Disclaimer - Just reminding you that I still don't own anything of Mortal Kombat.
Shang Tsung sat alone in his palace, contemplating his next course of action. Three weeks ago, he sent an assassin after the girl but the man failed, which did not surprise the sorcerer in the least, and to his displeasure, she was not under the protection of Raiden and his warriors somewhere in Earthrealm.
While he could simply infiltrate the realm disguised as a member of their party, there were too many flaws in that plan. At any rate, he knew he needed to flush them out if he had any chance of acquiring the girl, and he knew exactly how. After much preparation, Shang Tsung devised another plan, which was immediately set into action. Of course, it involved working with the necromancer he so despised, but both he and Quan Chi were able to work together to persuade Outworld's new ruler into declaring Mortal Kombat.
Unlike the past emperor, Shao Kahn, this new empress was a bit more strategic, planning out every single detail to ensure her victory. Simply telling her that conquering Earthrealm would be in her best interests was not enough, so they explained that defeating Earthrealm would make it certain that she could attack Edenia and prevail, since their allies would be too weak to offer support. Once the proposal had been made, the empress thought it over, asking several questions in the process. As soon as everything was explained to her liking, she jumped on the idea, declaring that she would finally be able to fulfill her birthright and rule Edenia.
Though this was taking much time and effort, Shang Tsung was quite pleased. He knew that acquiring the girl would be his greatest feat yet. She was highly valuable. In fact, she would be the one to save him from his wretched curse. Once he consumed her soul and combined her power with his own, he would finally obtain true immortality.
"That's good! Just like that!" Sonya praised the brunette in front of her for successfully blocking one of her punches.
She and Jax started teaching Celeste basic defense two days ago. Both demonstrated blocking techniques and simple counters, then test the girl by seeing if she could respond to hits with the appropriate block or counter. Much to their surprise, she caught on very quickly. However, before this part of her training began, the two decided to start conditioning first, only to find that the brunette was already in decent shape. She informed them that she used to play soccer and recently quit the team a couple of months ago, but she kept in shape by running every other morning. Of course, this explained why she ran so fast, easily keeping up with Li Mei who seemed to be one of the quickest women anyone ever saw. The two noted right away that the brunette's speed, agility, and stamina would be her advantages over any potential opponents.
While Celeste was pleased with her progress so far, her bargain with Raiden still ate at her inside. Despite agreeing to work towards having better control of her ability, it did not mean that she wanted to use it again, especially not on any of her new companions. Even though she thought she already had control of it, the encounter with Scorpion proved otherwise. Moreover, according to Raiden's theory, using her ability on someone with strong emotions would cause their emotions to mix with her own, but she had no idea how to remedy that or if it was even possible.
"Hey! Did you catch that?" Sonya's voice broke through Celeste's thoughts. She blinked and noticed the blonde focusing stern blue eyes on her person, but before she could say anything, Jax intervened.
"Hey, Sonya. I think we should call it a day. It's only an hour till sunset and the girl looks like she could use some rest. We can pick it up tomorrow," he suggested. The blonde sighed and nodded.
"Alright. We continue first thing in the morning," she said before quickly walking off. Celeste could only sigh. She could tell that Sonya was not happy with Jax's decision, but he seemed to be the only person she didn't argue with.
"Thanks, but we could have kept going if she wanted. I'm fine," Celeste mumbled, fixing green eyes on Jax.
"You say that, but the look on your face says otherwise. You can try and deny it all you want, but you're worried about something. Now, you don't have to tell me what's up, but it'll do you good to confide in someone. Promise me you'll do that at least," he requested.
"I suppose," she sighed in response. She was never really comfortable with telling others about her worries and her issues. Usually, she was able to persuade others to stop worrying about her with the exception of her mother, because no matter how hard Celeste tried, there was never getting anything past that woman.
"Good. Now, let's head in. I want to get to the kitchen before Bo' Rai Cho does. I don't know what he cooked this morning, but it sure as hell wasn't soup," he snorted, a look of mock disgust on his face as he walked towards the house with a smirking Celeste in tow.
The brunette lay curled up in her bed, her green eyes focused on the wall. She'd been left in the care of Sub-Zero while the others ventured out for supplies. She really didn't understand why seven people were needed to grab supplies, but then she remembered just how many things they needed. At any rate, she figured they wouldn't be gone long since the majority of the things on the list were food items. Everyone seemed pretty hungry and would probably hurry back so dinner could be made.
Moreover, it was decided that she would prepare dinner once the supplies were brought back. Since Jax and Bo' Rai Cho argued over the matter, Kung Lao suggested that someone else should cook for a change. That someone turned out to be her, but she didn't mind. She liked cooking and figured no one would mind stir-fry. The neighboring village town would have all the supplies needed and it was relatively easy to make.
Celeste rolled over on and closed her eyes. She felt like taking a nap and figured that once the others returned, someone would wake her. Without another thought, she relaxed and allowed sleep to claim her.
The ninja walked through the forest, letting the moon light his path. His journey had been going on for what felt like eternity, although only a week passed since he began. This particular quest involved locating a certain individual, and he refused to stop until he had found the man was looking for. Once he found this person, he would have his revenge. This man did kill him after all. Though he knew he shouldn't be alive right now, he would look at it as being given a second chance, although it came with a slight price.
He promised his allegiance to a necromancer named Quan Chi, even if the sorcerer didn't know this was temporary. In fact, it was Quan Chi himself who employed him to find a certain map. It was on that particular assignment which he lost his life, slain by a man that called himself Sub-Zero of the Lin Kuei. Being a member of the Shirai Ryu clan, he hated the Lin Kuei with every fiber of his being. They were corrupt and the thought of the rival clan filled him with disgust.
He continued walking forward but now used extreme caution. There was a change, a shift in the wind. He knew something was not right. The scent of death hung over this place and it made his skin crawl. As Scorpion continued, he noticed the faint scent of smoke drifting from the east, and then realization hit.
"NO!" he growled as he ran in the direction of the smoke, the direction of the Shirai Ryu village.
Adrenaline surged through Scorpion as he drew closer and closer to the smoke and his clan. He needed to get there as quickly as he could so that he could aid his comrades. Without further ado, the spectre teleported into the center of the Shirai Ryu village, stunned by the carnage around him.
Everything was up in flames and dark, dirty blood coated the ground. There lay burned, mutilated corpses everywhere. Any livestock he saw were all slain and charred. The air carried the nauseating stench of burnt flesh and blood and the salty scent of sour tears to him. The blood-curdling screams of dying victims filled the air along with the mocking crackle of the fire, and he thought he heard hers among them.
"MANAMI!" the spectre cried, rushing to what was once his family's hut.
Upon reaching the hut, his eyes first fell upon a severely disfigured female corpse. Her burnt flesh was covered in dried blood. Fingers were missing from her hands and her hair had melted onto her scalp and face. Her clothing had burned away, leaving behind a mostly nude, seared body which lay over what seemed to be the headless, singed corpse of a child. His only child and son, Daitaro.
Scorpion fell to his knees as bright, gold flames crept over his body. He roared out in pain and fury. He arrived too late and failed them all. They were all gone. All dead. Yet he'd be damned if it ended here. Like this. He was going to hunt down whoever responsible for this slaughter, and they would pay, slowly and painfully. Vengeance was going to be his. He was going to make damn sure of it.
The Lin Kuei Grandmaster sat on the wooden floor. He was currently trying to meditate, which he hadn't done in some time. With all of the recent events, he rarely found the time to relax and clear his mind. However, since most of everyone was gone for a while, the cryomancer could do just that. The only other person in the house with him was Celeste, but she was keeping to herself for the time being.
The cryomancer opened his eyes as he thought about the brunette. She was an interesting character. Although she initially came across as timid and vulnerable, it soon became perfectly clear that she was anything but.
First, he learned she was quite devious. She often gave into her curious nature and browsed through the belongings of others, although he reprimanded her many times for doing so and found it peculiar that he was the only one to ever catch her. She didn't fear using sarcasm and occasional profanity in her speech, and she would make a rare bold statement from time to time, though those were becoming more and more frequent. He also caught her gawking at him a couple of times, yet he still had not decided whether to reprimand her about that as well or just let it go. Of course, there was a miniscule part of him that liked the attention, but he would never admit to it.
Moreover, he noted that the she was relatively tough. In training, she was able to take a couple of good hits from both Sonya and Jax whenever she missed her blocks. She never complained about it and just simply kept going after making sure nothing was broken. Likewise, she was even capable of knocking Jax down when she tried, despite being nearly a foot shorter than the man.
Although only a few weeks passed since meeting the brunette, and despite her few impolite habits, he considered her a decent companion, more so than past figures he once acquainted himself with.
"NO!" A sudden, painful cry echoed through the house. Immediately recognizing that it was Celeste, Sub-Zero was on his feet in an instant and quickly made his way up the stairs. When he reached her shared bedroom, he was relieved to see that no one else somehow made it past him to her, but the feeling was overshadowed with concern once he took notice of the young woman before him.
Though she sat unharmed on her bed, Celeste looked anything but okay. Her knees were drawn to her chest and her head was cradled between them. Her body trembled violently as she loudly sobbed. Once she raised her head, he saw her red, puffy eyes. He, too, took notice that her eyes narrowed at him when she realized he was standing there.
"Stay back! You murdered him!" she yelled at him when he took a step to her. Sub-Zero only looked at her in mild confusion. He killed no one, or at least, no one she would know about.
"I do not understand what you mean," he said with furrowed brows as he looked at her flushed face.
"Don't lie to me! You killed Scorpion!" she screamed at him, more tears falling from her green orbs. The cryomancer stood there for a moment. She just accused him of killing Scorpion, who was already dead. Then he understood.
"No, no. The man of whom you speak of was not me. That was my brother. He was Sub-Zero before I," he explained. Celeste looked up at the man through watery eyes, confused.
"Then what happened to him?"
"He was killed by Scorpion during Mortal Kombat," he replied, looking away from Celeste to the wall. Although he accepted his brother's death, it still stung, but it was the past and should remain so.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have," the brunette sobbed then looked down to the bedspread in humiliation.
Sub-Zero glanced back at the brunette. She cradled her head on her knees and let out a soft sniffle. There was something else at play here. He knew it. He quietly walked over and sat beside her on the bed. After a moment, she looked at him and rubbed her already irritated eyes. Then blue met green, and he could see the traces of absolute torment in her eyes.
"Celeste, what happened?" the cryomancer softly asked. She averted her attention to the wall beside her bed before more moisture could build up in her eyes again.
"It's nothing. It was just a dream," she whispered.
Although it was neither completely obvious nor hidden, he could tell Celeste was very angry, and she wasn't being honest. A simple dream was not the cause of her current state.
"No, it was something more. No one sheds tears over nothing. Please, tell me what happened," He pleaded with the brunette.
He wanted to help her or at least he hoped he could make her stop weeping. He disliked seeing women in despair. It was something that always ate at him. Not to mention, seeing Celeste so uneasy reminded him of a woman he met some years ago, and as if on cue, an image of a woman appeared in his mind. She was lovely, unrealistically so, having olive-toned skin, shoulder-length, white-streaked dark hair, and deep, teal eyes with black markings over them. But he did not want to remember her, so he quickly pushed the thought of her away.
"Death." The sound of Celete's tiny, wavering voice reached his ears, reminding him of the matter at hand. "Destruction. Pain. Rage. It's what he saw and what he felt."
"He?" the cryomancer asked but soon filled in the blank. "Scorpion." Celeste nodded once again in response, tightly wrapping her arms around her knees.
"It was like I was in his body. I was him. I saw his comrades, his family… all dead. There was just so much fire and blood, and some of the bodies were missing parts. I could smell the burning flesh. It was awful, disgusting, sickening!" she gasped more moisture spilled over from her eyes.
Sub-Zero watched Celeste. A part of him regretted asking her to explain the dream as it seemed to only cause her more pain, but he knew it was better for her to say something than to keep it bottled up. Without a word, he wrapped an arm around her and pulled her to him, unsure of what else to do. He heard her gasp in surprise but held on. Her breathing slowed and she calmed down as she leaned into him and rested her head on his shoulder.
Some time later, the brunette scooted away, seemingly recomposed. Once she moved away, the cryomancer realized that having her at such close proximity didn't bother him in the slightest. It was odd, seeing as he enjoyed his personal space, but he stopped worrying. He was merely offering comfort. Nothing to get carried away over.
"Sub-Zero, I'm sorry. I… didn't mean for that to happen. It just all hit at once and I lost myself there. That seems to be happening a lot lately," she muttered then out a small, bitter laugh.
"Do not apologize for such. It's fine," he replied, turning his attention to the brunette.
"No, it isn't," she sighed then added, "I just thought I was in the clear. This usually happens right after I use my power on someone, not days after." The cryomancer couldn't help but raise a brow at this, but before he could say anything, she continued. "Yeah, this is another part of my ability. I have dreams about the people I drain, almost like visions of some sort. During these, I see what they see, hear what they hear, feel what they feel. You get the picture. It doesn't always happen, but it's still pretty frequent."
"Is this why you were hesitant to agree to Raiden's proposal?" he questioned and received a nod in reply.
"I didn't want to use my power on any of you, because I knew this was going to happen if I did. I feel as if it's an invasion of privacy, if that makes any sense. And well, if any of you went through any kind of shit like he did, then I don't think I could deal with it. Well, not again anyway," Celeste shrugged.
"We will need to inform Raiden of this and everyone else as well," Sub-Zero remarked, keeping his eyes on her.
"I know. I thought I could keep this to myself. Honestly, I already felt like a freak to begin with and that you all were probably worried that I'd start attacking or something, which I promise I won't," she declared, her eyes lighting up for all of a second.
"I'm confident that you will do no such thing, and you have no reason to feel the way you do. Everyone is different. You have nothing to worry about or fear," he assured.
"I guess you're right, and I'll try to remember. Thank you," she smiled before standing to her feet. "Now, if I remember correctly, no one cleaned the kitchen before they set out. Since I'm very picky about that, especially since I'm going to be the one cooking tonight, I'm going to go clean," she stated before turning her back to Sub-Zero and heading out of the room.
The cryomancer watched Celeste leave, relieved that she seemed to be okay for now. Secretly, he worried about her deal with Raiden. He did not want her subject to any more than what she had to be, and it was clear that her ability was going to challenge that. However, he would let it go for the moment. Everything will be sorted out as soon as Raiden returned. And with that, he too stood and left the room.
A/N: I suppose some of you guessed this would happen at some point. I wanted to describe what happened to the Shirai Ryu in my own way. That and provide a moment for Sub-Zero and Celeste while also giving more insight into her visions. Also, I hope you guys caught the Sareena reference. Since she's one of my favorite characters, I decided to toss that in there. Who knows, she might pop up in the story at some point. ;)
Ah, and speaking of the Shirai Ryu, Scorpion will return very soon and the drama pot is going to be stirred. It won't feel like Mortal Kombat if there isn't a little bloody chaos, am I right? You all will be delighted. I promise.
Until next time,