Devil May Cry © Capcom; Godzilla: The Series © Toho, Sony, Centropolis
In Thy Face, Holy Image I Can Trace
Jason M. Lee
He was a scientist.
This should not be real.
But the skulls lacked that particular sheen that was plastic mimicking bone and those blades pinning them looked far too sharp to be simply props.
(He had to bite back a laugh when he noticed a switchblade pinning a rather large cockroach.)
Some of the shapes were flying in the face of almost half of the biology courses he had studied.
And yet, that incident just a few weeks ago-
"Nick, you're doing that thing again."
"What thing, Audrey?"
A blue-eyed glare, although there was a slight twitch to her lips. "That thing where the science side of you is trying to eliminate the strangeness of the skulls on the walls, while the non-science side of you wondering if those stories about demons we'd hear as kids are real or not."
Feeling slim fingers squeezing his reassuringly, Nick tried to force himself to relax, although he still sat straight in his chair. "It's just..."
"You're a scientist, you deal with facts. I know." Audrey smiled gently at her boyfriend. "I'm a reporter, my job is to report facts. But I have to do my own research too, and sometimes, the people I interview, as well what field reports I'm able to access, plus the few times where Animal and I arrive when the action is still ongoing... they're real. You went through that incident, I went through that incident."
'Keep taking notes, and then you can sort it out after. Data is still data, no matter how outlandish some may sound - there's usually a grain of truth somewhere. Why else would you be here?' Taking in another deep breath, Nick nodded. "How reliable is this guy? I took a quick search myself and this place has been barely operating for a year."
"From half of the folks Animal talked to at several bars and those I spoke with in some of the more nicer neighborhoods, 'fairly acceptable' was the highest I got. The responses Animal got was far more colorful." Audrey shrugged, smiling dryly. "When it comes to mercenary-types, perception always affects the ratings."
"Aw, I actually got a 'fairly acceptable' from one of those rich folks? Sweet." The proprietor's quiet steps belied the heavy boots he wore as he came down the stairs. "Sorry for the wait, had to make sure my nephew was tucked in."
'That would explain the baby monitor I thought I saw behind that planter, and those plush toys...' "You have a kid?" Nick blurted out after repeating the words in his head. Part of him almost wanted to call Family and Child Services, because he was sure that children plus sharp implements equated bad things happening.
A very tight smile that didn't quite reach icy blue eyes. "My big brother was an idiot. I'm his only family left."
"Ah. Sorry." Nick coughed nervously at the sudden burst of intensity, reminding himself to get back on track. "I was told that you handled... some of the more exotic cases."
"Heard from your girlfriend that you're one of those sciency-types." Dante raised an eyebrow, propping his feet on his desk and tilting his chair back. Not a wholly professional appearance as Lady would point out, but he figured that they met their fair share of colorful folks. At least he had a black shirt on. "So, what's got your big brain all tied up?"
'He's younger than you, but Audrey wouldn't had suggested him in the first place without a reason. Trust her.' Nick let out a sigh, letting go of her hand to reach into his bag. "Did you ever hear about that situation in New York City a little over two months ago?"
"You mean that jumbo demon dragon that trashed the Big Apple, where even the Army and Navy got involved?" Dante snorted. Nero had been utterly enraptured by the news footage and his refrigerator had been eventually plastered with crayon scribbles of the creature. Several calls between him and Lady to the hunters that lived in that direction confirmed their suspicions that it was demonic in nature. "Hah, who hasn't heard about that craziness - half the guys I talked with had been completely bonkers. What about it?"
"I was one of many researchers the Army had called in to examine the... demonic reptile." Wasn't that fun - it had turned into something of a competition between the supernatural researchers and the other scientists each time new data was collected. "It took several interns to point us that it was most likely from the Demon World, inspiring some mythology in parts of the South Pacific centuries ago."
"Well, there's usually some grain of truth in half of those legends." Dante knew that far too well, even if Sparda rarely ever spoke of his exploits over the two millennia in the Human World.
Hadn't that been a hard pill to swallow between both camps. "That, I can't disagree with. An... associate of mine noted that whatever leftover energy from the nuclear testing in the South Pacific several decades ago might've reopened a crack between, and apparently some cultists decided that it was a good idea to call the creature over." Nick sighed, running a hand through his bangs. Damn Philippe for burdening him with the information that was originally France's mess, even if the DGSE agent had been sent in to clean up. Even though Hicks didn't outright show his anger, that tightened jaw showed how displeased he was when Nick eventually gave the files over to the Army unit tasked with tackling demonic activity after reuniting with Hicks. But at the same time, the scientist couldn't fault the foreign agent for his interference and Nick owed Philippe. "During cleanup, I was with a team to gather further samples."
"Hey, wait..." Dante tilted his head at the brunette, finally recognizing his client. "You're the guy that got the Army to blow up Madison Square Garden, with all those hatchlings while in the stadium at the same time! Doc Ta-Tatopoulos!"
Other than the recognition, Nick was surprised at the smidgen of delight on someone not familiar with him being able to pronounce his family name properly. "That's... correct."
Dante couldn't help but grin widely. Lady wasn't going to believe this. "So, you got involved in that crazy mess, there was clean up, and then?"
"I got separated from my team because the surrounding area was still unstable." Nick was grateful on getting back on the rails. "I wound up in a small cave and landed in what appeared to be leftover egg fluid. And nearby was this."
Even with the camera's flash, the pictures were still a touch blurry but Dante was able to make out the shape of a rugged dark brown egg. A very large egg, if judging by the sewer pipe it was next to. Nearby were the remnants of egg shells, almost blending in with the dirt and debris. "Don't tell me you guys tried to move this to the surface to make an omelette out of it. I can tell you right away, demonic ingredients rarely ever agree with human diets."
"No, it..." Nick took in a deep breath, feeling Audrey's fingers squeezing his again. "The egg hatched, and I was the only other living being present."
Something tickled in the back of the hunter's brain, something about baby birds. "I'm surprised you didn't get eaten by it then. Even with a yolk sac, they still come out hungry."
"My first thoughts exactly, except I think it was..." Another sigh, running fingers through mussed brown hair again. "I think it was because I landed in the leftover egg fluid - the parent had left behind fish to feed the young."
"And you think that because of the leftover gunk you accidentally took a dip in, it hid your scent plus any fishy smell, and now that baby thinks you're its parent." Again, that niggling. He vaguely remembered reading it in one of the science books Eva had. "Wasn't there a specific term?"
"Imprinting," Audrey answered. "An uncle of mine works at a zoo and is part of the bird exhibits team. He showed my cousins and I one of the hand puppets the keepers use so the baby chicks don't mistaken them as their parents."
Now Dante noticed the slight dark circles under the older man's eyes. The demonic land dragon looked small on the television screen, but if it was anything like the Leviathan he had killed, it had to be skyscraper-sized. "Don't tell me you're asking me to kill the little guy. Okay, not 'little', but you know what I mean."
"No, but..." Nick sucked in a deep breath, as if steeling himself. "It'd be better if we showed you."
"Field trip, eh. Well, let me leave a note for my usual sitter, then you can lead the way."
Nest Parent wasn't here, and he didn't understand why Nest Parent told him to stay here.
He wanted to see Nest Parent again.
He liked Parent. Parent smelled nice, even though he had smelled of fear often early on. He didn't understand why would Parent smell scared. Why should Parent be scared?
Maybe because nest parent wasn't as tall as he was?
"Easy there, little guy... Easy there, and no one gets hurt..."
He'd never hurt Parent! He didn't like that thought! It made his chest tight even thinking of hurting Parent! Nonono!
But that scared smell had been lessening over time. Parent hadn't seemed as scared lately when he'd take him to the water's edge so he could feed. That was good.
"...wonder what should I name you?"
He remembered that question. So softly asked that he almost didn't hear it.
He'd like that.
He hoped Parent would give him a good name.
Sometimes, Parent would just talk. Of strange things outside. Of the Maybe Parent that he'd smell on Parent. Of the smells that would drift in. He enjoyed the scratches underneath his eye ridges, crooning in happiness as Parent would slowly relax next to him. He liked listening to Parent.
Even though it had been many suns and almost two moons, he had become far larger than Parent, and he didn't like being so big. Parent was so small, smaller than his foot already. He didn't want to step on Parent by accident. He had already scared Parent enough by being able to breathe fire - he had just wanted to show off!
If Parent can't change to match him, maybe he could change to match Parent?
He could feel that warmth inside him.
It hurt. A lot, trying this.
But it was for Parent!
It was worth the pain.
"It's... it's you... You can do that? Oh, boy..."
So... squishy. No armor and no tail. How did Parent walk without a tail? Skin was so sensitive! And easy to break! Some of the scratches stung, but they healed fast. That might be a problem. At least he still had his claws and fangs. ...kinda. It was also strange, to look up at Parent instead of looking down at him.
Maybe some practicing?
"Yeow! Careful doing that!"
Alright, definitely more practicing. Especially when spitting out fire!
He had followed Parent to this new place, doing so only at night. Some smells were different, but others were still the same, although there was that tinge of other world. Something in him didn't like that tinge, of other world, even though a part of him knew that it was 'home'. If he had to pick, he'd rather stay here, with the yummy fishes as he swam freely in the open waters, nice ground to dig through, and wonderful Parent.
Parent had told him to stay in this weak cave, to hide so he wouldn't get hurt. He didn't like the idea of making Parent sad or getting hurt, so he listened to Parent, and changed again into his smaller form. It still hurt to do so, but at least he was getting better at it.
Although Parent also told him no spitting fire. That caused him to pout. How was he supposed to get practice on protecting Parent if he couldn't spit fire? But a quick sniff at the walls reminded him of some of the other pieces before they burned when he had accidentally spat out fire.
Oh, that's why Parent told him not to.
He could sense Parent was back, with Maybe Parent and...
...someone strong. Stronger than Parent. That new someone felt a bit like him, but...
The smell wasn't like Parent - it smelled of other world!
Need to protect Parent!
"Woah!" Dante bent backwards when a small gout of green fire was shot at him, Ebony and Ivory immediately out of his back holsters. The heat was a bit more intense compared to Agni's flames, but there was no mistaking that twinge of demonic power behind it. He was glad to had brought along Cerberus, just in case.
"It's okay, he's safe! He's a friend!" Nick was already rushing into the warehouse, dodging around the flames and crouching, glad that the fire dissipated before reaching anything flammable. "He's safe! Dante, don't shoot!"
Quickly patting out the small embers on his left shoulder, Dante raised an eyebrow at the youngster hissing and baring tiny fangs at him, struggling in Nick's arms. His heightened vision cutting through the poor lighting, the half-devil could make out that the messy hair looked like a weird dark green mixed with dark blue and could easily pass as black or just a kid who had accidentally got into some hair dyes. The eyes, on the other hand, were an unnaturally bright amber and orange, almost burning like lava.
The last detail was that the "boy" was completely naked.
"It's okay, little guy, he's a friend," Nick kept repeating, trying to keep his tone as soothing as possible. He was also running a hand over dark hair that refused to stay down. "He's safe. Like Audrey, remember?"
"Heckuva tyke there. Well, congratulations, it's a boy," Dante quipped, cautiously approaching. Ebony was put away, keeping Ivory out but pointed down. Age was a bit hard to figure out, but Dante was reminded of some of the more lankier street kids he'd occasionally run into. "That ain't his default form."
Audrey shrugged helplessly as she followed behind him. "The first time I met him, he was all claws and spikes with a tail. A miniature version of his biological parent, with smaller dorsal fins."
He had been called a young punk by a couple older hunters, leaping before he looked as Lady would complain, but Dante could tell that the demon dragonling had quite a bit of power in him. The fact that the youngling was even able to take a human form was a bit worrying, because that would mean that its type wasn't as animalistic as Geryon or Leviathan were - probably a little closer to Cerberus' category. And at such a young age...
"Who you?! No hurt Parent!"
Three set of adult eyes stared at the high-pitched voice trying to growl and attempted glare that was far more adorable than intimidating.
Dante couldn't help but start laughing, Ivory holstered as he clutched his stomach. "Lady is so not gonna believe this!"
Nick gave a sheepish smile, loosening his hold just a bit when the boy in his arms blinked in confusion, head tilting to the side. "See, he's safe. He won't hurt me or you."
Audrey almost cooed when the tiny nose wrinkled, nostrils flaring. "Who him? Smell like Parent, but half. Smell like other world."
This time, two sets of adults' eyes shot over to the lone white-haired person in the vicinity, who finally got his breathing under control. A sharp grin was bared, just a hint of a fang showing, causing another kitten-like hiss from the boy.
"Good instincts on the tyke. Color me impressed that he's able to pick that up from me despite him being this young."
"Wait, he said that you smelled half..." Nick trailed off. He's heard stories of human-demon hybrids, but had always dismissed them as stories that had inspired most of the world's mythological figures.
"Remember, always a grain of truth in those legends." Another smile that didn't reach Dante's eyes as he crouched down in front of them, hands splayed out before him in a non-threatening pose. "I'm not the only one. We just don't advertise it out loud for really good reasons."
"Because- Oh." Audrey remembered her own research from the few legitimate demonologists she had read up on, how most devils tend to be quite condescending and looked down on anything weaker than them. "That's... understandable."
"Yeah." Dante stared at the boy, who defiantly stared back. No doubt the youngling knew who was the stronger one between the two of them, but the hunter had to respect that desire to protect his "parent," even though he was so young. "He doesn't have his own place yet, does he."
Nick shook his head. "We've been lucky with the abandoned warehouses back in New York, but he's already starting to outgrow them. He seems to have this ability on being able to follow me wherever I go. If he was in his default form right now, he'd almost reach the ceiling here." Brown eyebrows furrowed. "Come to think of it, I'm wondering where does the rest of his mass go if I'm able to carry him like this."
"Bullshit demon powers, and let's leave it at that." Dante wasn't looking forward to the lessons when Nero was older.
"But-" Already, Nick could hear the laws of thermodynamics gibbering in his head.
Dante shook his head, still not breaking eye contact with the boy. "Not joking. A pal of mine practices medicine for a living and treats hybrids alongside humans. He looked about ready to drink himself under the table one time when a detective asked him to 'further clarify.'"
The journalist held up her hands when her boyfriend glanced over. "I asked a researcher something similar a few weeks ago on a different story and she was no closer to better explaining it to me either. She was able to tell me that there's still limitations on what demonic power can and can't do."
"What she said." Finally, the boy broke eye contact with Dante to bury his face into Nick's neck, although he still kept one amber eye on the half-devil. Which was a relief to Dante, because he could finally blink - he hated these dominance games. "Since this is more consult than handling, you want a full list of advice or a general gist now?"
"General gist for now." Nick couldn't help but smile - truly smile - a bit when the boy started to chirr as he stroked the dark hair. Part of his brain noted how the child seemed to resemble his younger self, even though another part of him was utterly terrified on such a being seeing him as a parent. "I... I'd like to meet your doctor friend, if he also treats hybrids."
"For starters, kiddo here needs a name." Satisfied that he wasn't to get barbecued again, Dante stood up, dusting his coat. "Laugh all you want, but names have a certain power unto themselves, especially for devils. Even if you don't have a lick of power yourself, you giving a name to the little guy here grants some control to you over him, since apparently he sees you as his dad."
Hearing that last part, Nick looked at Audrey with apprehension on his face. He knew that this development would be quite the scoop for her, as much as this was a scientific discovery for him. But at the same time... "I... We..."
Smiling weakly, Audrey stepped around Dante, taking one of Nick's hands after crouching in front of him and the young devil in human form. Her other hand cautiously reached out and after no reaction from the boy other than a curious head tilt, she patted him gently on the head. She had a good idea of what was going through her boyfriend's mind. "We'll talk about us later. Give him a name first."
'A name... Is there a reason why humans have always named things since antiquity? Latin, Greek, Arabic, French...' Nick studied the boy, who accepted the head pat from Audrey before moving away to nuzzle back into his neck, again keeping an eye on Dante. 'Maybe it's a holdover from when those stories say, how the Human World and the Demon World were separated. To give us a form to identify and comprehend more easily. Understanding is also a form of power, too. Probably why the Egyptians carved the names of their pharaohs so often, to be repeated is a form of immortality.'
"His... biological parent's name from the islanders that once worshiped him was 'Gojira', for 'god incarnate,'" Nick spoke softly, thumb gently stroking the cheek of a now very attentive demon dragon in human form. Lava-colored eyes blinked up at him, childish curiosity shining through as he listened. "The military code-named him 'Godzilla', after we learned of the worshipers and the history."
Dante stuffed his hands into his pockets, aware that Nick was sharing details that could land both of them in very hot water. Audrey stayed silent herself, having already been read the riot act as well signing enough paperwork to account for several trees.
"'Gavriil' sounds good, doesn't it?"
The half-devil hunter hummed thoughtfully, given how similar the name sounded to another - probably a regional variation. "Someone you knew?"
"My maternal great-grandfather." Nick readjusted his jacket around the young boy as he stood up, as well his grip. "When my cousins and I were children, he used to tell these stories of fantastical creatures that were both malevolent and benevolent, living alongside humans. I once asked him why there weren't any books of these stories written by him."
He could faintly recall the way how his great-grandfather told the tales, voice changing in pitch and tone, giving distinct styles for each character. How his arms moved about to further emphasize something, or to act as visual aides. Remembered how eager he and his cousins were whenever there were big family gatherings, be it holidays or someone's big event. Nick also remembered how disappointed and sad he was upon learning his great-grandfather's passing.
"Did he publish any?" Audrey asked, also standing up.
Brown hair swung as he shook his head. "He never answered my question. Just... smiled sadly at me. I think I was the only one to had ever asked him that. He also never told us where he got the ideas for those stories either, because the way how he told them, they were so real..."
Wouldn't that be a surprise, if his relative had once interacted with devils before.
"I think the name suits him." Audrey smiled at the demon dragonling in human form. "What do you think?"
The boy's head tilted in the opposite direction, mouthing the name silently as he looked up at his adopted parent. "Gavriil... I... like it." He nuzzled into Nick's neck again, letting out a soft trill. "Thank you... Papa."
Nick simply tightened his hold around his newly christened son, trying to control the flurry of emotions that rivaled the storm from that night as he watched the light in identical lava-colored eyes fade away and close forever.
"So, case closed?" Lady quipped from the sofa, looking up from refilling her magazines. "Nevan told me you had to hitch a ride with the client."
Dante simply sighed, tossing his coat on to the rack behind him before flopping into his chair with quieter aplomb since it was kind of late and Nero was still sleeping. It was technically an easy mission, but the couple had then started throwing him questions at speeds that rivaled Lady's SMG, to which he finally told them to go ask Sláine. (Sláine was probably going to find some way of payback - it's always the quiet ones.) "Mostly consultation. The guy somehow wound up getting mistaken as 'dad' by a demon nestling. Well, more 'demon dragon hatchling' whose biological old man was that jumbo dragon that trashed the Big Apple weeks back."
Bi-colored eyes stared, fingers pausing. "No way."
Feeling better, icy blue eyes glimmered in glee, calloused hand waving a small stack of copied pictures. "Way."
Lady spent the rest of the night trying not to coo over the "adorableness" of Gavriil Tatopoulos.
A/N: Follows "Nibble, Nibble" from "Bouquet of Calendula".
So, uh, I basically ran with the idea that the 1998 Godzilla - or, well, Zilla - was a demonic dragon, who may or may not had inspired a small cult in some of the South Pacific Islands in the past (like how Sparda somehow inspired the Order on Fortuna). Obviously those nuclear tests kicks out a lot of energy, and that energy has to go somewhere, so accidentally creating holes - if not gaps - between the two worlds is kind of entirely plausible in DMC-verse. And then there's the trope "Dragons Are Demonic".
Liberties taken in regards to both the 1998 film and the cartoon series, but hey, that's the fun with crack crossovers and/or fusions. Besides, it's been a long time since I dipped my toe in the Godzilla: The Series universe.
"Gojira" being "god incarnate" is from the 2016 Shin Godzilla by Toho, where the kanji used is "呉爾羅" as "incarnation of god" from the Odo Island dialect, finally giving the Big G a meaning for his name in-universe.
The name "Gavriil" is the Greek and Russian form of the Hebrew "Gabriel", meaning "God is my strong man" or "God is my strength". Since "Tatopoulos" is a Greek surname, I felt that Nick would try to honor his heritage in a way.
Title is from William Blake's "A Cradle Song."