Chapter Four: First Aid
``Cowards! Worthless, pitiful cowards!'' Shinnok roared, ``You had Rayden at your mercy and you let him live!''
Four of the Brotherhood, knelt motionless before their lord and master until one spoke, ``The God of Wind, Fujin, and an unknown woman interfered.''
''You fear the idiot wind god and a woman more than me?'' Shinnok hissed as he raised his now darkness engulfed fist.
''She had weapons whose type has not been seen ages and her aura was like we've never seen. We felt it prudent to inform you of her and not to risk the possibility of your involvement being discovered.''
The fallen deity growled as he lowered his hand and considered his servant's words. ``Show me what happened, ``he ordered.
About an hour later, Quan Chi smirked as he entered his master's new throne room. The sorcerer knew that Shinnok would have tried to take over the realm of Earth without him, just to prove that Quan Chi wasn't as important as he truly was. No doubt the fool found out that Earth was harder to conquer than anyone would have expected. Quan Chi nearly laughed, thinking that someone should have learned by now that taking of Earthrealm was not worth the cost. So why bother, just take what you need and then leave. There were better, easier worlds to ensnare.
The pale sorcerer knelt before his master and said, ``I have come as commanded, my Lord.''
Without warning, Quan Chi found himself being held up by Shinnok's one-handed grip around his throat. His toes barely touching the ground, the sorcerer tried to pry the finger's from his neck.
''You told me the godslayer was dead!'' Shinnok hissed.
Quan Chi tried to say that she was but was unable to say anything around Shinnok's grip. Somehow, the former Elder God knew what Quan Chi was trying to say and said, ``Then how do you explain this?''
The image of a narrow sword blocking a heavier one, flashed across Quan Chi's mind. Then a different view of the event showed Althea holding the narrow sword saying, ``I don't think so.''
(Ranch House, Living Room )
''Damn, ``Liu said as he checked Rayden's injury, ``I'm not sure how to get this thing out. Whether I pull or push its going to get stuck.''
''Don't you think we should get him to a doctor?'' asked Johnny.
Rayden gave the actor a dirty look from the couch. ``Oh yeah...right, ``said Johnny realizing that Rayden's case was...unique. Walking towards a door he said, ``Think I'll go check on that Fujin guy and what's her name.''
''Did the bolt break through?'' asked Sonya as she started to spread out some first aid supplies, ``If it did, break the back end without moving it. Then push it the rest of the way.''
''How? It's made out of metal, ``said Liu.
After thinking for a few seconds, Sonya ran out of the room and came back with a black case. Placing it on the coffee table next to the first aid kit, she opened it and pulled out a sliver and black cylinder. Taking one of the crossbow bolts they found outside, she placed it on an old piece of plywood. After making a few adjustments to the cylinder, a narrow beam of red light came out one end and hit the bolt. The smell of burnt metal filled the room, but the bolt remained solid. Undaunted, Sonya made a few more adjustments and tried again. This time where the light touched the bolt, it started to bubble slightly.
``Almost there, ``Sonya mumbled as she made a few more adjustments. The beam of light then slide through the metal cutting it in half.
``Hand me another one to make sure, ``said Sonya and as Liu handed another bolt to her she said, ``By the way, this thing doesn't exist.''
''Right, ``said Liu, ``Like beings from another planet, gotcha.''
Sonya just gave Liu a look as she leaned over the thundergod and started to cut away the back end of the bolt. Once the cut through edge was cooled and without warning, she pushed it through and then pulled the bolt out Rayden's shoulder.
Once that was done, Sonya started to clean the injury when Rayden's hand came up and grabbed her wrist. He said, ``Don't bother.''
''What?'' she said and then noticed that the injury was already starting to close. ``Ooookay, ``she said as she started to put away the first aid supplies and the `non-existent' tool.
( Kitchen )
''Let me get this straight; you're Fujin, God of Wind and Rayden's brother, ``said Johnny trying to make conversation.
Fujin nodded as he drank from a green soda can. The actor then turned towards the woman looking out one of the windows and asked, ``He's a god, are you a goddess of some sort?''
Fujin nearly choked on his soda and the woman answered ``No, ``said Althea not sure how much to tell this person, ``I'm mortal.''
''So...what's your connection with Rayden?'' asked Johnny. Althea smiled and gave the movie star a `Do-you-really-want-to-know' look. Ignoring the look, Johnny continued, ``It's obvious you know each other and the way Rayden looked at you it was like he was seeing a ghost.''
Althea returned to looking out the window, deciding to ignore the man's questions. She knew she was being rude, but she just didn't feel like talking. Tired, so tired. It has been a long day and didn't seem to be ending anytime soon in spite of the apparent late hour. Twinges of pain, coming through her link with Rayden also irritated her to the point that she wanted to hit something. Especially the bastard that shot Rayden, that one would suffer big time if she ever found him. Althea's eyes flashed briefly, but unseen by the actor or the wind god. A sudden flare of pain through her shoulder caused her to hiss and grab that shoulder. ``Feels like they got the bolt out, ``said Althea.
''How...''Johnny started, but stopped when he saw Fujin shake his head.
On the roof of the ranch house, a dark figure of a woman stood up as Althea walked away from the window. The woman looked up at the half-moon and a set of bat-like wings unfurled from her back. A few silent flaps and she launched herself into the night sky.
( Highway )
Sub-Zero continued driving down the now deserted highway. What did Scorpion mean? He still didn't fully trust the specter who hunted his family for centuries, but something happened during the Outworld invasion that changed that. For some crazy reason, Scorpion believed he owed the current Sub-Zero. Why this sudden change, the Lin Kuei had no idea but he wasn't going to argue. Anything that meant one less person hunting him was a good thing.
In the distance, a woman ran across the highway with two men covered from head to toe in black chasing her. For a passing moment, Sub-Zero was just going to continue on but when one of the men stopped to look at the approaching motorcycle, he saw the gray glowing eyes. He gunned his bike to knock over the strange man, but his target threw what appeared to be a ball of shadow blinding him. The bike slid and fell to the side as Sub-Zero cussed under his breath as he jumped off to avoid being stuck under the bike. A woman's warning scream alerted him in time to dodge an unseen but heard attack. The darkness wore off and Sub-Zero found himself standing between the two men with the woman on the ground a good distance behind one of them.
Sub-Zero dodged another blast of shadow and sent a blast of cold back as a response. The cold hit, freezing the warrior solid. His partner sent a high kick to Sub-Zero's head, which the Lin Kuei caught and sent the attacker flying into the frozen fighter. The frozen warrior shattered, but before the bits of ice hit the ground they melted and dissolved in mid-air. The remaining fighter jumped up from the ground to his feet, eyes closing slightly as Sub-Zero removed his helmet.
The woman watched as ice and shadow fought in the night, unable to take her eyes away from the scene. Sub-Zero dodged as the dark clad fighter, sent a barrage of punches and kicks. The Lin Kuei warrior then started to send his own attacks, but unlike his opponent's his landed. Eventually, Sub-Zero was able to land a good kick knocking the fighter far enough away to give him time to summon and send a stronger than normal blast of cold. The shadowy warrior melted away just before the blast hit.
Carefully looking around, Sub-Zero approached the woman and helped her up. In the moon light, he took in her shoulder length black hair and dark skin. The short yellow dress she was wearing was torn and dirty from her attempt to escape her attackers. ``Are you injured, ``Sub-Zero asked and he examined her face, seeing faint bruises, ``Why were those men chasing you?''
''I'm...unhurt, thanks to you, ``the woman said with an unusual accent, ``Are you the one called Sub-Zero?'' Suspicion flashed across the warrior's mind as the woman continued, ``Princess Kitana spoke of you and other warrior's of Earthrealm. I am Tanya of Edenia, those men were ordered to take me back to Outworld.''
''Outworld, ``Sub-Zero mumbled tiredly. He went to check his bike, seeing it wasn't badly damaged he got on and said, ``Come on, I know a place you can go.''
A pale hand gripped the edge of the desk as he said, ``Are you positive it was her?''
Lilith stood emotionlessly before her master and nodded, ``There is no doubt. She has changed little since I've last seen her.''
''Leave, ``Kuravan ordered. Lilith bowed and left the room. Reiko stepped forward and Kuravan stood up. ``Tell Kahn I agree to his proposal, ``said the Calornian deity, ``However, I will require evidence to bring before the council.''
Reiko nodded and said, ``I will inform the Emperor. With your leave?''
Kuravan waved his hand slightly to show that the messenger had his permission. Reiko also bowed slightly and left to convey Kuravan's words to his lord.
Kuravan tapped his fingers on the desk. `After all these centuries, you are found to be alive and well, `Kuravan thought, `I will just have to correct that.'
Next Time on MK: Echoes of the Past
''That is a private matter, ``said Rayden forcibly [to Johnny], eyes flashing with sparks of lighting.
Chapter Five: Light Exercise and a Cold Shoulder
Althea woke to the unholy sound of chirping birds. With a groan, she opened her eyes and noticed she had fallen asleep on the loveseat. Not the most comfortable of beds in spite of the blanket someone was kind enough to cover her with, but not the worse either. Stretching to get the kinks out, she looked around wondering where everyone was. She then headed towards the dining room, running her fingers through her messed up hair.
In the dining room she found Liu Kang eating a bowl of something. ``Morning,'' she said as she slid into a chair.
Liu nodded as he swallowed and then said, ``Your stuff is over there in the corner and there's a bathroom next to the kitchen if you're interested, ``
Althea smiled and said, ``Thanks. Any plans for today?''
''Not really, ``said Liu, ``Only to try to get this place cleaned up so we can get this school open...eventually.'' The look of interest in Althea's face didn't go unnoticed and Liu had to ask, ``Would you be interested in signing up for the school?''
''Well, ``said Althea, ``My own training was sorta cut short, but I don't know if...'' She shrugged.
''How about this, ``said Liu, ``Go outside and we'll see what you're capable of, after that we can decide whether or not it would be a good idea for you to stay.''
Althea laughed slightly and said, ``Fair enough, let me get changed and I'll be out there in a few.''
( Outside )
About fifteen minutes later, Liu went outside to see Althea surprisingly dressed in an old fashioned gi. As she warmed up, Liu saw Sub-Zero leaning on the side of the building watching her.
''Sub-Zero, ``said Liu as he approached the warrior, ``I was wondering if...''
''I would spar with the woman, ``said Sub-Zero in an emotionless voice, ``as you watched to determine her skill. I don't see why not; I could use some light exercise.''
Althea finished her warm-up and walked away from the building to a grassy area without saying a word. After she tightened her pony tail, she went into a sparring stance. Sub-Zero followed her, stood a few feet from and also went into a sparring stance. The only thing to be heard was the sound of the wind as it flew over the grass and rustled the distant trees. All of a sudden, Liu had a feeling that this wasn't such a good idea but mentally pushed that feeling away. Sub-Zero may be cold, but he wouldn't hurt the woman and he was good enough not to harm her by accident. Liu then moved so he was a respectful distance away and said, ``Ready?......FIGHT!''
Sub-Zero struck first with a few light but fast punches, holding back so not to harm the woman, which Althea easily dodged and even countered. Then when he tried a high kick, she was able to push the kick away such as to use his own momentum to knock him to the ground. Sub-Zero quickly jumped up and had to dodge Althea's own low kick attack. Althea sent a punch at him and he grabbed her arm to twist it around her, but she rolled out of it and once again was able to throw him to the ground. This time when Sub-Zero stood up he looked closer at the woman in front of him.
''Is this enough light exercise for you? ``Althea asked, ``Because I'm getting little bored over here and was wondering when we can get to some real sparring.''
By the tone of her voice and the look on Sub-Zero's face, Liu thought it would be wise on his part to step a little further back. The thought was confirmed when Sub-Zero send a blast of ice at the woman. Both the monk and Lin Kuei were surprised when the blast was deflected inches from her as if hitting a wall. ``Okay, ``she said with a smile, ``My turn.'' She then sent a flare of light blue flame at her opponent. Sub-Zero dodged the flare but it followed and hit him right on the butt.
'Oh crap, `though Liu as he debated on trying to stop the fight or get farther away from the pair.
''Look, ``said Althea almost angrily, ``Stop holding back already. I'm a lot stronger than I look.'' To prove her point, she then went on the attack. Sub-Zero blocked and dodged the barrage of punches and kicks sent his way by the woman. Finally getting the hint, he started to return those kicks and punches.
(Patio overlooking the backyard )
''This is not good, ``Johnny sighed as he watched the sparring from a patio.
''What's not good?'' asked Sonya as she walked onto the patio holding a cup of coffee.
''Just look at them, ``said Johnny indicating the sparring match between Sub-Zero and Althea.
Sonya watched a little amazed that the woman could keep up with the ice ninja but not overly so. ``She's good, but you've seen good fighters before, ``Sonya said and then took a sip of coffee.
''I know, but it makes me feel out of shape or something, ``the actor said sadly.
''Well, ``said Sonya as she tapped Johnny's bare stomach lightly, ``Maybe a little more training and fewer donuts on the set wouldn't hurt.''
''Hey!'' yelled Johnny as she walked back into the building.
( Roof )
They weren't the only one's watching the sparring match. On the roof of the oversized ranch house, the god of thunder sat watching with interest and his shields up tight. He noticed that Althea didn't seem to be weakening from the use of her chi as she use to. It was as if she acquired another source of energy. As he considered this, the fighters froze in mid-step and the wind stopped blowing. A woman's voice said, ``Someone seems to be in a thoughtful mood. I would think you would be a little more...chipper with her returning and all.''
''What do you want?'' said Rayden not bothering to look at the woman.
A white haired woman in a gray and white outfit in a similar cut to Rayden's sat down next to him. From behind her scarf, she chuckled and said, ``Don't tell me you still mad about that red dragon thingy and me not showing up to reverse things.''
''Why are you here? ``Rayden demanded with an impatient voice.
''Why are you?'' the woman responded with humor still in her voice. This time Rayden did turn to the one that many called `Lady Tomorrow' and noticed that she was looking in the direction of the fighters. ``Do you know how hard it is creating a decent time bubble close to someone with such a powerful yet untrained gift like Althea's? I go through all this trouble to visit and all I get is a cold shoulder.''
''What are you talking about? ``said Rayden and then once again looked in Althea's direction, ``No...''
''Yep, ``the woman said, ``That fight with what's his face woke up what was a dormant gift. Not really sure if it was the fight or that visit from Kronos during the fight that did it, but its there, awake, strong and untrained.''
Rayden closed his eyes and asked, ``How dangerous is it?''
The woman shrugged and said, ``She most likely knows enough of the basics to keep in under control...under normal circumstances.''
The thundergod knew that Althea often finds herself in not so normal circumstance. ``What do you recommend?'' Rayden finally asked.
The woman gave the thundergod an almost angry look and said, ``Hello! Start practicing what you preach and think.''
''I know she needs training, ``said Rayden, ``But who can teach her? No one on Earth has the knowledge and if she went to Calorna there is Kuravan to worry about.''
The woman slaps Rayden on the back of the head and says, ``You're limiting yourself. Think!''
Rayden frowned as he rubbed the back of his head. The woman sighed and said in a frustrated voice, ``I give up. Maybe after your meeting with the Elder Gods you'll figure it out.''
''What meeting?'' asked Rayden but found himself once again watching the sparring match that was going in full force. Suddenly a pain in his gut as if he got kicked nearly caused Rayden to fall off the building.
( Backyard )
A sudden twinge in the back of her mind caused Althea to be distracted for a split second...a split second in which Sub-Zero was able to land a hard kick to her stomach, knocking the wind out of her. As she fell, Liu yelled, ``Stop!''
Sub-Zero was the first one to reach her and as he helped her up he asked, ``Are you ok?'' Unable to answer, Althea just nodded as she tried to breathe.
As Liu approached the pair a bolt of lighting struck Sub-Zero throwing him away from Althea. As Sub-Zero hit the ground, Rayden appeared holding Althea close to him. Liu stopped walking and only stared in shock at Rayden's flashing eyes glaring at Sub-Zero.
The Lin Kuei warrior stood up with a wince, unsure what really happened. One moment he was helping the strange woman up the next thing he knew he was on the ground in pain with Lord Rayden of all people holding the same woman and glaring at him.
Althea was finally able to breathe. Staring at Rayden she said, ``What...do you think you're doing?'' Rayden didn't answer just continued glaring at Sub-Zero as if trying to decide to kill him or not. Althea could sense anger and protectiveness from her soulbond. ``Hmmm, guys, ``she said as she grabbed hold of the thundergods arm, ``Maybe you should go for now. Me and Rayden need to talk.''
The two men nodded and headed off towards the ranch house. As soon as they were out of earshot, Althea pulled out of Rayden's arm and demanded, ``What the hell was that all about?!''
Rayden sighed as he calmed down, ``When I felt that you have been hurt...''
Althea said, ``You decided to come to my rescue. That's nice, but we were only sparring and it was my fault for getting distracted.''
Rayden frowned and had to admit to himself that he did go overboard. He had acted without thinking, something that seemed to be a habit of his when it came to Althea. He looked towards the trees in the distance and said, ``Like you said, we need to talk.''
With a hand in the small of Althea's back, he led her to the small grove of trees. Once there, Rayden and Althea sat down in the shade of one of the trees, without saying a word. Rayden just sat silently, looking in the distance for what seemed like hours. Althea wasn't sure what to say or do. She knew what she wanted to do, but the knowledge of their separation was much longer and painful to him kept her from following through. His actions just a little while ago, spoke volumes but in a language which she really couldn't understand. With Rayden keeping those shields up tight, she wasn't sure what he was feeling.
Rayden took a deep breath and said, ``Fujin explained to me what happened.'' A sad smile crossed the thundergod's face as he continued, ``It was the first time we really talked with each other since...''
''I'm so sorry, ``said Althea with tears in her voice, ``I know there is no way that...''
Althea didn't get the chance to finish that thought. Rayden suddenly grabbed her upper arms to pull her to him and kissed her hard on the mouth. The thundergod's tongue demanded entrance, with a moan she opened her mouth and her hands clenched his blue overshirt. After a few minutes, Althea broke the kiss with a gasp and said, ``As much as I'm enjoying this...I don't think this is the place for it.''
Rayden nipped the side of her neck and the pulled her closer to him. She went willingly and leaned into his chest with a sigh. Althea smiled and said with her words muffled, ``At least I know you're still interested.''
Rayden smiled at the comment and for the first time in centuries he felt complete. He then closed his eyes and asked, ``What are your plans? Will you stay here at the new school?''
Althea pulled back, turned around and then leaned back into Rayden, this time her back to him and his arms wrapped around her. ``That depends, ``she answered, ``I would like to stay, but will they have me? Especially after your little display back there. To be honest, I really don't have anyplace else to go. And no, I am not going to stay at your place. I'll go stir crazy being stuck and I have yet to figure out my own way there and back.''
Rayden smiled and hugged her tightly. ``Fair enough, ``he said, ``but you will need to tell them a little more about yourself and...'' The thundergod cut off abruptly and looked around with a frown. Suddenly, he felt like they were being watched.
( Dining Room )
Later that night Liu Kang, Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage, sat around the dining room table listening with great interest at what Althea was telling them.
''Another realm?'' said Sonya with exasperation, ``Just how many realms are there?''
Liu remained quiet, not sure to be stunned or what. This woman knew his ancestor the Great Kung Lao. Not only knew him, but was actually one of his students.
''Ok, ``said Johnny, ``Let me get this straight. You come from another realm where there you were a mage of some sort. After some war, you left your realm to train under Kung Lao. There you met Rayden and Fujin. You were eventually asked to defend some temple by Fujin and then somehow got sucked into yet another realm over five hundred years later. Am I missing something?''
''Not really, ``Althea giving the trio a nervous smile trying to hide the fact that she didn't tell them everything. As she heard herself tell the story, even she thought that this was enough for them to swallow for now. No point adding who she was related to, that one of her relations wanted her dead or that unique side effect her chi flames had on gods.
''Oh, what about your relationship with Rayden?'' asked Johnny with a grin.
Sonya threw an empty soda can at the actor's head. ``That's alright, ``said Althea, ``I believe...you would say...hmmm...we're seeing each other.''
''By seeing each other, ``pressed Johnny, ``Does that mean...''
A flash of bright light filled the room with a boom thunder. ''That is a private matter, ``said Rayden forcibly, eyes flashing with sparks of lighting.
Everyone, but Althea nearly jumped out of their seats startled by the thundergod's sudden and loud arrival.
Changing the subject, Liu said, ``If you want, you are welcomed to stay here. Having someone familiar with magic and sorcery around will be a big help considering the type of people who have a tendency of showing up around here.''
''Well with that settled, ``said Sonya in a flat voice, ``I have a question for Rayden...How the hell did those crossbow bolts hurt you thunder god.''
Rayden just glared at the Special Forces agent until he felt Althea's hand on his arm. Taking a deep breath he said, ``There are ways to kill a god, even when he has not taken on mortal form. Thousands of years ago, there was a war between gods and demons that crossed realms. During this time, weapons made of a unique metal were created. This metal is one of the few things that could harm an immortal. Since the war all known sources of the ore used to create it have been destroy as was most of the weapons made from it.''
As Rayden spoke of this war, Althea felt a flash of pain and guilt from the thundergod. There was more about this war to him at least, than what he was saying.
''So the bolts that hit you last night were made of this metal?'' asked Liu.
Rayden shook his head, ``Perhaps an alloy with it as one of its components, since I was able to heal so quickly after it was removed. If the bolts were purely from that metal, my injuries wouldn't have healed any faster than if I was mortal.''
''So either it's a new metal or someone has limited supplies of the old stuff, ``said Sonya, ``Wait, you said most of the weapons were destroyed. Does that mean there are still some of those weapons around.''
A half-smile appeared on Rayden's face as he said, ``I know of only two beings that carry such weapons. Shao Kahn holds a great sword made of the metal and, ``Rayden looked towards Althea with a raised eyebrow, ``Althea's dual blades are also made of the same material.''
Johnny then said, ``You mean to tell me you're dating a girl that can kill you?''
Rayden looked at Althea again and with humor in his voice said, ``You didn't tell them about your `gift' did you?''
''Hold it, hold it, hold it, ``said Sonya as she turned to also look at Althea, ``How the hell did you get those things?''
Althea shrugged and said, ``They just appeared when we were fighting a dragon.''
''A dragon, ``said Johnny with disbelief.
''Actually, it was a woman who fully merged with the black dragon spirit, ``said Rayden without blinking.
Without missing a beat, Althea asked, ``Was that before or after your evil twin showed up.''
''Evil...twin?'' asked Sonya.
''After, ``said Rayden, ``It was just before Taja was nearly forced by that curse to kill Kung Lao.''
Suddenly all humor left Althea and she said, ``Excuse me.'' She got up and quickly left the room.
Rayden sensed a wave of grief from the woman, and it took a few seconds to understand what had happened. Then it struck him, she just found out yesterday that Kung Lao and the others were dead. Mentioning the attempt on Kung Lao, must have reminded her that she would never see them again. Without a word, Rayden got up to follow her.
''Was it something we said?'' asked Johnny.
Minutes later, Tanya walked in with a concerned look on her face. ``I just saw Althea run by in tears, ``she said in her accented voice, ``Is something wrong?''
( Outworld )
A beaten and battered Quan Chi laid on the floor at Shinnok's feet. Sitting on Kahn's throne, the fallen Elder God read a report from one of his spies. ``It seems I almost owe you an apology sorcerer, ``said Shinnok in an almost kind voice, ``It seems that everyone believed the godslayer was killed. Even Rayden who seems to have some sort of bond with the....mortal, thought she had died. I will let you continue with your existence for now, since you are so good at gathering information.''
Quan Chi looked up to see Shinnok was leaning forward and looking directly at him with red glowing eyes. ``I want you to find out everything about the godslayer. Her history, her strengths, weaknesses...everything.''
Quan Chi bowed his head and hissed through the pain, ``As you command...Master.''
Next Time on MK: Echoes of the Past.....
[Johnny Cage talking] ``How would you like to be in a movie?''
''That depends, ``said Althea, ``What's a movie?''
Chapter 6: Angry Words
Johnny slammed the door as he entered the ranch house and with an angry look flopped down on the couch, mumbling under his breath. A paint splattered Liu Kang watched the actor from atop a ladder. Sonya, who held the ladder in place, gave Johnny a look that said `Oooookay.'
Liu handed Sonya the paint bucket and jumped down. ``What's wrong, ``the monk asked.
Johnny fumed for a few minutes and then said, ``What's her name doesn't know a damn think about martial arts and the morons in recruiting didn't even bother to check. We were filming her first fight scene and she nearly got herself killed. So now we need to find someone else for the part since most of the fighting scenes include up close action and stand-ins won't work. What's worse, we don't have much time. Filming is already behind schedule so auditions for the part will be next week and anyone who gets the part must be or close to being a true martial artist. No offense, but there's not that many actresses around that fit the bill and those few are in high demand.''
''So what's going to happen now?`` asked Sonya.
Johnny shrugged and then suddenly looked at Sonya with a curious look, ``Sonya, you wouldn't happen to be interested in...''
''No, ``said Sonya flatly, ``Even if I was, I couldn't.''
Liu smiled at Johnny's disappointed expression as the actor said, ``It was only a thought.''
The door from the dining room opened as Althea walked into the living room carrying a dusty looking sack. ``Great news, ``she said not noticing the looks on the trio's faces, ``Fujin returned the shield stones I loaned him and I can now...Okay what did I do wrong, ``she said noticing that Johnny was looking at her strangely.
''Don't even think of it, ``mumble Sonya as Johnny stood up.
''Rayden will have a fit, ``warned Liu as Johnny walked past with his most winning smile.
''Huh, guys...what's going on?'' asked Althea starting to grow concern and stepped back.
Johnny continued to smile as he asked Althea, ``How would you like to be in a movie?''
''That depends, ``said Althea, ``What's a movie?''
( Los Angeles )
For what seemed to be the thousandth time, Althea wondered what the hell did she get talked into. For the past week she had to memorize lines, go to what they called a beauty salon for torturous `treatments' for her skin and hair and now she was waiting with a handful of other women to audition for a role she really didn't want. To top it off, one of the women gave a snooty look in her direction and sniffed as if she smelled something foul. Althea just ignored her knowing if otherwise, she would end up throwing the bit...actress down the hallway.
Since the auditions started that morning, that particular actress kept cutting down and sending insults to the others who were trying out for the part. But for some reason, she started to seriously aim her insults to Althea ever since the test scenes to determine how the actresses looked on the screen.
Mr. Kalhoun, the man leading through the audition, came out of the auditorium door and said, ``The following ladies will go in now and sit on stage. If I don't call your name you are free to go.''
Everyone in the hall, but Althea and the insulting actress, got a nervous look about them. Mr. Kalhoun flipped a page on his notebook and started to read off, ``Catherine Chaste, Susan Elgante, Diana Faust and Althea Magess.''
As each of them was called, the four women passed Mr. Kalhoun into the auditorium. Diana Faust once again sniffed loudly seeing that Althea was also selected. ``Wonder who she's sleeping with, ``Diana said in a loud whisper to be heard only by the four of them. Althea took a deep breath to control her temper since it wouldn't do anyone any good to blast the woman, even though it would mostly likely feel good at the time. No...it would be Johnny who would pay for talking her into this.
Each woman took a seat at the back of the stage, next to a large blue mat. A dark but graying haired man wearing a black and white jump suit sat on the mat, watching them as they sat. Looking into the audience, Althea could see Johnny, his agent and three other men in the front row. A little farther back there were three men, each holding a notepad making a few notes. Mr. Kalhoun then walked in front of the actresses and said, ``Ok, in case you didn't know we're here to see how much you actually know about martial arts. Now if you don't know how to fight, I must ask that you leave now.''
None of the woman moved or said anything. ``Fair enough, ``Kalhoun continued and then pointed over his shoulder with his thumb, ``That is Morris Kapputti and he's going to be your sparring partner. Just to let you know, he is very good at what he does.''
The man in question stood up on the mat and dusted himself off as Kalhoun talked. He then grinned and said, ``Call me Mokap, never did like the name Morris.''
One of the judges called out from the audience, ``Is everything ready?''
Kalhoun looked over the women one more time and then glanced at `Mokap' before saying, ``Yes, Mr. Sanchez.'' Kalhoun seeing Mr. Sanchez's nod walked off the stage.
''Ms. Elgante, please stand and face Mr. Kapputti, ``the judge said.
''Damn it, it's Mokap!''
The young woman stood up, removed her shoes and walked onto the mat. Once there she went into a shabby sparring stance and then nodded to show she was ready. Althea didn't want to watch. It was obvious that the girl may have taken one or two quick lessons from a bad teacher but had no idea how to fight. In just seconds, the poor woman was on the ground, nursing a bruised hip and shoulder. Mokap helped her up with an encouraging smile as the three judges made a few quick notes. ``That is enough, Ms. Elgante, ``Sanchez said, ``You may go. Ms. Magess, you're next.''
Althea took a deep cleansing breath as she removed her shoes and walked onto the mat. She went into a flawless stance and then waited. Mokap noticed this and nodded to himself; this was someone who knew at least a little something. He sent a punch her way which she easily dodged and his second punch she blocked without blinking. Mokap frowned, why didn't she counter or at least attack?
''Ms. Magess, ``another judge spoke, ``If you would please, we need to see offensive moves as well.''
One of the agents sitting next to Johnny wondered out loud, ``Why doesn't she at least try to hit the guy, even if she...''
''She doesn't want to risk hurting him, ``answered Johnny even though the question wasn't aimed at him.
The agent gave Johnny a `get real' look and then went back to watching what was happening on stage. Johnny then covered his eyes with a single hand after seeing actress at far right mouthed, ``Stupid bitch...''
Althea heard Diana Faust say, ``Stupid bitch, doesn't even know what's going on.'' At that moment a mean smile crossed the godslayer's face as she nodded towards Mokap. Her sparring partner shrugged the smile off as he prepared for another round. This time Althea did fight back with a few smart hits to his chest and midrift and even a good kick to his head. Shaking off the last as Althea stood back to give him time to recover, Mokap thought, `Finally, a girl that can take care of herself!' Mokap grinned and decided to see just how good she was. Without warning he sprinted and then leaped into a flying kick. Moving slightly to the side, Althea dodged and then grabbed Mokap's leg while he was still in the air. Using his own momentum, she hurled him directly at the sitting Diana Faust. The Catherine Chaste screamed and jumped away as Mokap crashed hard into Diana. With a groan, he got up off of Diana Faust and the now destroyed chair. Unconscious and with a bloody nose the Diana Faust was a mess.
''Opps...sorry about that, ``said Althea with a voice that didn't sound on bit apologetic.
Everyone in the room was silent but Johnny who mumbled quietly, ``You did that on purpose.'' The agent that was sitting next to the actor looked at Johnny in shock and then back at Althea. Making a decision, he walked hurriedly onto the stage and whispered to Catherine who nodded. In minutes they left the room without saying another word.
While this was happening, the three judges looked at Althea for a moment, then at Mokap who was still trying to get up and then at each other. Then without further ado they began to madly start taking notes, having to hold them down when an errant breeze threatened to blow the papers across the room.
(Ranch House, Bedroom )
Althea threw the script given to her by Mr. Sanchez onto her desk and then tiredly fell face down onto her bed. She couldn't believe she got the damn part. Now she had to continue with this stupid movie thing. `At least I'm going to get paid for it, `she thought and closed her eyes. Taking in the restful silence, she debated with herself if it was worth it to get up and change or just fall asleep as she was. The khaki pants and white T-shirt Sonya loaned her where now dirty and stiff with dried sweat, but the bed was oh so comfortable.
Just as sleep was about to win, Althea sensed as certain someone right before a flash of light lit up the room. She then heard Rayden's voice say, ``I understand you gave quite a show today.''
Althea opened one eye to look at the thundergod sitting at her desk. ``Don't tell me you were there.''
''No, but Fujin was and he was still laughing when he told me about it. Was it really necessary to throw the guy into that woman?''
Althea sat up and said, ``No, but it felt good when he landed on the...Never mind. I need a bath.''
After she left with her bathing supplies, Rayden glanced over the script trying to get the gist of the story as he waited. It seemed to be the basic clicha233; action flick that Johnny was famous for. Suddenly, Rayden's eyes widened and then narrowed as he re-read a certain scene. Sparks of lighting started to flash in his eyes and the rumble of thunder was heard in the background. With the script in hand, Rayden vanished.
Outside on the upstairs patio, Johnny watched as storm clouds quickly covered up the recently clear night sky. Taking a sip of his ice tea, he watch as lighting flickered among the clouds as he sat down. He was then knocked from his chair as a bolt of lighting crashed down across the patio from him. Blinking to get rid of the spots in his eyes, Johnny got up off the floor.
''What the hell is the meaning of this?!'' demanded Rayden in a thunderous voice as he slammed the opened script into Johnny's chest.
''What are you talking about?'' asked Johnny, but when he read the page in which the script was opened to his face paled. He had totally forgotten about the love scene between the hero, played by yours truly, and the heroine, who was now going to be played by Althea.
''Look Rayden, I can explain...''
( Bedroom )
Althea was drying her hair with a towel as she returned to her room. The sound of thunder made her wonder just how accurate the so-called `weatherman' was. Then at the same time she noticed that her script was missing, she felt a sudden surge of anger and jealousy from the unseen deity. ``Damn!'' she exclaimed as she ran out of the room and down the hall to the patio doors.
''What are you doing?!'' Althea yelled when she saw that Rayden was holding Johnny up off the ground by his shirt, ``Put him down!''
''Have you read the damn script?'' Rayden asked as he continued to hold Johnny off the ground.
''Parts of it, ``Althe answered, ``Why? What does it have to do with you threatening one of your chosen warriors?''
At the words `chosen warriors,' Rayden growled and released the actor. Johnny landed on his feet and then nervously tried to straighten out his shirt. He had never seen the thundergod so angry before. Rayden picked up the script off the floor and flipped through it until he found the offensive scene once again. ``Read this, ``he ordered and handed it to her.
Althea took the script and glanced over the scene. At this time, Liu Kang and Sonya also arrived to check out the commotion. They both remained silent, frozen in place by the angry look on Rayden's face. ``Is this what all this is about?'' asked Althea as she tossed the script back onto the floor. She then placed her hands on both sides of Rayden's face to make him look directly in her eyes and said, ``The scene is to be taken out. That was one of the things I insisted on when signing the contract...No..Love..Scenes. If you want you can check the contract out, I have a copy of it downstairs.''
Rayden blinked as the storm clouds broke up to once again to reveal a clear night sky. ``Okay, what just happen here? ''asked Liu looking at Johnny.
Ignoring them, Rayden took hold of Althea's hands and with an almost sheepish grin, removed them from his face. He held them in his hands as he closed his eyes and said, ``My apologizes, Johnny Cage.''
''No...problem, ``said Johnny nervously, making a mental note to warn everyone at the studio to keep their thoughts and actions clean when it came to Althea or someone was going to get fried.
Before anyone else could speak, Rayden vanished taking Althea with him. Liu and Sonya gave Johnny a look that demanded explanations. The actor sighed and walked into the building.
Unnoticed throughout the emotional scene, Tanya stood under the patio with a thoughtful look on her face.
(Rayden's Private Domain )
''Damn it, Rayden!'' said Althea seeing that they were now alone and standing just outside Rayden's home. Rayden didn't say anything but opened the door and with a slight bow indicated she should go on in. Althea went in and noticed a lot has changed since she was here last. The roman couch was replaced by a modern leather sofa, the formerly plaster walls were now paneled with dark wood...She sat down on the sofa and crossed her arms to wait for an explanation.
''Thea please, ``said Rayden as he sat down next to her, ``I brought you here so we can really talk without being watched or interrupted. For the past week you have been so busy with helping out with the school and preparing for the audition...''
Althea calmed down and leaned onto Rayden's upper arm. ``You're right and I'm guessing it's just going to get worse until the school opens or the movie gets done. It must be really hard on you, especially since I was gone for so long.''
''Don't take all the blame. I know I should trust you and the others, ``the thundergod said,''but just the thought of anyone else touching you...''
Althea giggled and said, ``Especially since you really haven't had the chance to `touch' me yourself in a long time. Well except for that kiss under the tree.''
Rayden placed his fingers under her chin to make her look up at him. He then leaned forward and when they were just a breath apart...Rayden felt the Elder Gods' summons as did Althea through their completely opened link. Althea cussed in Calornian as Rayden slapped his forehead saying, ``Damn!''
( Calorna )
Kuravan listened to Lilith as she reported what all his spies have learned over the past week; the new school being created by the Earthrealm's current Champion, Althea's acceptance into that school, the auditions, Rayden's almost violent behavior and Shinnok's interests in the godslayer. Lilith waited silently after finishing the verbal report, waiting further orders.
The Calornian deity leaned back into his chair and rubbed his bottom lip as he thought. This would be a perfect time to feed false information to Shinnok or Shao Kahn, even both. Rayden's jealous streak could also prove useful. An evil smile cross Kuravan's face as a new way to look at the situation crossed his mind and he saw what he missed before. Now how to use this information? If he was correct about the sorcerer's actions...''Bring me the sorcerer Quan Chi.''
Next Time on MK: Echoes of the Past:
''Damn it! ``yelled Johnny from off screen, ``That's where you're suppose to fall down!''
Chapter 7: Not What They Seem
Quan Chi followed Lilith into the presence of Lord Kuravan. To the sorcerer's surprise, the Calornian deity did not sit on a throne but at a desk. The sound of quill on paper was the only sound in the room as the pair waited to be noticed. Just when Quan Chi's temper was going to get the better of him, the god looked up from his paperwork and told Lilith, ``Leave.''
The female vampire bowed slightly and closed the door behind her as she left. Kuravan leaned back into his chair and said, ``Finally we meet, sorcerer.''
Quan Chi growled under his breath and demanded, ``Why have I been brought here?''
Kuravan tsked and with a strange smile said, ``That's no way to speak to a god.''
''I'll speak to you any way I please, ``hissed Quan Chi, ``You have no dominion over me.''
''True, ``said the god steepling his fingers, ``but as Lilith has proven, there are other ways to deal with you. Also, I seriously doubt you want your master to find out your little secret about a...certain artifact.''
The sorcerer tightened his lips in anger and at the scent of blackmail. ``What do you want?'' he asked.
( Alley Way )
The woman ran down an alley only to find it to be a dead end. Her red and gold dress now torn and dirty, she desperately looked for a way out.
''Lookie, here,'' came a drunken drawl from a way down the alley, ``A little girlie went and got her little self lost.''
The fear in the woman's face faded as she discovered it was just some local scum following her and not...
Another brut leered and said, ``Hey girlie, you up for a good time.''
She looked around to see that aside from the two that have spoken so far, there were two other just as crudely leering men laughing at what they thought was easy prey. The woman watched as the men surrounded her with their plans written all over their faces. Surprisingly, she grinned and responded, ``Depends on how you define a good time.''
Then in a blur of motion she punched the first man in the throat and kneed him in the groin. As he fell to the ground, the second grabbed her from behind and then the third one readied to backhand her. While still in the second man's grasp, she jumped and flipped backwards kicking the third man on the way up, then over the man holding her and threw him as she landed. She then did a spinning low kick to knock down the third man and then stomped his head to ensure that he wasn't going to get up. Apparently sensing something, she then did a roundhouse kick in time to hit the fourth man right in the nose. He went down and then woman looked towards the second man, who was barely recovering from the throw. She smiled and said as she sent a hard punch into his face, ``I hope you having a good a time as I am.''
With a stunned look the second attacker just stood there staring as if the punch never landed. ``Damn it!'' yelled Johnny from off screen, ``That's where you're suppose to fall down!''
''CUT!'' yelled the director just as angry as the star. ``Everyone take five as we set up for another take!''
Althea shook her head tiredly and tried not to glare too harshly at the moron. Even she, who has never seen a movie in her life, could tell the scene was going great until he decided to leave his brains at home. She walked over and sat on a cloth and wood chair. Grabbing a water bottle, she opened it and took a few gulps. Give her a good fight with a minion of Kahn any day; having to hold back was way harder than giving it her all. She sighed. At least once this scene was done they would be done for the day, early for once, and dare she think it...the weekend. When she started this job, Johnny mentioned that this movie was behind schedule but then yesterday told her that he was amazed by how quickly they caught up. At that thought she snorted. Most likely it was because they didn't have to make as many retakes nor had a spoiled---what are they called. Althea shook her head. Who were insisting on being waited upon hand and foot for just saying a few lines. Although everyone on this movie proved to be hard working, she seen some of the other movie sets where the actors were being treated like minor deities...scratch that...not even a god would demand such worship and brown nosing.
Althea's thoughts were interrupted with the makeup lady came to make sure that all the dirt and smudges were still in place. ``Ready on the set!'' came an announcement causing her to stand and head back to the set. Half way to the set there was a loud crashing noise behind her. Althea turned to see that one of the huge light fixtures had fallen and crashed on the chair she was sitting on just seconds earlier. Chaos reigned for a few minutes as Johnny forced his way to Althea. Johnny finally reached her and asked, ``You ok?''
''Yeah,''answered Althea slightly shocked. She was just sitting there seconds ago.
''People! Calm down!''roared the director through his bullhorn, ``No one was hurt but please clear the building. Everyone into the parking lot NOW!''
''For once I agree with him, ``said Johnny leading Althea to the sliding doors.
An hour later, a very frustrated Johnny Cage was loudly arguing with a police detective. Althea sighed as she just sat in a chair and listen to the actor's colorful language. The discovery that the fixtures holding the light were melted through led to the obvious conclusion that the accident wasn't an accident. The police wanted to hold everyone, including herself for questioning. This was going to be a loooong day.
( Ranch House Gym )
Back at the ranch house, Sub-Zero was performing his katas in the gym. His sparring match with that woman reminded him he has been neglecting his own training for too long. Who was he fooling, Althea was magnificent! A few punches and a kick to a non-existent foe . Magnificent but dangerous; not only for her own skills but for the one who already claimed her. A round-house kick followed by punches. What was it with his family and dangerous women? First his brother falls for a she-demon and now here he was attracted to a woman who happens to be dating a god. A blur of kicks and punches. Or are they? After all Rayden hasn't even been around since he dropped Althea off after that sparring match.
Sub-Zero sensing something, quickly turned and blocked a hard hitting punch. He then dodged a fireball and prepared to return the favor with an ice blast of his own when he saw his attacker back off and say, ``You are improving.''
Not letting his guard down, Sub-Zero glared at the yellow clad specter and demanded, ``What do you want?''
''To give a warning, ``said Scorpion with his echoing voice, ``I am no longer the only one who has left the Neatherrealm. There are those who seek...'' Scorpion broke off and quickly turned his head to the left as if he heard something. Just when Sub-Zero was going to ask what was wrong, the ninja was gone in a poof of fire. The only proof of his ever being there was a slightly scorched mark on the floor.
A frustrated Sub-Zero shook his head and decided now was a good a time as any to quit for the day. He then headed outside for some fresh air and to think about Scorpion's strange actions as the sun set. Looking towards the grove, he was surprised to see Althea walking towards him. Wasn't she supposed to be with Cage today?
He was even more surprised, when she walked right up to him and smiled at him in a sexy way. Placing her hand on his chest, she said in an airy voice, ``Is there anything I can help you with?''
The Lin Kuei shook his head slowing, not trusting his suddenly dry mouth to speak. The woman got closer to him and started to slide her hand up and down his torso, with each downward slide going lower and lower. With her face just inches from his, she said, ``Are you sure?'' Her free hand then grabbed the back of his head as she removed those few inches and kissed him hard on the mouth. Automatically, Sub-Zero wrapped his arms around her to pull her in even closer.
At that moment, Rayden appeared on the patio in a flash a light. He was shocked to see Sub-Zero and Althea in an embrace, kissing. Shock was quickly replaced by jealousy and rage as he vanished.
A bolt of lighting stuck Sub-Zero knocking him away from Althea. He flew across the ground and landed yards away with sparks running across his body. Sub-Zero remained on the ground not moving. The thundergod then appeared to confront Althea, but when he did he was met by a blast of blood-red flame.
Falling to his knees as he felt his powers leave him, he looked up to see Althea slowly walk towards him with blood-red flames in her eyes and a cruel smile on her face. A sudden flash of memory crossed his mind and he said, ``Arianna.''
The woman's smile grew and she said, ``I'm touched, you actually remembered me. And here I thought you didn't care.''
''Rayden! Sub-Zero!'' yelled Liu Kang as he ran from the ranch house. Arianna turned and send a stream of fire to the champion, which followed him as he tried to dodge. The flame struck hard and knocked him to the ground. Liu quickly recovered and went into a fighting stance.
Rayden also stood while this was going on. He may not have his powers, but that didn't mean he was powerless. Shaking his head to shake off the dizziness the loss of immortality caused him, he prepared to fight.
Seeing this, Arianna said, ``Two against one, hmmmm...Guess we'll just have to even those odds.''
Out of the now dark sky, Lilith swooped down and stuck Liu on her way in for a landing. With a hiss, she pulled out a pair of kamas and faced the thundergod.
( Road )
''I don't believe this, first they keep us there all afternoon and now we can't get on to the set for who knows how long, ``Johnny complained as he drove back to the ranch.
Althea just watched the scenery go by as she half ignored him. To be honest, she was happy with the idea of a few days off. Maybe she and Rayden could have some of that much needed time together, if he had time to spare from his duties. Suddenly rage and jealousy flared through her link with the thundergod. Concerned, she lowered her mental shields to try to figure out what was going on. When she felt the shock of Rayden losing his powers, her face paled. ``Johnny, ``she said, ``Can this thing go any faster?''
( Ranch House )
Rayden's eyes narrowed as he watched the winged woman approach him. There was something familiar about this vampire. The thought was gone when Arianna ordered with a hatred dripping voice, ``Lilith! The thundergod is mine.''
Lilith nodded and turned to face Liu Kang instead, but handed over the kamas to Arianna. Skillfully spinning the kamas, Arianna approached Rayden. ``Now, ``she said, ``I'm going to finish what I started all those years ago.'' At that she swiped at Rayden's the face with one of the kamas. He dodged but was nearly hit by the other one as it sliced through his over shirt. Ignoring this, he struck back with low kick to trip the woman. Arianna easily recovered, jumping back up the second she hit the ground before Rayden could attack again. She then countered with another kama attack, this time both flying parallel of each other; one aiming for his neck and the other his stomach.
As Arianna and Rayden fought, Lilith and Liu Kang circled each other. Liu wasn't quite sure how to fight something with wings and wondered just how useful they were. Lilith then jumped up, spreading her wings, swooped down onto the monk. Liu dived to the ground to avoid the attack. As he got back up, Lilith returned for another attack. This time Liu jumped up and to the side, grabbed one of her wings by the membrane. Lilith screamed in pain as the monk pulled her down, nearly ripping her wing apart. With clawed fingers, she swiped at the monk's arm to force him to let go. Her claws struck muscle and bone forcing Liu to grab the arm with his other hand as he backed off.
Blood dripped through his fingers as Lilith stood up with her injured wing hanging limply behind her. The vampire then smiled through the pain, showing her fangs and slightly running her tongue across her teeth just before licking the blood off her claws. The scent of blood reminded her that she had yet to feed that night. The blood of a Mortal Kombat champion would be a rare treat indeed. Distracted by these thoughts, she didn't notice a groggy Sub-Zero forcing himself to his feet and the blast of cold took her by surprise, encasing her in ice.
The sound of crackling ice caused the fake Althea to glance briefly towards her partner. This short distraction was enough to give Rayden the opening he was waiting for. With the palm of this hand, he struck with his full strength into the woman's chest knocking her across the ground and breaking her ribs. Fighting the pain she sat up with one arm hugging her chest as she glared at Rayden with flashing eyes.
''Why?'' asked Liu still believing her to be Althea, ``Why did you attack us?''
The ice encasing Lilith then exploded forcing the men to cover their head as rock hard ice shards flew everywhere. The vampire dived for Arianna and the portal that opened just behind her. Right after they fell in, the portal closed with a soft pop.
''What is going on?'' asked Liu, ``Why did Althea do it?''
( Calorna )
Kuravan watched as his priests tended the injured Lilith. Without blood, it would take days for her injuries to heal. Fortunately, some fool of a thief tried to rob one of his temples and would pay for that crime by providing what Lilith needed. The vampire has proven her worth and loyalty more than once over the centuries of service to him. Kuravan was wise enough to reward both in spite of an occasional failure.
There was however, another that has yet to prove either. With that in mind he turned to the now fully recovered Arianna. ``Do you care to explain, ``he said in a emotionless voice, ``how you and Lilith were so easily defeated?''
Without fear or hesitation, she answered, ``They were stronger than expected. Even as a mortal, Rayden is a skilled warrior. The ice ninja also recovered faster than expected and before either the champion or Rayden were defeated, thus we were outnumbered. Neither myself or Lilith have had the kind of training needed to fight such warriors in that situation.''
Kuravan frowned, but couldn't fault her reasoning. Lilith was always better suited for shadow work and Arianna had only limited training thus depending on half remember skills that she acquired from Althea. From that point of view, he reassessed the conflict and then smiled. They did extremely well all things considered, with some real training Arianna would be a force to be reckoned with...a force he controls.
Next time on MK: Echoes of the Past....
''Girl, ``said a white haired woman, ``You have no idea how many rules you have just broken.''
Author : Preferred Customer
Creation date: 2007-4-22-21-16
Modification date: 2007-4-22-21-16
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