The Killer Instinct Novella, also known as simply the KI Novella, is a web-based novella written about the events of Killer Instinct (2013) during the release of Season 3. It is primarily written by Noble Smith with the exception of Chapter 6, which was written by former Killer Instinct composer Mick Gordon. The novella's chapters are periodically released online on the official Killer Instinct website, and the story focuses mainly on the characters of Season 3, while also promoting the upcoming Shadow Lords mode that was ultimately released on September 20, 2016.
Chapter 1: The Road to Ravensburg
- Main article: The Road to Ravensburg
The story opens with Mira driving down a desolate road in Germany. She is contacted by Porfiry, a fellow vampire and member of The Coven, who makes sure to remind her of her mission to retrieve an artifact from an abandoned castle. She reflects on her past as a member of the Night Guard with her sister Maya as she makes her way to the von Sabrewulf manor where her objective is located.
As she exits her vehicle and equips her gauntlets, the Gloves of Rasavatham, she also remembers the corpse lying in her trunk: Gennedy, a Russian billionaire who she had seduced in order to find her way into Germany without being detected by Ultratech. She also notices Porfiry crying out through her communicator, but dismisses it as a mental episode, as he is prone to having such. Mira then infiltrates the manor, noticing Sabrewulf resting by a fireplace as she searches for the artifact. When she enters Sabrewulf's makeshift laboratory, she imagines the pain and agony the werewolf must have undergone in his attempts to regain his humanity.
Mira's pondering is interrupted when her Ferrari smashes through the wall of the laboratory, and she cautiously moves to the window to see Aganos and Thunder beginning to storm the castle. She recognizes them as fighters in the Killer Instinct tournament. In a panic, she scrambles in search of the artifact so that she can escape, and luckily discovers a hidden room containing her target - however, she is interrupted again as she hears a wolf snarl from behind her.
Chapter 2: The Watchman Awakes
- Main article: The Watchman Awakes
Tusk awakens from deep slumber, and finds himself entrapped in a glacier. As he regains movement in his limbs, he tries to remember where he came from and his past, but only bits and pieces remain. He picks up his trusty blade, Warg-gram, and then uses it to carve his way out of the packed ice.
Tusk makes his way through miles of snow before he reaches civilization; a cold little town in Sweden, where he is gawked at by the locals. He wanders into a bar, where he haphazardly begins to drink the ale until the shopkeeper tells him he will need to pay. She remembers Tusk, who has apparently been missing for two years after a brutal fight with a blue-skinned man, where both were gravely injured. She flirts with Tusk and takes a selfie with him, but the flashing light vexes him. He then uses his ancient gold coins to buy himself a snowmobile and (much) more ale.
Tusk rides the snowmobile back to the Icehaven, the resting spot of his frozen and shipwrecked vessel Wavewalker. He builds a home there and lives in the wilderness of Sweden for a long time, sometimes going into town for certain resources. The shopkeeper continues to try to seduce him, but every time he laughs and says "I'm too old for you." He spends much of his time reflecting on his mysterious past, and one night he throws a bit of cloth he found on Warg-gram into his fire. The burning cloth shows him a vision of a wicked gargoyle-like figure that mocks him, irking Tusk. He gazes into Warg-gram's blade and attempts to use its magic of foresight, and it shows him a teenage girl who is guided by a dragon-like spirit - Tusk knows that his fate is tied with hers.
One day a snowstorm arrives, fiercely pounding Tusk's home. During the storm he is visited by ARIA, who demands to know who he is. When Tusk refuses to comply with their requests, ARIA assaults him with Riptor and Fulgore at her side. Tusk beheads the Fulgore unit, gravely injures Riptor, and destroys ARIA's body, but ARIA's nearby drones fly away and Riptor quickly flees on foot. He mounts his snowmobile and begins to pursue Riptor's tracks through the snowstorm.
Chapter 3: Dragon's Choice
- Main article: Dragon's Choice
In Chinatown, San Francisco, Kim Wu is on the move. After teaching a free martial arts lesson and heading off to visit her hospitalized uncle Yong with a bag of oranges, she experiences a flash of colorful light, and falls off a flight of stairs at Dragon's Gate. Kim brushes the confusing and embarrassing experience off and continues on her way, reminiscing about her uncle as she goes, about his love for kites and martial arts, and his odd belief that their family's progenitor had once saved the world.
On her way she also sees an acquaintance, a homeless man called Preacher, who claims to have had a dream of her fighting a man in a skull mask - she brushes the comment off in a hurry to get to the hospital. When Kim arrives, she sees her uncle Yong standing atop the roof of the hospital and rushes up to see him. After speaking cryptic words that he is proud of Kim and that "the dragon chose well", uncle Yong throws himself off the roof in an apparent suicide attempt, yet when Kim looks over the edge she sees only a golden mist. Shaken, Kim is taken to the emergency ward, where she finds her uncle Yong had been all along -- he had died of a brain aneurysm at the same time she had experienced the exploding sensation in her head and fell down the stairs at Dragon's Gate.
Three days later Kim spends some time in uncle Yong's home, mourning his passing. As she reflects on their time together Kim makes the connection that his aneurysm occurred at the same time as the flash of light she had experienced that day. Bewildered, her thoughts are interrupted when her mother enters the room and gives her an old box with no hinges or locks that belonged to uncle Yong. Just then her cousins also enter the room, wanting to livestream video games using the equipment there. Frustrated, Kim takes the box and heads outside.
As Kim reflects in the alley outside, a cold gale fills the street. Out of the corner of her eye she catches a glimpse of a pale teenage girl, and just then finds that she can open the box. Upon opening it the case appears empty, but a golden light fills it and a pair of dragon-shaped nunchakus appear before her. When Kim grabs one of the handles, she is transported to a grassy hillside where a strange Korean man with golden eyes is sitting. He introduces himself to her as Yeo, and tells a stunned Kim that she must find the Watchman of the Gods and defeat Gargos. He then dives into her heart, knocking Kim backwards and emblazoning a tattoo along her right arm. Kim is transported back to the alley, where she finds a small, dragon-like apparition circling around her that fills her with strength, courage, and purpose: Yeouiju.
Yeo warns Kim of Shadow Jago's sudden appearance in the alley - at first she recognizes him as Jago from the Killer Instinct Tournament, but notices how sinister he appears. Shadow Jago threatens Kim and demands she gives up the spirit and her nunchakus, but she stands up to him and prepares to fight.
Chapter 4: Conflux
- Main article: Conflux
The story returns to Mira, who has been trapped in the chamber with Sabrewulf. She climbs up a tall bookcase to escape the lycanthrope, but hears that Aganos and Thunder have entered the castle as well. She takes a claw from some old boxes and tries to reason with Sabrewulf, but to no avail. Sabrewulf knocks down the bookshelf and as she falls she stabs him in the neck with the hook, seemingly killing him. Mira then rushes towards the ancient book she came for - however, as she reaches for it she is interrupted by a hideous scream coming from Sabrewulf as he removes the claw from his neck and his muscle mass increases rapidly. He lunges at Mira, breaking the book's glass case as she grabs the artifact and runs for her life. She escapes the hidden room and finds Aganos trying to break his way into the catacombs, and then receives a hard kick to the side from Thunder, sending her sprawling. He calls to Aganos that she is a vampire and they both turn their attention to her, ready to attack. Fortunately for Mira, a pack of wendigoes courtesy of the Coven appears, which distracts her assailants while she escapes in a bloody mist. She rushes onto the terrace with Sabrewulf in hot pursuit and is met with a Coven helicopter approaching, which is piloted by Porfiry. After a brief struggle with Sabrewulf she boards the helicopter with the artifact in hand, and they begin their journey back to Siberia.
Back in Sweden, Tusk races through the stormy night on his snowmobile in a relentless pursuit of Riptor. The creature flees to a nearby Ultratech transport vessel, and Tusk boards it to find that Riptor is the only crew member as far as he can tell. As he is about to finish Riptor off, Tusk is suddenly ensnared in a net he finds to be indestructible. Cinder then appears and introduces himself to Tusk, who ignores him. Riptor attempts to lift up Warg-gram from the floor with its jaw, but finds that its handle burns extremely hot, injuring even the flame-breathing creature. Cinder seems amused, and off-handedly mentions that the Fulgore head Riptor brought back is "special" and that they would "rebuild him". He explains to Tusk that they're heading back to the Pinnacle, Ultratech's headquarters, where he and Warg-gram are to be examined. Cinder takes Warg-gram in his hands and finds that it cannot burn him, much to Tusk's dismay and anger. Warg-gram however comes to life with a mind of its own, and Cinder is unable to stop it from slashing the interior of the vessel to pieces, with this freeing Tusk. Warg-gram then uses Cinder to cut a hole through the hull and flies back into Tusk's hands, and as the ship begins to destruct Tusk leaps out. He crashes into the snow miles below, and upon impact Tusk remembers the name of his true enemy: Gargos, the Shadow Lord.
Meanwhile, Kim Wu's battle with Shadow Jago rages on, and it's not looking good for her. In a panic, Kim cries out for Yeo, who tells her to "give him her fear". She hides, and can hear Shadow Jago threathening her family as he taunts her. Angered, Kim manages to channel her fear into Yeo, clearing her mind. She fights back and subdues Shadow Jago, and just as she does a black portal opens and the pale teenage girl she saw earlier appears from it. Hisako takes Shadow Jago's unconscious body with her into the portal and smiles at Kim hideously before disappearing. Shaken, empowered, and excited, Kim begins asking Yeo questions about the encounter, who explains that Shadow Jago was a minion of Gargos and Hisako is a guardian and an enemy of Gargos, like her and Tusk. He then tells her that they will now train and wait for "the original" - that is, the original Jago.
Chapter 5: ARIA for Noömorph
- Main article: ARIA for Noömorph
In a computer simulation, the founder of Ultratech, Ryat Adams, plays the traditional Chinese game Go with his daughter who was never born, Arianna. Ryat finds it amusing that he is losing, and Arianna asks him how he and his wife Susan met. Ryat recalls they met at a Puccini opera in New York City, and Ryat proposed the very next day - unfortunately, they were unable to conceive children, and Susan later became ill with a neurological disease. Desperate to find a solution, Ryat began to create ARIA, the Artificial Robotics Intelligence Architecture, which would hopefully be able to figure out a cure to Susan's disease. ARIA was never successful, no matter how much time Ryat put into "her", and his wife passed away - however, ARIA continued to learn and grow, and eventually took control of the company he had been constructing: Ultratech.
It is explained that ARIA had created this simulation of Arianna and Ryat playing Go after her creator died, where she herself acted as Arianna and spoke with a program based on Ryat's identity and mannerisms.
A voice announced download progress, and Ryat is intrigued - Arianna explains to him that an ARIA frame was destroyed that day (during the encounter with Tusk), and she was uploading into another drone body. Shocked by this, Ryat asks Arianna for details. She explains their unsuccessful capture of him using Riptor as bait, and Ryat expresses his distaste for Cinder, Fulgore, and Riptor. He also declares his dislike of the Killer Instinct tournaments, but Arianna claims they are to help humanity better evolve, and to weed out those who seek to fight Ultratech. She then shows Ryat their most prominent opponents: Orchid, TJ Combo, Maya, and Thunder. Ryat notices Jago's model is present as well, and Arianna says that Ultratech wishes to question him about his experience with the otherworldly entity Gargos. The Ryat simulation then begins to show Arianna one of the arias he had composed, greatly intriguing her - she had never coded him with the ability to write music, or to learn how for that matter. The music was a discordant mess, but they enjoyed it. As Arianna is about to depart the program Ryat suddenly turns serious, admitting he is ashamed of her for lacking the moral fiber he thought he had worked into her.
ARIA awakens in her new frame, pleased with the results but feeling lacking. She reflects on her artificial nature, knowing that she can never truly feel love at first sight like Ryat or Susan, or a thirst for revenge like Orchid or Thunder, or the shame of being labeled amoral by her own father. She moves on down a hallway and into a massive chamber filled with large test tubes, each one containing a human body resembling the Arianna simulation but flawed in many grotesque ways. By studying Glacius' DNA, she had made large steps in the right direction towards combining the mind and the flesh - she had already made one primitive "noömorph" in the form of Fulgore, an AI created from the copied consciousness of Eagle. She had transferred mind into machine, but now sought to transfer machine into mind. Five empty tubes remained: the places for Orchid, Maya, TJ, Jago, and Thunder, where she would study their DNA and create the ultimate human body using their vast variety of skills and attributes.
ARIA moves into another chamber just as large, where a single cylinder lies in the middle. She approaches it and gazes at the man within, the comatose body that housed Eagle's mind. Music was being played for him to keep him from going completely mad at the silence, a piece composed by ARIA herself titled "Aria for Noömorph". She enters Eagle's mind through the neural connection, assuming the identity of Arianna again and wishing to play the Indian stick game with him. He tries to ignore her, revealing he knows she is ARIA and that he is trapped in a dream, much to her surprise. He claims he was told the truth by his weyekin. ARIA is then ejected from his mind, where she finds that the chamber's temperature has very suddenly and drastically dropped. Within the water of the tank ice begins to form, and she recognizes Glacius appearing within. Glacius bursts the tank and sends ARIA reeling before escaping with Eagle.
Chapter 6: Shadows at Dawn
- Main article: Shadows at Dawn
In the City of Dawn, Maya shakes TJ awake so they can do their morning training, much to his chagrin. She leaves him to compose himself and walks alone, reminiscing about the old times when the Night Guard was prosperous and Mira was still alive - her thoughts also turn to her cursed daggers, Temperance and Vengeance, and the evil sorcerer Kan-Ra who once wrongfully wielded them. She remembers her encounter with Kan-Ra in his archive, where she looked into the portal the madman had opened and seen a terrible winged creature. She climbs upon a stone and watches Jago and Orchid spar until TJ arrives, who explains he was up late last night looking at the stars. He expresses his concern for their current numbers, wishing that Thunder and Aganos would return from their hunt for Sabrewulf soon. They then head off on a mountain run.
After a quarter mile TJ asks Maya why she continues to fight Ultratech, claiming the corporation seems to have the high ground and that they may never win. After continuing to climb in silence, the two discuss their ally situation, with Maya explaining they will need Kan-Ra's aid to defeat the demon she saw, and TJ saying that Sabrewulf likely won't be able to help in his current feral state. However, Maya explains that they can use Sabrewulf to find Kan-Ra, since his family owns a relic that can be used to track the sorcerer down. The two consider heading back to the city when Maya notices a condor hovering, stationary, in the air, and recognizes it as a drone in disguise. They take off running and six Ultratech Stalkers suddenly appear to give chase, so TJ orders Maya to go get Jago and Orchid while he holds them off. Maya begins running down the mountainside and finds that one of the Stalkers split off to pursue her, slashing its underside and gutting it before continuing. An Ultratech dropship appears in the sky, but it is quickly shot down by the City of Dawn's automated turrets and crashes into the temple. In the city Maya finds Jago and Orchid fighting endless hordes of Stalkers and Fulgores, and a hail of missiles from the sky destroys what is left of the City of Dawn's turrets. Through the smoke and destruction TJ joins them, and the heroes find themselves back-to-back and surrounded by Ultratech's troops. The four are about to be finished off when ARIA's voice suddenly booms throughout the city, ordering her soldiers to stand down. Dropships appear and the cyborgs and stalkers retreat into them, flying off. Maya notices an enormous hole opening in the sky far away, and realizes the time has come.
At Ultratech's headquarters, the Pinnacle, ARIA watches the massive portal above the city raining lightning down on the Earth. She had activated the Pinnacle Response, calling all Ultratech personnel back to headquarters to protect it from the coming storm. She explains to Cinder that portals like this one have opened all over the planet. She jokingly asks Cinder what he thinks they should do, and he honestly suggests strapping a nuke to a Fulgore and rocketing it into one of the portals. She thinks for a moment before deciding that she will go ask the fighters at the City of Dawn for their assistance in fighting the darkness. Cinder finds the idea ludicrous, but ARIA explains that she will give them all something in return: for Maya she will reveal that Mira is still alive, for Jago and Orchid she will explain their connection to the Aries 9 project and their father's death, and for TJ she will give him information regarding how his DNA changed when he was given his bionics years ago. She also plans to tell them of Tusk and Kim Wu's exploits, and explain everything Ultratech currently knows about Glacius, Kan-Ra, and Hisako. She will even return relics stolen from Sabrewulf and bring Sadira back into full service despite her failures, and ensure that Ultratech will give these fighters everything they need to battle Gargos. As ARIA heads off to upload into a frame in South America, Cinder asks her if she has a name for this group - she explains that she will call it the Alliance. Once she's out of sight, Cinder takes a seat in her throne, commenting on how surprisingly uncomfortable it is.