The World That Ends in Fire – Chapter 18


The battle between Kraken and the Lightning Wyrm was an impossible one to follow. When the Kraken rose from the ocean, there simply wasn’t enough depth to the water to have concealed its giant form. Similarly, when it dragged the Lightning Wyrm out into the surf, there wasn’t enough depth to the sea to hide the signs of the titanic battle that raged beneath the surface of the waves.

At the observatory on Mauna Kea though a more fundamental question was being considered.

“Where. The Hell. Did That Thing Come From!” Kimberly asked.

“That’s…that’s…” Kalia tried to find a description that would do the towering giant of muscles and tentacles justice.

“That’s why the creature in Berlin has offensive weapons,” Hanna said. There was something reassuring about that particular piece clicking into place. She was still caught between wanting to cheer the Kraken’s appearance and being unspeakably terrified by the notion of what its arrival meant in the larger picture of things, but at least some small piece of the world was starting to make sense.

“You mean it was expecting something like that sea monster to come after it all along?” Kalia asked.

“Very likely,” Dr. Tishone said. “Consider how its acted so far. The only threats it’s directly attacked have been ones in relatively close range to it. It’s never fought back successfully against the aerial assaults we’ve sent against it where the planes kept their distance outside the Effect Zone.”

“It’s blind to them, isn’t it?” Hanna asked. “For whatever reason, it’s adapted to fight things like the Kraken there.”

“Maybe because only something that size has a chance against it,” Kimberly said.

“What are the naval forces in the area saying?” Dr. Tishone asked.

“They lost visuals on the two monsters once they went under the waves,” Laura said.

“What’s sonar saying then?” Dr. Tishone asked.

“They lost contact with them on sonar too,” Laura said.

“No!” Kimberly said. “That is not possible! I call bull on everything! This is all a goddamn hoax!”

Hanna watched her friend teetering on the edge of a breakdown. The one thing they’d clung to for weeks was that all of the insanity that was happening to the world could ultimately be understood, and dealt with somehow. Magically disappearing giant monsters was a step too far for Kimberly though, and very nearly one for Hanna as well.

“It’s not,” Hanna said. Her desperation for an answer sparked her imagination and produces a bonfire of understanding. “And they’re not gone!”

A mad eagerness replaced the shock that had consumed her mind and Hanna kept speaking before anyone else could interrupt.

“Think about it! They’re not regular matter, right? Ok, we don’t know that for the Kraken, but it’s a safe bet. Terrestrial matter just allow for a creature that size. You need to made of Bigguns, or whatever the exotic particles are, to stomp around like a walking mountain. But the other thing we know about Bigguns is that they don’t interact with regular matter or energy in any manner that we’d expect.”

“That’s true, but both of the creatures seem to have regular matter in their makeup as well,” Dr. Tishone said. “They do affect the environment after all.”

“Ok, but what if the regular matter were something like a spacesuit for them?” Hanna asked. “I don’t know where I’m going with this, but picture them like some kind of energy based creature. Maybe almost solid enough to have a physical form but not quite. If they need to interact with a physical thing, like say us, or our planet, they either consume matter or manifest the material for a body from scratch, but it’s like hazmat gear. It’s not really them, it just gives them something they can manipulate which can then affect the world.”

“Ok, that’s insane,” Kimberly said, “But I give you one thing in support of it; that would explain why the Lightning Wyrm was so damn light and yet didn’t fly away when we blew up nukes around it.”

“The creature was light?” Kalia asked. “We saw it crush buildings like they were made of balsa wood.”

“Yes, but something that big should have been made of an impossibly heavy material in order to withstand the force of its own weight,” Kimberly said. “Each step it took should have sunk its leg up to the knee through bedrock.”

“That’s an interesting theory,” Dr. Tishone said. “You’re suggesting that the mass of the creature is far less than we’d imagine because it’s essentially a just a thin skin of regular matter to contain the larger energy based entity underneath.”

“I’m not sure if it’s a monster balloon or if the regular matter goes the whole way through,” Hanna said. “But that would explain why nothing we threw at it affected the thing. And it could be what the crystal domes are doing too. Utilizing existing, or created matter, to regrow themselves.”

“How could they create matter?” Kalia asked. “I thought that was one of the laws of thermodynamics?”

“Not explicitly,” Dr. Tishone said. “Creating matter is entirely possible, providing you have an enormous amount of energy and don’t mind generating a lot of entropy in the process.”

“It’s not so much ‘creating matter’ as ‘converting energy to matter’, basically the reverse of a nuclear weapon,” Hanna said. “And no, I have no idea how they would be doing that, but we also don’t have any good methods of measure how much energy the exotic matter we’re dealing with has at its disposal.”

“I’m getting news in from the NATO fleet,” Laura said. “They have sonar contacts again. Multiple sonar contacts.”

“Multiple as in two, or more?” Kimberly asked.

“They’re reporting over a hundred,” Laura said. “But smaller than either of the creatures.”

“That…doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?” Kimberly asked.

“Nope,” Hanna said. “But you kind of just described the last few weeks, so, I guess we roll with it?”

“Sonar contacts are surfacing,” Laura said. “And there are visual reports coming in as well as live video.”

She put the video feed up on the central display monitor.

“Those look like…” Kimberly began to say and trailed off, her eyebrows rising in disbelief.

“Parts.” Kalia said, a note of disgust in her voice.

“Parts of what though?” Hanna asked.

A moment later the Kraken burst forth from the waves, roaring in triumph, the decaptitated head of the Lightning Wyrm clutched in two of its tentacles. With a mighty pull, the giant sea monster yanked the long neck section taut and then bit into it, drinking down a clearly visible yellow luminous substance. When it was done, the Wyrm’s neck and head disintegrated into a pile of grey ash that blew away in the breeze.

“You know, even after watching that Wyrm shrug off everything we threw at it and wipe out one of our research teams, I don’t feel sorry for it,” Kimberly said. “Go Team Sea Monster!”

“I’d be happier if I knew the Kraken – that’s a nice name for it Hanna – was carrying a ‘Go Team Humans’ banner on it somewhere,” Dr. Tishone said.

“It looks like we have, or I guess had, a common enemy,” Kalia said.

“That’s what concerns me,” Dr. Tishone said. “It waited until the Lightning Wyrm tried to enter its domain, and it only reacted then. Now that it’s woken up though, we’ll have to see what other sort of havoc it intends to wreck.”

“It’s moving inland,” Laura said. “It’s come out of the ocean and it’s heading south.”

The observatory team watched the Kraken lumber onto land, it’s vast tentacles moving with impossible speed and grace given its size.

“It’s super wrong of me to want some Calamari now isn’t it?” Hanna asked.

Kalia laughed.

“My god, that is the most human thing I’ve ever heard anyone say.”

“What? I don’t even remember that last time we had a decent meal!” Hanna said.

“It’s just so typical though,” Kalia said. “People find something new and amazing and one of the first questions that occurs to us is ‘Can I eat that’?”

“We aren’t that far removed from our primitive ancestors,” Dr. Tishone said. “And Hanna’s right. We all need food.”

“I can go get some,” Kimberly said. “I mean it’s not like any of us are going to turn in tonight right? I know I’m not going to be able to sleep.”

“I’ll go with you,” Hanna said. “I think we can all guess where the Kraken’s headed and it’ll be a little while until it gets there.”

“Since I’m mostly good for carrying things, I’ll tag along,” Kalia said and grabbed her jacket.

“You’re good for a lot more than carrying things,” Hanna said as they exited the observatory.

“I know but with all of you big brainy types around a girl can feel a little on the under-qualified side,” Kalia said.

“Oh, that’s adorable, you think we’re brainy?” Kimberly asked. “So far we’ve come up with exactly zero useful ideas on how to manage any of this. I think that puts us in the ‘so smart we’re really dumb’ category.”

Hanna rolled her eyes and sighed.

“Ugh, the two of you!” she said. “Kimberly, how many of our conversations has Kalia taken part in?”

“All of them I think?” Kimberly said.

“And how many times has she brought up good points that made us consider new things?”

“I kind of lost count, one, two, many? Yeah ‘many’ I think,” Kimberly said.

“And Kalia, how many times have we hit on ideas that no one else was working on?” Hanna asked.

“Umm, ‘many’?” Kalia said.

“Right, so we haven’t solved everything and achieved world domination. Yet. Who cares? This is amazing stuff we’re dealing with, just be patient.”

“You seem like you’re in a much better mood than you were before,” Kalia said, inspecting Hanna carefully as they got into the car.

Kalia took her normal spot in the driver’s seat, while Hanna slid into the passenger’s seat and Kimberly claimed the back seat for herself.

“We just watched a giant sea monster tear a giant alien invader to bits,” Hanna said. “Even better though, I’ve got all these ideas now on what’s happening!”

“You going to share any of them?” Kimberly asked.

“Yeah, once I’ve got more than wild daydreams to support them,” Hanna said. “I don’t know though, maybe it was just nice not to feel like everything was hopeless there for a moment.”

“What do you think we’ll see when we get back?” Kalia asked.

“I suspect we’ll see the Kraken continuing to move south.” Hanna said.

In this, and other predictions, Hanna proved to be one hundred percent correct. By the time they returned with a carload of late night food for everyone at the observatory, the Kraken’s path was clear.

It was headed directly towards the ruins of Berlin and it wasn’t letting anything slow it down.