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Chapter Forty-Six

Evening Hours, Cave

At first, all was seen was blur as Paul tried to open his eyes. He slowly blinked a couple of times as he tried to get his vision straightened out.

“Ugh,” he uttered as he lifted a hand to rub the tension in his head.

Then an unfamiliar voice rang in. “I see you’re finally awake Paul.”

Paul blinked a couple of more times before he finally got his vision cleared. He looked around and saw that he was lying on a couch. The walls seemed to look as though he was in…

Great, I’m in a cave this time,’ he thought. ‘Can’t I just be back in my room at the palace?

Soon, Paul’s eyes shifted and this time, he was able to see the person who had spoken to him. For a second, he was a bit surprised when he realized that the man who spoke to him was the very same man who tried to get him to join with him because the world was apparently in danger. They had that conversation the night before Paul was taken to the dungeon.

Paul smirked a little. “Heh, it’s you,” he said. “Raiden, if I remember correctly.”

Raiden nodded. “So you do remember me.” He then walked over to him with a mug which had hot steam coming out of it. “You were merely unconscious when you came here. One of my chosen ones, Kilik, found you deep in the forest and brought you here.

Paul slowly sat himself up as Raiden spoke, grunting a bit due to his headache. “I was with someone,” he said. “He helped me with…some things and I really owe him my life.”

Raiden shook his head a bit. “I’m sorry, but when you were found, no one else was around.”

“I see,” Paul replied. ‘I’m sure Ermac’s fine. Heck, if I could beat Ogre, I’m confident that he’ll defend himself fine.’ He then smirked in appreciation. ‘Thanks for everything buddy.

“Normally,” Raiden continued. “I would just have you checked up, then brought you back to the main palace. However, there are two reasons why we kept you here.”

Raiden handed the cup over to Paul as he took it in his hand. He looked into the cup and realized that it was tea. “Go on,” he said.

“For one thing and this is the main reason…the Chishio No Me medallion is more than anyone knows. As you know, it has all the power in the world and we are here to make sure that that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. If that happens, then we have a good amount of allies to defend ourselves when we have to. These chosen ones have pure hearts and souls, despite who they are and despite their past. You, Paul, are one of them. You’re a strong fighter and we would like you to join with us.”

“Thanks for the offer,” Paul said. “But I don’t think I’m cut out for it.”

“Which brings me to my second reason,” Raiden said. “I looked at those scars…there’s no denying that they’re recent. You were in the dungeon were you?”

Paul was silent for a moment, wondering if he should admit what he went through. Then a question came to him. “Why do you want to know?”

“Obviously,” Raiden replied. “Those who’ve tortured you are out after you, most likely to execute you.”

Paul nodded. “You know…for a moment there, I almost forgot about that. I was hiding out in the forest with an ally of mine…”

“Was he a prisoner too?”

“Actually, he saved my life. His name is Ermac.”

Raiden fell silent for a moment. ‘It’s been a while since I’ve heard that name…how long has it been since the Earthrealm invasion? Perhaps Ermac no longer wishes to serve Shao Kahn…

The Thunder God changed the subject then. “Even if you don’t want to join us, at least hide out here until the end of the tournament.”

A thought came to Paul then. ‘You know…if I had taken his offer to begin with, perhaps I would’ve never been in that dungeon to begin with…how much more of an idiot can I get…

“Fine,” Paul said. “Let me just-”

“Get your belongingd?” Raiden finished for him. “Don’t worry. My ally Rose, a psychic, knew where your room was and gathered your stuff here. When you’re ready to get up, I’ll show you to your room.”

“Thank you,” Paul said. He then slowly took a sip of his tea, appreciating the warmth that it brought to him.


In Another Part Of The Cave

“That was some good training,” said Mina as she brushed her arm off a bit. “For one thing, we had it in the evening this time instead of the crack of dawn.”

“Yeah yeah,” replied Hwang. “I figured, since I did sleep in this morning that you’d be happy with that decision.”

“We should train in the evening fromnow on,” Mina suggested.

Hwang smirked. “I don’t think so. We train again first thing tomorrow morning.”

“Rats,” Mina uttered.

The two of them continued walking through the cave’s hall heading towards their room which was next door to each other. Before they got in the cave, Hwang had looked at the position of the full moon and had guessed that it was a little later into the evening.

He found it funny how the two of them had different habits when it came to training, especially considering that they were both trained under the same master, who happened to be Mina’s father, Han-myeong. That very thought reminded him of why he and Mina were stuck here in Outworld to begin with…

With all that’s been happening,’ Hwang thought. ‘It’s no surprise that I forget why we’re here in the first place.

They were here because Mina had run away from home and he and the rest of the Lee Dynasty Coast Guards were sent out to look for her. Hwang was the only one who spotted her going on the ships. Normally, he would’ve just dragged her off the ship. However, he knew that she had a reason for doing so.

That day, he had made a vow to himself. Depending on the condition of her excuse, he would choose then whether or not to return her back home, which was a hard decision for him…it meant either betraying his friend or betraying his master.

“Hey Mina,” Hwang said.

Mina looked up at him as they finally approached her room. “What’s up?” she asked.

“I, eh, wanted to talk to you about something important.”

“Really?” Mina asked curiously. “Well, we can talk in-”

“Hey you two!” a male voice cut in.

Hwang sighed as he and Mina turned to see who just spoke. Coming up to them were Kilik and Maxi.

“Hey you guys,” replied Mina. She then looked at Kilik. “I heard about you staff dilemma during Round Four.”

Kilik sighed a little. “Don’t remind me.”

“Too bad we all lost the tournament,” said Maxi.

“Yeah,” said Hwang. “But through it all, I just hope that someone in this cave will win the tournament.”

“We all do,” agreed Mina.

Then Maxi laughed a little, deciding the change the subject. “Hey, you know what’s entertaining about our stay here? All the nice romance around here. First, you have the Julia and Mika catfight over Ryu.”

“Oh I think after their match that they won’t be near each other anytime soon,” said Mina.

“Is it really worth it?” asked Hwang.

“With a guy like Ryu,” replied Maxi. “I guess if depends on a woman’s taste in men. Oh yeah, and did I mention Kilik’s seeing his new girlfriend Jade?”

Kilik eyed his friend. “How many times do I have to tell you…we’re just friends.”

“Sure sure,” Maxi joked. “And now Xianghua is sort of seeing this new guy with blonde hair named Vega around the main palace. He even gave her a rose!”

Kilik and Hwang laughed a little. “Someone’s in love,” said Kilik.

“Guys, that’s not funny,” said Mina.

The three guys looked at Mina, seeing the very serious look on her face. “Come on Mina,” replied Maxi. “You know I like to just joke around.”

“I know you do,” Mina said. “But there’s something you guys should know about that guy Xianghua’s seeing. Maxi, you’re short description was the same as the guy I saw come up to Xianghua at the palace grounds a couple of days ago. Neither of them even knew each other, yet the guy was already worshipping over her, telling her how beautiful she was and even gave her a rose. That may sound romantic to some, but I find it extremely suspicious. I mean, for one thing, he didn’t even ask her for her name.”

“Actually,” Maxi cut in. “Xianghua told me they introduced themselves to each other today.”

“And I didn’t like his demeanor either,” Mina continued. “Now, I don’t give a rat’s ass that he didn’t notice me, he’s not my type anyway…but to do that in front of someone and completely ignore them is really rude.”

“She’s got a point,” said Kilik. “This guy seems to be completely focused on Xianghua.”

“Did she mention anything else to you Maxi?” asked Hwang.

“Let’s see,” Maxi began to answer. “She rambled a few times over how ‘cute’ he was and how pretty his blue eyes were…oh yeah, and she was going to meet him for dinner at the palace around nine o’clock.”

Kilik looked at a pocket watch that he had borrowed from Raiden.. “Um…it’s almost ten o’clock…”

The four of them looked at each other for a moment. Then they quickly ran a few yards down the hall to Xianghua’s room. Hwang was the first to reach the room and he pulled the curtain aside. The four of them peered into the room and to their dismay, Xianghua wasn’t there.

“Damn it!” Kilik cried out. “At this point, she’s been gone for almost an hour.”

“There’s still a chance that she’s still at dinner,” mentioned Maxi. “I’ll go down there and check it out.”

“I’ll go with you,” offered Mina.

“Mina you stay here,” Hwang said to her.

“Actually it’s best that Mina goes with Maxi,” said Kilik. “Since she was able to get a full view of him, she’ll be able to identify the guy more easily.”

“Thank you Kilik,” said Mina. “And Hwang, I’m going to have a talk with you about trying to keep me here later.”

Hwang sighed a little. “Anywho, Kilik and I will stay here, just incase Xianghua returns to the cave.”

“Sounds like a plan,” said Maxi. “Mina and I will try to get back here within two hours.”

With that, the four then separated with Maxi and Mina grabbing their weapons and began making their way towards the main palace.


Behind The Abandoned Fortress

Whiling waiting for Adon to show up, Havik looked up towards the ceiling. “You know what’s humorous? The fact that I purposely showed up late just to piss off Adon…and it turns out that he’s later than I am.”

Kira sighed boringly, her arms folded in front of her since she, Havik, and Kabal got here. “I’m quite sure he’ll be here, since he’s been begging for this like a dog for so long.”

“The time will come,” said Kabal. “All we have to do is-”

Kabal then trailed off upon footsteps behind heard. The three of them turned around along with the Shadow Priests that were around them, seeing Adon walking over to them. He wore a long silky boxer’s jacket that fell just above his thigh revealing his blue shorts with gold trim and his feet and ankles that were covered with white tape. Although the large hood covered his head, one would still be able to see the determination in his eyes.

Havik walked a couple of feet forward towards his opponent. Before he stopped, Adon quickly took off his jacket with one hand, throwing it aside before it landed on the ground. From there, the two of them had a stare down, neither one of them seem to not even blink during that moment.

Soon, Kabal broke the silence. “You shall now be heading outside. Once outside, the doors will be closed and neither one of you will be allowed back inside until one of you is dead. The only others who will be outside are some Shadow Priests who will be observing the fight around the platform you will be fighting on.”

Soon, the Shadow Priests opened the door. Immediately, Havik walked outside, followed by Adon.

Meanwhile on the top floor of the abandoned palace, Sagat was watching from a throne through a window. A moment ago when he entered this room, he was nearly surprised upon seeing where Havik and Adon would be fighting. They would be fighting on top of a platform ascended seven stories in the air with the only way up being a single ladder that was in front of the fortress.

Far below the platform pretty much gave away how this death match would end…whoever landed on one of the countless large six foot spikes poking from the ground was the loser who would not only lose their dignity but also their life. Even if one of them ended up missing the spikes, it still spelled death for them depending on the length of their injuries.

Adon should’ve seriously thought about this before making this irrational decision,’ Sagat thought.

Soon, he heard the doors open and knew that Kabal and Kira had entered the room, both of them walking up to either side of them. “Wasn’t Vega supposed to be here?” asked Kabal.

Sagat shook his head. “He gave me a notice this afternoon saying that he had his own plans for the evening, whatever that is…”

“Betrayal maybe?” guessed Kira.

Sagat shook his head. “If you knew him, you would think much otherwise.”

They soon saw Havik reaching up to the top of the platform, getting himself up with ease before walking towards the middle of the ring. He seemed quite delighted about this match, which was no surprise to them.

“I had a thought,” said Kabal. “What would Shao Kahn think if he found out about this?”

“I’ve already spoken to him,” replied Sagat. “He encourages it, curious to know who is the strongest of the two.”

Outside, Adon managed to finish climbing up the ladder, ignoring the fact that he was very high up with a set of spikes below him, waiting to eat him or Havik alive. Once he was completely up, he walked himself towards the middle of the ring, keeping himself a few feet away from Havik, who was waiting and ready to fight him.

The two of them stood where they were, staring down at each other once again. As they did, they were able to hear the ladder that brought them up here slowly beginning to make it’s way down. Neither one of them moved during that time.

It was about a minute before the ladder finally reached the floor. Both of them heard a loud click, signaling them that their death match has officially begun. Neither one of them wasted anytime as they jumped towards each other, both of them screaming battle cries.

When they reached each other, Adon began delivering his quick Muay Thai kicks, delighted that he was able to get himself on offense first. While on defense, Havik quickly blocked Adon’s kicks, hoping that he would eventually find an opening and break through Adon’s attacks.

The two of them went on like this for nearly two minutes before they pulled back, mainly for Adon to take a short breather while they circled each other. As they did, Havik noted the dotted scars on Adon’s left cheek.

“You know,” Havik said to him. “I think those scars suit your complexion very well.”

Those words hit a nerve. Letting out another battle cry, Adon sprinted towards Havik, who stood where he was ready for more of his attacks.


Main Palace

“Wow, that chocolate cake was really good!” cried Xianghua as she leaned back a bit. “I don’t think I can eat anymore.”

Sitting across from her in the dining quarters, Vega smirked at her. “I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself my dear.”

Xianghua giggled a little, liking the fact that Vega was calling her dear. She then took a deep breath before looking at him. “So, which realm are you from?”

“Earthrealm,” Vega replied. “And how about you?”

“Keisei,” Xianghua said. “It has it’s moments. However, ever since I came to Outworld, I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Earthrealm. It seems a lot more exciting. I may even take a trip there one day.”

Vega nodded. “It’s all right. But I guess if you’ve lived there all of your life, it tends to get boring after a while.”

“Yeah,” Xianghua agreed. “But then again, it’ll always be your home, no matter what.”

“I come from a country called Spain. There, I have a career as a Matador.”

Xianghua shook her head a bit. “Matador? Never heard of that.”

“I guess they don’t have it in your world,” Vega assumed. “Well, a Matador is a competitor in a sport called Bullfighting, or Tauromachy. The title is self explanatory, we basically fight a bull. There are three stages in bullfighting. The first step for the Matador is to check how aggressive the bull is by using a red cape and to see how the bull swings his head. Depending on how he swings his head, it would let the Matador know the condition of the bull’s eyes. This procedure will help the Matador with his strategy on how and when to approach the bull. Once the Matador is ready, he would plunge his lance in the bull’s neck.

“The second stage involves the Matador planting two barbed sticks with flags into the bull, which further weakens the bull. This procedure will either cause the bull to become weak from the loss of blood or to become more ferocious. When it’s weak, the Matador is ordered to stop. If it’s ferocious, he’s encouraged to continue.

“The final stage has the Matador relying on his cape to make the final blow, which he has to aim between the shoulder blades to get through to the aorta or heart. If the Matador doesn‘t perform the quick death, it’s considered a failed performance.”

Although Xianghua tried her best to listen with interest, she felt as though she was going to get sick. “Um…that sounds like an interesting sport…but the poor bull…which makes me wonder…what happens if the bull survives the whole thing?”

“Whether the bull survives or not, he’s never put in a bullfight twice,” Vega replied. “If he survives, he’s immediately retired to a stable as they have learned from their experience and become much more aggressive than previous.”

Xianghua then smirked at a question she just came up with. “Is it true that the bull is attracted to the red color?”

“They are attracted to movement,” Vega explained. “Most people think that, but the red cape is actually a tradition. Bulls are color blind.”

“I see now,” Xianghua said.

Vega then looked at his watch. “You know my dear, it’s getting quite late. It’s almost ten thirty in the evening.”

Xianghua looked at him a bit surprised. “Wow, we’ve been here for a while. I definitely had a good time tonight.”

“I’m glad you did,” Vega said. “You know, I just remembered…before you leave, how about we come up to my room for a few minutes. I want to show you something.”

Don’t do it!’ a thought suddenly came in Xianghua’s mind. She rolled her eyes upwards a bit as though she was looking up at her head. ‘What was that?’ she thought. ‘This man has shown nothing but kindness since I’ve met him. I’m sure going up to his room for five minutes won’t hurt.

“Sure,” Xianghua said. “But only for a few minutes.”

“Good,” Vega replied. “Just give me a moment, I just need to do something quick. Why don’t you meet me by the main staircase.”

Xianghua stood up. “All right. I’ll see you there.” She then took her leave and left the dinning quarters.

Once she was completely out of sight, a middle-age man with a long black beard sat where Xianghua was a moment ago. Even if he was recognizable, Vega knew who this was.

“Is she to your likings, Shang Tsung?” Vega asked the sorcerer.

“She is a bit different from what I am used to,” Shang Tsung replied. “But I am willing to give her a try, just incase. She does have lovely eyes.”

“Indeed she does,” Vega agreed.

“You’ve done well Vega,” Shang Tsung said. “As a matter of fact, as a reward, I will let you have her for the remainder of the tournament, but you are to hand her over to me when the time comes. I’m sure that you have many…desires in that mind of yours.”

Vega smirked. “I surely do.”


Cave

“Damn it,” Alex muttered to herself as she rolled herself halfway in her bed. “Why can’t I get myself to sleep tonight?”

It was strange to her really. The pain she was experiencing the past couple of days have ceased, aside from the numb feeling in her wrists and the stinging feeling whenever she was in the hot springs. Yet, somehow, she was not able to get sleep then.

Alex shifted again, getting herself on her back and found herself looking up at the dark ceiling of the cave (if you could call it a ceiling). Normally if she couldn’t sleep, she’d be doing whatever paperwork she had to get done. Or perhaps grab the remote on her nightstand and watch some late night TV.

However, there was no paperwork or TV, much to her dismay.

Maybe I’ve been getting too much sleep,’ she concluded.

For a brief moment, Alex thought about getting up and taking a walk. However, the very thought of what had happened to her (mostly what she could only imagine) scared her into staying in bed. Then again, she didn’t want to stay in bed awake for hours either. She just wanted to pass some time before sleep decides to settle in.

Maybe walking around inside the cave will do,’ she thought. ‘That sounds much more safer than being outside.

Alex got herself up and on her feet, taking a heavy blanket with her to keep herself warm. She stretched herself out a bit before pulling the velvet curtain aside and leaving her room, walking towards the lounge room.

Aside from some murmurs coming from some of the rooms of those still awake, the cave was mostly quiet with almost everyone sleeping by this time of the evening. Alex didn’t think much about anything, at least until she realized that she was just beginning to pass Kenshi’s room. She stopped for a moment and listened in near the curtain to see if she could hear any rustling. She heard nothing and assumed that either he was sleeping or wasn’t in the room.

Curiosity got to Alex as she pulled the curtain aside. Even in the darkness, she could see that Kenshi was sound asleep. She sighed to herself, having hope for just a second that he may have been awake.

She then saw Kenshi shift himself a bit in his sleep. A thought came to her then. ‘Hopefully he won’t kill me for this but I’m really bored at the moment…

Alex walked into the room and went up to his bed before slightly touching his shoulder. “Kenshi?” she said. In reply, he made a small grunt, stretching his arm a bit, a sign that he was awake.

“Huh…” he muttered a bit, still half asleep.

“I’m sorry Kenshi,” Alex said. “But I can’t sleep.”

Kenshi yawned a bit before slowly sitting himself up, rubbing his eyes in the process. Unknown to Alex, he had been having difficulty getting to sleep as well. However, just before Alex came in, he was just beginning to fall asleep.

“Why can’t you sleep?” he asked her.

Alex shrugged. “I just can’t…I think I’ve gotten too much sleep the past few days.”

Kenshi slightly nodded. “Do you want to go for a walk?”

Alex smirked a bit. “Well…if you don’t mind…unless you want to go back to sleep…”

“Don’t worry about it,” Kenshi cut in as he reached over to his red blindfold which was lying on one of his two bags. “I had the feeling that I was going to fall in and out of sleep tonight anyway.”

Kenshi then placed his blindfold over his eyes, tying a knot behind his head. He was already wearing a white t-shirt and black sweatpants so he only had to get his sword, which was in it’s scabbard.

Alex looked down at his bare feet. “Aren’t you going to put your boots on?”

“Not this time,” Kenshi replied. “I used to travel with no shoes on for a while.”

Alex then looked down at her own feet, noting the socks she was wearing that were nearly hidden underneath the ankle part of her blue flannel PJ pants. “Well, I guess they aren’t necessary at the moment.”

Kenshi stood up, taking his own blanket with him and throwing it over his shoulder, having the feeling that he may need it later due to the cold weather. “Let’s head out,” he said.

Walking forward first, Alex made her way out of the room with Kenshi just behind her.


Behind The Abandoned Fortress

The intense fight between Adon and Havik continued on. Even Sagat, Kabal, and Kira who were watching all of this through the viewing room on the top of the fortress, weren’t sure how much time had passed since the fight began. For now, the two of them seemed quite even.

As Havik avoided some kick attacks from Adon, he spoke. “Give it up, human. If you do, I may actually let you live.”

“I won’t give up until you are dead!” Adon called out in rage. He then jumped forward with one knee in front of him and managed to slam it into Havik’s abdomen. He then followed it with his rear knee, successfully connecting the attack. “Rising Jaguar!” he called out during the attack.

Havik was forced to be pushed up into the air diagonally and he flew a few feet back before falling and landing back on the ground. He only stayed there for just a second as Adon ran after him before rolling back twice and getting himself back on his feet.

“Good,” Havik said about the move. “But not good enough.” He waited until Adon was just two feet away from him. Quickly, the Chaosrealm native extended his arms out on either side of him before twisting his torso in fast speed into a full circle. During the process, he managed to hit Adon twice with his closed fists, then one last time as he turned his torso in the other direction.

Adon was forced to rear back a few feet after the third hit, shaking the pain off. “Freak!” he called out before running back to Havik again.

Havik seemed to smile despite his grotesque mouth area that was nothing but bones. “I love it how humans think they’re insulting me with a word that is actually considered a compliment in my realm.”

When he was close enough, Adon jumped forward, attempting to deliver a flying kick. However, Havik saw the move in time and he managed to grab Adon’s ankles with both of his hands before swinging him around just behind him, sending Adon flying across the platform before landing and sliding across the ground. When he came to a stop, Adon realized that he was now less than a foot away from the edge of the platform and he immediately rolled himself away from the edge.

As Adon was distracted, Havik took the opportunity to extend his arms out in front of him before bending his knees backwards, letting out a blue projectile. The blue projectile shot out towards Adon, who noticed the move coming and jumped out of the way just in time, letting the projectile pass him.

This time, it was Havik who was running towards Adon. In order to keep himself further from the edge of the ring, Adon ran after Havik as well. He then jumped himself up in the air before extending his leg and darting diagonally towards Havik.

Jaguar Kick!” Adon cried out as the move connected to Havik’s head. A loud snap! was heard as Havik was pushed back a few feet before landing on the ground.

Adon landed safely back on his two feet and looked down at Havik, who was lying still on the ground with his arms towards Adon. To Adon’s delight, it looked as though Havik was dead and that this match was finally over.

“Finally!” Adon called out raising his arms in victory. “I finally have my revenge! I am truly the Muay Thai GOD!”

However, before Adon could continue to celebrate, Havik body suddenly glided forward in a fast speed. Adon couldn’t react in time and he soon found himself being tripped by the Cleric of Chaos, falling forward before landing flat on his face.

“What!” Adon cried out as he turned himself around to face Havik. Adon was in such a shock that he hadn’t noticed that he nose was now broken and bleeding from the last fall.

Havik managed to stand himself up. Adon became even more stock upon seeing that Havik’s neck was literally twisted two-hundred and seventy degrees! The head was just a quarter away from a full circle.

Yet, somehow, Havik was able to stand up.

“Impossible…” Adon muttered as he eyes widened.

Using both of his hands, it took three tries for Havik to get his head back in it’s normal position. As he did, wet cracks reached Adon’s ears, sending chills up his spine.

“You know,” Havik said as Adon began standing himself up. “I love pain, but that actually didn’t feel so good! I commend you for that my friend.”

Adon growled. “Commend this!” he yelled out as he ran over to Havik with a battle cry.

However, as Adon reached him, Havik used his fist to cause even more damage to his nose. Adon finally realized that his nose was broken as the sheer pain extended all around his head. He was forced to rear back, holding his nose with his left hand.

As Adon was distracted by the pain, Havik delivered various punches and kicks at his opponent in quick speed. To his delight, he was completely on the upper hand. Adon tried to block Havik’s attacks, but his vision was still messed up from the punch and wasn’t able to correctly calculate when to block.

Soon, Havik realized that they were two feet away from the edge. Havik decided to cease his attacks. He stood where he was as Adon stumbled back, now a foot away from the edge. From there, Havik decided that the fun has to end. Unknown to Adon, Havik reached his hand to his side and his fingers wrapped themselves around the hilt of his mourning star. From there, he waited for the right moment.

“It’s a shame,” Havik said to Adon. “We could’ve been good friends. You have such potential to be the Cleric of Chaos, just like me.”

Adon looked up at Havik with rage. “That’ll never happen! I’d rather die before I join up with you!” He then took a foot forward, the moment Havik waited for.

“Long live Chaos!” Havik cried out before raising his mourning star and swinging it sideways. The weapon managed to connect, this time on Adon’s right side of his face. The force of the impact sent Adon in the air, his body turning in circles, the blood gushing out from his face.

Before he knew it, Adon had fallen off the edge of the platform and began falling to his death below.

Havik looked over at the edge of the platform. Adon’s screams were heard as he fell towards the spikes below. Soon, a noise mixed of a crunch and a splat was heard as Adon landed one of the spikes, the blade piercing through his torso. Even when this happened, Havik never turned away.

Adon had nearly expected tremendous pain upon landing on the spike. However, since the spike pieced through his spinal cord, he became completely paralyzed, feeling completely nothing. Only a faint moan escaped his throat slightly before death succumbed him.

Havik seemed delighted once he realized that Adon was dead. “To think that his last words were that he’d rather die before he joined up with me. How ironic.”

Meanwhile, in the viewing room, all was quiet amongst the three who were watching the death match. The most silent of them all happened to be Sagat. He stared down at Adon’s lifeless body with a blank expression on his face. However, his thoughts were much different.

Sagat felt remorse for Adon. However, he knew that his former pupil chose this path for himself, which meant that he had also written his own death warrant.


Main Palace

The moment Vega opened the door to his room, Xianghua became astonished upon seeing what the room looked like. Everything was decorated in gold with some parts filled with lush green plants.

Are all the rooms like this?’ Xianghua asked with amazement.

“You may stay as long as you like,” Vega said to her.

Xianghua nodded as she walked in. Vega smirked to himself as he closed the door behind him. Standing where he was, he watched Xianghua slowly walking forward and looking around the room.

During that time, Vega noticed the outfit she was wearing. Xianghua wore a black shoulder less shirt with gold trims underneath a white open jacket decorated with a blue flame with gold edges at the end of the sleeves and a pair of red and gold flowers, one on each shoulder, a light blue butterfly on her back. She also wore a pair of shorts with a black trim on the waistline designed with the same blue flames on her sleeves on each side of her hip, a pair of white ankle warmers with a holder that went around her blue slippers. On her head was a thick white headband with gold designs and a blue ribbon on each side. On her neck was black choker with a gold ring in the front.

“Oh wow!” Xianghua called out. “There’s even a balcony!” She walked herself over to the glass doors that lead to the outside balcony. She opened the doors, the cool air rushing into the room before stepping out.

Once she was outside, Vega walked over to the balcony doors and stepped outside. Xianghua looked out at the view of Outworld, leaning her hands against the black bars.

“Do you like the view?” Vega asked her.

“It’s really beautiful,” Xianghua replied as she continued to view the world around her. “How did you get such a nice room?”

“Just by luck,” Vega said. He slowly managed to walk over to Xianghua, setting himself just a foot behind her. A smirk came over his face as he noted the major height difference between them. ‘It’s just perfect,’ he thought.

“This was what I wanted to show you,” Vega said to her. “Most people don’t see this world as I do. It holds a rare beauty. You should see it as the sun sets every morning. It’s indeed a breath-taking view.”

“I can only imagine,” Xianghua said nodding.

The smirk on Vega’s face widened. He bent his head down a bit and softly inhaled, taking in Xianghua’s scent. ‘Indeed beautiful,’ he thought. Taking in her scent, it was as though he was smelling flowers.

“However,” Vega continued. “Not many can beat out this beauty. You, Xianghua, are much more beautiful than this world…or my world for this matter.” As he said this, he managed to slowly snake his hands around Xianghua’s waist.

Xianghua drew a quick breath upon his touch, having not expecting Vega to do so. She then felt him bring his face over next to hers. “Close your eyes,” he whispered in her ear. “Enjoy yourself.”

Vega then brought his lips to her neck and placed light kisses on them. This caused Xianghua to close her eyes as she placed her own hands over his. As he continued slowly leaving a trail of kisses along her neck, Xianghua’s leaned her head back a bit, her breath becoming shorter with every second that passed.

Upon feeling Vega creeping his hand up towards her breasts, Xianghua’s eyes snapped opened, realizing what she was doing. She was letting this man touch her, yet she hardly knew them.

What was I thinking?’ she cried out in her mind.

“No!” Xianghua cried out, stepping forward in protest. Vega let her go and straightened himself up as Xianghua turned around to face him. A surprised look came over Vega’s face after the gesture.

“What’s the matter?” Vega asked her.

Xianghua sighed a little. “I…I’m sorry Vega, but this is going too fast for me. And besides…I have to go…I’m sorry…”

Xianghua managed to walk passed Vega and went back inside his room. She only managed to walk another five feet before a pair of hands grabbed her and turned her around. Before she realized what happened, she felt a hard slap across her face. She let out a small cry in surprise as she fell to her side. She place her hand over the cheek that was slapped and looked up. Fear immediately came over her as she saw the crazed rage in Vega’s eyes.

“NO ONE REJECTS ME AND GETS AWAY WITH IT!” Vega screamed in rage.

Xianghua’s eyes widened with horror as her heart began racing. ‘Damn it…the one time I decided not to bring my sword!

“Leave me alone!” Xianghua begged. She tried to get up, but before she did, Vega lifted his foot and managed to kick Xianghua’s abdomen, causing her to cry out in pain as she fell back to the ground again. Before she could get up again, Vega managed to grab her arms and got her into a hold lock. Xianghua tried to struggle out of his grip, but to no avail as he got her to the bed.

“Let me go you bastard!” Xianghua cried as Vega threw her on to the bed. After being thrown, she tried to get back up, but Vega’s towering form was already on top of her.

A sadistic grin came over his face as he laughed. “Now you shall be mine!” he called out as he ripped her headband off of her head.

As she tried to struggle out of his grip, Xianghua managed to notice the porcelain mask that was lying on top of the nightstand next to the bed. For a second, she tried to figure out why the mask was familiar to her.

Then it hit her…it was the very mask worn by Maxi’s opponent during the second round of the tournament.

She looked up at the sadistic Vega, realizing what this was all about now. Because of his loss in the tournament, Vega wanted revenge against Maxi…and he was using Xianghua in order to get that revenge.

She wasn’t going to let that happen as she continued to fight back.


Forest

While walking through the dark area of Outworld, Alex looked up into the sky. It was a violet color with more blue than purple with no stars. The full moon was only able to glare a little light in between the trees that surrounded her.

“Let’s take a short break,” Kenshi’s voice cut in.

Alex looked straight ahead. “How long have we been walking?” she asked.

“A half hour I think,” Kenshi guessed as he spread out the blanket he was holding. He then lied the blanket down on to the forest ground near a couple of boulders that seemed to be planted into the dirt. Alex shrugged a bit as she and Kenshi sat down on top of the blanket, her own blanket wrapped around her.

Once they were settled, Alex laughed a little. “You know what’s funny? By this time, I was supposed to be back on active duty with Special Forces after I should’ve visited my aunt. Good thing it was supposed to be surprise visit or else she would be wondering where I was.” She then sighed a bit. “Great…makes me wonder what’s going to happen when we return to Earth…”

“Just don’t worry about it until we get back,” Kenshi assured her. “With Sonya and I around, we can help you explain to the General what happened.”

“Yeah,” Alex said. “Hmm, and Jax should be back from his own vacation too by now. I wonder how he and Cyrax are doing.”

Kenshi decided to change the subject then. “How is your back doing?” he asked.

Alex moved her arms to look at her wrists, causing the blanket she had to fall behind her. “It’s strange…my wrists seem to hurt more than my back…I guess that’s a good thing.”

The wind seemed to pick up then, making the temperature seem more colder than usual. Alex felt a chill go up her spine and Goosebumps took over her arms. Using both of her hands, she brushed her arms up and down a bit to sooth the bumps.

Damn it got cold all of a sudden,’ she thought.

She went to go pick up her blanket. Before she even touched the thick fabric, she felt an arm wrap around her. Alex smirked as Kenshi’s fingers lingered around her upper arm. Instinctively, she shifted herself a couple of inches closer to him.

“You’re too kind,” Alex said to him.

A side smirk came over Kenshi. “I try.”

Even with his arm around her, Alex still felt a bit cold, another small chill running up her spine. Kenshi felt her shake a bit and in reply, he slightly brushed his hand over her arm a bit.

Alex smiled a little and turned her head to him. “You know…you don’t have to do that.”

“I know,” Kenshi said, his head slightly moving towards her direction. “I’m just trying to be…nice.”

Without really thinking about it, Alex slowly inched her face towards him and she found herself whispering her next words. “Yeah…it is nice…”

When Alex was close enough, she ended up lightly brushing her lips against his. For that moment, she had closed her eyes, but upon slowly pulling away, she opened her eyes, realizing what she did.

She was about to say something, but Kenshi, who didn’t expect the kiss either, leaned towards her and pressed his lips against hers, deepening it as he wrapped his other arm around her waist and brought her closer to him. Alex wrapped her arms around him as well as their kiss went into a rhythm.

As they continued with their kiss, Alex remembered the dream she had a few nights ago. It was nearly similar to the moment that was now going on, only they were in the forest instead of the campfire and it was she who made the first move.

Before she knew it, Kenshi slowly pulled away, ending the kiss. Alex slightly sighed a little, catching her breath. As she did, Kenshi brought a hand up and softly brushed his index and thumb over a lock of her hair, causing her to smirk a bit. He then shifted himself closer to her as she lied herself down on her back. Keeping his hands on her waist, Kenshi carefully placed himself on top of her. He then bent his head down and claimed her lips again as she wrapped her arms around him.

As they continued with this, Alex realized that they were definitely going to be in the forest for the remainder of the night.


Main Palace

Xianghua wasn’t even sure how long she was struggling to get out of Vega’s grip on her. Even when she grew tired, she continued to fight against him, even when he ripped off her headband, choker, and jacket. In her struggle, the bands of her ankle warmers loosened and her blue slippers have since fallen off her feet. Vega was now trying to get her shorts off, only getting them down just below her hips.

A few times, Xianghua had screamed for help in hopes of someone hearing her, but that only provoked Vega to slap her even more. The last slap drew blood from her cheek.

“You pervert!” Xianghua screamed out at him. “Didn’t your mother teach you any better?”

This angered Vega as he closed his fist and punched her bleeding cheek causing her to scream much louder this time. The force actually freed Xianghua’s right hand and she managed to slap Vega across the face, her nails leaving behind a couple of cuts.

Vega’s face turned into a surprise look for a moment as he placed his hand over his slapped cheek. He knew that Xianghua left a little bit of damage on his face.

Big mistake.

Vega’s face became more crazed than it was before, causing Xianghua to scream in fear. “YOU BITCH!” he screamed out as he wrapped his hands around her throat and began cutting her oxygen supply. “I’LL KILL YOU FOR TOUCHING MY FACE!”

Xianghua’s eyes widened the more oxygen she lost. She grabbed his wrist as she tried to pry his hands off of her. At the same time however, she was beginning to have the feeling that death was soon going to come over her.

Do I really have to die like this…’ she thought sadly.

It was then that a miracle came as the door to Vega’s room swung opening, slamming itself against the wall with a loud thud. Vega heard the noise and he quickly stood and turned around, letting Xianghua go in the process. As Xianghua struggled to catch her breath, Vega saw who was at the door.

“Maxi! Mina!” Xianghua cried out in between coughs.

Vega looked at the two of them in surprise. ‘Damn it! I can’t believe that I forgot to lock the door!

“I knew it!” Mina said as she pointed the sharp tip of Scarlet Thunder at Vega. “You’re nothing but a sick asshole, just as I suspected!”

“What have you done to her you bastard?” Maxi growled as he got himself ready to fight Vega.

Vega smirked at the both of them. “Clever…very clever.” Then quickly, he flipped backwards a few times in fast speed, getting himself to the balcony. Only Mina followed him out, but by the time she got outside, he was nowhere in sight. She looked around to see if he had jumped anywhere in the surrounding area, but to no avail.

“Damn!” Mina cried out. “He got away!”

Meanwhile inside, Xianghua finally caught her breath. She got herself to sit up on the bed just as Maxi sat next to her. She looked up at him, noting the worried look on his face. She frowned since she never saw this kind of reaction from him before.

“Are you all right?” Maxi asked her, his voice cracking a bit.

From there, Xianghua tried to speak. However, she only found herself choking her words as the emotion she managed to hold back during her struggle began to finally take over. Not wanting Maxi to see her face, she covered it with her hands just as the tears escaped her eyes.

Upon the first shake from her shoulders, Maxi slowly wrapped his arms around his friend. Xianghua leaned her forehead into his chest, now crying beyond her control.

Mina walked backed into the room and saw the pair on the bed. Xianghua cried in Maxi’s arms as he slowly rubbed one hand up and down her back. His face was written with many emotions…guilt, grief, but more than anything, anger.

The three of them weren’t sure how long it was before Xianghua finally pulled back. She pulled her hands away, revealing her tear-stained face. She took a deep breath. “The worst he did was punch me…”

Then, Maxi took off the white jacket that he was wearing before placing it around Xianghua’s shoulder. If left his torso bare, but he didn’t give a damn, especially about the cold. He sighed to himself as he realized that today was indeed a very long day for him.

“Come on,” he said to Xianghua. “Let’s get out of this disgusting room.”

Xianghua agreed as she stood herself up. Maxi kept an arm around her as they, along with Mina leading the way, left the room to return to the cave.

To Chapter Forty-Seven

iceangelmkx

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