A/N: Just reminding you that I still don't own anything of Mortal Kombat. Though if I did, Reptile would still have a voice in the latest installment.
Celeste slowly opened her eyes, putting up a hand to shield them from the beam of sunlight that was currently shining down on her face. Once she adjusted to the light, the brunette sat up and peered around to find that she was not in her tent. Instead, she was now herself sitting in a patch of very green grass, surrounded by a beautiful, marvelous landscape. The brunette knew this meant she was in Panedere's garden; however, the sorceress was nowhere in sight.
This is rather…odd. I wonder why I'm here. The brunette continued scanning her surroundings with furrowed brows. Well, what better way to find out than to ask Panedere herself?
Celeste stretched and stood, then wasted no time beginning her search for the Edenian. At first, she found nothing save for the various, vibrant flowers swaying in the breeze accompanied by several, purple and blue butterflies fluttering through the air. With a sigh, the brunette continued trekking through the grass until she came upon the marble fountain. At its base, she found none other than the sorceress, who sat with her back facing the brunette and seemed rather fixated with something.
"Uh, mom?" Celeste asked as she approached Panedere. The Edenian jumped before quickly turning to the young woman with a hand to her chest, her golden orbs wide with surprise.
"My, you gave me quite the start," the sorceress chuckled as she dropping her hand into her lap.
The brunette smiled nervously. "Sorry about that. I didn't mean to."
"No, no. You are fine, dear," Panedere assured while smiling at Celeste, who only nodded.
"Alright," was the young woman's response as she took a seat beside the sorceress on the fountain base. "So, did you call me here, or am I somehow having another near-death experience?"
"I did in fact summon you here. There is something you must know, and now would be the ideal time to relay this to you. I regrettably will not be able to contact you too often while you are on the island. I fear I must conserve my energy for certain events to come. I wish I could indulge you more, but that is all I can tell you for now. I promise you will find out soon enough on your own, though," Panedere assured, a minimal frown marring her face.
Oh, great. It's this secrecy shit again.
Celeste fought the urge to roll her eyes and let lose a string of curses, in the end, merely sighing.
"Do I need to be worried? Is something bad about to happen? I mean, I'm not sure what could be worse than facing off against Shang Tsung, but still."
Panedere pursed her lips. "Believe it or not, there are things much worse than that wretched sorcerer. Things I hope you never have to experience, but enough on that."
"Okay then... So, what did I need to be warned about?" the brunette questioned with concern.
"Simply this: be wary of your surroundings at all times. I expect that you would already be mindful of that, but there is no harm in reminding you, as it is important to your survival on that island. You see, Shang Tsung has the ability to take the forms of others. He will use this to deceive you and manipulate your actions if you let your guard down. Be sure you know with whom you speak to. They may look and perhaps even act like your allies but could very well be him in disguise," the sorceress explained.
"So, what you're saying is that I could think I'm talking to someone and it could really be Shang Tsung masquerading as them?" Celeste asked and received a single nod in return.
"Well, that's just lovely."
"Indeed. However, this is all I can share for now, as I believe our time has expired. Speak with Lord Raiden or Princess Kitana if you wish to know more before I am able to contact you again," Panedere suggested to a nodding Celeste.
The sorceress' lips curved into a small smile as her eyes remained on the brunette, a hint of sadness in them. Without warning, she wrapped her arms around the young woman and pulled her into a tight embrace.
"I will help you as much as I can, but even so, please be careful," the Edenian murmured into Celeste's hair.
"I will, mom. I promise," the brunette whispered as she closed her eyes, secretly dreading for what was to come.
The sorcerer looked down at his teacup before bringing it to his lips and taking a sip of the hot beverage. In contrast to the past few days, Shang Tsung was currently not in the best of moods, and it was all due to that half-witted hybrid.
For the opening ceremony, he prepared a speech for her to recite as well as proper attire suitable for an empress to wear. While she wore the gown she was given, she did not keep to the speech she he gave her. Instead, the grotesque whore decided to change the rules, removing the previous anywhere-goes and single-elimination rules. He was sure that this change would not just extend the tournament to be longer than his liking, but it would also make obtaining his prize more difficult.
However, he could just as easily dismantle any plans she was working on, which he was more than sure she had going. After all, those familiar with the hybrid's childish, maniacal ways certainly knew that she was anything but fair. What she seemed to have forgotten was that he was in charge of matching the kombatants for the initial round. While it took him some time to adjust his pairs to her new rules, he still felt a sense of appeasement knowing that he would be the reason why one of her favorite participants would eventually be eliminated. If she wanted to soil his plans, then he would be more than obliged to return the favor.
The brunette stood in the courtyard, with Kitana and Jade to her left and Li Mei to her right. Right now, all of the participants were awaiting the announcement of the first match, which was considered the true beginning of the tournament.
With a sigh, Celeste's eyes drifted to the sorcerer currently seated in one of three gold chairs in a small viewing area behind the platform, his seat being the one farthest left. Right now, his sinister eyes were fixed on the scantily-clad figure sitting in the middle chair, Mileena. While he looked calm and collected, she got the feeling he was anything but.
Now feeling anxious and rather nauseous by just looking at the sorcerer, the brunette quickly adverted her gaze to the man in the chair farthest to the right. She recalled his name being Quan Chi, and that he was the necromancer who completely screwed over Scorpion. Currently, the man was focused on the crowd, most likely to keep from looking at the fore-mentioned spectre.
I'm actually surprised that Scorpion hasn't tried to jump the guy yet… Unless he has something else planned.
She could only suppress a shiver as she began pondering the various ways Scorpion could have his revenge.
"Looks like things are about to begin," Celeste heard Li Mei mutter. She looked over to the Outworlder, the woman's eyes were narrowed in a harsh glare at whomever or whatever she was focused on. With a frown, Celeste turned her attention back in the direction of the platform, where Shang Tsung now stood with a slight grin on his face.
"Good morning, kombatants. I trust you all slept well, at least for your sakes," he began, his grin widening somewhat before he continued. "Now, let us not waste time. The tournament begins!"
Some of the crowd cheered while the rest stood silently. Shang Tsung merely looked about with smug expression as the noise ceased.
"Our first kombatant shall be the Earthrealm warrior… Kenshi! And his opponent… Reptile!" the sorcerer announced in a sickeningly, silky-smooth voice that made Celeste's stomach twist. Fighting the urge to vomit, the brunette's gaze flew to Kenshi as he walked forward.
Hm, he seems kind of tense… How bad is this Reptile person?
The brunette absently played with the fabric of her skirt as she watched the swordsman. Once Kenshi was on the platform, Celeste searched their surroundings for his opponent but could find nothing. Confused, she tilted her head and took a step forward, her eyes squinted as she took a closer look.
She watched on with a frown. After a few moments ticked by, a green blob suddenly flew across the stage towards the swordsman. Wasting no time, the blind warrior dodged and deflected the gooey ball onto the stage with an upward slash of his sword. As the blade seemingly cut through air, a squawk could be heard as an outline slowly formed before it gave way to the body of a lizard-like, humanoid creature.
Celeste gaped. Well, I see why it, or rather he, is called Reptile…
Reptile looked down at the green blood oozing from the wound on his arm before glaring at Kenshi with his sharp, yellow eyes. "You will pay for that!"
The Saurian dashed forward and curled himself into a ball that was now a rolling blur headed directly to Kenshi, who flipped over him. However, before the Earthrealm warrior was able to land on his feet, he was yanked down onto the stage by Reptile's lengthy tongue wrapped around his left arm.
The blind man hissed in pain as he hit the platform. At first, Celeste thought it was because he crashed so hard on the platform surface, but once the man shifted, she noticed his armor looked as if something burned through it in the same place where Reptile's tongue had been.
Acid spit…? Really? Really?
She nervously chewed on her lip, the color draining from her face as she watched the Saurian rush her ally while he was still down. Before the reptilian could reach him, however, Kenshi held out a hand and he flew back several feet, eventually smashing into the ground back-first and screeching in response.
While Reptile was recovering, Kenshi stood and readied his Sento, then sent it flying forward in a rapid, telepathic slash. As the blade closed in, Reptile rolled out of the way before tearing off his mask and spitting at the blind swordsman. Yet, the man was too fast, moving out of the path of the ball of acidic saliva and stretched out his hand once more. Without anytime to brace himself, Reptile sailed towards Kenshi only to be kicked in the jaw as he reached the swordsman, a loud cracking sound echoing through the air upon contact that was soon followed by Reptile's loud shriek.
The brunette flinched, knowing exactly what happened to the Saurian, yet didn't turn away. She watched as the reptilian slammed hard into the platform, another snapping noise ricocheting through the courtyard. However, this time, Reptile took longer to stir, but that didn't matter. It was too late. Shang Tsung was already standing and ready to declare the winner.
"It appears we have a victor… Kenshi!" the sorcerer proclaimed, his earlier grin snaking its way back onto his face as if he was oddly pleased by the outcome of events.
Fucking bloodthirsty bastard!
Celeste scowled as some of the participants broke out into applause. The brunette narrowed her eyes at the sorcerer before regarding her comrade, mentally congratulating him as she watch him make his way off of the platform.
"Well, that was short," she heard Johnny Cage remark from behind her.
"Yes, but thankfully Kenshi was not hurt too badly," Li Mei replied in relief, then added solemnly, "We're going to have to tend to the acid burn on his arm before it gets any worse, though."
Celeste opened her mouth to say something, but promptly closed it. Instead, she looked back to the stage, where Reptile was being escorted off by a set of masked guards. As soon as the platform was clear, the sorcerer motioned for silence.
"Now, let us continue," he offered, his dark eyes drifting over the crowd of participants. "Our next kombatant may be making her debut at this tournament, but I assure you, she is a rather… capable opponent," the sorcerer darkly chuckled.
Celeste froze. He was talking about her. He had to be talking about her.
She dug her nails into the sides of her legs, the pain keeping her from shaking. Shit… I thought I would have had more time. I am not ready for this!
Anxiously biting her lip as her heart beat wildly in her chest, Celeste took a small, shaky step forward. Yet, before she could bring herself to march closer to the platform, a green light appeared onstage. It soon grew into a mass of swirls that grew larger with each loop until they formed what appeared to be a portal.
The brunette tilted her head, perplexed. W-what in the hell…
A figure began passing through the portal, which was quickly revealed to be a woman once the portal disappeared. She had flawless, tan skin, shoulder-length, white-streaked dark hair, and black markings around her dark eyes. She wore black, leather clothing, save for the red symbol on her loincloth, and black lipstick. Despite her gloomy appearance, the woman was absolutely stunning and looking at her left Celeste feeling a sharp pang of envy. Before the brunette could wonder who the woman was, Shang Tsung concluded his introduction and answered the unasked question for her.
"She is… Sareena of the Netherrealm!"
A/N: First, let me wish you all a Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday season! Furthermore, I hope that 2013 was good for all of you and that 2014 will be even better!
And finally, another chapter is up! I hope you all enjoyed it, though I must say I'm quite nervous about how it turned out. I do also apologize for the length of time it took getting it to you, but now that this one is up, I plan to have the next chapter posted soon. Likewise, you will find a very tiny preview of chapter 17 below, at the end of this note. Let's see if you guys can figure out what's about to go down.
Speaking of future going-downs, prepare yourselves for what lies ahead. It's going to get ugly very soon, even more so than the events of chapter 12. However, that's all I'll willing to say about it for now.
Until next time,
As her words fell upon his ears, he felt his calm demeanor dissolve away and give rise to a cold fury that propelled his body in the direction of her outcry. How dare someone touch her in that manner! She was a woman, not an object for entertainment. He wouldn't wish such a thing on any female, regardless of his opinion on her...