Infrared – Mortal Kombat 11 FF -One-

infraredAs the realms recover from Kronika’s defeat, Kung Lao and Liu Kang are called back to Outworld to assist in stopping an overlooked threat. Their Revenants are gathering strength from the unlikeliest of places, and with a backup plan set in motion by the Architect of Time herself, the complete collapse of the universe has once again fallen on the shoulders of our capable heroes. But when the events of an alternate timeline pits brother against brother, and mother against daughter, the world as we know it will be forever changed, and forever damaged by the wiles of fate.

Loosely follows a combination of Liu Kang and Kung Lao’s MK11 endings.
Kung Lao x OC

-ONE-

“I don’t think I have to remind you to be on your best behavior Kung Lao but, just in case you’ve forgotten…” Liu Kang cautioned with a whisper. It was their first trip back to Outworld since Kronika’s defeat and, there was no doubt his cousin was excited to get back to doing what he did best; following Empress Kitana around like a lost puppy. It was no secret that, in the time that Earthrealm and Outworld took to rebuild after being decimated by that harpy and her underlings, the newly mantled God of Thunder and Fireand his Kahn had kept in touch. Kung Lao found it hard to imagine that two of the most powerful beings in existence had to sneak around like lovesick teenagers, but it was far beyond him to do anything about it. Outworld wouldn’t except their relationship, but when you had the combined powers of a Deity and the literal sands of time at your disposal, who would dare deny you? But perhaps it was that way of thinking that had led them into Kronika’s grasp to begin with. Liu Kang dropped a heavy hand on his shoulder. “I know what you’re thinking, and that isn’t at all our reason for coming here—”

“You would think that Raiden wouldn’t be so quick to rush to the aid of Outworld. Especially with his newfound humanity,” he cut him off, ignoring the Monk and shrugging off his hand as their carriage approached a colorful fortress on the outskirts of Lei Chen, not the Imperial Palace as he’d expected. They’d traveled for miles, stopping only once to charter new transportation when the previous horseman refused to take them further than the Drylands.

Lord Raiden, Kung Lao. Despite our circumstances, he is still our mentor and should be shown the respect he deserves,” Liu Kang corrected and was once again ignored. Built from yellowing limestone and bricks of pure turquoise, the structure above them seemed to almost resonate with an explosive energy that rivaled the sun. Pillars of solid gold stretched towards the sky, sporting flagrant foreign symbols that were hand-chiseled into the metal. Images of war cats at play were carved into the stone, bejeweled with the finest crystals and glass beads he’d ever laid eyes on. Every inch of the palace screamed culture and excess, a strange combination if he’d ever seen one. The landscape changed drastically around them as they drew near, trading evergreen redwoods for gently waving palms and fragrant orchid trees. Surrounded by lush greenery and strange, alien animals that sang, chirped and croaked as they advanced deeper into a living rain forest, it was obvious they were entering a part of Outworld that was man made. Someone had picked up an oasis, a tropical paradise from wherever it existed in the universe and transplanted it behind a mountain range known for its snowy peaks. And there was only one person he knew of who’d thrive in such quiet opulence.

“Why are we meeting Kotal Kahn? Raiden sent us here to aid Kitana in some gravely vague manner he didn’t think it important enough to fill us in on. Shouldn’t we be in the Imperial city, wading through legions of Tarkatan’s who want to eat us?” Liu Kang gave him a wry smile.

“Lord Raiden said simply that our allies needed us. You supplied the Kitana part all on your own. If I didn’t know you any better, I’d say you were the one with the crush,” he said, nudging him in the ribcage as they passed under a stone archway. The horseman led the carriage to an abrupt stop, signaling them that he wouldn’t be going any further. And he couldn’t say that he blamed him. The moment they passed a pair of gargantuan stone arches, a dozen soldiers dressed in traditional Osh-Tekk armor and tribal painting filled the courtyard brandishing blades and shields. Behind them, in the gilded, turquoise doorway stood Raiden and Kotal himself, draped in golden, silk robes and a luxurious animal pelt that cascaded from his broad shoulders to swirl the floor at his bare feet. With a simple wave of his hand, the men fell back, flanking the former Kahn in a gross show of power and absolute control. Kung Lao followed Liu Kang as he exited the back of the carriage, sparing the vehicle a passing glance as their driver promptly took his leave. Raiden descended the small flight of stairs to meet them. The now mortal man looked haggard and weary, as if he hadn’t slept in days.

“Thank you for promptly answering my call. We have a situation that I know you two will prove quite useful for,” he said, exchanging pleasantries with Liu Kang before turning his prudent gaze to him. Kung Lao couldn’t say what power the ex-Demi god retained, but he knew Raiden was aware of his suspicion. Like a child approaching a strange dog, his caution was written all over his face. He knew that he’d yet to regain his trust, despite his sacrifices to stop Kronika and right his wrongs, and that it would likely be decades before he gave him another chance. Part of him wished things were different between them, but it was hard to afford a man the benefit of the doubt when his hubris ultimately led to your death. The silence between them was so strained that Liu Kang felt the need to clear his throat and interject, smiling good-naturedly as he always did.

“I’m happy you summoned us, Lord Raiden. I was starting to grow restless with my newfound free time. What bothers you?” he asked, and Raiden tore his eyes from Kung Lao long enough to motion them inside the palace.

“I hope you’ve both had time to recuperate from fighting Kronika’s army. I’m afraid another threat to Earthrealm is rising,” he said as they fell instep beside him, following a solemn Kotal who was still yet to utter a single word.

“Isn’t it always?” he asked under his breath, vigilantly surveying the foreign space. Everything about this odd situation smelled like a setup, from the unfamiliar locale to the soldiers filing ominously into the building behind them, but he knew voicing his concerns to his overly trusting companion would only fall on deaf ears.

“A strange circumstance has occurred, leading us to believe that the NetherRealm is once again plotting an attack. In our current state, we’re unprepared to deal with anything unexpected and this…is certainly not something we could account for,” he explained. A short stone tunnel led them into an enormous great room that was dominated by a chiseled fireplace and a domed, turquoise and glass beaded skylight that cast dancing blue rays of sunlight on the tiled floor. Expensive furniture covered with the finest silks and furs dotted the area where several more tunnels shot off in every direction to other parts of the palace. Near the fireplace, at an oversized redwood table, stood Jade and Kitana, both dressed like they’d just risen for the day instead of preparing for war. Soft robes draped their bodies, belted at the waist with ropes woven from the finest thread. Were they interrupting a dinner party? There wasn’t a Bo staff or Fan blade in sight. In fact, other than the strained look Jade shared with Kotal, they didn’t seem to have a care in the world.

“Kitana,” Liu Kang whispered, almost grinning as he finally laid eyes on her. There was no ignoring the shy, flirtatious smile the Empress returned as they approached. Had he not been the greatest supporter of their relationship it probably would have made him sick to his stomach.

“Liu Kang,” she greeted, cheeks reddening as their gazes locked. His bashful cousin lit up like a campfire, whatever grand, debonair reintroduction he’d been planning dying on his lips. “Thank you both for coming. I didn’t want to believe we would be meeting like this again anytime soon but, I’m happy you’re both well, nonetheless.”

“I share those sentiments, Princess…or, should I say Empress?” Liu Kang asked, finally giving Kotal and Jade a courteous bow before setting his sights back on his woman. So much for being the defender of Earthrealm. How was it that one man could fall so hopelessly for a woman who by right shouldn’t even spare him a passing glance? It made his lovesick teenagercomparison all the more appropriate. “I hope life as Kahn of Outworld is treating you well.”

“Were you worried?”

“If I didn’t think you could handle it, I wouldn’t have left your side,” he said, replying playfully to her blatant flirting. Kung Lao heaved an exaggerated sigh.

“Enough from the two of you. It’s like watching a bad American television drama,” he said, drawing a dark blush from his cousin and a glare from Kitana. “Why are we gathering in Outworld when the Netherrealm threatens Earthrealm? Shouldn’t we be consulting the Cages and Briggs, not standing around like we’re about to have brunch?”

“For your information, Kung Lao, the Netherrealm’s undead armies are still very much a threat to Outworld as well,” Jade interjected. Like Raiden, she looked tired, as if she’d spent the last several days fighting with no rest. Kotal was quickly beside her, caressing her elbow as if to remind her of his presence. It still struck him as odd that the former Kahn hadn’t uttered so much as a word. He understood that there was a threat but, there wasalwaysa threat, why was everyone suddenly so on edge? “Besides, because of Liu Kang and Kitana Kahn, Outworld and Earthrrealm are allies. If something threatens one, it threatens us all.”

“It’s not allegiances that has me worried, Jade, it’s the fact that everyone has a sour, borderline hysterical look on their face, and I seem to be the only new arrival who’s concerned about what’s going on,” he said, turning his gaze from Jade to Raiden and Kotal. “Everything about this sudden trip to Outworld is out of the ordinary. Other than the lovebirds, everyone is acting as if someone died.”

“Perhaps no one has died, but it is certainly the undeadthat worries us, Kung Lao,” Raiden said. The way he looked at him just then told him everything he needed to know.

“What has my Revenant done now?” If it were all possible, the pregnant intensity of his companions doubled. Jade turned to Kotal as Raiden spoke, averting her gaze from him entirely. Kitana rested a comforting hand on her friends’ shoulder, her face twisted with worry.

“It appears that the effects of Kronika’s time anomalies are still widespread. Defeating her didn’t repair or reverse the tears in the fabric of time. And, until Liu Kang can be properly trained to use the hourglass, we could be looking at a threat even greater than the Elder God ever posed; the complete collapse of the universe,” he explained. Kung Lao exchanged knowing glances with his cousin.

“Which means our undead counterparts are still looking for a way to rule the realms. And are using the remnants of Kronika’s lunacy to do it,” he said, looking back at Kotal who now glared at him. “That doesn’t explain why Jade is almost in tears and why Kotal Kahn is mute.”

“I hold my tongue to keep from starting a war with the Fire God and his favorite pet. If I said everything that was on my mind, I would have to destroy both you and Liu Kang,” he growled. Kung Lao arched a brow.

“Alright, paint me thoroughly confused.”

“Perhaps we should show you?” Kotal asked bluntly, stepping away from Jade and motioning for the nearest corridor. “Take a trip with me, Monk. Maybe then you’ll realize just how serious this situation is.”

“I don’t believe that is necessary, Kotal,” Raiden warned but was ignored by the rampaging War God as he glared furiously down at them.

“No, I believe this will be beneficial for all of us. Especially you, Kung Lao. Visual aid might prove useful in really driving home the atrocities your Revenant is capable of.”

“Kotal, no,” Jade cautioned but the Kahn wasn’t listening, turning away from them with a sweep of his cloak, leaving the Shaolin to exchange confused glances. As with everything he did, Liu Kang looked to Raiden for guidance who gave them a simple nod, motioning for them to follow the disgruntled Osh-Tekk.

The corridor was noticeably colder than the rest of the palace, the wide hall leading them several yards deeper into the massive structure until they reached a set of gilded doors. The rounded top allowed sunlight to spill through gaps in the wall and the door itself, creating a halo that was somehow as somber and calming as it was chilling. Solid amethysts served as twin doorknobs, a beautiful contrast to the ebony and onyx war cats that prostrated themselves proudly against the gold. Pausing as if to gather himself, Kotal pushed the doors open, leading them into an expansive bedroom. Another skylight dominated the room, bathing an enormous, four-poster bed in direct sunlight. In the center of said bed, bandaged and bloody, lay a beautiful dark-haired woman unmoving beneath the silk duvet. An amber stone lay nestled between her breasts, secured to her neck by a thick cord and knot. It radiated with magic, pulsating weakly like a thudding heartbeat. Curls darker than obsidian spread over the red and blue embroidered pillows at her back, her deep, brown skin glowing with warmth and vitality. Long lashes fanned her cheeks, giving her a playful, endearing visage, even in her sleep. She was covered from head to toe in blood-stained bandages but there was no mistaking the distinct cuts on her arms and hands. Even her beautiful face showed signs that she’d been viciously attacked with a bladed weapon. Hisbladed weapon. The group approached her slowly and Kung Lao couldn’t help but notice the tears that sprang in Jade’s eyes as she stared down at her.

“What’s going on here?” he asked softly, garnering himself an infuriated look from Kotal. Illuminated by the light that bathed her, the unmoving woman pulsated gently, her visible cuts and bruises healing before their eyes. It was almost as if the sun itself were caressing them, carefully knitting her wounds until not even a scar remained. “An Osh-Tekk?” he asked, unable to mask his surprise. From what he’d learned from Raiden, after a brutal merger with Outworld, Kotal was supposedly the very last of his kind.

“With Edenian blood,” Kitana corrected from Liu Kang’s side. It took longer to sink in than it would the average person, but when it finally dawned on him it hit him square in the gut.

“She’s your daughter,” he said, swallowing hard before looking back to Kotal and Jade. It was no wonder they wanted to wring his neck. Just what had his Revenant done to that poor girl?

“And you almost killed her,” Kotal growled, taking a menacing step in his direction, only to be blocked by Raiden and Liu Kang.

“It wasn’t Kung Lao who did this, Kotal. He cannot be blamed for the evils of his Revenant,” Raiden said, turning a wise, pleading look on Jade, “none of us can. We will stop them from hurting anyone else. For now, all we can do is be as prepared as we possibly can so that this never happens again.”

“But, I don’t understand. When did this happen? How did this all happen?” Kung Lao asked, thoroughly confused by this revelation. He knew Jade and Kotal had a relationship but, how had they hidden an adult daughter from everyone for so long?

“She’s from an alternate timeline. She was attacked and almost captured by your Revenant and somehow had the power to summon Kotal to her aid,” Raiden explained.

“Imagine being ripped through time and space to rescue the screaming child you never knew you had,” Kotal said through clenched teeth. “This is after six days of her healing. She was so mangled by the time I arrived that she was barely recognizable. The child wears my portal stone around her neck, it’s the only way I even knew she was ours.” Kung Lao felt his chest tighten with regret, glancing once again from Kotal to the woman lying unmoving on the bed. It was hard to imagine that he would be capable of something so heinous in any capacity. Regardless of his Revenant’s vendetta against Raiden and Earthrealm, to attack a defenseless woman so viciously was unthinkable. Was his alternate self really past saving? Had he forgotten all the teachings of the White Lotus? Or did he have such evil inside of him all along?

“I understand your frustration but, we all know the differences between our allies and our Revenants. OurKung Lao would never, and you have to trust that, Kotal,” Liu Kang said. “We will all fight to stop the monsters that did this to your daughter, and to stop any plans they have for in invasion. That is my promise to you both.”

“Thank you, Liu Kang, that is all we can ask,” Jade said, answering before Kotal could bite his head off. “You can imagine that discovering we have a child together in any timeline was shocking enough but, to find her in such a dire situation, caused by someone we considered an ally no less…you have to consider just how bizarre this all is.”

“I can’t blame either of you for your reactions. I would have done the exact same thing if I found myself in your position” he said, trying his hardest not to look at Kitana who smiled knowingly up at him.

“Good, then we are in agreement. Keep the lesser Shaolin on a tight leash and I will keep from crushing his skull between my palms,” Kotal growled, once again levelling his deadly gaze on Kung Lao. The Monk stood stock still, having already checked out of the conversation, equally lost in thought and mesmerized by the blood that evaporated on her skin, leaving her once stained bandages clean. For the first time in years, he was ashamed. He felt dirty and despicable, even if he hadn’t committed the acts himself. Kung Lao didn’t know how, but he would atone for this on his Revenant’s behalf. It was the only way he could redeem himself, not only in the hearts of his allies, but to his ancestor. Just as he turned away, her eyelids fluttered open, revealing the most beautiful, glittering amber he’d ever seen. She took a sudden breath, lungs filling and expanding rapidly as magic burst from the stone on her chest, skittering over her bare flesh like flames. Her gasp was loud enough to startle everyone in the room, her body trembling as she sat straight up in bed. Jade and Kotal were at her side in an instant, but she stared right past them, fear and panic gripping her as her eyes frantically searched the room.

“No. Not again,” she croaked as they locked gazes, voice hoarse from days without speaking. Kotal gripped her hand while Jade moved to block her line of sight.

“He won’t hurt you. You’re safe, now. I swear I won’t let him near you,” he vowed, hovering over her like a Jaguar protecting his cub.

“You don’t have to worry about anything, no one here will harm you,” Raiden stepped forward to say, his normally stoic face twisted in concern. Only then did she tear her eyes from Kung Lao. “My name is—!”

“I know who you are, Lord Raiden. I know all of you,” she said, visibly calming as Jade slid onto the bed beside her, the famed assassin falling easily into the role of a mother.

“I am honored. I was with Kotal when he rescued you from your attackers. Several days have passed, how do you feel?” he asked and she looked down at her outstretched hands, as if her body was completely foreign to her.

“Like I was hit by a rampaging bull elephant,” she said, frowning as she once again surveyed the room. “Where am I? How did I get here?”

“This is the K’atun báalam, the Jaguar War Fortress. It’s a vacation home I recently had built for your mother outside of Lei Chen. It is unknown to our enemies, which is why Raiden and I brought you here instead of to Z’Unkahrah,” Kotal said.

“You’ve been unconscious for quite some time. What can you remember about your attack or, more importantly, about how you found yourself in such a situation to begin with?” Raiden asked and her face twisted in confusion as she tried to recollect their meeting.

“I honestly don’t remember much of what happened after I ran into…” The woman looked up at him again, holding Kung Lao’s gaze for several seconds before casting her eyes to the floor. “How many days have passed?”

“Six. Your wounds were grievous and for the longest of time we feared you wouldn’t make it. But, luckily you have enough Osh-Tekk blood in you that the sun was able to sustain you. We had only but to bandage you and wait,” Kotal supplied. She gave him a timid smile.

“Then, I suppose that means I owe you all an explanation. My name is Suzeran. I was born in Edenia and lived there until I was somehow transported here two months ago.”

“We found you in Earthrealm, not too far from Beijing. You don’t remember how you arrived in our world?” Raiden asked. She shook her head, hands going instinctively to the yellow stone between her breasts. The portal stone, as Kotal had mentioned, was once used by the Osh-Tekk to open portals between the realms and, at least to Kung Lao’s knowledge had been stolen by Kano and the Black Dragon. The fact that it was even in her possession only added to the validity of her story. Like Liu Kang and himself, she’d been ripped from the past, in her case an alternate time period all together, and found herself wrapped up in the mess Kronika made.

“Everything was fine, then I found myself alone on the outskirts of a city I didn’t recognize. I thought the stone had somehow malfunctioned but I can sense that it hasn’t been activated recently. Other than me trying to use it to get home but…I quickly realized that there is no Edenia here. I could only guess that I’ve somehow been transported through time. That, or I’ve found myself trapped in a horrible dream,” she said, the sadness in her voice echoed back from the other displaced Edenian’s in the room. “I was attacked by a woman, very close to where you found me, but I managed to get away and hide. Until they found me again.”

“Which means my Revenant has an accomplice,” Kung Lao said and she nodded, still avoiding looking at him. “So, which one of them was it? Kitana? Jade?”

“She was a redhead. I would have recognized my mother or the Empress.” Suzeran looked up at the women in question before smiling at Kotal. “I owe you my thanks for your hospitality and for saving me. It must be odd having a daughter suddenly show up in your lives. When I called out for my father I expected an entirely different Kotal. You’re a lot younger in this timeline than my dad is,” she said. Kotal smiled down at her like he’d just been paid the greatest compliment of his lifetime.

“I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only one told I had to wait,” he quipped, earning himself a warning look from Jade. “But, you don’t owe us anything. You are our child, regardless of where you came from. What kind of man would I be if I didn’t come to the aid of my own blood?”

“He’s right, you know. Whether you’re from this timeline or a thousand others, at some point I will give birth to you,” Jade smiled, “I may as well get my practice in now.”

“This is possibly the sweetest thing I’ve ever witnessed,” Kitana chimed in. “And born from such a strange, avoidable disaster as well. One which I desperately hope to rectify.” She turned to Liu Kang and Kung Lao. “If our Revenants are committing such evils in our name, in anycapacity, it is up to all of us to put an end to it.”

“It would help if we had some clue as to why they singled her out,” Kung Lao supplied. “Perhaps the portal stone? It’s obviously a commodity. If they can just summon up portals to any part of Earthrealm or Outworld, their invasion would be a snap.”

“Which only leads me to question how they knew about it in the first place and how they managed to target Miss Suzeran during the time merger,” Liu Kang said. Raiden frowned, folding his hands behind his back, his wise stare hardening.

“It’s a possibility that this was Kronika’s backup plan,” he said, exchanging glances with Liu Kang. “She was a titan and, although we exhausted countless scenarios in the many times she’s restarted our timeline, there’s a possibility she knew that I would eventually merge myself with Liu Kang and developed a way to carry out her plan, even if she didn’t live to see it.”

“And that involves the portal stone?” Kung Lao asked, watching the woman in question cradle the pulsating stone in the palm of her hand. “Doesn’t seem like much of a plan to me.”

“Not the stone, but, perhaps its owner,” Raiden said, stroking his chin. “Just how were you able to summon Kotal, Suzeran? I’ve never witnessed such powers of teleportation, not even from a magic adept Edenian.” There was confusion on her face as she looked from Raiden to the others who stared expectantly down at her. Her fingers closed around the stone, dispelling its light, even as her skin began to glow.

“I just called out to him and he came. It wasn’t something I did on my own. I just…really wanted my dad,” she said, her tone changing as sadness returned to her voice. Raiden exchanged a knowing look with Liu Kang and Kotal. She was lying. But, why? What could she possibly be hiding that she thought she had to lie to them?

“If that is the truth then, perhaps I was too rash in thinking that your attack was more sophisticated than it was. It seems that, the portal stone notwithstanding, you were simply caught up in the time merger. I would like some time to truly investigate what happened to you, Suzeran. Maybe it will aid us in eventually getting you home,” Raiden explained and she nodded without looking up at him.

“For now, it is clear that whatever happened with the Revenants caused you to be targeted. Even mistakenly. I believe it will be a good idea to keep an eye on you until we figure everything out,” Kotal said, lifting her chin and giving her the most fatherly look he could muster. It was odd seeing the giant Kahn being gentle with anyone other than Jade. But, it made perfect sense that he would be the doting type.

“I agree. You are safe here, Suzeran. That being said, you just survived a grave ordeal and are in need of rest. We will leave you to recuperate a bit longer,” Raiden said, nodding to the others who dispersed one after the other. Unable to help himself, Kung Lao was one of the last to leave, watching Kotal and Jade bid their daughter goodnight. It was such a sweet, endearing moment that it was hard to remember that they’d only just met. He caught her gaze for the last time as Kotal shut the doors behind himself, the mysterious, ocean deep amber leaving him with chills running up his spine and endless questions dancing on his tongue. Something was off with that girl. And he fully intended to find out what.

*I apologize for the lack of indentation, WordPress is a formatting nazi.

**Fuck Nazis

Advertisements