Loss of Faith

A/N - takes place in the Alternate MK3 timeline.

With auburn-colored eyes filled with despair and subdued anger, Liu Kang surveyed his view of the city from a window on the highest floor of the old cathedral. As far as his eyes could see, there was complete devastation. Buildings burned and crumbled, smashed vehicles littered the streets in heaps, nearly cavernous cracks split the ground, and hundreds of bodies, some dismembered, were strewn all about. In the distance the roars of alien beasts and the screams of those they terrorized still echoed. Never in the monk's twenty-five years had he ever known such destruction and chaos.

Things were on a downward spiral, and with each moment it seemed the descent grew ever steeper. Raiden had warned them all that certain annihilation would befall them if they did not heed his predictions and act accordingly; and yet now, no matter how cautious they were, no matter how they used their best judgment, their efforts to protect Earthrealm were failing. People were still dying… friends were dying.

Liu quickly shook his head: No, no… there would be time to mourn the death of his best friend later, assuming this madness finally would end. He had to steel himself for now. He had to be at his best.

Raiden… just the thought of his 'mentor' almost sickened Liu now. Ever since he started having these visions all hell had broken loose. First he was unwaveringly certain that things should happen one way, then he was less certain, then he was sure of something else. The more Liu and his friends tried to regard the Thundergod and his guidance, the more abysmal things became. As much as the young Champion vehemently hated to acknowledge it, he was beginning to lose faith in his master.

Unable to withstand watching the destruction any longer, Liu turned away from the window and made his way down the dust-covered, stone stairwell to the foyer. With him and many of his friends being prime targets for Shao Kahn's rampant extermination squads, they had no choice but to fall back to this long-abandoned church at the farthest edge of the city. A few of them were out in the city now; fighting back the opposition, searching for survivors to aid, or possible recruits for their increasingly bleak cause. He, along with Kitana, Jade, Smoke, and Sub Zero remained to keep watch over their temporary shelter.

As Liu made his way to the bottom of the stairs, the Edenian Princess rounded the corner. Her lovely face, which he was still newly used to seeing unmasked, was a bit careworn and somewhat solemn; the same countenance marring all of their faces as of these past few, troubling weeks since the invasion began. She noticed him approach, and gave a small smile.

"Anything?" she asked.

Liu shrugged. "Well, things don't look any worse I suppose…" he sighed.

"That is something small in itself." Kitana offered. "It will give us much-needed time to rest, although honestly I'd rather be planning a strategy or fighting." She paused, massaging the bridge of her nose. "All of this sitting and waiting has given me too much time to reflect." she sourly added.

"I see. Nothing good I assume?" Liu inquired.

"Nothing good at all." Kitana murmured. She slowly strolled over to a pew placed against a wall and sat gingerly upon it. "Waiting here has given me time to think about my life… all of the horrible things I have done, and how it has all been for naught."

Liu sat down beside her. "You were being misled. You cannot blame yourself for that." he assured.

"Can I not?" Kitana suddenly asked, her voice vehement and remorseful all at once. "I had allowed myself to be so blind for so many centuries. No… no I don't even believe it was that. I had been deceiving myself… trying so hard to convince myself that Kahn would care for me if I exceeded his expectations. If I was even crueler, more ruthless and remorseless than he wanted me to be… he would love me. He would be proud of me."

"Well, in your defense… that is what most children want to be for their parents." Liu stated. "Well, maybe not in the same ways, but we all want to live up to what those who we hold closest expect for us to be." Liu said. He scoffed, immediately thinking of his own situation. "I suppose it's only human nature to want to appease those whom we trust… no matter where they lead us…"

Kitana raised an eyebrow. "You sound like you are speaking more of yourself."

"I suppose I am…" Liu said somewhat ruefully.

"The way that things have seemed to worsen… it troubles you, doesn't it?" the Princess asked knowingly. He nodded a reluctant yes, and she raised both brows to incline him to continue.

"This gotten worse than I ever thought it would." Liu began. "When I won the tournament Earth was supposed to be spared from this."

"Indeed. The Elder Gods decreed that the tournament be held every half-century, and that no opposition be allowed to cross the border between realms until that time. And there should be no invasion without ten consecutive victories." Kitana said. "But then again, my fath- stepfather, has never been one to fear the wrath of the Gods. Still, it baffles me that they would stand for this, especially with what Raiden has forsee-"

"Heh, Raiden…" Liu sneered, shaking his head. "It seems to me that everything he has been trying to avoid is happening anyway."

"Ah, I see…" Kitana realized. "You are beginning to doubt him."

"I know it is brazen of me to question him, but… but it just seems that whenever we try to be wary of his, his visions, something far worse than what he foresaw occurs."

"We cannot second-guess ourselves Liu Kang. We must be confident in the choices we make, and we must trust Raiden's guidance." Kitana affirmed.

The Champion gazed at her questioningly, then asked. "Did you trust him when his prodding you to join us nearly got you killed?" Instead of answering right away, Kitana gave a small, impish smirk and averted her gaze.

"I did believe it, because I knew… or I was hoping…" she paused, and Liu could see the slightest tingeing of pink on her cheeks. "… that you would come for me."

Immediately he nearly forgot all of his frustration and turmoil, and he could feel his heart thrumming a bit more forcefully inside his chest. Ever since that day a few months ago when Kitana, then his enemy, attempted to defeat him, she somehow had settled into a place deep within his mind and would not leave him be. Over the past few weeks they had been getting to know each other a bit more, and now the Warrior Princess was beginning to settle into his heart as well. Bravely, Liu moved closer to her and decided to speak his feelings aloud.

"I couldn't let you die." he began. "I don't know what it is about you Kitana, but, ever since the day we met, you've… I haven't been able to stop thinking about you. When Jade came to us and told us you were going to be executed I just… I had to do something. I couldn't let you be killed. Not you…" Kitana's blush deepened, and she met his gaze.

"And thanks to you, I still have my life. I have the chance to redeem myself." she said gratefully. Boldly, Liu reached and took one of her hands in his.

"Well, I can say one good thing came from these conflicts." Liu said, stroking his thumb over her knuckles. The shyness returned to Kitana's face, and she averted her eyes again. Liu could not help but smile: She was pretty cute when she was flustered. "If nothing else, I got to meet you… and if we do make it through all of this, maybe we can finally get to know each other under 'different circumstances.'"

Feeling a bit emboldened herself, Kitana reached with her other hand and ran the back of her finger over Liu's jaw. She then leaned forward and pressed a gentle, somewhat lingering kiss upon his cheek, smiling when she withdrew.

"I would like that." she replied.

Though fate was seemingly conspiring against them, and hope was growing dimmer with each battle and loss, Liu Kang, the Shaolin Champion of Earthrealm, and Kitana, former assassin and Princess of Edenia, were able to find some solace within each other. The fragile, fluttering beginnings of love were forming between them; a bond that had the potential to change both of their lives forever.

But even that was not to last. Mere hours later, while Raiden and Liu Kang plead with the Elder Gods for their favor, an overpowered Sindel invades the cathedral, slaying and critically injuring many of the Forces of Light; most brutally her own daughter Kitana. When Liu Kang and Raiden return, it is only just in time enough to witness Nightwolf sacrificing himself to eliminate the deadly, revived Empress… and Kitana's final moments.

Heartbroken, Liu knelt beside her and held her icy, heavy hand between both of his and listened to her straining last words.

"You were right… I wish we had met… under… different… circumstances…"

"… Kitana?" Liu called to her. He wanted to tell her to hold on, to fight the darkness that was enveloping her mind. To resist the fatigue and pain so that they could have their different circumstances.

But it was too late. Kitana gave a quiet gasp, her head fell limp and her grip slackened in his. She died.

… And the last of Liu's faith died with her.