Also known as Kotal Kahn's domain outside his office. When one is in search of the god of war, if he's not in his office or in the arena sharpening his skills against hapless opponents, it is a safe bet that he can be found in the kitchen, his other passion aside from brutally mangling people.
Today is such a day. Having a bit of a breather now that he doesn't have to worry about stacks upon stacks of paperwork, Kotal has been spending much of his free time frantically cooking and baking. The aroma that comes from the kitchen might reveal that its a bit of the latter today as it smells faintly of bread and fruit.
"IT IS FINISHED!!" Kotal's booming voice is heard as he pulls a tremendously large pie out of the even. "Hmm.. corn flour made pie seems to be a complete success. Now.. if I could only find someone that could try it.."
It in fact isn't long before there is motion at the doorway. There at the doorway is Rayne! Cursed delicious smells have distracted her from her stack of paperwork(which explains why Kotal didn't have quite as much) to the point that she decided she just had to take a break and see what was going on. "By the stars, Kotal, do you have any clue how hard it is to concentrate on those files when you're cooking?!" She really doesn't look too angry, however. Any excuse to stop working on paperwork. "What is it, anyway? It doesn't look like your typical work."
"Rayne! What an opportune intervention." Yes, it seems that Rayne is in luck as she gets to be the happy victi-- I mean, the lucky tester for one Kotal's newest experiments in the kitchen. "Today, I have made a dish known as.. pie!" He declares with the kind of pride one would expect from a mad scientist creating their latest machine or something like that. "Much like my previous experiments with the dish Pizza, I have replaced certain ingredients to make it match Mexica cuisine." The pie itself is enormously big, it looks more like a very flat cake than a pie. He slices a piece and sets it on a plate which he slides over to Rayne.
"It is made of maize, coconut oil and a combination of cherries and blackberries. Careful it is hot." Interestingly, Kotal seems like he has no problems holding the burning plate with his bare hands. Though it's not too surprising since this is a guy that literally feeds from sunlight.
Rayne says, "Wait, I thought there actually was something called a Mexican pizza..." Poor, poor Rayne. Only knowing Mexican food from chain restaurants prior to coming here. "Oh, for a second there I thought you were going to say it was a chili pie." She takes a seat at the table, sniffing the pie more directly now that it's right in front of her. "Thanks for the warning... Hot things won't really damage me, but it does still hurt like hell." It seems she's content to let it cool for a moment."
It seems that Kotal actually knows what pizza is Rayne talking about. "No, not that one!" He says visibly cringing. "The so called contemporary version is just covered in re-fried beans and cheese. Why in all the realms do these stores keep selling food with cheese and call it Mexica is beyond me. The people of Aztlan hadn't even heard of cows back when I ruled!" No cows, no milk, and no cheese, but Kotal is going to spare Rayne the history lesson, at least for now.
Kotal wipes his hands on his apron while Rayne waits for the pie to cool off. "So, how have you felt thus far being my second?"
Rayne blows on the pie slice before responding in a deadpan, "It's more paperwork than advertised." A fork in hand, she takes an experimental bite. "Hey, not bad. Definitely a different flavor to the crust from what my dad made a few times when I lived with him. I'm assuming that's from your specialized ingredients. How did your pizza turn out? I missed that one."
"It is, is it not?" Kotal won't deny the fact that one of main reasons why he needed a second is to help with the piles of paperwork. Sure, having someone to fall back on in the unfortunate event that Kotal is indisposed is useful but.. it really was mostly for the paperwork. "It took me by surprise as well. TASK is the most modern organization I've ever been in charge of."
He takes a seat next and decides to partake on his own pie now that Rayne has approved of it. "Ah, the pizza was back when we all lived with Dante. A success as well, though it didn't seem to interest Dante's brother Vergil in the least. Terribly gloomy fellow, and one that is not honest with his feelings if I've ever met one." He shifts on his seat and regards Rayne curiously when she mentions living with her father. "Your father also cooked despite being a great warrior? This interesting. Tell me more about him."
Rayne says, "Ah, so back before my time, then. I never did meet the previous director, but I don't think you were in charge yet when I got to Twisted?" She takes another bite of her pie. "Well, I imagine a lot of great warriors can cook... It's kind of an important survival skill, right? The embellishment is just for fun, as he put it. He actually stopped bounty hunting while I lived with him, though, and started working as a bartender so he could stay in one place." Another nom!
"But, yeah. Uhhh... what do you want to know? I mean... He's the first non-diamondian that he's aware of that bonded to a Khadran crystal... He's really, really old, like, several millenia... He's mentioned fighting against... what was it, Cartilage? Well, he fought for Rome, I know that name, against the other, he said that was a major campaign he was proud of being a part of." She frowns, trying to think. "He didn't really talk about his past much other than that though. He said that was because his home island, Sicily, was heavily involved in the war."
"Indeed, I believe you arrived even before Diablo had convinced Dante to be in charge of TASK." The Aztec god reclines on his seat and ponders how was the situation back then. "Hm, I am unsure if you would have gotten along with Dante. He had a charismatic attitude, but I did not enjoy his womanizing ways in the least." He purses his lips thoughtfully. "Perhaps one day he will return and you can decide for yourself."
Kotal chuckles as Rayne mentions that all warriors need to know how to cook. "We do indeed! Hence why I have no shame in the things I do, and why I am so displeased with the food available in this realm. One cannot cultivate a warrior body if you eat nothing but garbage." Kotal's a health nut, who would have thought?
As the conversation moves to Rayne's father, Huitzilopotchli furrows his eyebrows and listens carefully. "Intriguing.. I fought extensively with the Greeks as well. I believe I mentioned they knew me by the name of Ares."
"Tell me, how is that your father appears to be immortal? Is this.. Khadran crystal the source of his powers?"
Rayne says, "No, no no! Wait... Did you not know I'm a phoenix?" She blinks in surprise. "We kinda... don't age. It's a a thing. We have some extra potential with fire related things, we don't age, we can come back from the dead about once a month or so, and, oh yeah, we can transform into a bird that's on fire. I got those traits from my father."
She then shakes her head. "The crystal is something very, very different. It's..." She frowns, trying to figure out how to explain it. "Okay, what I know about them. It's pretty much a Diamondian thing... They're a species from the Sidra arm, they're these... tailless, furred, pointy eared..." She's definitely grasping for how to describe them. "Well, they're not human, they're their own species entirely. But they have this... thing, where their heroes are awarded a living crystal to be their partner and weapon or something. Apparently my father found one somehow on Earth. He kinda uses it to... Well, he uses it for just about everything. It's kinda really fluid, and he can use it to form clothes, even." She looks to the side. "Which makes it a lot easier for him to take to bird form." She definitely sounds a bit jealous of her father on that front."
"I know of your Phoenix heritage, yes." Nods the Aztec. "Though it was never clear to me just how exactly this was so. Is there an entire race of Phoenixes or are you and your father one of the few?"
He frowns once Rayne explains the nature behind this crystal, and Kotal rubs his chin thoughtfully trying to piece together all the information being related to him. "Quite the extensive story I see, though I can imagine it is only fitting for beings of such age. The way that you speak of this crystal makes me think you want one as well."
Rayne says, "Oh... Well, he said the Cartilaginians or whatever they were called killed off most of them in the war, so... Yeah, not a whole lot of us. I honestly don't know of any others. But the way he described it, and the way my mother described dragons, is that these kind of legend races are kind of like... a second level. Like... they can't be just a phoenix, or just a dragon, or just a coatl. They've got to be something else as well. So... I'm not just a phoenix, I'm a human, too. Dad said he never heard of a phoenix that wasn't human, but Mom said there were plenty of dragons of other species." She frowns. "But the crystal, yeah. Dad found his, but Mom actually was awarded hers by the Diamondians. She said it was the first time a non-Diamondian was awarded one, but she played a big part in liberating their homeworld, so they were a bit generous in passing them out after that."
"As far as why I'd want one... Well, I'd want something that could act the way Dad's does. Mom's is kinda independent, like a pet almost, while Dad's... it's like a part of him. I'm guessing it's because he found it and used it without knowing what it was, but Mom was actually educated in what it was before she really learned to use it. But him being able to use it for clothing? Yeah, that use is pretty nice. I can't really feel like I can fly. It's... it's such a hassle to find a way to actually..." She blushes slightly. "I mean, I can't exactly change my form while I'm dressed, you know? What happened... What happened in that dream, the way I did it then... if it were reality, my armor would have been demolished from that. I just... I wish I had that kind of freedom that he does."
Kotal didn't want to jump to conclusions because this is Rayne's dimension she's talking about, but something about they way she pronounced that last part makes him think she's trying to say something else. "Do yo mean Carthage?" Because if so, then Kotal has a better idea of just why his dad doesn't want to talk about it. Kotal remembers the Punic Wars quite well and they were a very complicated affair.
The explanation of the crystal though makes it more easy to understand why Rayne feels so frustrated about it. Kotal doesn't try to dwell on the whole races aspect about Phoenixes and Dragons and Coatls and the like, from the sound of it, Rayne herself doesn't understand either, so he tries to focus on things he can help.
"I see.. yes, I have found it odd why you only used that ability of yours when we entered the fog. It would appear to me that it would be useful to use far more frequently." He pauses to ponder a few things.
"Have you though of going to the magic shop down by Twisted street? I'm sure they would have some kind of minor magical artifact that would help with your dilemma."
Rayne says, "Yeah! That sounds right." She nods at the correction of her poor memory of the name. "Well, I saw that as an emergency. It felt like if I didn't do it then, things would have... not gone well. I saw it as worth destroying my armor at the time. Magic, huh?" She seems to ponder this. "I may have another avenue to use magic somehow. I've recently uh.... become friends with another magic user. She seems pretty proficient, so she might be able to help me on that, too."
She then takes another bite of the pie and munches for a bit. "But yeah. He said between the wars with Carthage he wandered earth a bit. Said he made friends with some coatls and a dragon or two in the west, but he lost track of them a long time ago."
"It is that kind of quick thinking of yours that I've come to rely on, Rayne." Kotal gives a nod and stares at the rainbow haired girl intently. "You are right, had you not forsaken your armor and transformed into a Phoenix when you did we could have all perished in the fog and Twisted would be doomed. It is only fair that you acquire some method to maintain your decency in the face of danger."
Leaning back, the Aztec looks upwards and wonders. "In fact, we should have the resources here in TASK. Hmrg.. a pox on Gegoshi and Diablo. I am sure the AI could come up with some kind of.. technological device to store clothing of some sort."
The mention of a magical friend makes Kotal turn to Rayne again. "That is certainly useful. I am glad that your duty to TASK has not gotten in the way of your social life."
"It is important to build relationships outside work. Just because my existence revolves around war does not mean that I expect all my officers and staff to do the same."
Rayne looks slightly uncomfortable with the intent stare. She's been getting a lot of those lately, and it's frankly starting to freak her out. "Uhh, Y-Yeah, well, thanks. Um, yeah, it would be hugely appreciated. If I could have some way of stowing my armor, then I could, you know, actually go out without it every once in a while." The edge in her voice on that last part makes it fairly clear she's been getting aggravated with her own reluctance to go out without her combat equipment. "I should hope you wouldn't expect that. If you did, I'd frankly probably quit." She breathes out an aggravated sigh. "Still, it's really stressful."
In Kotal's defense, he really can't help giving very intense stare. When you have miniature suns for eyes that sort of happens even if he's not trying. He can sense that Rayne is feeling uncomfortable with his stare though and retracts, or at least doesn't stare that intently at her anymore. "I will look into it. If anything at least TASK has quite the extensive resources and Twisted city, small as it may relatively be, holds artifacts from all over the multiverse. I'm sure I can find some manner of storing system." He muses and chomps on some more pie. "I should ask Minu.."
The aggravated sigh of frustration is noted and though Kotal doesn't look apologetic about suggesting something like that, he gives her an understanding stare. "It is difficult for me to deal with non-deities at time. You see, Rayne, I do not remember if I have mentioned this before, but being the god of war bears with it many liabilities."
"I do not only relish in Kombat. I -need- it to survive, I need battle as much as someone would need air and food. Without conflict I would simply.. cease to exist. So you will have to forgive me if I sometimes push you too hard into the fray."
"I suppose the other real problem is that you are my only warrior. What with Urus being so very unreliable."
"Have you had any luck recruiting? Perhaps this magician friend of yours is interested? She sounds powerful."
Rayne just nods grimly as Kotal explains the requirements for his own existence. "Hrm. Well, I've mentioned it to a few newcomers I've run across. Deis actually seemed to almost be interested. You remember Deis, right?" She smirks, not imagining Kotal could forget her. "There was also a... worm guy, but he honestly didn't strike me as being particularly... stable. Casdy... I think she might be interested? But I don't want to force her." She frowns as she says this, looking down at her half-eaten slice of pie.
Kotal makes a face at the mention of Deis, it's hard to tell since his has glowing orbs for eyes, but it may look like he just went cross-eyed. "Ugh, Deis." He says in distaste. "That woman is hiding something, and I do not enjoy those whom would keep secrets from me. I would not even consider allowing her to join until I learn of her true motives."
The Aztec exhales from his nostrils angrily and presses his elbows on the table. "I have enough back stabbing nonsense from Diablo. For all I know, she could just be another one of his agents, like Alucard." He drums his fingers on the table.
"This worm person can't be any less stable than Urus and I already have to deal with him in a regular basis. As for Casdy.. she is your friend, so I will let you decide how best to handle that situation."
He sighs after that, almost looking depressed. "A general is nothing without his army.. I've never felt this powerless." Then he looks sideways at her. "Perhaps we can hold a recruitment session.. I could bake pie for everyone." Genius.
Rayne says, "No... no, I really got a feeling of less stability form this worm guy compared to Urus. Really. He's... literally a worm with eyes that controls a robot." As for Casdy, she keeps her thoughts to herself on that matter, but she looks conflicted for some reason. She snaps out of it at the mention of pie again. "Wait, what? You want to hold a bake sale to recruit people? Okay, maybe not sale, but..." She just can't tell if Kotal is joking or perfectly serious."
"How can anybody, or anything for that matter, be less stable than Urus?" Kotal argues. "He is a frenzied hyena that can use firearms. I literally had to put a leash on his soul in order to have some semblance of control over him." On that Kotal looks perfectly serious. "I do not mark people lightly. He is one of the very few whom I've marked with the sign of Huitzilopotchli."
The talking worm controlling a robot though -might- be weird enough to top Urus though. "He is a what?" Kotal blinks looking perplexed. "Sounds like a creature born of Twisted's instability. Are you sure he is not a native of this realm?" He shakes his head. "No matter, bring him in. I will judge if he is worthy or not."
But now on to the bake sale! "Perhaps not a bake sale per se.. but we could hold some kind of event.. with free food. It has worked for me before, that is how I recruited Ferra/Torr back in Outworld, one of my best warriors."
Rayne physically recoils at the mention of a leash on a soul, and the look of revulsion is probably the worst look Rayne has ever given Kotal. She silently, slowly nods as Kotal asks her to bring Jim in as a possible recruit, and seemingly calms down partially as Kotal returns the conversation to a catered recruitment drive. "Y.... yeah. It might. Though I think most people in town would already have an idea we're here. I'm not sure what good more exposure like that would really do.
Oh, Kotal noticed the look of revulsion of alright, but honestly? He is quite used to that look from the rainbow haired girl, it's not like she gave him that exact same look when she saw the throne made out of skulls in his office, or when he talks so casually about ripping people's hearts off. Kotal doesn't judge her for her aversion to it, though he probably doesn't understand exactly why Rayne is giving him that look.
In the end, he just pretends he didn't notice it and moves along. "Some more publicity is order. The public of Twised used to have a very bad image of the previous TASK from what I understand. We have to make it clear to all that we have distanced ourselves from the roots of this organization and that we are an approachable police force rather than the tyrants some still think we are."
Rayne says, "Then I would suggest not bringing up souls on leashes, and keep your chair in your office. That might not provide the image you're wanting to project." Nope, Rayne still sounds pissed. She sounds like the teenager she looks like talking back to her father. It's an image of anger that is completely destoryed by her taking another bite of pie. It's so hard to look angry when eating pie."
It's interesting that such an analogy is used, since Kotal has been described before as being everyone's dad, and like a father, he seems to instinctively know when something is wrong with his kids.
That this is the first time Rayne is lashing out at him and that she's taking such a prissy attitude is more than just a hint that something is wrong. Its like blaring alarms sounding that something has Rayne on edge. "Rayne." Kotal's intense stare returns, the orbs that are his eyes glowing brighter and he's suddenly looking not too pleased at his second in command, but also concerned. "Did something happen?" Something says that if he were to add a 'young lady' to that last sentence it would be perfectly at home.
Rayne says, "Ngggrrrr. It just... Hits too close to something else that's been bothering me." She holds up her hand, and in it is what appears to be... A glowing leash. It vanishes just as fast. "Stupid rules from another world that had to be followed for someone's survival. It doesn't seem to bother her, but it bothers me. I try to keep it out of my mind, but you then brought that up." She props her elbows onto the table and rests her face in her hands. "I don't think I'm getting back to that paperwork tonight."
Well, that is a glowing leash, waddaya know? Kotal stares at it curiously before it disappears and he looks just as confused as before. He can see where's the relation to what he did to Urus, but without any details he can only assume. "I think you will have to elaborate."
Rayne makes no effort to remove her face from her hands. "Urrrrrugh.... Fine. Casdy comes from a world in really crappy condition. The people there came up with what's basically a slave race that has the whole owner/pet relation built into thier very core. So she came here and doesn't have a link to her old master anymore and needed someone to fill the role before bad things start to happen to her." She looks back up again, but doesn't remove her face from her palms, only slides it up so that her eyes are now above her fingers. "The whole nature of the situation sickens me, but I was just too worried about her safety and the possibility of someone less reputable getting control of her."
Just as he suspected. There really was something bothering Rayne and it is quite the complicated dilemma. "Thank you for sharing that with me." He tells her first. "It means a lot to me that you would trust me with this kind of information."
But on to the problem itself, what to do about it? "Personally, I believe you did the right choice. Not only did you save a life, but you also prevented someone else from owning her. Someone who would cause her no small amount of agony in her existence like Diablo or the Joker.. or even Christabella. Not to mention that would use her powers for evil."
"However, I understand why you'd feel it is immoral to own a person." He reclines on his chair once again, and sighs, there's simply no easy way to deal with this kind of topic, especially with someone as gentle hearted as Rayne. "Slavery is quite abhorrent to me, but when it is magical in nature it adds an extra layer of complexity to it. What I did to Urus was for his own good and for everyone around him as well, it will ensure he does not go berserk and attacks his allies."
"My only suggestion is this. Bring her to us, Minu and I may find a way to free her from her bounds. But know that the real challenge is that even if she is freed, she may not want to stop being your slave."
"This kind of contracts are actually quite common in Outworld. They are called familiars.. and sometimes it's not unlike marriage. Why, Skarlet, one of Shao Kahn's magically created enforcers, believed herself to be one of his wives."
Rayne says, "Yeah... Yeah, intellectually I know I made the right descision. But it still makes me feel sick inside sometimes. To even have that... remote possibility that I might one day be tempted to abuse it, or not watch my words and force her to do something she doesn't want to." She winces again before continuing. "And yeah... She even said so herself she'd seek someone out. When we... made the contract, or whatever the process is called, I was able to stomach it because we... I refused to think of it in that manner. It's just... a friend. Friendship with a... an extra magical bond..." She then laughs a couple of times. "I'm sure Twilight would get a kick out of that wording." Rayne actually blushes somewhat at the comparison to marriage, but says nothing. "But with Urus... I'd... I'd appreciate it if you don't overuse it."
"I have no doubt she would." Kotal just sort of rolls his eyes at the mention of Twilight. It's nothing personal, but a being made entirely out of battle and blood lust can't help but feel slightly disturbed by the pretty pony princess of friendship and rainbows. It just doesn't mesh, even if he doesn't personally blame her for it.
The Aztec warrior notices the blush, but he says nothing as well. He simply inwardly thinks that this might be a good experience for Rayne to grown.
And as her concern for Urus, he simply shakes his head and waves it off. "Trust me, Rayne. I have been in your situation hundreds of times, and most of the time even more complex. Urus is just the latest warrior I've been forced to show the way lest he self-destructs and takes everyone around with him. I know what to do."
"Besides, you forget that I am a god. Technically I own all of my worshipers." And they are many worshipers of war, even if they don't necessarily know they revere Kotal Kahn.
Rayne winces slightly at the mention of owning all his worshipers, but then she removes her hands from her face and sighs. "It's been a rough week. I think I may have to call it a day and just go back to those forms tomarrow." She downs the last bite of her pie and stands up. "Ugh... Sorry the talk turned darker.... and thanks for the pie."