Following the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, both the forces of light and darkness have been wiped out, with only the thunder god Raiden and Shao Kahn remaining to represent their parties. A severely weakened Raiden is about to be killed by Shao Kahn, but casts a last-minute spell on his now-shattered magical amulet, directing it to contact his past self with the vague message "He must win". During the events of the first tournament hosted by Shang Tsung, the past version of Raiden sees visions of the future courtesy of a now cracked amulet. Raiden initially comes to the conclusion that fighter Liu Kang is to win the tournament and save Earthrealm from Outworld. Pivotal characters such as Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, Jax Briggs, Sektor, Cyrax, Nightwolf, Kitana, Jade, and Sub-Zero are introduced, the latter being murdered by the hellspawn Scorpion. In time, Liu Kang remains the only Earthrealm champion, and succeeds in defeating Shang Tsung and the Shokan Prince Goro. However, Raiden's amulet continues to deteriorate, a sign that future events remain unchanged. Disappointed with Shang Tsung's failure, Shao Kahn orders his execution, but relents when the sorcerer suggests holding the second tournament in Outworld. Raiden initially refuses, but is forced to relent when Shang Tsung threatens to unleash Outworld's armies upon Earthrealm.