dignify a kaiju eiga by acknowledging its existence were saying that Gojira Nakajima's performances had gotten stale and uninspired.

Gojira's skin was pretty thick, but that kind of thing started to get to him after a while, particularly as it was nothing more than he'd been thinking himself for some time now. It hadn't helped that his one foray into more serious work to date had drawn horse laughs from around the entertainment galaxy, mostly from people who hadn't bothered to see it before passing judgment. Sure, it was a bit weird for a guy known for playing giant monsters to do Shakespeare, but hell, Klingons did it. Perhaps not coincidentally, the critic at the Qo'noS Daily was the only one who'd had anything nice to say about his Lear. Maybe he ought to try samurai movies...

He paused, looking around. The fog was as thick as ever, and he still couldn't see a damn thing, but something in the air felt different. He couldn't have explained how, exactly, but it did. It was like he'd gone from one darkened room to another, that same indefinable sense of otherness, something to do with the acoustics or the smell of the air.

Sighing, he resumed his uphill climb. Pay attention to what you're doing, Nakajima, he told himself, or you'll blunder into a pit or something.

A minute or so later, he found himself crossing a path - not just worn and packed earth like down below, but the forest floor giving way to neatly laid paving stones. He didn't remember that detail from the guidebook, but why argue? He turned onto the path and continued upward. A hundred yards or so farther on, he suddenly broke out of the fog - he supposed it was actually a cloud layer, this far up - and there was the summit before him. Except...

"Where did that come from?" he inquired out loud.

The guidebook described the summit of Mount Sogell as an unspoiled beauty spot with views across the island, but there was a building up here. A big one. How had the writer of his guidebook managed to miss a five-story pagoda, of all things? It loomed above Gojira, standing at the absolute pinnacle of the mountain; the lines of its five blue-grey-tiled roofs came to a series of jagged points, putting him oddly in mind of his own dorsal plates. At ground level, the stone path on which Gojira stood led to a massive double door emblazoned with a giant blue sigil of a three-pointed flame.

While he stood there in confusion, wishing he'd brought along a camera, the doors opened partway to admit a slim figure in blue-trimmed black robes. As she approached him, Gojira saw that she was a woman, Japanese-looking, with her long black hair done up in an elaborate samurai topknot. She was one of those women who could have been any age from a mature and worldly thirty to a fresh-faced and youthful seventy.

Showing neither surprise nor concern at the appearance of a strange reptilian creature dressed in a loud Hawaiian shirt on the doorstep of her pagoda, the woman walked calmly out to meet him. When she reached him, she bowed and put her hands together in front of her in a curious gesture like a martial-arts salute, her open left hand upright atop her right fist, palm facing to the side. When she straightened, she was smiling at him, and Gojira noticed with mild surprise that her eyes were the same shade of blue as the silken trim of her robes.

<Welcome, traveler,> she said in oddly accented Japanese. She sounded to Gojira like someone in an Edo-period costume drama, archaic and curiously formal, but it didn't seem affected or pretentious. There was something indefinably genuine - natural - about her manner as she went on, <My name is Akemi. Please, come inside. We've been waiting for you.>

<You have?> Gojira inquired, automatically replying in Japanese himself. Now more confused than ever, he followed the woman up the path and through the doors into the pagoda.

Inside, it was even more obviously a temple, its ground floor all given over to a single large room. Paintings, carvings, and calligraphy adorned the walls; in the center, a ring of benches faced a platform on which stood a large statue that appeared to have been carved from volcanic glass, its surface gleaming a deep purplish-black in the light of the torches spaced all around the periphery.

A statue... of Gojira himself. Or not quite, he saw upon closer inspection. The creature shown in the statue was more heavily built even than Gojira, his tail longer for his height, and his dorsal plates were much more jagged and pronounced. His teeth and claws, too, were markedly exaggerated. Also, he appeared to be an actual giant, looming over a representation of a Japanese-style house as if it were a toy.

"What the... ?" he murmured, switching back to Standard unconsciously.

He looked around with a growing sense of bewilderment and saw that the artworks on the walls also seemed to depict him, for the most part. The nearest one, which caught his eye because of its size and vivid colors, looked like an ukiyo-e painting of a pastoral scene: fluffy white clouds in a blue sky, rolling green hills, farmhouses and fields... and a vibrantly stylized depiction of that same huge himself-like creature lighting up what appeared to be a giant lobster with his atomic fire breath.

Gojira turned to Akemi. While he'd been looking around at the temple decorations, she'd been joined by several other people, men and women, all dressed in the same blue-and-black robes and looking pleased to see him.

<What's going on here?> he asked them. Pointing to the obsidian statue, he went on, <Who is that?>

The woman smiled. <Gojira,> she replied, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. <The Hunter. He is the Beast of Cold Fire - cousin to Kagutsuchi, Lord of Ascendant Flame.>

Gojira gave her a skeptical look for a second, then turned and looked around the room again. "OK, you guys," he said in a louder voice. "Zoner? Gryph? C'mon, guys. It's very cute, I can't wait to find out how you arranged the fog, but you can come out now. Joke's over."

None of his WDF colleagues appeared, and the black-robed people were all giving him curious looks now, evidently not having understood anything he just said.

Turning to Akemi, he said in Japanese, <OK, look, I'm really impressed by the lengths the guys went to in order to set this up, but you don't need to keep playing the part any longer. Are they here? I can't imagine they wouldn't have wanted to see it.>

She looked deeply puzzled. <I don't understand.>

<The joke!> said Gojira. <It was funny, and you all played it really well, but it's done now. Who put you up to it? Daver must have been involved.>

Akemi gave him a slightly reproachful look. <It is no joke, Mr. Nakajima. No one has 'put me up' to anything. Gojira has guided you here.>

Gojira (the actor)'s brow ridges arched toward each other. <Why?> he inquired.

<Because you were lost,> Akemi told him matter-of-factly, then smiled. <You were lost and He has found you.>

"This is nuts," said Gojira. He turned to look at the obsidian statue again -

- and discovered, to his distinct disquiet, that where before it had been staring off at the far wall with blank carved eyes, it was now looking back at him with eyes that shone with a golden light. Its piercing gaze struck his forebrain like a hammer blow, and before he had a chance to utter a single interjection, everything went black.

Wednesday, July 14
Imperial Hotel Harborfront
Saikyo, Zipang

He woke to find himself sprawled prone in a puddle of drool on the bed in his hotel room in Saikyo, stretched out full-length with one arm hanging off the side and his tail trailing off across the floor of the room. A bar of sunlight came through the inevitable gap in the drapes (why can't they buy them a half-inch wider? he wondered); it had been crawling slowly across the room for the last couple of hours and had just found his right eye, which it proceeded to sink its talons into like a Kamacuras on a rampage.

"Aaaagh," said Gojira, turning his head to escape the torture beam. He had a head like a collapsing office building and the rest of him felt like the time he'd fallen through the bottom of the Mega Tokyo set and into the lower level of Cargo B. He lay there for a while, gathering his energies, and then, with a supreme effort of will, dragged himself off the bed. Apart from the light ray, the room was dim, but Gojira had good dark vision, and he could plainly see that the place was trashed in a manner reminiscent of a heavy metal band's best work. Sapporo empties by the score and a dozen drained OJS bottles lay scattered around the floor, and someone appeared to have attempted (unsuccessfully) to set the television cabinet on fire.

"These are not the hoofprints of your normal, God-fearing drunken kaiju," Gojira muttered, hauling himself into the bathroom. Another photonic assault awaited him there - why always white tile and chrome? - and only once he had endured that and steeled himself did he open his eyes again and regard himself in the mirror.

He looked terrible, his eyes red-rimmed and beady, his teeth filmed in yellow... and yet, below that, he suddenly realized that he'd never looked better. He was... bigger than he remembered. He'd always been pretty burly, he was a miniature giant monster after all, but now he looked like a sort of saurian bodybuilder, with a massive barrel chest and haunches that could have held up a bridge. Even his neck looked mighty, like he could smash mountains just by turning his head.

Blinking, he turned sideways and regarded his profile. From this angle, his neck and shoulders looked even more powerful, and his dorsal plates - wow! They were bigger and more jagged, utterly badass-looking, and he could have sworn there were more of them than before.

"... Huh," he said, then brushed his teeth, swallowed a dozen Advil, drank twenty glasses of water, and shambled back out to take a stab at cleaning up the room.



"Cold Fire" - A Golden Age Mini-Story by Benjamin D. Hutchins with Philip Jeremy Moyer
special to the Eyrie Productions Discussion Forum
© 2014 Eyrie Productions, Unlimited

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