DISCLAIMER: Mortal Kombat and its characters belong to Ed Boon and Warner Brothers. No copyright infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: this fic is based on the 'old' Mortal Kombat storyline (MK1 to Armageddon). Some details from the 2011 game and MK vs. DCU were used for character development, but that's it.
SPOILERS: Mortal Kombat 1 through Mortal Kombat Armageddon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To katrinahighkick[at]gmail.com
From Assassins to Lovers
By Katrina Highkick
Chapter 1: Fire-side chat
Shao Kahn is going down. He is weak after so many lost tournaments and this is my chance to strike and prevent him from ever thinking of conquering Edenia again! And this time around we have prince Goro and his army to help us. Or at least we had Jade and I gathered an army of our best Edenian warriors and joined the Shokans in Outworld and for a while, we were unstoppable. I thought we could easily win but then, that treacherous Noob Saibot murdered Goro. The loss shook our army to the core and we've now retreated our troops to regroup and plan our next strategy. Sitting by one of our campfires, I try to think of our next step, and as the night goes on, I feel like I'm going to lose it. The Shokans have lost their leader, it will be hard to keep them focused and motivated. My own army's morale is getting low. Not to count that I've always felt uncomfortable in this realm I once used to call home.
It's in times like this that I start doubting my abilities as the Edenian princess. Edenian princess What an ironic name. During the few peaceful times I've spent in Earthrealm, I've heard of what they call fairy-tale stories, where princesses are damsels in distress waiting to be rescued by some valiant prince so they can live happily ever after. Any child in Edenia would laugh at such concept. For a race that can live for thousands of years, ever after is a long, long time, during which all sorts of disasters can happen. And their princess is anything but a damsel in distress. On the streets they tell stories of Kitana, the brave warrior who fought the tyranny of a vile emperor from an evil realm to restore order and peace to their home. The great princess, who made powerful alliances with the Earthrealm and the Shokan race. They all look up to me and hope that once again I'll emerge victorious, so that maybe, just maybe, they'll have their happily ever after. But sometimes, the hope of my people becomes a load that sits squarely on my shoulders. And it's in nights such as this, when my options are hard and few, that I can't help but envy those fairy-tale princesses and wish for someone to take this burden away.
I'm so engrossed in my thoughts I barely notice Jade emerging from the woods, enshrouded in a green cloak and sitting beside me. I sigh tiredly and rest my head on her shoulder, and we stay for several moments in comfortable silence, staring at the flames dancing in front of us. She brings me closer and wraps her cloak around my shoulders and I suddenly realize how cold I am. Draping one arm around her from underneath the cloak, I gently slide my hand up and dawn her arm in appreciation. Her muscles twitch under my hands, and not for the first time I marvel at how much this strong and confident warrior who I call friend has evolved from the scared girl I first met thousands of years ago.
Sometimes I think Jade and I were bound by fate. When I was still just a couple thousand years old, not long after my mother had committed suicide, Shao Kahn, the monster I once called father, presented Jade to me saying that from that day on she was going to live in the palace as my "personal companion", which was a nicer name for slave. He even made that clearer when he told me I could do whatever I wanted to her, and if she caused any trouble all I had to do was call the guards standing outside my room. I looked at the girl and realized how scared she was. Her deep green eyes, the most beautiful I had ever seen, were petrified with fear. Fear not only of my father, but also fear of me. That notion struck something inside of me and made me want to assure her that I wouldn't hurt her, but I wasn't going to do that in front of Shao Kahn. I've lived long enough to know that compassion was something he deeply despised, so I thanked him for the "gift" and waited until he left my room.
Once we were alone, I approached the girl. She wouldn't dare look at me, nor did she move, but I could see that she was trying hard to contain her tears and her sobs. I reached out to touch her arm and the slight contact made her tense up, thinking I was about to hit her.
"It's okay, I'm not going to hurt you." I said soothingly. She was visibly surprised, but I could sense some of the tension leaving her body. "What's your name?"
"J-J-Jade, my lady." she stammered, looking at me for the first time.
"That's a pretty name." I smiled. "Where are your parents Jade?"
"They... they gave me away to the Emperor." Her voice cracked. I mentally slapped myself for my lack of tact. She was probably given away to Shao Kahn as a tribute.
"Oh I I see..."
"Shao Kahn said something about how I'd be a good gift for his daughter and threatened to kill me if I refused " She turned away from me and started crying again. 'Oh father I see you're as sensible as ever' I thought sarcastically.
"Look Jade I think we're kinda stuck here. I wouldn't want to keep you here if you don't want to, but if I tell father to take you back he'll think you did something wrong and will punish you." Her eyes filled with terror and she was visibly trembling. 'Way to go, Kitana.' "Wait, wait! Relax and hear me out ok? You see, being the daughter of the emperor is not as great as it seems. Especially since my mother " It's still hard for me to think about my mother's death. Shao Kahn kept telling me that crying over her was pathetic and weak, but I couldn't help it, at least when he wasn't in front of me. Jade seemed to understand my pain however, because she left her own fears aside and wrapped an arm around me, trying to comfort me. And it felt good. Ever since mother died, no one ever stood there for me like that stranger was doing right then. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't be crying like that. Father says it's a sign of weakness to show your pain."
"It's okay, really. I heard it's good to let your sorrows out every now and then I'm not going to tell anyone." She smiled slightly and patted my back; I could only guess my breakdown had helped dissipate some of the fear she had of me. We stayed like this for a few moments until I felt strong enough to talk again.
"Thanks Jade, really." I smiled and tried to return to our previous conversation, trying to sound as rational as possible. "See, I guess what I was trying to say is, I don't have any friends here. Sure, the servants and the guards will do whatever I ask because I'm the emperor's daughter, but I don't have someone I could talk to unafraid of whether they'll tell father or not. So here's the deal. Technically you're my personal companion, but I'll see you as a friend. And hopefully one day you'll see me as your friend too. You can talk to me freely and unafraid and I'll do the same to you, but we can't share our secrets with anyone else. On other people's presence you might have to act as a servant, but trust me, I won't let anyone do you any harm. What do you say?" She seemed shocked for a moment, and I was afraid I had gone too far ahead of myself, but as it all sunk in, she smiled relieved and bowed slightly.
"Thank you, princess. Thank you."
"Oh, and Jade? Call me Kitana."
After a rocky start, our friendship could only get stronger. If there's one thing that Kahn ever did right, it was putting Jade in my path. But then again, I think we were fated to meet eventually. We were inseparable. Not even the discovery that I had a twin "sister", Mileena, who mysteriously showed out of nowhere managed to break our bond. Mileena and I tolerated each other but never really got along. In my mind, Jade was the only person I could totally trust. When the time came for me to take kombat training, I made sure Jade was there with me, under the pretense that she could be my bodyguard. Kahn didn't seem to mind, I guess he could see how Jade would fit well among his assassins.
We still haven't spoken a word to each other. I know I can tell her anything that's in my heart, but sometimes words are not needed between us. We know each other that well. Thank the gods for Jade. Throughout the thousands of years of my life, she has been the ever constant support on which I could rely in times of need. That is, except during the time I pushed her away, and even so she found a way back to me. I sigh again and pull her even closer.
"Feeling a little introspective tonight?" She asks, and I can hear the playfulness in her voice.
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"Must be some really deep thinking you're doing in there." She ruffles my hair slightly. Funny, if anyone else tried to do that to me, they'd probably have a severed hand. "That's gotta be the reason behind all the sighing and your trying to make mince meat out of my arm."
"Oh gods, I'm sorry!" I blush profusely and try to remove my arm from around her, but she holds it firmly in place, chuckling slightly.
"Just messing with you. You can't hurt steel, you know." She smiles and winks at me, and I roll my eyes, but I can't hold back a smile of my own. Again, thank the gods for Jade. She's the only one who can make me laugh in the middle of all this. But alas, I can make her laugh too, and feeling a bit mischievous, I reach under and tickle her sides, making her jump in surprise.
"So much for steel, miss don't-touch-me-I'm-ticklish." I tease her while mercilessly making her squirm under my fingertips. It occurs to me, not for the first time, that I'm probably the only person to ever get away with tickling her without getting seriously maimed. And right now I'm taking full advantage of this particular feat.
"Alright, alright! Easy there! Truce!" She grabs my hands, laughing breathlessly and I relent for now. Grabbing the cloak that has fallen to the floor, I motion for her to get back to our previous arrangement. Once we're settled, I squeeze her arm a little too forcefully and feel a chuckle reverberating through her before we return to our somber mood.
"I can't believe Goro's gone " I whisper.
"I know, I can't either The Shokans are still paying their last respects to him; I just got back from their camp."
"I don't know what we're going to do now, without him leading the Shokans, I'm not sure we can win." I let go of her and cradle my head in my hands, groaning silently. The frustration of the day is getting to me.
"Hey " She puts her hands on my shoulders and turns me around so she's facing my back and starts massaging it. Gods, it feels good She knows just the right points to make the tension go away. I guess it's one of the perks of being a highly skilled warrior. We know all about pressure points, from the ones that can kill to the ones that can soothe and heal. "Try not to think of it right now ok? We've all had a rough day. Kahn's forces haven't found our camp yet, so we have some time to regroup and think of something, but try to relax tonight. We'll get through this." She tries to reassure me, and I can't help but scoff as I turn around to face her.
"How do you know that, Jade? How can you be so sure that I won't end getting ourselves killed?" There's a hint of despair and vulnerability in my voice that I know I wouldn't dare show in front of anyone but her. She seems to sense my distress as she grabs hold of my hands.
"Because, Kitana, I have faith in your abilities. We all do. You've already led us through greater victories than this. Hell, if it weren't for you, we wouldn't even have a home to fight for, remember?" Her voice is firm, yet soothing, bringing me the comfort and the reassurance I need so much, and not for the first time in my life, I thank whatever force has brought us together in the first place. "Besides, you're not alone, you know. It's not like I came to Outworld with you because I enjoy the scenery." Her witty sense of humor draws a chuckle from me even now. I smile and kiss her hands that have been holding mine.
"I would have never made it this far if it weren't for you, my friend. Thank you." I say, and she smiles back and wraps an arm around my shoulders as we go back to stare at the fire. Who needs a prince when I have Jade as a friend?
"Jade, do you believe in fate?" I ask, breaking the long, comfortable silence.
"I guess maybe. Why do you ask?"
"Do you think that, if Kahn hadn't invaded Edenia all those years ago, we still would have met each other?" I ask her, watching as she stares off into space, deep in thought, and I can't help but notice the change in her features. Her head tilted to the side, the distant look in her eyes, the slight pouting of her lips. She looks so serene and unguarded, so different from the tough and proud façade she tends to put on. It's a side of her that not many people see, and I know she only lets her guard down like that when she's confident that someone she trusts is watching her back.
"I think so. You do remember what Queen Sindel told us about my parents." I nod thoughtfully. Right after Edenia was restored, mother told us that Jade's parents were Edenian diplomats. I know part of her still resents that they gave her away to Shao Kahn. "Whether we would be friends, however, is a whole different question. Not sure I would stand hanging around a spoiled little princess." She says cheekily, but before I can start another tickle match, she holds my hands in place and tries to make peace. "Just kidding, just kidding! Keep your fingers to yourself." I raise an eyebrow at her defiantly but settle back in her embrace. "Anyway, I don't know if I'd be the same person I am today. Who knows, I might have just ended up like Tanya."
"You? Like Tanya?" I turn to her and frown, wondering if this is one of her jokes, but it looks like she's serious. "That's highly unlikely. Tanya is a treacherous viper. You're nothing like her." I scoff. I can't fathom how absurd that theory is. Jade, like Tanya? Yeah right.
"Well, think about it. She is the daughter of one of the Edenian nobles, yet she chose to betray us for no reason except her own personal gain. It's not like she had any vendetta behind her actions in the first place. My parents were dedicated to the realm, but that holds little claim over what my own loyalty might have been." I have to admit, she does have a point. Yet, one glance into those intense green eyes that have been an ever constant shelter in my stormy life, and I have my answer.
"Maybe so, but don't you see Jade? Ever since I've first met you, there hasn't been one day where I didn't think I could trust you. And being raised in this treacherous realm, that's saying a lot. Growing up, I could have so easily become a cold-hearted mad woman like Mileena, but I didn't because you were always there for me. You've had it in you right from the start, Jade. Nothing would have changed that." The conviction in my words seems to surprise her. She then smiles and takes my hand in hers.
"That's only because of YOU, Kitana. Hadn't you given me a chance and offered me your friendship, who knows where I would be today. Your kindness and compassion, in this realm of violence and madness, was the beacon of light that I knew I never wanted to lose." Now it's my turn to be surprised. I've always felt very strongly about our friendship, and I know that she does too, but I guess there are things we've never told each other, even with thousands of years of friendship. Not that it's really a bad thing. It's good that we still have things to learn about each other every now and then.
"Well, I guess that solves the dilemma then." I say, returning to our previous subject.
"How's that?" She arches an eyebrow, curious.
"You say you're the person you are today because you met me, and I say I'm the person I am today because I met you. And we've established that we would have met anyway, so we're good." She chuckles at that and returns her gaze back to the fire.
"Do you think we would have still become defenders of our realm?" She asks.
"If Shao Kahn had never attacked us? I think so. It's in our blood, right? What I wonder is whether we would do the crazy things we do for the sake of the realm though."
"Like offering your hand in marriage?"
"I was thinking more on the lines of fighting evil clones and fallen gods, but yeah that too." I sigh, a little frustrated, remembering one of my not-so-bright moments. She's of course talking about Liu Kang, the Earthrealm warrior and current Mortal Kombat champion. I first met Liu in the days when I was still one of Khan's assassins and had just found out about my true origins. I had heard of him before, he was the one who defeated Goro and Shang Tsung and prevented Outworld's conquest of Earthrealm. We had an instant bond, as protectors of our respective realms fighting against our oppressors. His courage and devotion to saving his realm gave me hope that one day I would see Edenia free from Kahn's clutches and inspired me to fight for it. Then, when the events of the tournament unfolded and I found myself accused of treason, Liu seemed my only way out. Him and the other Earthrealm warriors were more than kind and accepted me as one of them, but as soon as we arrived on Earth we found ourselves in yet another struggle with Kahn. After days of running and fighting, Liu once again defeated the emperor, not only saving Earthrealm, but also restoring Edenia. I'll forever be grateful to him for what he did that day. If that wasn't enough, he once again saved me and Edenia when Shinnok invaded my realm. I owed him my life and the life of my people, and there seemed to be only one way to repay him. I offered myself and my realm to him, asking if he would marry me and become king of Edenia. It seemed like a perfect plan at the time, we shared the same ideals, Edenia would be safer, he was a very good friend, Edenia would be safer, we had mutual respect and admiration, Edenia would be safer. He seemed like the closest thing to the elusive prince ideal they have in Earthrealm. However, he refused my proposal, claiming that Earthrealm needed him. I was obviously upset, but I understood his reasons and bid him farewell. We've seen each other many times ever since, he often visits Edenia, but we've never talked about that episode again.
"Sorry, didn't mean to upset you." She says gently.
"No, it's okay. I was just thinking."
"Yeah, you seem to be doing a lot of that tonight. Want to talk about it?"
"Well I was just thinking back on me offering my hand to Liu. I guess at the time all I could see was how beneficial it would be for the realm and never really bothered to think on how things would be on *his* side."
"May I speak frankly Kitana?" She turns to look at me, and I nod. "Every time you mention that marriage thing, it's always tied to some 'good for the realm' reason. I never see you sulking too much on how YOU felt about him. Honestly, were you ever actually in love with him?" Her piercing green eyes stare me down.
"You know, I don't think I was at the time. Sure, I really admired and respected him, but as far as love goes I loved the idea of what marrying him would mean to Edenia. All I could think of was what he represented, instead of who he really was. Then again, it's not like we had a lot of time to sit down and talk about anything non-fighting related up until that point. I figured we'd get to know each other better as we went along." I look away from her and back to the fire. Anyone listening to what I just said would agree that it was a lousy idea.
"And now that you've had several chances to meet him during peaceful times. Do you think you love him?" She asks. It doesn't look like she'll drop the subject so soon.
I take a moment to think. It's not like I know that much about love to start with. Over the ten thousand years of my life, my perception of love has mostly always been wrong. I 'loved' an emperor who claimed to be my father out of fear. When memories of my real deceased father came back to me and when I was reunited with my mother, I realized what family love was all about. And as far as romantic love goes let's just say that most of my suitors bored me out of my mind within 5 minutes of conversation. Some lasted longer, but inevitably I always ended up excusing myself out of it on the pretense of discussing 'important matters of the realm' with Jade. Then there is Liu whenever he visits Edenia we can talk for hours about fighting techniques and the welfare of our realms, but that's all there is to it. I've never felt that elusive spark that's supposed to ignite the blood when I'm around him. With that in mind, I answer her.
"No, I don't love him." I say with conviction.
"Well, I'm glad that's settled then." She smirks, seemingly satisfied with my answer.
"What about you, oh wise one. Anyone in your life at the moment?" I grin, turning the tables on her. I know that there's a long line of men in Edenia who would give everything to get at least a few minutes of her attention, but then again, why wouldn't they? Her bronzed skin, those green eyes and that perfect body just demand attention as she walks in the room. I've seen the lustful way they look at her as she passes by, and I'd be lying if I said it doesn't bother me. Maybe I'm being over protective of her, but whatever it is, I feel somewhat vindicated when she turns around and shoots them down with one of her withering glares.
"Nah, I have my hands full keeping you out of trouble." She winks, nudging me playfully. Instantly my hands shoot to her sides and start tickling her mercilessly.
"Who's in trouble now huh?" I snarl as I keep tickling her, she is trying hard to suppress her laughter and fend me off but I'm relentless. Soon enough she's on her back and I'm straddling her, attacking her sides with lightning quick fingers.
"Stop it! Stop it! Arrghh!" She gasps helplessly, squirming and shimmying her body in a desperate attempt to stop the onslaught.
"Say mercy!" I demand.
"Never!" She grabs my wrists and forcefully brings them above her head, trying to keep my hands away from her ticklish areas. That sudden movement jerks me out of balance, making my upper body fall forward, landing right on top of her.
"Oomph! Now that wasn't a wise move " I manage to say in between fits of giggles, when suddenly I become acutely aware of the position we find ourselves in. Our legs are entangled due to our previous altercation, our bodies are as if glued together and I swear I can feel her heart beating against my own chest. My face is buried at the crook where her shoulder and neck meet and I can feel her shivering when my breathing touches her skin, even though her whole body feels so warm. I lift my head to look at her and as I move, our breasts rub against each other involuntarily. A jolt sparks right through my core and I gasp silently. I feel Jade's intake of breath from underneath me. Her tanned skin glows in the firelight and her beautiful green eyes seem darker, and I find myself instantly drawn to them. Over the years I've become pretty good at assessing her feelings with just a glance, and through her eyes I can see a mix of confusion and fear, but there's something else on the way she's looking at me that I haven't seen before and I can't really describe what it is. Whatever it is, it spurs something inside of me and without thinking, I entwine our fingers together and lower my lips towards hers
The rustle of leaves and sound of hasty footsteps shatters the moment and in a flash I'm off of her and we grab our weapons, alert and ready for whatever may surface out of the woods. It's with relief, and a bit of annoyance, that I recognize one of our soldiers emerging into view.
"Princess Kitana! Lady Jade! You're not going to believe this!" Says the panting soldier, while trying to regain his composure.
"Well, tell us what it is, and we'll decide whether we believe it!" Jade snaps, looking annoyed and somewhat frustrated.
"The enemy lines are retreating! People are saying that Shao Kahn is dead!" I look at Jade and she looks at me, our faces mirroring the same expression of disbelief. Does that mean we won the war?
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