Description: Skarlet finds a fellow Enforcer. She convinces him to join in her hunt for Mileena, but the many minds of Ermac have started to reach their own conclusions. Ermac wishes to rein in the Princess, where Skarlet merely wishes to be around for the inevitable lightning strike. Are fractures already starting to form amongst Shao Kahn's minions? Or will they be able to solve their differences without resorting to kombat?
Southtown forest, 2:35 PM.
There is a certain beauty in Coniferous trees that emerges once they are covered in snow. It might have to do with the contrast between dark green and white. Perhaps. Perhaps not.
A thick silver fog drifts through the forest, curling insubstantial fingers around the thin branches of pines and firs. The bright afternoon light is reduced to a diffuse glow, transforming the surrounding trees into skeletal silhouettes that loom ominously in the dim light.
Winter can be both beautiful, and terrible. It depends only on what face is presented.
Every sound is muted and close, muffled by not only the fog, but the thick layer of icy snow that clings to branches and blankets the ground in a semi-solid carpet.
Set amidst this gloomy scenery is the statue of an average-sized man, covered from head to tow in thin dark cloth. The statue's black clothing has filled with moisture and frozen solid, the hems studded with dangling icicles. The various gold and carmine trimmed scarves hanging from its body have also frozen, with more spikes of ice glittering from their ends. The surprisingly life-like work of art's batteries still seem to be working, however, it's brilliant green eyes glowing brightly despite the frozen cloth wraps that hide the face. The somewhat fainter green glow of the gems studded across its costume also seem to be in working order.
Modern art is so strange. What sort of statement does a cloth-wrapped man with glowing eyes make if you plop him down in a frozen forest? Maybe it has something to do with his stance: feet shoulder width apart, hands dangling at his sides, glowing Eyes fixed straight ahead. Who knows?
The air fills with the scent of blood, that is the first indication that all is not well. The thick, cloying tang of slaughter, so inescapable that one can taste it in the back of the throat. It is a familiar enough scent to Outworld natives, but not normally found in the middle of picturesque and snowy landscapes.
The glittering white world before Ermac is stained. It begins small, a few droplets of crimson splattered irregularly throughout the winter wonderland. Then it swirls, blood lifting into the air, the whiteness clashing so starkly against the brilliant red. It does not take long for the liquid to solidify, forming into the shape of a beautiful ninja warrior, wearing far too little for such frigid climbs. Or she would be, if it weren't for the fact that Skarlet does not fall prey to such mortal frailties.
She doesn't say anything, not at first. Instead, delicate golden eyes look into the glowing green orbs within the frozen ninja's skull. Searching, perhaps, for any sign that the figure is still alive.
It would not be the first of Outworld's monsters to have met its end frozen solid, after all.
Perhaps not a work of modern art then.
Perhaps The ice-dusted figure standing before Skarlet is indeed Ermac, and lingering in his general vicinity makes that fact impossible to ignore. A psychic pressure rolls off of the warrior, smothering the souls of those around him beneath the weight of his presence. The feeling is as if the air itself were being compressed by his will.
And as Skarlet meets his blazing stare, he blinks. Thin lenses of ice shatter and fall away from his eyes. His chest swells with a breath, frozen clothes snapping as cracks form along his joints.
Rather Laconic at the best of times, the dark-clad enforcer says nothing to his scantily-clad visitor. His hands flex, ice fragments pattering to the snow, and his chin tilts up a fraction so he can peer past the woman's shoulder to check the space behind her. Surely he would sense any other presences around them, but he is a methodical creature. This motion dislodges two of the larger icicles that had been hanging from the loose ends of his headband. They thump into the snow at his heels point-first, miraculously upright and undamaged.
% And still Ermac's attention drifts back to Skarlet's face, satisfied that they are alone, and he waits. Skarlet would not have found him if she did not have a reason. Neither of the enforcers are the type to waste words. Thus, he waits to see why he has been disturbed.
Nothing is said between them for long moments. If Skarlet is put off by the presence of the other warrior, there's no indication of it in her bearing; spend enough time kneeling in the presence of Shao Kahn, and it is difficult to find most other warriors all that intimidating. There's a healthy respect, perhaps, but she's not the sort to be easily cowed.
Once enough of the ice has been dislodged that she no longer feels she is talking to a statue, Skarlet folds her arms across her chest and straightens. She too is quite confident that they are alone; Ermac can sense minds, she can sense living creatures. Between the two of them, they should be able to cover all the bases, even in this strange world.
She is quiet, but in the silence of the snowy forest clearing, there's little to overwhelm her voice. When she speaks, there is only one word - but she only needs one, in order to sum up the business which is currently most clear in her mind.
There is no immediate response to Skarlet's statement. Outside of kombat Ermac is a patient creature, inclined toward taking a moment to mull things over. The practice likely results from the riot of souls inside him never agreeing on anything, but only he can say for sure, and he never has.
"We thought we felt her arrival in this realm, but could not be certain. Our thoughts are conflicted on this matter. To find and join her would slow our own search, and possibly delay our mission indefinitely. Her unpredictable nature makes it hard for us to work efficiently." Ermac's own voices are calm and almost mechanical, rolling out of his mouth in a chorus of depths and cadences all piled one atop the other. the effect is utterly inhuman, like talking to a crowd rather than a single man.
"We assume, that you have decided to track her. If we allow harm to come to the princess, Shao Kahn will not be pleased. We have met no real resistance yet in this realm, but Mileena will drag our opponents out into the open and force a confrontation. This could cause us complications if we are not ready." Unlike Skarlet, the conglomeration of souls does not shift his position as he speaks. Seeming somewhat distracted, the enforcer stares blankly at his female counterpart's nose as his words are calmly chorused, hands dangling limply at his sides.
"You wish us to join you in your search." Ermac states calmly, attention shifting up a fraction to once again look her in the eyes. Only now does he seem to become aware of his posture and unslump his shoulders, pressing his gloved palms against his sash in a more human pose. Perhaps he does this just to match Skarlet's own natural posture. Such things are usually beneath his notice.
Skarlet listens, and makes no real indication at any point that the other's suppositions might be right or wrong; she just listens. That he had his own mission is interesting, but it isn't truly her concern. She has one objective - to slay those who would oppose Shao Kahn - there is comfort in the clarity of that objective. For all Mileena's many faults, she is going to draw those enemies out. She has already begun to do so. It will make her mission easier to find the other.
Considering the gestalt entity in greater detail, Skarlet gives a light shake of her head. "They know the storm is coming." She says at last, her soft voice quiet and gentle, "Mileena is a lightning rod. It is not my place to say where you should be, when it strikes."
She pauses for a second, and looks up at the sky. Golden eyes stain slowly red, and beneath her mask, her expression becomes quite set and determined. She had Nightwolf's blood - she should be able to trace him easily, to feel him precisely, wherever he might be across the realms. But she can't. Oh yes, the people of this world are already well aware of the coming danger. Powerful measures indeed are already being taken.
"But I will be there."
"Power attracts power." Ermac responds after a moment, continuing to watch the woman before him with unreadable green eyes. "You have left us little choice. Mileena alone could be defeated by a lesser guardian. If you stand at her side more power will be brought down upon you. If we do not assist, it is likely you will be overwhelmed. Even with us aiding you there are powers in this realm that we are not yet prepared for. You are forcing our hand too early. We can not predict the results." Despite the dire words the enforcer's voices remain unflappable. He is no Shao Kahn, but for a creature of his talents to be advising caution?
There is a beat of silence in which Ermac seems to weigh something, his posture still as stone. Then, he drifts back a pace, wrapped feet stepping lightly atop the snow's upper crust. His gloved hands lift from his sides and flex to send the last of the ice clinging to his knuckles pattering to the ground.
"We will aid you in tracking Mileena, but we advise caution. it would be wise for us to capture the princess and keep her safe in our sight while we test Earth Realm for weakness. We should not let her run loose so soon." As the enforcer speaks a bone-deep thrum starts to build from him. Moments later shimmering green light pours out of his hands and gathers at his palms and finger tips, the light reflecting ghoulishly back from the silver fog all around.
Skarlet's eyes lower to Ermac, and narrow just slightly - a mild expression of annoyance, perhaps, but it is difficult to tell in one whose emotions are so subtle at the best of times. "The Emperor commands." She states, "I obey."
That is all there is to be said on the matter from her perspective. If Ermac wishes to stop Mileena, that is a matter for Ermac and Mileena. It isn't her duty to get involved in such things, or really offer an opinion on them. Shao Kahn had his reasons for releasing Mileena at this juncture; just as he had a reason for releasing her.
"I do not force anything. The Emperor wills that we act."
As the green light reflects about the clearing, she allows her hands to fall to her sides, meeting the emerald eyes of the thrumming creature.
"There will be kombat. It is inevitable. It is the very purpose for which all of us have been brought to this realm."
And her eyes narrow just that little bit more - though the rest of her posture seems quite relaxed.
"Are you saying you doubt the outcome?"
"Emperor Shao Kahn wills that we succeed. We have seen some of the powers that protect this land. If our attack is mistimed it will be blocked." Is Ermac's calm response, voices remaining utterly unruffled at the subtle signs of violence that now spark between them.
"We do not know how Mileena entered Earth realm. Perhaps another way was found." Continues the enforcer, the very air now thrumming with power. Skarlet can likely sense that he is merely expanding his focus, pushing his senses far beyond the passive scan he had been employing before. Did he use his powers to pluck thoughts from his fellow enforcer's mind, or are they simply thinking along similar lines? "If there is a hidden path it is vital that Mileena not be captured by the resistance you have found. Any such secret paths into this Realm would be sealed. If the hidden trail moves in both directions Outworld could suffer an unexpected counter strike." And from these words it is likely clear what Ermac's roll in all of this is. Skarlet is the Emperor's knife. A blade in the dark to decapitate his enemies and leave their forces leaderless. Ermac, however, is a fist. An armored gauntlet poised to beat submission into those who oppose the Emperor's will.
Abruptly Ermac's will blossoms, unfolding out from suppression like a sledge hammer to the face. The enforcer's psychic might stretches, flexes, then settles comfortably around him as a swirling mist of green energy drifts into existence about his physical form. Faces can be seen in that cloud of energy, straining to escape their prison. The voices of those souls lick at the very edge of hearing: screaming, laughing, sobbing.
"If we must fight, we will fight. But our mission demands success. We were not sent to this realm to fail." the voices have hardened now, stern and unyielding. His unblinking eyes remain fixed on Skarlet's own. Is this a clash of wills to see who is dominant? A clash of orders from Shao Kahn? It is hard to tell, but until this point the enforcer did not seem the type for useless displays of power. He is too mechanical for that.
Skarlet makes no visible indication that she considers this a fight at all. The display of power is impressive, but she simply doesn't understand why it is necessary. They are on the same side; she has no intention of fighting Ermac at all. Though the screaming souls lick and flow visibly in the air, Skarlet simply regards the ninja with an air of faint curiosity. One eyebrow raises. It is possible that Ermac is reading her mind; she's got very few thoughts, practically no real emotions. She's a construct. She does her duty. Like a sword, the motions she goes through are sometimes very beautiful, often impressive, and mostly, very deadly - but the sword itself has little say in the matter. It is not the role of the sword to question the one who wields it.
"You will fight. As will I, The Princess and The Sorceror. The enemies of The Emperor will be annihilated. That is my mission. I will carry it out."
She pauses, and cocks her head to the side, confusion now more evident than ever as she regards the ninja and the swirling mass of power he has called upon to fill the clearing. It bathes her, the sensation of it crawling across her skin. She regards it like a puzzle really.
"It is not my place to tell you how to do your duty. I will only do mine. I can not do otherwise; it is my nature."
And she means that in a very literal sense. She can't choose to disobey Shao Kahn any more than she could choose to disobey gravity; it is in every drop of her being. Shao Kahn has sent her here to kill his enemies, that is what she will do.
"It is not my place to tell Mileena how to do her duty either. If you have concerns about her, you will have to control her on your own."
Ermac continues to regard Skarlet with blazing eyes. The power he has summoned remains directionless, ready but without a clear target. His gloved hands shine brightly as he holds them palm out, as if he were a magician mid dramatic flourish. 'See how my palms are empty! Now watch children as I make your lives disappear'
"We are concerned that Mileena will not be the only Outworlder we are forced to watch. We can not know Shao Kahn's will, but we wonder if he has underestimated the task set before you. Strike if you feel you can succeed quietly. But bring down the wrong guardian upon us and this stage of the invasion will fail. We can not allow that to happen." The enforcer's voices remain stern, but not harsh. If anything it appears he has found something difficult or distasteful that must be done, and has hardened himself for the doing of it. Whatever the case may be, he seems unlikely to lash out.
"We make haste now to hunt the princess. if you have further news for us speak it now." As he speaks he slowly closes his hands into fists, and his icy clothing takes on a greenish tent. The cloth crackles, crunches, and wrinkles, then falls limp as his glowing hands relax open once again. Every scrap of ice that had been clinging to him is suddenly blown outward as a fine dusting of tiny crystals. His clothes now hang dry, The very moisture itself crushed from them. This leaves his various rapping's free to drift up in an unseen breeze and flutter around him, wafting through his cloud of struggling souls.
Skarlet draws one blade. The weapon is brilliant steel, and she turns it towards her own stomach. Without another word, she simply cuts into herself. The movement is simple and clean, performed with all the ceremony of any other chore. There is, it seems, nothing else to say; there's no subtext at all with Skarlet, she meant what she said. If Ermac feels he has to watch her as well, then he can watch her as well. That's fine by her. She has no choice in how to proceed with her mission; his approval or disapproval means absolutely nothing to her.
In an instant, she has dissolved to liquid. Blood stains the ground, flowing into the ice and snow, then through it. The dark and malevolent energy of Outworld stains the earth... but soon, even that is gone, too.
Within a few minutes, there is no sign at all that she was ever present, leaving Ermac alone in the clearing. Or at least, as alone as he can ever truly be.
Log created on 07:07:23 01/02/2015 by Skarlet, and last modified on 10:55:28 01/02/2015.