My So-Called Life

by Johnny Cage, aka John Carleton, as told to Aaron Towers

((All characters save for Aaron Towers, who is mine, copyrighted to Midway, used for non-profit amusement purposes. Contains moderate spoilers for Mortal Kombat: Deception. Rated PG-13 for some language and violence.))

Chapter 36

You ever feel like you've just lost control? I've lived it in a very literal sense.

It's... It's hard to think about, even now, after all this time. But I have to say it. Maybe if I tell it, the nightmares will finally stop.

Now, earlier in the book I said that I had died before. That was a good death, me against that horn-brained centaur, Motaro. Granted, it hurt when he broke my neck (broke my neck OFF, actually), but I got over it. Goody for me that my way to Heaven was blocked and I got a chance to come back, at least for a while. But even then, that was temporary. I managed to convince Raiden to fully ressurect me for another battle. But this time... this death...

Maybe I had better explain from the beginning.

The whole mess started when I was trying to get out of doing a bad movie. Now, before any of my critics (including a certain mustard-brained cyborg I mentioned in an earlier chapter) says anything, this one was REALLY bad. The script called for me to die twenty times during the course of the movie. The story was just bad, even worse than Ninja Mime, which even I can admit was a lemon. Problem was, I was under contract, so I couldn't get out of it. I was looking for any loophole to try, when I got a big one: Raiden needed me again.

It came down to a choice: Go risk my life, my very soul, against demonic, vicious evil, or do a movie that had the potential to make Plan 9 From Outer Space look like The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

I booked a private jet for the island Raiden told me to meet the other warriors at immediately.

And just for kicks, I brought some skydiving equipment. Figured I'd make an entrance for my old fightin' buds.

Anyway, long story short, we got near the island and I did my routine, jumping out of the plane in a full tuxedo and parachuted right down in the midst of them all, landing right next to the deliciously sexy Sonya Blade. Man oh man, did she look great. But anyway, I'm getting off on a tangent.

I knew something was wrong when I touched down. My monk buddy with the razor-edged hat, Kung Lao, was looking majorly depressed. (Rather than depressing, which is his usual demeanor.) My bestest best bud,. Liu Kang, wasn't there. Princess Kitana, who usually looks so stoic you'd think she was incapable of expression, looked nervous and was pacing around impatiently. Sonya also looked like she was having issues with this hot little ice ninja (pun DEFINETLY intended) that Sub-Zero had brought with him, but before I could ask what was up, Raiden appeared in a blast of lightning. And when Raiden does his flashy entrances, you know it's time to shut up and listen up.

It was bad this time. Shao Kahn was dead, and two of the most powerful sorcerers in Outworld, Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, had teamed up. Quan Chi had even more power now, thanks to this amulet he stole, and Shang Tsung now had a limitless supply of souls to pump himself up. They were ressurecting the unbeatable undead army of Outworld's previous ruler, this beast called the Dragon King. Then Raiden dropped the real bombshell on us.

Liu Kang was dead.

It just didn't seem real. I mean, Liu was the champion of Mortal Kombat. He had defeated Shang Tsung before, had smacked around the near invincible Goro, hell, he'd even beat up a demonic God in Shao Kahn. Twice.

But Kung Lao confirmed it. He witnessed Shang Tsung and Quan Chi killing Liu, had seen Shang Tsung consume Liu's soul. He had tried to stop it, but was too far away to even try throwing his hat at them.

It was a real punch to the gut for all of us. I mean, this is LIU KANG we were talking about. The greatest warrior out of all of us. The one who had done so much for the world. Kitana collapsed to her knees, and looked like she wanted to throw up. Sonya and Jax looked unnerved. Kung Lao was actually CRYING. And even Sub-Zero and that ninja chick looked nervous. And me... I flat out decked Raiden.

Now, I know it sounds dumb, cheap-shotting a god like that. But dammit, he could have done something. Rules of non-interferance with humans be damned, that DIDN'T STOP HIM BE-FREAKIN'-FORE!! He could have stopped it, and I told him so. Liu was my friend, dammit, and he didn't deserve to have some evil sorcerer he'd beaten before do that to him.

Thinking back on, I realize I was very lucky that day. Raiden was feeling guilty about what happened and could understand how I felt, so he didn't fry me on the spot for my insolence. Aside from that, all I did was hurt my fist on his jaw, so nothing really came of it.

Anyway, after that was settled, Raiden layed out the plan for us. He, Sonya, Jax, Kung Lao, Kitana, and I were going to attack Shang and Quan Chi directly. Sub-Zero, the ninja babe, and a few others (including a guy who is the literal definition of 'old fart'), were going to try and take out their allies and stop them from fully ressurecting the Dragon King's army.

I had a moderate reservation about attacking two freakingly powerful sorcerors directly, but Raiden said that he wanted his strongest warriors to attack the 'Deadly Alliance,' as he called Shang and Quan Chi's team.

Well, that certainly was encouraging, to know that he viewed me so well. Still, I couldn't help but have a bad feeling about how this was going to go.

Boy oh boy did I call it right.

We launched an all-out assault on the island that the Deadly Alliance was using as their HQ. The mission fell apart almost immediately.

The old fart managed to save only one person from being turned into one of the Alliance's warriors. Sub-Zero's little girlfriend betrayed him and tried to kill him. Jax and Sonya's allies, the ones that weren't killed when a traitor blew up their headquarters, were MIA. Liu Kang's soulless body, animated as a zombie but possessing ALL of his martial arts ability, showed up and started killing Kitana's soldiers. Scorpion, who showed up out of nowhere to give us a hand, got tossed into Shang's source of souls and ripped to shreds. And as for us?

Ah, why did we even bother? We were nothing compared to Liu. Long story short: we all got killed and we all got our souls eaten by Shang Tsung.

Kung Lao went down first. Shang used his damn shape-shifting powers to turn into Liu and messed with Kung Lao's head throughout the whole fight, and in the end he killed him in the same way he killed Liu, snapping his neck from behind. Kitana went down next, her guts ripped open by Quan Chi's swords. Jax died from blood loss and shock after Shang turned into Goro and pulled Jax's arms off. Sonya, my beautiful, powerful Sonya, died screaming in agony as her soul was ripped from her body, leaving her a withered husk.

And then there was just me. Quan Chi cast a spell that burned me alive from the inside out. Slowly. It hurts worse than it sounds. And I'm not ashamed to say by the time I was almost done, I was sobbing and begging for mercy. I didn't get any.

Now, you may think that the burning alive was bad enough. But let me tell you, I'd rather be on fire forever than go through the experience of having my soul eaten again. The pain, the raw agony of having my soul ripped from my still living body, it's...

Imagine being forced to drink ground glass dipped in burning napalm while simultainiously being forced through a web of acid-laced piano wire with holes that are only a centimeter wide while being hit with spiked hammers over and over, and you'll have a vague idea of what it felt like. Not very pleasant.

To make matters worse, I was still completely aware once I was fully devoured. I had no physical sensation of my own, but I could sense the other souls trapped in Shang Tsung's body with me, could feel Liu, Sonya, everyone. I could feel everything Shang could feel, see everything he could see. I had no choice but to watch, suffering the horrible draining feeling of my soul being siphoned for Shang's use as he fought Raiden, who launched one last, desperate attack against the two sorcerors. All of Shang's victims were cheering as Raiden fought, putting up a magnificent fight.

And then Shang Tsung and Quan Chi defeated him.

The Thunder God, the eternal warrior, whom I and all the others had looked up to as a source of strength, lay unconcious. The glow had gone out of his eyes, his aura had faded, and his regal clothes were tattered and smoldering.

The collective despair each of us felt inside Shang was almost crippling. Liu and Jax were screaming at Raiden, begging for him to get up. Kung Lao was going almost catatonic from shock. I could feel their emotions welling up into me, their fear, their desperation, as I'm sure they could feel mine. We barely noticed as Shang Tsung and Quan Chi turned on each other, knowing that whomever won, we would lose. I tried to seek out Sonya inside Shang's body, tried to touch my soul to hers, to let her know how I felt about her, no lame come ons, no jokes, just pure feeling that I wanted to share with the woman I was in love with.

I never got the chance.

After a short battle, Shang Tsung was defeated. I could vaguely feel some bitter satisfaction from some of Shang's victims, but at that moment I didn't really care, I was looking for Sonya. Then we all felt something shocking.

Shang Tsung was suddenly terrified.

That, naturally, got us all interested. We watched as Shang healed himself from the beating Quan Chi had given him, watching his former partner shooting a beam of pure force at a hulking, winged, dragon-like monster that was stomping down the entrance hall to the chamber we were in. We heard Shang's thoughts as he fearfully realized what he was up against.

Onaga. The Dragon King.

Shang got up and started helping Quan Chi, adding his own potent flames to the mix. There was again that horrible feeling of being drained as Shang called on his full power to try and stop this creature.

Despite our situation, we all felt elation as Onaga continued on through the blasts of the two sorcerors, ignoring them as if he was being shot with water from two garden hoses.

Then Raiden started to help.

The confusion inside Shang was so bad that I almost lost what little sense of self I had left. Why was Raiden helping his enemies?

I can't remember who realized it first, but the moment he or she did, we all realized it.

Onaga was an evil greater than the two sorcerors.

We could only watch helplessly as Raiden, Quan Chi, and Shang Tsung summoned all their strength, all their power, to try and keep Onaga back. And our panic merged with Shang Tsung's own when we realized that it WASN'T DOING ANY GOOD!!

We could sense Raiden stopping, but Shang didn't turn around to look, as he was too busy focusing on trying to force Onaga away. We felt, rather than saw, Raiden's sacrifice as he focused all of his power into one massive burst, self destructing and killing Shang Tsung and Quan Chi instantly, destroying their bodies utterly. I remember feeling suddenly alone as I was freed from the collective souls inside Shang, and feeling freedom as I was released from Shang's body. My soul floated about the remains of the sorcerors' temple. I saw Raiden's charred hat, the only thing left of him, as well as the ashes that used to be Shang Tsung and Quan Chi. I saw the destroyed, shattered corpses of Onaga's zombie army. I saw Shang Tsung's source of endless souls, the mystical tornado leading up to Heaven, flicker and go out, leaving only a shimmering light. I saw the souls of all my friends milling about, wondering what to do next. We all looked down at Onaga, completely unharmed by the energy released in Raiden's attack, who was amusedly sifting through Quan Chi's ashes, searching for something.

None of us had any idea of what to do next. We were dead. Our bodies were mangled beyond repair, and Liu's body was attacking people at random. It was a bad situation, but what could we do?

For once, everyone listened to me when I suggested something. And really, going up to Heaven wasn't such a bad idea. I speak from experience when I say that it's a wonderful place. Aside from that, all the other souls (the ones that weren't being sucked down into Hell for their sins, anyway) were all heading towards the light and ascending, so why shouldn't we?

I should have known that something would go wrong.

Before I could go into the light, I felt something tugging at me, pulling me back towards Earth. I looked back, and saw that my body was standing up, fully repaired of all the damage done to it. Kitana, Kung Lao, Sonya, and Jax were in a similar position. We saw Onaga's hands glowing, one hand pointed towards our bodies, the other hand, clutching an amulet, towards our souls. Helplessly we screamed, being forcibly ressurected, our souls becoming one with our bodies again. The last thing I heard before physical feeling came back to me was Liu screaming helplessly.

If having my soul removed was beyond awful, then getting it back was almost as bad. I felt everything in my body start working at once, and nearly threw up from the feeling. I tried to get my bearings, and prepare myself for Onaga, but something was happening to me... something inside my head, my very soul. I recovered myself and looked up at Onaga. But instead of feeling fear at being in the prescence of such an evil creature, something so horrible that heroes like Raiden and monsters like Shang Tsung and Quan Chi would unite against him... I felt gratitude.

God help me, I felt gratitude towards this beast. Something about his magic changed me, made me his slave. I felt adoring worship for him, in my heart, in my soul, in my mind, I loved him. Kitana, Sonya, Jax, Kung Lao and the others were in the same state, and I could see Mileena and Baraka, two of the only survivors of the attack, skulking about fearfully, but at the moment, I didn't care. I wanted to do anything Onaga wanted.

And I did.

It was only a month, but it was the most horrible month of my life. Onaga took the five of us as his personal guard. And under his watch, we commited dozens of atrocities. I raped, I tortured, I killed, all for his amusement. And…

And heaven help me, I enjoyed every second of it.

It was exhilirating. The total, absolute freedom from morality, from any sort of human emotion, it was fantastic! I was a demon in every sense of the word, living on impulse and desire, doing Onaga's wicked work and enjoying it. The worst of it, at least for me, came when Onaga realized that I had feelings for Sonya. He encouraged me to act on my desires and... and...

...And I did.

I'm scared to talk to her now. She calls me every day, but I can't bear to talk to her.

Sonya.

If, by some chance, you read this book, please know that I'm sorry. I won't be so arrogant as to ask for your forgiveness, because I don't deserve it. I never meant for it to happen like that, I never wanted to hurt you like that. But the desire was there, I won't deny it. And saying that Onaga made me do it isn't an excuse. All he did was suggest it.

I'm so sorry, Sonya. I never wanted to hurt you. I just... I just want you to know that whatever happens, I will always, now and forever love you.

Anyway, back to the story. Onaga was doing some ritual to merge these amulets he had collected into one and gain ultimate power. He needed time to set it up, so our job, when we weren't performing horrors for his amusement, was to guard them. We were eventually freed, Liu Kang's ghost teaming up with this thing called Ermac to free us from Onaga's control, restore our human hearts. Onaga was beaten by this old dude named Shujinko, who borrowed all our powers and managed to put that bastard down permanently.

Things should have gotten better from there. They really should have.

But the memories still haunt me. Memories of what I did under Onaga's control. Memories of what I did to HER. Every night I have nightmares about what I did. In most of them, the dreams end with me doing things to Sonya, things that would leave me sobbing when I woke up.

I talk to Jax and Kung Lao sometimes. They're having similar problems, and talking about it helps a little. I don't know how to get into contact with Kitana, and I'm still scared to talk to Sonya...

I managed to get out of my contract and write another Mortal Kombat movie. This one was a bit more accurate than my last ones, which had me doing more than I actually did. (Hey, I already admitted in the DVD re-release of my Mortal Kombat movies, I can admit it here.) But I have no idea what to do next. I've done a couple music videos since then, but those were just time killers.

Mortal Kombat has changed me so drastically. I look back at the man I used to be and compared to the man I am now, I barely recognize him. There are scars in me, internal scars that I will never be rid of. Memories that will haunt me even after I die for the final time.

God, sometimes I don't even know if I'm alive anymore. Sometimes I think I died, and this is my own personal Hell.

Some life I've lived, eh?

Author's Epilogue

A few days after I finished this last passage for Mr. Cage, he disappeared again. No one can seem to find him, and the few cooperative army personelle I've talked to have admitted that Sonya Blade and Jax have disappeared as well. It took me some searching, but I found a note saying where he had gone to.

Another battle had started. No, more like a war. In the note, he said that all his old enemies had come back. Motaro, his first murderer. Shang Tsung and Quan Chi. Onaga. Shao Kahn. Everybody. And Raiden, his longtime inspiration and hero, was back from the dead. But he had grown frustrated with humanity, becoming a wrathful dark god.

It read like a suicide note.

I don't think I'll ever see him alive again. I showed the note to my contact in the army, and he said that Sonya and Jax had left similar notes.

Johnny, where ever you are, I hope you are all right. You're a good person, and it has been a pleasure ghost-writing your autobiography for you. Please, come back safely...