.

Free

"Where are the Elder Gods Raiden? Their pathetic Mortal Kombat shackles me no longer."

I know...you know...we all know...know as surely as your blows meet me...know as surely as you toss me through the air like a broken doll, my amulet breaking in turn...know as surely that soon, this will end...

It's almost a relief.

"They masquerade as dragons...but are mere toothless worms."

Toothless...funny, that's how I'm feeling. Or rather my mouth aches so much I can't tell how many of my teeth are still intact.

"My venom spreads," Shao Khan declares. "It is the end of all things."

The end...well, that's one definition for Armageddon I suppose. The end of the realms. The end of Creation. The end of life itself. I cry out in feeble protest, but it is too late. And Khan declares it so.

And in a way...I welcome it. My body is broken, but my soul...my mind...is intact...for now. And amongst everything else, I feel...relief. Relief that it's over. Relief that I can finally rest. Free from eternal duty as guardian of Earthrealm...the circumstances are dire, but...

"Your time has passed," Khan snarls, showing himself to be such a worthy god by indulging in the whims of mortals...breaking me further. "Ages wasted in foolish resistance. Now is the dawn of my rule."

The circumstances...are more than dire. It has ended...for me. But for the realms? No...it can't...I can't...rest yet...

I have one last thing to do. And for now at least, as I seize the pieces of the amulet in my last gesture of defiance, Khan fails to see through my actions. I've allowed this to happen. I've failed Earthrealm. I've failed Creation. I've failed myself, and those close to me. And now, as Armageddon fades, as destruction begins...maybe I can do one last thing...

"Yes, pray to the worms Raiden," Khan laughs, mistaking my ritual for an even more futile gesture. "As the world ends..."

Yes...keep believing that. Believe it right to the end...of all things...you self-destructive, deluded fool...

I am the anvil. The hammer begins to fall. My rest draws near...

"He must win..."

And I'm free.