In this particular battle, Kung Lao (series regular Paolo Montalban), the Earth warrior, crushes Shang Tsung (series regular Bruce Locke), the Outworld warrior. Instead of killing Shang Tsung, Kung Lao chooses mercy for his opponent and lets him live–a decision which he comes to deeply regret. The defeated Shang Tsung is banished to the Cobalt Mines of Shokan, where he spends his days plotting revenge against Kung Lao and all of the Earth Realm.
Following Kung Lao’s victory, Rayden, God of Thunder and Protector of the Earth Realm (series regular Jeffrey Meek) reveals to him that as the last defending warrior of Earth Realm, he is charged with training a new army of warriors to compete against Shao Kahn’s henchmen in future rounds of Mortal Kombat. Unfortunately for Kung Lao, this wasn’t what he had in mind–he figured after successfully defending the Earth Realm, he’d be able to go on with his life as it was before Mortal Kombat.
Two big parts of this life are the Temple of the Order of Light, which trained Kung Lao to be a warrior and Jen Reyland, a local Baron’s daughter. During the week that the Temple was celebrating the victory in Mortal Kombat, Jen, accompanied by her bodyguard Siro (series regular Daniel Bernhardt), went to make an offering to the temple and its fighters. On the road they were met by three monks who turned out to be highway bandits trying to rob them. Luckily for Jen, but not the bandits, Siro is a master martial artist, who not only defended Jen, but also took one of the bandits, Taja (series regular Kristanna Loken), prisoner. Taja would eventually become a servant in Baron Reyland’s household.
Turning his back on his destiny, Kung Lao asks for Jen’s hand in marriage, but is quickly rebuffed by the Baron who states that Kung Lao’s association with the Temple and the ‘Elder Gods’ and ‘Realms’ is not a suitable lifestyle for his only daughter. When Kung Lao protests, the Baron tells him that any further contact with his daughter would be considered a threat and he’d have no choice to but to have Kung Lao killed.
Meanwhile, in the Cobalt Mines, Shang Tsung has taken up with the vile she-prisoner Vorpax (series regular Tracy Douglas). While neither can be trusted, they need one another as Shang Tsung still has his powers of sorcery, but cannot leave the mines and Vorpax, although not as powerful as her partner, is able to cross through portals into other Realms to carry out his evil deeds. In his first strike against Kung Lao, Shang Tsung enlists the deadly warrior Scorpion to visit the Earth Realm and begin his revenge.
Through a series of malicious machinations involving Scorpion, Shang Tsung is able to thwart Jen and Kung Lao’s palnned elopement; have Kung Lao captured by the Baron’s guards and sentenced to death; and have the loyal Siro disgraced and banished from the Baron’s household–leaving his fate, as well as that of Jen and Kung Lao up in the air.