Kitana lay in wait as Raiden spoke with Liu Kang. She picked up on some words… some small and unable to connect to an overall point. There was something that Kitana caught that Liu Kang said, "Your visions, what causes them?" The rest from Raiden was scattered. It was something about an outcome…or preventing one. This was proof enough that the Elder God was just as Mileena suggested – aware of the future just as they were. Her eyes narrowed in thought – this was something she would have to run back to Jade and Mileena for certain. They could figure out just what to do from there, to possibly get a private audience with Raiden.
Once Raiden left Kang to his preparation for the coming rounds, Kitana remained hidden. The soft sounds of the nearby waterfall brought back memories of this exact moment. This was the day she was defeated and spared by Liu Kang. The words he said to her burned in her mind for days. 'This encounter never happened,' is what he told her. As if her disgrace would simply melt away into thin air. How careless of him, how inconsiderate and dishonorable. How wonderful he was to see the glass as half full. How noble he was to deny his own heart in order to protect Earth later down the road. These memories however never happened for him, just yet. While she stand and daydream, the moment was passing.
Emerging from hiding, Kitana began to walk toward Liu Kang with easy steps. Each one making her heart thump into her throat. She was nervous – how was her hair? How was her breath, even? Augh, maybe she shouldn't have had the roast so early. She saw him turn to face her. He was alive, in the flesh…and years away from meeting his death.
"Hello," Kitana said once within earshot. "I am Kitana. I've been watching you, Liu Kang. I must say, I am impressed."
The Shaolin smiled at her words. He glanced about until setting eyes upon her. "Here I was expecting an attack. This is a very pleasant turn of events. It is a pleasure, Miss Kitana."
She lifted her hand toward him to pause him from speaking further. "Just Kitana, please. I get enough of the formalities in my everyday life. It comes with the fear of… my father, Shao Kahn."
"Shao Kahn is your father?" Liu Kang was shocked at this. Was it safe for him to converse with those he was trying to defeat? She seemed polite enough…, and judging from the energy he could feel from her, she was quite strong.
"Yes, but it isn't important. Despite our realms being enemies…," She clasped her hands before herself, "I was hoping we could speak under non-violent terms." She lifted her hands to remove her mask for the time being.
Liu Kang hesitated a moment, then accepted with a nod of his head. "That is perfectly fine, Kitana. I would love to."
Kitana walked past him, leading him around the bridge. The gardens and the waterfall were all beautiful, but paled in comparison to Liu's eyes. His presence alone made Kitana weak. It was torture to have such strong emotion where the other did not just yet. How would she talk to him? How would they restart? They began speaking – the basic 'where are you from', and 'what do you like' conversations. Liu Kang still had the same response as before to Kitana's hobby of collecting sea shells and childish stickers – laughter. Liu's interest in board games were well noted, but the Princess played dumb as if she were oblivious of them. She did anything to expand their conversation. His explanations of Chess were always time consuming but interesting. True they had such a game back home, but it was a pastime of the more military types…, at least when Edenia was free in her timeline.
Time flew by as they talked, laughed, and sighed at life's little disappointments. It was a just like old times…, but only for her. Sitting along the railing, the two continued to laugh together.
"So the entire time, she's running around with her underwear on her head." Kitana laughed, trying to get the rest of her story out. "She turns to me with the little hammer in her hand, her underwear on her head, and one of the towels pinned to her shirt and says… 'Kitana, look! Mileena is father! Ha Ha, you suck!' It was simply priceless!" She laughed on, covering her mouth and leaning forward.
Liu Kang joined her in laughter, just getting the mental image of a child doing such a thing. He could only imagine what Kahn looked like…, a man with underwear on his head, a cape, and a hammer? "It must be wonderful to grow up with a sibling. It sounds to be quite eventful, Kitana."
"It was, and still is. It began to fall apart when we were forced to train but…" That was so long ago. Since their reconnection it had changed for the better thus far. "Things have gotten back to normal. She doesn't know this…, but I would face my own father if he ever put his hands on her. Mileena and I are very different, but she deserves much better than what life has dealt her."
"What's wrong with her?" He pried, now growing concerned for her sister.
"She was born different. When we were younger, she could control it. Then it broke out and she never could change it. She has…the mouth of a Tarkatan. If you remember Baraka from the first rounds, he is a Tarkatan." She looked away from Liu. "I often feel sorry for her. Not because she hides herself, but because she will never see her true beauty until it is fixed." She glanced down at her lacing fingers in her lap. "I think she is perfect just the way she is. Her personality was very ugly at one time, but she found herself."
Liu Kang reached over to place his hand on her own, giving her combined hands a light squeeze. "You sound like a great sister. We all have our imperfections. Some more visual than others," He said in passing reference to Kitana's sister, "But we hide them all the same."She made eye contact with him shortly after he grasped her hands. "What is your imperfection, Liu Kang?"
Before he could answer, a bolt of electricity crashed down not far from them. The Elder God appeared, witnessing the two sitting in close quarters. He even noted the hand holding. Confused, Raiden took a few moments before he spoke up. This allowed Liu Kang to remove his hand from Kitana. "Liu Kang, you are summoned. Scorpion has left the tournament, as has Quan Chi." This was good news, as a pleased expression was shown on Lord Raiden's face. "This means you advance directly to the semi-finals and face Goro. Should you be victorious, you only need a victory over Shang Tsug to win the tournament."
Standing, the monk took a small bow. "I am ready, Lord Raiden."
Kitana joined him, but soon departed to leave the two. No goodbye, no words. She wasn't supposed to be there this long. She had to get out of the way to let time work itself out without further distraction. What if her speaking to Liu Kang took him off focus? What if Goro killed him? She would not be able to live with herself for distracting him. Though she heard Liu Kang call for her, she kept walking as if she had pressing matters elsewhere. She felt Raiden's eyes on her from the moment she parted. She needed to have a word with him, but now wasn't the time or place.
As the tournament concluded elsewhere, Scorpion had long since teleported himself back near the remains of his village. Crouched near a fallen tree branch, he picked it up to examine it. He was just idly admiring nature before standing and casting it toward the river nearby. After it made its collision with the surface of the running water, Scorpion sensed the arrival of the Thunder God. He kept his back to him, but even still Scorpion could sense he was troubled. It didn't matter to him very much, however. "Our bargain?" He spoke first, lifting his chin so he could glance toward the heavens.
"It is done." Raiden responded after a brief pause. "The Elder Gods wished to return your people as you were returned by Quan Chi. They wanted to revive the Shirai Ryu as a clan of Spectres…"
"What?" He turned, blazing flames felt from the surface of his skin. He pointed directly in Raiden's face. "This is not what we made an agreement on! I was to spare Sub-Zero, and you were to return my clan to life, Thunder God!"
"Relax," He placed a hand up in his defense. "Because Sub-Zero was still murdered, they wished to punish you for such, I believe. I spoke with them, and due to my visions they saw it wise notto go that route. If you are displeased, you will not serve them in the pending future. If you do not, and Shao Kahn is not defeated…, they know they will die at his hands now."
"I will serve no one!" Scorpion vowed, "All I care for is my family. My son was robbed of his future and my wife of hers! If it means protecting them, then I will go to the ends of Earth and the depths of hell itself to see to it. After Quan Chi dies, I will have no further use for these tournaments!"
Raiden went silent, but eventually spoke up after a shake of his head. "Very well. Your family will be restored very soon. I thank you for your contributions Scorpion. May you live on with your family in peace."
The Spectre calmed himself. He nodded to Raiden out of respect. He would not bow before an Elder God, not until he had proof that his family would return. "I thank you for your assistance. Even if I must wait five hundred years for Quan Chi…I will have my vengeance for what he did to me…" Referring to the fact he and Sub-Zero were sent on the same mission that had to end with one of them dying.A sudden surge came to Raiden's mind. He held the side of his forehead until the events of the future ran through his mind in flashes. The information filled his head, and he now foresaw more tournaments…including one which Scorpion discovered the truth. Perhaps it would be helpful to inform him now? "…Scorpion, Quan Chi not only had you killed, but posed as Sub-Zero with Shang Tsung's help to annihilate your clan."
"Shang Tsung's magic is powerful. He disguised Tarkatans as Lin Kuei assassins. I…can see that he tried to tempt you with visions of this slaughter."
"That he did not." Scorpion's brow lowered. "He tried to provoke me to kill Bi Han. The woman in the pink clothing prevented it. She brought word from you that the deed was done."
"…Woman in pink?" Raiden questioned, "I have not spoken to such a woman."
This entire thing was growing far too confusing for the Spectre. "…Perhaps you have forgotten, or perhaps she was a liar. What matters is that Quan Chi will pay with his life!" Clinching a fist, the flames dancing along his skin grew hotter once more.
"You will have your chance, Scorpion." He promised. "Good Bye." With a few flickers of light, Raiden was gone in a flash.
Scorpion camped out for several minutes…until he heard the sound of motion within his village. Grasping his weapon, Scorpion ducked behind a tree just in case more enemies were trying to tarnish the Shirai Ryu grounds. As he glanced around the tree, he was shocked to find the guards had risen, as well as several of the men, women, and children that resided there under his protection.
He could see their confusion even from his distance. One minute dead, and the next alive? An overwhelming joy filled Scorpion's very being…but none as intense as the vision of his wife holding their young son on her hip, emerging from the torn home she was slaughtered in. He watched her look around in disbelief of her regained life.
When she called out for him, in hopes he would be around, Scorpion…did not come out. How could he? He was still a monster. He was still a hell bound being unfit to be a husband, lover, father, and provider. He knew she would turn him away. She would run in fear, and his people would fear him rather than respect him. He would outlive each and every one of them. He brought them back to life, but eventually, he would have to watch them die all over again. He did not want that.
"Hanzo! … Hanzo..?"
He heard his wife's call grow louder. He would not respond. He needed to regain his humanity. With a small burst of flame…Scorpion was gone.
"Hanzo?" Nao continued on, wondering near the tree Scorpion formerly stood by. She could smell something burning…and quickly she noticed a slowly burning leaf falling from the tree. Once it touched the soil, she quickly stomped it out, holding her son close. Despite his vanishing…she could feel that his presence had been there. "…Hanzo…"
Since Liu Kang's victory over Shang Tsung, the Outworlders returned to their realm. Jade said her goodbyes to Nido, Mileena was practically dragged through the portal by Kitana and Jade, and Kitana herself left without so much of a glance back to the new champion.
Kitana had to admit…sticking to her past behaviors was extremely difficult. Especially when the chance to execute Shang Tsung came around. Knowing that he would kill Liu Kang years down the line made her blood boil. She clinched her fan tight enough to nearly bend the metal.
Kahn commanded her. Just seeing him made her sick as well. She was much stronger now than she had been back then. Surely she could take Shang Tsung and Baraka down, then she, Jade, and Mileena could team up once more to take down Kahn. The Princess was tempted…but she stood down, allowing Shang Tsung to plead his case. This is what needed to happen. She needed three tournaments to be sure her mother returned to life.
Once the deal was made, Kitana stormed off to her private chambers within Kahn's fortress…but was of course followed closely by her sister and friend. Once inside her room, she did not bother to shut the door. "I do not need you three out here. Go!" She dismissed her guards with authority, only allowing Jade and Mileena inside her room.
"Scram!" Mileena hissed, slamming the doors shut and locking them. "Hmp! Mileena would have chopped the sorcerer's head off, sister. Why didn't you?"
"We've been over this, sister. Some things must be done." She explained while walking toward her private study. Idly, she brushed her fingertips across various books shelved there. "Speaking of which, what were you doing getting involved with that match? You could have caused a catastrophe!"
Growling, Mileena stepped toward Kitana. "Mileena did what had to be done! Bi Han helped her…, and that is all that matters!"
"Bi Han was killed by someone else because you interfered!" Kitana raised her voice a little more. "I would like to believe you are more responsible than what you are letting on, sister. If you saved Bi Han and he still was killed, perhaps time does not wish to be tampered with!"
"Kitana…" Jade started to stand near them to try and cool this situation off. "Please, she was only doing what she felt was correct."
"But was it correct, Jade?" The princess challenged. "What did Bi Han help you with, Mileena? Tell me, now."
Jade was getting annoyed. "Perhaps you should speak when you've the mind to listen and be patient, Kitana."
"He gave Mileena a map!" She summoned the small scroll in a puff of pink and purple smoke, similar to that of her sais. "It will lead Mileena to the Lin Kuei temple. To see Kuai Liang!"
Kitana stared at her for several seconds. As did Jade, but Jade kept looking to each of them. Kitana spoke up after pulling her mask down. "You can't read a map of a realm you are not native of."
"Mileena will learn!"
"No, it isn't that simple." The elder of the sisters tried to speak with a more understanding tone. "You will have to wait until you actually meet. I will not let you be harmed nor damage this timeline further."
Mileena was getting angry…her head lowered as the hatred for Kitana and her ways starting to resurface in the pits of her stomach.
Jade sensed this, placing her hand at the woman's shoulders. "Mileena," She spoke softly. "Kitana is correct. None of us understand the landscape of Earthrealm very well. It is best we take our time and let the meetings happen naturally. We must ensure we do not bring forth a grim fate."
Mileena wasn't hearing them. She threw the scroll to the ground and shoved Kitana right into her book shelf. "You always have to be right, don't you? Mileena isn't stupid!" She shouted, just few mere seconds before storming right out of Kitana's room.
Once she was gone…Kitana felt horrible right away. "…Heavens…" She spoke to herself. "I am going after her, Jade. I…have to apologize. Alone."
"I understand. Be careful." She remained in place, letting Kitana make her exit to go after her younger clone. She felt bad that she did not mention her own altered actions. She was certain that Kitana was strictly following the timeline, while she and Mileena goofed off and did what they felt right for their hearts. There was something she needed to do differently, though. She had to find this 'Lady in Red'.
Walking through the halls of the expansive dwelling, Kitana often asked the servants if they saw Mileena pass through here. Some directed her toward her location, while others simply pointed any direction, wanting to keep from being a disservice to the royalty. Kitana wondered beyond the dungeon area, where she spotted Sheeva hauling a new prisoner."Please! Come on, lady! I can pay my debts!" The goblin begged as the dungeon door was opened by the upper set of arms of the Shokan warrior.
"If you had not dishonored yourself and challenged himto a game you did not understand, and without the funds to back it up, you would not be in this prison." Sheeva spoke sternly, tossing the bound goblin inside, and shutting the door tightly. Once it was secure, she took notice of Kitana. "Princess Kitana, what may I assist you with, your highness?"
"Sheeva, please, there is no need for formalities." She requested, holding her hands up toward the four armed woman. "I am looking for my sister, have you seen her come through here?"
"I cannot say. I have only arrived at this location to drop off a prisoner. Had he not dishonored himself, perhaps I would have been more of an assistance to you if she did ind—"
"I understand, Sheeva." She cut the rambling woman off as politely as she could. "When is the last time you had a vacation? You look exhausted…" She tilted her head, peering into the orange eyes looming above her.
"I do not require a vacation." Despite her strength and skill, she felt like she would topple over if a bumble bee stung her. She only got around four hours of rest each day.
Kitana chuckled. "Everyone does. In fact, I believe father was planning to vacation to celebrate his victory…had Outworld been victorious."
"Hm. Shang Tsung failed." Sheeva's arms folded across her torso. "Had he not dishonored himself we would have a grand feast.""…Yeah." Kitana glanced around for any other possible person to help her out. "Well, no one seems to know where Mileena is for sure. But thank you. By the way – there was a woman in red with us in Earthrealm. Do you know her?"
Sheeva thought for a moment. "…Ah, Skarlet. The others jokingly call her 'the other Ermac', but Ermac honors her dearly. She resides near the coliseum behind the fortress."
"…Ermac?" She never knew Ermac had any 'friends' up until the day she was revived. She remembered particularly that he was assisting Liu Kang. "I see. Skarlet, huh? Well, once again th—"
"Hello, Princess…" A voice came from behind her.
A voice she knew far too well. Turning slowly…and then slightly up, she came eye to eye with Rain. He was visibly counting money. "Hello, Raviv."
Laughing, Rain put his money away. "So she remembers my first name. I am impressed. Maybe she thinks of me afterall.""Don't bet on it." She narrowed her eyes at him.
The general laughed lightly, leaning his shoulder toward the wall. "If I did, I would win. A lot of people learn that the hard way. Ask the guy in lock up right now." He grinned behind his mask, looking up to Sheeva. "So, when's the last time either of you beautiful women have been out on the town? Outworld has several exotic locations now. Nice dinners, beautiful music, at zero cost to you…"
Sheeva shut her eyes. "I must decline once again,Rain. I've a duty to attend to."
"It's a shame. All of those arms and no one to keep warm?" His grin grew as he set eyes back on Kitana. He knew Sheeva would decline, but leaving an open offer made his direct interest in Kitana seem indirect. "What about you? Are you available?"
"No. I have much to do for my father." Getting Kahn involved usually shut Rain up. "But I do have a use for you. Have you seen Mileena?"
He thought for a moment, "…Maybe if you accepted this dinner offer, my memory might come back around."
"Do not play games with me, Raviv." Her bladed fan was drawn, right beneath the chin of Rain. One wrong move and you will become drizzle."
Sheeva's brows lifted, impressed with such a line. She would have to remember it.
Rain's arrogance usually allowed him to feel no fear for his life in any situation. There was something different about Kitana's eyes tonight, though. Her eyes seemed aged, angered, and battle worn. She probably was not joking with him. "…Must you be so articulate with your weapons?" He stepped back, "She was heading up toward the top of the fortress last I saw her."
Collapsing her fan, Kitana put it away. "Good day, Raviv." Stepping around him, Kitana was well on her way upstairs.
A few moments passed, and Rain rubbed at his neck. "…It is very obvious she is attracted to me."
"Silence, before I make it drizzle." Sheeva retorted.
All through the halls of the fortress, Jade stalked in silence. She had picked up on the Woman in Red, and trailed her for many floors. It wasn't until she came to a particular door, that she stopped pursuing. It was the door of Shang Tsung's dwelling.There sounded to be a heated argument inside, one that bothered the red clad woman none. She knocked on the door hard to gather their attention.
The argument stopped, but when the door opened, a much younger Shang Tsung emerged from it. "What is it? Do you have what I requested?"
"Do you have what I requested?" Skarlet retorted quickly.
Scowling, Shang Tsung closed the door. "Denise! Bring me the package!"
"Bring you the package? First you borrow my souls, now I have to play housemaid? Two hundred years ago you would do this yourself!"
"Woman, I am under…alot of stress right now!"
"What about me?"
"Just…give me the package!"
The argument continued behind the closed door, until Shang opened it up partially again, giving Skarlet a cloth bag with some hidden objects within.
Taking the bag, she began to speak. "Noob Saibot is complete, however since he was not killed in the Netherrealm, there are some issues with control. He should be prepared for combat shortly."
"Excellent." He smiled.
"Sure, make more creatures and forget all about your family!"
Shang Tsung grasped his face, "…Making creatures is what got this family a place in the fortress!" He barked over his shoulder to his wife, and then returned a glance to Skarlet. "Be sure to tell Shao Kahn the problem with Mileena is being solved. It is eighty percent done…"
"This I will be relayed." She stepped back, and headed on her way without any more words being shared between them. When the door closed, the arguments continued.
Slightly amused, Jade stuck around a few moments more in the shadows, and kept herself invisible to the eyes of those inhabiting the dwelling. She followed Skarlet all the way to the Colliseum area, where she was then joined by guards and taken to the animal stables. Jade witnessed as she was chained at the wrists and ankles to insure she would not run away.
Before the guards parted ways with her, Jade could overhear Skarlet ask of Ermac. She couldn't make out the response fully, but she heard something about 'regeneration process'. Once the guards left her alone, Skarlet crouched to the floor and opened the package Shang Tsung gave her. It was a pot of several different meats, vegetables, and bread. Like a hungry animal, Skarlet started to dig in.Now wasn't the time to interrogate Skarlet…she needed to know a little more. Jade decided to retreat for the night and return later on.
Once she was a good distance away from Skarlet…her head began to throb. She heard whispers all around. All other sounds were gone, and all that remained were these small gasps and unintelligible words. As she walked the halls, now completely visible…she saw everything around her slow down. The walls broke apart and floated in the abyss of space outside of them. The ground sectioned off and made a broken path with dark space between each.
"Edenia is a lie. The truth has been hidden."
She heard a woman's voice in her head. She could see a blinding blue light ahead of her. Everything was becoming blue once it grew brighter.
"Shao Kahn's death must be re-imagined. The true Edenia must be uncovered. Jade…my sweet Jade…"
Before she knew it, she walked right into Motaro. "Oh…!" All sound returned to her, all things returned normal within that instant. To her eyes, Motaro appeared from nowhere! "Forgiveness, Motaro! I did not see you there."
"…But this is Motaro's post." The Centaurian warrior repositioned himself, turning to face Jade. "Is Jade walking blind? Did Jade need to speak with Motaro?" He continued to reposition his steps, as if he had to use the restroom badly.
"No, Jade didn't –" She clinched her eyes, and shook her head. "Ididn't need anything. Just daydreaming, is all."
"…Daydreaming and walking to Motaro's post?" He tilted his head. "Jade daydreams all the way up to the throne room?"
Realizing where she was, the Edenian couldn't figure out how she went from the coliseum…to the throne room in such a short period of time. She held her head, trying to remember just what happened. "…Excuse me." She turned, quickly heading back in the other direction to head down toward her own room. Perhaps she was exhausted…too much working. She needed to rest.
She still wondered what the voice meant though. Edenia…was a lie?
Mileena long since journeyed to the higher regions of Kahn's fortress. The dark and bleak wasteland may have been depressing to some, but the tranquility from above was similar to an oasis in an endless desert. All she wanted was some time to blow off some steam. Some time to try and refocus her energy and maintain patience. Regrets knotted in her stomach and combined with stubbornness to prevent her from going back and apologizing to her sister.
As far back as Mileena could remember, Shao Kahn always favored Kitana. He always held her in high regard, and Mileena always came second. Even in education, Kitana was given the best and brightest tutors Kahn could intimidate. Mileena was always kept away from the books and kept in the dojo to train. Learning how to kill this, maim that.., and due to her eagerness to please father, she did it all without question. In her mind, Kitana could be the scholar, but she herself would become the superior warrior to gain father's favor.
It didn't work out that way, though.
Kitana got everything, Kitana was always correct, Kitana was next in line for the throne, and now, somehow Kitana as the leader of the trio they formed? As much as she had grown to love her sister, the old hatred of being the least favorite drove her. Maybe once she calmed down, she would have a better grip on the situation at hand.
It would have been nice.
Her destination was currently occupied. She heard the voices as she climbed the steps to the top of the fortress.
"You only do as you are told as means of survival?" She heard a familiar voice speak. It sounded like Reptile, but she couldn't truly tell until she got a bit closer.
"Yes," A woman's voice was heard, this one oddly familiar as well. "When my father died, I had little choice. Denise told me to see it as a game. If you make the right choices, you will make it very far in the game. If you act foolishly, then you will surely lose." She paused for a moment, taking a breath. "I want to win…, no matter what it takes. Don't you, Reptile?"
Mileena slowed down, staying put to listen in.
"I do…," The Saurian shook his head, leaning against the stone railing. "But the game I am in has a loss at every turn. It is a cruel maze of choices which all lead to an ultimate defeat. To be the last… means I am dependent on others. But maybe those others are untrue. I can suffer without bodily injury on my own, Tanya."
The name stunned Mileena. She quickly scaled the stairs, emerging onto the stone flooring. "Tanya?" Mileena never did like her! She was manipulative, arrogant, and above all else, not even trusted among backstabbers! When Mileena's eyes met the image of Tanya, however…she was shocked. She looked softer in the face. A look of innocence, as a frightened child not yet exposed to war. All she had with her was a book, no weapons in sight.
"Princess Mileena?" She looked fearful. She stepped away from the railing and took a bow. "Forgive me, princess! I have gone over my allotted time to rest! It will not happen again, your highness!" Even before Mileena could get a word in, Tanya was long gone. She rushed down the stairs to return to work about the fortress.
There was a moment of silence between Reptile and Mileena, but it was broken as Mileena approached the railings. "Mileena didn't know you were friends with Tanya, Reptile."
"…I'm not." He faced forward, letting his forearms rest against the stone. "I was just curious. Your words helped me start…looking abroad. As nice as the conversation was, I don't feel it is meant to be."
"Why do you say that?"
"…She laughed and asked me if I was serious when I offered dinner." He paused, "She then went on to say that I am not her type."
Mileena grunted, just when she was going to give innocent Tanya a pass, she went on and turned Reptile down. "You should not speak to her anyway." She began to mumble,"She will betray Edenia and even Shao Kahn…"
Reptile caught her words. "How is it you know these things?"
Once again, her big mouth got her into trouble. Even so…, Reptile was her friend, a true one at that. He wouldn't mouth off, right? Even so…, it was complicated. "…Mileena can just see, sometimes."
"…I have a question, then." He paused for several seconds, looking down into his palms. Palms that bled and ached to fulfill the will of his masters. "What does my future hold if I remain here, Mileena? Do I ever get to see my people again?"
She had a near exact memory of what happened to Reptile. She knew through conversations of others, and observations herself. She knew of Onaga's infestation, and then separation…, and then the events of Armageddon. Nowhere in the previous timeline did she see a rebirth of Reptile's people. She took Reptile's wrists, turning him to face her. She examined his scaled palms, as if reading them over. "… … Hm." She thought of a way to tell him all of this…, but should she? "…No, Reptile. Shang Tsung, Quan Chi, and even Shao Kahn never live up to what they say. Mileena has seen this…"
Reptile's jaw clinched a moment. If what she saw in the future was real, it launched the next phase of his plans. "…Then it's decided." Reptile said, letting his arms drop to his side. "I am no longer going to be a slave to these madmen, Mileena. I am going to run away…, rediscover myself and a new life." He glanced out to the vast wastelands. "If I die, I die. It will be much better than suffering another day here."
Mileena felt bad, her friend was leaving her? How would they keep in touch? Then it hit her! The map! Yes, she could give Reptile the map, and meet him at the Lin Kuei temple when she met Kuai Liang! … No, wait, she left it back at Kitana's room! "Mileena doesn't want to lose contact with you, Reptile." She placed her hand at his shoulder. "Run to Earthrealm. To a place called…" She thought for a moment…"…It is spelled…H…o..n…g, K…o…n…g. Er…it's Hon..gee…Kon gee."
"Hong Kong." Reptile corrected her, "I'm familiar with it. I guarded Quan Chi during his journey to the Lin Kuei temple."
Reptile knew the area? Maybe she could run with him? – No. She did want to do this the safest way possible. What good was it if she went to Earthrealm and Kuai Liang was coming to Outworld? Plus, she didn't exactly want to leave Jade and Kitana behind. "Mileena plans on going to the Lin Kuei temple. She will find you in Earthrealm when she goes."
"Very well. I will miss you until then, my friend." He stepped in, putting his arms around Mileena. The two held fast in a tight embrace for several moments until releasing one another. "Take care of yourself, and Baraka. Even though you two fight…, I have heard he is trying to find a means to apologize to you for his behavior."
"Well…" Reptile trailed off with his words, searching for a means to place the rumors in some sort of order. "Ever since you struck him, there has been whispers among the Tarkatans that he has been seeking the assistance of Rain and others. He seeks their assistance for means of courting a woman outside of the alpha male Tarkatan way."
Even if disgusted, Mileena could not help but be amazed that Baraka would even go such lengths. Was it to apologize to her? Perhaps he wanted to court someone else, which would be his best bet. "Mileena's feelings for Baraka are no more, Reptile. That is that."
"After all of those years?"
She paused, locking eyes with him. He had an awful lot of nerve. "The same can be said about you and your fleeing from this place."
There was silence between the two for several moments. She was correct. Her not wanting to be part of the relationship any further was somewhat similar to his desire to no longer be an underling lied to time and time again. "You are right. Let us not part ways on foul terms. We will speak again…, hopefully."
Relaxing her temper, Mileena brought her fist over her heart. "Yes. Be as stealthful as the night, Reptile." She took a slight bow, as in the Lin Kuei tradition.
"Be well, Mileena." He copied her motion, taking a bow. However once he dipped forward, his body vanished into nothingness. He could escape the temple undetected anytime he desired…, but simply never had the nerve until now.
This left Mileena alone, finally. She watched the cloudy skies, constantly threatening to pour rain down over Outworld. The constant chaos in the skies reminded her much of her own feelings. Could she live under the strict plan of Kitana to 'follow the rules' of time? Could she simply go after what she wanted? She was impatient…, and she had no choice, if Sindel were to return. The limited time Mileena had with her 'mother' wasn't something to brag about, exactly. Even so, Mileena never felt the urge to bring her any harm. All she wanted to do was be near her.
Then…, Kuai Liang returned to her mind. It was funny, she was a heartless killer once before, but the affection she missed out on for thousands of years became her ultimate weakness. The feeling was all she could think about. She had urges to scribble his name on things – if she could spell it correctly. She was willing to break rules just to meet him and reestablish what they were forming once before. He died once protecting her…, and she would never let that happen again.
Her moments of privacy soon ended, as she was brought back to reality by the sound of heels clicking against the stone slowly. Approaching was her elder 'sister', Kitana. She stepped gingerly, holding her hands together, laced at the fingers right above her navel. Her mask was pulled down, showing the shy smile she held on her face. Mileena could tell she was trying to get a feel on Mileena's mood before she approached further.
"Yes?" Mileena spoke, only glancing at her sister from the side of her yellow eyes.
"It's a dreary night, isn't it?" Kitana responded, carefully coming up beside Mileena. It was dangerous waters she was treading…, because if Mileena turned for the worse, Kitana was sure she'd be cast over the rail and to her death. Mileena's lack of response, or even a chuckle brought the Princess directly to the point. She faced Mileena, keeping her eyes on her in hopes she would return the gesture. She wanted her to know she was serious. "Mileena," She began to say, as she started to reach for her shoulder. Kitana soon decided against it, returning her hand to herself. "I am sorry. I'm sorry about earlier, and I am sorry for any time I have ever upset you." She was sincere. Her eyebrows moving slightly upward as she spoke.
Mileena remained silent.
"We just need to communicate, is all. We cannot keep things from one another. We are all in this together…, apart, we will surely bring about worse events." She examined her sister's face for some sort of response. "We are sisters, Mileena. Sister's fight, sisters disagree, but most of all sisters trust each other. Sisters help each other. I am not doing this for myself…, your interests are in mind as well as Jade's. I just want to make sure we all get what we want before we begin drastic moves. I…, just hope you can forgive me."
At long last, Mileena turned to Kitana. Though it was hard to tell behind her own mask, Mileena was smiling. She nodded her head softly, "Mileena forgives you…" She trailed off, stepping forward to embrace Kitana. "She is sorry too. Mileena…just wanted things to go faster."
"I know," She squeezed her, releasing soon after and held fast to her shoulders. "Everything will be fine. The tournament will begin very soon, and you will see Sub-Zero face to face." She placed her hand along the side of Mileena's jaw, smiling in hopes it would help keep her spirits high.
Jade's voice was heard immediately after Kitana's own words. "The tournament will be sooner than you think." The darker skinned Edenian stood at the stairs with her fist at her curved hip. "Shao Kahn has reacted quicker than I remember. Shao Kahn demands our presence." She got closer to her two friends. "Earthrealm has accepted the challenge, and they should be here shortly. Miss Blade is already held captive…"
The Princess stepped back, giving herself enough room to look back and forth between her sister and friend. "So soon?" Something was…wrong here.
"Sooner is better." Mileena commented, "What do you suggest we do, Jade?"
Jade was thrown off – usually it was Kitana who made the choices. "Well…, there is no need for my suggestions. We listen to Kahn and do what he says. I know I am sent to intercept the humans in the Armory. I will give them a pass to save Sonya. From there, I will feint defeat." Her sight went to her princess. "What of you, Kitana?"
She thought back. She remembered Mileena was kept behind and sent as an attack dog on Sub-Zero. It would be best to give Mileena her time to finally meet him. Besides…Jade would be there to supervise, since she and Nido witnessed the fight. "I was sent to intercept the Lin Kuei…" She recollectd, "I will find Smoke. I was the last to see him mortal, as far as I know. Perhaps I can prevent him from becoming a mechanical menace. This could be used to our advantage. I know I have spoken of not drastically changing things…, but I do not see the harm in this. Smoke has no effect on mother's resurrection. Besides, he is Sub-Zero's friend, isn't he?" Of course speaking to the expert of all things Sub-Zero, Mileena herself.
"Yeah!" Excited to see this all come together, Mileena wasted no time to answer! "He'll be so happy that he's alive!...We need to hurry and go down there! Come on!"
Jade laughed to herself, "Settle down, Mileena. You have to keep yourself together, now. Lets go…, and let's make sure everything goes smoothly." She hesitated a moment, holding the side of her head. "…Augh…"
"Jade?" Kitana spoke up first, "Are you alright?"
The guardian shook off the pain…and the whispering voices in her head. She couldn't make out what it was they were saying exactly, as they soon faded. "Yes…, I am fine. I've been having these…odd headaches and visions. Remind me to rest once this is done. We will speak on it later."
Mileena tapped the tip of her chin. "…Mileena thinks it is important now if you don't feel well…"
"No," She dismissed the thought of them putting her on the sidelines, or even taking a break. "Everything will go smoothly." She stated, "Now, we must go."
Things did indeed go smoothly from there on out. The trio reported to the throne room just as a handful of Earthrealm's warriors arrived; Lord Raiden, Johnny Cage, and Jax. The first bout was between Jax and Baraka, with the Earthrealm warrior finding a quick victory.
Mileena felt satisfaction to see Baraka get what he deserved once more, though she knew it wasn't enough just yet. He didn't put up half the fight she remembered. In fact, Baraka often seemed distracted with her presence in the throne room. Her attention left the downed warrior once Jax directed words to Shang Tsung.
"Where's Sonya?" Jax bellowed out, pointing toward the face of the now slightly youthful Shang Tsung.
"Tell me, Major Briggs…," Shang began to grin in amusement, "Do you and she do anything other than rescue one another?" His words garnered the anger of Jax, but even moreso the amusement of the Tarkatan horde ready for combat. "Your next opponent will be – …"
"No one." Called the voice of the sorcerer's wife, Denise. The woman waltzed right into the throne room in little more than her undone robe that exposed her waist, and form fitting singlet attached to it. The sorceress held with her a large book beneath her arm. She also brought her servant-student Tanya along with her. "As we are missing one of our warriors…, even if his worth was as much as the blood you spill for your…country." Denise turned her eyes onto Jax. "Worthless. Such a strapping young man as yourself could do so much better working for –…"
Shang Tsung turned his head toward his wife, speaking louder as to overpower her words. "Then it is settled! Since we've…pressing matters to attend to…" He trailed off, turning to face the rather amused emperor. "With…the emperor's permission, we will reconvene later."
Kahn granted this with a simple motion of his head. The tournament began to disperse as he stood. Walking beyond his daughters and Jade, he made a motion with his hand for the three of them to follow him off to the side.
Kitana and Jade met eyes, and followed along with Mileena to Kahn's location away from the plotting Earthrealm warriors.
This was it, this was the moment Mileena was waiting for. Kitana would be sent to intercept, Jade would be sent to guard, and Mileena would be sent to attack Sub-Zero. It was all clockwork…, finally, she would be able to see him. Finally, she would be able to truly start all over.
"I do not like this." Shao Kahn stated to the three of them. "The Champion is not among them. The other Earthrealm warriors must be scattered about." Kahn stroked his chin in thought. "We must win this tournament. I will not accept another loss. Jade, go to the armory. See to it the Earthrealmers never make it to the woman."
Jade had her orders, and she gave a nod of her head.
To Kitana next, Shao Kahn placed a hand at her shoulder. "Kitana, you will intercept any newcomers into the realm. Deal with them harshly."
Kitana had her orders, and despite the fact Kahn's touch made her stomach churn, she accepted them. "Yes, father."
Now, it was Mileena. "Mileena, you will stay here. For your actions reported at the previous tournament, I am hereby expelling you from participation until further notice."
"What?"Mileena's heart sunk. Her eyes went wide. She looked to Kitana and Jade, then back to Kahn repeatedly. "You cannot do this to Mileena! Why are you-!"
"Silence!" Kahn bellowed, "You will remain here, and you will be silent! If another complaint leaves that horrid maw of yours, I will crush your skull, child! Do not make your father angry!"
In Kitana's heart, she wanted to speak up for Mileena. She hoped that Mileena would not act in anger, but accept what was ordered. Still…even with what they had to do to insure an outcome, she couldn't help but feel the soul sinking pain of being denied something when so close. What caused this? What caused Kahn to act differently than before? Had Mileena's actions with Bi Han really created an alternate reality?
Kitana's fist squeezed as she awaited Mileena's response. She saw her put her head down. For goodness sakes, she hoped she wouldn't cry. If a single tear fell from her eye…, Kitana wasn't sure she, as a sister, could uphold her act of loyalty much longer. If she showed affection…, surely Kahn would change course more.
She was torn…, but she left it all in Mileena's hands.
"…Yes, father." She submitted, keeping her head down. She did not shed a tear, but she did tremble at the fist. She wanted to stab him through his throat and watch him die all over again.
Satisfied, Kahn palmed her cranium, ruffling up her dark hair. "Good girl." He chuckled, soon enough releasing her. "Now, all of you out of my sight. I've much planning to do…"
Once the large man stepped away…, Jade and Kitana both immediately came to Mileena's sides. "Mileena?" Jade said, "Are you alright?" She tried to search the woman's face, but instead was pushed away lightly by her hand. "…Mileena…"
Kitana didn't even get a chance to get a word in. She just watched her sister walk away from them. "…She just needs time. I am certain everything will work out." She wasn't certain at all. The only thing she could think of was fulfilling her goals. "We must handle this as quickly as possible, then we will see about Mileena."
Seeing as there was nothing they could do about the situation…, the two kunoichi headed off in their own directions to fulfill their version of the tasks given. This left Mileena alone once again, to her thoughts.
Where could she go? She had no other desire but to go back to the top of the fortress once again. Her presence scared away the inhabiting vultures that perched along the rail in the absence of other life forms, but she didn't give so much of a flinch at the sudden sight and sounds of the creatures. Her hands took hold of the stone for a few moments. Once she released it, she pounded her fists against them, trembling in anger. How was she ever going to see Sub-Zero? Should she run away? Should she leave Kitana and Jade to do what she needed to do? What if he got hurt? What if someone killed him? Was it just simply not meant to be? Her friend ran away…, and the man who held her heart in the short time they spent together would probably never meet her in this life.
Casting herself from the top of the fortress did not seem like such a bad idea.
"Mileena, I need to have a word with you." Baraka's voice came from behind. He stepped to her side, but he did not put his hands on her in any fashion.
Casting herself from the top of the fortress really didn't seem like a bad idea.
"I apologize." Baraka bowed his head, "All warriors are aggressive with their mates. Perhaps I was insensitive to your Edenian side. Perhaps I took the moments for granted. Just…, understand that I am under a lot of pressure, Mileena. My men," He held his arm over the railing, as if displaying the world for her, "They are ignorant and stubborn. My elite soldiers are no longer mine to command. My frustration was taken out on you, and this I did not mean."
She watched him from the corner of her yellow eyes. Still, not saying a word.
"Years ago…, when I said I would make you my queen…I meant these words." He took a softer tone, "I meant every last one. We can escape this, Mileena. The two of us can be a powerful alliance. We overthrow Kahn together…and we reshape Outworld just as we envisioned it. Fit for Tarkatan warriors, but with the regality of Edenian paradise. Just imagine the realms we could conquer. Your sister can no longer put you down. No one will."
She felt odd, now. Everything he was saying sounded unusually sweet to her ears. As if she'd been waiting for him to say it for a thousand years. She remembered their plan…, but with her feelings for Kuai Liang, why was she feeling for Baraka in a very small amount now? Had her frustrations with him already been taken out? Was it this body and mind from the past just reacting?
Baraka went to his pocket, drawing up a small box. To a single knee he went – highly unusual behavior for a warrior. "…Mileena." He said, presenting her the box. As it opened up, it displayed a ring made of the finest precious stones that could be found in Outworld. It must have cost Baraka a great deal, or perhaps it was a gift from the emperor? "…Will you be my bride?"
"…" There were no words that could truly describe what emotion overtook her that instant after those words left his mouth. She faced him, looking down to that ring. Then back into his eyes. After all he put her through, and all he would put her through, he had the nerve to do this? He had the nerve to do such a wonderful thing that she would have leapt at in a past life? Her heart was with him once before…, but no longer. She'd seen what it was like with one who never abused her heart. At the same time, it hurt her to speak, "No, Baraka. It is too late."
"…Too late…?" He said, with the staggering pain apparent in his voice. He searched the ground with his eyes for answers. "I do not understand, Mileena. If this is about my behavior before, I've – …"
She shook her head, "Mileena's heart is not with you anymore, Baraka. You are better off with another." She turned away from him, heading back toward the stairs. "Trust Mileena. It is for the best." She left him there, though it put needles in her heart. She could still envision him kneeling there under the glow of the moon in her mind. She had to control these past emotions. She had to make her mind realize what it truly wanted.
Left alone in thought…, Baraka closed the box up. He turned his glance toward the stairs. "…Then…, who is it her heart belongs to…?" He snarled…, jealousy rising in his chest.
Yes there's some progress. I'm still working out the tournament. I hit a snag because there is a LOT of stuff going on and I'm trying to make each fight interesting. I'll have it posted before this catches up over here.