Do not engage

This is an offering, sprung from a challenge from author Chuck Wendig’s blog, terrible minds. A random number generator assigned me 17, alternate WWII, and 18, kaiju. Luckily I saw Pacific Rim, so I know what kaiju are. Here is my story:

The loss of the Yamoto was a great loss of face for the Japanese people. Their pride, the flagship of the Imperial Navy, disappeared in their own waters. Late in the war, it was a devastating blow for the proud people, devoted servants of the Emperor.

But what the people of Japan did not know was how. The loss was attributed to an unfortunate spotting and a waiting American fleet, but that was not how the Yamoto met her end. In a fit of blinding light, the USAs shiny new weapon landed on her target, obliterating her in a mushroom cloud. Any remaining small particles drifted to the depths of the Pacific, only ever upturned again by the might of the heavy-handed sea. A test commanded by the military chiefs had been conducted; the Yamoto was just in the wrong place. The gadget had worked. Away winged the aircraft, eager to report their successful mission.

Particulates drifted on the wind, coating the nearby islands with radioactivity, the residents cleaning up the debris wrecked by what they thought was a flash storm.

On a small patch of coastline nearby, two late hatchers, the rest of their iguana siblings hatched and dispatched by the blast, climbed out of the nest. Bigger than their nestmates and a luminescent green, the iguanas scrabbled about before sliding toward the sea. The water was cool on their rapidly expanding scales and swimming became easier as they went along.

~*~

The Enola Gay skimmed through the low-level clouds, the dull light of morning lowering the B29’s silver shine to matte. Colonel Tibbett kept her steady, his hands tight on the yoke, keeping her steady. The sweat beaded on his brow, and underneath the sausages that his fingers now felt like. Engine noise flooded the cabin and he couldn’t hear whether Second Lieutenant Jeppson had completed the arming. Only the restraint of his years of experienced kept the Colonel from gazing out the many windows at the clouds lighting up with the sun’s new light.

Out of the corner of his eye, the Colonel saw Jeppson standing beside his seat. The Lieutenant’s face was white with strain, tell-tale beading on his upper lip.

“Is it done?” Tibbett asked over the noise.

A slow small nod of Jeppson’s head. He disappeared back to the radio shack through the darkness of the plane.

“Calling HQ, this is Dimples 82. Dimples 82, calling HQ. Over.”

“HQ reading you Dimples 82. Over.”

“Dimples 82 reporting that Little Boy is ready to go. Repeat, Little Boy is ready. Over.”

“Dimples 82, HQ reading you. Your orders stand. Over.”

“Understood HQ. Dimples 82, over and out.”

Setting his mouth in a thin, hard line, Tibbetts stared hard into the clouds, his eyes flicking to the dials as he flew.

“Deak? Are we ready to drop?” he yelled into the comm.

“Yessir Colonel. Armed and ready to go.” The Captain’s answer crackled back.

Tibbetts opened a channel. “Dimples Eight Two, calling Dimples Eight Five. Over.”

“Dimples Eight Five reading you loud and clear Eight Two. H-town is clear skies with some cloud cover. Go to go. Repeat, good to go.”

“Roger Eight Five. Descending to drop zone, ETA 5 minutes. Get your tail outta there. Over and out.”

“Dimples Eight Two calling Dimples Seven One. Fall back position. Over.”

“Roger Eight Two. Over and out.”

“Dimples Eight Two calling Dimples Eight Three. Fall back position. Over.”

“Roger Eight Two. Over and out.”

“Colonel, we’re ready for approach.” The Lieutenant advised.

Closing the channel, the Colonel focused on keeping the yoke steady as the slid lower in the atmosphere. The radio was silent, as each contemplated what they would be a part of today. Poison pills in the top pockets weighed heavily upon their breasts. The dichotomy of their fate today, death or returning as heroes, churned inside them.

Gliding down, the Enola Gay slipped down towards, skirting the rising mounds of the islands as they soared toward Hiroshima Bay.

“Uhhh, Dimples Eight Two, something odd is happening here. Suggest fall back. Over, Dimples Eight Five.”

“Eight Five, what are you talking about? Over.”

“You won’t believe me. Over.”

“Try me. Over.” The Lieutenant was sharp, annoyed. This radio chatter would give them away.

“Eight Two, we have a giant green lizard approaching on Hiroshima Bay. Over.”

“Sir,” the Lieutenant queried. “We have a situation. Eight Five reports a giant lizard.”

“What in the hell? Tell him to fall back. Now.”

The radio bred static for a moment as the Colonel gave the directions. Lieutenant Jeppson pondered what to do with a man cleanly out of his mind. “Fall back Dimples Eight Five. Over.”

“Due respect, am not leaving you with this. Over.”

The Colonel crested the last island hillock which opened out onto Hiroshima Bay. Cresting out of the water and lumbering up the beach was a giant lizard, glowing against the grey city buildings. The tail flicked and a sheet of water dumped on the shore. As the Enola Gay rapidly gained, the Colonel could see the debris dotting on the water. For a few moments, he sat stunned, rapidly approaching the monster as it moved in further on the city.  Tibbett was wide-eyed as one dip of the huge head sent a silo twirling up and rolling over an entire suburb.

Enola Gay was almost on top of the creature, so close he could see the scales like small atolls gleaming in the low light. Pulling the B29 to the right, he nipped around, close enough to see the glistening pointed teeth snapping as the lizard raised its head.

“Dimples Eight Five, Dimple Seven Two. Form up. On me. Dimples Eight Two out,” Tibbett transmitted.

“Captain, Lieutenant, I think you two ought to come up here.”

He circled the city, ascending beyond the reach of the beast. The other servicemen struggled into the cockpit. Pointing out the nose window, Tibbett snapped “Get HQ. That lizard is no crazy man’s imagination.”

Catching the changing expression on their faces made him realise that he was not crazy. They scrambled back to their stations.

“HQ, Dimples Eight Two. I think we may have a problem. Over.”

“Calling Dimples Eight Two. HQ reading you. Why is silence broken? Over.”

“HQ, I have an unidentified threat. Dimples Eight Two over.”

“Dimples Eight Two, what is the threat? Over.”

“Sirs, it’s a gigantic lizard. Over.”

The radio silence communicated what head office thought of that admission.

“Dimples Eight Five, HQ. I can verify the Colonel’s information. Over.”

“Dimples Eight Two, please repeat. Over.”

“Giant lizard sir. On Hiroshima. Over.”

The crackle of static was the reply.

“Dimples Seven One reporting HQ. Just entered the area. Lizard of small island size definitely present sirs. Over.”

“Dimples Eight Two, stand down on your original mission. Do you consider this a threat to the United States? Over.”

“Sirs, this creature came up out of the ocean. I’d say it can swim. So yes, sir, I believe it could be a threat. Over.”

“Dimples Eight Two. Hold formation around Hiroshima. We will revise your mission status momentarily, over.”

“Original mission aborted Colonel,” Jeppson reported. “HQ to update mission sir.”

Tibbett looked out at the smoking city of Hiroshima. Stepping into one of the tributaries that flowed through the main city, the beast sent a wave sweeping over the banks, and even at this distance it was clear that many people were being swept into the river.

Grouping into formation, the planes circled, watching the destructive process through the city. Larger than many of the city buildings, the searching progress and the switch-like tail of the monster levelled whole blocks as it passed. People like ants milled and ran. How many of them were being killed, they could not tell from this height.

The comm burst to life. “Come in Dimples Eight Two. Over.”

“Yes HQ, reading you. Over.”

“Mission abort. Repeat, mission abort. Return to base. Over.”

Jeppson switched back to the pilot. “Sir, they want us back at base.”

“What? This animal will lay waste to half of East Asia before we can get back here.”

Jeppson relayed the concerns of the mission leader to no avail.

“President Truman has issued this order. Japan is our enemy. Abort mission. Repeat. Abort mission. Over.”

“Dimples Eight Two, over and out.”

Not a word was said between the men as they circled back, facing toward home. Deeper and deeper the monster waded into the city, laying waste in a horrific silence. On the ground, spot fires flared up as moments of brightness in the dark trampled streets.

“Colonel, sir, this is wrong. Over.”

“We have our orders, men. Over.” Even on the comm, the voice was tired and the disappointment not well masked.

“We cannot leave them to this sir. It won’t just be Hiroshima. Dimples Seven One, over.”

They passed over the top.

“Sir! Have some compassion. This is not just about Hiroshima anymore. Eight Five, over.”

This mission had always left a bad taste in his mouth. Killing innocent civilians, even if the military had built into the city. It was targeted, a precision strike they were to make. What would happen if they turned their back on this threat?

“Circle back wing. Dimples Eight Two, out.”

Even without the comm, the whoops of approval could be heard over the roar of the engines. Swooping back over the islands in the bay, the wing collectively moving into a defensive formation around the Enola Gay.

“Dimples Seven Two sir. We’ve got your tail sir. Over.”

Colonel Tibbett grinned underneath his visor. The wing always operated together.

He opened a channel to all of them. “You know we’ll all face court martial over this. Over.”

The chatter that came back refuted that idea. After all, they were just going to drop Little Boy. That was their mission.

Scooting over the water, coming in low towards the city, the wing followed the rivers and devastated infrastructure left in the wake.

“Target, 12 o’clock. Over.”

The lurid green mound rose, not a 10 kilometers ahead.

“393, draw attention away from Eight Two, and we will follow up with Little Boy. Do we understand the game plan? Over.”

“Yes sir. Over.” The support was unanimous.

The lead of the wing dropped their payloads, hitting with 10 incendiaries. Tossing its head wildly, the lizard stopped and turned, the great reptilian eye focused on the small ships shooting past. Green blood trickled down its side but it launched off as if uninjured. Running after them, its body writhing with stride, the monster crashed through more residential areas. It crashed through a bridge, the stonework scattering like children’s blocks. The B29s veered right, to circle out. Quick as a whip the animal raced after them.

“Sir, it’s gaining. Over.”

“Keep steady Major. I’m closing. Over.”

Colonel focused on the beast, pushing his throttle, the ship shaking and bucking in the air. The yoke jerked in his hands, but he pushed her on, keeping her steady. He gained, counting the seconds to the drop.

“Captain, we’re almost ready for Little Boy.”

“Aye, aye, Colonel.”

“Lieutenant?”

“Almost sir. Counting down. 3…2…1… Drop!”

Tibbett struggled as the hatch opened and the payload descended. The reptiles curving plates beneath were jewelled and shifting like they were facet cut. Quickly he banked, ascending and pushing the Enola Gay high as she would go, and to west, out of the wind.

“Payload delivered. Over.”

“Don’t look at it.” Tibbett shrieked down the comm. “Withdraw. Return to base. Over and out.”

Behind the fleeing tail of the ship, a cloud grew, filling upwards into the sky, spilling over sideways. The official photographer in the unnamed data capture plane caught the lizard rearing in agony, its clawed arms flailing outwards as it toppled to the earth, dead. The necessary measurements were taken, before they followed the wing back to base.

On a distant hilltop, a photographer took out his camera to capture the unusual cloud with two parts, the knobbly lower and fluffy upper. Beyond the range, a city laid flat waited in silence to see if the danger was over.

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