Mortal Kombat: Ascension

Chapter 4: A New Beginning

Chapter Four

Lin Kuei Temple - Artika Region, Earthrealm...several days later

Warrior drums were heard throughout the massive pagodalike structure, hidden in the frozen wastelands of Siberia, near the Arctic Circle. The Lin Kuei clan had come to pay their respects to a warrior of their clan who was long since dead, but his body had now returned home to be interred.

Inside the massive temple, two Lin Kuei warriors lead a funeral procession, beating on their drums. Behind them, six Lin Kuei carried the body of the elder Subzero on their shoulders, the Lin Kuei warrior dressed in a fresh uniform.

Behind them was the current Lin Kuei grandmaster, Subzero and his two lieutenants, Sareena and Smoke, the latter wearing brand new body armor, courtesy of the Outerworld Investigation Agency. Subzero went unmasked, dressed in his alternative Lin Kuei uniform (i.e., his MK3 costume). Sareena, as she was wearing during the Edenian battle days earlier, was dressed in a fresh uniform, now a full-fledged member of the Lin Kuei clan.

Following him was the new grandmaster of the resurrected Shirai Ryu, Scorpion. He was clad in a fresh ninja uniform (i.e. his MK2 costume), but like Subzero, he was also unmasked. His sword and Spear were present, yet tucked away. Along with the Shirai Ryu ninja was his wife and son.

Liu Kang and Princess Kitana followed, Liu dressed in formal Chinese-style robes, the red headband this time absent, while Kitana was wearing a formal Edenian mourning dress, her long hair tied into a single braid.

Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade followed, the movie star in a Western suit, while Sonya was dressed in her formal khaki uniform and beret. Jax followed them, also dressed in his formal military uniform, walking alongside Cyrax, having brought back working to full capacity.

Kung Lao and Rayden were the next-to-last, Kung Lao in Chinese robes, while Rayden was dressed in a black version of his old costume, minus the coolie hat. Rayden's expression was clearly a somber one, since he remembered warning the elder Subzero about the life he was leading after he retrieved Shnnok's amulet (which turned out to be a fake while Quan Chi kept the real one for himself).

Flashback

The Temple of the Elements, over a decade earlier. A portal abruptly opened and a battered and bruised Subzero came flying through, landing at Rayden's feet, clutching the amulet in his hand. Rayden glimpsed into the portal, observing a transformed Shinnok before it closed.

"Here..." Subzero panted, holding the amulet up to Rayden. "The amulet."

Rayden took the amulet from the battered Lin Kuei warrior. "Impressive, Subzero," he muses. "Perhaps you will reconcile your reckless past after all."

Subzero looked up at the thunder god. "That's it?" he asked, exasperated. He had just fought his way through the Netherrealm and came close to being killed numerous times. "Not even a 'thank you?'"

Rayden looked down at Subzero. "Thank yourself," he replied, "for undoing a problem you created." He turned to leave, but Subzero stopped him.

"Wait. I have a question," Subzero said. "Quan Chi told me that you sent me because my soul was tainted with evil. Is that true?"

Rayden took a brief moment before responding. "You are a superb warrior, Subzero. But only you are in control of your destiny. Not even the gods can alter your chosen path of life."

"Was that a yes...or a no?"

Rayden gave Subzero a smug look. "That was a yes...but only you can change it. "

End Flashback

'He should have listened to me,' Rayden thought as he and the others walked down the corridor.

Bringing up the rear was Bo' Rai Cho and Li Mei. Like Liu, the rotund master was dressed in Chinese robes while Li Mei was dressed in Chinese mourning clothes herself.

The funeral procession ended inside the crypt, where the bodies of previous Lin Kuei warriors who bore the codename Subzero were interred inside manmade depressions, encased in ice. The six Lin Kuei pallbearers brought the elder Subzero into a vertical position inside his place, then stood back as the younger Subzero stepped forward. Focusing his Kori powers, Subzero encased his brother in a wall of ice.

The reception was held in the great hall. A number of Lin Kuei warriors were mingling with several of the Shirai Ryu ninja, as well as some of the other fighters. It was during the reception that both Subzero and Scorpion had finally reached a truce, the two clans that were once enemies were now allies. Liu saw that Subzero was far off from the rest of the crowd. Excusing himself from Kitana and the others, he walked over to Subzero, who continued to look on.

"You okay?" Liu asked.

Subzero paused for a moment. "You have any family?" he asked.

"My parents were active in the underground," Liu replied. "Demonstrators, wanting democracy for China. They both survived the Tianamen Square massacare, but died later under unknown circumstances. I also had a brother." A sad smile crept across his lips. "Between me and him...I was the older brother. His name was Chow."

"What happened to him?" he asked.

"He disappeared shortly after our parents died. I asked Jax and Sonya to track him down before Shinnok invaded Earth." He paused for a moment. "Chow was in Hong Kong. Afterwards...he just up and disappeared. No one knew where he was going. Jax summed it up in three words: current whereabouts unknown. It was my responsibility to look after him when my parents died...and I failed. So I know what it feels like to lose a brother, and I can sympathize. It was also one of the reasons why I moved the Wu Tai Academy from China to America, because of the Chinese government views on personal freedom."

Subzero could relate to that. Before the Outworld invasion, several Lin Kuei members were members of the Falum Gong movement, and the Chinese government, whose policies on the movement where in their words 'a dangerous movement contrary to the public good,' was sent to eliminate the clan, claiming that the Lin Kuei were for 'dangerous thought.' Fortunately, both Outworld and Shinnok's invasion had bought him more time to relocate the Lin Kuei out of China.

"Whatever happened to Reptile?" Subzero asked.

"We found him lurking around Edenia after you left. He wasn't alone. There was a female Saurian with him. I guess Reptile found her after the Edenian battle. Kung Lao offered him a place to stay in the new realm, so long as Reptile behaves himself, since there is a price on his head. Reptile agreed, only under the condition that he and his race will be left in peace. From what I heard, he is in the new realms, rainforest, rebuilding his race. So what did you do with Quan Chi?"

"Well..." Subzero began.

Two hours earlier...

Subzero, Smoke, Sareena and Taven placed the ice block containing Quan Chi in the middle of an empty room, several levels underground. The chamber was part of a hidden corridor that was only known to the three Lin Kuei members and the Edenian half-god.

Once the frozen sorcerer was secured, the four exited the room. Subzero and Sareena turned the room into one massive block of ice. Taven then placed his hand into the hand-shaped depression, and the room sealed, closing Quan Chi off from the world forever. Once Taven moved out of the way, Subzero and Sareena covered the door and the hallway in a massive block of ice tha not even Scorpion could melt.

"I'll get some of the members to wall up this area," Subzero said. "Tell them that it's basic repair or something. As of this moment...Quan Chi is a permanent resident of this temple...permanently."

Liu let out a low whistle. "So no one can break him out of there?"

Subzero shook his head. "Nope. That ice is permanent. Now, with Quan Chi out of the picture, I can finally focus on the future of the Lin Kuei. What about Shinnok?"

Liu managed a small grin. "I think that he has his own problems of his own. After all, whoever dies with a tainted soul is automatically transported into the Netherrealm. And Shinnok has several dozen fighters vying for his throne. And since I've destroyed his amulet, which makes travel between realms possible, Shinook's stuck there for eternity."Shinnok's Spire, the Netherrealm

Some days, it doesn't pay to exist. At Shinnok's doorstep, were those who had died at the battle in the Edenian canyon.

Particularly those who had evil tainted souls.

And all of them - some of them undead, others transformed into wraiths - were charging into the spire, ready to take Shinnok apart.

It didn't take them long before they reached Shinnok's throne room. Despite his powers, Shinnok was overrun, having been ripped apart by a zombified Kintaro and Motato.

Shinnok's screams were heard throughout the Netherrealm.

And since he was still immortal, he would heal and regenerate, yet the screams would continue for all of eternity as the new residents of the Netherrealm would continue to torture the now-former ruler.

"NNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

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