Staff Picks



Prologue - The Alliance Betrayed

The rhythmic throb of leather wings beats upon the night air.

The roaring chorus of Armageddon fades to a gentle hum.

A metallic rattle -- the only sound that endures.

The blind lady of flame had long ago forewarned of the end of all things, but even a godtouched seer could never detect the quiet of such a lonely moment. Buried beneath the symphony of a terrible end, the encroaching coda of unforseen detail. Old hatreds, destined to refrain throughout the ages.

Jagged boulders and cracked earth spew into the silence, harbingers of a deafening thunder.

Outlined by the light of the moon and the glow of a distant spewing flame, an imposing silhouette casts shadow across the fresh crater beneath. Those mighty leather wings, swallowing the sky and eclipsing all of history with a single bellow. He is Onaga - The Dragon King!

Long had Onaga lusted for the satisfaction of this moment - to taste the heart of his greatest betrayer.
In the time of his rule, ``Kahn'' had been the name of a trusted aid. To a tongue less forked, it may still mean relief from the oppression of the Dragon King`s reign. As it growls its way beyond snarling scaled lips, the name clearly takes a new tone, a bitter definition formed by centuries of bile and hatred.

For one such as Onaga, ``Kahn'' is a powerful incantation, a word of curse as vile as the infernal pits of the Netherrealm, to which he was damned. It is the name of the single mistake that cost him his throne, his immortality, his life. Circumstances had made allies of these enemies -- now no longer!

Stunned by the impact of being driven from the sky to the ground, Shao Kahn is helpless before the occult uttering of his cursed name. Onaga pounds mighty fists into the hole, blunt force that makes a mockery of the armor that sings again with a metallic rattle. The few plates and spikes are but warrior's trinkets beneath the crushing blows of the vengeful Dragon King. As ineffective as they are shiny.

As conquering ruler of Outworld, the legend of Shao Kahn had become that of a warrior.

Easily forgotten is the treachery that was Shao Kahn's method of upheaval -- poison, his weapon of choice. It must be remembered that Shao Kahn is also a great sorcerer, one who could never have hoped to match the immortal strength of a ruler as powerful as The Dragon King. Only a special concoction, the work of a sorcerer, could weaken Onaga enough for Shao Kahn to rise to the throne.

Hammered deeper and deeper into the ground, Kahn calls upon his powers of sorcery, tugging at the edges of Onaga's soul. Such a gambit could never hope to defeat the Dragon King, but still weakened from his most recent bondage in the Netherrealm, it is tactic enough to temper his rage.

The Emperor rises.

Shao Kahn had changed a great deal since his days as a mere subordinate. As conquering ruler of Outworld, the legend of Shao Kahn had indeed become that of a warrior -- with a trail of broken bodies and defeated opponents to prove it. Kahn may be a powerful sorcerer and cunning general, but never has he relished the dark arts as much as hand-to-hand combat. His reign as Emperor did not come without challengers. His legend was not unearned.

With a hint of amusement, Kahn charges his stunned foe, returning the fight to the physical plane. A hard shoulder keeps Onaga off balance, but in the art of battle, this is more introduction than winning tactic. A playful gesture, if such a thing can be said of a fight to the death.

No longer dwarfed by a nigh immortal dragon, Shao Kahn gladly grapples with his former master -- more than equal in every respect! A grunt coincides with the flexing of muscles -- a physical command in their own right. This test of strength could go only one way. Against every fibre in his being, Onaga is made to kneel before the man who overthrew him -- the Emperor of Outworld!

Relinquishing his grip, Kahn swats at Onaga with punches powerful enough to raze any kingdom!

Spit sizzles as it stings scaly flesh, escaping The Emperor's mouth with the spew of laughter.

Even as he oozes contempt and arrogance, Shao Kahn still shows some respect for his opponent. He has known all too well the dangers of leaving a foe unfinished. The reversal of their roles is not lost on him.

Circling the titan who still sits on knee, Kahn snatches at leather wing. The Dragon King's wings -- strong and graceful, responsible for plucking Kahn from the summit of the pyramid where Armageddon still wages in the distance. With an all mighty yank, he rips at membrane, leaving only a tattered mess.

The agonized roar of Onaga echoes through the realms. A booming call, heard by hundreds who could only interpret such sound as the stirring of old gods. Shao Kahn silences it with the heel of his boot.

Humbled like never before, Onaga crawls on hand and knee. His Emperor graces him with contact. Again and again, kicking and stomping at heaving chest.

Bones pop, muscle tears, and the once unstoppable Dragon King begins to bleed, inside and out.

A second lasts an eternity as The Emperor reaches for The Dragon King's horns.

With the tensing of his left arm he lifts the defeated dragon from the dirt.

With a thrust of his right arm, he plunges his fist deep into the battered chest.

A long groan and sigh escapes The Dragon King. His heart soon follows.

With an unspectacular slump, The Dragon King rejoins the ground. His hulking form now a lifeless mass of meat and scales, food for the vultures who circle above. They will have their feast, but not the heart. The bulging muscle, squelching in his fist, is the lone right of Shao Kahn, Emperor of Outworld.

The air begins to crackle and lightning fills the sky.

Standing dramatically over his defeated foe, Kahn raises the heart skyward and squeezes the blood from it. A thick torrent cascades into his mouth, dribbling down his chin to that armored chest. The blood of a Dragon King, imbuing him with life force and energy he will need in the war that comes.

Gazing back across the barren plane, Shao Kahn sets his sights on the Pyramid of Argus.

Many warriors have already fallen in the rush to reach its top. There, an elemental awaits, promising power beyond wildest imagining -- the prize of gods! There is where The Emperor must be. Where the blinding light of Blaze is the light before the dawn, where the prophecy of Delia will come to pass.

With one foot in front of the other, The Emperor begins his trek back to the Pyramid.

The roaring chorus of Armageddon begins to swell in his ears again.

A metallic rattle -- the sound of his armor tapping at the night air.

End Prologue.