Disclaimer: Mortal Kombat Conquest and its denizens do not, emphatically, belong to me. Oh what a twisted tale we weave - Renegade belongs to - bunches of people who aren't me; same for Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. But Cheri, Tanya and the really bent ideas that produced this piece as well as the twisted tales not from shakespeare are dragon's fault.. dragon is a non-profit organization. (dragon is an organization?)Time: Buffy third season, MKC mid first and only season
Place: Hmmm - Just about - there!
Synopsis: Siro discovers vampires. Rayden discovers that being in two places at once can be uncomfortable. Siro gets involved with the Slayer gang and Reno Raines in a Mortal Kombat challenge.
Zhao Zhin, city of wonder on the edge of battle. Home of Kung Lao, Immortal Champion of Mortal Kombat, the once a century battle between the forces of OutWorld and the mad Emperor, Shao Kahn, and the forces of EarthRealm; and his friends and fellow fighters: Siro the ex-bodyguard of Kung Lao's lost love, Jen; and Taja, the slender, red haired, street smart ex-thief turned trader. Zhao Zhin, also the target of Shao Kahn's frequent attacks from OutWorld. Angered that he cannot call another Kombat and that EarthRealm is safe from his depredations for another hundred years, Shao Kahn launches secret attacks, assassination attempts, against the trio. But not all the evils of EarthRealm can be attributed to Shao Kahn and his lust for revenge against the champion. Some evils are as old as time and as random as the favor of the gods.
Kung Lao, Taja and Siro returned home, tired from a very long day of kicking the tar out of assorted OutWorld nasties. They ate in exhausted silence, occasional beginins of conversation dieing before they could start. They retired to bed for the night. As they were only the best of friends, and nothing more, they retired to separate, but equal beds in separate but equal rooms in the still somewhat the worse for wear trading post/mansion which served as their home, training dojo and the focal point of most of the trouble that followed them around.
Tired as she was, Taja could not get to sleep. She shifted, she rearranged her covers, she punched her pillow as though this would help. Nope. Something was bothering her. Tired of fighting to get some sleep, she got up and moved silently down the hallway to the stairs. Being a reformed thief as well as a well trained martial artist, moving silently was second nature to her. Living with two other well trained martial artists, including the immortal winner of the last Mortal Kombat tournament, there was a lot of quiet to be had in their home. Which was why a sound coming from Siro's room startled her.
She frowned. Siro did snore on occasion. But this didn't sound like a snore. It sounded more like a moan. He'd denied cracking his ribs again, but you never knew. The pig headed idiot tended to resist admitting he needed help. Didn't they all? She moved silently to his door and discovered it was not completely closed. Warning bells went off in her head (sirens not having been invented yet).
She pushed the door open. She got a really good look at why Siro was moaning. For heaven's sake, why didn't he warn them he had a woman with him? For that matter, why hadn't he gone out, as was his custom, instead of sneaking her in? Taja looked back at the bed where the brawny ex-guard was obviously enjoying himself. The black haired woman pulled up and looked around. Eyes of glowing gold stared at Taja. The woman licked her red lips, catching a dark dribble down one side. There were sharp fangs in her mouth. Taja recoiled, stubbed her foot against a loose piece of masonry and went down, smacking her head against the banister at the head of the stairs. A yell of distress died in her throat as she fought not to lose consciousness. She lost the fight.
"Somebody kill the bird," Taja mumbled into her pillow as several happy little song birds cut loose outside her window. She snatched the pillow from over her tousled red hair and stared at the window. The sun was up, golden light filtering through the carved stone screen. Her eyes wide with shock, she twisted around in her bed, wondering how she had arrived there. The last thing she remembered was - She flung her bedding aside and dove for the door.
"Yes?" he answered as he stepped out of his room. He looked her up and down appraisingly, an amused look in his warm brown eyes. The look changed as he read the concern, almost panic in her own eyes. "What?"
"I - Are you all right?" she asked lamely. How the hell was she going to explain to Siro what she had seen last night when he was standing there hale and hearty and probably hungry? "I - uh - I guess I had a nightmare," she explained with a frown and realized she was standing there in a lot less than her usual form of dress. She blushed hotly and retreated into her room.
Siro watched her retreat and shook his head. Nightmares. It was a wonder they didn't all have them every night. He took a deep breath, shook off the sudden feeling of lightheadedness and headed downstairs to find out what was for breakfast. Not that he was going to cook it, of course.
The day passed uneventfully, for which all three of them were thankful. They retired at a reasonable hour. Both Taja and Kung Lao found it odd that Siro did not go out to the local bar for a drink before retiring, but it had been an eventful week, so it wasn't too odd.
Taja awoke some time after midnight, the moon was setting. Siro was moaning, again. She got out of bed with a purposeful move and went to tell him to stop sneaking his women into the house. Again, his door was not quite closed. She felt cold as she reached to push it further open.
Black hair, alabaster skin gleaming in the darkness, golden eyes, fangs. Not again. This time Taja stood her ground and called Siro's name, or tried to do so. The golden eyes held hers. Her voice seemed frozen in her throat. The woman moved silently across the room until they were almost nose to nose. There was an aura of cold around her. Taja wanted to turn away, look away, run, shout, something, anything. She stood where she was as though rooted to the stone.
The woman reached out with one cold fingered hand and stroked the side of Taja's face. Taja shuddered. Cold fear coursed through her. Color flared in her cheeks as a touch of desire also raised its head. The woman smiled, fangs gleaming against her dark lips. "Sleep." The word was more mouthed than voiced, yet Taja found herself obeying. Her lids sliding slowly downward over her eyes and she slept.
The sun came up. The birds burst into song and Taja burst out of bed and out of her room, pausing only long enough to throw on her clothes and shoes. She half expected to meet Siro in the hallway. Nope. She tore downstairs and startled Kung Lao who was pouring water into the pot to heat for tea.
"He hasn't come down yet. What's wrong?" The Kombat champion knew she was worried immediately, yet he had sensed nothing this morning. Taja hesitated, then briefly described her "nightmares" of the previous two nights. Both headed upstairs. Nightmares frequently acquired a reality all their own, as both of them had reason to know. They found Siro leaning heavily against the jamb to his door. He was breathing oddly, as though he couldn't get enough air into his lungs. His eyes looked feverish, his skin pale. He met their searching gazes with a frown and then slid to the floor half conscious. His hair shifted slightly to reveal two inflamed looking marks on the side of his neck.
Taja and Kung Lao knelt down on opposite sides of their fallen friend, their eyes met in curiosity and horror. Taja had not been dreaming, but what was this? Neither one had ever heard of a vampire. They loaded Siro back into bed over his protests that he would be all right as soon as he ate and got some sun to warm him up. He shivered even as he spoke. Taja and Kung Lao made reassuring noises and looked worried. Siro subsided into a half conscious state, muttering about golden eyes and black haired beauty. They left quietly.
"Just like my - It wasn't a dream. It happened. But why didn't I raise an alarm?"
"Good question. Whoever she is, she has powers she can use against us."
"So, now what do we do? She's killing him, slowly."
"I know. We find out what we're up against."
"Or who. Can we leave him alone?"
Kung Lao looked at the nearby window, golden sunlight filtering through the filagreed stonework that covered it. Sunlight. It felt friendly, inviting. "As long as the sun is up, I think we can. Let's go."
They set out to talk to everyone they could think of about the problem.
Unfortunately, vampires were not well known in the land and there was no one in town who could enlighten them. One offered herbs for strength, another a time honored curse to remove unwanted intruders, a third dismissed the whole thing as fantasy. For once, Lord Rayden of the white hair and lightning eyes was no where to be seen. To a certain extent, this reassured Kung Lao. The worse the matter stood, the more likely the thunder god was to be around.
The sun was well on its way down past the horizon when Kung Lao and Taja met in the square just outside their home. The last of the merchants of the bazaar which was open every day were just packing up. Taja spotted the woman first. The blue-black mane of hair which hung loose to her waist and past was unmistakable.
The woman froze at Taja's yell. She turned slowly to face the advancing warrior. Her face was still pale, but the eyes were a deep green, like fine emeralds in firelight. She was clothed in black from throat to wrist to ankles, soft black boots covering her feet and rising to her knees. She fell into a defensive stance as Taja and Kung Lao advanced on her.
The green eyes tracked from one to the other and back. Kung Lao laid a hand on Taja's arm to hold her back. Something about the woman felt - not wrong, but not hostile either, inspite of the stance.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
"The name's Cheri. Who're you?"
"Kung Lao. This is Taja." The woman nodded to both of them. "Taja believes you have met before."
"Ah. Not the happiest of meetings, it would seem."
"What have you done to Siro?" the hot headed ex-thief demanded, her hands clenched in fists.
"How can you -"
Kung Lao held up a hand. "Wait. Tall, fair haired, light brown eyes -"
"Sounds yummy, but not ringing any identity bells. Friend of yours?"
"Yes. He's been - harmed." Kung Lao was at a loss to explain exactly what had happened to the man, but that seemed to sum it up, however inadequately.
All three turned to face the new voice. When Lord Rayden voices all his disapproval in one word, it is worth paying attention. Cheri's eyebrows rose in inquiry. While she liked what she saw, the disapproval in the voice intimated previous acquaintance and she could not for the life of her figure out who he was. Lightning struck abruptly. Cheri lifted her arms to fend it off. Fat lot of good that was going to do, she told herself. Wind and fury abated and she was still standing. She tousled her hair with a quick move of her hands, just to assure herself it was still there, and looked at Rayden curiously.
"I take it you think we've met before, too." It was a statement, rather than a question. She hoped someone would break down and do some explaining, soon.
"Who are you? What are you?"
"In reverse order: technically immortal and the name's Cheri. And I would love to get my hands on whoever is going around impersonating – me - oh." Her eyes lost focus for a moment as the answer to the question of who was annoying people and looked like her occurred to her. "Oh, my. I don't suppose you could have mistaken sort of blue-green eyes for green?"
"Green, blue-green - try gold, glowing gold."
"Glowing gold? Good grief, not on my worst day. Honest. I don't even wear gold. Well, most of the time, I don't, anyway."
Rayden slowly walked over, passing Kung Lao and Taja to come to a stop directly before Cheri who now had to look up into his eyes. They were a sort of dark grey and still not friendly. "How - Not even an immortal should be able to stand my lightning."
"Well - uh - hmmm - perhaps it has something to do with this not being my reality? I mean, maybe if the person is grounded somewhere else all that energy - er - dissipates elsewhere? Look, alternate reality theory is not my strong point. On the other hand, vampiric twins may be."
"What?" The word came from Taja and Kung Lao simultaneously.
"Vampiric?" Rayden sounded equally curious, his ire somewhat diverted by her words.
"Vampire? Blood-sucking undead? Uh - hmm, not a concept. OK, in popular mythology where I come from, a vampire is a - reanimated dead body. In theory, the reanimation is due to the extreme evil of the dead person, a desperate desire not to be dead, the possession of the body by a demonic presence once the soul has moved on, or a virus. The latter is a somewhat modern interpretation of the condition. Anyway, if your friend has a general lassitude, seems to have lost most of his healthy color and has a couple of unexplained scabbed over holes on the side of his neck, I'd say we had a very traditional vampire working on him."
"Then you know how to stop it."
"Uh - well, sort of. I mean - oh, now what?"
The *now what* was a whirling vortex that opened in the square, convincing the interested spectators left that leaving was a good idea. The vortex sat there for a few minutes as though thinking about things, spewed out one small, blonde, female figure and closed. The figure stumbled a couple of steps, righted itself and looked around. Her vampire sensing senses were not going off, so she surmised that the quartet of oddly dressed people in front of her were probably not vampires, or demons. She walked over with a confident stride, ignoring the panic sounds the back of her mind was making and introduced her self. "Hi. I'm Buffy. And you are?"
Cheri grinned at the girl, for girl it was. She couldn't have been much more than 16 or 17, with a self confidence and assurance aeons older. "Cheri Yuconovich. And these are Kung Lao, Taja and - oh, didn't get your name before you started flinging lightening bolts at me."
"Rayden," he almost growled, frowning at the girl. He saw a young woman, yet there was the aura of both power and childhood around her. It was an unnerving combination. Rayden was off his stride.
Buffy nodded her acceptance of the introductions. "So. What's up?"
"A reality confluence."
Kung Lao and Taja looked like they didn't understand the words. Rayden looked annoyed. Buffy nodded. "OK. So, how do we, like, un-confluence it? I mean, that is what we want to do, right? This is a bad thing, to confluence?"
"Excessively bad. More bad than I really want to try to contemplate at one sitting," Cheri responded.
"So, who do I kill?" Buffy inquired with becoming nonchalance that she wasn't really feeling. The dark haired guy and the woman with him seemed very competent types. The white haired guy was giving her the creeps the way Giles did sometimes. He was old, but he was knowledgeable and dangerous. It was a good combination, but it did things to one's spine at the most awkward moments. And he was powerful in a way that she could feel but not see.
"At the moment, I'm not certain. I have a suspicion. I think it might be best if we go see the victim."
"You've got a victim?"
"Among the living."
"What? How? I mean, like, that's - not possible."
Cheri grinned at her. "Six impossible things before breakfast," she murmured. She turned to Kung Lao to lead the way. Taja followed behind the dark haired woman and Rayden brought up the rear, frowning and trying to figure out where he had lost control of the situation.