Author's Note: Hello reader, please enjoy my little story. We'll see how far this progresses. I've had this in my head for a while now. This takes place after MK9 but with some obvious changes. I REFUSE to do Cyber Sub-Zero. Sorry, lol. There's a few elements from other games, too. Don't try to match it with any one timeline. :P And I apologize for any grammatical mistakes, and if I made anyone too OOC. Also this story will be told mostly from Sub-Zero's point of view, but I'll include others' as well.
Warnings: Rated M for language, and other adult content. This story will have eventual slash. So fair warning if you do not like that sort of thing.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. All characters and properties belong to their respective owners.
I stopped running only to catch my breath.
It seemed I was no longer being followed. Odd...
The Living Forest was filled with obstacles, and the heat of the Outworld day was taking its toll on me. I leaned against one of the few non-threatening trees, resting my head against my arm, and closed my eyes.
Hours before, the thunder god Raiden had given me the task of finding a portal our group could use to get to Edenia; one of the newly freed realms. And supposedly one of the more friendly.
Unfortunately, I hadn't been able to find any portal, and I was ambushed by more Tarkatan soldiers than I could handle. I had been forced to run away, but now I was having trouble finding my new allies. Our camp was in a small clearing deep in the woods, where we believed it was safely concealed.
I took a moment to reflect on all that had transpired in the past week or so. I truly thought it had been bad enough that my clan had tried to turn me into a soulless machine against my will, but then to have to fight against Shao Kahn himself?
I should be dead. We should all be dead. But Liu Kang proved to everyone that humans aren't weak beings at all, and defeated Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat. The result had been the demerging of all the realms the Emperor had claimed. It was chaotic to say the least.
In the aftermath, Raiden had gathered all of the Earthrealm fighters he could, along with some foreign allies. His plan was to bring Kitana back into Edenia and onto her rightful place on the throne, while destroying the remnants of Shao Kahn's army. It was no easy task, but I felt indebted to the thunder god, who so graciously saved my life from automation.
Still, I was not comforted even if Raiden believed that together we could set the realms to rights. I knew I had nothing to go back to if we succeeded. I was wanted for death by my clan; for deserting, for disobeying. But, I was not entirely alone. My clan-brother, Smoke, was in the same boat.
It was all so fucked up.
And I would not allow myself to think of Bi-Han.
Forcing myself back to the present, I pushed off against the tree, wiping sweat and dirt from my brow, and continued in the direction I hoped my allies and their makeshift campsite were.
I glanced behind me several times to make sure I wasn't still being followed. It was strange that those Tarkatan creatures had so suddenly stopped their pursuit of me. Very strange.
"Room service!" someone whined. "How I miss you!"
I abruptly stopped my trek and listened carefully. The voice came some distance from the right of me, not too far ahead.
After giving my heart a moment to resume a regular pattern, it dawned on me that the voice was familiar. With great relief I made my way through the forest – then with less relief as I realized it was Johnny Cage who spoke.
The sudden rustling noise just ahead of him made Johnny jump to his feet.
He got into a fighting stance as I came through the trees and brush towards him. Just as quickly as Cage had tensed up ready for attack—he exhaled sharply and relaxed. I figured I was easy enough to recognize.
"Hey, Sub-Zero. Phew, you really know how to scare the crap out of a guy!"
"Where are the others?" I asked, dismissively. I didn't want to let this man know that I'd been startled myself when I heard his sudden outburst. At least I'd gone in the right direction after all.
"Well," Johnny replied. "Raiden decided it was a good idea to look for more support. Y'know, find more peeps to join our little group, I guess. And he told everyone else to scout for more Tarkatan troops. Just in case."
"After I had already left, of course," I commented.
Johnny winced. "I guess you ran into some trouble yourself, huh?"
"So…. No portal?"
"Yeah, okay. That blows." Johnny sat down next to a dead campfire and smiled, "We'll find one…eventually."
I could not share in Cage's optimism and decided to lay down, a bit farther away and under some shade. I pulled off my mask and cowl, setting it down beside me. Johnny took notice that I had been staying mask-less more often.
"Why do you bother wearing that thing at all?" asked Johnny.
"It's necessary, to hide one's identity." Now it was mostly out of habit, as it was part of the Lin Kuei uniform. I stared up at the sky from where I lay. "I suppose there's no need for me to do so anymore."
"I no longer belong…to a clan."
Johnny frowned at my sullen words, then immediately brightened. "P'shaw! You belong with us now. The Earthrealm Defenders! Not a bad movie title by the way…"
He stopped a moment to bask in his own genius, then said, "Hey, I could start wearing a ninja mask if it'd make you feel better."
I smiled in spite of myself and said, "I thought you already have, Ninja Mime..."
"Ohoho! So you saw that one, huh? It was pretty awesome."
I gave a small snort in response.
"Oh c'mon, don't be jealous you're not a star like me! I bet you didn't see it in 3D. It was waaay cooler in 3D. I wonder if Sonya's seen it…"
The distant sound of voices gently roused me from a dreamless sleep, and I sat up slowly, still fairly groggy. I hadn't even realized I'd fallen asleep. I must be more exhausted than I thought, I wondered to myself. I didn't even hear anyone approach. That's not good.
I was a bit surprised to see the sky was already getting dark. In Outworld night seemed to come quickly, but still I wondered how long I had slept.
Most of the others appeared to be back and were sitting around a newly lit fire.
Among them, Smoke, who turned to see that I was awake. "Finally," he said in greeting. "We were wondering how long we'd have to wait before we left you here."
I knew my friend was only joking. And I accepted the offered hand as Smoke came over to help me up. Wait. "Are we leaving this realm? Is there a portal?"
I think I failed in keeping the hopeful tone out of my voice.
"No," said Sonya, as we came over to sit with them by the fire. "But we don't think this clearing is safe anymore. We've all agreed it's best to move somewhere… Well, we haven't decided where yet. I guess a few of us will have to go looking in the morning."
"Great," Johnny muttered.
"What happened?" I asked wearily. As I looked around, I noticed that not exactly everyone was present. Doing my best to match the names with the faces I decided that Liu Kang, Kitana, Jax, and Raiden were still missing. While Sonya, Johnny, Kung Lao, Jade, Smoke and myself were here.
We had more allies who were not present. But from what I understood they had gotten separated and stuck in Earthrealm after the defeat of Shao Kahn. Not that I could really consider them the stuck ones; those who were in their home realm. They were lucky.
"There are simply too many Tarkatan out there," said Kung Lao.
"Everywhere," agreed Sonya.
"We went unnoticed, but eventually they will find this place." Kung Lao had his lethal hat in his hands and was running his fingers along the edge of it. He seemed to be itching for a fight. "Their numbers don't seem to be much, but there are clusters in all directions. Obviously they're looking for us."
"But who's the leader? Baraka?" asked Johnny, barely concealing his disgust. The actor always spoke too loudly for my taste.
"Not likely," said Smoke. "Does it matter?"
Sonya glared at the assassin in grey. "Of course it does. There's a big difference between a general like Baraka and one like, say, Shang Tsung."
The group grew quiet as we each became lost in our own thoughts.
I wasn't sure myself that Shang Tsung was truly dead. But it would make sense that he'd try to take over now that his Emperor was gone. And if not him, then who?
Jade turned to me and caught my eye. "You need nourishment," she said, a bit shyly. "We managed to find some fruit that I know is edible. We've all eaten, but this was saved for you." She handed me two medium-sized fruit that were dark purple in color.
"Thank you," I said. I appreciated the kind gesture. And found I was starving.
Jade looked pleased with herself and didn't notice when Johnny began to snicker. A quick elbow to the ribs from Sonya shut him up fast. Hmm.
Kung Lao was about to speak again when Liu Kang entered the clearing, shortly followed by Kitana and Jax.
Again I had missed the signs of someone approaching. I shared a small look with Smoke. We were getting rusty in our exhaustion of this place. The others joined us around the small campfire. Johnny took the liberty of filling them in on all they had missed.
"And still no portal to wherever and still no Raiden," Johnny finished. He grinned and for maybe the hundredth time that day made a gesture to adjust his sunglasses, before realizing he wasn't wearing any. The actor had brought a few spare with him during the Mortal Kombat, but they had all broken since then.
I watched Johnny give a small sigh; he just didn't feel the same without his sunglasses.
"The Tarkatan warriors shouldn't be a problem for us. If we all work together," said Liu.
"There's more of them than there are of us," Sonya pointed out.
"Just leftovers!" said Kung Lao. "I doubt they're disciplined enough, or experienced enough, to really put up a good fight."
"We don't even know if they have a leader," added Smoke. "I'll bet they don't. They're doing their best to keep Outworld as their own. Probably to make one of them the new Emperor. I think we should attack as many as we can tomorrow."
"I believe Shang Tsung is dead. Or at least too weak to be a threat," acknowledged Liu.
"That doesn't mean they're not organized! And they have the numbers!" Sonya growled. It was getting harder for her to control her temper. I assumed she felt the men were not listening to her because she was a woman. It might have been true.
Jax decided to speak. "C'mon guys, let's think this through before we do anything. Back on Earth I've been in charge of quite a few troops, and these freaks look pretty damn organized to me. Whoever is leading them now, we just haven't seen 'em yet."
I had to agree with the Major, though I found his authoritative tone annoying.
"So maybe there is," Kung Lao conceded. He looked angry. "So what's the plan now? Sit and wait? And how do we know that one didn't lead any of those mutants to us?"
Suddenly I had everyone's eyes fixed on me.
"I was not followed," I said, calmly. I didn't appreciate being pointed at, but I wasn't about to start a fight. Not now. "Besides, you already said yourself that our enemies will find us anyway."
"Better not be tonight," Kung Lao muttered. "I need some sleep, after all."
"We all need some sleep. Let's rest and talk it over more in the morning." Liu Kang stood, and I was only grateful that he changed the subject.
"What about Raiden?" blurted Johnny.
Everyone froze and the tense mood came back. Not everyone looked worried, but I knew we had all been afraid to voice our concern out loud. The thunder god, our de facto leader, still hadn't shown up.
I'm not optimistic by nature, but a strong part of me refused to believe any harm had come to Raiden. Of course, it would be my luck for him to die and leave us stranded here…
Liu Kang looked much older for a moment as he rubbed a hand over his tired face. "We will wait for Raiden," he said. "He'll be here."
That appeared to be good enough for Johnny, who nodded and proceeded in trying to coerce Sonya into sharing a sleep space with him.
The others stood up and milled around looking for decent places to sleep on the forest floor.
I stayed by the fire, volunteering to put it out. I just wanted to be near it for a few more minutes.
Yes, even I enjoy the warmth of a fire. I am human. Well, mostly, I think. I do prefer colder weather, and I believe my affinity for the ice and cold stems from my natural gift to manipulate the water elements around and within me. This ability does expend a lot of my energies. Despite what many think, my powers are not limitless.
Only ten minutes must've passed, and I was adjusting the straps on my left boot when I noticed Kitana across from me. She hadn't made a move to leave, but her head was cast down and she wasn't really looking at anything.
I didn't know she had stayed; she was so quiet.
The princess looked sad, perhaps lost. But I couldn't bring myself to say anything of comfort.
I simply didn't care. And that thought disappointed me.
Before I could contemplate more on that, Liu Kang came back and sat down once again next to Kitana. They fell into a deep conversation, keeping their voices low. And I wanted to get away from them.
I stood up and raised my hand above the fire, quickly extinguishing it with a spray of frost and ice from my fingertips.
The area immediately became darker, as the sun had set. The moon wasn't full, but it provided adequate lighting. I turned away from the couple, not wanting to see if I interrupted them, and walked toward the solitude of the forest.
The night air was soothing to my senses.
I enjoyed the light breeze and darkness the forest provided. And I took caution to make sure none of the trees surrounding me were the flesh-eating kind.
As I stood there, I realized the silence I had sought might not have been the best idea.
There was so much to think about, and all of it horrible. How did I end up here? What would I do without the Lin Kuei?
I bit my lip. No point in worrying now. I must look forward. What's done is done.
An overwhelming sense of dread suddenly overtook me and I almost lost my breath. This feeling of death and sorrow crept up my spine as I tried not to panic.
I'd felt this before.
When my brother Bi-Han was murdered, he became a wraith. He attacked me and I had sensed the Nether surrounding him. I sensed it now.
My heart was beating rapidly, and I felt all the hairs on my neck stand up. Bi-Han?
I wasn't sure what became of him, only assuming he went back to the underworld. A part of me was hoping I'd see him again. And a bigger part of me wanted to rip his head off.
I used my anger to steel myself against an attack. But just as quickly that sickening feeling of the Nether washed away. I was still alone in the forest.
Or so I thought.
As I turned to head back to camp I almost ran into a pair of illuminated eyes. I jumped back about a foot off the ground.
"Lord Raiden!" At least I didn't gasp. And I hoped the night hid my embarrassment well.
"Sub-Zero," he gave me a small nod. "I didn't mean to catch you by surprise. I've only just returned."
"Oh." I couldn't think of a more intelligent response.
"Did you succeed in finding a portal?"
"No, I did not." I didn't bother mentioning that I was ambushed. Or that I'd felt the Netherrealm around me a few moments ago. How would I explain that?
Raiden looked toward camp. "It is late. We'll talk more in the morning; when the others are awake."
"Why are you not with them?" Raiden's gaze was unreadable.
"I thought I heard something." It was somewhat true. Even if he was a god, it was no business of his what I did. "Did you find us another ally?" I made an attempt at changing the subject.
Raiden grinned. "We will see."
He turned away from me and headed to camp. To sleep? Did god's need sleep? All this time hiding out in the forest and I never noticed if he did.
Lord Raiden's behavior was hard to read lately. I wondered how many secrets he was keeping from us. But I trusted him.
I decided to stay out on my own for a while longer. No matter how unsettled I felt, I didn't want to sleep yet.
Silently moving further into the woods, I found a more decent spot to sit. I wanted to meditate. It was a pastime encouraged in the Lin Kuei, though not always practiced. It was good for me because I didn't have to be alone with my thoughts. I could just be.
Clearing my mind I sat in a relaxed posture, my hands resting on my knees.
I couldn't tell you exactly how much time had passed, but after a long while I felt vibrations in the ground underneath me. And it stirred me from my meditation.
I opened my eyes and glanced around. What now?
The vibrations grew stronger, but with short pauses in between.
A terrible roar rang out through the forest, and at the same time I heard ugly voices surrounding me.
"Shit!" I got to my feet just in time to block an attack from a Tarkatan man. He'd leaped at me from a tree and I managed to quickly form my kori blade before the blades from his arms reached my face.
The brute was wild-eyed and swinging his arms at me erratically. I saw an opening in his actions and kicked him away from me in one powerful movement. The Tarkata went flying and landed against a tree. I swiftly discarded my sword and while it dissipated I used my ice powers to engulf the man from his legs up to his head. He yelled with rage until the ice completely covered his head, silencing him for good.
I was about to shatter the ice form and the being within it when I felt the air behind me change. I quickly ducked as a Tarkatan blade whooshed over where my head had been.
I whipped around, ready for attack. More of these Tarkata creatures were coming out of the darkness, and all of them bloodthirsty. Great.
Three of them ran towards me. I used my ice slide to knock one over and began throwing ice balls at the other two. "You are not enough to defeat me!" I shouted.
That was a lie; it was very possible for them to overtake me. I knew that already. But I also knew I was powerful enough to put up a great fight.
I heard yelling from somewhere in the woods and knew my friends were coming.
Another two Tarkatan men came at me and I used my kori blade to slice off one's head and slash at the other's belly. He countered by trying to stab me directly, nearly piercing my thigh.
As I blocked the warrior's assault with my sword, Smoke teleported behind him and broke his neck.
"Tundra! Are you all right?" Smoke's voice was full of concern, but I shot him an angry glare. I never wanted to hear that name again, and he knew that. It was my previous alias, one that I had all my life, and it carried too many painful memories.
I was a new person now. Originally taking my brother's identity of 'Sub-Zero' to honor him, I now believed I was more worthy of it than he. And what better a way to prove that than this?
"I'm fine!" I snapped. "Do not worry about me."
Smoke's eyes narrowed. "Do not tell me what to do. I am older than you, fool."
He lightly punched me on the shoulder before joining in the chaotic battle that was breaking out around us.
"A few years mean nothing!" I shouted after him. Honestly, I'm not that much younger. And I'm taller, too…
"Rawgh!" The cry of an enemy soldier brought me back to the here and now. This one was missing an arm, but he made up for it by trying to bite at me with those gruesome Tarkatan teeth.
I backed up some, trying to put some distance between myself and the brute. With one hand I froze his legs, and in one swift movement I sliced him from his groin up to his head with my blade. The two halves of the body fell apart in a bloody mess.
This is the warrior's way. And the gore does not faze us.
A bloody arm went flying near me, and some of the blood sprayed onto my face. I looked in the direction from where it came and saw Jax eagerly tearing up his enemies. I ran toward him to help anyway.
There was dried blood on his prosthetic arms, and some fresh, and he appeared confident. I briefly wondered if he was such a formidable foe before his enhancements. Perhaps he should thank that abomination Ermac.
I walked up behind some Tarkata that were in a circle fighting him and froze a few. Jax shattered them each with one punch. Two unfrozen foes turned to me and lunged. The Major grabbed one by the head and slammed his face down into the earth. There was a satisfying crunch.
"Aww, yeah!" Jax exclaimed, his adrenaline was pumping. And that was just fine, but he forgot about the other Tarkatan man that jumped at me. He managed to tackle me down before my ally could do anything.
The mutant's fearsome fangs bit into my right forearm, tearing the flesh. He latched on and I gave a pained yell. Stupid, stupid…
I yelled again as one of his blades sliced at my left leg above my knee, sawing into it like a razor. The pain nearly blinded me.
With my free arm I reared back as best I could from the ground and punched the fiend so hard my fist pierced his belly. I reached in and froze his insides. The Tarkatan released my arm and made a 'gack!' sound, before freezing completely. Jax pulled the body off of me and threw it into a small group of more Tarkatan. I could still hear my allies fighting fiercely. Good.
Jax ran off, and I sat on the ground dumbly. The pain in my arm was incredible. I groaned and managed to stand up, holding in a scream as I swayed on my good leg, only to fall down again when the ground shook from those vibrations. Only this time they were much stronger.
I looked up to see the cause. It was one of Shao Kahn's hellish beasts. A monstrosity almost two-stories tall, it let out that terrible roar and locked in on me. The creature was brown in color, and didn't appear to have a neck; all I saw was a giant mouth full of sharp teeth and hungry eyes.
The beast raised its arms and stomped towards me.
I backpedaled until my back hit a tree. There was nowhere for me to go.
The monster towered over me and raised a giant clawed hand, I assumed to crush me with, when the blow never came. I had clenched my eyes shut, but opened them when I heard a strange sound, as if it had hit metal. What is-?
I looked to see my savior in front of me, with his back facing me. The warrior was on one knee, having blocked the beast's wrist with a long, fiery sword. The monster roared in his face, bearing its weight down upon the weapon. I could see the warrior being pushed down with great force, but he did not falter.
The warrior let out a snarl of his own and with immense power pushed off the ground, sending the beast flying backwards.
My blood went cold when I realized who my savior was. That same spine-tingling feeling came back, as if someone had walked over my grave. This man was not my brother. I felt worse.
Author's Note: Hmm, I'm not sure if that was too long or too short. Or too crappy. Feedback is appreciated! And reviews are love! :) The next chapter might be shorter, I haven't decided yet. And if you can help me come up with a better title, I'd appreciate that too. Lol