A half hour later, Stryker and Ramirez stood in front of the entrance to the city morgue. It was after hours, so the parking lot was bare of cars save a set of black sedans with government plates. Stryker wasn't surprised; even though they believed there were no portals, the OIA still wanted to study the vampire's body to learn more about it. Hopefully they won't give us any trouble if Fujin decides he wants to see the body.
Next to him, Ramirez sneezed. He pulled a handkerchief out of his jacket inside pocket, and wiped his nose. ``How long do you think he'll be?'' he asked.
Stryker shrugged. ``Couldn't tell you. I don't think he'll stand us up, though.''
Ramirez nodded, and looked up at the sky. Above them, clouds had begun blocking the night skies. As he watched, he started to see flashes of light in them.
``I thought you said it was supposed to be clear tonight,'' he growled. ``I don't want to get rained on.''
``It was,'' Stryker replied. He looked up at the storm clouds overhead. ``You know weathermen, though. Don't know their-''
Stryker was interrupted as a bright flash of light erupted in front of them. His ears filled with a deafening roar, and he turned away. Holy shit, we almost got hit by lightning, his mind raced. A second later, as the light faded, Stryker rubbed his eyes and looked at where the lightning had hit. It took him a second to realize they were no longer alone.
The man standing before them was immediately familiar to him. He was tall and well-built, clad head-to-toe in white, with a blue baldric over his chest. White hair was visible inside his hood, and his head was topped by a conical hat. His stern face had the same lack of expression Fujin's did, except where Fujin's eyes were pure white, this man's were white with an occasional pulse of blue electricity. Despite himself, Stryker smiled.
``Raiden,'' he said, stepping forward and extending his hand. ``It's good to see you.''
Raiden nodded, and took Stryker's hand, shaking it. ``It is good to see you as well, Kurtis Stryker. I wish it was not under these circumstances.''
Stryker nodded. ``I wasn't expecting you, to be honest. We were expecting Fujin.''
``Yeah, where is he, if I may ask?'' Ramirez asked, stepping forward to stand alongside Stryker.
Raiden turned to Ramirez. ``You may, Eduardo Ramirez. He has explained to me the reason you contacted him. He and I agree that this has become a matter where we Elder Gods may need to become involved. Where is the vampire you killed?''
``Inside,'' Ramirez said. He turned, and walked to the door, opening it. Stryker followed, with Raiden bringing up the rear. As they walked down the main hallway, he slowed to let Stryker catch up. ``I hope the feds don't give us too much grief,'' he muttered.
Stryker chuckled. ``We've got an Elder God with us,'' he reminded Ramirez. ``Even if they decide to fight it won't be a long one.''
Ramirez and Stryker turned a corner, and approached a doorway on the left marked ``EXAMINATION ROOM #4``. In front of it, a man in a black suit sat in a chair reading a magazine. Well, at least there's only one fed, Stryker thought. At the sound of footsteps, the agent looked up.
``Hold it right there,'' the agent said. Stryker and Ramirez stopped. ``This area is restricted to OIA agents only.''
Stryker was about to open his mouth to say something, when Raiden stepped past him. ``They may enter,'' he said to the agent.
The agent looked up at Raiden, his jaw dropping for a second. He then blinked, closed his mouth, and regained his composure. ``Of course,'' he replied, standing up and opening the door. Raiden strode in.
Stryker and Ramirez looked at one another, and then back at the agent. ``Wait,'' Stryker said, a tone of amazement in his voice. ``You're taking his word we can enter?''
``Yeah,'' the agent replied. ``OIA Directive 22 Alpha. If the gods Raiden or Fujin are involved, we're to give them any possible assistance.''
Stryker blinked. He turned to Ramirez, and said, ``This is why it's good to have friends in high places.'' He then nodded to the agent, and stepped into the room. Behind him, Ramirez just looked at the agent, and then quickly hurried after Stryker.
Stryker looked around. The flourescent lights were on, giving the green tiled room a sterile air. In the middle of the room stood a metal examination table, upon which a form lay under a white sheet. Raiden looked at the form without any expression. Stryker stepped over to the table, and pulled the sheet back. The vampire's dead body lay there, grey in death. In the harsh light, the cauterized wound looked even more sickening. The body had been turned onto its stomach, exposing the remaining wing.
Raiden gave a small start, and then turned to Stryker. ``Did this vampire have any jewelry with a blue gemstone?'' he asked.
``Yeah,'' Stryker replied. ``He tried to make a portal using it. I shot it while he was stepping through the portal.'' He pointed to a box sitting next to the vampire's body. ``What's left of it is probably in there.''
Raiden nodded, then began pacing, looking lost in thought. Stryker and Ramirez looked at one another, and then at Raiden. Finally, Raiden stopped pacing, and turned to them.
``This presents a grave problem,'' he said. ``Your theory is correct. This vampire did come to Earthrealm through a portal. There have been no vampires on Earthrealm in nearly a century. For them to come here is a violation of the Elder Gods' law.''
``A violation of their law?'' Stryker asked. ``Why is that?''
``It is because they attempted a clandestine invasion of Earthrealm,'' Raiden replied. He paused, again appearing lost in thought. Finally, he spoke again. ``Many millenia ago, the home realm of the vampires was conquered by Shao Kahn and merged with Outworld. They have refused to follow Kahn, and stay apart from the rest of Outworld. A hundred years ago, they decided to take Earthrealm as their new home.''
``Wait, what?'' Stryker said, confused. ``I thought it was impossible to invade realms outside of the rules of Mortal Kombat.''
``In theory, yes,'' Raiden agreed. ``However, Shao Kahn's own invasion of Earthrealm shows that there are... loopholes. While the Elder Gods and Shao Kahn were preoccupied with the eighth Mortal Kombat tournament, the vampires' leader crossed over with the intention of taking over the dominant world power at the time.''
Ramirez coughed. ``What do you mean, the dominant world power?''
``I am referring to the British Empire,'' Raiden responded coolly. ``At that time the British Empire had holdings throughout the world. By conquering the British Empire, Dracula would have been able to lay a claim to the entire realm and allow his people to come across.''
``Whoa whoa WHOA!'' Stryker said, holding up his hands. ``Wait just a goddamn minute! Are you trying to tell me that Dracula was real? Are you saying the book wasn't fiction?!''
Raiden gave a small smile. ``That is exactly what I am saying, Stryker. Surely you do not think Johnny Cage is the only one who fictionalizes his personal experiences?''
Stryker blinked. ``You have a point,'' he admitted.
Raiden nodded, and began pacing once more. ``The book, as far as they knew, was not fiction. However, they did not realize that Dracula came from another world. Once they defeated him in London, he fled back to Transylvania, where his original beachhead had been established. He used an artifact known as the Inselaciune Stone to make a double of himself, which the hunters destroyed. With his brides also destroyed, he fled back to Outworld.
``However, his arrival back in Outworld had not gone unnoticed. The Elder Gods saw him returning, and came to realize what he had attempted. They then appeared before him, and pronounced their judgement: the vampires were forever barred from Earthrealm. If they attempted to cross over again, their entire race would be destroyed.''
``So that's why there hasn't been any real vampire attacks since then,'' Stryker said. ``They couldn't cross over without being noticed.''
``Until now,'' Raiden acknowledged. ``This is most troubling. All travel between realms is monitored by the gods of those realms. If the vampires have figured out how to come here unnoticed, then it does not bode well.''
Stryker grunted. While he was feeling a small measure of satisfaction at having been proven right, what Raiden was saying was that the problem was a lot bigger than they had first imagined. The guy's admitting that he's almost as much in the dark as we are, he thought sourly. ``So, what do we do?'' he finally asked.
Raiden again looked lost in thought for a second, and then turned to Stryker. ``We must find out what is going on. We Elder Gods cannot interfere directly. However, we do permit others to intercede on our behalf. Would you be willing to do so, Stryker?''
``How so?'' Stryker asked. He wasn't liking the sound of this.
``I can create a portal to Outworld for you,'' Raiden said. At Stryker's shocked reaction, he added, ``It will place you close to Dracula's castle, far from Shao Kahn's sphere of influence. As it stands, Kahn will not be concerned. His attention is currently occupied by a military campaign being waged against him. Once there, make your way to Dracula's castle and speak with him. As an emissary of the Elder Gods, he would attack you on pain of his own demise, especially considering the circumstances.''
``And then what?'' Stryker asked. ``You don't seriously expect that he'll admit to everything right off the bat?''
Raiden smiled. ``Of course not,'' he said. ``That is why I am asking you to be our emissary. As a police officer, you have experience with interrogating suspects. I am hoping you will be able to ascertain the truth.''
Ramirez coughed. ``Excuse me,'' he said.
Raiden turned to Ramirez, and gazed at him intently. ``Yes, Eduardo Ramirez, I know what you are about to say. I know you are a detective and rank higher than Stryker. However, Stryker has had experience dealing with the denizens of Outworld, and has more training in combat than you. I'm afraid it's safer if Stryker goes, especially as I cannot protect you directly.''
Ramirez didn't look happy, and Stryker didn't blame him. He would have definitely been the better person to do questioning, but Raiden did have a point: Outworld was generally not a safe place, especially for humans. He took a deep breath, and said, ``All right, let's do this. When do I go?''
Raiden walked over to the examination table, and opened the box sitting next to the body. Reaching in, he pulled a small neckchain out that Stryker recognized as being the one around the vampire's neck. The setting for the jewel was still attached, with small pieces of crystal remaining.
``Take this with you,'' Raiden said, holding the chain out to Stryker. ``Each portal crystal is unique to each vampire, and will help strengthen your claim against Dracula.''
Stryker took the chain, and put it in a pouch in his tactical belt. He then performed a quick inventory. He had his service pistol and nightstick, and also a pair of handcuffs. He sighed; he would have liked to have gotten a couple of stun grenades like he used during the invasion, but even if Ramirez signed off on it, chances were pretty slim he would get authorization to use them anytime soon, if at all. These are really all I need, though. ``Do it.''
Raiden took a step back, turned away from them, and tensed up. He began waving his arms, and speaking an incantation. As his arms circled back and forth, an orange energy began flowing over his hands. Finally, Raiden brought his hands up with effort, and the energy rose up, swirling of its own volition. He stepped back as the energy circled and flowed, almost becoming like a horizontal tornado. The room shook, and the swirling vortex stabilized into an active portal.
Stryker stepped towards the portal. At that moment, the door opened, and the agent that had been standing outside the door stepped in. Stryker stopped, and turned to the agent. ``Listen,'' he said. ``This thing came from Outworld. Raiden's sending me there to investigate for him. Make sure Sonya and Jax know.''
The agent nodded. Stryker turned back to the portal, braced himself, and stepped into it. He barely had enough time to hear Ramirez shout, ``Good luck!'' He felt himself pulled in, buffeted by the portal's power. He grimaced, and jumped in to the vortex.
Author : Scott Bishop
Creation date: 2011-5-27-9-57
Modification date: 2011-5-27-9-59
Kurtis Stryker is caught up in the investigation of a rash of vampire attacks. This story takes place between Mortal Kombat 4 and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.
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