Part A - First Glance

Kitana's eyes were the first thing that struck Liu Kang about her, and his did the same to her.

It was mere weeks after the tournament on Shang Tsung's island, and already the forces of Outworld were attempting another move to claim Earthrealm. The Tarkatan hordes had torn the Wu Shi Academy asunder, leaving very few to survive. Raiden approached Liu and Kung Lao, and told them that they must participate in yet another grisly contest to defend their realm from the fabled Shao Kahn. Knowing that they would need more reinforcements, Liu decided to travel briefly to America to locate his ally from the previous battle; Johnny Cage.

His arrival apparently could not have come soon enough. Just as he had come upon the actor's movie set, a revitalized Shang Tsung had struck, and with him were a band of enforcers. The Tarkatan Captain known as Baraka, the kunoichi Mileena and Jade, and Kintaro, the tiger-skinned Shokan, fanned out and began their malicious assault upon Johnny, his costars, and Sonya Blade's commanding officer, Jax, while the sorcerer stood back and merely watched with a malevolent grin. Liu made his move to attack him, but he was halted immediately when another kunoichi similar to the other two, this one clad in blue, intercepted his path.

Her eyes instantly mystified him. Twin pools of cerulean gleaming above the satin of her mask and shrouded slightly by dark tendrils of her loose, brunette hair. They reflected apprehension and inner conflict, and a bit of fear and uncertainty. Hers was not like any gaze he had seen from the vile beings of Outworld before. There was no animosity or darkness.

Following his instinct, Liu attacked the woman and she defended, but she did not seem have any serious intent. He could tell this woman was incredibly skilled, perhaps even more so than he, but she seemed to be holding back. Her movements were evasive and non-threatening, avoiding his attacks rather than making any of her own. Liu inwardly felt a bit confused by her display. It was as though she was merely putting on a facade for her comrades.

Kitana, the woman, had seen something unlike anything she had before in the eyes of the young monk as well. There was a determination and fierceness in his deep brown, somewhat angular gaze; but he did not look upon her with loathing although she was his enemy. So this was the champion that denied her stepfather of his conquest? He did not seem so powerful when she gazed at him, yet as they fought she could feel his power and aptitude. He was lightening quick and well-versed in the Shaolin styles of fighting. Even though she was an unfathomable number of years older than he, his skill was nearly on par with her own.

And then she suddenly saw a softness, a knowing in his eyes. It was as if he could sense her secret unwillingness to fight him. She was slightly taken aback by it, but inwardly drawn to it as well.

Eventually Shang Tsung called his minions back to him, and they dutifully returned to his side. Liu watched the cobalt fan-wielder leap away from him and stand beside the similar warriors in magenta and jade. The sorcerer uttered his warnings to the rest of them of his master's plans before opening a portal destined to transport them back. The opposing forces retreated into the wormhole, with the blue female ninja picking up the rear. Just before the gateway consumed her she cast him one last, surreptitious glance. It was fleeting, but sincere...almost apologetic. Liu watched as the energy of the swirling vortex crackled around her and swept her into its depths. Part of him was a bit perplexed by the woman he had just fought...

... but another part was enamored. Against his better judgement, a small piece of him secretly hoped to see her again.