12th April 2012, 09:55 PM #1
CEO of the Monsters
So I reworked my Godzilla fic from last year pretty extensively. A lot of it will still be based on the movies, as they are, after all, the (almost) ONLY existing official fiction out there. Basically, this is what I would do if I was in charge of the Legendary Pictures project. That is, create a rather basic reboot featuring many of the popular monsters out there (well, not literally). Don't come in here expecting a Bay-esque monster mayhem extravaganza mashed between awkward teenagers flirting awkwardly and falling in love awkwardly. There WILL be a lot of monster melee, but that comes second to plot in my book. :)
The deep, brilliant blue ocean below rolled like a veil in the wind, obscuring the mysteries within her depths from the scanning and prying eyes watching from above. It roared, ceaselessly and forebodingly, as any such behemoth would. But today, the watchers roared back, louder.
A white helicopter moved southeast through the air, the thumping of its blades drowning out the sounds of the Pacific Ocean to the passengers inside. One of them, a young woman with dark brown hair tied back in a pony tail, surveyed the other passengers and decided she was most definitely under-dressed. She was wearing a white t-shirt and tan cargo shorts, and a pair of tennis shoes. The middle-aged man next to her, whom she was vaguely familiar with, was wearing a white buttoned shirt and black jacket, khaki pants, and a pair of black boots. Next to him was a slightly younger Japanese man, wearing a black suit with a blue undershirt and a red tie, and brown leather shoes. Next to him, another Japanese man, who looked to be about the same age as the young woman, who was also dressed in a black suit. Directly across from them were a few soldiers of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, dressed in camouflage-patterned field uniforms. One of these soldiers was Captain Tadao Iwata, the man in charge of this... whatever it was.
Search and rescue was what she had been told when the Secret Service came knocking. She had no idea why a Cornell biologist was required for a search and rescue mission in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but they had had proper identification and rushed her into a limousine and then to the airport, where a private jet was awaiting her, and from there, she had arrived in Tokyo approximately half an hour ago.
But the man sitting next to her convinced her entirely that something was being kept quiet. He was Dr. Sven Brandt, a rather accomplished nuclear physicist from Germany, who had been brought all the way from the CERN headquarters in Geneva. He looked rather frail, too. The young woman had never seen him in person before, and he seemed somewhat larger on television.
“Pardon me, Dr. Brandt,” she said, tapping him on the shoulder.
“Yes, madam, may I help you?” he answered in a light accent, turning his head to look back at her.
His face was lined deeply with age, and his hair had grayed since she had last seen him on camera.
“I was just wondering if you knew what was going on,” she said, folding her hands together in her lap.
“You know as much as I; in fact, I was hoping Captain Iwata would be so kind as to inform us of the situation driving these odd circumstances,” Dr. Brandt said, prompting the man sitting in the center seat opposite them to respond.
“I suppose we have ascertained that no one is bugged,” the captain said, wiping his palms on his pants. “Over the past several weeks, the Navy has received many distress calls from ships to the southeast of the mainland. As the number of calls increased, the Prime Minister became more convinced that some anomaly was causing these... incidents.” He looked from the young man at the other end of the row, who was scribbling on a note pad, to the young woman.
“Each of these incidents occurred in a straight line pointing directly at the mainland. The latest of these incidents occurred only a few hours ago, and we are en-route to the site as we speak. A large fishing vessel was run aground in the middle of a small atoll. Troops are already on the ground.”
“Sir, with all due respect,” the young woman said, “I don't understand how this is a matter for a biologist and a world-renowned nuclear physicist.”
“Well, Ms. Holt, I can assure you that you will be able to solve that mystery yourself. We should be close enough for you to see the wreck if you look out the window,” Captain Iwata said.
She furrowed her brow for a second, but then turned to look out the window, half-expecting to see the hull covered in sucker-marks, as if it had been attacked by some kraken from the depths.
What she saw, however, made her gasp. Similar helicopters to the one carrying her were circling around the ship in question, and several small boats darted back and forth across the surface of the water, and a destroyer floated, pointing northwest, as if on guard against some unknown threat. And the ship's hull wasn't covered in the marks of a colossal squid's suckers. There were two gigantic gashes in its side.
The gashes in the hull were utterly huge. A man standing on the shoulders of another man could easily pass through them. The ship itself looked like it had been pushed almost all the way out of the water. Aside from the twin holes, the hull was dented in a few places and much of the railing around the deck had been crushed.
Jessica Holt, now dressed in a bulky orange radiation suit, watched men dressed similarly walk by as the ocean slapped at the black rocks they were all standing on. They held small black boxes that issued static as they waved wands connected to the boxes by wires. Geiger Counters.
The bodies of dead fish floated at the surface of the water, totally at the mercy of the wind and the current.
“The Prime Minister has been given charge of this operation by the United Nations. It is his wish that you inspect the wreckage, and take preliminary evidence, such as sediment deposits or DNA, of the cause of these incidents,” Captain Iwata explained, leading the group into the ship's interior through one of the holes in the hull.
Something the Captain had said puzzled Jessica. DNA? Surely no living creature had done this. Of course, there were the holes they were passing through, but it was entirely possible that they had been made by some natural force, like a mine or an underwater volcano. This area was, after all, known for its constant geological activity.
The holes led to a cargo bay that reeked of dead fish. Sure enough, more dead, slimy bodies of hundreds of tuna and other Pacific fish littered the floor, their lifeless eyes staring blankly into space.
Several more soldiers wearing radiation suits were patrolling inside, walking up the metal steps that led higher, possibly into the ship's quarters.
“Captain, are we allowed to go anywhere inside the ship?” she asked, avoiding the glazed-over expressions of the dead fish.
“Yes. But the Prime Minister wishes to have a debriefing in one hour, so you have thirty minutes to gather evidence,” Iwata said.
“Thank you,” Jessica said. Immediately, she started toward the stairs, stepping carefully over the fish.
“Do you mind if I accompany you, ma'am?” the younger Japanese man asked, carrying a notebook in one hand, and a pencil held behind his ear.
Jessica paused, looking at the man. She guessed he was a reporter.
“No, not at all,” she replied.
“Thank you. I am Takashi Maki, and I am a freelance reporter,” he said, confirming her assumption and offering his hand.
“Jessica Holt,” she replied, shaking his hand firmly.
“Can you tell me anything about yourself, ma'am?” he asked, grabbing his pencil and holding it poised over his notebook.
Without even waiting for an answer, he continued: “Where are you from?”
Jessica took a moment to compose her response, taking several steps up the stairs, her footfalls causing the metal steps to ring out. “Well, I live in Ithaca, New York. I'm a biologist at Cornell University.”
“Interesting,” Takashi mumbled, clumsily scribbling Jessica's words on a page in his notebook. He didn't seem used to writing while wearing a such a bulky suit. “Do you know why the United Nations saw fit to include you in this investigation?”
“No,” Jessica said. “I didn't even know this was UN business until Captain Iwata brought it up.”
“I see, so it seems like the UN is being very secretive about this whole thing,” Takashi said.
“Yes,” Jessica said, reaching the top of the staircase. She looked down, seeing Takashi just a step behind her, and the older Japanese man about halfway up. “It's strange, though. A biologist on an investigation into what is probably being caused by tectonic activity.”
“So you think the damage to the Eiko-maru's hull was caused by seismic occurrences?” Takashi asked, still scribbling.
“Yes. That's the only thing I can think of as a possibility. It was certainly no shark, or even an aggressive whale,” Jessica said, chuckling to herself at the thought of such a massive shark doing that much damage. It would have to be far larger than a Megalodon to be able to create such marks, and those were extinct. No, such a shark would have to be even larger than a blue whale. And that was even more ridiculous.
A million different images flashed through her mind at this, however. Cheesy science fiction movies about impossibly huge sharks snatching airplanes from the air, and battling equally-large crocodiles over territory. She imagined such a crocodile lurking beneath the surface of the Pacific, ambushing ships and capsizing them before tearing them apart with its jaws. She remembered several different b-movies from the 1950s, featuring ancient creatures awoken by nuclear testing and rising to terrorize the surface world. Then she remembered the Geiger counters being carried around by the soldiers. She started to try and think of something else.
“Then how do you explain the increase in ambient radiation levels?” Takashi asked.
Jessica thought for a moment, passing through a doorway leading out of the cargo hold and into the cabin, which had stained wooden walls, and a cheap carpet with several dark spots on it. A few soldiers passed, carrying a stretcher with a white sheet draped across what was, no doubt, the body of one of the sailors who had worked aboard this vessel.
“I'm not sure, honestly, but I think it could be a result of the leak at the Fukushima power plant last year, or even North Korean nuclear test launches,” Jessica answered. “If you want something more concrete, you should talk to Doctor Brandt. He's the expert there.”
“Yes. Thank you. I was planning on talking to Doctor Brandt as well,” Takashi said.
“Anything else?” Jessica asked, coming to a closed wooden door and stopping in front of it. Might as well start collecting somewhere.
“Not yet, but I would like to ask you a few more questions after you finish collecting evidence,” Takashi said.
“All right,” Jessica said, grabbing the brass doorknob and turning it. Somewhat to her surprise, the door creaked open slowly, apparently having not been closed completely.
The room inside looked completely untouched by the patrolling soldiers. It was lit rather dimly by the sunlight filtering in through a dusty window on the opposite wall, next to some red-painted lockers and above a small wooden table.
There was a desk to the right of the door, covered in communications equipment. In front of this desk was a chair bolted to the floor, and Jessica could see a man sitting in it, his back turned to her. She walked cautiously over to him, stepping lightly so she didn't startle him. He was probably in shock, after all.
She said softly, “Sir? Can you hear me?”
The man made no reply, and only remained silent and still.
“Sir?” Jessica said again, tapping the seat gently. The seat spun on a well-greased axle, and Jessica's stomach twisted in horror at what she saw. The man sitting there was most definitely dead. His skin had been drained of all color, and the skin hung loosely from his bones like a blanket. His eyes stared forward in an expression of terror.
She crumpled to the floor, breathing heavily, holding her face in her hands. The man looked like the victim of a vampire. She glanced up again, steeling herself.
And then, out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of movement. Her head instinctively jerked to face the direction of the motion, finding one of the locker doors swinging open slowly. Inside it was another man, but this one's face was full of color, his skin tight. His bare chest moving ever so slightly.
He was sitting inside the locker in what looked like a defensive position, with his knees pulled all the way up to his chest. In one hand was a hatchet.
Jessica rose to her feet and stepped over to the man, squatting down in front of him. She grabbed his wrist, pressing her thumb against the skin just below his. There was a weak pulse.
Her heart leaped at this, and she grabbed the man by his shoulders, shaking him gently to wake him up, hopefully without startling him.
And then Jessica heard the most terrifying sound she'd ever heard. An unearthly screech erupted from somewhere behind her. She spun on her heel to see a large black mass sailing through the air toward her. She grunted as it landed on her chest, knocking her onto her back.
She screamed, seeing the... creature, whatever it was, swiping at her with a wicked siphon-like appendage that protruded from what seemed like its mouth. She grabbed at the section closest to her shoulders, trying to push it off of her. Its skin was cool to the touch, and very hard, like an exoskeleton. Despite her efforts, the creature had latched its many feet onto her suit, jabbing into her abdomen and chest with what felt like clawed feet.
Her stomach felt like it was rising into her throat and she couldn't scream any more but still, she tried to force her voice out of her throat, to shout for help, to alert somebody of her predicament. The harder she pushed, the harder the thing pushed back, and its pincers were getting closer and closer to her neck, and she felt her heart rate skyrocket, and she knew that this was what had killed the man in the chair, and what the man in the locker had been hiding from. This was why she had been brought onto the investigation team, and somehow the United Nations already knew about these monsters. This was going to kill her.
The thing shrieked again, but this time it was cut off with a hard thump, and it fell limp, loosing its grip. The siphon slacked, falling against her neck. She pushed it off, more out of instinct than realization.
Because it wasn't until she saw the fisherman, standing over her with his hatchet, the blade dripping with some odd dark liquid, that the realization dawned on her. The thing was dead, whatever it was.
Jessica stood, gazing down at the thing with a look of disgust on her face. The thing was a dark brown, almost black, comprised of two sections and a thin rectangular tail. The first section was elliptical and encased in a shiny, hard shell that also covered part of the second section, which was shaped like the letter “u”.
“My God,” Jessica said, putting her hands on her hips.
“What happened in here?”
Jessica turned around to see the older Japanese man stepping through the door way. He looked at the fisherman, and his jaw dropped.
“Toshio... you're alive!” he said, putting his hand on the fisherman's shoulder.
“Oh, Professor... What are you doing here?” he said.
“We need to get you some medical attention,” the older man said, reaching up and wiping away a streak of blood from the man's face. “You're not hurt, are you?”
The fisherman hesitated. “I'm not sure.”
“Come on, I'll explain what I know on the way back to Tokyo,” the older man said. Then he turned to Jessica.
“Ma'am, are you hurt?” he asked, looking her over with his dark eyes.
Jessica half-consciously shook her head. All her mind could process was one thought: What the hell was that thing?