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. Phew! This was not an easy chapter to write. I really wanted to have Kitana tell Raiden to not bother them and go back to Edenia with Jade. Alas, I want to keep this story somewhat accurate to the events of MKDA, MKD and MKA, and it was necessary to explain Jade's absence in Deadly Alliance. I hope you enjoyed it! I'll try to get chapter 3 up soon, but in the meantime, please R&R!
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 2: A New Threat

Kitana's POV

It takes me a couple of seconds to fully comprehend the information I have just been given. Shao Kahn is dead?

"Are you sure of this soldier?" I ask, still suspicious.

"Positive, princess. Come see for yourself!" He motions us back into the woods and takes off. I follow along, still a little dumbstruck. It couldn't be that easy, could it? If the enemy troops are retreating, maybe it means they have some plan to deceive us. Though the emperor's demise would be a perfectly valid reason for them to turn around and flee. But Shao Kahn, THE Shao Kahn, wouldn't just drop dead all of a sudden, would he? If he did, something tells me that other forces may be involved, and that may or may not be a good thing. That notion, however, is promptly shoved to the recesses of my mind, since right now it seems solely focused around a certain green-eyed friend.

I know that Jade is following right behind me, I can feel this tension emanating from her, but I'm not sure I have the courage to look at her right now. Oh by the Elder Gods, what was I just doing back there? I was getting ready to kiss her, that's what. The real question is, why? Why would I ever take such a course of action? Why now? Why didn't she protest? Why couldn't that soldier show up a few minutes later? Why am I wishing that he'd show up a few minutes later? And why on the Elder Gods' green Edenia do I keep thinking of this, when I'm at the pivotal point of this war with Kahn? That's where my focus should be. I'm supposed to be analyzing why the enemy troops are retreating, strategize a new plan, consider the implications of this new turn of events. Only, I can't. Just the sound of her footsteps behind me derails my train of thought and I go back to the moment we shared by the fire. The memory of her body pinned under me, her gaze smoldering while I wondered what her lips would taste like, brings this rather unfamiliar feeling at the pit of my stomach, a mix between chills of anticipation and fear that I'm struggling to come to terms with. It's like all of a sudden, this switch in my head went on and it's casting a whole new light on her. A whole new, VERY attractive light, I should say. I've always been aware of, and admired her beauty, but out of nowhere, I have this... longing for her, and it's very unsettling, and surprisingly exciting. Why is this happening? Affairs of the heart are not an area I dwell much on, and it's very uncharacteristic of me to be distracted over such matters. It's also unusual for her to be this quiet. I wonder if her thoughts are similar to mine. What if they are? Do I even want to know?

I could have kept going on and on with my ramblings and the questions with no real answers, but we finally get to one of the lookout points. The soldier points to where the enemy troops had been stationed, and sure enough, they appear to be making a hasty retreat. One of our mages uses a magnifying spell to give us a closer look of what's going on around the Emperor's palace. The world pandemonium would be a fitting description to what I witness. People of all ranks and classes are running around confused, there are fights breaking out left and right. Outworld was never a realm of peace and order, but I'd never seen such chaos in my years here. In certain ways it resembles the behavior of the Shokans when Goro was murdered, though in a much larger scale. That can only mean one thing, the people of Outworld have lost their leader.

"This is unbelievable..." I manage to say as I watch the scene unfold in front of me.

"Look, over there!" Jade says, pointing to the balcony in front of the palace. I forcefully clamp down on the thoughts and feelings I was entertaining about her earlier and make myself focus on what she's trying to show me. On the balcony, two familiar figures emerge: Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, holding Shao Kahn's severed head in their hands, gloatingly showing it to the crowd.

"By the Elder Gods..." I gasp in surprise. I don't know what's going on, it's too much to process. Shao Kahn is dead, and that alone should have been reason for jubilation. But then I look at the pair behind his demise, and I'm not sure I should be celebrating. I know all too well that nothing good could come from Shang Tsung or Quan Chi, much less if they're allies. Jade knows this too, and I feel her hand slipping into mine, in an attempt to give me strength as well as seek some comfort of her own. I give her hand a light squeeze as I continue to watch the circus unfolding in front of me.

"People of Outworld!" Quan Chi announces in a booming voice, amplified by his sorcery. "We announce today the dawning of a new era in this realm! Shao Kahn is dead!" He pauses for added effect, surveying the reaction of the crowd. Some people cheer, others show outrage. "As your new rulers, we offer you a choice: give us your loyalty... or your souls!"

Suddenly, an army of undead soldiers emerge from the palace grounds and Shang Tsung orders them to attack the dissidents. I watch, horrified, as their weapons cut through the angry mob and the souls of the deceased are sucked into a massive soulnado that has emerged above the palace.

"I think we've seen enough! We need to get out of here!" I decide quickly. We're not prepared to deal with this situation. Neutralizing Shao Kahn was our goal and, however nefariously, it's been done. My troops can't stand another war with this new bewitched army, and I certainly don't want to risk their souls.

"Rally the troops! We're opening a portal back to Edenia!" Jade joins me in giving out orders. Soon enough, the camps are being lifted and I have a portal open. We need to move fast. The energy flux triggered by the portal will certainly attract the attention of Quan Chi and Shang Tsung sooner or later.

Jade and I stand by the portal as we motion our troops in. Since I'm the one who can open portals, I make a point to be the last one to go through it, which leaves me more at risk. She always purposefully stands by me so we can cross it together. Now more than ever, I'm thankful for that. At the very least, it gives me some relief to see that she's still willing to stay behind with me, even after the near-kiss I initiated. Oh, here I go thinking about that again. I really need to focus on getting my troops back to Edenia safely! Then I'll have enough time to fully understand what happened between us, and hopefully getting to talk to Jade about it. I take a quick glance at her, and I can see that she's worried. I'm sure she knows as well as I do that something is wrong, very wrong. Shang Tsung wouldn't be creating a soulnado of that proportion just for decoration purposes.

The last of the troops disappear in the portal and it's our turn to go. I offer my hand to Jade, as I always do, and she takes it, nodding at me. We are about to step into the portal when thunder cracks behind us, and that can only mean one thing.

"Lord Raiden." We turn around and greet the thunder god with a bow. I don't have a good feeling about this...

"Ladies..." He bows in return. I close the portal, since it doesn't look like we'll be going back to Edenia anytime soon.

"I assume you're here because of Quan Chi and Shag Tsung?" I ask, though I already know the answer.

"Indeed. By now I'm sure you've learned of Shao Kahn's demise."

"We have witnessed Shang Tsung and Quan Chi parading Kahn's head to the people of Outworld, among other unsettling things. What's going on Raiden?" Jade inquires. She's always preferred a more direct approach.

"It seems Quan Chi has found the Dragon King's ancient army. He has aligned himself with Shang Tsung, in an attempt to collect souls to revive said army." Well, that explains the undead army and the soulnado.

"But why would they want to kill Shao Kahn? I'm sure he would have no qualms about using that army to invade the other realms."

"From what I gather, they're acting on their own and Shao Kahn was never a part of the equation for them. Rather he was part of the problem. In order for their plan to succeed, they had to destroy the two people who could threaten them the most."

"Two people?" Oh no. "You can't possibly mean..."

"Yet regrettably, I do. Kitana, Jade... Liu Kang is dead." Raiden says, lowering his head in resignation, and I feel like I just swallowed a block of lead. No... No, no, no, no! This can't be happening.

"No..." It's all I managed to say. I feel my knees giving out, but thankfully Jade is there to support me.

"He was ambushed by Quan Chi and Shang Tsung at the Shaolin temple. I'm afraid his soul now belongs to Shang Tsung." I feel sick. The sheer magnitude of this loss is overwhelming. In such a short period of time, I'm experiencing the demise of three of the most formidable warriors I've ever known. The Shokan prince, former Mortal Kombat champion and valuable ally is gone. The ruthless emperor of Outworld, evil personified, conqueror of multiple realms including my own, murdered. If that wasn't enough, the current Mortal Kombat champion, the one person who before had defeated both Goro and Shao Kahn, is dead. The warrior that had been successful in keeping the forces of evil at bay and helped me so much in the quest to restore Edenia and keep it safe. Two of my friends and allies, as well as my worst enemy, murdered in such a short period of time. First Goro, then Shao Kahn, now Liu Kang.

"What do we do now, Raiden?" Jade asks. By the straining of her voice, I know she's grief stricken as well, but she's trying to stay strong for me. Elder Gods bless her.

"This new Deadly Alliance must be stopped at all costs. If they're successful in completely reviving that army, no realm will be safe. I am gathering worthy warriors so that together we can strike back. We must ensure that they do not succeed... And also avenge Liu Kang." He pauses, for a moment, looking away. I think this is the first time I hear such sorrow in the thundergod's voice. "I would welcome the help of warriors such as you." Jade looks at me expectantly. I regain my composure, or some semblance of it, mulling over what Raiden has just said. We're being called to yet another fight. The struggles never end, it seems. And at this rate, neither will the losses. I want them to stop; I don't want to lose anyone else. I sure as hell don't want to lose Jade.

"Raiden, can you please give us a moment?" I request, and he teleports himself away from us. Then, I open a portal to Edenia and turn to my best friend.

"Jade, I want you to go back to Edenia." I tell her, even though I know she won't go easily.

"What? Why?"

"If the Earthrealm warriors and I fail to stop Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, they'll eventually try to attack Edenia. I want you to be ready if they come." I try to sound as convincing as possible. There is a degree of truth in my reasoning, but that's not really why I'm sending her back.

"But if I go with you now, we have better chances of defeating them. I'm not leaving you, Kitana." She crosses her arms, unimpressed with my request.

"Jade, please. You have to go." I try to plead.

"You're not doing this again, are you? Leave me behind and try to face some hugely powerful enemy on your own? Kitana, they killed Liu Kang and Shao Kahn!"

"I know that Jade! That's why I'm asking you, for your own good, to please go back to Edenia!" By the Elder Gods, why won't she just do as I say and go? Can't she see it's for the best?

"To the Netherrealm with my own good! I'm not going back to Edenia unless you're coming with me!" She grabs my wrists, pining me to her, and in her eyes I see the steely determination and fiery intensity that I've seen so many times, and I know it will be nearly impossible to convince her, but I press on.

"I can't! I have to fight them! I must stop them before they try to reach our realm!"

"You're not making any sense right now, you know that? What about me? It's my duty to protect our realm too, remember?"

"Jade, this is suicide!"

"Of course it is! And still you're going! And I'll never forgive myself if I let you go alone. Can't you see? I've accepted a long time ago that choosing to fight by your side might mean my own death! But if it means that I was there for you, and I did my best to protect you, then I'm ready to face the consequences and I'm not afraid of them!" Her unwavering dedication strikes a chord in me and I have to hold back my tears.

"But I can't accept it… and I'm afraid… and I'm not ready…" Dropping my gaze from hers, I try to hide the swell of emotions that rage inside of me.

"Kitana… what do you mean?" Her eyes search for mine; those verdant orbs that seconds ago were fierce and determined now have softened, full of concern, and maybe something more?

"I'm… just not ready… to lose you too." With that, I surge forward and finally give into the urge to kiss her. I don't know why I'm doing it, and frankly, right now I don't care. She's surprised for a split second, but soon I feel her hands releasing my wrists and her arms wrapping around my waist as she kisses me back. One of my newly freed hands cups her face while the other takes hold of the nape of her neck, ensuring that she won't pull away. It's not a sweet and gentle kiss; rather it's desperate, passionate, with teeth clashing, tongues wrestling and bodies tightly pressing against each other as we let our instincts take over. The heightened emotions, the volatility of this situation are all catalysts to this indescribable something that draws us together. For a moment, I forget where we are, forget the losses, forget the argument we were just having, all I can do is feel. And oh by the Elder Gods, it feels good. The softness of her lips against my own. The way she gasps when I lick her lips. The way she makes me groan when she sucks on my lower lip. The heat inside of me as our tongues furiously push and twist against each other, hot and wet and wanting.

Way too soon the need for oxygen makes itself known and we break the kiss with labored breath, though our bodies still cling to each other. She pulls me tight against her and I nuzzle her neck, but we can't keep our lips apart for too long. This time she initiates it, by first kissing my forehead, then my cheek, then capturing my lips with hers. I whimper at the first contact, then a moan reverberates through our kiss as her tongue unceremoniously makes itself at home in my mouth, exploring, teasing, making my insides melt and my legs tremble. When we part again, I touch her forehead with mine, feeling her sweet breath against my face, wishing this moment would never end.

"Kitana, please... Take me with you." She whispers pleadingly. Tears stream down my face. Part of me wishes to leave behind all my responsibilities and go back to Edenia with her. My damned sense of duty quickly shoots that possibility down. Part of me really wants her to come with me, so we can share our struggles and give each other strength. Then there's another part that keeps flooding my mind with gut-wrenching images of her dead, soulless body, much similar to Liu Kang's fate. I can't let that happen, I just can't.

"Forgive me..." I whisper against her ear and push her forcefully onto the portal to Edenia.

"Kitana!" She calls out to me as she's sucked into the vortex. The last thing I see before closing the portal is her desperately trying to reach out to me.

"Raiden, I'm ready!" I call out, and he teleports himself back.

"Where's Jade?"

"In Edenia. She'll make sure our realm is ready for this new threat." I make an effort to put up my no-nonsense facade and avoid showing any emotion. Raiden just looks at me, but refrains from any comment.

"Very well then, let's go." He teleports us to Earthrealm, where my new comrades await.

To Be Continued

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