(Mortal Kombat: Part 2)
Yum. Eggs. Fruit. God, gimmie a cup of coffee and I’m in heaven. And then Johnny sat down.
“Morning, doll-face.” Morning, Traitor. I nodded at him. “Not too talkative?”
“Never am.” Liu pulled a face at me.
“Do you ever smile?” I blinked at him.
“If she does, run, very fast,” Johnny whispered. I was overcome with the urge to stick my tongue at him, but I settled with an apple at his head. To my annoyance, he caught it, took a bite, and complimented me on my good choice. I’ll kill him if we make it off this island. My eyes shifted to the glass of water before me. Speaking of killing… Johnny appeared to be more concerned with picking bits of apple from his teeth than poisoning my glass. It doesn’t seem like he wants to kill me, but I didn’t see him dispose of the poison either. Who was to say he wouldn’t use it against Liu and I so he could be the champion of the tournament? He clearly stated he was here for his ego. Being the best was all that mattered, so I couldn’t trust him. I couldn’t be completely confident in those words though. ‘She could be worth dying for.’ Could be? What the hell was that supposed to mean, could be? Besides, Johnny couldn’t have been serious. He barely knows me. Hhmp. The only thing he really knows is that I have curves. Drug induced hormonal pimp.
“Sonya?” I snapped out of my thoughts so quickly I nearly choked on my toast.
“What?” Ack, I didn’t mean to snap. Damn it, Cage, quit staring at me like that!
“You were glaring at me… but you were obviously elsewhere. You all right?”
“I’m perfectly fine. Do I look like some fucking damsel in distress?” With that, I stood and marched off to the courtyard. It was there I noticed a line of people walking behind some monks, and in front of them was Shang Tsung. Now where’s he going? I joined the group and we were led to a cleared forest with a giant box of sand in the middle. Shang Tsung sat upon the throne. A well muscled black man with braided hair and Liu walked into the center, a bo staff in their hands. I spotted Johnny and walked over to him. He watched me silently then sighed.
“Sorry if I pissed you off earlier. I meant no harm.”
“Forget it. I didn’t rest well last night.” Then Tsung spoke.
“From now on, my island will be your battleground. Liu Kang! You will be first. Let Mortal Kombat begin!”
It was over in minutes. He mocked the loss of Alex and tried to overcome me with a dagger, but I won. My stomach was imprinted with a nasty bruise and my eye was swelling from when he slapped me, but I finished him. Never will there be a sound as sweet as Kano’s neck snapping between my calves. For you, Alex. I walked away from the dead body and over to Liu who congratulated me on my victory. Tsung called for a break and the men scattered. Tsung walked over to us.
“My sincerest compliments on your first victory, Sonya. You fought beautifully. I look forward to seeing more of your skills in future fights. His eyes roamed over me, and I felt myself become nauseated. “I’m sure your sustained helath will keep you in the tournament until the very end.”
“Yeah, right up to where I’ll beat your ass, no doubt.” His laughter flowed from him, thick as velvet.
“Until then.” He bowed, and walked off toward the beach. A moment later, two monks came to take Liu off to his next bout. I wished him luck then sighed. For a moment, I could reflect on Kano’s death. But a twig snapped brought me from my thoughts, and as I turned I was slapped across the face. I stumbled before looking to my attacker.
“I’m going to end this now since Johnny was too weak.” I glared at the cowboy. My hands balled into fists while my teeth clenched, and I focused my energy into my limbs. I crouched and leapt forward into a brisk run. He did the same. Throwing myself into the air, I thrust my right leg out. He also leapt, flipped over my head, and eyes widened as his arms circled my waist before tossing me to the hard ground. Winded and dazed, I rose shakily to my feet. I don’t believe it! He’s running away!
“Come back here!” Once again, I set after him. This time, though, he didn’t seem to be running to get away. We were going somewhere. We ran into a cave that led to Tsung’s castle, and ended up in the pit. This was a terribly deep cavern with seven walkways above and below each other. Here, if you were unlucky enough to fall, your body fell hundred of feet before landing on the jagged spikes below. Before me, my assailant stood waiting calmly, and a bit out of breath.
“Are you ready, Lt. Blade?” he inquired softly.
“Did I wrong you in a past life, or do you just get a kick out of antagonizing the women?” I was shocked at his bark of laughter.
“You’re words couldn’t be more true, Sonya. It’s a pity it has to end this way. You are, by far, the most amazing mortal I’ve seen.” He put his fists up. His stance was very familiar. “And that’s why you are so dangerous.” With a cry he attacked, throwing several kicks and punches which I blocked, except for the last two. They struck me in the stomach and all my air dissipated as I staggered. With warning, I was on my back. I pushed myself up but collapsed again as a foot smashed my head to the cold rock. Then, I couldn’t breath. A weight on my chest left me gasping for air. Spots swirled in my eyes but in the distance I could barely discern a caress across my check.
“Goodbye Sonya.” No. No! I watched as he brought his food above my neck, intending to crush it. Fuck, no! His foot smashed down, but I’d already twisted out of the way and lay flat under the junction of his legs. So I kicked up, and smiled at his howl of pain. Slithering across the floor away from him, I rolled and twisted to deliver a swift roundhouse to his stomach. As he doubled over more, I jump kicked him in the chin and watched him stumble closer to the edge.
“Goodbye to you, asshole.” I stepped back before jumping into a forward handspring and wrapped my feet around his neck. Tensing my muscles, I pulled my legs back down which flipped him over my head and over the other side of the bridge. I returned to my feet and walked over to see my work. There he hung by one hand, his body dangling over the pit of oblivion. That was when I realized his hat had blown off. I gazed upon his face for the first time. It was scarred, the skin melted and hideously deformed. When my eyes shifted to his, they burned into me. Daring, feral, and defiant they were. Then they were gone. Silently he fell and disappeared into the murky darkness. My stomach lurched at the echoing crack of his body hitting the bottom.
For several minutes I stood there with my hands at my sides, my chest heaving, and my emotions warring inside me. I didn’t even know his name.
“Enjoying the view?” I jumped and grabbed my throat, swallowing the scream that sat there.
“Christ, Rayden! I hate it when you do that! Don’t you gods ever walk for a change?!”
“What for?” I groaned. “Anyway, Liu and Johnny have been concerned. Liu mentioned Shang Tsung was being… friendly earlier.” He looked at me strangely, like he was searching for something. “Are you all right?”
“Yes.” Not convinced. “I’m fine, you just gave me a scare.” We stared at each other, not speaking. I couldn’t take it anymore. “What?”
“Your eye, it’s swelling.” Well, I was kicked in the face.
“Kano got in a few good hits.” Footsteps echoed through the entrance tunnel, and shortly Johnny and Liu emerged.
“Where have you been? Are you ok? Did Kano hurt you?” Johnny bombarded me with questions. Liu chuckled lightly.
“Here, fine, not really. Now can we get outta here?” I walked off before they could answer, but soon I could hear a pair of footfalls directly behind me which resulted in the form of Johnny.
“You know, for a US Special Forces Lt., you certainly enjoy running away a lot.” A few moments later, Liu was helping me carry an unconscious Johnny back to the huts.
Twenty minutes later, I pressed a cold damp towel to Johnny’s upper neck, exerting a small amount of pressure to the knot on the back of his head. Johnny groaned.
“Ouch, watch it woman.” He eyes were shut tight and he took the compress from my hand. “Ugh, I never thought I’d be scared of a woman before.” I couldn’t resist swatting his shoulder. “Hey, hey! Pity for the injured! Mercy, I beg you!”
“Oh, stop whining.” He grinned playfully.
“But I like getting attention. Especially from beautiful blonde medics.”
“Then get involved in a beach bimbo porn.” Johnny seized my wrist as I reached for the basket of fruit brought to us, and his eyes had lost all signs of teasing.
“I didn’t mean what I said in the cave. If I insulted you, I’m sorry.” My brow furrowed in confusion.
“You, sorry? Now that’s gotta be a first.” I shook my wrist free. “And I want you to understand something. I. Don’t. Run.”
“Then why are you always running from me?” Fuck.
“Are you implying I’m scared of you? You, some cheap egotistical third rate actor?” His eyes widened, but any smart remark I was expecting never came. Instead, his hand came up and brushed my cheek towards the bruise around my eye. I jerked back, but Johnny’s other hand gripped my shoulder, holding me down.
“If you’re not scared, don’t move,” he replied lowly. I stiffened, but did as he asked. His fingers moved again, gently tracing the bruise, and I winced when he pressed a soft spot.
“This wound is too sharp to have come from Kano,” he murmured. “You fought someone else. Who?” Hesitation kept me quiet. “Sonya. You can trust me.” My heart raced at the surge of anger.
“I don’t trust anyone,” I whispered. Then I erupted. “Especially lying money slaves like yourself!” Johnny looked like I slapped him. I stood and stepped away to keep my distance.
“What?! Where the hell did this come from?!”
“I saw your little meeting last night. Were you going to get paid for it? Was he working for the Black Dragon with Kano? Were you?!” I breathed and tried to calm myself. Shit! Damnit, Sonya, you have no proof to back up those accusations. Why can’t you just keep your fucking mouth shut instead of letting your suspicions take over?! Johnny stared at me. Slowly he stood up and stepped closer. Anger flashed in his icy blue eyes.
“You’re talking about the man who attacked us last night.”
“He told you to finish me off.”
“Is that what you honestly think I am? A sellout?”
“More, Johnny Cage. I think you’re a fake.” He inhaled sharply as a look of pain crossed his face.
“I couldn’t take your life, Sonya, if the fate of the world depended on it. And I’ll prove it to you. When that bastard shows up again, I’ll make him eat his own spine.”
“Too late, Cage, he’s already been dealt with.” Johnny breathed for a moment as realization reflected in his eyes.
“So that’s who you fought. Who was he?”
“I don’t know.” And that’s what frightened me. I think Johnny could tell that, too, because suddenly I was surrounded by his arms and he kissed my temple. My arms rested lifeless at my sides. The thought of being drawn into this man’s attempt at compassion chilled me. I felt sickened by his sudden affection, and when he gazed into my eyes he noticed how disgusted I was. His head tilted and dipped forward.
“Why won’t you trust me, Sonya?” he whispered, and his breath tickled me ear. For a moment my breath caught. Ignore it, Sonya. “What are you afraid of?” Johnny’s head moved away, and his eyes searched mine. A rough knock cut off my intended reply, and I stepped back. Liu walked in.
“Hey, Johnny. How’s your head?” Johnny looked at me for a moment, then smiled at Liu.
“Fine. Still throbs a bit, but it’ll be gone by tomorrow, I’m sure.”
“Glad to hear that. Listen. There’s a new fighter for the Emperor.” He drew in a breath. “It’s Goro. Five mortals have already died at his hands.” He looked at me. “Your roommate is next to fight.”
“Art?” Johnny asked. Liu nodded. “Where?”
“A ring has been constructed in the dining room. People are gathering there now.”
“Then let’s go,” I cut in. “I want to see Art beat this thing.” I looked at Johnny, waiting for him to counter my decision.
“I agree.” With that, Johnny walked out of the hut, Liu and I in tow.
Later that evening, Rayden requested to see us in the hall of Vanquished Warriors. Liu made small talk, but Johnny had remained unusually quiet since Art’s death.
“We can’t win now. How can we possibly beat something like that?”
“Goro can be killed. Shang Tsung’s power can be destroyed by mortal men and women,” Rayden answered me. “You can overcome any adversary, no matter how bizarre their powers may seem. There is always a way. Only one thing can defeat you. Your own fear.” Johnny spoke up.
“So who says we’re afraid?”
“You must first face your fears if you are to conquer them.” Rayden revealed Johnny’s fear as believing he is a fake. So, Johnny’s not as confident as I initially thought. Then Rayden spoke of my fear of asking for help.
“If you are afraid to trust, you will lose.” I looked hesitantly at Johnny. You asked for my trust earlier, I denied it. Now you know why. Liu moved to talk with Rayden, but I vaguely paid attention. I hated having a weakness. That bothered me more than anything. Lightning cracked across the sky. Then Johnny was looking at me. I stared back, and wondered if I could trust myself to trust this man. Liu was faithful. Honor lived in him in spades. But Johnny was different. He was cocky, egotistical, and arrogant. But he was also afraid he was not real. Like me, he had his weakness. Afterall, he was only human. Rayden walked off so Johnny and I slowly walked over to Liu.
“Are you ok?” I asked. My hand rested on his shoulder, and his hand clasped over mine.
“Yes. I am all right. I just have a lot on my mind.” He paused at the next crash of thunder. “I think it would be best if we tried to get some rest. Tomorrow is the final day of the tournament.”
“And it looks like we will be the last few standing,” Johnny added softly. Liu spoke again.
“Rayden was right. We must be prepared.”
“Every mortal is responsible for his own destiny…”
“You are, by far, the most amazing mortal I’ve seen…”
“Why are you always running from me?”
“I. Don’t. Run.”
“…trust me, Sonya…”
“Your soul is mine!” I leapt up with a strangled cry. My eyes adjusted to the dark as I took a few panting breaths. The small hut became outlined in the pale light of the moon.
“I hate nightmares.” Wide awake and still tense from my dream, I decided a walk would be best for me. I exited the hut and drifted to the beach, the only place on the island where I felt secure. In the distance, sitting cross legged on the beach, was Liu. Cleansing his soul before his day of destiny, no doubt. W could use some soul cleaning right now. It was then that I realized a presence behind me.
“You’re up early.”
“I’m always up early. It comes with the job.” I turned to face Johnny. “You?” He shrugged and looked out over the ocean.
“Thinking.” I blinked.
“You’re up early because you’re thinking? Don’t hurt yourself.”
“I’ll avoid it if I can.” We stood in silence, watching the sky turn red as the sun began its ascent into the eastern skies. My mind drifted to Art, and I heard Johnny’s scream of anguish. I knew it all too well. It was the same one I gave when Alex was killed before me.
“I’m sorry about Art.” Johnny stiffened slightly.
“Save your sympathy for Goro. He’s going to need it.” He looked at me. “There are three more combatants for Earth, and then it’s left down to us. For some reason, Goro has requested to fight you next. But I’m going to take your place.”
“What?” I was confused then angry. I knew I probably couldn’t beat Goro, but I would take my own life before I let someone else die for me.
“I won’t let him fight the other combatants. Perhaps it will give them the chance to make it off of this island alive.” I glared at him.
“Goro’s never been beaten. You go up against him, he’ll kill you.”
“Well if I don’t, then he’ll finish us off one at a time,” he argued back. “If I challenge him now, I can finish this.” I looked past him.
“You’re making this all sound really simple, and it isn’t.”
“Yeah, it is,” Johnny cut in. “because I can’t let what happened to Art happen to you.” His words sank into me like a cold, dead weight. “Not to you.” My head spun with anger, fear, and a sense of déjà vu.
“Oh, don’t you dare do this to protect me, Johnny Cage,” I hissed malevolently, my voice cracking slightly as I spoke his name. He turned and began to walk away.
“Trust me, I gotta plan.” Trust you? Argh!
“Oh, I don’t believe this. You are the most egotistical, self-deluded person I have ever met!” I shouted.
“Yeah, well you forgot good looking.” My barely controlled rage burned through my cheeks and I huffed as I crossed my arms in annoyance. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph that man was frustrating! And if he dies trying to protect me… I lost track of time as I stared out at the rippling sea. Only when the distant chanting of the monks was carried to me across the wind did I realize that Johnny’s battle would soon begin. A short prayer passed my lips as I ran toward the crowds of people merging to watch what was anticipated as Goro’s next victory.
The sky was blood red, glowing with a hint of orange. Around me, the monks chanted “Goro” until his growling voice thundered over the crowd, and he entered the pebbled ring. Liu was silent beside me. I watched Johnny step into the ring; his trademark sunglasses covered his eyes, and his face was set in grim determination. As he took off his glasses, Goro seized them, crushed them, and let them fall to the ground. Johnny winced before Shang Tsung stepped from the crowd. He smiled cruelly at Johnny then spoke to Goro.
“Finish him quickly!” Tsung commanded. “Pay me my tribute.”
“This puny mortal will be no problem. I’ll crush him in one blow.”
“All right. Let’s dance.” I watched with anticipated fear as Goro roared and lifted his arms above his head. Johnny, on the other hand, suddenly slid down into a complete straddle, aimed, and threw a hard punch into Goro’s groin. The crowd went silent as Goro held himself and groaned in obvious pain. Rayden cheered while Liu and I gawked. What the- Where the hell did he come up with that?! Johnny stood up and darted for some stone steps leading into the mountain. Liu followed with his eyes while I looked back at the moaning warrior. A hand covered my mouth as I broke into a small fit of laughter. Go, John Boy!
“You imbicile!” Shang Tsung spit furiously. Goro seemed to get himself under control. “Find him! Finish him!” Goro stood, looked for Johnny, then roared viciously as he gave chase. The crowd chanted ‘Finish him!’ and spread to let Goro through. Johnny disappeared into the mountain with Goro close behind. Rayden came to speak to Liu, and I scanned the crowd. Tsung was gone, but something else caught my eye; the glint of light off a metal face place.
“Kano?” I stared in disbelief. Paralyzed in shock, I watched him pull out a knife and draw it across his throat, like he did to Alex, taunting me. He sneered then mouthed ‘You’re next.’ The cries of the crowd disappeared as the pumping of blood swelled in my ears. Slowly, he stepped off into a passageway, grinning all the while.
“Oh, no you don’t,” I whispered acidly. I shoved a few monks aside as I stalked my enemy. Thousands of questions raced through my mind. ‘Is it really him? Did he fake his death? Or did Tsung bring him back?’ The path divided into three directions, and Kano was nowhere in sight.
“Kano! Show yourself!” Footfalls were behind me, and I spun to face that Australian bastard.
“Allo, Sonya.” His eye glowed in the rising sunlight.
“Why aren’t you dead, you prick?” He laughed and waved his hand as he stepped forward. Slowly, his hand came up to caress my cheek.
“Don’t you dare-“ I gasped as I jerked away, but found I couldn’t move.
“Kano is dead, sweet Sonya,” he whispered in my ear. Then, to my surprise, Kano shifted into Shang Tsung. “But I’m not.”
Tsung dragged me through a portal into the actual realm of Outworld before transporting me to a dungeon. How the hell did I get myself into this mess?
“I’m a sorcerer my dear. You mustn’t forget that.” I stared at him through the bars of my prison cell.
“Why me, boar head?”
“You implied you wanted to fight me. I’m just granting your wish.” He grinned as he nodded to two monks down the hall. “Change her clothes then take her to the Well of Souls.” Tsung turned and slowly left as his followers unlocked my cell and attempted to hold me down. They were quite strong for monks and soon were able to seize me in a headlock until everything went black.
When I awoke, the first thing I registered was the headache. After that a painful burning in my knees and a hot rough pull under my arms. Slowly, I lifted my head and found myself to be kneeling on a cold cobble stone floor. My hands were chained to two pillars that stretched my arms. Groaning, I rose to my feet. My bare feet.
“What the…” I whispered as I looked at my new attire. I don’t know what the hell it was, but it was hideous! Disgusted, I turned my attention to my wrists as I tried to free them. Useless, of course. I growled to myself as I thought of the predicament I was in. My thoughts were few, however, when I heard a loud creak as the doors at the stop of the stairs behind me opened. Two lines of monks walked down the spiral staircase and spanned in a circle around the dragon carved into the floor. Tsung walked before me. We argued about the final battle, and he threatened me with forfeiting the Earth’s place in the tournament, assuring absolute victory for the Emperor.
“Go to hell,” I muttered. His shoulders shook lightly as he laughed.
“Take her away. The emperor will be overjoyed,” he sighed with pleasure as he turned away.
“My friends will come!” I shouted at his back. Please, God, let my words be true.
“They’re already here.” My breath caught and I turned sharply to see Johnny’s smile. Next to him, Liu and Kitana were pulling down their hoods. I barely restrained my whoop of joy.
“Stay where you are!” Kitana yelled in a beautifully deep voice as she stepped forward. The monks remained still. “Would you dare interfere with the tournament, and betray our Emperor?” Johnny turned to me as Kitana threanted Tsung, and focused on my chains. I studied him as he freed my right wrist. His gaze fell on mine and I smiled at him. For a moment, his hand lingered on my arm, and I didn’t mind.
“Did he hurt you?” I frowned and hook my head. My left wrist fell to my side and rubbed the red marks from the chains. It took me a moment to realize Johnny was staring at me.
“Johnny Cage!” Johnny’s head snapped swiftly to face the sorcerer. “I challenge you!”
“No!” Liu stepped forward. “You’ll fight me.” Kitana, Johnny and I moved off to the side as the monks left the room. Once there, Johnny leaned over and whispered.
“Nice dress.” I rolled my eyes as I made a scoffing sound. Only Johnny would compliment clothes during a battle that would save or destroy the lives of everyone on Earth. The Final Kombat began, and the two warriors of Chinese decent battled furiously. Both were very skilled, but slowly, Liu defeated all of Tsung’s tests. Finally, they stood face to face on the top landing, and they argued over Tsung’s slaves. In moments, Liu hit him with all the rage that resided in his well trained body, and with a mighty cry Liu pushed Tsung off of the balcony and onto the protruding spikes below. There was a brilliant flash as all of the souls imprisoned in Shang Tsung’s magic were released. During this time, I closed my eyes and everything around me vanished except for a gentle throbbing in my own soul. At first it was uncomfortable, but then a warm light spread over me, and for once my restless spirit was at peace. Kano was dead, Alex avenged, Shang Tsung destroyed, thousands of souls were put to rest, and the realm of Earth was safe. A surge of joy ran through me and I smiled fully as I opened my eyes to see the flash of souls dissipate into the night sky. Liu stood triumphantly over us, staring with satisfaction at nothing in particular. Kitana stepped forward, then Johnny and I.
“Let’s go home,” he declared with happiness. I couldn’t agree more. Kitana showed us to a portal that would take us back to Eath, and we ended up in China at the Temple of Light. Johnny and I congratulated Liu on his astonishing fighting skills before letting him have some time with Kitana. All around us, colors of white and blue danced about as young children ran happily to the temple. Johnny stumbled lightly as a group of boys nearly ran him over.
“Sheesh, I never thought I’d be scared of kids before.” I laughed and smiled at him.
“Ya never thought you’d be scared of a woman either.”
“You get to learn something new about me everyday.” He put his arm about my cloaked shoulders and I leaned into him. Ahead of us, admist the flapping flags, Rayden watched us approach, a knowing smile on his face. He exchanged words with Liu then put an arm around him and around me.
“You humans are so unpredictable,” he rasped while he shook us with pride. We continued toward the temple, and I felt a squeeze on my hand. I looked down to see Johnny’s hand clasped in mine, and I shot a fake glare at him.
“You don’t quit, do you?”
“Nope.” I smiled.
“Good. Nor do I.” Laughter bubbled from Johnny’s lips, and I could feel a strong friendship bonding between us.
“Hey, Sonya. After all this hard work of saving the world, I was thinking of taking a vacation. Something along the lines of a cruise, a tour of China, a trip to Cambodia, Egypt, or something like that.” Johnny stopped walking and gazed at me. “Would you like to come?” Check.
“Cage, I think you’re hard up for a date.”
“I’ll pay for everything.” Checkmate.
“You better, cause I can’t afford a sardine can on the Delaware River on my salary.” Yeah, a vacation did sound nice. “And you better have a good masseuse with you, too.” Johnny grinned wickedly.
“You got the best on this side of LA right here! Would you like a free trial?” I scoffed.
“Oh, please. Talk about wishful thinking.”
“Don’t you trust me?” Johnny looked pitifully cute, and I groaned like a parent to her pleading child.
“No,” I answered as I walked away. But I stopped and called to him over me shoulder. “Not yet.” And I continued to the party.