However, something about this place feels wrong. The shadows seem to cover more than they should and a strange fog has settled just outside your normal field of vision preventing you from looking farther in any given direction. The road stretching out to the North that normally leads to the Park currently seems warped and faded like an abstract painting.
Now may be a good time to decide which is better. Exploring the world to see what else has changed, or convincing yourself this is a dream and trying to [wake]up?
Johnny stands in the fog ahead of Kotal. How did he get here? Why is he here? It matters not. He stands as almost a silhouette with his arms out to the side - beckoning the War God to come closer.
It's always a bad omen when Kotal sees Johnny's face, and the fact he's in the fog doesn't alleviate things one bit. Centuries of training make him reflexively reach for his macuahuitl but he approaches nonetheless, ready to face any peril as warriors do. "What do you want, Johnny?"
The maniac shrugs, "I want to know what your deal with me is. I figure this is the only place I can keep you from trying to take my fucking head off." He gestures around at the too-familiar landscape around them. After all, Kotal was just here a few days ago. "I'm sorry to get inside your head and all, but damn. It's always fucking MORTAL KOMBAT with you."
"Mortal Kombat has always been, and always will be." Kotal quotes the infamous words from a certain god of thunder. He rests his hands on the pommel of his macuahuitl, able to manifest itself even in Kotal's mind apparently, and glances at Johnny with ever impassive eyes. "Besides, you forget you speak to the god of war. Do not be surprised to find that my very essence is that of glorious warfare." Then his eyes narrow. "As for what do I want with you, well, that is a complicated matter."
Johnny just mocks him. "Blah blah blah. God of War. The word 'God' doesn't really mean much around here." As if to emphasis this he reaches down, taking a handful of dirt and letting it run over his fingers. "I could probably claim I was a god." He stands and raises an eyebrow. "I meet the criteria, but fuck that." With a shake of his head he continues, "Not my thing. Gods are supposed to be worshiped. I don't deserve it." Well, everyone is unanimous with that idea. "But come on. Seriously. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!" There's a familiar scraping sound as several of the monsters begin to investigate the sounds from the two of them. Johnny seems to notice this with a sudden narrowing of one eye. "Crap. This isn't your dreamscape."
"At least we agree on that much." Responds Kotal with a sardonic smirk, more than willing to mock Johnny right back. He only respects those that deserve it after all, and thus far Johnny has given Kotal no reason to give him any kind of respect. "I want-" He is suddenly cut short when something stirs in the fog and is thus followed by Johnny's cursing. "You know, I -was- wondering why weren't we in my palace if this was my dream." Or the coliseum, Kotal often has dreams of that, with Mileena sitting on his side, the Kamidogu in his hand and Shinnok and Raiden's heads mounted on his wall.
The maniac slowly turns around, eyeing the fog carefully. "Dammit. It's been too many years since I tried to pull this." He's willingly turning his back to Kotal Khan. Either he's showing off his arrogance, or he's genuinely worried. "There's this place where Alessa and Christabella kept trying to drag us to back when Diablo got the two of them to start fighting. We're /supposed/ to be in your head, but I think we're there instead." Suddenly Johnny perks up and a devilish smile plays over his face, "Oooooooh, I wonder if I can get another Great Knife without all that getting-turned-into-a-monster thing."
Kotal doesn't seem to be too worried, nor does he in a backstabbing move since he makes no move to attack Johnny when he gives him his back. However, that is likely because there is no honor in that and Kotal looks down on cheap shots like attacking someone from behind. Or things like Johnny's addiction to cursed daggers coursing with demonic power. "Enough with those blasted daggers already." Growls Kotal. "To think that there are those who look up to you." Sadly, Kotal is honor bound to keep his meeting with lady Setsuna a secret, or he'd tell Johnny of how much she admires him, albeit foolishly as far as he's concerned. "You are a power hungry, raving, murdering lunatic, Johnny. Do you yet still wonder why I want to end your miserable existence?"
Johnny spins back around with a raised brow. "Wait? What about daggers?" The rest of Kotal's speech spills out, probably obscuring his question. His good humor vanishes quickly and his age begins to set in as seriousness and a tinge of anger creep into his features. "Look. I didn't drag you here to fight. That was the fucking point. I can't fight like that anymore and if we were seriously going at it, you'd probably end me." He's visibly straining not to raise his voice knowing what lurks in the fog around them. "What you described? Yeah, that used to be me - except for the power hungry bit. I don't need powers. I didn't want them. Problem is I serve a purpose in the grand scheme of things and that purpose was to store all that festering crap that people spew off into the ether on a daily basis and whatever GODS or DEMONS out there tried to take advantage of it again and again. My daggers where something given to me so for once in my life I could actually use that for something positive. Honestly I spent half my life thinking all I wanted was to be left alone and when I finally got it I learned I didn't like myself very much. I changed my ways, and I haven't gone back down that road no matter how many times I've been forced to go down it." He steps up closer to Kotal, easily within striking distance. "I wanted to ignore you but I can't because /WAR GOD/ you keep fucking feeding my wastelock with all your violence and destruction. All of this?!" He gestures around again. "All of this was an attempt to make peace with you. I'm sorry I fucked it up, but at least I fucking tried."
"Of course I would." Answers Kotal with no small amount of smugness to his voice. "It is only thanks to Tabitha that you still draw breath. I hope you thanked her properly for saving your life." There's a slight scowl from the Aztec warrior as Johnny goes into a long spill, and he sighs with more tiredness to it than irritation. Setsuna had already explained all this to him, he knows of Johnny's woes and mistakes, but even then he can't ignore the fact that he seems to be the source of so much unnecessary suffering. "You were not meant to be controlled, Johnny." Says Kotal at last, with actual kindness to his voice, like if he felt sorry for the maniac. "When I set my eyes upon you, I see the true soul of Twisted. Wild and chaotic, and free from all bounds. Do Kombat with whomever you please and kill if you must, but do not do it for the sake of a higher power. You should not have to bear the burden of balance in this world, that is not a task fit for mortals." His eyes narrow. "That is something that /I/ should do." Again with that arrogance, but it seems Kotal is very determined to bring order to Twisted. However, there is genuine surprise from the war god when Johnny says that last part. "What?" His eyebrows furrow, not quite understanding Johnny's meaning. "What do you mean by 'all of this'?" That better not mean that Johnny is somehow responsible for bringing the fog to Twisted.
Johnny blinks in surprise at Kotal's words. His mental image of him is dramatically changed with that small bit of ...kindness? Not the words he'd use himself, but he does acknowledge it. "NO! No. Not literally THIS." He pauses, pointing down at the ground between them, "Bringing you here. It was supposed to be your dream. It was supposed to be safe. A little trick I picked up being stuck on Chronos." Turning around once more, Johnny tries to see into the fog. Is that something moving closer? "It is weird though. If THIS is that same place, it shouldn't be this active. Alessa and Christabella are supposed to be dead, so what's stirring everyone up?" Obviously Tabitha didn't tell him everything when they spoke last. "Someone would have to be controlling them and that's impossible."
That's a relief. Just when Kotal thought he couldn't find any more reasons to eliminate Johnny once and for all, if he knew that he had brought the fog in some way there was really going to be some hell to pay, and no meddling cat-girls were going to save him this time. He looks up at the creatures stirring and readies his serrated sword, preparing himself. There is no fear on his eyes, because as Johnny said, he is always about the Mortal Kombat. Now as Johnny begins to say that Alessa and Christabella, Kotal holds his peace, he's still under strict rules to not tell anyone what transpired in his meeting with Caliga and Setsuna. Being surprised about their demise would imply he knew about them all along. "Well then, Johnny. You have been here for far longer than I have. Who do you suspect would be behind this?"
Johnny ponders that question a moment, "I don't know, but the thing is... Whoever it was would have to be nearby. And I mean like /right now/. The only other way would be if one of them WAS still alive, and even then they couldn't be controlling them from a distance without a General." The maniac lets out a heavy sigh, "Remember when I mentioned becoming a monster? It's why I know as much about Christabella as I do. She got into my head. Made me her pet - although none of us knew it was her at the time. We thought she was a different version of Alessa. It got really ugly in the end and as always I ended up being pushed into something I regretted. One of the many things I wasn't proud of. Especially with a fucking helmet bolted onto my face..." As if on cue, a Red Pyramid-thing steps into view from the fog. The nine foot long blade at his side scrapes along the road sending sparks here and there. Somehow lifting it up into the air one-handed, the pyramid-headed man brings it down between Kotal and Johnny, splitting the concrete at their feet. Johnny looks up at Kotal with a slight smile, "...and THAT is a Great Knife! Beautiful weapon, right?" The maniac leaps backwards putting some distance between him and the blade. "Dude, you need to wake up, and wake up NOW. We can finish this conversation later." The Aztec will find it far easier to wake up having been brought here by Johnny than the last time. After all, last time he wasn't asleep, or was he...?
"That is exactly what I meant by you not being a pawn." The Aztec gives another almost disappointed sounding sigh. "For too long have you been naught but a tool to demons. It is shameful to see such beasts taking advantage of you and Twisted like that." Because truly, the idea of Johnny as a pyramid head demon is truly a terrifying one. And yes, just as in cue one of those beasts approaches, and yet Kotal does not move when he brings his massive meat cleaver between him and Johnny. The Aztecs scoffs as the maniac practically begins lusting after that massive knife, and he just shakes his head. "All blades pale in comparison to Cuauhtemoc." That being the name of Kotal's macuahuitl. He is about to engage the creature when Johnny urges him to wake up causing the Aztec to refrain from fully drawing his blade, albeit looking somewhat disappointed about it. He was obviously hoping to kill at least -one- Pyramid Head, it would have made this ordeal more fulfilling. "You get to live this time." Kotal seems to say to the demon before escaping the fog once again through waking up.
Johnny's words seem to echo in the fog that exists in that moment after one awakens. "HAHAH! Fucking Pyramid Heads!! YOUR KNIFE IS MIIIIIIIINE!!!!!" At least wherever he is he's enjoying himself..? It may not bring satisfaction to Kotal that he didn't personally take it down, but at least if it's still alive it's alive somewhere without it's blade.