Note: As it turns out, I'm usually wrong when I give estimates of how long my fics will be, so this one will cap off (I think) at three chapters. It was just too much fun torturing Scorpion to end it at just two. :)
Anyhow, here's chapter 2. Enjoy, and remember that reviews are always love!
Passing Fancy ch.2
The next morning, Shang Tsung found himself interrupted in the middle of breakfast when he heard the door slam open. He raised his head, stopping in mid-chew at the sight of a stern-looking Kitana standing at the head of the table.
Wondering what he'd done this time, he swallowed and gave her an oily smile.
"How can I be of service, princess?"
Her hardened expression didn't change.
"What did you do to Mileena?"
He blinked innocently. "Nothing the emperor did not command. Why?"
"Don't play dumb, sorcerer," Kitana snapped, hands fisting by her sides. "She's completely changed. Ever since that surgery, she's been..."
Shang Tsung raised an eyebrow when she trailed off. "Yes?"
She bit her lip and remained silent for several seconds, looking as though she didn't know what to say.
He smirked and raised his drink to his lips. "Rest assured I have been keeping her under observation. Besides her reclusiveness, there's nothing I've seen that calls for concern."
"Is that so?" Kitana questioned coldly.
"That's right," he said, taking a drink.
"Then how would you feel if I told you she was in love with Scorpion?"
Shang Tsung sprayed the drink halfway across the room, breaking into a hacking cough.
"Is that a joke?" he rasped, reaching for a napkin. "It was not very—"
"It's no joke," she interrupted. "You did something to her and now she's obsessed with that...that...hell spawned spectre! The reason she's been so reclusive lately is because she's planning on courting him!"
All the colour drained from the sorcerer's face. "Did you say 'courting'?"
"Yes," Kitana said, exasperated. "Didn't you notice her behaviour change at all?"
Memories of working in the Flesh Pits and having Mileena interrogate him about human courtship rituals flooded his mind. He suddenly felt sick.
"It's...probably temporary," he replied, inwardly stricken. "Make nothing of it. I will see for myself if your claims are true."
"Do that," Kitana said icily. "Because if they are, I think my father ought to know."
At that, his face paled even further.
"There's no need for that, princess. I will see to it today."
"You had better," she retorted, giving him one final glare before turning to leave.
Shang Tsung waited for the door to slam shut before letting his shoulders drop in relief. He looked down at his unfinished meal and grimaced before pushing the plate away.
He suddenly didn't feel hungry anymore.
The sky was growing dark as the day slipped into dusk, fading from purple to indigo. By Outworld standards, it might have qualified as a nice night—save for the lone, black silhouette making his way to the imperial palace.
Scorpion sauntered across the bridge, in no rush to get to his destination. It was just his luck the night would be wasted in the company of Shao Kahn and the Shokan prince—all because the emperor felt it necessary for his underlings to have a meet and greet session.
It was a waste of time, he groused, making his way towards the front gates. And he hated social gatherings. Even the Tarkatan Baraka had somehow managed to weasel his way out of this one, citing vague extraneous circumstances.
Scorpion couldn't quite use the same excuse. He was dead. He had no extraneous circumstances.
If the rest of their allegiance turned out like this, it was more trouble than it was worth. And then there was that issue of—
"My, my, aren't you a sight for sore eyes?"
He stopped short and looked up.
Twenty feet ahead, Mileena stood leaning against the front of the gates, eyes gleaming in amusement.
Scorpion felt his eye twitch.
After stalling for a few seconds, he reluctantly made his way over to the gate. Her veil creased at the corners as he approached, evidence of her grinning beneath it.
He stopped in front of her and narrowed his eyes.
"Get out of my way."
She emitted a deceptively innocent laugh, raising a hand and wagging a finger.
"Ask nicely, first."
His annoyance escalated into aggravation but he didn't show it. From what he'd seen and heard, the second daughter of Shao Kahn had a reputation for being a vicious man-eater with a penchant for twisted mind games. The latter had already been proven after she'd followed him through the woods yesterday. Reacting to her taunts would probably only egg her on.
Making up his mind, he ignored her and continued forward.
Mileena's eyes widened in surprise when he stepped closer and suddenly vanished in a burst of flames. Straightening from against the gate, she glanced around for him until she heard another whoosh of flames behind her. Whirling around, she saw that he'd teleported to the other side and was leisurely making his way into the palace.
Both parts put off and enchanted by the trick, she quickly ran after him.
When she entered the throne room, it was already a morass of people ranging from her father's soldiers, a group of rowdy Tarkatans, several Shokan representatives including Goro, and whatever other riffraff Outworld had to offer. Worming her way through the crowd, she looked around for a glimpse of yellow and black, impatiently punching out a leering Tarkatan that got in her way.
A moment later, she caught sight of him sitting alone in a dim little niche by one of the windows, elbows resting on his knees and eyes narrowed impatiently at the floor. The sight of him in all his aloof, anti-social glory sent her heart aflutter all over again.
Scorpion didn't react when she broke through the crowd and made her way over to him, keeping his eyes determinedly on the floor.
"I didn't expect such a turnout!" she exclaimed, leaning against the wall next to him and crossing her arms. "There's hardly anywhere to sit..."
She looked down at him. "Do you mind if I stay next to you?"
He gave a noncommittal grunt.
She beamed. "All right, then I'll just..." She stopped and glanced around in mock disappointment. "Oh, but there's no room."
Thank the Elder Gods, Scorpion thought silently.
"In that case..." she sidled up next to him, an impish glint in her eye. "Can I sit in your lap?"
Scorpion got up so fast he nearly gave himself whiplash. He left without a backwards glance, crossing over to the other end of the room.
Mileena gazed after him and giggled, pressing her hands to her cheeks. "Aw, so he's shy. How cute."
A moment later, Shao Kahn entered the room and everyone erupted in a mad dash to get into ranks as he took his throne. Mileena quickly took her place by her father's side and grinned when Goro, Scorpion, Shang Tsung, and Kitana stood in a line adjacent to the throne. The rest of the attendees stood in formation at the end of the room.
The next two hours passed in sweet torment as Shao Kahn's advisors began a long, tedious debriefing on the war. She didn't listen to a single thing they said, instead gazing shamelessly at Scorpion the entire time they spent discussing battle tactics.
Every little thing he did fascinated her—from the way he blinked excessively to keep his eyes open during the boring parts, to the way he curled and uncurled his fingers impatiently, and even the way he purposely turned his head to avoid making eye contact with her.
Across the room, Shang Tsung and Kitana watched the behaviour with mounting horror. Kitana looked troubled by it whereas Shang Tsung looked positively nauseous.
It was a miracle Shao Kahn hadn't noticed. Mileena wasn't even trying to be subtle.
Even Goro noticed the stares, most likely misinterpreting them if the way he kept self-consciously straightening his loincloth was any indication.
Worse, it was easy to see that Mileena was growing frustrated with the inattention. She kept changing between different provocative poses in the hope that one would catch his attention. In the end, all she managed to get was Goro gaping at her.
"And now for logistics," Shao Kahn announced, jarring everyone from their stupor. "Kitana!"
A map of Outworld was unfurled next to him.
"This is bad," Kitana muttered in passing to Shang Tsung when she was summoned to the front of the room.
At the same time, Mileena felt an icy stab of indignation when she caught the brief glance Scorpion spared her sister as she walked past him. Kitana returned the wary look before taking her place by the map.
As she started outlining the positions, Mileena felt her mind shut down.
The extremely tiny, rational part of her brain tried to assure her that yes, of course he would look, because what kind of ninja wouldn't assess his surroundings? And it was only for half a second after all...a half second he never spared her, though...
She gritted her teeth.
But of course, with that wretchedly perfect face of hers, why wouldn't he look? That lofty status and elegant demeanour probably didn't hurt, either.
She clenched her fists.
And after she'd spent yesterday regaling Kitana with examples of how wonderful her future betrothed was, it was no wonder she gave him that suggestive glance and—that traitorous bitch.
Gnashing her teeth in fury, Mileena tore off her veil and lunged at Kitana. "He's mine, you whore!"
Kitana somehow managed to fend off the attack and the room erupted in screams of rage and shouts of protest as Mileena clawed wildly at her face. Shao Kahn pinched the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes as Shang Tsung face-palmed and Scorpion watched in disgust.
Goro nervously scratched his head. "Who was she talking about?"
Fifteen minutes after the congregation dispersed and Mileena had been locked in her room, Kitana and Shang Tsung stood before the less than amused Shao Kahn.
"Explain," he growled.
Shang Tsung wrung his hands. "Well, emperor, as you see, the surgery seemed to have had an effect—"
"Oh, I can definitely see that," Shao Kahn interrupted, eye twitching. "First she attacks Scorpion for absolutely no reason. Then she locks herself in her room for three weeks. And now she shouts some nonsense in the middle of an important meeting and attacks Kitana. Spare me the bullshit, sorcerer. What have you done?"
Shang Tsung cringed. "As it is, I can assure you that her actions are no longer due to random fits of madness. Her change in behaviour has just one cause..."
He swallowed, voice strained.
"Since the surgery...she has developed an unhealthy obsession with the wraith."
Shao Kahn's brow furrowed in confusion. "She wants to kill Scorpion?"
Shang Tsung mouthed wordlessly, unsure how to say it in a way that wouldn't get him killed on the spot. Realizing the sorcerer was at a loss for words, Kitana rubbed her forehead and cut in.
"She's in love with him."
Horrified by her choice of words, Shang Tsung got a hold of himself and interrupted before the emperor could take off his head. "It's nothing more than juvenile infatuation. If you will allow me, I can—"
Shao Kahn held up his hand and the room fell silent. Kitana was surprised to see her father actually mulling this information over.
"This problem...so far it's kept her from attacking any of my other guests, correct?"
The sorcerer looked confused. "I believe so."
"And she hasn't jeopardized any of my recruitments because she's been occupied, right?"
"Yes," Shang Tsung said uncertainly.
"Then let it be," Shao Kahn declared, shocking them both. "My business with the Shokan is more important than just Scorpion's allegiance, and he will serve as a worthy distraction for Mileena in the mean time."
"Yes," Shang Tsung quickly agreed, almost sinking to the floor in relief. "That was my intent from the very beginning."
Kitana threw him a dirty look before gazing imploringly at her father.
"But we can't predict how Mileena will react if Scorpion rejects her. If anything, this may even worsen her fits."
"Nonsense," he scoffed. "Women are weak in the face of heartbreak. If anything, a rejection will leave her listless and miserable. I'd prefer her that way during this time, anyway."
Even Kitana was taken aback by the callousness of that remark. "But father—"
"That's enough. No more shall be said on the subject. I am hosting a final recruitment event in one week and am expecting every warrior in Outworld to be in attendance. Mileena will not get in the way, this time."
Shang Tsung bowed and the two shared a smug, self-congratulatory smile. Kitana frowned at them both before voicing the obvious question.
"Did anyone ask Scorpion what he thinks of this?"
They looked blankly at each other.
"Who cares," Shao Kahn said.
A few hours after the meeting fiasco, Mileena had calmed down significantly. Her extremely short attention span was partly to thank, along with the fact that she couldn't ruminate on her malcontent for Kitana when all she could think about was Scorpion.
Rolling over onto her stomach, Mileena tucked a pillow under her chin and crossed her ankles, idly swinging her legs behind her. At least she'd managed to get his attention after attacking Kitana, she thought happily, drawing circles on the bedspread.
It was funny. She was finding that courtship was rather similar to battle in some sense. An aggressive attack plan would invariably elicit a response, even from the most stoic opponent.
She would just have to keep chipping at him until she broke through that veneer. And when she did...
Mileena rested her chin against the pillow, eyes growing half-lidded as she lost herself in her fantasies.
They would do everything together. They'd carry out assassinations, laying waste side by side until all lay dead before them. Then he would do something sweet and chivalrous like hold her hand and help her walk across the backs of corpses to protect her shoes from the mulch of blood and viscera.
And it wouldn't be all work. They'd have fun and games, too, like pelting rocks at prisoners for target practice—five points for the body, ten points for the head—and traipsing into the Living Forest to see who could knock down the most cadavers.
Then at the end of the day, they'd burn the forest to the ground just for the hell of it. And in the midst of the glowing firelight, she'd see the ever-present furrow in his brow recede, just a tiny bit, and know he was happy to be with her and her alone. Then she'd rest her head blissfully against his shoulder and they'd turn and walk off together, hand in hand, leaving a lone tree with their names and a heart carved into it standing in the wake of their carnage.
Mileena released a euphoric sigh, lacing her hands together for the time being when there was a knock at the door.
Startled, she sat up and glared at the front of the room. "Go away!"
"Open the door, Mileena."
She blinked, surprised and displeased to hear Kitana's voice. When she didn't answer, a flash of steel cut through the jamb and the door swung open. Kitana snapped one of her fans closed and entered the room.
"You," Mileena began murderously, sitting up in bed. "You want me to cut off your pretty little head, sister? I'm going to—"
"Silence," Kitana ordered, an impatient glare on her face. "Don't make me rethink my decision to pity you. You should be grateful I'm on your side after what you did."
"Side?" Mileena echoed, on the verge of hysteria. "I saw what you did!"
"I did nothing," Kitana said sternly. "Let me make this clear. I have absolutely no interest in that spectre. And nor does he in me. Do you understand?"
"You're lying!" Mileena screeched. "Why should I believe you?"
Kitana scowled at her, about to consider giving up and leaving when her eyes fell on the unfinished teddy bear sitting at the head of her bed. Her anger faltered, empathy rising in place of her resentment.
She stood there for a few seconds, wondering if she'd wind up regretting her decision in the end, but eventually closed the door and stepped further into the room.
"You should believe me," she said with a sigh, "because I already have someone."
Mileena fell silent and stared at her.
Taking advantage of her temporary calm, Kitana seated herself at the edge of the bed and watched her sister carefully. "It's true. I love someone else."
Mileena cocked her head at her. "You do?"
Somewhat embarrassed by the admittance, Kitana nodded.
She hesitated, not sure she wanted to tell Mileena, of all people, but realized she'd only provoke her sister's ire if she didn't give a straight answer.
She bit her lip. "Liu Kang."
Mileena gave her a blank look. "The monk?"
Then Mileena collapsed in a fit of hysterical laughter. Taken aback and slightly offended, Kitana watched her roll around on the bed clutching her ribs, unsure how to react.
"What?" she demanded after a while. "Why is that funny?"
Mileena couldn't answer for several seconds, her body quaking in laughter. After a few minutes, she sat up and seized Kitana's wrist, startling her when she pulled her close and looked at her with eyes shining in mirth.
"Did he refuse his teddy bear?"
"What?" Kitana said blankly. "What are you—"
Then she realized what she meant. Shang Tsung must've told her something absurd if Mileena honestly equated teddy bears with courtship in the Earthrealm.
Deciding to play along, Kitana sat back and pursed her lips.
"He did not. I haven't..." she paused, trying to figure out how to explain this to her. "I haven't given him one yet."
Mileena looked genuinely perplexed. "Why?"
"It's not as simple as just giving him a stuffed animal," Kitana said. "It's far more complex than that."
"It is not," Mileena scoffed. "You're just afraid he won't take it."
Kitana opened her mouth to retort, but then closed it again. As ridiculous as the whole premise was, there was a degree of truth in it. She had been too afraid to let her feelings be known to the Shaolin monk, for fear that he wouldn't reciprocate them.
With that in mind, seeing Mileena so blindly confident and with such simple-minded expectations wrung another wave of sympathy from her.
"Mileena," she said wearily. "I think you should slow down with this whole courtship business. You'll scare him off."
"That doesn't make sense," Mileena snorted. "I'm not trying to kill him. Why would he be scared?"
Kitana resisted the urge to bury her face in her palm and instead closed her eyes. Talking sense to Mileena was honestly like talking to a child.
"I didn't mean literally. I..." Kitana trailed off, inwardly realizing it was futile. Mileena was simply too juvenile and single-minded to understand. All she could do was give her advice and pray that she followed it.
"Just think about what you're doing before you do it. Wait a while before you give him the bear. And just...be careful."
Mileena gave her a penetrating look. "Why do you care?"
Kitana held her gaze.
"Because I know how you feel."
Mileena didn't respond, but a strange look flickered in her eyes and she tilted her head at her as though seeing her properly for the first time. Kitana didn't wait for her to speak and rose, making her way to the door.
"In one week from today, father will host one final recruitment event. Be ready and keep in mind what I've said."
With that, Kitana left the room and closed the door behind her. She stood out in the hall for several seconds, then slouched back against the wall with a grimace.
This was going to be a disaster.
One week later.
To say that Scorpion was pissed off was an understatement.
Shao Kahn had called another mandatory meeting under the pretence that it involved official army business. But now that he was here, it had become painfully obvious that the emperor was full of shit. He only wanted his recruits to swear verbal allegiance before using the meeting as an excuse to party.
Consequently, the palace was bursting at the seams with people. Baraka, Sheeva, and Goro arrived leading the masses of Tarkatan and Shokan soldiers, and if that wasn't enough, Shao Kahn's own personal army and rookie recruits from the rest of Outworld were in attendance.
The throne room was far too small so they'd all been crammed into the banquet room, transforming it into an assembly of shouting, stamping, out of control soldiers.
Scorpion stood far away against the wall from the rowdy dining tables, scowling when Shao Kahn waved for quiet from his seat.
Already drunk off his success, the emperor had gotten even drunker off a few bottles of wine and stood up in his chair.
"Tonight," he began in a remarkably sober voice, "is a night that will go down in history. Never has Outworld amassed such an army. Never has our chance of success looked so bright. The war before us will be long and hard and I'm sure most of you won't be coming out of it alive...but tonight," he thrust out a bottle of wine, swaying slightly.
"Tonight we celebrate!" He threw the bottle into the crowd, raising his arms in a cheer. "Seal the doors! Nobody goes home!"
The room erupted in deafening cheers and hooting as wine was doled out in barrels. The booze had been specially commissioned by Bo'Rai Cho himself. As a result, it didn't take more than thirty minutes before everyone was wasted within an inch of their lives.
Scorpion closed his eyes and counted to ten.
Were the Elder Gods trying to punish him?
"There you are!"
He opened his eyes and found Mileena standing before him, hands clasped in front of her in delight. "Do you know how long it took me to find you?"
"Go away," he said flatly.
Her eyes crinkled at the corners as she smiled. "You're so cute when you're angry. Has anyone ever told you that?"
He was silent, wondering if she'd actually said what he thought he'd heard her say.
Then he decided he didn't want to know.
Pushing himself off the wall, he moved past her and headed off for the hallways, hoping at least one of them would give him time to be alone.
Unperturbed by his abrupt exit, Mileena eagerly moved to follow.
Her pursuit didn't go unnoticed. She was an obvious favourite with the Tarkatan males and several of them were irked to see her tailing the spectre through the banquet room and into the hallways.
Mileena was well aware they were following her, but it didn't bother her until one of them actually stepped out and blocked her way.
It was Sarkis, one of Baraka's underlings. He gave her a lopsided grin. "Where are you off to, sweetcheeks?"
"Out of my way," Mileena snapped, shoving him aside.
Sarkis stumbled a little but got back in her face again, sneering. "What're you doing wasting time on him for? Best if you stick to yer own kind, Mileena."
Mileena reached for her sais to get rid of him for good when he suddenly turned around and called out to the departing Scorpion.
"Some great clan," he laughed, spitting on the floor. "Taken out in one go by the snowman. Anyone that pathetic would've deserved it."
Scorpion stopped dead.
An odd hush fell over the group when he slowly turned around, eyes narrowed into slits.
"Say that again."
Sarkis grinned malevolently. "Oh? Did that strike a nerve? Sure, I'll say it again. Your clan is pathe—oof!"
The crowd scattered and broke out in startled yells and cheers when Scorpion tackled him to the ground. The hooting lasted only a few seconds, though, tapering off into mortified silence when they saw that it was not so much a fight as it was Scorpion beating the absolute living shit out of him.
A minute later, the Tarkatan was nothing more than a smear on the floor.
Scorpion got to his feet, splattered in blood and glaring balefully at the crowd in silent defiance. When no one spoke, he turned around and left.
Disappointed murmurs broke out and several Tarkatans shook their heads in shame, reaching down to drag the corpse out of the room. Mileena remained where she stood, staring wide-eyed in the direction he'd disappeared.
Her heart was practically doing cartwheels in her chest. That had been, hands down, the most brutal beating she'd ever witnessed.
Getting a hold of herself, she managed to bring her legs to movement and took off after him.
It wasn't hard. She just followed the trail of bloody footprints until she found him in one of the empty halls by the water fountain.
Thinking quickly, she grabbed something from one of the nearby linen cabinets and slowly approached him.
He raised his head at the footsteps. Upon seeing it was her, he seemed to fight back a suffering sigh before returning his attention to the fountain.
"I saw that back there. You were wonderful!" Mileena said earnestly. "I've never seen so much blood."
He didn't reply, giving her a wearily annoyed side glance before proceeding to wash the blood off his hands. Mileena watched him in silent admiration, pleased that most of the blood belonged to Sarkis and not him. But there was one nasty cut on his upper arm that was still bleeding, a lucky hit the Tarkatan had managed to land in his thrashing.
He was just about to give the wound a rough swipe with his hand when Mileena took a step forward and drew her hands from behind her back, offering him a washcloth.
Scorpion stilled, glancing at the proffered cloth. Then he raised his gaze and gave her a meditative look. Mileena felt her legs turn to jelly when he eventually reached out and took it, his fingertips brushing hers.
He mopped up the blood and tossed the rag over the edge of the fountain. Then he left without a word.
Mileena stared after him, reverently holding the hand he'd touched against her chest. Then she reached out and took the bloody rag he'd left behind, holding it up in front of her. In a fit of uncontrolled compulsion, she buried her face in it and breathed it in as one would a heavenly perfume.
The effect was intoxicating. She slumped back against the wall in a swoon and held the rag over her heart, gazing yearningly at the door he'd exited through.
For some reason, her mind chose to remind her of something Kitana had said the week before.
I think you should slow down with this whole courtship business. You'll scare him off.
Her sister's advice still didn't make sense to her. It didn't compute that such a powerful warrior could possibly be afraid of something as non-threatening as courtship. And if she 'slowed down' as Kitana put it, she was liable to lose him to someone else.
Besides, what the hell did Kitana know, anyway? She was ten thousand years old and had never had a man in her life.
Mileena straightened from against the wall, new determination burning in her eyes. So far her attempts hadn't worked, but perhaps she'd been going about it the wrong way. Until the teddy bear was complete, she would need a new game plan.
She tapped her chin.
Maybe...if she couldn't get his notice by chasing him, then she'd get his notice by getting him to chase her.
A conniving grin crossed her face.
That definitely sounded like a plan.
Despite his aversion to crowds, Scorpion returned to the banquet room a while later. He had the impression that Mileena wouldn't expect him to go back, and if she had the slightest bit of rational sense, she wouldn't go looking for him there. Or at least that's what he hoped.
He sat at the farthest corner of one of the tables, refusing to sit between two people and resolving to leave as soon as Shao Kahn passed out in drunkenness.
Unbeknownst to him, Kitana sat at the other end, watching in trepidation as she observed his rapidly dwindling level of patience.
The spectre looked like a time bomb ready to go off, his arms crossed rigidly and eyes trained with eerie stillness on some point on the wall.
She was relieved to see that Mileena was nowhere in sight, halfway hoping her sister had become distracted by a brawl somewhere on the premises.
The thought came too soon.
Kitana blanched when she caught sight of Mileena winding her way through the throng and reaching Scorpion's end of the table. There was some dignitary already sitting across from him, but Mileena quickly disposed of him by grabbing him by the neck and throwing him across the room. Then she seductively slid into the seat.
Scorpion ignored her completely.
Kitana watched in apprehension, hoping she would take the hint and leave. But it was then Mileena did the unthinkable.
With slow, purposeful movements, she extended her leg beneath the table and brushed her toes against the side of Scorpion's ankle. Then she slid her foot up his leg.
The Shirai Ryu warrior went completely still, his eyes widening. He remained like that for a fraction of a second. Then all hell broke loose.
Mileena jumped out of her seat, laughing hysterically when Scorpion leapt to his feet and summoned hellfire beneath her chair, instantly incinerating the wood and two of the unfortunate people sitting next to her. Undeterred, he drew his swords and lunged after her.
The crowd broke up in disarray, people screaming and diving in all directions as the spectre cleaved through the table.
Kitana shook her head and buried her face in her hand.
Scorpion chased her through the palace at least twice, leaving extensive damage and two charred corpses before Mileena dashed back into the banquet room and took shelter behind her father, practically convulsing with laughter.
Scorpion didn't let that stop him, desisting only upon encountering Shao Kahn.
Fortunately, the gallon or two of wine Shao Kahn had ingested left him overtly magnanimous. He clasped the fuming Scorpion to his side and gave him a friendly shake. "Ha ha! That's what I like to see! Camaraderie between my best soldiers!"
He slapped the furious ninja on the back, missing his death glare when he turned to face the crowd.
"Carry on," he declared, oblivious to the fire and the severely injured people scattered around the decimated table. "Tsung, more wine!"
The harrowed sorcerer gave him a look of disbelief before running off to do as he was told.
Shao Kahn returned his attention to Scorpion.
"Why don't you take one of the rooms upstairs and unwind a little?" he said, thumping him on the back again. "You can join us in the morning."
Scorpion's fists tightened by his sides when Mileena emitted another laugh from behind her father. Giving a stiff nod, he turned away and left the room, his path unimpeded this time as people practically dove out of his way.
He chose to get as high up in the palace as possible. The long ascent up the stairs would give him time to cool off, not to mention get him away from Shao Kahn's wretchedly insane daughter.
The thought of her made him stop and look behind him to see if she was following. This was instantly followed by a wave of self-deprecation.
Here he was, the greatest warrior of his clan, returned to life as a terrifying hell-spawned wraith, casting paranoid glances over his shoulder for a girl.
He wondered what Subzero would say if he could see him now. Probably nothing, he realized in irritation. He'd be too busy rolling around on the ground laughing.
He continued all the way to the fourth floor and started down the hall, finding it pleasantly quiet. The peace didn't last long, however, when he tensed upon the feeling of someone following him again.
Reacting quickly, he pulled open the door to the nearest room and disappeared inside, closing it behind him.
The room was dark and silent. He stood facing the door, prepared to kill whoever was stupid enough to follow him inside when a hand suddenly descended upon his shoulder.
Scorpion whirled around and did the first thing that instinctively came to mind. He roundhouse kicked the person through the fourth-story window.
The glass shattered on impact and was accompanied by a shrill, rapidly falling scream. His belated realization that it was someone else entirely—namely a man who'd been occupying the room with an escort—came far too late. A second later, a quiet but sickening thump sounded distantly from outside.
Disconcerted, Scorpion turned towards the shrieking woman on the bed. Before he could even open his mouth to speak, she ran screaming from the room.
He stood there for several seconds, agitated before he made his way over to the window to look outside. Sure enough, something that looked like a mangled body lay in the spike pit by the drawbridge.
A mischievous giggle suddenly broke the silence.
"You naughty boy..."
Stiffening, Scorpion turned away from the window and looked to the front of the room.
Mileena stood leaning against the side of the doorway, a devious look in her eyes. "If you wanted someone to spend the night with that badly..."
She stepped into the darkened room, easing the door shut behind her.
"You could've just asked."
For a long moment, Scorpion just stood there staring at her. Her audacity was truly something to behold.
Then blistering, mind-numbing fury kicked in.
Outside the room, several passersby were sent flying when the door blew off its hinges beneath a massive burst of hellfire, hitting the wall opposite it.
Mileena escaped the room a moment later, cackling in glee.
Scorpion remained inside, arms limp by his sides as he tried to catch his breath from the force of the attack. A vein stood out in his forehead and a withering glare came over his face as panicked screams filled the hall and the servants frantically started running around to put out the fire.
He dropped his head.
He had had enough.
As long as she was here, there was no way in hell he was staying in the same building.
Looking at the broken window, he considered his only option and decided it was better than staying another minute in the palace.
He spent the night on the roof.