Disclaimer: I do not own Godzilla or Cloverfield.

Apex Predator

Chapter 1: Awakenings


Challenger Deep

Mariana Trench, Pacific Ocean

The Challenger Deep was the deepest place on the planet Earth, lying thirty-five thousand feet beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean. It was the deepest part of the fathomless abyss known as the Mariana Trench. The trench itself was over 1,500 miles long, but was less than fifty miles wide in most places.

Several thousand feet above the seabed (but still miles below the surface), a massive, swirling layer of dark clouds filled the water. It almost looked like smoke, but was in fact a mixture of superheated water and muddy soot, emanating from the seafloor far below.

This layer acted like a ceiling, trapping the heat from the hydrothermal vents within a smaller area of water near the seafloor. The warm water from the vents had allowed a thriving ecosystem to evolve in these depths, one that had absolutely no reliance on the sun. Countless life forms dwelled here, most of which had never been discovered.

Near one wall of the massive canyon, an immense dark shape lay on the sea floor, partially buried beneath a mound of mud and rocks. The object appeared to be a rock formation at first glance, but a closer inspection would have revealed its true consistency.

It had lain here for a very long time. The depths of the Mariana Trench had been its home for countless millennia, providing it with a safe haven in which to hibernate.

In recent memory, it had only awakened from its torpor on two occasions. The first had been many years earlier, when a source of its food had appeared nearby, sparking its ancient hunger. After exploring the surface waters for some time, it had returned to the trench and resumed its slumber.

The second incident had been much more recently, prompted by its extraordinarily acute senses. It had detected the activity of some of its most ancient enemies, and had been awakened by an ancient instinct to hunt and kill. It had hunted down its two enemies, and, after a hard-fought battle, it had killed them.

Then, once again, it had returned to the trench. And, if everything remained as planned, it might stay there for another million years before another stimulus awakened it.

Unfortunately for the world above, this was not the case.

As the creature slumbered, something resounded through the depths; the faintest echo of a sound, inaudible even to the sharpest of ears. A distress call, coming from half a world away.

The sound of another creature like itself: another disturbance of the peace that had fallen upon the world for so long. This one was not a threat as the parasites had been, but it was an annoyance. A potential challenger.

The creature's senses detected the stimulus.

Slowly, a massive tail twitched, dislodging some of the rocks that had fallen upon it during its sleep. The creature's muscles contracted, and it flexed a huge arm. Clawed fingers dug deep into the seabed. An eye opened, glowing orange, and blinked, scanning its surroundings, as a thunderous growl rumbled within the creature's chest.

The pile of rock and mud erupted as the creature rose slowly, majestically, to its full height. Rubble scattered in all directions, as a tremendous roar echoed through the deep, striking terror into the hearts of every living thing that detected it.

With a snarl, the creature pushed upwards off the bottom, rising quickly through the warm water. Bursting upwards through the hydrothermal ceiling, it plunged into the frigid waters overhead, heading towards the surface.

The King of the Monsters had awakened once more.

Atlantic Ocean…

Two hundred miles off the coast of Florida, a military transport helicopter flew in low over the waves. The sun was setting on the horizon, reflecting off the waves.

Gazing out the window at the dark ocean below, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa contemplated the recent turn of events that had led to his being sent here.

After what every politician in the world was now referring to as "the San Francisco incident", the rules of global politics had been irrevocably changed. The knowledge that there was a gigantic monster roaming the world's oceans had shifted people's priorities. Nations around the world had joined together in an effort to safeguard coastal cities, in the event of the monster's potential return.

Serizawa had stated that the creature's return was unlikely, claiming that the only reason it had emerged in the first place was to kill the two MUTO organisms that had attempted to nest in San Francisco. Now that both of the MUTOs were dead, Godzilla had returned to the deep ocean, and was unlikely to awaken again for a very long time.

However, there was no denying that, if monsters like Godzilla and the MUTOs had appeared before, then there was always a possibility that more creatures like them, possibly even more dangerous, would someday emerge.

Serizawa himself was confident that, if such a thing occurred, Godzilla would return to restore the balance by eliminating the threat. The rest of the world was not so enthusiastic about that idea.

As the helicopter finally approached its destination, Serizawa finally turned away from the ocean view to face his fellow passenger, Dr. Vivienne Graham. The other MONARCH scientist had spent the flight reading through several files that she'd brought with her, so there hadn't been much conversation. That wasn't necessary; the two had been working together for so long that they were perfectly comfortable spending prolonged stretches of time in peaceful silence.

The aircraft carrier U.S.S. Saratoga came into view, a huge, dark shadow against the ocean. Many soldiers and other personnel were rushing about on deck, and several other helicopters and jets were parked on the plane.

Serizawa smiled faintly in memory. The Saratoga had been the command center for the battle against Godzilla and the MUTOs the previous year. Despite his memories of the panic associated with those events, it was still pleasant to see the ship again.

Then the possibilities behind their being summoned here returned to his mind, and an ominous feeling of foreboding crept over him.

Following behind a uniformed officer, Serizawa and Vivienne walked into the Saratoga's Combat Direction Center. The man left them just inside the door as he walked over to another officer at the center of the room.

The older man turned, revealing short white hair and a familiar lean face. He nodded in recognition, beckoning Serizawa over.

"Admiral," Serizawa greeted him as he approached.

Admiral William Stenz shook Serizawa's hand. "Good to see you again, Dr. Serizawa. I wish it were under better circumstances."

The scientist raised an eyebrow. "What seems to be the problem? I wasn't given any information on why you wanted me to come here."

Stenz exhaled slowly. "Let's just say that we have a problem on our hands, Doctor. And it deals with your area of expertise."

Vivienne's eyes widened. "Is it... him?"

"No." The admiral turned to one of his officers. "Captain Hampton, you have the bridge. I need to brief our guests on the situation."

"Understood, sir," the captain replied promptly.

"Follow me." With that, Stenz walked briskly out of the room. Serizawa and Vivienne followed close behind.

A few minutes later, Serizawa and Vivienne sat at a large conference table in one of the warship's briefing rooms. Stenz was standing at the front, beside a large projection screen.

"What you're about to see has been deemed top secret," the older man warned them, before activating the projector. Images flared on the screen, showing a black-and-white view of a large oil platform.

"These are images from Chuai Station, an oil platform located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge," Stenz explained. "The platform is owned by a company known as Tagruato, which has thirteen other platforms like it at various locations throughout the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Indian Oceans. Our first indication that there was something wrong was when a military base in Florida picked up a distress call." He pressed another computer key, opening a video file.

Serizawa leaned forward, examining the video as it came up on the screen. The camera appeared to be on board a helicopter, circling around the station. As he watched, the entire platform suddenly shuddered, lurching sideways. One of its four main support legs began to give way, and the station started to tilt, leaning towards the water.

As the video continued, another impact shook the platform. Another of Chuai Station's support legs gave way, and the main deck jackknifed downwards towards the water.

Then, with a roar of rushing water and crumpling metal, the entire station collapsed, crashing into the ocean. Within seconds, the entire platform sank beneath the surface and disappeared from view.

Serizawa leaned back in his seat, blinking. "Interesting… but I fail to see how this relates to our area of expertise."

"This should clear that up," Stenz answered, switching to the next slide. This one was also a video file: however, the cameraman was on an inflatable Zodiac raft this time, facing back towards the sinking rig. The Zodiac, with about a dozen people from the station on board, was accelerating across the surface of the ocean, away from the sinking station.

As the two scientists watched with interest, the station collapsed and sank into the water. Several of the people on the fleeing raft looked back towards it, watching with stunned expressions on their faces.

Suddenly, a deafening, inhuman roar echoed through the air, coming from somewhere behind the raft. A moment later, a series of large pieces of debris burst up out of the water and flew into the air, tumbling in arcs before hitting the water again.

Serizawa focused intently on the swirling water where the station had been, squinting in an attempt to discern any details.

That was when, for a brief moment, something massive broke the surface in the center of the vortex. Something that looked remarkably like an enormous tail rose into the air and splashed back down with an explosion of water, followed by another volley of debris.

Then a burst of terrified screams rang out, as the camera panned up just in time to catch a glimpse of a large chunk of metal, the size of a truck, falling towards the Zodiac. It crashed down, filling the screen, a moment before the video crashed to static.

Vivienne jerked back with a gasp. "What was that?" she asked in astonishment and horror.

"We have no idea," Stenz replied. "What we do know is that shortly before the collapse, Chuai Station sent out a radio call, informing us that they had drilled into some sort of gas pocket, and that the pressure shift had damaged their drilling equipment. Shortly afterwards, we started registering unusual seismic activity, and within minutes the station began to collapse." He nodded to the screen. "We're also fairly certain that no natural collapse could have caused that debris to fly out of the water like that. Not to mention that noise."

Serizawa nodded soberly. "Were they able to get any more evidence?"

"That's as far as the official news broadcast goes," Stenz replied. "However, we were able to get ahold of the rest of the video and keep it from hitting the news." He switched to the next slide, revealing another video file. This one was from the video camera on the helicopter again, focused on the swirling water where the station had been as debris began flying up into the air.

As they watched, the same large object from the Zodiac video surfaced where the station had been and submerged again, followed by another volley of debris. Several seconds later, something massive moved just under the surface, swimming away from the site of the destroyed platform.

"Pause that," Serizawa ordered, pointing to the screen. Stenz immediately paused the video, allowing them to focus on the submerged object. It was massive, seemingly twice the size of the oil platform.

"That, Doctor Serizawa, is why I asked the two of you to come here," Stenz said grimly. "The news media are currently speculating that the station's destruction might be an attack by a terrorist group calling themselves TIDO Wave, but this footage suggests that it was something entirely different. Another one of your 'Titans', as I believe you're calling them now."

Serizawa's eyes narrowed. "Do you have any other information regarding this creature?"

"Not much, I'm afraid," the admiral admitted. "All we know is that it's massive, and apparently aggressive. And it's definitely not Godzilla: we would be able to identify him, and this thing's sonar signature looks very different. We've managed to locate the creature using satellite images; it's currently still close to the surface, and is moving west across the Pacific at more than fifty knots. We're preparing a naval blockade offshore, meant to intercept it and drive it off or kill it before it makes landfall: based on how ineffective conventional weapons were against the MUTOs and Godzilla, if this thing reaches the coast, it could level half the Eastern Seaboard before we can bring it down."

"So that's why you requested our help?" Vivienne inquired.

"Well, as you said, giant monsters are your specialty, and this thing certainly falls under that description." Stenz paused. "So, can you help us?"

Serizawa considered that for a long moment. "I will do all I can," he agreed.

"As will I," Vivienne added firmly.

Stenz smiled. "Well, I can't ask for any more than that. In any case, we need to be prepared if this thing reaches the coast and comes ashore. Come on: I'll brief you on our current strategy." He switched off the projector and walked out of the room.

"I do have one question," Vivienne added as she and Serizawa followed the older man into the hallway. "What are we calling this thing?"

"Well, we haven't come up with an official name yet," Stenz informed him. "The current designation is LSA-4, meaning Large-Scale Aggressor. To clarify, LSA-1 is our designation for Godzilla, and LSA-2 and 3 were the MUTOs." He shrugged. "But if you're looking for a 'nickname'... some people are calling it "Clover", after Dr. Michelle Clover, the marine biologist aboard the station. She'll be arriving soon."

"Clover," Serizawa repeated. Titanus Clover, he added in his head, assigning it by the normal Monarch designation. It was a seemingly innocuous name, certainly not as impressive as "Godzilla."

But, despite himself, he couldn't help the feeling that, before long, the name "Titanus Clover" might be just as infamous as the term MUTO had become.

AN: Hello, everyone! Shadowblade217 here, and welcome to my newest story, Apex Predator! I recently had the idea for this story after watching the Cloverfield movie again, and I started wondering what would have happened if Godzilla had been there. Towards that end, I decided to write this story.

As always, I greatly appreciate feedback on my writing, so if anyone has any comments or questions regarding this chapter or the story as a whole, please review! (No hate, please: that's not fun for anyone).

Next chapter, a naval blockade attempts to fend off the newly-awakened Titan, we get to see more of Godzilla, and the attack on New York City begins… stay tuned!

See you all next time!