I've developed some kind of obsession with babies lately (probably from hanging around my cousin's one year-old daughter), so for some reason I got this plot idea. I don't intend for this to be very long; hopefully no more than five chapters (if that).
I'm not gonna lie, I don't really like Liu Kang, so I like to put him in these kinds of situations often. That's what you get for turning on your only ally (and sounding like a castrated turkey).
The thunder god kneeled in meditation as the wind roared outside the temple walls. At this altitude, he could feel the sway of the tower as its framework was rocked by the turbulent storm outside, but then again, that was the way it had always been. Thousands of years of quiet reflection had served to desensitize him to the motion and noise. He was accompanied only by the smell of clove incense and the meager flicker of two wax candles.
However, despite his minimalist surroundings, the deity's thoughts were as tumultuous as the clouds outside.
It had been only a week ago that he had been at the Shaolin temple in an effort to check on his old students after the Quan Chi and Shinnok issue had been resolved. He recalled how he had been dissuaded by Kung Lao and the other monks from seeing Liu Kang, who still bore the horrid burns inflicted upon him from his confrontation with Raiden. The latter had tried to press on, convince them that he could help heal his pupil, but to no avail. The grandmaster had exited from Liu Kang's room just then, relaying to the thunder god his student's vehement request never to see him again.
Raiden had said nothing.
And now here he was, the journey from mainland China to his temple in the Japanese mountains traversed in a matter of seconds for the immortal being. He resided in his shrine for the next week, remaining deep in his meditation, withdrawn to the point where even the miko could not get in contact with him.
He replayed the day of Liu Kang's betrayal over and over in his mind, allowing a well of guilt he had been forced to suppress while fending off Netherrealm's forces to bubble back up as he tried to remember what it was that he had done to make his student stray from his path. The more he analyzed it, the more Raiden began to blame himself, cursing his future self for his cryptic message that only served to make the situation even worse. In the long run, though, everything had managed to work out. The sold souls of the fallen had been restored, and the realm borders had been stabilized. For now.
But he could never fix what he had done to Liu Kang.
The image of his student's charred face seared itself into his memory as strongly as his lightning had his student's skin; Raiden cursed himself for his impulsive action to this day.
Although, in all honesty, even though Raiden thought it ludicrous to even consider placing blame on anyone but himself at this point, he could not ignore the feeling at the back of his mind that Liu Kang was at least partially responsible for his current state. After all, had he not decided to attack Raiden when the thunder god was clearly agitated already, then none of this would have happened.
Although no one was around to see, Raiden shook his head in an attempt to dispel the ridiculous notion that had somehow managed to embed itself in his mind. He could never blame Liu Kang for what had happened.
…Except for the fact that Liu Kang had attacked him.
And also tried to attack Shao Kahn against Raiden's warnings.
And had seen firsthand the Elder Gods' refusal to acknowledge Raiden's pleas for help.
Raiden paused in his thoughts, but much to his own surprise, did not attempt to shut them out the way he had previously. With a small shock, he feared that he was succumbing to the very impulses of irrationality and vengeance that he had warned his students of in the past.
But was it really irrational if it was true?
Lost in reflection, Raiden only barely caught the sound of the tempest beating against the frame of the tower outside. The rain continued to echo the sound of fervent taiko drums as it pounded relentlessly on the walls.
Exactly the way Raiden willed it.
The monk closed the centuries-old door behind him carefully, both to preserve the ancient wood in the door and to prevent any disturbance to the man sleeping inside. Turning back around, he was mildly surprised to see one of his superiors had been waiting for him in the hall. The older monk spoke quietly but urgently.
"How is he doing?" the elder asked straightforwardly. The younger monk diverted his eyes to the ground, wringing his hand around the top of the salve flask he had brought with him.
"Physically, much better," the latter responded. "The burns will never heal completely, but the inflammation will go down within a month."
The older monk nodded in response, his face grim. Both he and his disciple knew very well, however, that it wasn't the answer he was looking for.
"…And…?" the elder prodded. His student straightened up and attempted to look his superior in the eye.
"He is still irate with the thunder god," the younger monk answered. "Every day he continues to curse his name. His rage has begun to consume him. I can see the hate grow in his eyes with each passing day; I fear for his spiritual welfare."
Both remained silent as the wind picked up outside, knocking around chimes some distance away, their sound passing through the bare halls easily.
The older monk sighed as he stared at a spot above his student's head on the wall, trying to think of a way to assuage both of their minds, especially that of his naïve pupil, who had only recently joined the monastery as a medic. Still, he recognized the dire nature of the situation for what it really was. Their strongest fighter was slowly heading down a dangerous path, and he wasn't sure how much they could do to stop him.
"We will continue to keep an eye on Liu Kang," the elder finally responded. "Hopefully he will begin to see that his hate is unfounded. Only time, and experience, will teach him forgiveness."
The younger man nodded as he took his teacher's words to heart. The latter waved his hand.
"Come," he said to the younger man, directing the other to walk with him and leave Liu Kang in peace for the night. The two made their way down the west end of the hallway, careful to conceal their footsteps so as not to disturb the warrior monk resting in his room.
Or so they had assumed; from within the room, a gust from the only window had managed to unlatch the lock on the door, swinging open to reveal strewn sheets on an empty bed.
The warrior wheezed as he clawed his way through the unforgiving forest; every scratch of a branch, every brush of a leaf, every step he took sent a blinding flash of pain through his entire being as it seemed nature itself was taunting him for his deformity.
Yet he continued on in his pursuit for the one who dwelled in the forest; the only one who could help him in his quest for revenge against the god who had wronged him. He had only heard small bits of information about her here and there, and even what he had heard had been more the stuff of legends, passed down and distorted by word of mouth and time. Mostly he remembered what Raiden had told him and Kung Lao in an effort to deter them from ever associating with her. How fitting, Liu Kang thought, that it was Raiden who had ended up informing him of the one method he would use to bring his former teacher down.
His memory of the legend surrounding her had resurfaced when he had heard the monks talk about her outside his door one morning, after the new medic had finished treating him. It had seemed that they were considering going to her for assistance in helping Liu Kang recover, but an elder monk had come by and immediately dismissed the notion after, reprimanding his underlings and directing them away from Liu Kang's door where their conversations would not be heard.
Of course, it had been too late. Liu Kang already knew what he needed in order to motivate himself to sneak out of bed and away from the temple grounds last night; now the faint light of the rising sun could be seen in the distance, providing little illumination for Liu Kang as he continued to stumble over dead leaves and twigs.
The effort proved to be too much, even for the rage-driven monk. He took two more steps forward before collapsing in a heap on the ground. As his muscles burned with the effort exerted, Liu Kang hoped that the monastery had sent out a search team, or at least someone to look for him.
Wrapped up in his pain and torment, Liu Kang did not take the time to notice he had landed near a patch of bare earth; there were no leaves or rocks on the spot, and had he looked up he would have seen a arch of densely woven vines and flowers concealing what appeared to be a plank of stained wood, painted to camouflage with its surroundings.
He only realized that he had stumbled upon something unusual when he heard the creak of the wood as it opened into the tree in which it was hidden. He couldn't see who had moved it, but he could hear a woman's voice address him.
"What is your business here?" the voice demanded, young but marked by the tiredness of a soul countless times older than it sounded.
Liu Kang could only wheeze and choke in response, his burned lips and nostrils making it difficult to inhale. He could still feel the judgmental gaze of the woman as she stared down at this wretched creature on her doorstep.
"…Leave," she demanded, indifferent to the man's pain. "You have no purpose here."
Liu Kang continued to lie on the ground, twitching with agonizing pain. He feared what would happen should the woman refuse to help him and decide to leave him exposed to the elements of the forest.
About half a minute passed as the woman seemed to consider what to do with the figure on her doorstep, looking at Liu Kang and scrunching her nose like he was a dead animal rotting at her front door. Finally, either out of pity or a desire to rid her porch of the dismal sight, the woman decided to take Liu Kang in. However, she obviously harbored little sympathy for the warrior as she dragged him by his shoulders on his burned chest, causing him to hiss as she left him on the floor while she went back to close the door.
She turned around after locking the entrance, the burlap cloth of her robe scratching against the walls as she turned around to face the scum that had crawled into her territory.
"I said leave," she commanded again, even though she had just brought her guest in of her own volition. However, she obviously expected the visitor to make good on this command as she stepped over his body like he was a mere stain on the ground.
Liu Kang struggled to compose himself enough to the point where he would be able to form a coherent sentence, seeing as how his energy was near depleted and he would have to get his request out in one sentence. To distract himself from the pain, he looked around her abode and noticed the vials of potions and ethers that filled the sorceress's shelves and tables. She had gone back to work on another one, and Liu Kang took this moment to catch her attention again.
"…Omegis," he choked out. He could not see her expression, but she had obviously stopped what she was doing once he had spoken her name.
Liu Kang swallowed in another chunk of air before trying to speak again.
"I require… your assistance," he pleaded, returning to his wheezing fit. Omegis paused briefly before returning to her alchemy.
"Thousands of men have come to my door looking for help," she replied indifferently, measuring out a green substance from a spiral vial. "The response has always been the same. You are not welcome here."
She continued to brew her potion as the Shaolin monk laid on the ground behind her. Gulping, Liu Kang tried again.
"Please," he begged. "I have… no other choice. I have been… wronged… by another."
"Many people have been wronged," she retorted coldly, not bothering to look behind her. "Or perceive to have been so. Their issues are not my own."
"Please," Liu Kang repeated, trying to roll onto his side and push himself up, each movement sending a jolt of pain through his arms as his sensitive skin brushed the crude floor. "It is a god who has made me this way."
"I do not meddle in the affairs of the gods," Omegis replied bluntly. "They do not serve me, nor I them."
"You must," Liu Kang urged her. As he brought himself onto his knees, he could hear her whirl around, accidentally knocking her potion onto the ground in the process.
"How dare you tell me what I must do?!" she spat out, incised by the visitor's arrogance and ignoring the substance she had knocked over as it burned a hole through an ancient rug and the dirt below it.
Liu Kang remained calm in the face of her outburst, although mostly because he was in too much pain to react otherwise.
"I beg you," he stated again calmly, still breathing heavily. "I must not let him get away with what he has done."
Still fuming, Omegis gritted her teeth long enough to convince herself to negotiate with the mortal.
"And for what reason, exactly, have you decided to come to me?" she asked, purposely failing to hide her brash tone with a mask of politeness. "What makes you think you can take on a god?"
Liu Kang looked at her, but could not see her face, obscured by the hood of her robe.
"If you are willing to help me," he offered, lowering his gaze respectfully, "then I will succeed in making him pay. I would be willing to do whatever it would take to pay you back."
He kept his eyes lowered as she looked the mortal over. Unknown to Liu Kang, Omegis could sense a kindred spirit within the young warrior. Not to her, but to another, who had come to ask for her assistance centuries ago.
"What do you require?" she asked sarcastically, pulling herself back up to enforce the impression of dignity she attempted to give off. "Strength? Knowledge?"
The room went quiet. Even the sizzling of the potion that had been spilled died down, almost as if in response to the chilled air that had suddenly entered between the two of them. Omegis stared at the clueless mortal in furious disbelief at the utterance of the forbidden word.
"…Immortality?" she spat back out forcefully. "You think immortality is going to help you?"
"…It is the only way," Liu Kang replied softly, wincing now not only from his reopened wounds, but from the cold stare he found himself under from the sorceress, which stung more than anything Sub-Zero could have conjured.
Much to his surprise, however, her response was only a dark, bitter laugh that sent a nervous chill down his spine. She stopped chuckling long enough to address him again.
"Ah," she said, putting a hand to her heart like she had just heard the world's funniest joke. "I've always admired the blind-sightedness of mortals."
She took a step forward towards Liu Kang, who snapped up his head long enough to stare at her in wide-eyed fear.
"They think that their problems can be solved by 'immortality,'" she lamented, spitting out the last word venomously as she encircled a trembling Liu Kang, tracing an unsettling finger along his shoulders. "That their mortality is what holds them back. Thinking that they only need more time, or that they could best their enemies if they don't face the threat of being killed in the process."
She finished her circle around Liu Kang and stood directly in front of him, looking down on the foolish man who kneeled before her. What little he could see of her face had melted into a terrifying scowl.
"Immortality is not a blessing," she hissed, startling an already intimidated Liu Kang. "Let's see how you do when you have to watch every friend and lover die. When you witness war after war, when you are stuck in an endless cycle of hurt and despair."
She sneered down at her victim, who had grown frantic as the meaning of her words had sunk in, before her expression seemed to soften. She let out a small chuckle before turning to one of the tables nearby and methodically picking up a vial that contained a bluish-purple powder.
"You wish to become immortal?" Omegis taunted, popping out the cork and wafting the scent of the potion towards her nose like it was a fine perfume. Looking back down to Liu Kang, she giggled again as she saw her acquaintance's eyes widen even more in fear as he realized his mistake in coming there.
"No," he quickly answered, eying the bottle nervously. The witch laughed again in response.
"If you want to live for so long," she continued, picking up a measuring spoon and pouring a small amount of the substance into it, "then I have no problem in granting your wish."
Liu Kang sat immobilized, his wounds and his terror rooting him to the ground. He quickly realized that he was powerless and attempted to continue pleading with her.
"No!" he shouted again. His efforts did not deter her.
Omegis wafted the spoon under her nose, trying to catch another whiff of the pleasant-smelling substance that she had been forced to keep away for so long.
"Let your petty, childish desires for revenge show you for who you really are," she growled ominously. Within the next second she threw the potion on Liu Kang.
His screams went unheard, swallowed by the forest.
Raiden continued to meditate in stark silence. He had struggled with it at first, but had finally come to accept it: Liu Kang was a traitor.
He wondered how he had been so blind to the revelation before. True, he had been concerned about and worried for his student, but now the facts had cleared his mind to help him see the truth. He knew that if he ever saw Liu Kang again, he would deal with him severely.
Raiden even contemplated killing him. It would serve Liu Kang right for endangering everyone by his impulsive actions.
The storm outside swelled and grew even more raucous as Raiden confirmed to himself that Liu Kang deserved to die. He could feel the rage and self-righteousness begin to swallow him up before he heard one of the miko call out his name.
"Raiden-sama!" the shrine maiden yelled, not knowing which floor the deity was on. Snapped out of his stupor, if only for a moment, Raiden picked up his staff next to him and vanished from the room, extinguishing the flames of the candles as he left.
A minute later he was behind the maiden that had called for him. She whirled around, used to the thunder god's habit of showing up unexpectedly, but still startled, obviously by something she had seen earlier.
"What is it, Fuuka?" Raiden asked her as she habitually bowed curtly in respect. She looked back up to the towering deity, her eyes brimming with uncertainty.
"Somebody has left something at this temple. One of the other maidens found it and told me to find you," Fuuka explained, clasping her hands tightly. Her Kyoto accent had grown more affected, as it had a tendency to do when the girl was under stress.
Raiden furrowed his brow. No normal mortal could withstand the conditions of the storm outside; sure, the miko were here, but they were protected by the temple.
"Where is she?" Raiden asked, careful to be delicate with the faint-hearted girl.
"On the first floor," Fuuka responded. Too far to go by foot if the matter was urgent. Raiden nodded and wrapped his arm around the shrine maiden's shoulder, instantly transporting the both of them to the ground floor like she had said.
As the two rematerialized in the center of the room, Raiden could see the other miko standing at the doors to the temple, her back to her master and friend. As soon as she was aware of their presence, however, she glanced timidly over her shoulder, her eyes filled with uncertainty.
"What happened?" Raiden demanded, walking over to the other shrine maiden. It took him a second to realize that buried within the billowing cloth of her temple garb, she was holding something in her arms. Something alive.
Puzzled, Raiden tugged back on part of the fabric in which the "gift" had been concealed, revealing a crop of short, black hair. In response to his touch, the thing in the maiden's arms wriggled and poked its head out from the linen folds, exposing the face of a Chinese newborn. Subsequently upset by the stranger's touch, the baby began to wail loudly, giving the storm outside surprisingly serious competition.
Raiden's jaw tightened as his mind raced ahead to the first conclusion, yet he held his tongue until he remembered to address the miko.
"Did they leave anything else?" he asked the older maiden who held the child in her arms, knowing that her years of experience meant that she was handling the situation better than Fuuka, who was wringing her hands behind them.
"Just a note," she replied, struggling to produce the piece of paper as she fumbled to keep the baby comfortable in her hold. Finally she was able to retrieve it from the folds of the infant's blanket, and she passed it to Raiden as she attempted to calm the screaming child down.
Raiden tried to ignore the cries of the baby as he deciphered the hastily scribbled message. Oddly, although the language appeared to be an archaic form of Chinese, it had obviously been scratched quickly and crudely, like the writer had been eager to get it off of his or her hands.
'Have fun with your new bundle of joy.'
Raiden flipped it over to see if the benefactor had bothered to sign the message. In a corner of the paper he could barely make out the primitive signature.
Raiden's eyes grew wide as he looked back at the screaming infant in the maiden's arms, his fears confirmed as he recognized the child's features.
"What is it, Lord Raiden?" Fuuka asked nervously as she saw her master's expression. But Raiden knew that telling her the truth would only distress her further.
The child was Liu Kang.
If you've watched Mortal Kombat: Conquest (shout out to Obelisk of Light for getting me hooked :P), then you probably recognized Omegis. I decided to show her a little love instead of just making up a mysterious sorcerer of my own.
Additionally, I read on the MK wiki that Raiden has two female servants, Wind and Rayne. I wasn't really digging the names, so I changed them out and made them shrine maidens (miko) instead.
I'm hoping this story'll go by quickly. Don't want to start rambling and end up leaving it half-finished.