What Was Lost is Found Again - Chapter 18 - Crystal_Prisom - Mortal Kombat (2024)

Chapter Text

The sounds of this small town

Make my ears hurt (make my ears hurt).

"Oh yeah, you caught me!"

But I caught you one worse.

They say, "You want a war? You've got a war!"

But who are you fighting for?

The tide's out, the ship's run aground;

We drown traitors in shallow water.

- Fall Out Boy, “Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends”

Six Months Later…

The sounds of gunshots rang out in the clearing, echoing in volume as they began to die out in intensity.

Kuai lowered the pistol in his hand, removing the noise-canceling headphones as he eyed the paper target more closely. He huffed slightly in irritation, seeing that one of the thirty shots he had made was slightly off-center of the middle of the forehead.

“You can’t be mad about that!” Erron exclaimed, gesturing with a wild hand to the target at the far end of the shooting range. “That’s amazing accuracy that you have right there - it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of!”

“One mistake can cost you your life,” Kuai sighed unhappily, walking up to tear down the paper from the clips that held it in the air. The cryomancer crumpled the paper into a ball, turning to the disposal bin as he threw the ball in an arc - it sailed through the air before it fell into the metal bin, rattling violently before it came to a stop.

“Ghost is right, Black,” Ermac chided. He was sitting in the seats to the side of the range, away from the gunfire as he read through a book peacefully. “A missed bullet could have drastic consequences in the thick of battle.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Erron groused, waving a dismissive hand in Ermac’s direction. “I’ll be fine - it’s not like anyone is going to attack Kotal in broad daylight.”

“Who is the informant that is meeting him?” Kuai asked, reloading the magazine clips as he holstered the guns, flipping the safety on as he faced Ermac and Erron.

“We are never told,” Ermac spoke, looking up from his book. “It is only our job to ensure that the emperor is protected in the streets.”

“If it were those Earthrealm buddies of yours,” Erron added, “he’d let you know. Jade certainly would - I think that she has some sort of motherly instinct for you.”

It was true - Kuai had to admit. The gentle, kind Edenian woman had overseen the cryomancer’s transition from Earthrealm to Outworld. She had become a good friend to Kuai - over the past few months, Kuai had been assigned to be Jade’s personal bodyguard, whilst the others watched over Kotal. The majority of the cryomancer’s days were spent walking with Jade in the marketplace and the gardens as they talked about their adventures.

Falling from the cliff had left Kuai with waking nightmares that would leave him breathless, struggling to breathe in the darkness of his room. He’d always go to the kitchen to grab a drink to calm himself. One night, Jade had emerged from her bedroom when Kuai had not been quiet enough, investigating the source of the disturbance. The cryomancer spent the night describing his fears and causes of anxiety while Jade listened. From that night onward, whenever Kuai woke from a nightmare and went to the kitchen, Jade would join him as they reminisced on bittersweet memories.

She looked after Kuai, making sure that he ate enough. In truth, Kuai felt tired all the time. He just wanted to take a week off for himself, but the constant demanding work forced him to stay on his feet all day. He found himself losing his appetite often and struggled to get out of bed. While Ermac and Black sometimes would talk with him in matters that were not about work, Kuai felt isolated and alone in the Outworld palace. Jade was the only one who seemed to recognize Kuai’s weariness, and she made room for an hour every day to talk to him.

Because of that, she reminded Kuai of Aiya, sometimes…

“Jade will be riding with Kotal in the carriage,” Ermac spoke, bringing Kuai out of his thoughts. “You will ride with her. D’Vorah will also be there to protect Kotal Kahn, while he talks to the informant. Protect her, as you have done in the past.”

Kuai nodded in response. As the Empress of Outworld, there seemed to be a lot more assassination attempts directed at her rather than Kotal. Perhaps it was because their enemies saw that Kotal was protected by Ermac, Erron, Reptile, and D’Vorah. They saw Jade as an easier target since she was only being protected by Kuai. Because of this, the assassins believed that she would be easier to kill.

They were also extremely stupid.

Kotal often praised Kuai’s work for protecting his wife and keeping her safe. In all honesty, Kuai knew that Jade could take care of herself - they would spar together sometimes, giving the empress a chance to demonstrate why she was not a force to be reckoned with. She wielded her bo staff with grace and elegance that displayed complete mastery. Their sparring sessions were one of the few things that Kuai enjoyed, which offered a real challenge. Afterward, the cryomancer felt that emptiness begin to seep into his body, and he would feel exhausted once again.

“Where will you be?” Kuai questioned his two comrades.

“We’ll be walkin’ in front of the carriage with the Osh-Tekk,” Erron responded in his southern drawl, whirling his pistols in a flash of showmanship. “Reptile’s stayin’ behind to watch over the palace.”

“While there is not a high chance that the emperor and empress will be attacked in broad daylight,” Ermac added, “it is vital to stay on high alert.”

Of course, Kuai thought to himself as he raised the blood-red bandana to cover his nose and mouth, Outworld never is predictable…

Kuai stood outside the empress’s room, crossing his arms as he waited for Jade to emerge from the room.

“Are you nervous?” her voice called out from behind the oak door, making Kuai turn his head slightly to the side as he huffed in amusem*nt.

“Not anymore,” Kuai admitted, clasping his hand tightly on his other wrist as he held his hands in front of his lap. “I used to be when I was younger. I guess you could say that I’ve been desensitized to the fight…”

“... I’m sorry,” Jade responded from the room. “You didn’t have a choice - you were born into this life and couldn’t lead a normal life, the way you wanted to.”

“Not a lot of us had that choice,” Kuai responded quietly, thinking back to his friends in Earthrealm who had been dragged into fighting in the Mortal Kombat tournament. “We just push through with what we’ve got - life deals us the cards, and we’re meant to play with them to the best of our ability.”

“That’s very poetic,” Jade remarked as the door swung open. She was dressed in a flowing emerald green gown that touched the ground, covering her heels. She looked impeccable in her makeup and hair, smiling softly at Kuai. “Ready?”

“Yes,” Kuai replied shortly, letting the empress walk a few steps in front of him as he followed in her footsteps. Jade paused in her steps, looking back to Kuai with a wry smile, mischief sparkling in her eyes.

“Walk with me, Kuai,” she said, waiting as Kuai followed her order willingly. The two friends walked down the hallways of the palace, talking about their day and what was worth sharing. They eventually came to the front doors - Kuai held the door open for the empress, who smiled gratefully at Kuai as she lifted up her gown slightly, walking down the stone steps.

Reptile was at the door, watching his empress climb into the large carriage with the horses tied to the front. Kotal was already waiting inside, along with the informant that was left unnamed to Kuai.

“Be careful,” Reptile warned Kuai as the cryomancer stepped outside. "I do not like this..." Kuai turned to nod once at Reptile - sharing his sentiment - as he lifted the red cloth to cover his face again, turning around to catch up to Jade as the doors closed with a resounding boom.

The cryomancer stepped up into the carriage, bending his neck to enter as he took a seat next to Jade, who was now sitting between Kotal and Kuai now. D’Vorah sat on the opposite seat, next to the informant…

Kuai jerked back suddenly, eyes widening in recognition as he grew tense. “Kano,” the cryomancer growled, seeing the cybernetic red eye.

“... Have we met, before?” the Aussie asked curiously, tilting his head.

“You know him, Ghost?” Kotal asked, looking behind Jade to her bodyguard. Kuai clenched his hands into fists, nodding in response.

“He fought in the tournament on behalf of Shao Kahn,” Kuai spoke slowly, glaring at the crook seated in front of him. “He’s a liar, a thief, and a criminal who deals in the black market. The Special Forces have an interest in locking him behind bars for life.”

“... Sub-Zero, was it?” Kano co*cked his head as a smirk settled on his face, recognizing Kuai. “I remember you in the tournament. You’re the poor son-of-a-bitch who killed the last emperor. Is there going to be a problem?”

“Please,” Jade cautioned Kuai as the temperature dropped significantly in the carriage, which was starting to move through the streets slowly. “He has valuable information that could finally quell the ongoing war - try to be civil.”

Kuai took a deep breath as he settled back in his seat, nodding once to the empress as he crossed his arms and legs, keeping a close eye on the Black Dragon leader. As the carriage pulled into the marketplace with the Osh-Tekk surrounding their emperor protectively, Kotal and Kano started to talk business.

Jade placed a gentle hand on Kuai’s arm, trying to ease his worries. If anything, the touch only made Kuai more anxious - he wanted to get Kano far away from Jade and Kotal as possible, but he respected their wishes and kept quiet.

Suddenly, the carriage came to an abrupt stop with a shout of clamor coming from the front of the road. Kotal peered out the window to see what had caused the halt as Kuai mimicked the emperor’s actions. The cryomancer saw that there was a blockage on the road, preventing the carriage from moving forward. Erron passed by Kuai’s window, taking a moment to look up to the cryomancer.

“We’ll take care of it,” the cowboy reassured Kuai as Ermac started to use his telekinesis to lift the crates out of the way. “You just stay there.”

“This One will oversee the progress,” D’Vorah announced, bowing before Kotal and Jade as she exited the carriage, shouting orders to the people.

Kuai shifted anxiously in his seat, looking around the carriage. As an assassin, he hated it when things didn’t go according to plan. He also absolutelydespised being out in the open - it left him feeling vulnerable and susceptible to attack.

“You’re making it really cold,” Jade murmured under her breath so that Kuai could only hear her. “Relax; I’m sure that everything is fine.”

Kuai lifted his hand to his inside pocket, feeling the Dragon Medallion resting against his chest in a comforting presence. To ease his worries, the cryomancer looked out the window and toward the rooftops, trying to see if there was someone that was watching over the scene.

His eyes squinted when he saw a small group of people crouched over the edge of a roof nearby the road that they were currently on. They were looking directly at the carriage, and with a chill that ran down his spine, Kuai realized that Mileena was there, based on her pink colors.

“It’s a trap!” Kuai barked loudly, letting those inside and outside the carriage know. “Mileena and her forces are on the roof!”

“Damn,” Kano grumbled under his breath as he drew one of his large knives from its sheath on his back, jumping in the air to strike Kotal.

The emperor reacted immediately, raising his arm to block the downward strike as Kuai used his cryomancy to freeze the thug in place. Kotal turned to Kuai, nodding thankfully as Jade pressed her back flat against the seat. “Get Jade to safety,” Kotal commanded Kuai, who nodded quickly in response.

The cryomancer gripped onto Jade’s hand as he pushed the door open, jumping down to the sand. He lifted up his hand to let Jade take it as she carefully stepped down, trying to not trip over her gown. Kuai heard a clamor from the sides of the streets - whirling around, his eyes widened as thundering hoards of Tarkatan warriors charged the carriage.

The Osh-Tekk warriors were quick to run to the defense of their emperor as both sides became locked in a gruesome conflict. Kuai held onto Jade’s hand tightly as he pulled her along with him, dodging and pushing aside the Tarkatans as he led her back to the palace.

She stumbled in her steps, looking up at Kuai anxiously. “Help me trim off the end of this dress,” she spoke, throwing her heels off of her feet to run faster.

Kuai pulled out one of his metal knives in his arsenal, easily cutting through the soft material until the dress fell to Jade’s knees - a more suitable height for running. The cryomancer hurled an iceball at a Tarkatan who got too close, making Jade yelp in surprise.

While Jade was a very competent warrior, she was restrained in her dress and therefore could not move as fluidly as she normally would. Furthermore, she did not have access to her bo staff, which made her more vulnerable.

Kuai reached out to grasp the empress’s hand again before a bolt of lightning struck the sand between the two of them, throwing them away from each other. Kuai felt his back hit the ground, making the air fly out of his lungs.

The cryomancer was quick to get back on his feet, sweeping the sand grains off of his black leather jacket. Because the clothes did not offer the same protection as his armor had, Kuai had brought the leather jackets to a specialist who set metal plates into the material - it was even more durable than his previous jacket. The only downside was that his jeans were not protected, but Kuai was fine without the protection.

Now, Kuai was staring down the two Edenian traitors - Rain and Tanya. The two of them eyed Jade hungrily, making Kuai snarl behind his red bandana. He summoned two swords made of ice, holding one in each hand as he placed himself in front of his friend protectively.

“Crawl back to your camps,” Kuai snapped, lowering his head as his bangs fell into his eyes, “You will find no victory today.”

“That is not for you to decide,” the proud son of Argus arrogantly proclaimed, holding his hands out as water started to accumulate around his ankles. “We will reclaim our homeland and take back what is rightfully ours.”

Without a word, Kuai hurled an iceball at Rain while the man was still talking, freezing him in place. Kuai thickened the ice to ensure that the man would stay still, while Tanya charged him.

Kuai dodged the kickflips and acrobatic maneuvers that the Edenian woman was conducting, having some practice from his sparring sessions with Jade. Kuai decided to play the same game, catching her with his foot in a backward flip that connected with the underside of her jaw.

She fell to the ground with a yell of pain, rubbing her jaw as she glared up at Kuai through her eyes darkened with the black makeup. Kuai did not relent in his assault, pulling the throwing knives from his jacket as he threw them one-by-one at the Edenian woman.

Tanya easily dodged the first three that Kuai had sent flying and sent fireballs of her own back in retaliation. The cryomancer knew that she would be able to dodge them easily. Kuai had sent them out to predict where Tanya would jump to in dodging the knives; he threw one at her to bait her out before throwing a second one to the left.

She cried out in pain as the knife landed into her upper thigh, falling onto her uninjured leg as she clutched her leg around the injury.

Kuai wasted no time - he leaped at the fallen woman with his fist drawn back, encasing it in ice as he had done in the tournament. With a solid punch to the side of her head, the woman collapsed to the ground, slumping over as if the bones had been removed from her body.

Suddenly, Kuai could hear the familiar sound of ice shattering. Whirling around, he saw Rain standing freely. In the blink of an eye, the half-god teleported in a geyser of water, reappearing behind Jade. He held a knife to her throat, making Kuai freeze.

“Walk away,” the male Edenian snapped, “or I slit her throat.”

Jade panted quietly, looking at Kuai with wide eyes. The cryomancer’s eyes narrowed behind the strands of dark hair that fell into his eyes, looking at Rain for weaknesses. “Walk away right now!” Rain snapped, digging the metal edge of the blade deeper into Jade’s neck.

Kuai’s right hand moved in a blur - his hand flew to the gun in its holster, drawing it as he aimed it at Rain’s hand that was holding the knife.

A gunshot rang out in the clearing.

Rain howled in agony as the bullet tore through the flesh of his hand - he dropped the knife in reaction to the pain and loosened his grip on Jade, who headbutted the son of Argus before kneeing him in the crotch, running back to Kuai.

The male Edenian disappeared in another teleport, taking Tanya with him as they both left the marketplace. Kuai turned to Jade, ensuring that she was okay as the Tarkatans began to fall with the Osh-Tekk warriors pushing them back.

Kuai heard Mileena cry out in pain and anger - he and Jade turned around to see as Kotal stood over the downed half-Tarkatan, looking down at her grimly. While Kotal had sustained minimal injury, Mileena was bruised and beaten terribly from her fight with the Osh-Tekk. “There will be an execution today,” the emperor rumbled.

Mileena was boxed in by the Osh-Tekk warriors and Kotal’s bodyguards, growing in anger and frustration. “Today, your reign of terror comes to an end,” Kotal vowed as he summoned his powers lent to him by the sun.

Suddenly, Mileena pulled something from her belt - Kuai realized with a jolt of surprise that it was the amulet that Quan Chi had used to try and poison the Jinsei. Before he could think about how Mileena had gotten her hands on it, the half-Tarkatan pointed it at Kotal as an orange light struck him.

Kotal fell to his knees, shouting out in pain and agony as Mileena held the orange beam on the emperor. Before long, however, she gave her own yell of pain as she dropped the amulet. Kuai realized with horror that the arm that had held the amulet was burnt and charred horribly.

As she laid on the ground, Rain reappeared by her side, disappearing once more with the amulet gone as well. Kuai and Jade rushed to Kotal’s side as the empress helped her husband to stand up.

“What did you see?” D’Vorah asked in a gentle voice that Kuai rarely heard from the Kytinn.

“A mere cub,” Kotal rumbled, looking to the spot that Mileena had been, “grown to be a jaguar.”

Kuai also looked to the spot that Mileena had stood in, his lips thinning anxiously as he recalled the amulet and its destructive capabilities.

Slowly, they all returned back to the palace, a dark cloud of apprehension hanging over their heads.

Kuai sighed, dragging a hand to push back his hair as he sat on his bed and grabbed the novel that he was currently reading.

When they had returned to the palace and reunited with Reptile, Kotal had explained to the Saurian what had happened on the roads. Reptile had hissed with obvious displeasure as Kuai explained that he knew what Mileena had been wielding.

Kotal had immediately pressed for more information, which Kuai gave freely. He discussed how Quan Chi, the Netherrealm sorcerer, had tried to use the amulet to corrupt the Jinsei and darken the realms. He emphasized the danger of the weapon, which concerned Jade. She and Kotal had left the warriors to talk in private, leaving Kuai free to do whatever he wanted to do.

The cryomancer had taken a long, soothing shower to loosen the tenseness in his shoulders. Now, he pulled his new glasses further up the bridge of his nose while he flipped to the page where he had stopped off, having memorized the page number.

It was about an hour later when a knock resounded on the cryomancer’s door. Sighing reluctantly, Kuai placed the book back down on the nightstand before he walked over to open the door to answer it.

Erron stood behind the door, tipping his hat in greeting. “Howdy,” he greeted shortly, leaning against the doorframe. “Jade wants to talk to you really quick.”

Kuai exhaled slightly, nodding in response as Erron walked away to head off to dinner. The cryomancer shut the door behind him as he strolled off in the opposite direction and toward the queen’s bed chambers. Once he had reached the door, Kuai paused before knocking gently three times.

Jade opened the door slowly, smiling happily when she saw Kuai standing behind the door. “There you are,” she said teasingly, letting him enter the room. Kuai immediately went to his designated seat at the dresser while Jade sat on her bed, crossing her legs on the mattress.

“Here,” she said, throwing a bright red apple at Kuai, who caught it with one hand. Kuai grinned, looking back to her as he used his cryomancy to slightly chill the fruit before taking a bite. “Thanks, Jade,” he spoke gratefully, being careful to not let the juice run down from his mouth.

“Well, someone has to make sure that you eat, you workaholic,” the emerald empress responded playfully as she did with their friendship. Her joy was contagious, making Kuai smile.

“I actually have something to tell you,” Jade said, bringing a serious tone to their conversation as she looked into Kuai’s eyes. The cryomancer slowly lowered the apple, frowning in apprehension at the anxious expression on her face.

“Do you want the good news first, or the bad news?” she asked, giving him the option.

“... Let’s start with the good news,” Kuai decided, shifting in his seat to get into a more comfortable position as he prepared himself for the news. “Then, we can let it crash and burn.”

Jade chuckled with light laughter for a brief moment as she started to explain what was on her mind. “Kotal and I talked about the amulet,” she started, making Kuai sit up a little straighter. “We decided that once we get ahold of the amulet, we will not keep it and try to use it. Dark artifacts should never be used, even if the wielder has good intentions” she stated, making Kuai slump slightly with relief.

“You made the right decision,” Kuai replied, a weight having been lifted from his shoulders. “I’ve seen what that amulet can do - thank you for choosing to not wield it.”

The empress smiled at Kuai’s praise, nodding in response as she sighed heavily, pursing her lips. “The bad news is… we decided that we can not hold onto it. We’ll be handing it off to Earthrealm, but that means that they’ll be residing in the palace for some time while we track Mileena’s location. You’ll have to contend with them until we can get the amulet into their hands.”

Kuai stiffened as the implication of Jade’s words hit him full-force. Jade walked to Kuai’s side, placing her gentle hand on his arm in comfort. “It will be fine, Kuai,” she spoke in a soothing voice, trying to calm him as his breathing became more shallow. “I will see to it myself that your older brother and Hanzo Hasashi are kept far away from you. You will serve as my bodyguard and will be at my side at all times. When this is all over, Bi-Han and Hanzo will leave, and they won’t be wiser about your current situation.”

The cryomancer covered his face with his hands as he struggled to take steady breaths. He heard Jade sigh sympathetically from behind him, rubbing his back as his hands shook with violent tremors. “Bi-Han is going to be furious when he finds out,” Kuai laughed brokenly as his hands dropped to his lap. “And if the others find out that I've been alive this whole time... Gods, what am I going to do, Jade?”

“Just keep silent,” she encouraged Kuai. “You can get through this, Kuai. I believe in you. Remember - you sustained grievous injuries that muted your voice. Your family won’t be able to recognize you if they don’t hear your voice.”

“It’s been so long since I’ve seen them,” Kuai murmured, thinking longingly of Tomas, Johnny, Kenshi, and the rest of his friends. “I wonder if they’ll all come.”

“Kotal sent the invitation already,” Jade remarked, “All of the Special Forces will be attending, along with the General of the Shirai Ryu and the new Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei. They’ll be here tomorrow at noon.”

Kuai nodded in response, looking down at his clasped hands in his lap. Once again, they were wringing together tightly in that habit that he couldn’t let go of. Jade’s hands gripped onto his, softly unclenching them as she held them in her hands.

The two of them talked about better times, better memories, and better lives as the full moon climbed up the night sky, casting its ghostly glow over the palace walls.

What Was Lost is Found Again - Chapter 18 - Crystal_Prisom - Mortal Kombat (2024)
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