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Contest Entry: Haze Ajoans by HayesAJones
Contest Entry: Haze Ajoans

My entry to :iconrendragonclaw:'s "What Kaiju Are You Contest".

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November 19th, 2017

"Most of what I'm about to share will likely be public knowledge by the time this testimony becomes relevant. They'll try to cover it up, but how the hell do you hide the fact that a 39,000 ton squid trashed the capital of Egypt? Once people latch onto that, they'll want to know why and no one will be able to stop them from finding out. Maybe if we were better organized, but we're a big mess right now. That thing took us for a spin. But it's my duty nevertheless to share my part of the story: both what I did and what I knew before it came into my hands to take action. I was not present for the first... hm... quarter of this story, I guess, but I was briefed pretty thoroughly on it, so hopefully I'm not talking out of my ass here.

"Sorry if it seems like I'm stalling, I'm just trying to gather my thoughts. A lot happened after all and I don't want to get anything wrong. There have been enough screw ups as it is.

"It began with with a series of tests in the very northernmost portion of Africa. Something called, 'Project Black Haze.' We don't know that much about it because someone scrapped most of the files to cover their ass. Selfish bastard. From what we could gather out of the slivers of info he- or she, I guess- missed, it was a new chemical weapon designed to incapacitate soldiers as well as kill crops and livestock. Hit the target forces and their food supplies at once. Pretty despicable stuff, but someone above me approved it. Sad times we're living in. Anyway, it was being tested in Africa, but produced in a facility in Syria, so it had to be transported to the testing site by boat. The task was carried out by a repurposed Iowa-class battleship called the USS Ajoans. It had been gutted and filled with big storage tanks so it could carry as much of the awful stuff as possible and was escorted by a handful of small gunboats. I have no idea why no one found that suspicious, but I guess not many poor fishing folk ask questions when they seen firepower like that cruising by. The Ajoans took a rather... isolated route that was frequented by no other large ships, probably to avoid attention. Fishing craft were about its only company out there.

"The route was rather dicey, that's why no other big ships used it, but all trips until the one taken on the night of September 29th went fine. Then everything went to shit. We're not sure how, it might have been sabotage or maybe someone just messed up royally, but a portion of the Black Haze was discharged midway through the voyage. The crew apparently went down faster than they could message their situation to anyone, because the Ajoans veered off course without warning and smashed into two of its escort ships, sinking them and rupturing its hull. It just sank after that. It sank slow, but there wasn't much that could be done about it. The escort ships sure couldn't stop it and the crew were probably all unconscious or dead by this point, so it went straight down to the bottom with no fuss and spilled every gallon of Black Haze it was carrying. Turned the ocean jet black and killed everything for a hundred miles. I was in charge of pulling bodies from the water and, I'll tell you, it was like something straight from hell. Miles and miles of a inky mat on top of the water, spitting out poison above and below. Pretty much everything died. Birds that got too close to the surface, any fish that didn't hug the bottom... it was terrible. Fast too. When a big ship goes down, you usually lose some percentage of the bodies to sharks. But the sharks didn't last long enough to touch even one corpse. We pulled up almost 800 perfectly intact bodies: the full crew. I've never seen that happen before. About the only thing wrong with them was the color. They were all dyed dark, dark brown like they had been soaked in tar. Most of them looked downright peaceful besides that. That Black Haze stuff... whatever's in it, it's nasty stuff. It must be what the devil spits up when he's sick.

"My people and I stuck around even after all the bodies had been pulled to try and find out what happened. Everyone at the testing site and the factory in Syria had been shooed out fast. Too fast to ask any questions. Whoever ran this operation had planned for something like this. Pisses me off that we still haven't caught the prick. Since when does someone kill so many and get away with it? It just isn't right...

"Sorry. I sort of got off track there.

"Anyway, that was about when the ships starting disappearing. It was just little fishing boats at first. Then a few of my search ships got yanked under. And I do mean yanked under. The few that we managed to raise were crater from below like they had been forced under by a huge weight. And that was more or less right, but we made the mistake of assuming it was from above and watching the air. While we were keeping eyes on the sky, something hit our bigger ships from the sea. Something alive. It hid itself well- apparently the thing can change colors like a chameleon and disguise itself to match the the waves- but it was hard to miss it after it planted two big hooks in the bottom of my largest craft and tried to tug it below. It had gotten cocky picking on small ships and found it couldn't manage it though. That gave us the time to line up some shots with the deck guns. Soon as those shells hit, it lit up red and black like it was throwing a fit. That was our first good look at it. Damn thing was a giant squid. Well, I keep hearing that DNA tests show it's actually closer to a... a... aw, hell, what do you call it? Cuddly fish? Cuddlefish? Something like that. But it sure looked like a squid to me, so that's what I'm going to call it. Changing color isn't all it did though. It didn't just turn black, it started spewing black. And not just any black. A rank, poisonous, familiar black that put off dark clouds of toxic vapor as soon as it hit air.

"This thing bled Black Haze.

"We were forced into a stalemate after that. It couldn't sink our boat, but we couldn't hurt it. About two dozen of our guys went down from the first set of shots alone, so we couldn't risk more. They ended up living, but they stayed in the hospital for a long time to get that crap out of their systems. Eventually, the thing unhooked itself and took off and we were able to return to port and try to piece together just what the hell was going on.    

"Best the lab guys could figure, it had somehow been changed by the Black Haze. Unlike everything else the stuff touched, the lucky son of a bitch didn't die. Hell, it didn't just not die, it got bigger. Stronger. It incorporated the chemical compounds of the Haze into its ink. That's what we had seen it gush: ink, not blood. And that's not all that changed about it. Those big hooks it grabbed us with were apparently new features. You see much smaller versions on giant squids. Leave nasty white scars on whales that eat them. Freaky stuff. Probably specifically meant to help it grab onto the bottom of ships, the lab boys say. Looking at the holes it punched in my boat... I can believe it. It didn't stop there either. Every time we thought we had one up on the bastard, it changed. First it grew a great big shell around its... uh... I think the marine biologist we brought in called it a, 'mantle.' The big squishy part above its eyes. Looks like a fat head with fins on it. Anyway, point is it got armor around that. Then, when we started targeting its arms instead, it developed a thick helmet plate that it could withdraw all its limbs except the two big tentacles under. Slippery cuss even started using a big bony blade- my daughter has birds and she lets them chew on normal sized ones, calls them, 'cuttlebones' I think- as a damn stinger to pierce the hulls of the more heavily armored ships we brought in to deal with it. Guy was a damn bag of tricks, it was impossible to pin down because it would never show up the same way twice.

"After realizing what we were dealing with, it wasn't longer before it had a name. A few of the guys starting calling it, 'Haze Ajoans' after the weapon and ship that created it and it stuck. Shame if you ask me. Sounds like something an amateur fantasy author would come up with. I wanted to call it Sheldon. Oh well.

"Well, luckily, it wasn't the only one who could adapt. It was always one step ahead, but we managed to keep up well enough. Kept it wrangled in the area already affected by Black Haze so its ink wouldn't make any more dead zones, gave gas masks to the guys working above deck so they didn't collapse when it inked, stuff like that. We never managed to hurt it much, but we at least kept it under control and out of the public eye.

"I guess we got overconfident though, because the next one it pulled over on us was a damn big one.

"One day, it up and vanished. It must have been a pretty antsy critter, because it was always trying something. At least once a day. Some new way to try and escape the naval barricade we erected around it. Sometimes it came high and tried to fight us outright, sometimes it dove deep and tried to sneak under us. Guns and grit stopped the former, sonar and depth charges the latter. So when it disappeared, I got worried. Some people figured it was holed up in the center of the Haze slick. We could afford to skirt the edges of the spill, but no number of gas masks could protect us if we tried to plunge into the middle of it. That made sense to me, but I was convinced it hadn't given up. That it wasn't hiding. It had already proven it was tenacious. Smart too. So I worried that it was planning something big.

"Imagine my surprise when it burst from the Nile 150 miles south of us and attacked Cairo.

"It did have a plan, but it wasn't plotting it. It had already pulled it off. Apparently it adapted again, this time to be invisible to our sonar. We're still not sure how it managed that, but I guess it doesn't matter. It had got past us and the cat was out of the bag. That's all there was to it at the time. So we hauled ass down there and took any boat small enough up the river packed with as many men and weapons could fit. Managed to catch it before it crawled too deep into the city. Thank goodness the thing wasn't suited for land or who knows how far it might have got. After we cleared the area of citizens- which was pretty easy considering a 300 foot squid was trashing everything in sight- it was war.

"Both our advantage and disadvantage was the terrain. The squid was out of its element. It was fairly speedy underwater, but on land it could only just match a slug. But this wasn't the open ocean. This was a population center, a capital city. We needed to minimize the ink it spilled. Luckily, the holes our bombardment put in the ground around it helped drain the ink to a smaller area, and it couldn't spread nearly as far out of the water anyway. Got gunked up in the street before long. The gas it generated was a different story. If anything, it was worse above the waves. The sky practically turned black around the thing as it tried to avoid our shots. Then some crazy son of a bitch came up with the idea of using the blades of helicopters to funnel the vapor. I think he got a promotion for that. Unfortunately, the black pillar that was formed by the circling choppers made the perfect smokescreen for ol' squidy. Part of me thinks it planned that somehow. I heard that octopi are suppose to be darn smart, and this one was a cut above the rest. So squidy got away and we were left to clean up a shattered, poisoned city and deal with a lot of angry locals.

"While we were cleaning up, our field boys did a little poking around. They were curious about why the thing decided to leave the ocean and attack a city. It didn't make much sense. It had gotten past us dry and clean. We might have sat there like idiots for weeks if it didn't surface and make a big ruckus like it did. If it had wanted to escape, it could have a dozen times over. So they figured it had a reason to make its fuss. Something it wanted in the city.

"What they found was pretty scary: a giant warehouse full of Black Haze.

"Apparently whoever was behind the stuff squirreled some of it away when the USS Ajoans went down. I guess they were hoping to come back and collect it when things had calmed down. Bet they didn't count on a big octopus being interested too. It's impossible to say for sure, but if this were a monster movie, I'd swear the thing wanted it to make others like it. Build an army. Replace us as the dominant species. Hell, that could be the tagline. But it wasn't a movie and I don't speak squid, so maybe we'll never know what it really wanted.

"Whatever the case, it wanted the remaining Haze. It certainly didn't stray far. Between changing colors and being able to bypass our sonars, it stayed out of sight, but it sure made itself known in other ways. Lots of small crafts started vanishing from the mouth of the river. That seemed to be where it hung out. There and deeper into the river. Apparently it had adapted to freshwater as well. Sometimes I wonder if it was smart enough to have a personality. If we were talking about a human enemy, I would say it seemed awful impatient. Impulsive too. It had every tool to stay completely off the radar, yet it couldn't resist snagging fishing and luxury boats off the surface and more or less hovered around the crime scene like some punk looking for recognition. Strange thing. I guess you could also say that was just a dumb animal, but it sure did some brilliant things for that. I say it was a pretty quick-tempered fellow rather than stupid. It maybe knew better, but couldn't stay away long.

"But that worked for us, because this time we were ready.

"While our people were picking up the site of the battle, they found something funny: a chunk of flesh we had managed to blow off the thing inside an abandoned refrigerated truck. Punched a big damn hole in the roof on the way in. But the interesting thing was it was shattered. Like ice. Glass even. Now, I had spent the last three weeks watching anti-aircraft rounds bounce off this thing half the time. So how the hell did part of it shatter?

"Turns out, it was the cold. Low temperatures made its flesh brittle and easy to break. Split open a few chunks personally with a hammer after a few hours in the freezer. Felt good.

"So when Mr. Squid decided to come back and grab the rest of the Black Haze, were were waiting for it with a little surprise. You know napalm? Imagine the opposite of that. Liquid nitrogen bombs made to burst in midair and showered the target in a mist that could get as cold as low as -300 degrees Fahrenheit. Soon as that son of a bitch hit the sidewalk, we nailed it. Thing wasn't happy at all. Starting thrashing and screaming like hell. I didn't even know squids could scream, but there isn't any other word for the sound it made. An awful, indignant, angry sound. Sort of frightened too. Reminded me of a kid throwing a tantrum because he knows he's about to be punished. Before long, its thrashing started to slow. Its skin stopped changing color and frosted over. Its shell cracked and began falling apart under its own weight.

"Then we hit it with an airstrike,

"The damn thing practically turned to dust. I have to admit, I felt sort of sorry for it. At the very end, it stopped sounding mad and just seemed scared. It didn't want to die. What does? About the only parts of it we found in one piece were the beak and claws. The rest had been broken down so small it was like slush by the time it started melting. Stank to high heaven. Had a few guys pass out before the fire hoses washed it all into the river.

"That was the end of Haze Ajoans... ugh... still hate that name... but it was hard to say for sure if it was the end of everything like it. What little we did find out about Project Black Haze indicated that the tests in Africa weren't the only ones. There were other test sites, all over the world in fact. They wanted it to work everywhere, so they were testing it in all kinds of environments. And we never found out what was in the junk, so it was tough to say what exactly created the thing. Was it just the chemicals? Or the chemicals plus a condition unique to the Mediterranean? Until we could prove the latter, we had to assume the former. So a new branch of the military was formed. One that would monitor the world for other things like Ajoans. Other monsters made by Black Haze. Some people think our purpose is rather silly. Like something out of a comic book. But I'd rather live in a world were something exists and isn't needed than one where it's needed and doesn't exist, so I'll sit through the ribbings for now. If another Haze Ajoans pops out of the ocean somewhere looking to take over the world with an army of squids, then we'll see who gets the last laugh."

- Nash Wrightsville, head of the Chemical Anamoly Task Force (CATF)     

---

Type of Monster: Gargantuan Cephalopod
Origin: A Chemical Accident
Offensive Ability: Razor-Sharp Claws/Appendages
Secondary Ability: Reactive Adaption/Evolution
Achilles Heel: Extreme Cold
Motivation: Take Over the World
First Location You Attack: Cairo, Egypt
Resistance to Heavy Artillery/Conventional Weaponry: Above Average

What do you get when you cross a cuttlefish, a nautilus, a giant squid, and a knockout gas canister?

Me apparently.

Haze here ended up as a tribute to my favorite sort of monster: beasties like Graboids and Otachi that aren't dangerous due to a state of invulnerability, but because of cunning and unpredictability. Creatures that never fall for the same trick twice and never fail to have a trick of their own to pull from their sleeve. They say fear is the unknown, so what can be more terrifying that a monster that is always changing up its game?

Design-wise, I pretty much just picked my favorite cephalopod features. Oh, and added LOTS of teal! Because I like teal.

Hm? What's that? Initials? What initials? There are definitely no initials hidden on its back. That would be silly. Just like having ten arms and two tentacles to represent a birthday on October 2nd would be silly.

And I'm CERTAINLY not a silly person.

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Version with no background or foreground: hayesajones.deviantart.com/art…

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All Curled Up by HayesAJones
All Curled Up
To celebrate Mother's Day, here's TW's resident moms spending some quality time together... and away from their kids, of course.  

It's nice, 'cause usually they only get to see each other when they're trying to kill the same world-threatening entity.
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HayesAJones
Hayes A. Jones
Artist | Hobbyist | Digital Art
United States
I'm just trying to make my art and writing good enough to properly tell the stories that swirl inside my head. Then maybe the voice in there will stop nagging me. Probably not, but maybe.
Interests
This didn't deserve its own deviation since TW is suppose to be a text-based world, but I was bored and love me some character themes, so...

Angore: Quiet, but intense, percussion overlaid with blaring horns 

Quetzar : Slow strings and vocalizations punctuated by church bells

Kedos Croder : Powerful brass mingled with deep, ominous vocalizations 

Grinnin : Subtle string work underlain with tribal-sounding percussion

Drakia : Fast-paced percussion and strings with notable oriental styling

Vanyris : Shrill, piercing strings and whiny brass in up-and-down melody

The Sub-Titan : Soft strings heavily segmented by sudden, pounding percussion

Plume : Loud, heroic horns that would not sound out of place in a 70's sports movie 

Fainis : Thumping, dominant vocalizations and string work

Strider : Guitar riffs mixed with frantic strings

I'm imagining lots of cool things with these such as a theme interrupting or overpowering the current music when a new monster enters a fray or two pieces of music mixing together when monsters team up. Kedos and Quetzar in particular would benefit from that last one, I think, heheheh. And Strider would be a good candidate for the former, the big ol' jerk.

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Thanks for faving Goji & Zetton's Rampage. :peace:
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