The image expands grows through the camera lens. First the crowd appears and then, zooming in, the lens focuses on a lone man.
"I've got him in my sights. What do I do?"
The man lazily puts on his goggles.
He gazes blankly at the man that appears within the goggles.
"Who is this, bozo?"
He lights a cigarette as he asks the question.
"It seems he's...Benimaru Nikaido, the genius shooter who can manipulate lightning. He seems like something out of science fiction, doesn't he?"
There is no reaction to this man's answer, and he asks the next question.
"Isn't this stalking? If this is all there is, I'm going."
"No, soon the trap is about to be sprung."
After bringing an end to his overseas tour, a long-awaited return to Japan. Benimaru walks through the crowd, feeling the familiarity of being a fish returning to familiar waters.
BENIMARU: "In spite of my trip extended trip overseas, I'm tired of the scent of my fellow countrymen. At least I killed some time before my meeting.... Shingo sure is insensitive, choosing a place like this for us to meet."
Benimaru appears in a small courtyard. Shingo arrives shortly thereafter.
SHINGO: "Long time, no see, Mr. Nikaido!"
BENIMARU: "Yeah, it's been a while. But I wish you'd have chosen a more suitable place to meet, you know I hate crowds, don't you?"
BENIMARU: "What do you mean, 'Huh?'"
SHINGO: "Didn't you write me this letter that said you'd be arriving in Japan today so meet me here? See. I got an invitation to KOF with it too, right?"
BENIMARU: "A letter? An invitation? To KOF?"
Shingo points to the invitation and letter.
"You are cordially invited to this year's King of Fighters. We hope you, Benimaru Nikaido and Shingo Yabuki, will honor us with your presence on the Special Team consisting of these appointed members...."
A letter is included with the invitation.
It is just like his, but of course he cannot make out whose hand it's in.
BENIMARU: "Oh, how droll."
BENIMARU: "We've been had. But how did they know I'd be returning to Japan today...?!"
Interference causes the notice screen in the square to hiss dissonantly. Snow covers the screen. In spite of the loud noise, people pass by as if nothing is going on.
BENIMARU: "Do you see that...?! Who is it...?"
He looks around but doesn't understand. Benimaru is befuddled. Meanwhile, the big man and his partner resume their discussion.
"He plays his part well. They'll make fine additions to our syndicate. They melt right into the rest of the crowd."
"I'm out of here."
"Just hold on a minute. It's almost finished, OK?!"
He pushes the terminal button at his fingertips. In an instant, letters appear on the screen on the other side of the lens. Benimaru scrutinizes the letters appearing on the notice screen.
BENIMARU: "S-T-R-I-K-E-R M-A-T-C-H...What's that all about?"
SHINGO: "Huh, that...?"
BENIMARU: "You know about it?!"
Shingo points to the contents of the invitation letter.
SHINGO: "It's all here in the invitation. It says that this is the format for this year's tournament."
BENIMARU: "The format for the tournament? What is it?"
SHINGO: "I don't know. I think we'll catch on once we get there, though. It seems this year's tournament consists of 4-on-4 team battles."
BENIMARU: "Did you say four team members?!"
SHINGO: "Doesn't it say so there?"
BENIMARU: "You, me...and who are the other two clowns?"
SHINGO: "That's written here too."
Benimaru quickly checks over the contents of the invitation.
BENIMARU: "K' and Maxima...?"
Examining the image through the lens, the sound of Benimaru's voice saying his own name synchronizes with the movement of Benimaru's lips.
"Yup. I'm looking forward to it, Benimaru Nikaido."
A giant "Hooo" sound is heard next to him. When he shifts his glance, the man previously sucking on his cigarette extinguishes the butt in the hand wearing that red glove.
MAXIMA: "You really should stop that, nasty habit."
K': "I'm out of here."
MAXIMA: "OK, see you at the tournament then. That glove's important. Use it sparingly, OK?"
K' gives Maxima a big tut-tut and leaves. The notice screen resumes its display of announcements, as if nothing had happened.
SHINGO: "So what're you going to do?"
BENIMARU: "All we can do is go, I guess."
SHINGO: "Mr. Kusanagi isn't around and Daimon is busy, it seems. I've got a bad feeling about this."
BENIMARU: "Kyo...? We just may meet up with him soon...."
SHINGO: "Why do you say that?"
BENIMARU: "I don't know for sure...I just got a feeling."
SHINGO: "A feeling...you say?"
BENIMARU: "OK, let's get going. I'm leaving Japan today."
SHINGO: "Uh, yeah, I'm coming with!"
Fatal Fury Team
When I met up with him again, he didn't sense anything different. While I was training, it took a while for me to realize that the phone was ringing. When I became aware of it, the phone must have already rung 10 times, and I managed to pick it up just as the caller was about to hang up. A familiar voice on the other end of the receiver chewed me out.
"Hey, thanks for finally picking up lead butt."
The tone of his voice was more reassuring and calm than complaining, I felt that he was smiling on the other end, happy to be talking to a friend after a long while. After exchanging one or two pleasantries, the caller soon got right to the reason for his call in his typically matter-of-fact way, or put more bluntly, in his usually rude way, but when I heard his story, I felt a feeling of relief.
"It looks like a private event this year. And it looks like we'll be able to enter as a team of four. The other two...you know who they are! Let's meet at the place we always do, you know when. You do remember the place, right? ...I'll let the other two know myself. Let's win this again, OK?"
Apparently the invitation had only been delivered to him, and he called me up right away. Of course I had no reason to turn him down. No...not since I wanted to test the results of my unsparingly gruelling training, anyway. I left Japan right away. It had been a while since I last saw the gang too, so I checked into a Southtown hotel a few days before the tournament and anxiously waited for them to show up. The morning of the appointed day. That day was more blisteringly hot than usual, and I realized that the bed was cool because it was drenched with sweat when I woke up.
When I think about it I must have had the dreadful premonition then too. It took about 30 minutes to the meeting place from my room. I checked out of the hotel quickly because I wanted to walk to take a jaunt around the old streets of Southtown I had not seen for a while.
The moment I got out of the hotel, a familiar voice called out my name a few times. When I looked back I saw him walking quickly toward me, wearing that familiar red cap, the brim down over his eyes. So the both of us headed to the meeting place together, and I gave up any thought of enjoying a pleasant walk through the streets of Southtown.
At that time I didn't think that anything in particular had changed with him. He talked in his usual outgoing manner with that winning smile on his face, didn't appear to be injured in any way, and looked his usual strong self. A figure whom even the meanest-looking military types strutting confidently down the street made a point of getting out of his way, his arms of steel rippling with those muscles, and that unnatural chest that the buckshot of the most powerful shotgun would bounce off of even though the weapon would drop a lion with a single shot.
We came to Southtown's main street. The city had been changing dramatically these days I heard, and my eyes were struck by the sight of skyscrapers I had never seen before and the streets of high-quality fashion shops and jewellery stores.
It was Sunday and people thronged along the streets of the shopping district, clearly oblivious to such matters as "economic downturns" and "war footing;" they exhibited the prosperity brought by peace. While gazing at the children, laughing with joy while accompanying their parents who had come to ship, he muttered,
"...I wonder if I'll be coming back this time..."
His comment shocked me. When I saw the unfamiliar expression on his face, different than anything I'd ever seen, I finally was able to realize the graveness of the matter. Yes, it was like he was going to his death...!!! Realizing the amazed expression on my face, he quickly changed the topic to other unrelated matters, as if trying to get me to forget what he had just said.
I, too, tried to come up with something suitable to say, but I could only get through the awkwardness of the moment with a nod and a nervous laugh. An sense of dread choked us, and we walked on for a while in silence. I tried not to think about what grim fate awaited us, but that expression then burned itself into my memory, and I couldn't shake it out of my head. The voices of two people calling our names shattered our silence.
Apparently, unawares to us, we had already reached the meeting place, but when I glanced at my watch, I discovered that we were about 15 minutes late for our meeting.
"Wow, those guys are fast. Oh, Joe already here, too. If you don't hurry up, pal, Mai's gonna thump you upside the head."
He said this with a laugh and the two waiting for us ran toward us. Sure enough, Mai appeared a little miffed, striking her usual pouty pose at the slightly late Andy and me. Looking back, when I recall the image of the back of him running toward them, maybe it was a result of the ungodly heat of that summer day, he looked so far away from me.
Art of Fighting Team
Yuri is having a nightmare.
She doesn't know where she is. Her father Takuma is buried under the falling debris. She can do nothing to save him.
Yuri bolts up and awakens with a "Gah!"
"Ah! What a dream...."
Yuri, who until now has always thought working out with her father was nothing but a major pain, is shaken by the vividness of the dream and thinks that maybe her father really is going to die.
"No, no, I've got to forget that weird dream and concentrate on my training today!"
Trying to shake off the nightmare, Yuri quickly changes into her training clothes and bounces down the stairs.
From early in the morning, she can hear the sound of someone kneading soba noodles. The person busy making noodles is of course Takuma Sakazaki. He is well known as the creator of Kyokugen Karate...and a mighty fine bowl of noodles.
"Y-Yuri, you're up. It looks like I've created some delicious noodles again today. How about it? Care for some?"
"Uh, no thanks. I'm good...."
With her father like this...she feels she's wasted time worrying about him.
While reassuring herself that she could not have possibly foreseen the death of her father who is indestructible in her eyes, Yuri begins her morning run, letting the gentle morning breeze guide her course.
A man awaits the arrival of a sweaty Yuri at the doorway as the city begins to comes alive with the freshly risen sun,.
The man wears red training gear. He is the acting master of Kyokugen Karate. He is Ryo Sakazaki.
"Oh, man! Ryo! Why don't you wash your workout clothes! Those are some awfully stinky duds!!!"
"What?! This is the smell of the guys I was working out with. No, I mean, ah, whatever. Be that as it may, Yuri, Pop says he wants to talk to you."
"Oh, come on, Yuri. It won't kill you to hear him out, will it?"
A familiar face appears over Ryo's shoulder.
This is Robert Garcia. He's the son of the Garcia conglomerate. He is also Ryo's good-natured rival and friend.
"You went to the trouble of calling Robert...? Could this mean...?!"
"Yup. It looks like there might be another King of Fighters this year, I guess."
"OK! If that's what it's all about, it just may be worth listening to. So, where's Pop?"
"He's in the gym now."
"Well, let's go."
The instant she hears this, Yuri makes a beeline to the gym.
"Oh, Yuri. Wait up. You don't have to rush. The Master's not going anywhere."
While Yuri walks toward the gym at a brisk clip, she thinks it's already the season for the King of Fighters.
As the three arrive in the gym, they see that Takuma is already waiting for them, sitting in the centre.
"Oh, so you've all come at once. Well, take a seat."
"What's your story, Pop?"
Ryo asks his father, kneeling down before him in the "seiza" position. "Unh. As a matter of fact, this was delivered to our gym."
The thing that Takuma sticks out in front of them is what they expected. It is none other than the invitation to the King of Fighters.
"Well it looks like the King of Fighters tournament is going to be held again this year, huh?"
Ryo answers with a solemn expression.
"In spite of that, I haven't seen any TV ads this year, and the scale seems a lot smaller and kind of subdued. Well, since there are so many happenings that accompany the KOF tournament, I guess it's no coincidence that the big sponsors have pulled out."
"And I'm going to enter this year, but this time I want to enter with somebody else."
"No, Yuri. You'll enter as a member of our Kyokugen Karate team!"
Takuma answers promptly.
"Hey, why? I mean there's Ryo, right? Robert, right? And if you enter, Pop, that's all three, isn't it? If I enter, too, that's one too many!"
"Ah, my little cicada, it seems that this year the necessary members for each team is four."
"Gag! So I can't enter as a member of the Woman Fighters Team again?"
"Yuri! Don't forget that you're a member of the Kyokugen Karate team! And that's...."
"All right, all right. I don't need another lecture from you! Oh, fudgeskies! But this time I really wanted to team up with some fighters other than my smelly brother...."
"Come on, Yuri. You don't mean that. This time all of us can represent Kyokugen Karate, right? You may not get a chance like this again."
"Yeah, I guess you're right...."
"Yuri! That's enough of your griping! You're always...."
"All right, all right! I got ya! I'll enter on your team, Pop! Well, I got to get to my training."
"Hold on there, Yuri. Pop's story isn't over yet...."
Yuri exits the gym without batting an ear at Ryo's entreaties to stop.
Yuri sits under a pine tree behind the gym.
"Man, It's really a pain having to do what Ryo and everyone tells me to do, but at least I'll be able to enter the tournament...."
And even more... It seems she's still worried about something. It's the dream she had this morning. I wonder if my father and this year's King of Fighters tournament have something to do with each other? Or maybe they aren't related? Well I guess I'll know for sure once the tournament begins!" Yuri keeps her strange unease and her equally high hopes to herself as she enters the tournament. It looks like this year's summer, for a variety of reasons, is going to be another hot one.
Ikari Warriors Team
Several figures move in the darkness.
A "Click!" and the surroundings are bathed in a brilliant light. The wide, unoccupied floor is illuminated. It's obvious someone left this place in a hurry.
CLARK: "Well, it's always adventure, isn't it? Day in and day out."
RALF: "Just how many times has this happened? Right when we think we've got 'em, they escape as if they were on to us."
CLARK: "And it's kind of creepy that we don't have a clue what they were up to here."
Leona, standing next to the two, senses something. She makes a dash toward the direction she intuits where her target is.
RALF:"Hey! What's going on, Leona?!"
Leona plunges into the darkness. The sound of blades clinging against each other rings out.
A young woman...no, the voice of a young girl can be heard. The lights trail in the direction of the voice. A girl holding a whip snaps it around the knife that Leona is holding out and she whisks it from her.
CLARK: "Leona, stop. Who is it...?"
Leona steps back. The girl lowers her readied whip and salutes Ralf.
GIRL: "I'm from Axe Platoon."
RALF: "Axe Platoon? Aren't they supposed to be investigating another objective 20 kilometres from here?"
GIRL: "A number of platoons have been dispatched on this mission. A majority of the objectives are linked by underground passages. I followed one of them and ended up here."
CLARK: "So that's it, is it? Well? Did you come up with anything?"
GIRL: "I can only reveal the exact details of my investigation directly to my superiors. But I will say that all of the objectives are linked together and it appears that large-scale espionage has been taking place."
RALF: "Espionage? What kind?"
GIRL: "I can't tell you that. Excuse me. It's time for me to report back."
She turns her back to the three, and goes back into the darkness. Ralf and the others see her off.
RALF: "They're really robbing the cradle these days, aren't they?"
CLARK: "Yeah, I thought Leona was young, but she must be just out of diapers."
A few days later. In Heidern's office. Leona, Ralf, and Clark stand at attention.
HEIDERN: "Take a look at this."
Heidern plops an envelope before the three. Ralf examines its contents.
RALF: "An invitation to KOF? There's another one this year, huh? Hmph.... Whoa! Four members to a team this time around, is it?"
HEIDERN: "That's what it says."
CLARK: "So I guess we'll be teaming up with our commander to enter this time around, huh?"
HEIDERN: "That's a big negative there, Shades! You should be able to see what's coming! Anticipate!"
Clark takes the invitation from Ralf.
CLARK: "The venue of the tournament is.... Hnh...?" RALF: "What is it?"
Clark hands the invitation back to Ralf.
CLARK: "Didn't you catch it?"
RALF: "Don't rush me.... What's this...? That's creepy. The more matches you win, the closer you get to a worse place."
CLARK: "It's a collection of all the places where we've been outwitted in all our recent missions up till now."
HEIDERN: "That's not the only thing. It appears that this year's tournament has none of the excitement of the same magnitude as last year. It seems that this tournament will most likely be a private affair."
RALF: "Just what does HQ think about this?"
HEIDERN: "The formation of a head office for espionage operations was decided on today. I'm to be the leader."
CLARK: "And just what does that mean for us?"
HEIDERN: "You'll enter the tournament and investigate what's going on behind the scenes of this year's event."
RALF: "And what are we supposed to do about our missing member?"
A knock at the door comes from behind the group.
The door opens. A familiar young woman enters.
HEIDERN: "She's transferred here from Axe Platoon. She has nearly completed her investigations."
GIRL: "It's an honor to serve with you. My codename in Axe Platoon is...."
RALF: "WHIPPY?" Clark lets out a giggle. The girl shoots him a questioning look.
GIRL: "...What, do you mean by that?"
RALF: "It's your codename, isn't it? A simple mnemonic device is the best thing in a codename. You use that whip so they must call you 'WHIPPY,' don't they?"
GIRL: "It's 'SALLY.'"
Clark plays with the letters in his head.
CLARK: "S-A-L-L-Y means 'sortie'? How swashbuckling!"
RALF: "SALLY?' That's a bit simple, isn't it? Oh, well. I look forward to serving with you 'WHIPPY.'"
Ralf extends his hand but receives a salute in turn.
LEONA: "Pleased to meet you."
Leona salutes the new addition. Next, Clark extends his hand.
CLARK: "Pleased to serve with you, Whip."
Her expression is a little disingenuous but she flashes him a smile.
WHIP: "Ooh, I like that. And I like you. The pleasure will be all mine."
Whip shakes his hand.
CLARK: "Quite a grip there. Doing work like this at such an age must be tough."
WHIP: "Not necessarily. I get a lot of laughs compared to where I used to work."
Clark looks over to Ralf. Ralf replies with a shrug of his shoulders.
HEIDERN: "Well, let's carry out a short briefing and get you on your way. Meet me in the briefing room in ten minutes and bring your gear. Dismissed!"
EVERYONE: "Yes, sir!!!"
Psycho Soldier Team
FARTHER: "Please, I beg you. Just save the life of this child."
Deep in the mountains, somewhere in China. A father pleads before his fellow villagers, desperately trying to keep his composure upon learning the bad news concerning his wife's fate and his newborn son.
VILLAGER 1: "I'm sorry...We're in a bad way ourselves."
VILLAGER 2: "As the village elder said, this day your child was born on is a cursed day that occurs only once every 200 years. He will certainly bring misfortune in the future. So we can't turn a blind eye to this."
VILLAGER 3: "Here, here. I empathize with your continuing misfortune.... Please take your time bidding farewell to your son and wife today."
Upon speaking their piece, the few villagers leave the ill-fated household. That night, the family vanishes from the mountain village....
[283 days before the tournament for Chin Gentsai]
CHIN: "Hmm, I understand your tale. I will take care of this child. There is another in my custody who possesses the same powers as this child. These children can only be understood by others of their own ilk and spending time among people of similar gifts may do him some good."
HEAD PRIEST: "You lighten me of a heavy load allowing me to leave this child in your care."
CHIN: "But I'm honestly quite surprised to learn of still others who are able to use psychic powers. Were there any portents of this?"
HEAD PRIEST: "No, it happened all of a sudden a few days ago. Until then he was no different than any other child.... I had no idea when his father entrusted me with this child's care that he possessed such abilities...."
CHIN: "This sudden display of ability is what worries me though.... So, have you spoken about his family with the child?"
HEAD PRIEST: "No, I haven't, but it looks like he knows."
CHIN: "Really...? Well, I'll look after him with the intention of furthering his abilities, but I'll leave any decisions about the future up to the boy."
[280 days before the tournament for Sie Kensou]
"I thought I'd always have it."
"World peace, extrasensory powers, training with Athena."
"My training is for that coming day...when one appears to threaten peace...It is then my training will pay off."
"And then...my life will begin in the service of peace...."
"So...as long as peace continues...my training...my training with Athena...."
"This alone...is my sole source of happiness...."
"I thought I'd always have it"
KENSOU: "Super Sphere!"
KENSOU: "That's bizarre...I'm really off my game today!"
ATHENA: "Are you OK? Are you coming down with something?"
KENSOU: "No, I don't think so... Ha, ha, I'm OK. A-OK! I'll be all right after a good night's sleep."
Since then...since Athena asked, "Are you coming down with something?"...I realized it then....
"...My psychic power...it's gone...."
"I thought I'd always have it."
"There are a lot more guys who are stronger than me."
"We're not training just to become stronger."
"You're right, because we have this power..."
"If I'm not a psycho soldier...If I don't have my psychic power...."
"There's no reason for me...to stay here...any longer."
"I thought I'd always have it."
"I've returned...to a mere human being...."
"Could it affect me...this much...in the end?"
"I thought I'd always have it."
KENSOU: "How long will I be able to stay here?"
[156 days before the tournament for Bao]
BAO: "Kensou! I-I can fire a Psycho Ball now! Hey, look! Look!"
As he assumes his stance a short distance from Kensou, he unleashes his Psycho Ball attack.
KENSOU: "Wow, impressive! If I don't stay on the ball, you just may become tougher than me."
BAO: "Heh, heh, heh. Xie xie. Now show me your stuff. I want to see your psychic power. I hope you get better soon."
KENSOU: "When I get my power back, I'll show you anytime you want. I'll show you a huge Psycho Ball the size of...."
BAO: "Yeah, for sure. For sure. Promise me!"
KENSOU: (Yeah, IF I regain my power...that is.)
[71 days before the tournament for Athena Asamiya]
MANAGER: "What's wrong, Athena? You look a little down...hope it's not stage fright."
ATHENA: "No, that's not it...I'm sorry. I'm just worried about a friend of mine...."
ATHENA: "I know he's in a bad state, but there is nothing I can do for him."
MANAGER: "Oh, really... But you have to forget about that now and get in that peppy Athena mood of yours. If you don't...you'll let down your fans."
ATHENA: "...Yes! You're right. I'm sorry to make you worried too."
MANAGER: "No problem! Hey, you're on! You're fans await you!"
Waaah! Yeaaaaaah! Woo-hooooh!
ATHENA: "Hey, everybody!! Hello!!"
ATHENA: "Thank you for coming tonight!! I'm happy so many of you could make it!! (...Huh?)"
She cocks her head to the side when she sees a familiar face in the audience.
ATHENA: (Chang? Why would he be at my concert? Not only that, what's he doing here in Japan? And I don't see Kim...or Choi either. Has something happened? ...Naw, it can't be him.)
Yaaah! Waaaaah! Kyaaaah!
ATHENA: "Thanks everyone, now for my first song, ﾔBanged-up Blue Moon'!"
WAH-HAAAAH!!! WHOOOOA!! PSY-CHO-SOL-DIER, PSYCHO SOLDIER!
ATHENA: "Stop! Please, no more! Don't go and break my heart..."
[64 days before the tournament for the Psycho Soldier Team]
CHIN: "They say that the King of Fighters is going to be held again this year. I think we'll have to enter again. Since we need a team of four this time around, I'll be joining you three, if you all don't mind?"
ATHENA, BAO: "All right!"
KENSOU: "Ha, ha, ha. This four-member rule has saved my butt. If it weren't for that, I'd be sitting on the sidelines for sure. Ha, ha, ha."
CHIN: "...So, this may be a little tough on you, Bao, since you've only been with us a short time, but I this is one way to see how you are coming along with your training."
BAO: "OK, sir. I'll do my best!"
ATHENA: "We're behind you, Bao!"
CHIN: "And there's one more thing..."
Chin looks over to Kensou.
KENSOU: "Huh, what's up, Master? Oh, Master, what's with the stink eye? Ha, ha, ha, I'm OK. I'll make sure I won't hold you guys back. I haven't just been going through the motions with my training here. Even if I can't use my psychic powers, I still can show you easily I can win."
CHIN: "That's not it, Kensou."
CHIN: "I'm hoping you'll find some way to regain your powers through this tournament. So whether you win or lose is of secondary importance."
ATHENA: "Yeah, you may just recover them while you're in the middle of battle. If one battle's not enough, then it'll be the second or third, and we'll do our darnDest to increase your chances. So give it your best shot and concentrate on regaining your psychic powers."
KENSOU: "Athena...Thank you. I'll do my best...and then some."
Women Fighters Team
An early afternoon in Southtown.
The city dwellers have had it with this year's sweltering heat. With the heat bouncing off the asphalt, there's one shop that people rushing to get out of inferno naturally stop. The name of that establishment is "Bar-Illusion." It's a shop with a refreshing and relaxed atmosphere.
Cling, cling rings the bell at the entryway and a lone woman enters the bar.
"Welcome. Oh?! Why if it isn't Mary?!"
The bartender who receives her seems to be an acquaintance.
"Have you come here on another investigation? Nose to the grindstone, eh...?
"The bartender's name is King. She's the well-known woman fighter who's so famous in Southtown that everyone knows her name.
"Yeah, I guess. It's my job, you know?"
Mary mutters this as she takes a seat at the counter.
"Well, yeah, I suppose. So, how's tricks?"
"Ah, the usual end of the world stuff regional conflicts, refugees, famine."
"Yeah, there's not a lot of happy news these days, is there? So, do you have any business with me? You're not the type of person who'd come here on a social call now, are you?"
"A most acute observation. Take a gander at this."
Mary flips her laptop computer open.
"Well, take a look at this."
"What is that?!"
King seems surprised when she sees the message. Displayed on the screen is an invitation to this year's King of Fighters tournament.
"I knew there'd be another competition this year, but in spite of that there doesn't seem to be any advertisements for it...."
"Yeah, that does seem fishy, doesn't it...And the invitations have been individually sent in all types of formats...."
"And that's what's fishy, is it...?"
"So, you've probably got one then, haven't you?"
"What? Are you telling me to enter with you?"
"What are you talking about? You've got this invitation, haven't you?"
"Whoa, you are quite the investigator, aren't you? You never change...."
"So, are you going to enter?"
"Well, I guess I could. But we can't get enough members this year, can we? It says we'll need four fighters on a team. This time around Mai's teaming up with Andy. And I'm sure Chizuru won't be entering...."
"You don't need to worry about that: I've got some other teammates in mind..."
"You've prepared everything, have you?"
As her words leave her lips, King hopes that this year won't be as "exciting" as previous ones.
The scene changes to the hustling and bustling of Southtown's Chinatown.
A pair of vigorous voice echoes on the streets. Gapers gather as if summoned by the voices.
"Hang in there, Kimono lady!"
It seems that the passers-by are enjoying a little rumble between a waitress from a Chinese restaurant and a young woman dressed in a hakama, a type of Japanese skirt for formal occasions.
"Run away without paying your bill, will you! I'll make you pay!"
"I'm telling you I didn't eat and run! I'm just going to the bank to withdraw some money!!!"
"Do you expect me to swallow a crock like that?! You may not believe it looking at me, but I've never let anyone leave my restaurant without paying, deadbeat!"
XiangFei. She's a part-time waitress/bodyguard who happens to be on the job at her Chinese restaurant today. She's usually able to subdue offenders in two or three minutes, but today, for some reason, she has her hands full. Today's deadbeat has been able to defend herself against whatever attack Xiang makes. It appears that this opponent is one tough customer.
"Huff, puff...now just...come quietly with me...."
"W-Who...I didn't do anything wrong..."
The battle between these two seems to be locked in a stalemate.
"Oh, it's over there."
People are gathered haphazardly in front of the place that Mary points out.
"There? It looks awfully crowded over there."
Mary has pulled King out of her shop for a while and the two have just arrived here in Chinatown. Although it's a part of Southtown, Chinatown seems like the other side of the world. And there among the gathered throng...just what is going on? She goes to check it out with her own eyes.
"Uh, excuse me."
King tugs Mary along with her and they elbow people aside, making their way to the centre of the crowd. They're slightly taken aback when they see the cause of the commotion. The face of the woman dressed in the hakama looks familiar.
"Kasumi! Just what do you think you're doing?!!!"
"Oh, King! Fancy meeting you here!"
"Now's my chance!"
XiangFei sees her chance and makes a move to striker her opponent. Her attack seems destined to strike Kasumi. But then...
Mary grabs XiangFei's hand the second before she hits Kasumi.
"OK. That's enough. I'll pay the bill, XiangFei. More important, we've come to recruit you for our team. How about it?"
"Huh? Do you mean the King of Fighters?"
XiangFei shoots a surprised look at Mary.
"Yup, that's what I'm talking about. You should have gotten an invitation delivered to your place."
"Yeah, but Grandfather Pai stopped me from entering."
"I'll talk to your grandfather. How about it? Will you enter with me?"
"Uh, sure! Yeah, I'll do it! I love a good fight!"
"OK! Then it's decided. And...you, too, Kasumi. You got one, didn't you? An invitation."
"Huh? You'll let me join your team? I-I have just happened to be looking for some fellow fighters who would allow me to join their team in the tournament! I'm so happy!"
"Of course! How could we ignore such experienced talent if we plan to enter the tournament?"
"Huh...? You mean this eat-and-run deadbeat, too...?"
XiangFei purses her lips as she makes her chiding comment.
"Look, I told you I'm not a deadbeat!"
"Ah, I've got a bad feeling about this...!"
Just thinking about what's about to unfold is beginning to give King a migraine.
Korea Justice Team
KIM: "Hey, you clowns! You're late!!!"
CHANG: "Huff, puff...wait a sec, please, Master Kim...wheez, cough...."
CHOI: "Huff, puff...You're a little...too fast there, buddy boy...."
KIM: "What am I to do if this makes you whine?! I'm not winded at all! Just how long have you guys been training with me anyway? You're slacking off. Give me two more laps!"
CHANG: "...Huh?...Please, Master, cut us some slack! ...Wheez, cough...."
The same three are in the midst of their usual training at the usual location. Just as they are about to enter their third lap of their usual running course, a lone man stands before the three, blocking their way.
MAN: "You're looking fit."
MAN: "I guess I should exchange pleasantries about how long it's been, eh, Kim?"
KIM: "It sure has been a while, eh, Jhun? When did you get here?"
CHANG, CHOI: (Kim...?? ...Jhun? ...Who is this bozo?)
Kim takes an unusually polite tone toward his visitor; moreover, he talks with him as if they've been life-long friends.
CHOI: "Uh, is he one of your old friends, buddy boy?"
KIM: "Uh, pretty much...."
JHUN: "Hey, that's pretty rude!"
He looks a little questioning as he cuts Kim off.
JHUN: "Old friends? Hmph, poppycock! I acknowledge that we were both disciples of the same teacher, but I don't remember being 'friends.' I'd hope you'd be more precise in your answers."
KIM: "...So you're still carrying a grudge against me?"
CHANG, CHOI: (Whoa...I sense a little friction here....)
KIM: "It's been this way for a long time...I don't even know how it got like this...."
JHUN: "Hmph...Whatever. That's not why I've come here today."
KIM: "I guess not. So, what in the name of the flying phoenix brings you here?"
JHUN: "I saw that documentary about you on TV recently, and gagged on your comments about "rehabilitation." Of course I saw it via satellite."
KIM: "Oh, stop, you're embarrassing me..."
JHUN: "Don't be silly. You can embarrass yourself all on your own."
JHUN: "If you think you can "rehabilitate" people with your methods, you're really quite the anachronism, pal!"
KIM: "That may be but I'll rehabilitate these two according to my methods. My methods are neither new nor old. In a word, it's all about results or the lack thereof, and new does not necessarily mean good."
JHUN: "But that's how it was broadcast to the world. You've made everyone think the people of our country are a bunch of primitives, and I can't stomach that. And what you said was nothing but self-promotion."
KIM: "...So, it can't be that you've come all the way here simply to admonish me, have you?"
JHUN: "How perceptive. I've learned all the teachings of tae kwon do just like you, and I've come here to have you acknowledge my abilities."
KIM: "You are my good trusty rival, and I acknowledge your ability. Satisfied?"
JHUN: "OK, now I want you to entrust one of your charges to me."
CHANG, CHOI: "Say what, Goldilocks?!!!"
JHUN: "Since I left here I have absorbed and studied various matters without being shackled by tradition and formalism. I want to make the most of that and rehabilitate one of these two with my logical and calculated methods, not your primitive and out-of-date voodoo. Then We'll see then just whose ideas are correct."
Chang and Choi, listening to the exchange between the two, have different ideas.
CHANG: (Hey, things aren't looking very good for us.)
CHOI: (Things ain't no picnic now, I can't tolerate this alone, buddy boy!)
CHOI: "Yeah, buddy boy, we deserve a little preparation for something like this."
CHANG: "I don't care whether he's a fellow disciple or not, there's no way I'll let this guy boss me around."
KIM: "...Very well. It may be a good chance for one of them to see more of the outside world. I leave it all up to you."
CHANG, CHOI: "Huuuuuu-uh!!!"
KIM: "Would entrusting the mighty Chang to you be acceptable?"
JHUN: "Ah, a physical brute, is it? It's someone worth teaching; he'll do just fine."
CHANG: "N-No, uh, uh, M-Master Kim...Why?"
JHUN: "Well, then let's hop right to it. I have no time to lose, so I'll ask you to get your stuff in order right away, Chang."
CHANG: "Hey, don't I get to say...? Huh? ...Right away?"
JHUN: "That's right. I've got to return on this evening's flight."
CHANG: "What? 'Flight'? ...Just where am I going, anyway?"
JHUN: "Japan, big guy."
KIM: "Didn't I mention that Jhun is living in Japan these days?"
Korea, a few months later.
KIM: "OK, take a break."
CHOI: "Hah, hah...."
KIM: "Ah, that's right. I got a letter from Chang in Japan."
CHOI: "Really?! A letter from Chang, buddy boy?!"
KIM: "Hold on there, pal!"
A few minutes later when Choi gets a letter from Kim, he quickly opens the envelope and reads the letter inside.
It's been a few months since I left our country, so how's it going? Well, I'm sure you're making the best of this. Unlike our training up till now, I've been using a bunch of training machines and fill my time training as efficiently as possible. So since I don't spend all my days training, it's pretty easy on me physically but the problem is what to do with the remaining time. This clown's making me study. Study! It seems that Jhun is a teacher at a Japanese School here, and in my spare time I'm taught things like general education and sports dynamics, and the last one is the most intense. I'd rather be dead than studying!
If things keep up this way, I'd rather be dealing with Kim...No, instead of that, I just want to know how long this is going to go on! Well, I don't want to bring you down, because I know we're both in one pretty pickle. Keep your sharp things up!
P.S., Give the other letter from Jhun in this envelope to Kim, will you?
Choi gives the envelope another going over and out pops a smaller envelope.
CHOI: "Master Kim, this is for you. It seems to be from Master Jhun, buddy boy."
Kim opens the envelope and reads it over, grunting in agreement as he goes over its contents.
KIM: "Choi, starting tomorrow we begin a special new regimen."
Yaaah! Waaaaah! Kyaaaah!
ATHENA: "Thanks everyone, now for my first song, 'Banged-up Blue Moon'!" WAH-HAAAAH!!! WHOOOOA!! PSY-CHO-SOL-DIER, PSYCHO SOLDIER!
ATHENA: "Stop! Please, no more! Don't go and break my heart..." CHA-CHA-CHA!
CHANG: "Uh, Master Jhun..."
JHUN: "Oh, she's heaven.... Huh? What is it, Chang?"
CHANG: "Is this also part of my training?"
JHUN: "No, this is recreation."
JHUN: "Well, well, is that so. It looks like there going to hold the King of Fighters again."
JHUN: "And it looks like we're going to be entering with Kim and Choi. He says that we can see just whose method is the best in this tournament."
CHANG: "So, what will happen to us?"
JHUN: "I guess you can look forward to returning to society if you perform well enough in the tournament."
JHUN: "So you should start working hard for the tournament. Hmm, you look a flabby there. How about cheering along with me? Tones up the stomach muscles, you know."
The moment that thunderous rumbling in my ears begins, the color drains from the surrounding landscape and I fall into darkness.
In this darkness, the feeling that cool drops are falling on my body continues for some time. And then the sensation suddenly stops. My body goes limp, but I still can open my eyes. I regain my sight with difficulty, and someone's approaching palm appears right before my eyes. The darkness swallows me once again. I, along with my consciousness, am sucked back into the darkness.
I don't know how long I've been asleep. As before, I am still enshrouded in the darkness.
But now I know I'm awake.
At times I feel as if something is sucking me upward. I feels like I'm going to hurl. At odd moments, I recall the forms of old acquaintances that have nothing to do with my current predicament.
A voice comes next.
I can't make out whose voice it is, and it asks me things I can't quite understand:
But whatever I hear, I choose to ignore. I absolutely do not want to voluntarily answer any questions. A transformation takes place just as I begin to think how long will I be like this.
I hear a throbbing sound.
It is a throbbing sound within me. At the same time, a familiar fever seizes me.
It's my blood.
The blood begins to course through my veins. The ferocity of the throbbing increases so much so that I want to cover my ears. In the midst of this I hear a voice calling to me. The throbbing is louder and I have trouble hearing it. The throbbing then consists of a variety of other noises, and it transforms into a blast, as if something's exploding. The voice calling to me is faint, but I can certainly hear it.
Someone is calling me.
"Kyo," it says.
Along with the voice that summons me, I see a light in the distance, albeit faintly. I squint, trying to make out what it is. But the light grows in an instant and my surroundings become visible.
I'm surrounded in a sea of flame. Smoke fills the air and I have trouble breathing. An alarm echoes in my ears. When I am finally able to see and hear clearly, I become aware that the throbbing that is growing even more intense are the explosions occurring around me, and they shoot flames into the air. A man blocks my way.
"So, was it you who was calling me?!"
The man does not attempt to answer; in fact he seems absolutely paralyzed with fear. I can make out a mark on the man's collar.
The instant I attempt to ask what this mark means, the blast wave of an explosion knocks the man and me backward. When I come to I wonder how long I was out and realize it was only an instant. The smoke seems to have subsided and I realize I have been thrown several meters clear of the fire. The next thing I hear is not the sound of explosions but one of shattering glass. Some sort of fluid spills to the floor and it seems to vaporize, surrounding me with a choking heat. Just when I come to the realization that I have to get out of here, something touches my feet.
A corpse. Not only that...it's my corpse. And it's not just at my feet, the whole room is filled with me, corpses of me are strewn all over the place. I put two and two together quickly; the meaning of my interrogation while I was in darkness suddenly becomes obvious to me.
"...Make a monkey of me will you...!!!"
I unleash the flames fly from my fists. But I don't let them all out at once, I let the irresolute flames smoulder at my fingertips.
"My power as well..."
Nothing seems to matter. All I can do is fill the room in flame with all the power at my command. From the roaring flames, I can this time clearly hear a voice beckoning me.
There's no need to think; it's his voice."
I leave the room. I'm buffeted with the shockwave of a fiercer explosion.
"NESTS...This is going to cost you big time...!!!"
The flames continue to smolder from my fists, as if imploring me to take action.
The sound of something covered in a sticky liquid being dragged by something becomes audible. Following after it, a group of men see a crooked, bright red line trailing down the corridor for a considerable distance.
The pursuers stand fast with guns drawn. The man looks back.
"Are you talking to me...?"
There's no response to the man's query.
"Whatever, but you will answer my question. Where is he?"
There is no answer. They pull out more guns instead.
"Hmph..." Indifferent to the threat, the man begins to walk away. The men train their guns on him. "!!!"
It all happens in an instant. A heavy lump reeking of blood is tossed before the men who are about to pull the triggers to their guns. The mound of meat appears to be a colleague of theirs. Next, a wind blows through the corridor. The wind that cradles something heavy and sharp grazes the face of one and the stomach of the other as it mows by them. In that instant, the men stroked by the wind each let out the highest, most pitiful scream they have ever uttered in their lives. An alarm rings out.
The man shows no sign of stopping. He easily deals with the men who appear before him, attempting to block his way. When he's finished, another pile of hunks of pungent blood and flesh stack up on the floor. And then something explodes behind him.
The whole area turns into a sea of flames.
The man proceeds unflinchingly forward. The flames that block him are mown aside by blue flames he shoots from his fist. A figure appears from the swept-away flames. A smile comes to the man's face.
"So, you're here after all? ...Let's see what you're made of!!!"
Just when he appears to turn his back on the man...
"Eat this! Goo-ohhhhh!"
The distance between the man and the shadow is closed in an instant. The fist enveloped in flame is knocked up to the shadow's head. The sound of breaking bones can be heard.
"You're not him!"
Feeling a strange sensation, he moves the hand to his neck. The flames reach their apex. The figure that was once there is now a flaming mass.
"No! Where? ...Where is he?!" A door stands before the man who resumes his forward trek. He tosses away the hunk of goo and kicks down the door.
The same faces and forms of the previous figure are lined up in front of him. He's seen them before.
"What is this? Kyo...!"
He hears a voice from behind.
"Y-Yes, I'm certain. That man...! Y-ya-ya...gaaaah!"
Fingers dig deep into the man's throat and a disagreeable sound follows.
"You know, don't you? Where? Where is he?!"
The man expires before he can answer. He snatches a grenade from the dead man's equipment and tosses them at the queue of "Kyos". The sound of a fierce explosion shakes the room, and the line of "Kyos" becomes a row of dark lumps of flesh.
"It's the same here, too.... Where?! Where is he?!!!"
He shoots flames at the mounds of flesh. The force of the stirred up flames increases and the sound of explosions reverberate through the room.
His scream is loud enough to drown out the sounds of the explosions. It is different from the scream that time he lost his mind. The scream that surges up from the his diaphragm is that of one man and one alone: Iori Yagami.