Hey, long time no update! Yeah, I expected most of my progress on this story to take as long as this update, but this is the first time that I've taken...2-3 months to update. Mostly, I just had no motivation or any idea to write about. As well, I revised the fights several times. For the most part, I've just been busy watching Gundam 00 and Fate/Zero (super behind, yeah). I also started playing Pokemon. All these time wasters coupled with homework really makes it tough for me to want to write anything, so thank goodness spring break is here. I wrote like, half the chapter in one day of spring break.
So in summary, no real excuses, I'm just a procrastinating machine. Now without further ado, the semi-finals!
Johnny Cage awoke with a splitting headache for the second time in three days. He really hoped that it would not become a trend. The last thing he remembered was fighting a four armed behemoth, and Raiden teleporting them out in desperation.
The superstar's hands went down and felt his ribs, which he clearly remembered was broken, but someone had healed him.
He sat up straight and looked at where he was. He was in his own room. Whoever had healed him had probably also brought him to his room, how nice of them. Cage got up onto his feet and immediately sat down again as he was overwhelmed by dizziness.
Whoa...I haven't felt like this since my teenage years when I tried pot, thought Cage.
He tried to get up again, and succeeded in staying on his feet, and, as soon as the dizziness went away, looked a big mirror that he had in the room (he always made sure to bring three mirrors around with him. A small mirror that he kept in his pocket, a cabinet with a mirror mounted on it so he could see his upper body and a big mirror so he could see his entire body). Though someone had been nice enough to heal and bring the actor back to his room, the person had not changed him. He was still in his bloodstained black sweatpants. Nor had that person washed him either, for Cage could smell the foul stench that he was emitting. The movie star was just about to go take a shower when he thought of something.
What day is it, and when is it?
It had been afternoon when he and Raiden escaped from Goro's lair, and the sun, which he could see outside his east window, was climbing rapidly. So that meant it wasn't the same day. The fact made Cage feel like relieving himself on the spot.
If he was lucky, it would only be the day of the semi-finals. If he wasn't, then he had come all this way and struggled so hard for nothing.
So he opted to believe in the former option. The brunette stole a quick glance at his clock on the drawer next to his bed and saw that it was almost 9:30. If the fights had not already begun, they would begin soon. Though he still had dried blood on him and stank to high heaven, Cage ran out the door and towards the courtyard as fast as he could.
The brunette sprinted down wide streets devoid of all life. Turning sharply at a corner, he rushed through a narrow alley and ran with all his might down the avenue leading to the courtyard, where he hoped everyone would be.
As he approached the courtyard, the actor was relieved to see that everyone was waiting for him. The usual crowd of monks were gathered and sitting as still as statues. Liu Kang was sitting cross-legged on the ground, meditating. Sonya was tapping her foot impatiently against the floor. Kano was doing fancy tricks with his butterfly knives (pointed at Sonya, a fact that no one seemed to notice). Raiden was playing with...a mini version of himself?
In too much of a rush to care, Cage jumped to a halt and announced "I'M HEEEEEERE! THE SHOW CAN GO ON!"
Shang Tsung, who had been twiddling his thumb, stood up with a grin.
"Excellent," said Shang Tsung. "Now we just need our last competitor before we can begin. Scorpion, GET OVER HERE!"
Shang Tsung snapped his fingers and Scorpion materialized in the center of the courtyard.
"FEEL THE BURNING AGONY OF THE SHIRAI RYU!" screamed Scorpion as he ripped off his face. "Hey, where am I?"
"Now the semi-finals can begin!" declared the sorcerer. "But first, you must prove yourself worthy of Mortal Kombat. Whoever cannot break these wooden boards-" at this he snapped his fingers and eight pedestals appeared, with four wooden boards an inch thick resting over pairs of pedestals in such a way that four people could have a turn trying to break them. "-is unworthy to participate in the semi-finals. So go ahead, TEST YOUR MIGHT."
"SORCERER!" roared Scorpion. "I demand that you send me back this instant! I was going to kill that Lin Kuei!"
"You dare make demands of me?" sneered Shang Tsung. "Know your place, hellspawn. You were incarnated for one purpose and one purpose only. And it's not to kill Lin Kuei but to compete in my Mortal Kombat tournament. If you choose not to complete the goal for which you were summoned, then you can easily be returned to whence you came."
Scorpion seethed but was unable to actually do anything. Instead, he had no choice but to comply with the sorcerer's wishes.
He walked up to a pair of pedestals and obliterated all four boards in one strike, then teleported to Shang Tsung's side. The crowd of monks cheered at Scorpion's success.
Liu Kang got up from his cross-legged position and strode over to another pair of pedestals and broke all the boards with his foot. The crowd of monks cheered at Liu Kang's success.
Sonya, not to be out-done flipped over to a set of boards and chopped the boards into oblivion as she came out of her flip. The crowd of monks cheered at Sonya's success.
Now it was Cage's turn, and he sauntered up to the last pair of pedestals and mused aloud to himself about how to best destroy the boards.
"I bet I can do it with left hand. Heck, my left foot. Heck, my left foot's pinky. Heck, only the nail part of my left foot's p-"
"JUST DO IT ALREADY!" yelled everyone in unison.
"Alright, alright, geez," whined Cage. "Some people don't appreciate good showmanship."
Taking a big breath, the actor raised his left leg so that it was nearly parallel to his body and brought it down on the boards. However, Cage was still about a pace away from the boards, so the kick completely missed. Or so it seemed. To everyone's amazement, every single board was snapped completely in half, as if by an invisible blade attached to the movie star's foot.
"Told you I'd break that with my left foot's pinky's nail," bragged a smug Cage. No one cheered for Cage's success.
"Excellent," said Shang Tsung. "Now for the semi-finals, let's have a change of scenery." At this, he snapped his fingers and the world around them blurred and, when it came back to focus, changed to a chamber. The room was more like a cave than a room, walls rough and unsculptured and, to top it all off, there was a seemingly naturally formed column in the middle of the room. The only way in or out of the room was through a steel door that was located at the back wall. The right wall of the room had a giant window that covered almost the entire wall, and, outside the window, was the floating figure of Shang Tsung.
"This will be our arena," announced Shang as he pointed to stone bridge behind him. The bridge was narrow, only 3 feet in width. It spanned across a vast chasm filled with sharp spikes at the bottom. At either end were stone platforms that, in turn, were attached to mountains. The platforms were three times as wide as the bridge and had a stone barrier erected at the sides to prevent people from falling off (or so one would assume. While it would be the logical thing, on Shang Tsung's island, any reason could be plausible). On either platform a small, circular platform jutted out over the pit, and on each of the platforms was a golden lion. Somehow, it was night and the full moon illuminated not only the clouds in the distance but also the mountains...and the three pillars which supported the bridge.
There was a ring of spikes around each pillar at regular intervals. Affixed on the spikes were bodies gruesomely impaled and dismembered. Some of the spikes at the bottom of the pit had severed heads on them. Everyone who saw the sight felt queasy inside, but Cage had the biggest reaction. Being a stranger to the sight of dead bodies, he covered his mouth with his hand and sank to his knees.
"The semi-finals will be conducted here," continued the sorcerer. "Feel free to knock your opponents off the bridge whenever you please. In fact, it is encouraged. Our first match will be Johnny Cage vs. Sonya Blade."
The somber sight must've sobered even the usual boisterous Cage, for he went out without a word. Sonya followed close behind him.
Indeed, the ghastly sight that the movie star beheld really got him thinking. As they wandered up the flight of stairs and through the tunnel that led to their battleground, Cage lost himself in thought. Due to Shang Tsung's new rule, Cage realized that, between him and the blonde beauty that walked a mere three paces behind him, one of them would join the corpses in their grotesque display. From the time he first learned martial arts to now, he had always been taught one thing: to use his skills to protect and entertain, never to harm. And here he was, about to send the beautiful woman of his dreams to her death.
Cage stuck offered his hand for a handshake. "Just so you know, I'm sorry for what I have to do," said Cage solemnly. "I'm going to enjoy fighting you in a fair fight, but not what I'm gonna have to do after I win."
It wasn't that Sonya hated Cage, it was just that people who were all talk and no action really irked her. Besides, all the time he tried to hit on her did not add any brownie points.
So it wasn't a surprise when the blond mistook the actor's meaning, which was obvious based on the insulted expression on her face, even though he had sincerely meant everything he said.
"Don't go mouthing off until you've beat me," said Sonya coldly. "Besides, I'm going to be the one winning, and I certainly won't be sorry sending your a*$ down there."
"I'll have you know that I really meant what I said," said Cage, feeling a bit hurt. "But you see, I've already won, that's why I'm bragging."
The lieutenant's face wrinkled in disgust. "I'm gonna enjoy beating you up."
Sonya flew at Cage with a sweeping roundhouse, clearly intent on knocking Cage off and ending the fight as soon as possible. Unfortunately for her, the movie star is agile and quick, easily ducking under it and throwing an uppercut that connected solidly with the blond's diaphragm. The blow winded her, and Sonya pitched forward into Cage's shadow kick, which knocked her airborne and back a few feet. The female fighter managed to flip herself to land on her feet, but the brunette was already upon her the instant her feet touched the ground. The superstar came in with a right jab, and Sonya pushed it aside with her left arm, then swept out his right leg, and tried to push Cage off. This did not work, as Cage just spun on the spot with his right foot stuck out, which would've hit the green clad woman had she not jumped out of the way.
Now a good distance away from the movie star, Sonya took in a deep breathe before taking off at Cage. A little bit before she entered arm's reach, she dived forwards and stuck out her arms so that she was propped up by her arms and grabbed her opponent with her legs, taking him by surprise. Cage was barely able to give a small yelp of surprise before he was smashed face-first into the ground.
Being the resilient fighter that he is, Cage got up with a small groan. However, he did not get away unscathed. Based on the pain in his nose and the warm liquid that covered his face, he was pretty sure that his nose was broken. That was doubly-confirmed by the smirk on Sonya's face.
Once again Sonya did a handstand and tried to grab the movie star with her legs, but Cage would not let the same trick get him twice. He ducked under the grab and swept Sonya's hands out, but quickly enough that she would not tip over the side of the bridge. Sonya landed in a heap, thankful that she was not sent into the chasm below. That thankfulness quickly dissipated when the brown-haired fighter grabbed her by her right arm and threw her behind his back, ripping the deltoid in the process. The yellow haired fighter landed face-first and lost a (if not more) tooth.
Cage was merciful and did not kick her while she was down, but Sonya felt like she got roughed up by a train. She could taste blood on her tongue, her throat was raw due to how hard she was breathing and she was sure a rib was fractured, but the lieutenant was not ready to give up yet. Not while she could still feel her arms and legs. Still, it was discouraging how untouched and cocky Cage appeared.
My men...they need me. Though Sonya. Yuri...Bruce...Jacky...Jean...they're depending on me to set them free. And I'm not going to let them down. Nothing will stand in my way. Least of all an actor that's full of hot air!
With renewed vigor, Lt. Blade rushed at her opponent and came at him with a flying roundhouse. The Hollywood superstar ducked under it by doing a perfect split and pulled back his arm to deliver a huge punch to Sonya, who had just landed and was completely open, in the... Cage stood back up.
"That's a lot of effort for a dodge," remarked Sonya.
"I was gonna wreck you in the goods, but then I realized that you don't have goods." replied Cage.
"I have a different kind of goods, but that doesn't mean it'll hurt any less."
"I'll remember that for next time."
"There won't be a next time!" snarled Sonya as she lunged at Cage. Cage, acting out of pure instinct (since his mind was still trying to comprehend how hitting a girl in the goods could possibly hurt as much as a guy getting hit in the same area), twisted to the side and palm-struck the golden haired warrior in the temple, setting her off balance. Naturally, Sonya stepped to the side in order to regain her balance, but realized too late that her pace had been bigger than she wanted, and stepped off the bridge. Cage, whether out of reflex or a sincere desire to save her, tried to grab her arm, but was too late. Their fingers brushed, but Cage could not get a grip on her hand, and she plummeted into the sea of spikes below.
I'm sorry guys...I've failed.
Sonya closed her eyes and accepted her fate. She had been out fought by the person she despised second most, but at least she had managed to defeat her most despised one.
Cage shut his eyes and turned around, not wanting to see the gruesome sight of Sonya on the spikes. At any moment now there would be the sound of metal penetrating flesh and a scream, and he would be declared the winner. Any time now...
Cage peered into the channel below. Somehow, Sonya had turned her body enough so that she landed on her side, and miraculously not impaled. Cage couldn't believe his eyes.
He didn't know why, but he was extremely relieved that the green-clad fighter did not die. So relieved, that he was on the verge of tears. He could feel his eyes moisten up and everything.
Then he saw that something was off. He couldn't put his finger on it at first, but then he realized that there was movement at the bottom of the pit. Whatever was moving had adapted its skin to be the same as the background like a chameleon, but Cage could see a definite humanoid shape, and it stopped in front of the prone form of Sonya.
"HEY! STEP AWAY FROM THE BABE!" yelled Cage.
The actor descended, jumping from one flat side of a spike to another until he reached the bottom. He was almost overwhelmed by the stench of decay. The silhouette that hovered over Sonya dropped its camouflage, revealing a ninja clad in garments similar to Scorpion and Sub-Zero, but were green in color. The ninja hissed at Cage before saying in a raspy voice.
"You have found me, now prove yourself!"
"Who the hell are you?"
"Wait, you didn't get a double flawlessSSssss victory, did you?"
"My nose still hurts a ton, but that's beside the point. Who are you and what are you doing?"
"Bet you didn't even get a ssSSssingle flawlesssSSSSs victory, AND you usssSSssed block. And judging by the tearssSSSss in your eyessssSSss, you're too much of a SSSSSSssoftie to FINISH your opponent."
"Who are you calling a softie? Now answer me before I decide to kick your butt!"
"Then I have no bussssinesssssSSss with you. PleasssSSSSsse forget my exisssssstenccCCcccce. Now if you'll exccCCCCcccusssSSSssse me, I musssssSssssst do my job and terminate the target.
"You're not gonna lay a finger on the babe, I'll see to it. And the way you keep ignoring my questions really pisses me off. Now scram or I'll have to tan your hide."
"I'm sorry to say that that will not happen," came the voice of Shang Tsung. "According to the rules, you must FINISH your opponent to move onto the next round, so before I can declare you the winner, you must FINISH HER!"
Cage stood there, infuriated, looking at Shang Tsung.
"Are you unwilling to FINISH the fight, Mister Cage? Then we'll just have to disqualify you...or have this kind ninja do it for you."
The brunette was now visibly shaking with rage at his inability to do anything. His teeth was gnashed together so hard that he thought they would shatter, and his knuckles were white due to how hard he was clenching them.
"If you would, Reptile."
The green clad ninja's eyes turned into slits of joy at hearing the words come out of the sorcerer's mouth. He picked up the unconscious Sonya, one hand grabbing both her arms and one grabbing both her legs and pulled. Cage turned away at this, but he could hear and imagine what was going on. There was a terrible sound of flesh and bone ripping and two objects hitting the ground. He didn't think it was possible, but the actor clenched his fists even harder.
They're not going to get away with this. I swear I will kill them.
"Excellent!" said Shang Tsung. "Now, let's get back to the view room, and let the next round begin."
Liu Kang watched.
Watched as the boastful actor smashed the boards with his toe. Watched as the lieutenant rejected Cage's handshake. Watched as Raiden and Kano fist-pumped every time the brunette landed a hit (although for different reasons). Watched as Sonya fell into the pit. Watched as the superstar jumped into the chasm after her. And of course, he watched as Cage stood by helplessly as Sonya was ripped apart.
He has a good heart, the actor. And he is a strong fighter. Truly a worthy opponent. I look forward to our match.
The warrior monk started stretching and, as soon as he started, Shang Tsung and Johnny Cage warped into the center of the room. Liu Kang continued to stretch.
"Johnny Cage wins," announced the sorcerer. "FATALITY. Now if the rest of the semi-finalists would step onto the arena, the second match may begin."
Both Scorpion and Liu Kang complied wordlessly. They moved out of the room simultaneously and walked onto the bridge silently like ghosts.
The two combatants met at the middle and bowed. Liu Kang was slightly surprised that Scorpion would bow, as his previous actions led the monk to believe that the ninja specter was a being of pure violence. Determined not to make decisions based on assumptions again, the warrior monk concentrated and slipped into Kombat mode.
Liu Kang's chi flowed through him like liquid fire, filling him with energy. Due to that, all his movements were faster and stronger, and his senses increased tenfold. All the color in the world faded to grey and every sound became pronounced and dragged out, so that when Shang Tsung announced the start of the match, it sounded more like
In addition to increased fighting ability and heightened senses, Liu Kang could also discern his enemy's movements before they even make a move by sensing their intents through their chi. So when Scorpion assaulted him with a barrage of attacks, Liu Kang bobbed and weaved like liquid mercury around every blow.
Left Jab. Push to the side, palm strike to the face. Right Hook. Duck under. Dive kick. Leap back. Sweeping kick into harpoon. Jump and snap-kick in the chin.
This one is indeed strong, thought Liu Kang. His rage fuels him, and the result is truly terrifying. A palm strike to the diaphragm followed the kick. He tries to use his raw power to overpower his opponents, which have worked up until now. However, there is no hope for him against me, for he is much too slow.
Indeed, as he observed Scorpion's battle against his rival, there were many times when Scorpion lost in terms of speed. When they were exchanging blows, many-a-time Sub Zero would get in a glancing blow to the ribs or a kick to the shin, but Scorpion made up for it in his power. Every blow that he landed would break a bone or at least fracture one. This match though, Liu Kang was confident in his speed. He would not let Scorpion get in a single hit.
This went on for a while; Liu Kang seemingly effortlessly avoiding the hellspawn's attacks while retaliating with his own.
Meanwhile, Scorpion was getting frustrated. He was used to breaking two ribs with one blow, not missing all his punches and being hit by light palm strikes, as if being reprimanded by a parent. Surely Liu Kang was able to do more than that, the way he moved so effortlessly suggested so, and, if there was one thing that Scorpion could not stand, it's not being taken seriously.
"SHAAAOOOOLIIIIIN!" roared Scorpion. "FFFFFFIIIIIIGHT MMMMMEEEE SSSSSSSEEEERRRRRIIIIIIIOOOOOOOUSLYYYYYYY! SSSSSTOOOOOP HHHOOOOOOOOLDDDINGGGGG BBBBBAAAAACK!"
Liu Kang blinked once, as if trying to comprehend what he just said, before he smiled and responded. "So be it."
The former Shirai Ryu could hardly see the warrior monk as he dashed towards him. In fact, he didn't even see Liu Kang extend his arm, but he sure felt the fist in his gut as if it was a brick. As the yellow ninja pitched forward, the monk kneed him in the face and then fully extended his leg, so that he kicked Scorpion in the chest. The impact sent Scorpion airborne, and he landed hard on his back, winding him and causing him to cough up blood, staining his face-mask-cloth a deep orange.
The undead ninja struggled back onto his feet and was immediately knocked down again by a flying kick from Liu Kang. Scorpion's head smashed into the ground, and he lay there, dazed and on his back. Liu Kang stood over him and looked down on him, and the lighting made him look like a total bad $!
"Give up Scorpion, I do not wish to kill you."
"How do you kill...that which is not alive? I WILL DESTROY YOU, SHAOLIN!"
Scorpion leaped at the warrior monk, but his reaction time was too fast. Grabbing an arm, Liu Kang turned and threw the wraith over his back. The resurrected Shirai Ryu landed on the bridge, but not without a few broken bones from the impact. As Scorpion slowly stood up again, Liu Kang quickly looked over his condition.
He seems to have several bones broken, and probably a few lacerations from where the broken bones scraped him. And, judging by the blood pouring out of his mouth, he must surely be on the brink. Indeed, any normal fighter would've collapsed ages ago. Is it his dark resurrection magic that keeps him going?
Liu Kang examined Scorpion's chi to see if he was right. To his dismay, Scorpion's chi was no weaker than when he had started. Surely then, the ninja was trying to whittle down Liu Kang's stamina until he came out on top.
Then my only choice...is to finish him now. Please forgive me.
Scorpion charged at the warrior monk with a battle cry, but Liu Kang sprang into the air, spun 360 degrees and roundhouse kicked Scorpion in the jaw, off-balancing him and sending him rushing off the bridge. Scorpion's angry roar could be heard as he plummeted down the chasm, ending abruptly as his unlife met its end at the hands of two metal spikes impaling him. Liu Kang closed his eyes and bowed.
"Liu Kang wins," announced Shang Tsung. "Flawless victory. FATALITY!"
Johnny Cage watched in amazement as Liu Kang beat the living daylights out of Scorpion without being hit a single time. Even being extremely cocky, Cage doubted that he could pull off the same feat. Truly, a fighter of the next level stood in his presence.
Glancing over at Raiden, it seemed that the thunder god thought the same thing. As soon as the warrior monk entered the room, Raiden made a move toward him, but was cut off by Shang Tsung's voice.
"That concludes the semi-finals, ladies and gentlemen. The final match between Johnny Cage and Liu Kang will begin at first light tomorrow. And mister Cage, if you would be so kind as to arrive on time..."
With that, the sorcerer snapped his fingers and the world around them warped, then unwarped into the familiar sight of the courtyard.
"Please enjoy the rest of your day."
With Shang Tsung done his speech, Raiden finally approached Liu Kang with Cage right behind him.
"You fought well, bearer of the dragon's chi," said Raiden
Liu Kang looked at the thunder god in surprise. "T-Thank you," he replied, clearly caught off-guard.
"Before you ask me how I know, know that I can feel the heat of your fire. Now, onto more important business."
Liu Kang's face lost its surprised expression and turned back to his normal pensive expression.
"Liu Kang, do you know the importance of this tournament?"
"From what I know, this tournament fell into the dark grip of Shang Tsung centuries ago, and many lives were lost to this. I am doing all I can to put an end to this evil."
"Dude, do you even know how much more important this tournament actually is?" ejaculated Cage.
"The actor speaks the truth. This tournament not only determines the lives of those who fight in it, but also the entire fate of the Earthrealm."
"I do not understand, Lord Raiden. I was under the impression that this tournament used to be a Shaolin martial arts competition."
"That is true. Let me start from the very beginning.
"Thousands of years ago an order of the wisest men from the far east received visions of the dark realm known as the Outworld. It was a world ruled by chaos and a vicious Emperor known as Shao Kahn.
"They learned that travel between the Earth and the new found realm would someday be possible if the conditions were right, the conditions being the unbalancing of the furies, negative and positive forces which keep our unstable universe from collapsing onto itself.
"Knowing that an Outworld invasion was imminent, the wise men appealed to the Elder Gods. It was for this reason the Elder Gods created the tournament called Mortal Kombat. Actually, it wasn't so much created as borrowed. Mortal Kombat was a Shaolin martial arts tournament originally, but the Elder Gods used it as a means to decide the fate of Earth.
"500 years ago, Shang Tsung was banished to the Earth Realm. With the aid of Goro he was to unbalance the furies and doom the planet to a chaotic existence. By seizing control of the Shaolin tournament he tried to tip the scales of order towards chaos.
"For nine generations Mortal Kombat was ruled by Outworld's finest warrior-prince Goro. The Earth is now on the brink of its destruction, unless a new warrior is victorious in defending the realm."
"That...is a lot to digest."
"The actor here, though boisterous, is capable of defending the Earth. Please, forfeit and let him save the world!"
"I'm sorry...I cannot do that. I swore an oath that I would bring Mortal Kombat back into the control of the Shaolin, or die trying. Giving up or forfeiting would be unforgivable."
"Surely you understand that the fate of the realm depends on this!"
"Think of it this way, Lord Raiden. If the actor and I both fight our hardest, and I win, that means I am stronger than the actor. And if he is capable of defeating Shang Tsung, then so am I. You needn't worry."
"Yeah, there's no need to fret man," said Cage. "What he says makes sense, and I really want to fight him in a fair fight. I want to test my might."
"So be it," sighed Raiden. "But whoever of you wins, please, PLEASE beat Shang Tsung. The fate of the-"
"Man, how many times are you gonna say that?" interrupted Cage.
Raiden paused for a second before he smiled and said "You're right. Now let's go enjoy some sunlight at the beach, we have yet to actually do that."
With that, the three of them headed down towards the beach to soak up some of the sunlight. And, based on the clouds that were fast incoming, it would be the last sunlight they would get in a while.
No doubt the next chapter will also take a while for me to write. The finals of the tournament, and I want to add in the endurance rounds, though I'm not quite sure how to do that. Next chapter will have the finals, and more test your might!