Raiden lead the charge.

The noise of thunder sounded in the sky, and was echoed by the footfalls of the fighters' shoes as they ran. The fiery resolve of the humans was unlike anything he had seen. That rage and bloodlust burned with the insatiable destructive thirst of wildfire.

No hesitation, no fear; only rage and unshakable certainty in their eyes. Rage at the times they had been kicked, stabbed, shot and worse by Shao Kahn's hounds during their fight. The tournament that had pushed every one of them to their physical limits and beyond. The roster, the bracket, the upcoming fight… the things that billions of lives had previously counted on were now gone, replaced by a single, unregulated brawl that would decide the fate of Earthrealm.

There was now a completely new set of rules; this fight would be to the last man, to the death. And only once every warrior on a side had fallen would the battle be over. And if his men died here, Raiden knew that they would die glorious deaths, and would not have to witness the wanton destruction of Earthrealm by Shao Kahn's hordes.

Not in his wildest dreams had Raiden thought of inspiring his humans like this. He had lead them through the tournament, sure, tending to the wounded and letting the weary confide in him along the way.

But had he truly lead them in mortal kombat?

No. He was ashamed of himself in that regard. He could not prevent the death of Sub Zero, nor the capture of Nightwolf or the imprisonment of the other fighters. He may have always been there, but it was they who were the true champions.

But today was his chance; a chance to prove that he was still mighty.

Raiden screamed with the pent up rage of a thousand men. All that time he had stood by and watched his fighters get beaten and brutalized by the fighters of Outworld. The times when the rules of the tournament had been bent without divine intervention. The anger of seeing his own men tricked, beaten, broken, and killed… Anger so intense it scared him.

He had now found a place to put it. And he directed all of it into his opening blow.

Raiden deliberately charged Quan Chi. Even Liu Kang would have trouble fighting a man who had been practicing sword and hand to hand techniques for millennia, so he took it upon himself to beat the man to a bloody pulp for his involvement with Outworld.

Quan Chi's beady, black eyes shone in the dark as he engaged the Thunder God in mortal kombat.

The two of them were the leaders of their respective factions in the charge. Cyrax and Scorpion flanked Quan Chi while Liu Kang and Kung Lao were right behind the Thunder God.

Looking into the mirror from hell. Seeing your negative staring back at you with the same fire in his eyes.

Had Raiden been given more than a second to think on it, the experience might have been surreal.

He watched as Liu Kang and Kung Lao met Scorpion and Cyrax head on; all four slowed down and threw blows with the intent to kill. He saw Liu Kang's foot raise up, bringing the rest of his muscled leg with it for a high-flying kick. The Shaolin fought smart, and knew that Scorpion could do little to parry the power of his opening blow. The sensation of getting one of Liu Kang's feet in the ribs had once been described to him as something like "getting hit by a car without the chance to call it an accident."

And he intended to break as many of Scorpion's bones as he could.

Scorpion anticipated his opening kick, and turned his whole body to the right, bending his arm in the shape of a sideways V to protect his face from the kick and tucking his head in close to his chest; looking like a half-hearted version of the weaving move performed by boxers to minimize the chance of getting nailed. He kept the other tucked against his breast, curled into a tight fist and ready to deliver a literal counterpunch from hell. A good right cross from the Hellspawn would to a lot of damage, especially considering his metal gloves and gauntlets.

Kung Lao lead with a wicked forward cutting strike, turning his hand clockwise ninety degrees and in perfect position to jam his hand into Cyrax's windpipe. Done correctly with the proper momentum, he might even tap the vertebrae at the base of his neck.

Raiden didn't even see Cyrax. He had already met Quan Chi.

Raiden took a very straight forward approach to knocking Quan Chi onto the ground; by diving headfirst into the Oni and pressing every inch of air out of his lungs in the same instant.

Any weaker of an individual would have their chest caved in, but Quan Chi got off with a minor bruise as he stumbled backwards, trying to regain his footing.

Raiden's fighting method of choice was Ju Jitsu; focusing more on grabbing, throwing, joint lock-ups and breaks, and a lot of wrestling. Raiden had been one of the art's first practitioners, and had studied its roots and progress more extensively than any other mortal could in several lifetimes. While he was inclined to strike opponents with open and closed-handed shots, throwing them onto the ground and breaking their limbs was much more effective.

And the key to Ju Jitsu is balance. Break the enemy's balance, and you will end up breaking everything else.

As Quan Chi backpedaled, gasping for breath, Raiden shot one of his feet in between Quan Chi's. He had effectively formed a triangle with the three boots, and wrapped his hands around Quan chi's muscular trunk.

He let his other foot hit the ground, and turned to the right, not using strength to throw Quan Chi as much as he used proper leverage.

Quan Chi yelped as his own momentum carried him a step too far, and he stumbled over Raiden's feet before he was thrown completely onto the ground.

He smacked the floorboards with a sickening thwack. He gasped, and watched as the stars filled his vision from all angles. His chiseled body and implacable appearance was broken for the briefest of moments as he gasped for air. His humanoid form, however tough, wasn't meant for punishment like that.

Raiden stepped forward and kicked Quan Chi in the side before jumping back out of reach.

Quan Chi cursed in his ancient, native tongue.

"You still remember how to fight, then? Very admirable. I actually believed you had grown soft during your time as Thunder God," Quan Chi said in a voice that seemed to forget the fact that he had almost been put through the floor. There was an impact crater the size of a man's torso where he had hit the ground, but he seemed not to notice.

The Kombatant from Hell was perfectly calm and composed as he stood back up to his full height, cracking his neck casually.

"Let's make it a good fight, then," Quan Chi declared with a wicked smile.

Raiden barely moved in time.

Quan Chi came literally straight forward with a side kick, almost too fast for his eyes to track. The kick had been initiated the moment the word then had escaped his lips.

Faster than I remember him being, Raiden thought as he instinctively blocked with his arm.

Raiden threw down his forearm and beat down the kick, feeling the leather of Quan Chi's boot hard against his arm as he stopped the attack.

Quan Chi came back down onto both feet while managing to keep his guard up. He instantly regained his balance and kept his arms up in a guarding position, a fallacy of many martial artists who employ high kicks, who drop their hands instinctively for some reason.

Raiden thought back to what he knew about the former Oni; the man has been alive for millennia in the most hostile and unforgiving place one could think of. Peak physical condition, extremely agile, and he apparently has a wicked-high pain tolerance. He is one of the founders and a Grandmaster of Eskrima; Filipino stick and knife fighting. The art that teaches not only swordsmanship and steady footwork, but also sports plenty of takedowns and nasty maneuvers.

Quan Chi swung at Raiden's throat in the next instant with a sideways chop that came unnaturally fast. An inborn motion as natural to Quan chi as breathing.

Raiden ducked to the left, watching as Quan Chi's arm continued to extend through the blow, and delivered a short left-handed jab to Quan Chi's temple.

Quan Chi staggered, and withdrew his hand as Raiden let loose on the disoriented demon.

Raiden fired a flurry of short, well-aimed strikes with both open and closed hands. To Quan Chi's credit, he withdrew into the guard position immediately and kept both forearms locked in front of his own face for protection.

Quan Chi cupped both hands on the crown of his head, forming a barrier with his thick forearms and elbows.

Raiden came forward with a backfist, putting a sadistic spin on the commonly used backhand slap by closing his fist and rapping his knuckles over Quan Chi's head. But the hit wasn't square enough to do any real damage.

A right-handed straight-punch followed the backfist. Quan Chi twisted in his protective stance, weaving to the right and moving his head so that the blow glanced off of his forearm.

Raiden hooked a left, trying to get around Quan Chi's guard, but Quan Chi refused to stop moving; continuing in his serpentine pattern as he retreated from the attack.

Raiden abandoned the combo, stepping forward and kicking Quan Chi in the inner-thigh. The bottom of Raiden's foot connected with the softest tissue in his leg, and Quan Chi was too busy moving and blocking punches to move in time.

Quan Chi staggered, and gasped as he was nearly brought to his knees.

Raiden shot forward like a spring-powered toy, holding his arm firmly in the shape of an L as he fired an uppercut beneath Quan Chi's loosened-up guard.

The punch connected with the demon's chin, and rocked his head backward at a dangerous angle.

He fell backwards until his bare, pale back hit the window separating them from the storm. Raiden heard the glass crack as it struggled under his weight, spider webbing across several separate panes.

Raiden ran towards him, and in only three steps, was face to face with the monster.

Quan Chi was braced against the window, seething. Through his gritted, pearly teeth, several beads of red dribbled down from his gums and onto his chin.

Raiden reengaged the wounded Quan Chi with another straight-on palm strike aimed at his nose. He could imagine the window breaking and Quan Chi falling into oblivion. That is, if it landed.

Quan Chi suddenly ducked to the right, weaving around Raiden's strike and letting the Thunder God's open hand shatter the window behind him. Raiden's gloves became stained with blood as he broke the tempered glass.

Quan Chi countered by slamming a closed fist into Raiden's side, hooking his arm low and fast, and powering his fist into the Thunder God's floating ribs.

Raiden doubled over, and Quan Chi seized the opportunity.

Quan Chi grabbed Raiden by the shoulders and held him in place as he brought a knee crashing into Raiden's clenched jaw.

Raiden was disoriented, but only for a second.

Raiden reversed Quan Chi's grip before grabbing him around the trunk and lifting the Oni up and carrying him backward.

Raiden heard a distinct ping sound as the pair of them crashed into Shang Tsung's abandoned throne. Quan Chi exhaled as the Thunder God pinned him against the jagged, metal surface.

Quan Chi dropped both of his elbows, using the combined weight of his upper body to break Raiden's hold. He then kneed Raiden again, this time in the Solar Plexus, and brought an open-handed palm strike into Raiden's ear, severely disorienting him.

Quan Chi felt Raiden take a step away, and lifted his left foot and pushed him away by kicking him in the middle of his broad chest.

Raiden was still out of it, unsure of which direction he was going. And Quan Chi seized the chance.

The demon jumped off of his back leg and propelled himself in the air until he was directly above the Thunder God, with a meaty fist raised above his head.

The weight of Quan Chi's 90+ kilo body was brought back to Earth, and all directed into the hammerfist.

Raiden's hat shattered with a sickening thwack as he hit struck home. Quan Chi didn't know if he had killed the God, or simply stunned him from the blow. The fact that his entire body weight was used instead of the strength only in his shoulder made it infinitely more dangerous. Shards of Raiden's conical hat hung in the air for a brief instant before floating to the ground.

Raiden went to his knees, planting a fist on the ground to prevent himself from keeling over.

Quan Chi stood victorious over the Thunder God, bleeding and battered, but victorious.

"You are as tolerant to pain as you are deluded," Quan Chi taunted as Raiden attempted to climb back onto his feet. Raiden's hands shook under his own weight, and his vision was now a muddled, cloudy mess of colors. Quan Chi wasn't even sure Raiden could hear him anymore.

"Earthrealm cannot beat Outworld in mortal kombat, you knew that the first time you yourself were challenged by Shao Kahn and lost," Quan Chi recounted, pausing for a second to spit out a gob of blood. "The Elder Gods tried in vain to save your world from annihilation, but I am afraid you have exhausted all of your options, Raiden.

"It is the way of the universe for the strong to conquer the weak, is it not? You know that only the worthy get to take the next step forward in evolution. Have you finally lost it, or is the chance to fight for the inept humans just too damn noble to pass up?"

"To oppose a psychopath bent on the destruction of the entire universe is the only option, Quan Chi. After he has destroyed Earthrealm, there is nothing between him and your own plane," Raiden growled from his position on the floor. "He will destroy everything unless he is stopped. Why can't you understand that?!"

"Oh, I understand perfectly, Raiden. Shao Kahn has no desire to rule over hell, so why take what he has no need for? Your world, on the other hand, is a very high-value target; plenty of land for crops to feed his troops, plenty of slaves for his growing industry, and most importantly, a chance to break the will of all other realms who still oppose his rule.

"After your realm is wiped from existence, after your people are enslaved and your world is naught but a wasteland, there will be a high place for me in his new order. A chance to start anew… but no such opportunity exists for you, Raiden. You will die for what you believe in, isn't that what you've always wanted?"

Raiden suddenly stood up, knees shaking and blood continuing to stain his tunic. He looked his opponent in the eye and started to move forward.

Quan Chi yelled in anger and threw his foot in a high arc, slamming the laces of his boot into Raiden's clenched jaw in a powerful front round kick. Quan Chi felt something crack under his blow, but he wasn't sure what.

Raiden spun completely around, yet remained on his feet.

Quan chi pivoted on his heel and again faced Raiden. Small, crooked, streams of blood flowed from the left side of his face and leaked down onto his ivory clothing. But still the Thunder God didn't quit.

"Goodbye, Raiden," Quan Chi whispered as he reached at him with both hands. A quick turn would snap Raiden's neck like a twig.

But Raiden couldn't let that happen.

He pretended to fall in front of Quan Chi, dipping down and grabbing at the hellspawn's ankles.

He wrapped his gloved hands around each of his boots and yanked upward.

Quan Chi screamed as he nearly did a backflip before crashing to the floor.

Raiden's foot shot forward and caught Quan Chi in the jaw, rocking his head backward and actually bringing him back to his feet. Quan Chi fell back, stunned, until he bumped into Shang Tsung's throne.

Quan Chi's eyes burned with an unreal hatred. He screamed and came forward with a wild punch at Raiden's face. His entire body tensed up, and his huge arms seemed to grow as he attacked with a wild haymaker.

Raiden stepped back, avoiding the blow entirely. Quan Chi took two steps forward after missing his punch, stumbling forward awkwardly as if he was a drunk.

Raiden folded his left arm until his elbow was pointed like a spear at Quan Chi's back. He lunged forward, stepping into the hit and smashing the backside of his elbow into Quan Chi's exposed spine.

Quan Chi howled in pain.

Raiden suddenly jumped in front of the demon, bringing a vertical chop onto Quan Chi's dome with enough force to shatter concrete.

Quan chi once again fell backward and slammed into the throne of the Sorcerer.

Raiden walked casually toward him, ignoring the pain in his head, and grabbed Quan Chi by the neck.

He grunted as he lifted Quan Chi up by the throat, holding him several inches off of the floor while staring into his eyes.

Raiden shook his head as if he was ashamed of Quan Chi, showing no real strain or fatigue from hoisting him up by the neck with a single hand.

"You tell your Emperor that his cause is the one that is but a delusion," Raiden said defiantly before turning and throwing Quan Chi out the window and into the storm.


Kitana flicked her wrist and let loose another bladed fan, which buried itself into the chest cavity of another Black Dragon soldier. He didn't have time to be afraid of the weapon before it ended him, dropping him onto the steps he had been using as a platform to shoot from.

The mercenaries were almost wiped out by either the combined fire of Stryker and Sonya or the fan and boomerang throwing of Kitana and Jade. Jade had taken out a pair of guards with a single throw before engaging a furious Baraka. She had since disappeared from Kitana's view.

Kitana whirled about, looking for her longtime friend and bodyguard in the brawl. She caught only glimpses of the rest of the fight as she searched for the bright green uniform Jade wore.

Liu Kang yelping as he kicked Scorpion in the chest, sending the hellspawn back several meters across the floor, precious kunai falling from his grasp.

Cyrax repeatedly dropping elbows onto a doubled-over Nightwolf, dipping his entire body as each blow continued to pummel the Shaman between the shoulder blades. Nightwolf sank to his knees. As Cyrax prepared to kick him in the throat, Nightwolf grabbed him by the utility belt and dragged him to the floor with him.

Johnny Cage delivered a reverse punch to the liver of a now-unarmed Black Dragon goon. The merc shuddered and dipped before throwing a cross at Johnny's jaw. The actor ducked to the side before turning his hips to the side and cranking his left leg forward. A loud snap was heard as Johnny's roundhouse kick pulverized the soldier's floating ribs. The soldier doubled over, and Johnny delivered a final punch to the base of the man's skull, ending the engagement.

Kitana completed her 360 degree turn, having found no sign of Jade among the struggling mob around her. Kano hit the floor in front of her and was unconscious, and she could see Max engaging Ermac in her peripherals.

When she looked back, someone very familiar was waiting.

Mileena stood in front of her, expressionless and with her arms hanging down by her sides, a Sai clutched firmly in each hand. The design of her mask and revealing costume did little to disguise her animalistic nature. Her eyes were impossibly wide, now the size of buttons and a shiny midnight black. The effect her enlarged pupils had on her yellowed outer-eye looked something akin to a solar eclipse.

"Sister," Mileena said in an ambiguous tone. "I thought you would be looking for me. Let us get to know each other a little better, yes?"

"I didn't come here for you, you freak," Kitana said flatly. "I came here to stop him."

"Well Shang Tsung can't really talk right now… in fact, he can't do much of anything anymore," Mileena said, grinning under her mask. "But I would be happy to handle you myself-"

The sight of Kitana drawing both war fans at once silenced Mileena's faux greeting.

"Oh, straight to the violence then?" Mileena teased. "If you say so, princess."

Kitana didn't give the creature the opportunity to throw the first punch or decide the direction of the fight. She instead forced Mileena to retreat with a crosswise swing of one fan, and a stab with another.

Both didn't connect, but then again Kitana doubted they would. She only wanted to upset Mileena's confidence so she would be able to end the engagement quickly.

Mileena skipped back with the grace of a dancer before stabbing with one of her Sai.

Kitana heard metal on metal as she deflected Mileena's telegraphed swing. Mileena withdrew and took another three steps backward, avoiding the usual novice mistake of not disengaging.

She is well-trained, Kitana observed as she watched Mileena's balanced footwork. But how could she be kombat-ready after only walking the Earth for the first time a few days ago?

Kitana didn't expect an answer, and instead focused on how she could defeat Mileena quickly and with tact. She searched her long memory for what she had learned about Sai knife fighting.

Sai are dangerous weapons in the right hands. They are infinitely easier to handle than steel fans, and the fighting method has only a few kata to memorize. While useful for stabbing and gouging, they can also be easily switched to a reversed grip to block the enemy's weapon by holding the width of the blade against the user's forearm. Traditionally, one Sai is held in a traditional grip for offence and the other for defense in the reversed grip, much like combat knives. However, the extra brackets on each side of the blade are used for trapping techniques that involve twisting/breaking/ shattering the opponent's weapon.

Easy to handle and dangerous against a trained opponent, no wonder Shang Tsung equipped Mileena with the knowledge of how to use them, Kitana thought as Mileena struck back.

Mileena made a snarling noise like that of an injured cat as she stabbed at her sister. Her face contorted as she let her wild side, the tarkatan side, roam free.

Mileena went straight for Kitana's throat, and Kitana knocked away the Sai with one of her fans, barely moving in time.

Mileena spun in a full 360 circle like a ballerina, cocking back both arms and swinging them in a wind milling motion at Kitana.

Kitana ducked the first swing and jumped backward as the second cut the air in front of her. But Mileena kept spinning, swinging her Sai in a slashing motion at Kitana's ankles.

Kitana jumped over the hit like it was a jump rope from hell, coming down onto her feet just in time to see Mileena switch to a reverse grip with the other Sai and ram the hilt at her nose.

Kitana weaved to the side like a boxer would to avoid a punch. She slashed at where she knew Mileena's arms would be; directly in front of her. She turned over her wrist to extend all five blades of her steel fan before swinging it in a motion similar to the uppercut.

But Mileena had already moved back.

Too late Kitana knew there would be nothing for her to hit, and Mileena seized the opportunity to catch her off-balance.

Mileena stabbed, and drove one of her Sai six centimeters into Kitana's let shoulder. The speed with which she attacked was matched only by that which she moved back into her guard.

Kitana saw a small spurt of blood follow the Sai out of its entry point, staining both of their clothing. Kitana feigned a stab with her right arm, and Mileena took a step back just like Kitana would have.

Damn, she is improbably fast. A few days out of the tank and she is already quicker than I am, Kitana thought in a vain attempt to take her mind off of the serious wound that had just been inflicted on her.

It burned her behind the eyes, that kind of pain. She let go of the fan in her left hand and held the right one between her and Mileena as Mileena began to advance once again.

Mileena's eyes were not curious like they had been a moment ago, nor were they on fire with anger. They were cold, calculating, and unblinking as she continued.

But I am stronger.

Mileena yelped again, and stabbed with her leading side. Kitana intercepted her Sai with her folded-up fan before they both disengaged.

The two women watched each other like hawks, looking for any indication of when the other was going to strike. A millionth of a second too late could mean death for either of them.

Mileena swung laterally with one Sai, turned on her heel and brought the other down like a hammer. They weren't directed at Kitana's body, but rather her remaining weapon. Both missed and the last swing went all the way to the floor as Mileena made her first miscalculation.

The Sai buried itself into the floor, and Kitana wasted no time in extending her war fan and countering her sister's next desperate strike, while snapping one of her feet out in the same moment and hitting Mileena in the hand that was trying to pry the weapon from the ground.

Mileena let go without hesitation, and watched as Kitana twirled her wrist and nearly launched her remaining Sai into oblivion. She had no qualms about using her free hand to punch Kitana while they struggled.

Not in the face, but directly in the shoulder where she had inflicted the stab wound.

Kitana screamed and backpedaled as Mileena's fist pummeled her stab wound, narrowly avoiding getting decapitated by another pair of wild slashes aimed at the base of her skull.

Mileena jumped into the air and came forward with a snap-kick, keeping her lower leg parallel to the ground and firing her lower leg upward to form an even plane.

The heel of her combat boot met Kitana's cheek with a horrible sound.

Mileena laughed wickedly as she came back to Earth, giving her wounded sister a small bow like they had been sparring.

"You disappoint me, sister. Shang Tsung spoke highly of you. Said to be perfect, above reproach, even skilled in every way that counts. Yet I hesitate to call this a contest!" she laughed. "10,000 years of fighting and are not up to the task of defeating a newborn? That is funny, no?

"And even Shang Tsung, I wounded him quite easily! I thought I had ended his life, but the old man is quite resourceful. Surviving a punctured lung from one of my blades, his fate too is mine to decide… what say you, sister?"

Kitana looked up and met the eyes of the creature called Mileena.

"You are no sister to me, Mileena. And you cannot kill me," Kitana said defiantly.

"And why not?" Mileena asked playfully.

"Because you are destined to fail," Kitana hissed back. "Because… for all your boasts… and claims, you were brought forth as a failed experiment, you couldn't kill Shang Tsung, and you are unable to kill me."

Mileena went quiet. Dead quiet.

"You are the real monster, Kitana!" Mileena yelled back over the cacophony of the brawl happening around them. "If it weren't for your filth… your mistakes, none of this would have ever happened!"

"You believe me to be wrong?" Kitana asked, tempting fate. "Have a go, try to end me once and for all. Go on, if you are so very mighty then you should have no problems killing a wounded Edenian woman!"

Mileena came forward faster than Kitana anticipated.

She batted away Kitana's remaining fan with sadistic ease, and brought the Sai around to stab Kitana through the ear.

Mileena froze when her arm was brought to a standstill. She looked up and found Kitana's hand wrapped around her wrist.

"No," Kitana whispered, having stopped the blade less than a centimeter from her ear.

Kitana pulled Mileena towards her and threw a kick at Mileena's kneecap.

The princess felt the crunch as Mileena's knee was thrown out of place by the heel of her boot.

Mileena screamed, and Kitana wrapped both hands around her wrists and threw her like she weighed nothing.

Mileena was weightless for the briefest of seconds before she slammed into a wooden pillar. The battered child slumped to the floor, cursing and growling at Kitana.

"You," Mileena said in an impossibly sweet voice. "Are really starting to tread on my nerves… sister."

She slowly rose to her feet, balancing carefully on her right leg as she did so.

Mileena motioned for her to "bring it" with both hands.

"Come on!" she wailed desperately. "Let us dance!"

Both were now unarmed, and only one could walk away.

Kitana jabbed at Mileena's floating ribs with a closed fist.

Mileena blocked with the outer side of one arm and swung in an overhanded fashion at Kitana's head with the other.

Kitana ducked the blow and cupped a hand behind Mileena's head, using her opponent's vulnerable state to throw her several meters across the floor.

Mileena practically bounced as she met the hardwood and slid across the wet surface. She again groaned in pain as she immediately tried to get back up.

"Go on, get up, "Kitana taunted back. "I'll let you, if you think you can."

The words hadn't left her mouth and Mileena was already on her feet and hot with anger.

Mileena used her good leg to kick at Kitana, jumping high in the air and bringing the foot down in a wicked axe-kick.

Kitana evaded the blow, and flung a back kick of her own into Mileena's gut.

Mileena doubled over, and Kitana did what Mileena had attempted seconds before; she lifted her foot up with unrivaled flexibility until it was above Mileena's head, and then brought it down onto the top of her skull.

Mileena's ears rang with pain she had not yet known, and she hit the ground face-first, her black hair obscuring her expression.

I've discovered her weakness, Kitana realized. She hasn't taken a real blow yet in her life, and she doesn't have the pain tolerance to match her speed!

Kitana grabbed a tuft of Mileena's hair and yanked the half-breed back to her feet.

Holding her head back at a disorienting angle, Kitana let loose with her free hand.

The first punch knocked the air from the woman's lungs, smashing her vulnerable solar plexus and winding her. Kitana then reeled back and put a fist into Mileena's teeth.

Her fist hurt for a moment and then went numb, but she didn't care. Kitana hit her sister again in the nose before finally releasing her from her death grip.

Mileena fell into a heap at the edge of the arena; a bloody, sobbing heap of a young woman, defeated by the very Edenian she had been cloned from.

Kitana was seething with anger. Her shoulder pained her like none other, and her jaw was no doubt swollen and puffy from the kick that hit her in the face.

Mileena looked back up at her sister.

"You really think Mileena is a freak, don't you?" she cried quietly. "You think that just because you were born from a mother's womb that you are made of greater stuff than I am?"

Kitana shook her head, forgetting the pain as she felt pity for the creature in front of her. "I do not believe myself to be better than you, Mileena. I just wish you had never been created to take my place-"

"You know what I want?" Mileena demanded. Rain now poured on her from the growing hole in the ceiling, and mixed with the blood flowing down her face. "I want to understand why."

"Why what?" Kitana asked, confused.

"Why the world is as it is. The books told me how, but the world outside of the Flesh Pits scares me, Kitana. It confuses me; the more Mileena thinks… the less she understands why the world hates her.

"Why the world wishes Mileena was never born. The way people LOOK at me," she growled, a tear running down one side of her face. "Do you know what it is like to have people look at you and only see your impurity and failure, and that you have done nothing to deserve it? No, why of course you don't understand what that is like, princess, you can't!

"You can't because your entire life everyone has loved you… and when they look at me, all they can see is you, with fangs."

Kitana was silent. "I am sorry, Mileena. But I can't change any of that."

"But I can," Mileena whispered. "If a god is considered to be enlightened, and is the only one who has achieved enlightenment… then does destroying she whom you consider infallible make you a god? Does that make you worthy? Mileena believes so."

Kitana shook her head. "You are insane!"

"Far from it," she whispered. "I'm just… different."

Before Kitana could say another word, she heard a war cry from somewhere behind her. She rose up to her feet and turned to address the threat.

It was a Black Dragon man, holding a combat knife in his hand and very much bloodied. He was looking at Kitana, but he wasn't moving.

And then Kitana saw a Japanese sword protruding out of his chest, the blade stained deep red with blood. The weapon was withdrawn, and the man slumped to the ground. Behind him stood Kenshi, looking to be in much better condition than the man he had fought with.

"Never bring a knife to a swordfight!" Kenshi shouted, somehow identifying the woman in front of him as a friendly. Suddenly, Kenshi tilted his head in Kitana's direction, the loose, soggy ends of his blindfold hanging to one side as he listened.

"Kitana!" He yelled. "Behind you!"

Kitana knew she wouldn't be fast enough to stop the woman. Mileena might be crippled, but she could still fight from the ground.

Kitana turned slowly, expecting another Sai or a pair of hands to grab her, but saw nothing.

She blinked and looked again.

She saw the figure of a woman, a black silhouette illuminated by the lightning, standing over the edge of the window facing the sea. And suddenly she was gone.

Kitana cursed herself silently.

Mileena can wait; we still have a battle to win.

Hey everyone! Hope you enjoyed the latest… this took a fricken long time to write out. Longer than usual anyway. Anyhoo, review and gimme some feedback on what you think of part two of the battle.

P.S. Since this story is going to come to an end soon (I would like to continue it, but I would also like to let this story end in a natural and definitive way) I was considering a sequel of sorts sometime in the near future…