PART SEVEN; SHOWDOWN
The Crew held fast to rope and rail as the Selgan ship raced madly toward the embattled sub, and right into the Necrodon's path! "Think you can hit him now, commander?" Hiroki dared the man.
Yasuda ignored the sailor, and leveled his plasma thrower at the daikaiju's head. The energy beam flared bright, dancing from weapon to beast. The wounded kaiju screeched, pulling out of its dive and retreating to circle from a distance. Hiroki smiled. "I guess you can!"
Miname frowned at the islander's recklessness, then she noticed Sato. He had begun to shake. "Sato san?"
"I'm okay, I think." The young scientist proclaimed. "It's sort of coming and going this time. Shifting, not steady like before."
"That sounds good," Doctor Noto chimed in. "It could mean the monster's power is fading too."
The ship banked sharply. "Comin' about!" Hiroki called, the winds shifted with them, keeping them at maximum speed. Before them, the Necrodon was diving for the sub.
Again, Yasuda fired, sending a beam of plasma energy burning into the monster's giant form! Again the kaiju screeched in outrage and pain, and pulled away. Then, they saw another flash, almost like lightning. This time, it came from the sub.
"Hey!" Cried Hiroki. "There's somebody on her deck!" Together they looked, and saw a lone figure clinging to a rail. The man was waving at them, shooing them away. Then another man appeared beside him, and the skymonster turned for another pass.
"It is the Cowboy, and one of his men," Fujiko observed. "What the hell do those idiots think they are doing?!"
*
"Tanaka! Tanaka!" The Cowboy cried, hurling himself onto the rolling deck. Quickly, he grabbed for the railing and latched on. "Shiro! We're gonna get barbecued, come on!!"
"Have you got the elixir?" Tanaka shouted.
The Cowboy nodded, producing the flask.
"Drink it!"
"What?!"
"I said drink it, Duke!" Shiro drew forth his own flask, and swigged it down.
The Cowboy hesitated but a single heartbeat, then drank. The Godblood was warm and sweet to taste. A kind of rush went through him, making his scalp crawl, and the small clay bottle fell from his hand. Then he looked skyward, and found the Necrodon was upon them! "Tanaka...!"
The monster grabbed hold of the floundering sub, its claws crushing into the hull. "Any second, Duke. Just hold on!"
"Hold on?! What the h..." Suddenly, the sub was lit with power! Bolts of pure electrical force arcing from the ship's surface and into the wounded Necrodon. The Cowboy cringed, surrounded by the random dancing streams of energy, and the monster howled!

Alexander Kraken shot awake, his screams echoing through the sub. He looked about him, finding only empty darkness, and wondered if this could be death. Then the sub rocked violently and he fell, slamming a shin on something hard. The pain told him, he was still alive.
"Duke! Koenig!" He called to his men, but there came no reply. Painfully, he limped through the dark deserted ship, looking for a way to escape.
*
"Now, Jenoka! The time is now!" Old Myrga shouted at her niece.
Jenoka writhed sinuously on the ground, twisting to the rhythm of the chanting, and the pulsing of the stone's crimson glow. Her eyes went wide, and she whispered the FireGod's name.
The Heart of Gura cracked, releasing a swirling, mystic force! The strange, vaporlike energy poured from the shattered stone, glowing and gathering. The unearthly essence flared, and shot straight into the earth! The Gurani ceased their chanting, young Jenoka now unmoving before them. Myrga caressed the near lifeless girl, and she wept. And prayed.
*
The Necrodon flapped wildly, stunned by the massive shockcharge! Tendrils of force licked into the beast, scrambling its link with the alien signal. Then the power surge died, and the monster's struggles ceased. It perched there, wings outstretched, almost balancing upon the sub. Below the waves, the sea began to boil.
"Something is happening," said Miname. "Coming out of the sea...!" Around the beast, they rose. Columns of burning lava, reaching for the monster, and latching on! The Necrodon screeched in terror, releasing the battered sub and flapping frantically to escape, but the fingers of the FireGod held it fast!
"My God," Fujiko swore. "Hiroki! The sub's floating free. We've got to help them."
"Help them?" The Selgan looked stunned. "Let Gura help them! As far as I'm concerned, they're getting what they deserve."
"Hiroki, you can't mean that," said Sato.
"Hey, I don't see you turning into lime jello and sliming to the rescue! You people wanna be heroes, find another cause to fight for. I've already done my part."
A look of bitter disappointment set upon commander Fujiko Yasuda's face, and he sighed. He walked right up to the Selgan sorcerer, and punched him in the nose! Hiroki wobbled, unsteady, then fell unconscious to the deck. The Crew looked at Fuji in disbelief. "He looked tired," he said. "Like he could use some rest. Let's go rescue that sub."

The Mari Maru cruised swiftly, circling the unbelievable scene.
The Necrodon, caught in the grip of a lattice of flowing magma, rising from the sea to encircle the beast. Its giant wings still beating at the air as more of the FireGod's burning essence piled over it, dragging it down, down into the heart of the growing molten cone!
The enemy sub, floating powerless, caught in the dip and swell of the boiling, surging sea. The Cowboy and his foolish friend just visible through the hissing clouds of steam, still clinging to the deck, buffeted by the struggles of a dying monster, and the violent emergence of an island aborning!
"Commander Yasuda," Miname spoke, having again taken the wheel. "I, I think we should use the Godblood. Remember the battle in Tokyo bay? The Bradley's used it to save us then. I believe it could save us now."
Fujiko considered her words, remembering. He too had seen this potion work its magic. It had helped them survive a war of the Wild Gods that was waged here on earth. He plucked the flask from Hiroki's bag, and brought it to the brave young woman. "You are right, Miname san. Try it."
"Me? But I..."
"It was you who once held the spirit of the SeaGod. You are the best choice."
Miname hesitated, unsure. She had no memory of that part of their adventure, yet something was telling her that it would be all right. Like a small voice, perhaps a part of herself, urging her to go ahead. To call upon the spirit of Mikki, SeaGod of Selga. She reached for the small clay vessel, grasped it in her hands. A kind of warmth spread through her, "Mikki," and she felt like she was home. "Guide me."
At her words, the winds that propelled them began to shift. Miname let the wheel spin free, bringing them out of their circling course, and setting them back toward Honshu. Behind them, they watched as the LavaGod grabbed hold of the wounded monstrosity, and dragged it screaming into his molten maw! The Necrodon fought against its master's will, the still forming land mass quaking with its frantic struggles to escape.
Then, a great wave rose from the island's edge, catching the sub in its swell, pushing the vessel away from the titanic battle. Another wave, even larger, rushed outward from the erupting island, lifting both the sub and the ship high upon its foaming crest, carrying them still farther out to sea. Kraken's sub was close now, the monster and its burning adversary more distant. The sea surged once more, rising up, up from beneath them, propelling them steadily across its living surface. Carrying them to safety.
The final wave broke, and the ships slipped smoothly from its graceful, curving back as it rejoined the steadier flow of its mother ocean. In the distance, a new volcano had risen, jutting proudly from the sea. The FireGod's rebirth had trapped the giant Necrodon, and set the Gurani free!
Becalmed, the Crew peered over at the much larger vessel, spotting the pair of mercenaries still clinging tenaciously to its deck. The men peered back, waving and cheering in great joy of still being alive! Then a third figure joined them, and the cheering stopped.
*
"W, we're alive," gasped Duke. He laughed, and smiled at Shiro. "We made it! We're alive!!"
Shiro smiled back, then pointed toward the small ship drifting nearer. "Hei, but we would not be so fortunate I think, were it not for them."
From behind them, the sound of footsteps. They turned, and there stood Kraken. The man looked horrible, much like the rest of his sorry crew. His face was wet with tears, and a cold rage was burning in his eyes. He stood before them, seething yet still in control. "You..." he began, forcing his voice through a throat clenched tight. "You bastards."
"This was my doing, Kraken," said Tanaka. "The Cowboy had no part..."
"Liars!" Kraken screeched, his voice not unlike the cry of the fallen monster. "You killed my brother, you bastards. I, I had him back, and you, you..." he hesitated, spotting the Selgan boat now floating beside them. "Get off my ship."
"Boss, I..." The Cowboy couldn't help feeling the great anguish Alex was in. In life, Mycroft had been like a brother to so many of them. "I'm sorry."
"Get off!!" Alex screamed, the hatchways now filled with the faces of his watching men. "If I ever see either of you again, you're dead men." The hatches cleared as Kraken turned, and strode slowly back into the ship.

Fuji stood at the prow, Markalite drawn. Wordlessly, he nodded, and motioned for the Cowboy to come aboard. The mercenaries paused, consulting each other with a look, then jumped onto the deck of the Mari Maru.
Duke stood before Yasuda, hands above his head. Noto walked over, and took the Cowboy's shotgun from its sling on his back. He reached into the man's vest, taking a pistol from the shoulder holster there. His companion appeared unarmed. "Any more?" The Doctor asked plainly. The Cowboy shook his head no.
"Yasuda," Duke began. "That's Yoshi. I'd thank you for savin' us, if it didn't look like we're your prisoners."
"Don't bother, Cowboy. Because you are." Fujiko glanced ahead, noticing a pair of ships had appeared on the horizon. They were big, Destroyers most likely, from what country they could not tell. They were approaching fast.
Beside them, Kraken's men began evacuating the devastated sub. "Those ships will take care of whoever's left alive in there," Fuji admonished. "But you two have got some explaining to do."
"Hei," said 'Yoshi', removing his visor. "A lot of explaining, I think."
"Sh, Shiro?" Miname gazed in wonder, drawing closer to the man. The clean cut, spit and polish soldier she remembered was gone. His hair had grown into a silky mane, his beard now full, concealing the scars she could still see hiding there. "Shiro!"
The Crew stood shocked, staring as the couple met with a fierce embrace. Then, compulsively, the doctor joined them, Fuji too. "Tanaka!" said Sato, throwing his own arms wide around them, laughing.
Duke considered the strange scene before him, and smiled. "Hey Shiro," he called. "Best chicken soup I ever had!"

Another dawn was rising as the Mari Maru cruised deeper into Japanese waters. The team slept, save for Shiro and Miname. Hiroki too had finally roused, and resigned himself to taking the helm. The islander was visibly angry at being commandeered this way. He was also an invaluable asset to the team. The Spiritfire had been integral in winning so many recent battles, and this young sailor was its master, or its slave. Either way, Miname decided, she would do what she could to smooth things out.
"Hiroki san, I am sorry for what has happened, and I wish to thank you for your help."
"I know, Masada, and you're welcome." The Selgan surprisingly agreed. "I could have your friend Yasuda charged with piracy, you know. You sure break a lot of rules, for being the good guys."
"That's what this game is about, Hiroki san." Tanaka joined them. "That is how it's won." Shiro eyed the sailor up and down, assessing him. "Miname tells me it is a game you have played before, when Kenji and Kyoko Bradley helped free your tribe from a malevolent alien presence."
"Yeah, Tanaka. I know this game." Hiroki's anger rose. "A game with no second chances, and no room for doubt." The Selgan paused, calming himself. "It can put you in a world where the only thing left with any meaning is survival. That game sucks. I stick to Naked Twister."
"Hiroki, someone has to be there to stand against these monsters. That was the lesson the Bradleys taught us, the code old General Iwa had lived by!" Shiro gripped the Selgan's shoulder with a reassuring squeeze. "I am not sure any of us could choose to walk a path other than the one we are on. Perhaps, we should walk it together..."
EPILOGUE 1
Gura shima.
The sunrise breaks over the ravaged island, and the priestess Jenoka blinks awake. "Slowly, child." Said old Myrga, smiling at her niece. "The dragon is vanquished. You have earned your rest."
"What of the Selgan?" Jenoka mouthed groggily.
"Gone now, with his friends." The old islander sighed. "Probably won't return. One of the things I wanted to protect you from, my niece. Gura's was not the only heart that was broken today."
The tears welled up in Jenoka's eyes, spilling down her face. "That won't stop me."
"Stop you? From what?"
"From going to Selga," the priestess pronounced. "I feel we need to make restitution there. And even if Hiroki never returns, I will have ensured our child's training in both his mother's and father's native cultures."
A long moment passed, Myrga gazing incredulously at her niece. Then she went to the girl and hugged her. "You are wise beyond your years, my niece. We will go to the Selgans, and there you shall raise your child."

EPILOGUE 2
The submarine had finally sunk, taking her Captain with her. The rest of the troops had escaped, piling into the life rafts and lashing them together into a small flotilla. Alex sat amongst the men, watching as a pair of British warships approached to render assistance. Thank God and her Majesty.
Behind them, the black cone of the newborn Gura Two stood smoking in the distance. Alex gazed at the volcano in wonder. "Mycroft," he whispered, pulling a small, shiny datadisk from his pocket. He looked upon its mirrorlike finish and realized, he could still hear the chanting in his mind.