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Chapter Forty-Five

Forest, Early Morning Hours

The old man Song was walking through the forest just as the sun was rising for the day. He kept silent as he was on his way to the tournament grounds for the day, having a match at the Indoor Arena. He had only won the fourth round of the tournament two days ago and now he was to attend the fifth round.

Unknown to Song, however, someone was following him. The sorcerer Quan-Chi had spotted him from his room through the window. The sorcerer managed to teleport himself outside using sorcery and got himself outside just far enough so that he could get a good eye view of the old man. He then followed him for a while through the forest, knowing that he was on his way to the tournament grounds.

Perhaps before his arrival,’ Quan-Chi thought. ‘I should ‘introduce’ myself to the old fool.

Ever since Quan-Chi saw him two nights ago, he figured out the truth about Song. He wasn’t sure why he didn’t see it before since it was quite obvious, but it didn’t matter now. He planned to confront Song today.

Quan-Chi waited for the right moment to show himself to Song. It wasn’t until they were halfway through the forest when Quan-Chi jumped in front of the old man. Song seemed a bit startled at first, since he didn’t expect anyone to be around. Just as quickly, he managed to regain his composure and stared at the sorcerer.

“Who the hell are you?” the old man barked.

A small sadistic chuckle escaped Quan-Chi. “I guess Shang Tsung hasn’t mentioned you to me since our alliance, but he had mentioned you to me in more than one occasion. I’ll admit, since we’ve never been formally introduced, that I’ve been quite curious about you.”

Song seemed calm as he spoke. “Is that so? Well the reason you and I haven’t met is-”

“Is because one person can’t be in two places at once,” Quan-Chi cut in with a smirk.

For a slight second, Quan-Chi saw that Song seemed a bit startled, but almost soon after, he collected himself and his expression hinted anger. “What are you talking about?”

“I watched your match against Sagat two night ago,” Quan-Chi admitted. “Once I saw your skills, I just had to follow you, just to see where you would go. However, once I saw you shape shift, I began to understand why we were never introduced…because we already know each other.”

Song sighed, realizing that he could no longer hide his true self. Surrounding himself by a green aura, Song’s body shape shifted. A smirk came over Quan-Chi as the changing body soon turned into a recognizable one.

“That’s quite clever of you,” Shang Tsung said once the transformation was completed. “I knew of all people that you’d be the one to discover the truth about Song first.”

Quan-Chi laughed evilly. “Now for the fun part…what exactly was your plan? Perhaps taking the medallion under everyone’s nose for yourself? Our plans haven’t even been completed and already you are a traitor.”

“That was never my plan!” Shang Tsung argued. “The plan was to give you and I a much better chance at getting the medallion.”

“A plan in which you never told me,” Quan-Chi mentioned. “Because of this, I’ve come to suspect that you are out to betray all of us. Not only that, but you have also violated a tournament rule. The host of the tournament was not to participate. It’ll be quite fun when I report this to the Emperor.”

From there, Shang Tsung knew that he was in trouble. He almost forgot that, if he got caught and Shao Kahn knew about it, he could have his head for it.

“However,” Quan-Chi continued. “I’ll make you a deal. If you forfeit the tournament from this moment on, I won’t report it to Shao Kahn…and that’s only if you do me a favor.”

“You are ruining a good plan,” Shang Tsung reminded him. “If it means that Shao Kahn doesn’t find out the truth, then so be it. I’ll forfeit the tournament. What’s the deed on your part?”

“I haven’t decided just yet,” Quan-Chi said. “But I will let you know before Round Six is over.”

It was then that the both of them heard someone not too far from them. The two sorcerers turned their heads and recognized Vega, one of the new bodyguards for Shao Kahn. Through his porcelain mask, Vega spoke.

“Good you are here Shang Tsung,” Vega said. “I wanted to speak to you before the matches of the day get underway.”

Shang Tsung and Quan-Chi stared at each other for a moment before Quan-Chi spoke. “Remember, I’ll get back to you on it.” And with that, using sorcery, he teleported away.

Shang Tsung turned his attention to Vega. “What can I do for you?” he asked without much enthusiasm.

“Well,” Vega answered. “I know that a couple of participants who are serving Shao Kahn had the chance to find out who their participants are before their match. My dear Viper has her match this morning in the indoor arena and I would like to know who her opponent is.”

The sorcerer raised an eyebrow. “You’ll have to do better than that. I don’t just give away that sort of information to just anyone.”

“Perhaps I can make you an offer,” Vega said. He thought through what he can do to get the information from him. Then, a sadistic idea came to him.

“What kind of offer?” Shang Tsung asked curiously.

A grin came over Vega. “Who can’t resist the beauty of a woman? Quite recently, I met this lovely young woman on the main palace grounds. Perhaps I can bring her to you within the next few days.”

It was quite a coincidence for Vega to say that, especially since he didn‘t know very much about the sorcerer. Shang Tsung was debating if he should add a few more young women to his already-large collection of concubines at his own palace.

“That’s not too bad of an offer,” Shang Tsung said. “Schedule a meeting with her and let me know the information. I’ll take a look at her and see if she’s my taste. In the meantime…” He then whispered the name of Viper’s opponent in Vega’s ear.

“Excellent,” Vega said delighted.

“Just one more thing,” Shang Tsung said. “What is the girl’s name?”

“If I remember correctly, her name is Xianghua.”


Cave

While the cave was quiet, Li Mei approached one of the closed velvet curtains, shifted herself so she can hear anything. A smile came over her face upon hearing a slight rustle from behind the curtain.

“Knock, knock!” she called out.

“Come in,” a female voice replied.

Li Mei walked in and saw Alex sitting on her bed, which was made, as she placed some clothes in a black bag. Alex wore her dark brown hair in a low ponytail and also wore a dark blue short-sleeved shirt and a pair of beige khakis.

“Hey Li Mei,” Alex said as she looked up at her.

Li Mei walked further into the room and sat next to Alex. “I see that you’re finally out of bed.”

“Since last night,” Alex replied. “I sadly admit that I had to escape here after everyone bombarded my room to see if I was all right.”

Li Mei gasped a little. “You weren’t alone were you?”

Alex laughed a little. “No no, I was with Sonya. We actually went to the springs…and let me tell you, the moment I was in the water, it felt like a thousand knives were sticking into my back…but I got used to it after fifteen minutes.”

“Ouch,” Li Mei replied. She then reached her arms over to Alex and gave her a hug. “Well I know you heard it a million times, but I’ll say it again…I’m so glad you’re all right! I mean, when Raiden and Rose told us what happened, I was so worried. And you know what…I’m going to make sure that nothing bad like that happens to you again.”

Alex smiled a little as she returned the hug. “Thanks Li Mei, but don’t worry, I’m fine now. I’ve being taken good care of by my other friends too.”

Li Mei pulled back. “Did you have breakfast yet?”

“Yes I did. Sonya gave me some scrambled eggs and home fries.”

“Sounds yummy,” Li Mei replied.

Then Alex looked at her seriously. “Hey…how have you been? I mean, I know things have been a bit rough the last couple of weeks…”

“I know,” Li Mei said. “But I’m glad to say that things are getting better for me. I take it one day at a time.”

“That’s good to hear,” Alex replied. “Just remember…if you ever want to talk about what happened, let me know. I won’t force it out of you.”

“Maybe.” Then an idea came to Li Mei. “Hey, since no one is here, do you want to go to the hot springs with me?”

Alex shrugged a little. “Why not. I need the exercise anyway. I seriously should try to do more physical activities some time tonight or tomorrow.”

“Great,” Li Mei said. “Just remember…once we’re off the cave grounds, we are not to separate from each other.”

“Right,” Alex agreed. “Just let me get my stuff and I’ll meet you by the campfire.”

“See you then,” Li Mei said. She then got up and left the room. Alex took a piece of paper and pen and left a quick note for Sonya (since Sonya started becoming paranoid about everyone being missing now). She then got her towel before leaving the room.


Indoor Arena

While waiting for her match to begin, Rose watched the other matches taking place in front of her. Although she was standing a few rows back, she was still able to see the action without anyone blocking her view.

She had only been here for an hour, but she had a good feeling that her match would be coming up soon. She didn’t get much sleep during the night and she was looking forward to a well-deserved nap.

I just hope Raiden doesn’t bother me during my nap,’ Rose thought with a small sigh.

Soon, the current match ended and the two fighters cleared out. A few seconds passed before the Shadow Priest hosting the tournament announced the first fighter for the next match.

“Viper!” he called out.

Rose managed to get a glimpse of the young blond woman dressed in an all-green attire (save the black boots) entering the ring. Upon seeing her, an uneasy feeling came over Rose. She couldn’t understand why this feeling came over to her, but a part of her believed that it had to do with Viper.

Before she could ponder more about it however, she suddenly found herself being grabbed by the shoulders and turned about ninety degrees to her left. Before her vision could focus, the person who grabbed her pressed their lips against hers. Rose’s eyes were wide opened, but she could only get a glimpse of a lock of blond hair. The kiss was quick, the person quickly pulling away and making a dash for it. Rose turned towards the direction where the person ran off, but whoever gave her the kiss obviously had good speed.

That was odd,’ she thought.

She slightly licked her lower lips, finding her nose turning. Whoever kissed her definitely had bad taste in lip gloss.

“Rose!” the Shadow Priest called out interrupting her thoughts.

Rose quickly shook her head as she realized that she was being called to fight Viper in a match. She took a deep breath before making her way passed the viewers who were in front of her. She then got in the ring and made her way towards the middle of the ring.

Viper stood still as she waited for the match to begin. Since the viewers were out of her way, she was able to feel Viper’s energy better…one that was very familiar to her.

This girl,’ Rose thought. ‘She has the same energy that Bison’s Dolls had when they were under his control. Could it be that…

She stopped her thoughts then. She knew that, since Shadowlaw went down, that only four girls known to have been working for Bison went missing. Rose was convinced that Viper was one of those four girls.

It’s too bad that I can’t free you now,’ Rose thought as she began to get into her fighting stance. ‘However, I promise that the next time we meet, you will be free from that bastard’s control…

“Begin!” the Shadow Priest called out.

Viper didn’t waste any time as she ran after Rose. Quickly, she jumped forward and attempted an air kick, which Rose managed to block in time. From there, the two women exchanged various moves. Rose found herself mostly on defense, blocking many of Viper’s quick maneuvers. When she got the chance, she made her move.

Rose quickly grabbed her yellow scarf and in fast speed she wrapped it around her right arm. ‘Soul Spiral!’ she called out as a white aura came over the scarf and formed into a high speed spiral. She managed to land the move on Viper, forcing her to be pushed back a few feet.

Viper managed to regain herself before running towards Rose again. She managed to pass Rose’s defense, performing a double punch before following it with a double kick. Rose managed to block the last kick before following it with a backhand to the face, forcing Viper’s head to snap sideways.

Taking another opportunity, Rose whipped out her scarf and aimed it towards Viper’s ankles. She managed to wrap her scarf around her left ankle before pulling her towards her. Viper was forced to fly up in the air before Rose released her hold. However, as Viper fell back towards the ground, she managed to catch herself by landing on her hands and performing a backward flip.

Not even a second later, Viper dove forward with both of her hands out and managed to spin her body around a few times. Rose remembered the dolls performing the same move, but only with her legs out instead of their hands.

When Viper was close to her, Rose managed to jump over her. As she jumped, she managed to turn herself around so that she was able to face Viper.

Soul Spark!” Rose cried out as she shot her scarf out. A ball of energy shot out from the tip of the scarf. It managed to hit Viper, forcing her off course and sliding a few feet across the ground.

Afterwards, Rose landing on the ground with both feet. However, upon landing, she suddenly found her legs giving out, forcing herself to fall on her knees.

“What the-” she uttered as she suddenly felt a dizzy sensation coming over her. She couldn’t understand why she was suddenly feeling like this. Then it hit her as she remembered the mysterious person who kissed her just before she was called for her match just a few minutes ago.

I understand now,’ she thought as she remembered the bad lip gloss taste. ‘The lip gloss contained some sort of spell! Whoever kissed me knows this girl and wants her to win!

Before she could think anymore, Viper was able to easily approach her and performed a spin kick to Rose’s head. The impact was hard enough to force Rose to the ground. Just before losing consciousness, the Shadow Priest announced Viper as the winner of the match.


In the not too distant future…

And the winner of The Blood Tournament is…Tanya!”

The crowd cheered and applauded as Tanya raised her arms in victory. “Yes!” she cried out excitedly. “I am the winner! I won this tournament! Woo hoo!”

She then noticed her opponent who, ironically, looks like Ivy but with longer hair and was wearing a pink outfit. She was trying to crawl away in defeat, which actually angered Tanya.

You’re ruining my moment!” she yelled. She then raised a foot and kicked her as hard as she could out of the ring, forcing the woman to cry out in sheer pain.

Now Tanya!” the Shadow Priest said to her. “Shao Kahn will now be entering the ring with your prize…the Chishio No Me medallion!”

With that, the Outworld Emperor Shao Kahn entered the ring. In his right hand was Chishio No Me. Upon seeing it, Tanya grew more excited. All the power in the universe was soon going to be in her very own hands.

Congratulations on your win Tanya,” Shao Kahn said to her. “I knew that I could count on you to win the tournament.” He then handed the medallion to her.

Tanya looked at it while holding it. She couldn’t believe her eyes. ‘This is truly happening!’ she cried out in her mind.

With that,” Shao Kahn said as he kneeled down to one knee. “I ask your hand in marriage. I want you to be my Empress, to rule by my side. We shall rule Outworld together. Do you accept?”

Tanya smiled excitedly again. “Yes! I do accept!”

From there, the audience chanted. “Tanya! Tanya! Tanya! Tanya!”

As the chants continued, the many voices slowly seemed to changed into one single voice…

“Tanya…Tanya? TANYA!” a female voice screeched.

Tanya became completely started as she rolled to the side and fell off the bed she was in, taking her blanket with her.

“Oof!” she cried out. She then untangled herself from the blanket and looked up. She noticed what was a not-so-happy Ivy standing a few feet from her…much to her dismay.

“Finally, you’re up!” Ivy called out. “You overslept again and my boots were supposed to be shined an hour ago!”

Tanya stared at her. “Isn’t your match not until tomorrow?”

“Yes,” Ivy replied. “But I would like to look presentable today. I’ve already laid out my boots in the work room. They better be done within thirty minutes.” Ivy’s eyes then shifted up and down at Tanya. “Has anyone ever told you that you have bad taste in sleepwear?”

Tanya briefly looked down at her attire. It was a one-piece yellow long-sleeved nightgown that fell to her knees and consisted a V-neck around the neck area.

“What the hell is wrong with my sleepwear?” Tanya asked her.

“Oh nothing,” Ivy smirked deciding to tease her. “It’s just that you have such a pretty face and that nightwear just makes it look unflattering.”

“For your information,” Tanya said to her. “This belonged to my mother, until she died of course. So if it helps, this outfit does have a meaning to me.”

The smirk on Ivy’s face disappeared then, realizing how serious Tanya was. “When did she die?” she asked.

Tanya sighed. “When I was a little girl. I don‘t remember how. My father never liked to talk about it.”

“I see,” Ivy replied. “Do you remember her face?”

“Of course. Why do you ask?”

Ivy turned her back to her then. “Just curious. But if it will make you happy…at least you knew your mother. I never knew my real mother. I haven‘t the slightest clue of what she looks like.”

Tanya nodded, feeling a bit of sympathy for once. “Did you at least know your father?”

Ivy quickly changed the subject. “Just get those boots shined. I’ll give you forty minutes.” She then quickly left the room.

Once the door closed, Tanya stood herself up, feeling a bit surprised. Ever since she met Ivy, the Keisei woman showed coldness and only once in a while would she be kind to her. For the first time, Tanya was able to see a different side of Ivy and it was one she didn’t expect to see.


Main Palace

“It’s too bad Kilik couldn’t be here,” said Maxi as he and Xianghua were just beginning to leave the dining quarters of the main palace after having some lunch.

A blank look came over Xianghua’s face as she spoke. “Um, I forgot…what for again?”

Maxi laughed a little. “You forgot already? Well, as the three of us managed to get ourselves over here, Kilik saw his new ‘girlfriend’ Jade and said he was going to go talk to her for a minute. However, that ‘minute’ turned into a nice little picnic in the forest.”

If it were possible, steam would be coming out of Xianghua’s ears. ‘When was the last time Kilik and I had a picnic?’ She then looked up at her companion. ‘Well, at least I have Maxi with me.

After that thought, Xianghua forced herself to let out a hearty laugh. “Oh yeah, now I remember, ha ha.”

Maxi looked at her oddly. “Gee Xianghua, that was some laugh.”

Xianghua’s laugh ceased and a nervous look came over her eyes. “Um, did it really sound fake? Gee, I must have a really bad laugh.”

“No no,” Maxi replied. “That’s not what I meant at all. What I meant was-”

As he was talking, Maxi happened to turn his head towards one of the more narrow hallways of the palace. He managed to see a glimpse of a floating figure in a dark purple robe just disappearing around a corner causing him to stop in his tracks. It was no doubt that it was one of the many Shadow Priests that lurked around Outworld. However, aside from their dinner during their first night here, he never saw any Shadow Priests lurking around here.

What is a Shadow Priest doing wandering around the palace?’ he thought as he grew suspicious.

Xianghua had stopped in her tracks when Maxi stopped. She raised an eyebrow once he fell silent, never finishing the sentence he started.

“Um, Maxi?” Xianghua asked with concern. “Is everything okay?”

Maxi blinked a couple of times before turning his head to Xianghua, realizing that she was still there. “Um, yeah,” he answered. “Say, do me a favor…I just remembered something and I want to take care of it while it’s fresh in my mind. Do you mind waiting for me outside? It won’t take long.”

Xianghua sighed. “Maxi, do you remember the new cave rule? Don’t wander off without a friend out of the cave grounds?”

“Yeah yeah,” Maxi replied. “But Xianghua…we’re at one of the most crowded places of the tournament grounds. I wouldn’t be sending you outside if I that wasn’t the case. Just give me ten minutes.”

“Oh fine,” Xianghua gave in. “But I’ll kick you if you take longer.” She then began heading out the door which wasn’t far from them.

Maxi waited until his friend was out the door before he walked through the narrow hall. He headed to the spot where the Shadow Priest was last seen. Maxi had thought that it would lead him to another hallway but it instead lead him to a door which was backed up about five feet from the normal wall lining.

“Just great,” Maxi said to himself. “Hopefully this doesn’t lead me into a maze.”

He reached for the black handle and pulled the door back. He peered inside and saw that it lead to another hallway. Though only lit with few candles, he was able to see that there were a row of doors on either side of the two walls, plus a double door at the end of the hall which Maxi guessed was about ten feet high.

Not only that, but just halfway down the hall he was able to see the Shadow Priest he spotted before.

Good,’ Maxi thought. ‘He didn’t go too far.

He decided that it was best to wait until the Shadow Priest was three quarters away from the large doors, which didn’t take too long. He then slipped himself through the open door and began walking down the door, grateful that his boots were hardly making any noises.

Having been walking in a fast pace, he was about halfway down the hall when the Shadow Priest managed to reach the large doors, which opened by themselves. For a moment as the Shadow Priest entered the room, Maxi got a glimpse of a few people who were in the room. It looked as though there was a meeting going on.

Wonder what that’s all about,’ Maxi wondered.

It was then that he noticed one of the people sitting in the room…actually this person wasn’t even human. It was a tall bald figure with brownish-gray skin, pale eyes, and was extremely built. However, he had a disturbing feature and it was one that Maxi immediately recognized…the beating of the being’s heart, the organ being on the outside of his chest, quickly reached Maxi’s ears.

It was a being Maxi instantly recognized.

“Astaroth,” he muttered angrily under his breath. For a brief moment, he thought about the day the monster invaded his ship and killed every one of his crew, only leaving him and Kilik, who was traveling with him that day, as the only survivors.

In rage, Maxi began sprinting forward, taking out his nunchakus in the process. Nothing was going to stop him from getting to the golem.

The tall doors closed by the time Maxi was a few feet from it. Then to his surprise, the door quickly seemed to vanish, only leaving a plain wall behind.

“Wha-” he began to say as he managed to stop himself from crashing into the wall. Quickly, he touched the wall, hoping to somehow activate the door again, but to no avail.

“Damn it!” Maxi cried out as he slammed his fist where the door previously was. For a moment afterwards, he gave himself some time to catch his breath and to also calm his nerves. As he did, a thought came to him.

I thought he was dead…I saw him die in our last encounter!


Unknown Area

It had been three days since Ermac rescued Paul from the dungeon in Shao Kahn’s Fortress. Since then, the two of them had been hiding out deep in the forest. According to Ermac, they were ‘very far’ from the tournament grounds, but Paul wondered exactly how far they really were.

Mostly the two of them kept silent. With Paul still recovering from his ordeal, Ermac did most of the camp work which including keeping the campfire going and hunting for food.

This morning, Paul had the opportunity to take his first bath in nearly three weeks after he was captured in one of the lakes nearby. He wounds stung like hell, but he didn’t care. Once he got used to it, the pain was actually beginning to feel good to him. Aside from shaving his new full beard, he couldn’t wait to get his shoulder-length blond hair back to his favorite Mohawk-like style.

Ermac had managed to get clothes for Paul, which came from a nearby village, consisting of a white shirt and black pants. Paul didn’t have shoes, but he didn’t care since he liked walking around with no shoes on.

This afternoon was no different. Ermac was currently hunting for food for tonight’s dinner. Paul was well enough to at least walk around the camp area so a couple of times he collected some twigs to keep the campfire going. It was the least he could do for now, so he thought.

At one point, Paul sat cross-legged watching the fire in front of him. Even with all the time he had the last couple of days, only now did his mind begin to think about everything.

Since he was young, he loved the thrill of the fight. As he got older, he was winning more and more fights and things were looking great for him ever since he fought Kazuya Mishima in a tournament over twenty years ago. Heck, to him, he managed to beat the Fighting God Ogre in another tournament. Even with Ogre turning into True Ogre (hence the tournament continued on after Paul left and it was Jin Kazama who fought and beat True Ogre), Paul believed he was the true winner for months afterwards.

However, because of his attitude towards it, things went down ever since. Even those who supported him turned their backs on him and soon the dojo he owned for over a decade went bankrupt. Even with all of this, he still felt that he was the world’s greatest fighter. In the last tournament before this one, he was so close to proving it, only to lose to Heihachi’s pet bear Kuma.

With this tournament and all he endured, it has made him realiz his overconfidence. All he wanted was to be the best. The very idea went over his head and now it brought him to this.

I need to do more with myself than this,’ he thought unsurely.

However, even at forty-eight years old, he still had time ahead of him.

Paul looked down at his arms, noting the countless scars on them. It was strange…in the beginning, he could remember the enduring pain he received during his torture…yet within a couple of days it all became nothing but a blur, only able to note a few things in between tortures including Ermac rescuing him. It was a psychological thing, he knew that. Victims of this kind of brutality find a way to get their minds in another place, almost like an out-of-body experience.

Perhaps it may be better that it was all a blur,’ he thought.

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted when he heard someone running over to his direction. Paul turned his head and saw Ermac running towards him.

“Hey buddy,” Paul said to him. “What’s the rush?”

Quickly, however, Ermac put a hand out and Paul suddenly found himself being pushed down to the ground.

“What the-” Paul began to call out.

“Get down!” Ermac yelled out as he got himself on the ground. Paul was confused for a moment until a red energy ball came whizzing by and passed over them before landing on the ground a few yard away and exploded.

“Holy crap!” Paul yelled out as he scanned the area. “What’s going on?”

“One of Shao Kahn’s servants found us!” Ermac told him. “His name is Ogre.”

Paul raised an eyebrow, surprised to hear that name. ‘Since when did he work for anyone.’ Then he remembered something. ‘Oh yeah…Shao Kahn has the medallion at the moment…

It was then that the being Ogre swooped down to the ground, landing on both feet. Ermac stood up, ready to fight him. Then, to his surprise, Paul managed to stand himself up and got into a fighting stance.

“Stay back,” Ermac ordered. “You’re in no condition to fight yet.”

“Don’t worry,” Paul replied. “I can handle this one…it’s the least I can do for helping me.”

They were then interrupted when Ogre jumped forward in fast speed, swinging an arm with his hand closed into a fist. Both Ermac and Paul ducked under the attack before trying to strike Ogre with their own punches and kicks.

However, even with two fighting him, Ogre managed to defend himself from the maneuvers, much to Ermac and Paul’s dismay.

Making sudden movements in a while, Paul was able to feel shots of pain coursing through his body, but he tried his best to ignore it. Unfortunately, when Ogre had the chance, he concentrated on Paul, performing his own moves before swatting him away like a fly.

Paul found himself flying sideways before hitting a tree head first and rolling to the ground. Because of the impact, Paul unwillingly fell into unconsciousness leaving Ermac to fend for himself on his own.


Courtyard

“Rainbow Mika!” Shang Tsung called out after the end of the last match.

“Great!” Asuka said as she patted Mika on the shoulder. “Hopefully you’ll win this one.”

“I hope so too,” Mika replied. “And with your match tomorrow night, I hope you do the same.”

“Good luck,” Sakura said.

“Thanks,” Mika answered as she got herself into the ring.

Shang Tsung waited for Mika to get in the middle of the ring before announcing her opponent. “Sektor!”

Mika looked around for her opponent and was surprised to see that it was a red cyborg she was about to go up against. Whatever the case, despite her uneasiness, she would have to try her best.

Besides,’ Mika thought. ‘I had myself quite a match during the last round.

Mika got herself into a fighting stance before Sektor reached her. He stopped a few feet away and looked at her. “I see that you are ready,” he said in his robotic tone as he got into his own fighting stance. “Prepare to be defeated.”

Then, Shang Tsung called for the match to begin. Sektor immediately covered the distance between them with Mika waiting for him. Quickly, the red cyborg performed various moves in such a speed that Mika was barely able to block his attacks.

At one point, Mika was forced to jump back to give herself a breather. While she did, Sektor shout out his arm and a long line of flames shot out towards her, forcing her to duck down quickly just before the flames hit her.

When the fire ceased, Mika stood up and attempted a flying peach. However, Sektor managed to sink himself into the ground. As Mika began flying over the spot where he just was, Sektor reappeared from the ground as he attempted an uppercut. He managed to land the move, throwing Mika off course and she ended up landing hard on the ground.

Owe!’ Mika cried out in her mind. ‘That was worse than when Sakura’s projectile hit my rear back in Round Two!

While she was down on the ground, Sektor bent his back so that his chest was facing upward. A torpedo shot out from his chest and went upward. It then directed itself over Mika before heading back towards the ground.

“AAH!” Mika cried out as she rolled out of the way after noticing the torpedo. She managed to get out of the way in time and the torpedo ended up exploding on the ground upon impact.

Mika quickly got herself back on her feet just as Sektor managed to approach her. He performed punches that seemed to come in different directions for her as she tried to block them.

Damn it, he’s too fast!’ Mika cried out in her mind. ‘I wonder if I’ll be able to at least get through this match without losing consciousness!

Soon, to her luck, she managed to see an opening and took her chance in perform a round house kick. The kick managed to connect causing Sektor to be pushed back a couple of feet. Then, Mika attempted to get behind him to perform a full nelson. However, Sektor saw the hold coming and managed to elbow Mika in the stomach.

“Oof!” Mika cried out as she tried to ignore the tense pain in her stomach.

As she was keeled over, Sektor attempted a kick, but she was able to duck under it, falling to her knees in the process. Clenching her hand into a fist, Mika made the decision to perform a particular move she called ‘desperate.’

Rainbow low blow!” she cried out. Using her fist, she punched Sektor right in his ‘personal space’ as hard as she could.

However, it would only prove to be a bad move. Mika had hit nothing but metal and sheer pain immediately shot through her hand and up just passed her wrist. Not only that, but the move obviously didn’t effect the cyborg since he only stood there looking at Mika.

“Damn it!” Mika cried out. ‘I think I broke my pinkie!

Sektor shook his head. “Pathetic,” he said.

Quickly, his chest compartment opened and two missiles connected to a thick string shot out in fast speed towards Mika. Unfortunately, Mika didn’t see the move coming in time and the missiles ended up wrapping themselves around her neck. Once they stopped, an electric surge shot through her body. The pain alone made Mika let out a short scream before she fell to the ground and lost consciousness.

Sektor had already took his leave as he was announced as the winner of the match. Afterwards, Mika’s friends quickly got in the ring to check up on her.


Shao Kahn’s Fortess

After his shift for the morning, Sagat was walking through the halls on his way to the sleeping quarters to get some rest for a couple of hours. It was definitely something he needed, especially after the last couple of days with his loss in the tournament and finding out that Julia was definitely here.

Not like it was already enough that he had to deal with his ‘job.’

All was quiet as he continued to make his way down the hallway…at least until he heard a set of footsteps coming from the hall that he was about to pass. Sagat slowed himself down, a bit curious as to who was coming. Soon, the person came by and he instantly recognized his former pupil Adon.

Adon happened to turn his head and he saw Sagat standing before him. He stopped in his tracks and for a moment the two stared at each other. It had only been two days since the two last saw each other, but for some reason it felt longer.

Sagat didn’t want to ask, but he had to anyway. “What are you up to?”

Adon snorted. “Well despite what I said the other day, I guess I might as well tell you, considering-”

“Cut the crap and get to the point!” Sagat demanded.

“Fine,” Adon said. “Today, I made my decision.”

“You’re going to challenge Havik to a fight?”

“Not just any fight,” Adon said. “It’s going to be a fight to the death.”

Sagat felt a bit surprised upon hearing that. He knew Adon wanted revenge badly, but did he really have to go as far as death match just to feel satisfied?

“You’re a fool,” Sagat told him. “There’s no point in talking about revenge in itself, but you are being irrational about how you want to seek out your revenge-”

“Don’t tell me how I should seek vengeance!” Adon yelled. “The reason I decided this is since Havik is supposedly a servant of ‘chaos’ I thought it would be a good match for him…a last match of course.”

“I gladly take the challenge,” a calm voice suddenly said. Adon and Sagat turned their heads to the voice and saw Havik standing a few feet from them. With him were Kabal and Kira, all three of them having heard the Muay Thai fighters’ conversation.

“You!” Adon called out. Even before he bolted, Sagat grabbed a hold of him, forcing him to struggle a bit.

“I’ve been waiting since day one for you to approach me for a match,” Havik said to Adon. “I just didn’t expect you to want a death match. Excellent choice I must say. If you like, we can start our match right now-”

“I have a better idea,” said Kabal stepping in. He looked at Havik briefly. “This will be unorthodox for Havik, but I believe it’ll be best to have this match at a specific location. I remember a place not too far from here from when I was last here in Outworld.”

“Wait,” called out Kira. “You do realize that Havik has a match tomorrow.”

“It’ll be worth the risk,” Havik replied. He then looked at Adon. “Fine. We’ll have our death match at the location Kabal suggests.”

Adon eyed him. “I look forward to it.”


Palace Grounds

Xianghua sighed to herself as she sat on a bench facing the main palace. Five minutes had already passed since Maxi sent her outside so that he could take care of something. He said he’d be back in ten minutes, but she had the feeling that it was going to take longer.

What is he doing that’s so important?’ she thought with a small sigh.

As she waited, she noticed someone walking towards her. She looked up out of curiosity and she quickly felt her heart flutter a bit upon seeing the same man she saw the other day when she was here with Mina.

I never thought I’d see him again!’ she thought feeling her cheeks burn a bit.

To her luck, the blond stranger noticed her and he walked over to her. A smirk came over his face. “Ah, you’re here again,” he said to her. “I didn’t think I’d see your lovely face again so soon.”

Xianghua found herself giggling a bit. “Yeah, I, eh, didn’t think I’d see you again either. Say, I never got to know your name last time.”

The man nodded as he slowly pulled out another fully-bloomed red rose out of his pocket. “My name is simply Vega. And you are?”

“Xianghua.”

“Ah, such a lovely name.” He then sat next to her and handed the rose to her. “Which makes me wonder…why are you here alone?”

“Actually,” Xianghua replied. “I’m waiting for a friend of mine. He had to go take care of something.”

“I see,” Vega said. “You know, I don’t think friends should leave their friends waiting.”

Xianghua shrugged. “Well I only have to wait a short time really.”

Vega nodded. “I have an idea…I’d like to get to know you more Xianghua. How about we meet here for a late dinner tonight. Nine o’clock?”

Xianghua nodded. “Sounds good to me.”

“Excellent,” Vega said. He then moved his head closer to her and gave her a peck on the cheek. “I look forward to seeing you tonight.” With that Vega stood up and took his leave.

As Xianghua turned her head, she was almost startled upon seeing Maxi standing a few feet from her. He seemed to have a blank expression on his face, but upon noticing that she was looking at him, he slightly shook his head and forced himself to smile.

“Well I’m back,” Maxi said as he approached her. “Say, who’s your new boyfriend?”

Xianghua quickly stood up and eyed her companion. “Hey! He’s not my boyfriend. Actually, it’s sort of a long story.”

“Come on,” Maxi said to her. “He gave you a rose!”

Xianghua quickly changed the subject. “Wait…just tell me why I had to wait for you?”

Maxi nearly forgot about that. He quickly thought through what he could say to her and ended up saying the first thing that came to mind. “You know…I was in there for some time and I don’t even remember why.”

Xianghua sighed. “Maxi…you’re hopeless.”

“Let’s just go,” Maxi said. He and Xianghua began to leave the palace grounds. Unknown to Xianghua, throughout that whole conversation, Maxi tried his best to suppress his anger. After all, he did discover the fact that Astaroth was right here in Outworld…


Deep In The Forest

“That was a good picnic,” said Kilik. He was walking through a trail he never walked through before with Jade, the both of them using their staffs to get themselves through the steep hills more easily.

“Indeed it was,” agreed Jade. “Maybe one day you could try the food in Edenia if you ever decide to visit.”

Kilik smirked. “And you should try the food in Keisei…if you try of visit of course.”

Jade smirked as well. “You know…I know of a clearing not too far from there. I’ve…trained there a couple of times with my friends since we came here.”

“That doesn’t sound like a bad idea,” Kilik said.

“After all,” she said. “I did promise you a sparring session…especially since I have my match in two days.”

“Practice is definitely good,” Kilik ended up saying unsure of what else to say.

While he rubbed his neck, Kilik thought he saw something and stopped in his tracks. He scanned around the area again to double check, just in case his eyes were playing games with him.

Jade had noticed that he stopped walking. She stopped walking as well and looked at Kilik who was still searching about. “Is something wrong?” she asked.

“I thought I saw some-” Kilik began to say. Then he saw what he thought he saw…a few yards ahead, he saw what looked like a person on the ground not moving.

Immediately, Kilik ran forward with a confused Jade following him not too far behind. Kilik didn’t stop running until he reached the person, obviously a male just by his body shape. The male was lying face down with her long blonde hair fallen over his face.

Jade noted some black spots on the trees and ground before turning her attention back to Kilik. “He was definitely attacked by something,” she said.

Kilik slowly turned the man to his back, noting the blood on his head which dripped down passed his full beard. The young man then took his fingers and pressed it on the side of the man’s neck to feel for a pulse.

“He’s alive, but his pulse is faint,” Kilik said. “He doesn’t look to have any injuries other than the one on his head.” He then pulled the unconscious man up and slowly got him over his shoulders. Kilik winced a bit as he realized how heavy the man was.

Silently then, Kilik and Jade ran through the trail in the direction where they came from. Since they ran, it was about forty-five minutes before they reached a fork. From here, Kilik knew that he and Jade had to separate at this point. Besides, Kilik was having a feeling that it may be best to take this man back in the cave, a decision he hoped that he wouldn’t regret later.

“Jade,” Kilik said. “I know someone who could take care of this man. I’ll try to meet up with you again in a couple of days.”

Jade looked at him confused. “Let me come with you-”

“No,” Kilik cut in. “I’m sorry, but you can’t follow me at this point. Go back to the palace.” With that, Kilik ran down the trail that would lead him back to the cave with the unconscious man in tow.

Jade sighed to herself. “I swear…I better not go through the same little dilemma as Kitana.” Then, she began walking through the trail that would take her back to the main palace.

To Chapter Forty-Six

iceangelmkx

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