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Tarbtano


I came, I saw, I got turned into a Brony. Tumblr link http://xeno-the-sharp-tongue.tumblr.com/

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Jan
29th
2022

Godzilla 2000: New Era, PART 14 · 4:39am January 29th

PART 13
Proofed by Lance-Omikron
Hina and illustrations by FallenAngel5414
Ami by EvoWizard
Additional illustrations by LordShrekzilla and Zeroviks

===========

The scorch mark on the launchpad outside the hangar darkened with his shadow looming over it.

Commander Takaki Aso grumbled to himself as he continued to survey the base personally. Not a thing was out of place, almost all staff he’d expected to be there were reporting in, and every system appeared to be working perfectly. A few sensors were acting erratic, but that was to be anticipated given not all of G-Force had returned back to the Tokyo base yet and they were working with what could best be described as organized chaos.

Which left him still trying to figure out where the hell did Admiral Tachibana go. CCTV footage from the shore deployment clearly showed him returning to where the base was shortly before the Super-X3 was launched. And yet as soon as they should have arrived, complete with their accompanying vehicles, there was frustratingly nothing. The vehicles couldn’t be found, and while overlooking a few trucks was acceptable, managing to misplace the GUNHED prototype was beyond outlandish. None of the platoon could be found, none of the residences any of the personnel were registered to were occupied, and he couldn’t so much as find a loose tire or bullet casing from the detachment across or near the base. Getting held up in traffic was one thing, but this was ridiculous!

They hadn’t combed the base entirely, there were still many warehouses, bunkers, and more to check to see if they had entered or not. But with the omnipresent UFO hovering just outside the base, it was impossible to set too many of his limited forces in search for something he didn’t even know where to look for.

Takaki fought back a tremor in his arm. Possible alien invasion afoot, reports of some calamity on the roadways, and he couldn’t find one of his most trusted advisors. It wasn’t just that he needed to find those men and women due to needing all hands on deck, he needed someone like Taizo at his side to help keep him stable in times like this.

Right now, the only thing out of place that was detectable, with the limited search capacity he had, was this scorch mark darkening the concrete. It was the only thing out of place, without explanation from what could be quickly surveyed.

Residue from the Super-X3 taking off with haste? A mark simply overlooked from a prior event? Or something that genuinely wasn’t there prior? Aso prided himself on often surveying the grounds of the base on foot, going along every hangar, every warehouse, every roadway. It was both to familiarize himself with the premises but also show those beneath his rank how much he was ‘one of them’, and not some lordship sitting in an office.

He was also an aging man and might have simply had poor memory, getting worried over this minor detail.

He sighed and shook his head, unsure as he could be as a subordinate approached and saluted.

“Sir, Dr. Shinoda is here with urgent news.”

“What kind of news?” Aso didn’t take his eyes off the scorch mark, crouching down to feel if, by chance, it might still be warm.

“The very thing he left to find sir, it’s about the UFO. He says you must come to the edge of the base to hear this, he won’t come in due to the craft.”

Aso’s finds stopped short of touching the blackened concrete and he frowned. Picking himself up and stealing a glance at the craft ominously hovered on the edge of the base. He turned around and adjusted his suit.

“Let’s have it then.”

==========

“Why on earth would she have had radiation exposure?!” Aso barked, brow perked with a mix of concern and bewilderment, his voice bouncing off the inside of the field tent erected on the edge of the base near the roads leading into Tokyo proper.

They’d been in here since he personally came to speak with Dr. Shinoda, only to find another member of the GPN present, Dr. Shinoda’s daughter in an ambulance in a coma, and Yuri Tachibana of all people with them; all spouting off one very unique tale.

Standing across from him, Dr. Yuji Shinoda kept his brow lowered to shade his face, as if bowing.

Aso’s eyes rapidly darted from him, to the comatose girl now being given a wide span by several of the troopers as she lay on a stretcher in an ambulance.

“You said the entity took on various forms, was it one of those that caused the radiation?!” Aso continued, causing the air to be sucked out of Shinoda and his accompaniments’ lungs. He had said it both out of concern for the girl but also as it was potentially critical information about the entity that attacked them and might very well be in the UFO now.

Aso had promised Shinoda his ear when he was brought on board, he was trying to do that now. And yet he could tell he’d just touched on a topic that made the man afraid. He also caught Katagiri visibly stiffen, his eye briefly registering it as CCI’s head stood with his arms crossed off to the side.

“... Io opened a canister containing a blood and tissue sample from Godzilla, blown off in the confrontation at Amami. Some of it splashed on her in the process,” Dr. Shinoda noted dutifully, bowing as he did so. Yuji had known he’d have to fess up about the topic, secrecy was not an option. When given the choice between trying to keep things quiet for the sake of their stability and avoiding Aso’s rage, and the safety of his daughter with potentially critical information given to G-Force about any weaknesses the aliens had; it wasn’t ever a remote possibility in his mind he’d keep silent.

“I illegally collected Godzilla issue samples against the ban on such matters! I’ll submit myself to any legislator or court with any charge leveled against me!” Shinoda shouted, trying not to crack in his voice whilst making a plea.

Aso’s eyes contracted to pinpricks as pure adrenaline and rage flooded his shuddering nerves, “You… You WHAT!?!

Aso’s hand snatched out and he grabbed hold of the man with such force that Yuji was completely overpowered by a man almost double his age. Commander Aso’s eyes were virtually on fire that also flickered out of his throat.

“I bring you into my circle! I give you all access and my word despite what I’ve seen, what I’ve been through!” tremors shot up his arms and he was briefly glimpsing Tokyo as it was 15 years ago and thirty years prior to that, all while remembering the pains and efforts he’d done to conform to Shinoda’s plea for non-lethals at the risk of his life and troops, “I pull you free of that slum of a fishery to ask you for help, and you commit an international felony with what I granted you?! YOU! YOOOOU!”

In a force that surprised them all, Aso physically wrenched Shinoda off his footing by the lapels of his shirt and shook him. A set of hands grabbed onto Aso’s arm and it wasn’t Shinoda’s. Ichinose flinched and chirped when Takaki’s wrath was redirected at her with a snap of his head to glare at the reporter. Yuri Tachibana, sporting several medical wrappings, had also sprung up from her seat and had an arm extended; either to try and help or at least call for calm. She stopped short when the redhead was fixed into place by a withering glare by the old commander.

Takaki Aso snorted and panted through his nose, slowly looking back at Dr. Shinoda and ignoring the woman still grabbing onto his arm.

“I… trusted you…” Aso panted with a deep frown, “Who… else? Did anyone else collect those damn cells?!”

Mitsuo Katagiri’s hands clenched into fists as he watched Shinoda closely in the impromptu-interrogation. Fight or flight was being pumped into his system like a rabbit glimpsing an oncoming coyote, and Aso was like a tiger.

Dr. Yuji Shinoda slowly shook his head, “No one. Only me.”

He said it so plainly, so calmly, whilst his face was shadowed by his brow and his eyes shielded by their lids.

Aso both growled and whispered back, otherwise unmoving, “Look.. at me.. and tell me…”

Dr. Shinoda opened his eyes and tilted his head back into the light, tears streaming down his face as he thought not of the furious old man before him, but to the comatose young girl behind him.

“Only me. No one else. CCI cleaned up all the other samples, as per procedure,” he said with full sincerity, despite only himself knowing it was a lie, “I take full responsibility, Commander. It was on impulse and I aimed to study them before destroying them. To see if my cellular research at Kyoto might have any last efforts made towards it whilst looking for a breakthrough.”

Off to the side, Katagiri’s trembling fists relaxed and his brow perked up.

Aso’s breath slowed and his brief flash of manic strength subsided. Yuji Shinoda’s feet settled on the floor. He didn’t let go of Yuji’s lapels however, nor stop looking at him even whilst speaking to Ichinose.

“Miss… You can let go of me. Now,” he still punctuated that last word.

Yuki Ichinose, perhaps not fully knowing what drove her to launch out of her seat like this, swallowed and complied; uncurling her fingers from Aso’s arm. Aso shrugged and shook his head, still sporting a wide frown.

“We’ll discuss breaches of trust and settlement later, two matters take priority. I will not blame the girl for your actions, Shinoda,” Aso noted with his voice still high with sharp tension even whilst winding down in volume, “But you are staying with me both so I can keep an eye on you and because I need every shred of information I can get.”

Dr. Shinoda slowly nodded, “I’ll accept any terms, Commander. But Io can’t be treated here. Not with how that thing is right here.”

He didn’t need to be specific. The UFO was omnipresent in everyone’s mind.

“Perhaps, Commander,” a third voice interjected. Mitsuo Katagiri stood beside them and patted Aso’s arm.

At long last, the Commander let go of Yuji and let the doctor step back out of throttling distance. Much to Yuji’s surprise however, Katagiri turned aside and stepped over to get in front of him; between himself and Aso.

“CCI’s facilities can offer up the best of medical care… While I am not proud of how they came to learn it in the 1960s, they do have the best means and knowledge in caring for Mysterians and thus, hybrids. There is a reason the hybrid school was in the same city after all, somewhere Miss Shinoda and myself are well familiar with.”

Yuji Shinoda and Yuki Ichinose stiffened, old memories and tales brought to mind involving the last time Io and Katagiri were in the same room; let alone the same city.

“Miss Shinoda can be transported there by my own craft, they can be in Kyoto within the hour,” Mitsuo Katagiri nodded as he worked to mollify the commander, “I will not be needing it, as I will remain here to continue as a scientific consultant and CCI coordinator…. It would be the best means to get the girl out of the city if this story about shapeshifting monsters pursuing her is true; and would get her medical care in a prompt and safe manner if there is a problem between her unconsciousness or fears of radiation poisoning.”

Commander Aso took in a deep breath and exhaled a capacity in his lungs that seemed to weigh a ton. He turned away and crossed his arms behind his back. Pacing across from the field tent they’d be talking in towards an opened side, he turned to look at the UFO silently looming over the base; still following the movement of the sun in its hovering.

“... Very well, get her moved within the hour. Miss Tachibana and Ichinose, you’ve helped give us some valuable information; but it is time for you to leave as we can’t have you in this precarious spot. It would be irresponsible to have civilians here should things get critical, much less my god-daughter,” he chanced a minor shrug as a brief instance of levity, “Yuri, we both know your father would have my head even if I am his superior if something happened to you.”

Yuri Tachibana grimaced and rubbed the back of her head, trying not to wince at the dash of awkwardness, “Commander, where is my father? He was supposed to have reported-in by now, right? I mean, everyone’s got their posts but… well we both know him.”

Yes, yes they did. And the fact Taizo hadn’t come running the moment word was passed along that an incident happened and his daughter was injured was further fuel to add to Aso’s troubled mind.

The best he could do was not to burst another nerve like he just had and focus on things one problem at a time.

“Units are still reporting in,” it wasn’t an entirely untrue statement, “… Dr. Shinoda.”

Yuji stiffened behind the guard of Katagiri, but held firm.

“Remember, you are to remain here. If you three’s story about what you’ve been through is true, and I have good reason to believe it is,” he kept up his momentum, even if he couldn’t help but find it mildly ironic he just used the word ‘believe’, in an area with so many unknowns. That old miko Hina was rubbing off on him it seemed, “-then we have quite a situation on our hands. You don’t leave Tokyo. You and Katagiri are to meet with me at the end of the hour at the communications array…. Dismissed.”



As they all filed out of the tent upon Aso taking his brief leave, Katagiri adjusted his suit.

“Well, I’m off to gather paperwork and notes. Do be prompt, Shinoda,” he shrugged before beginning to pace off, only to stop when he felt a hand gently grab his wrist.

“...” Yuji remained quiet, still trying to fully collect himself as he held onto the wrist of the one who was once his best man.

They both knew exactly what the other was thinking, even without eye contact. But with the presence of Ichinose and Tachibana present, neither spoke up about the specifics. Specifics like how Yuji didn’t rat out Katagiri also collected Godzilla cells, which CCI had likely been doing so for some time now. The cliffside where Godzilla had dropped the whale that wasn’t a whale was immaculately clean of Godzilla cells when Shinoda and Ichinose had returned to it, despite some scraps of whale flesh still being present. Not even a blown-off fragment of a scale. And then there were all the times in the early parts of the decade with the second Godzilla, all those times CCI was on clean-up. And now he had full confirmation that Commander Aso didn’t know about any of this.

Yuji’s grip tightened briefly, but not necessarily threateningly.

Katagiri did not turn around but instead looked ahead, towards his arriving transport meant to ferry Io... and potentially a few other things kept secretly, back to Kyoto. Yuji got the message and nodded.

“... Thank you, Mitsuo.”

Katagiri turned about and didn’t smile, remaining professional and calm as one would expect the head of CCI to be. He easily escaped Yuji’s grip and instead shook his hand.

“C.C.I. protects its assets. All of them. We seek to ensure mankind’s future and I consider promising children like young Io part of that. Who knows,” he huffed with a mild humoring, “Maybe I’ll be hiring her in ten years time. You and Asuka nearly joined up once.”

Once, back in 1984. Right after they’d finished the funeral for their friend who didn’t make it out of Tokyo alive that fateful night. Yuji and Asuka had solace in each other to pull them out of that hatred. Mitsuo didn’t have that luxury and fell in with C.C.I. in full. He dedicated himself to the point that bridges got burned, and he took out his hatred for the creature that destroyed so many lives on a third individual of the same species who had nothing to do with what happened in Tokyo. They both knew the aftermath of that night messed them both up, just in different ways.

And they both knew how easily they could have been burned by the other just a few minutes ago.

“I... doubt it,” Yuji shrugged his shoulders, not relaxing but releasing a bit of that tension he’d been holding onto for fifteen years, “Thank you… I... will be over by the transport before I get my data. Those harddrives are crucial and might be even more so with what we found.”

Katagiri nodded and shook his hand, Shinoda likewise shaking it back. They bowed slightly before splitting apart, Yuji Shinoda going off towards the trucks and the GPN van. Katagiri was about to take his leave himself when he was perplexed by the sight of a very disgruntled looking Ichinose power walking up to him with her fists clenched.

“.... Can I help you?” CCI’s head grunted with a raised eyebrow, barely even knowing who this lady was.

Yuki Ichinose responded by getting in front of him, cocking her arm back, and swinging out a hand. Katagiri reflexively lurched to try and dodge the fist aimed for his cheek, only to be thrown another curve ball after this random moment of assault when Ichinose stopped her arm short just a few centimeters from his face.

“Remember how Io got taken out of the psychic school?” she growled with a slight leer.

Katagiri looked between her and her hand, still flabbergasted as he gently pushed it away from his face to stand up straight.

“She got in a fight with several students, including my own daughter.”

“Because of what you told your kid and she rubbed in Io’s face,” Ichinose snorted through her nose, standing up on her tip-toes to equal her own and Katagiri’s height as she pointed at him accusingly, “If you didn’t pull the stunt you just did, I’d have followed through with a promise I made the first time Yuji told me that story.”

“Which... Was?”

“See how many smacks I needed to knock a few teeth out,” Ichinose grunted, pulling back and shaking out her arm, “Nice try dodging asshole, but I’m the reason you’ve still got all your molars.”

“Wait… wait,” Katagiri’s brow furrowed and he tilted his head slightly, “Do you and Shinoda seriously think I put my own daughter up to that?”

“....”

Katagiri scowled as hard as he could without looking extreme, “I’ll admit, I had no fondness for Shinoda at the time; but I wasn’t about to endanger my own pride and joy with an unstable brat in the hopes that it would work out in my favor by proxy.”

Ichinose pursed her lips and leaned in a bit closer, “So how is it that a little girl like your ‘brat’ heard such a damning detail and used it like she did?”

Katagiri  crossed his arms and stood up to his full height, “I was drunk one night and she must have heard me, the night that creature hatched in front of Dr. Gojo and her mentor revealed to the whole institute what it really was. She overheard me…. I don’t think I need to explain why I was bitter towards the second Godzilla and by proxy, the rest of its ilk.”

Ichinose considered the possibilities and probabilities, unable to refute the statement but her heart wasn’t accepting it in good faith, not in its entirety at least. There was one niggling factor that made it difficult.

“Still doesn’t change that you took advantage of it all,” she muttered loud enough for him to surely hear her, before leaning back and away.

Mitsuo Katagiri’s face was unreadable, stoic. There was a mild twitching about it, from his skinny brow to large eyes, but exactly what that implied was unknown. Acceptance? Regret? Truth or untruth? Could be anything.

“Matters little now,” Katagiri noted with reservation in his tone to not belie anything else, “Jane has been out of the country with family for five years now. By my workload or her being angry at what happened, I paid for it all the same.”

Ichinose frowned and shrank back slowly, brow furrowed and puzzled briefly before letting some sympathy become etched over her features. For better or for worse, she could see more of how Katagiri and Shinoda had once been close friends. A workaholic father so dedicated to his task because of what Godzilla had done to his life, at the cost of his relationship with the daughter he’d been working for to begin with. Mitsuo Katagiri in position was essentially exactly what Yuji had voiced to her he’d feared becoming. The dividing point was one of them had left Kyoto, whilst the other remained.

“My sympathies…”

Katagiri took in a deep breath and adjusted his coat, willfully changing the subject.

“And yet it seems it took this UFO showing up for me to finally get a chance to see what Shinoda was storing on his harddrives all these years,” Katagiri adjusted his tie reflexively and poised himself, “What he left behind was of great use to CCI in the cellular study over the years. I’m eager to see more, even with circumstances as they are.”

He turned and nodded to Yuri Tachibana, who was still lurking behind her mentor Ichinose.

“Miss Tachibana, safe travels. I must prepare for the meeting now.”

He gave Yuki Ichinose a look, one she met head on eye to eye. It was one of those looks where either party could tell if it was some instinctive challenge, or just a registering of the other’s presence. For whatever it was or how it was conveyed, both dipped their head in a very minor bow before splitting off.

Yuki Ichinose saw Katagiri leave and pouted.

“Yeesh, complex guy. I can see why he and Yuji were friends once.”

A slow clap sounded off behind her and she rolled her eyes as she turned around.

“What are you doing?” Ichinose deadpanned.

Yuri Tachibana, despite her thankfully minor injuries, managed to work the camera that survived the car chase to snap a photo of the most ‘done’ looking woman in Japan. Ichinose promptly lightly bopped her on the head with a chopping motion.








===========


Takaki Aso came into his office suspecting as much as he did, namely to have company and possibly some council. That old woman from Odo Island had proven immaculate in sneaking past every line of security so far, what would keep her from managing again? She had an uncanny ability to both unsettle him with what she said, yet also she always appeared to settle him when he needed the conversation. He always prided himself on restraining his pride, accepting the input of others without brazenly pushing forward with his own ideas without regard to others advice.

And yet, he’d still followed his gut even whilst accommodating others. The plan on the Amami islands was his engineering. It had been done with consideration to Dr. Shinoda’s demands for non-lethals, carried out with CCI’s weaponry; but in the end it had been Takaki Aso who gave it the go-ahead despite ample time for reason to call the whole thing off.

That guilt lingered above his head since the moment the UFO arrived and he put all the pieces together, save one. This Godzilla was even more powerful than its predecessor, just like the one from the 1980s was stronger than the original. It not only was for sure the same individual he’d known as an infant in Kyoto, but it could have wiped out every tank, maser, missile launcher, and emplacement on the island. They hit it with everything they had, and it just got right back up.

Could have things been different if they pursued lethal options? Aso didn’t know, but as much as he prided the arsenal CCI had supplied and the guile of his troops, he doubted it.

-That thing could have leveled the entire island in one sweep…-

Yes, he could see it now. A flash of blue light under the sea, then an eruption of burning, radioactive plasma that made the white phosphorus he witnessed in Tokyo back in 1954 look like a firecracker. One swing of the ray to rake across the shoreline of the bay. How many dead instantly? A few hundred? Few thousand? Would he even have lived to count it? The power he witnessed when the leviathan overclocked its temperature to counter the anti-nuclear bacteria, it was as awe inspiring as it was horrifying. The shockwaves of the outburst sending the whole harbor upwards in a geyser, radiance of the sun matched by the crackling blue sparking across the living enormity, full-metal missiles that could punch through a whole city and keep going melted to slag; all to the sound of animate thunder’s roar. Such power and grandeur, that both was awestriking to see and made man’s power seem feeble by comparison.

For a brief moment in his recollection, Aso could see why Hina and those like her would revere such a being. Sights like that were typically the realm of sonnets, legend, or poem; of legendary heroes glimpsing the sight of an azure, heavenly dragon. In such tales, sights like those were potentially equal parts warnings as they were inspirations.

He briefly remembered old fairy tales his parents would tell him; on those quiet, cold nights as a child in Hokkaido. Some had legends with sights like that. Ryūjin, the divine dragon who was lord of the seas appearing before the hero,Tawara Tōda.

Only it was not a kami he saw on that island. It wasn’t a dragon either. Neither of those existed, not in the ways old rituals or prayer thought they did.

It was not Ryūjin, dragon lord of the seas, appearing before Tawara Tōda. It was not Gojira, kami of destruction, showing themselves to an Odo Island miko. That creature he saw, magnificent as it was in power and horror, wasn’t anything but a tragic accident, for itself and for mankind.

His aging heart constricted and turned cold as ice, fear and hopelessness dripping from it like the molten slag of their weapons off Godzilla’s form. Aso’s lip twitched and chills coursed through every vein.

There was nothing out there that couldn’t be understood, and there was nothing mankind could rely on but their own force, guile, and perseverance. Both to triumph over the literal monsters, as well as the figurative ones they made of themselves. They just needed stronger weapons to get the job done.

-Monsters like Tojo, Asaka, and Chō needed the atomic bomb to finally put an end to their reign. The first Godzilla required the oxygen destroyer… That fool Serizawa, if only they had gotten to his notes in time!-

Aso’s mind spun in new directions, driven by growing desperation and doubt.

That seemingly innocuous canister of a device, the Oxygen Destroyer. Dr. Daisuke Serizawa had destroyed all of his notes on it, the only remnants being any of his previous published work on oxygen therapies put into medical scientific journals. His family had nothing, Aso dimly remembered his predecessor confirming that to him in 1984. Daisuke’s nephew, Ishiro Serizawa was very adamant about it when Aso asked him himself.

There was that oxygen therapy researcher Dr. Ijuin. His micro-oxygen research looked uncannily similar and Aso vividly remembered discussions about seeing if he could recreate the Oxygen Destroyer when things got desperate during the second Godzilla’s nuclear meltdown.

-Until the Destroyah emerged and after that debacle, Ijuin followed his predecessor and destroyed his research, took up a new identity.-

A twinge of rage shot up his spine and Aso clenched a fist he slammed down onto his desk. A critical asset and it slipped through his fingers not 5 years ago! Crisis Control Intelligence and Dr. Katagiri had been practically begging and stalking the man to give up his research or join them, and Aso himself had blocked it!

He swore, barely articulated and threw his desk over, knocking over a bookcase he kept alongside spilling the table’s contents. Books and papers spilled out everywhere. Aso fumed and heaved before tightly wrenching at his scalp and graying hairs; reminders of his own mortality and how time was pressing. They were pressed for time and the point of desperation was yesterday. He could retract Dr. Ijuin’s witness protection, force him to see how critical it was that the one and only weapon that could kill a kaiju in one shot was needed, or squeeze him for every ounce of information before pushing CCI in to do their thing! They could-

A pair of eyes stared back at him from a bent page within an overturned book. A familiar set of glasses and bald head, a lip covered in a very specifically trimmed mustache.

Commander Aso stopped, knelt down, and picked up the book, carefully pressing out the bent page and forcing himself to see it all in full. The face of a man with many titles, some of those uncomfortably close to his own, stared back at him. General Hideki Tojo of the Japanese Imperial Army. He never met this man, they only shared the planet for a relatively brief period of time; yet he knew him. He’d made a big point to study him and those like him, for reasons far from admiration. It was the face of this man that drove him to hitch-hike from Hokkaido and lie about his age to join the Self Defense Force right out of the gate, this man who he kept to mind every time he made a conscious choice to not put himself above his troops and the civilians they swore to protect.

This man who’d authorize weapon development at any cost, even a human one. He who’d let power fester and grow unchecked by law or by the people. Who’d push for preemptive strikes on foreign powers who’d done no harm, justifying such evil in the name of ‘defending the Homeland’. General Hideki Tojo.

Now there was a man who’d authorize weapons development despite concerns by his advisors. One who’d commanded a budget and force with so few checks and balances to power. Who’d just launched a preemptive strike on a being who’d done no harm, and now the ambition to ‘defend the Homeland’ to not see Tokyo burned to the ground a third time had landed them in this situation. Commander Takaki Aso.

Aso shed a tear and covered his eyes, his heart frozen in horror at what he’d let happen. No matter how much he pushed against it, no matter what righteousness he proclaimed their mission to have had; role Aso had to play as the commander steering the ship to see unto the giants' end, led him down the same path of men who awakened sleeping giants.

And how much had the past festered like this to risk revival in the future? This book was old, out of print. Some of the newer history pieces never talked about the war, the men, and the monsters in it. Censorship by the government and USA back in the 1970s had long reaching ripples. And those younger than he might not even know the full story in all cases. Some certainly did, but what of those who didn’t? Those who’d grown up, perhaps seeing a similarity between himself and men of that era and climate. How much of the admiration his troops gave him was tainted by Tojo’s ghost?

Aso was quiet as he wept, feeling more aware than he had in years; if only because the sheer stress had finally taken his blinders off. He could feel that ghost loaming behind him, and didn’t care what he believed now.

His pulse throbbed for a time, before stilling. Commander Takaki Aso removed his hand from his face, eyes closed still before slowly opening them back without a tear shed.

There were two choices before him. He could wallow in his mistakes from where corrupting fear and power had led him, or he could use that power the best he could.

And the young man who ran away to join what he thought could save the world, now an old man in body but not spirit, would not remain any more idle than he was as a youth. He set his desk straight and began cleaning, mind still racing.

He stole but a moment to step out of his office and call down the hall to the staffer both checking over some systems on the computers and standing guard.

“Send for Dr. Shinoda, Dr. Katagiri, and Commander Pentecost to convene with me at the ready room set up outside Dr. 023’s station in 30 minutes.”

Sergeant Hopkins saluted astutely, “Permission to inquire, Sir?”

The grizzled veteran, only a decade or so Taizo’s junior, was a familiar face. He’d been one of the Godzillasaur enclosure’s guards back at Kyoto. Aso remembered him amongst the company that posed for a picture with Dr. Gojo, Shinoda, and the latter’s daughter. The fact he had to have no doubt known about Amami island and wasn’t about to throttle his commander was telling of the patience of the old guard like him.

“Granted.”

Hopkins’ face was unreadable for a span of time, “... What was that in your office I just heard?”

“An old man realizing his error, Sergeant. An old man realizing his error. Tell Pentecost to ready all defenses we can and direct them at the UFO. Don’t fire a shot unless given reason to, and I’ll trust in your and his judgment on what constitutes a good reason,” Aso noted, hands steepled behind his back.

Hopkins looked like he wanted to say something more, possibly quite angrily, but just nodded. He knew this wasn’t the time nor place.

“Amami was a mistake… for depleting our armament,” a logical reasoning, even if it was an excuse for why he really thought it an error.

Taizo had objected to the plan at Amami as well, despite everything he’d lived through from ‘54 onwards. That the corruption hadn’t turned all of G-Force into the kind of warhawks he himself had risked becoming, was reassuring to the Commander.

“For depleting our armament,” Aso nodded, his stare making it obvious as to what the true intent was behind the words. Attacking Godzilla was an error that they could agree upon. And if took every ounce of power and effort he had at his means to make good upon that error, Takaki Aso would.

“Sergeant, if you wish to vocalize your disapproval of matters, I will not reprimand you for it.”

Sergeant Hopkins let a frown curl over his short, bearded face. He instead put the phone down and saluted.

“There are more important matters sir, I’ll happily give you an earful later, sir! But with the coms on the fritz, they’ll need your summons as fast as I can run it to them.”

“Look forward to hearing it,” Aso nodded as Hopkins turned to relay the message.

Alone with his own thoughts and about twenty minutes to heed them before he’d need to leave for the rendezvous point, Takaki Aso did his best to clean up the mess he’d made in his office before tackling a much larger mess he’d made. He sorted through the steps in mind whilst putting the bookcase back up and the books upon its shelves.

In thirty minutes, he’d hear out every concern or statement his council could field. Then, if there were no major objections that held their ground and a vote was cast, the UFO would be demanded to answer itself by any means of communication. If the craft’s occupants weren’t the ones responsible for the chaos on the roadway and attacks upon Yuri Tachibana and the Shinoda’s group, the culprit would be discovered. If they were, then he would take them to task for their crimes.

One way or another, this was getting sorted out before day’s end.

If they succeeded and his New Era for mankind he spoke of in 1995 came to dawn; more changes would be made. And, if it turned out this new Godzilla really was no enemy of mankind…

He felt uncertainty brew in his gut once again whilst clearing up some paperwork, but didn’t let the knot form in his belly. Flickers of memory, distant and recent, shown before his eyes like embers. A harmless, even gentle creature born in Kyoto; and the living mountain of strength primordium in Amami’s harbor. Dr. Shinoda had confirmed they were one and the same.

Takaki sighed and nodded, resolute.

If this new Godzilla really was no enemy of mankind, he would atone for his mistakes. Find a way to communicate, perhaps get in contact with Ms. Saegusa while she was abroad; maybe even Dr. Gojo who’d since moved to America after getting married. He would not permit the chance of his error to cause cost to others, be it from the sleeping giant he’d risked filling with a horrid resolve or atoning to the giant itself.

He could imagine Tojo’s specter haunting him again and he turned his back to it. Takaki would not let himself become a monster, even if he had to disband G-Force himself once this was all over to prove it.

A desk set back, a shelf organized, all that remained to his prying eye was a single out of place book. Aso grunted to himself, passively noting the old piece was underneath the chair that enigmatic old woman Hina had been sitting at. As good a memory as he had, he wasn’t quite sure if this was his book and he just hadn’t looked at it in a long while, or if she’d left it behind by accident.

The idea that aged miko somehow managed to sneak into his office, multiple times, and had passed the time reading a book waiting for him to catch up spurred a short, humored chuckle.

History of Kyoto, Legendary and Modern, the engraved writing on the front read on a book printed decades ago; 1953 in fact. He spied a small tab left on the pages, a bookmark, and absentmindedly flipped to it whilst moving back to the shelf. The page opened up to the aged smell of old paper, with the spread pages containing an illustration on one side, with a picture and text on the other.

“The Four Symbols, sometimes called the Four Guardians or Four Heavenly Beasts, are an ancient iconography seen across Eastern Asia. The oldest representations from China predate the first dynasty by several thousand years. The four as seen as the core emblems and guardians of Kyoto and are Suzaku the Vermillion Bird, Genbu the Black Tortoise and Serpent, Byakko the White Tiger, and Seiryū the Azure Dragon” he read aloud and hummed, almost nostalgically. He wasn’t ignorant of the basics, but he hadn’t really bothered with such seemingly trivial matters since he was a young man.

Or truthfully, since he was a boy. The whole reason he was in Tokyo in 1954 was because he lied about his age. Ever since that night, he hadn’t had time to think of much else than the literal monsters being found to exist. When one had seen what he did, close up, it was excusable a degree of nihilism had festered. Nothing had come to help them then, and so mankind needed to conquer its monsters on its own.

The opposite page evidently started the process of explaining each of the four symbols one by one, and the image of an azure dragon statue that was evidently part of a temple.

“Seiryū marks the protection of Kyoto from the East. Associated with the forests outside Kyoto and Lake Biwa just beyond, due to the lake’s long history of significance to kami. The Buddhist temple of Kiyomizu-dera on the eastern edge of Kyoto marks this area of significance.”

Aso grunted affirmatively, before closing the book and putting it onto an empty place on the shelf. Four benevolent protectors for that old city, a comforting thought. The people of that time had much to be wary of, natural disasters, invasions, and plenty more. Mothra had wound up being real despite the culture knowing of her all but dying out, and Aso was not ignorant to the smaller-scale abnormalities of the world. Flukes of nature one didn’t understand and thought magic, or just insufficient science at the time causing people to see the supernatural in the unknown; the point was made. But, it was a bit much to go from that to thinking that waving tamagushi wands or invoking the name of invisible things would do much good.

Even so, the idea of taking comfort in something mighty protecting one was desirable. Who knew, maybe there was an inspiration for Seiryū in some bygone age? Enough time had passed it could have been anything from four emblems by some ancient heroes that got co-opted over time, or the people witnessing a chance creation of nature they ascribed the supernatural to like how Odo Island worshiped a dinosaur.

He put the Godzillasaur claw Hina had given him, mentally scolding himself for risking damage to such a priceless artifact, from the floor it had fallen to and set it right back on his desk. The old Commander even took a moment to dust the relic off, perhaps wondering if part of Hina and her predecessors' routine was the maintain such an item. Had to, given the good shape it was in.

Aso pursed his lips and looked out the window, almost fancying he could perhaps cast his gaze dozens of kilometers from the modern capital of Tokyo to the ancient capital of Kyoto.

Aso remembered where a certain egg had hatched after being dormant for potentially decades, if not centuries on Adona Island…

His office door clicked open and Takaki turned to face it. In his mind’s eye, he actually hoped it would be that miraculous miko appearing again. Sometimes her assurance in her worldview was admirable in how it gave her strength in confidence he felt like he badly needed right about now.

But instead it wasn’t Hina who emerged from the doorway. Nor was it Sergeant Hopkins or any of his subordinates come to ferry a message the old fashioned way. Instead a G-Force trooper in full uniform and a hat pulled over their brow stepped in and closed the doorway behind them.

A finger morphed into a cephalopod tendril, was jammed into the lock before being turned into bone, and snapped off inside to jam it. They turned around and the faux hat they wore morphed into an enclave of teeth as the face split into five pieces like a flower blooming.

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Comments ( 10 )

Didn't realize this part was out until now. But I liked it. The interactions with Katagiri & Co were fairly compelling. And Aso's internal monologue was the highlight of this part. Also, oh God, the cliffhanger with the creepy thing again. Goddamnit!

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Aso is very much a character in early drafts was just kind of there but wound up stealing the show in a few cases as I was writing. Some of the moralities and Aesop's that New Era tackles do directly correlate with him as much as they do the core 3. I don't think I can easily remember us ever having a kaiju story where the head military leader is one of the main characters, save for a few times they were the main antagonist. So it was nice fun to jump into relatively untrodden ground.

Plus of course there's the core 3 GPN characters and Katagiri bouncing off each other, so I'm rather happy with this being the character driven chapter especially, though of course with that action hook at the end. Looks like the aliens are not going to keep to the shadows any longer.

4 heavenly beasts... Am I sensing a bit of GMK: Giant Monsters All Out Attack there?

Was the first part supposed to be the same as the last part? I really like Aso and Katagiri's whole story and dialogue here, especially Aso being pushed to the very edge. That said, the tiger/coyote/rabbit metaphor I feel was a bit confusing and could have been clarified a bit. Still, seeing Aso lose himself was amazing

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Yep, just to help carry over the part of Aso suspecting something went down and Tachibana was involved, but can't figure out what. To clarify the rabbit/coyote/tiger analogy, it's a bit of a spin on an old saying where "if a rabbit's scared of a coyote, imagine what happens when I sees a cougar?". Katagiri is feeling fight or flight how a rabbit is scared of a coyote, but the thing he's confronted with (a pissed off Aso) is way worse like how a tiger is worse than a coyote. Because he knows Aso will tear him a new one if he finds out what CCI has been up to.

Glad to see Aso has really made a name for himself in people's reactions. I wanted to take a crack at making a military commander a main character and firmly on the moral side of things, which hadn't really been down IIRC in kaiju films aside from possibly GMK (and Taizo wasn't the head honcho).

5632489
Yeah sorry about that, forgot to ping! XD
Really glad to see Aso carrying the scenes he's in alone or with Hina so well as I can't confess to saying he was nearly as heavy a presence in earlier drafts.

Well shiiiiit. That was twisted. Taking another deep dive into Aso’s brain. From calm to absolute PaniK and then mad. Then slowly cooled off realizing of the situation. It’s a bit of redundant to use Tojo again to remind Aso of what he’s not, but oh well. Oh and somebody please give Yuki a coffee! She’s is SO done.

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static.wikia.nocookie.net/ef93ba19-91ec-44b7-a5d9-0116db532e48
-Aso's state of mind for approximately the last 23.45 hours

I'll be sure to note the coffee part later, Lord knows the poor woman needs it!

I like Aso just being caught up and beging extremely confused.

Aso at this point probably:

Aso kinda has every right to be furious at this, especially with the massive amount of stress he's presently under. Do like that he protects Katagiri by taking full responsibility.

I do like even though Katagiri might have his own reasons, his offer does come off as at least partially genuine.

Of course, it also shows how CCI managed to make that much ANAB.

I do like this whole encounter, as it shows both their former friendship and their current strained relationship.

I do like that Katagiri seemed to genuine he didn't put her up to it. Rather it happened on accident...but a nerve was hit with that last point.

I like the implication he might actually feel some guilt for that, he just can't admit it.

I like that Aso realizes with how powerful Junior is, he easily could've obliterated the entire force...and did not do so.

But Aso's desperation makes him think things that are...dangerous. The Oxygen Destroyer was a powerful weapon...and just as capable of a nuclear weapon as creating monsters.

Despite all the anger, he's finally snapped out of his rage realizing what he's at risk of becoming. The ghost of Tojo still looming.

I do like that he prepares for the potential threat that might be coming.

Oh, hello Hopkins. Nice to see you show up in a main story. I do like how Aso has accepted he'd made a mistake.

Aso is responsible and now willing to accept Junior might be on humanity's side. He doesn't want to become Tojo, and we know from time that he won't.

The story of the directional guardians was good, and as shown with Ghost Story, the same legend exists over in Equestria as well. He almost makes the connection...

And then a Millenian drone shows up.

Good chapter, shows a lot of character and fleshes out Aso a great deal.

Well that was quite the ending. The curse of cliff hangers. XD

Really good chapter. I see you really like having the old guard worried about Japan's future and past.

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