Rule #8 – KOMBAT TIME!
So this is it! The final showdown! Now that the mysteries have cleared, it's the big climax that we've all been waiting for! And it's perfect too since now all plot holes have finally been dealt with and all loose ends tied (which is a significantly huge lie, but let's just pretend I've cleared up the inconsistencies).
No more waiting, lovely Suethors! This is the heart of the storm before it comes to pass.
(Insert argument how this has nothing to do with the smut/lemon/ick every horny loser had been waiting for and instead this guide actually resembles a plot, thereby rendering its purpose null. Fuck you.)
Scorpion could tell Kung Lao was hysterical. The monk was on all fours, scrambling about to gather flesh and bones that had separated from the body during whatever carnage that had happened. He was careful to approach Lao, choosing to tread upon patches of land that weren't already stained in red but it seemed as if the ninja's consideration wasn't necessary anymore. The Shaolin warrior was now cradling her disembodied head, trying his best to rejoin it with her neck in vain hopes that the wounds would fix themselves and she'd be standing before them once again, all brand new.
"She's hurt, she's hurt, she's hurt..." Lao was rambling, wide eyes darting about.
"Leave it," Scorpion decided that to refer to the carcass as 'her' would only serve to give the illusion that she was still living. Kung Lao didn't need that right now. The blood had only begun to curdle, suggesting that it had been close to an hour since she had died. Her pale face was frozen in both shock and pain – it was a miracle how Scorpion could even determine the expression given the blood the body was soaked in. And Lao was getting it all over himself, his shivering hands doing little to hold the head in place while he waited for that 'miracle' to reattach it. He wasn't in his right mind to listen.
The legs were mangled from the knees, the flesh riddled with tiny gaping holes. Some spiked and heavy had been rammed into her calves that crushed the bone and ground the flesh – a mace perhaps? Her spine and ribs had caved in due to the assault of the mace, pulverised flesh scattered all around the body and squashed organs swimming in the blood pooling where her back was supposed to be. It looked to be that the head had been lopped off in a single motion (a surprisingly merciful act given the torture her body was subjected to), though the ruined skin of her neck and the groves in the flesh indicated that a jagged blade or saw of sorts had been used.
His eyes travelled to the thick trail of blood winding along the dusty earth before disappearing into the same alley way that they had come from, painting a scene so vivid that it left little to the spectre's imagination: she is there, standing in defiance against her would-be killer. The murderer has a weapon in his/her hands but she is not one to be deterred. She must have known exactly what she was walking into and so the resignation to her evident demise leaves her unafraid. The attacker swings at her leg and she falls on all fours in terrible agony, but much too shocked to register what has happened. She is kicked down and crumbles far too easily, body frozen. She is vulnerable and the attacker takes full opportunity of it, both smashing and tearing at her legs until there are only stumps left.
They chase her into the town's square. No, that's not it. She has already given in to impending death, she would've had it better if she just stayed down and be finished there. There are marks along the red track, fingers having dug into the dirt; she has crawled all the way here. What is her reason? What has left her so desperate to escape when she knows she has no chance of survival? Whatever it is, it seems that her goals must go unfulfilled in this life, when her killers finally decide they are done with her. They bring the mace down upon her back as she drags her body along the ground and they don't stop to marvel at her resilience. The weapon rams into her again and again until she cannot move anymore.
She's good as dead but the killer is vengeful. He/she hates her and won't have the satisfaction in killing her unless he/she maims her even when she's practically a corpse. The mace is exchanged for a jagged-edged blade and her head comes off in one swift motion. The murderer realises he/she let excitement get the better of him/her and settles for beating the body with the mace again until his/her anger finally subsides. The corpse is left there to rot and barely an hour passes before a monk and ninja enter the town to find a trail of blood waiting for them.
Scorpion inwardly smiled, knowing all those hours of watching CSI reruns really paid off.
"Let go," Scorpion ordered the monk once again, grasping his shoulder a little roughly – gentleness would do nothing to snap him out of his delirium. Lao did not respond, muttering those same words ever and over again, cradling the head like a woman would an infant, after numerous failed attempts to put it back into place. The Shirai Ryu warrior snorted in annoyance, grasping his collar and giving the man a rude shake. "Stop it!"
Lao shut his eyes, squeezing out the brimming tears that now ran freely down his bloodied face. He doubled over, howling like an animal before averting his gaze to the woman's head and screaming in both horror and grief. He let it tumble out of his stiffened fingers, unable to move and only able to scream in utter terror of what he was seeing.
"The party's still on?!" a new voice resounded from out of nowhere, the suddenness of those words effectively jolting the Shaolin out from his state of shock. He was quiet instantaneously, eyes registering bewilderment rather than woe. The two turned their heads in the direction of the sound and found a grinning Havik dressed in a hula skirt and a complete arsenal of firearms in hands. They blinked as did the clergyman, continuing this exchange in silence for several minutes before the skull-faced man finally piped up. "Oh... I take it you guys weren't invited."
"What are you doing here?" the ninja demanded when it seemed that Lao had not fully recovered from the shock. Havik shrugged.
"Partying," came the reply. His eyes travelled to the corpse that accompanied the spectre and the monk, finally acknowledging its existence. "Man, she didn't come out too good."
Scorpion's ears (or super undead hearing, whatever the fuck allows him to hear despite not having actual ears) perked up at the statement. It was much too obvious that Havik was aware of what was happening to her before he and the Shaolin happened upon the cadaver. The ninja was upon his feet and lunged at the cleric, grasping his hair from the roots and pulling him close enough to feel Scorpion's intimidating gaze burning through his skin.
"What happened here?" the interrogation looked like it would go smoothly given Havik's quivering knees and the wet stain that grew around his crotch. Scorpion thought it best to ignore the look of bliss on the cleric's face as he relieved himself.
"Massacre," Havik provided, the glee in his voice contradicting the spasms his body experienced in wake of fear. "Well, the Princess was the only one on the receiving end. The rest were the there to cheer her on while she pummelled Kitana into the ground with my Morning Star. It was wicked cool."
"Cheer who on?" came the next question.
The hurried shuffle of boots against grainy earth came from right behind him. He turned to look over his shoulder, sparing a momentary glance at the still grieving monk – the sorrow, however not gone, had substantially dissipated in favour of anger. If he was any more sympathetic to the Shaolin's predicament, Scorpion would've actually felt a little pride in knowing how another's heart burned for vengeance just as his did in wake of his cursed existence.
"Why? Pfft..." Havik scoffed, rolling his eyes though the gesture wasn't apparent given the lack of pupils. "Because of him of course."
Kung Lao was taken aback by the finger pointed his way. His gaze travelled between the ninja and the clergyman, confused and disgusted by the claim. Did Havik mean to say that he was reason his friend lay dead on the ground as a mangled corpse? He couldn't understand this habit of the world blaming him for every wrong that seemed to occur during a mission gone horrendously astray – what terrible sin had he committed that had everyone convinced he was the source of all this misery? Kitana never believed in his innocence but she said it had been for an entirely different reason: he was a 'Gary Stu' and thus why everything was the way it was so.
Then was his apparent existence as this... this thing the cause of his friend's demise? That he was her killer? That he destroyed her and then fooled himself into mourning her? He had wished her harm, wanted her to suffer in wake of all the embarrassment she had caused him during their brief time together. Had it been an accidental prayer? Had his heart truly wished to see her suffer?
He had been angry at her because she was erratic, because fear propelled her to ram her fist into his nose. And now she was dead. Justice?
Dear God, he could never hope for her death! A misplaced desire to cause her pain, and this is what happens instead? Is hatred this powerful?
"No," Lao denied Havik's words, denied everything that was unfolding before him. He denied Kitana's words, the great knowledge of the Mary Sue that she had imparted on him – Mary Sues weren't real. Make believe. Superstition. Legend. They weren't real and so the claim that he was a Gary Stu wasn't real either. He was not – could not, could never be the cause of her painful death. He refused to believe it.
"Why not?" Havik sneered, finding great amusement in the turmoil that showed so plainly on the monk's face.
"Hellflame had the hots for you," he chuckled at his own pun. Scorpion groaned, covering his face with his free palm. "But you left her here all alone while playing house with the Princess. You broke her achy breaky heart."
"One more word out of you and you'll wind up with an achy breaky face!" the ninja growled, tightening his grip on the tuft of hair still balled in his hand and inciting a yelp from the clergyman.
"I wasn't...!" Lao tried but fell short. The accusations rang true – he had no defence. Of course he had known that Hellflame was infatuated with him; Kitana had driven that point home in her final moments with him. Not only did he disregard her feelings, he remained repulsed by her, begging his once living partner to keep her away from him. But why was it so unfair that he rejected her? She was young, much too young to be thinking of marriage, and neither could he have ever thought of her as vengeful and merciless.
"You're letting yourself be deceived," Baraka's words reverberated in his mind, echoing like an executioner's gong.
"She is a threat, Lao..." Kitana's voice. "She looks pretty, but she's all monsters."
What had he done?
For the love of God, what had he done?
He gazed at his blood-caked palms before covering his face in them, streaking his cheeks scarlet, pressing hard, mouth twisted in a despaired grimace.
"No..." he croaked through clenched teeth.
"Yes...!" Havik continued. "Don't deny it! You are the reason for all that had happened! This is atonement for what you have done! This is your Hell, your eternal nightm-"
He was abruptly cut short by Scorpion's fist driving straight into his abdomen.
"Quit it!" the ninja barked. "You're making him worse!"
He didn't need to redirect the cleric's attention over to the monk who had already sunk to his knees, hunched over the corpse that was apparently his doing; a sobbing mess.
'For fuck's sake, would he just leave that thing alone?!' Scorpion mused. 'It's dead and it's gross!'
And that, dear aspiring Suethors, is what we call a class example of "irony".
"So what've we got?" Fujin asked as Quan Chi finally stepped into the room, eyeing his phone warily. The sorcerer looked exhausted – more pale than usual. The Wind God wanted to pity him but the silent code between bitter enemies dictated he quell any sentiments then and there, yet this whole Mary Sue business was a whole lot worse than anything Chi could ever pull off. And if the guy was having a hard time then that undoubtedly meant that it wasn't going to be any easier for the sibling Gods.
Chi dragged a chair and set down on it, stuffing his cell-phone back into his pockets.
"Five million and nothing less," came the answer and the Wind God raised a sceptical brow.
"In Yens or in Dollars?"
"Guys," a new voice piped up and both men turned their gazes to the entrance. A cone-shaped hat popped into view, followed by the Thunder God's countenance. It was easy to note the grim shadow that had fallen upon his face, but Fujin decided to let him announce the bad news of his own accord rather than drill him for it. But just as the older immortal opened his mouth, a wave of curiosity overcame his features. Apparently, neither Chi nor Fujin looked like they were having the time of their lives. "What's up with you two? Did you hire the guy?"
"He's charging five million," came Quan Chi's reply.
"In Liras or in Francs?"
"That's one option down the drain," Fujin muttered bitterly, folding his arms across his chest. "Now we can only hope those two idiots pull through."
"About that," Raiden began and the panicked glare his brother and the sorcerer shot his way made him stumble over his own words for a fleeting moment. The God of Thunder nonetheless cleared his throat – after all, this wasn't something that should escape either one's notice. He knew what he had to do and sucked in his breath to prepare himself for the worst. "Kitana's K. I. A..."
Silence followed as neither uttered a single word. Even Quan Chi, who would've rejoiced the demise of one of his enemies, was momentarily caught in a shocked stupor before he finally looked away, head hanging in solemn grief. Fujin was yet to stir from the daze. Disbelief and confusion laced his features, an expression so morose that it caused Raiden's stomach to knot.
"W-... what do you mean...?" the Wind God demanded, voice a whisper. Raiden strode over and placed a comforting hand on his sibling's hand in an attempt at consolation. He needed to be brave.
"No seriously, what does K. I. A. mean?"
Raiden pulled his arm back and smacked his brother upside his head.
"We're out of options," Chi murmured, pressing his palms together as he held them before his nose, staring off into the distance. "An agent's dead and we're too broke to hire the only available mercenary on Craigslist."
"What if we pool together?" Raiden asked. The three individuals exchanged gazes before hurriedly digging into their pockets and fishing out all the change they had. Scattering it on the table, Chi quickly began counting the pennies while the God of Thunder gathered every note he could find – it was a sight so pitifully sad that Fujin covered his face with his hands.
"This is hopeless," he moaned.
"Wait, I got some in my socks!" Raiden offered, trying to be as helpful as he could.
"No, stop it," the younger God held up his palms to signal to the others to halt whatever they were doing. "I got an idea."
"This better be good," Chi warned, lips twisting into a sceptical frown.
"Trust me," Fujin said with a wave of his hand.
"9-1-1, what's your emergency?"
"Y-yeah, there been a robbery at my home. They took everything, the T. V., the fridge, even the fucking carpets! Everything's gone, the emptied the place out!"
"There's a fucking echo in here! Tell me you can hear that!"
"Sir! Please calm down, I'm patching through a nearby patrol and I need information...!"
"They swept the whole place clean and-"
"Calm. Down. Sir. Now please, your name...?"
He had washed away as much blood as he possibly could with what little he had. He tipped the remaining water over her face and, with dirty hands, began squeezing whatever blood was still left out of her hair.
"What does it mean?" Scorpion demanded.
"I don't know," came the reply, with Kung Lao's gaze never leaving the corpse. He pushed the dented bucket away and paused to regard her for a moment. This was not how he wanted to remember her, torn, twisted, mutilated. He had closed her eyes, didn't want them looking up at him like they were silently pleading for help. She looked more peaceful this way – desecrated but peaceful, even if he had fooled himself into believing that.
He scooped up the head and descended into her grave, placing it where it had been severed from. Everyone was gone so it was easy to find something to wrap the body, or what remained of it anyway. A white sheet draped over her, hiding the broken bones, tattered skin and ripped flesh. She looked like she was sleeping.
He hunched down to tuck her hand underneath the blanket, turning it over a final time to read the words that were etched across her palm.
"Armegedun," it said.
He clambered out and wordlessly began burying her.
"Hey Lao," Raiden almost exclaimed, using the sweetest voice he possibly could with his given bass. The portal shimmered bright silver as two others followed the morose Shaolin; Scorpion and Havik. The Thunder God knew that the smile he wore right now probably looked like the fakest thing in the world but he was sure that the grieving monk wouldn't notice. He cast a sidelong glance toward Fujin who stealthily signalled for him to keep going. "You look bummed. Where's Kitana?"
He had to fake it. He had to make sure that Lao didn't know that the God of Thunder had seen everything happen right before his eyes and did nothing about it. He couldn't know that Raiden had witnessed the whole thing from beyond the clouds and kept out of it because Hellflame scared him shitless, scared every god up there shitless. They had all heard Kitana curse at them while she was being butchered.
"She..." the monk looked up, tried giving an answer without breaking down but he couldn't do it. A sob escaped his throat and he couldn't keep it in anymore, tears streaming down his face. He wanted to hide it, tried composing himself and placed his palm over his eyes. The tears didn't stop.
"Oh no..." Raiden muttered with false shock and then sneaked a glance of his brother who gave him a thumbs-up.
"Hellflame's work," Scorpion provided, completely aware of the Gods' shenanigans but wisely keeping it to himself – he didn't need the monk going hysterical for whatever reason again. There was work to be done, questions that needed answering and the ninja wasn't going to waste his time. If there was one thing that could put a stop this ridiculous bullshit and get him closer to the sorcerer he so dearly wanted dead, it was the final badly-spelled clue that Kitana had left them behind. "But we got something out of it and we need your expert opinion on this."
"Shoot," Fujin said and then went stiff when he realised that he sounded way too casual in this situation. Good thing Kung Lao was too busy wailing to hear him.
"Kitana had written a message on her hand," the spectre offered. "Armageddon', it said."
They were silent, faces blank and bodies frozen. Scorpion patiently didn't speak up, expecting an answer from them soon enough but it never came. Maybe they had no idea?
"Come again?" it was Raiden this time.
"Can you repeat that? Slowly?"
Scorpion exhaled deeply, quickly getting annoyed.
Raiden turned toward his brother and nodded at him. The younger god shrugged before both turned their attention back towards the Shirai Ryu ninja.
"We are so screwed," was all that the Thunder God could say.
A/N: Next update will probably be the last and worst written chapter in this fic yet. Yes, worse than this one.
By the way, a little birdie told me that this fic now has its own TV Tropes page, which is cool but weird because I basically write this in my underwear.
Obelisk of Light, Flaming Kunoichi and UCryWolFe, thank you folks a great bunch for reviewing. Have a nice day!