King, sorry to have kept you waiting.
So let's have some fun."
A baseball field on the outskirts of Southtown.
Although the baseball season has already ended, the
double "A" league is playing a tournament
to appeal to the local baseball fanatics.
The one who has asked Mai Shiranui and King here is
none other than Mary Ryan. She's a female agent who's
known for her considerable talent in the field.
"Both of you have no objections to a dog and some
suds, do you? The hot dogs here are legendary."
"You sure are all worked up today, Mary."
"So what's with those clothes? Are you planning
to play catch in the stands or something?"
King and Mai are mutually impressed. Looking around
the stadium, it's questionable whether there are even
a thousand or so fans in attendance. So it's close
to a miracle that a hot dog stand is open for business.
And Mary is no slacker either, decked out in her usual
leather jacket, baseball cap, and even a broken-in
glove in her left hand.
"Oh, this thing? It's to snag those home runs.
Hey, some hot dogs over here please."
There are no seats in the outfield of the ballpark
but a well groomed lawn instead. The fans sit her on
sheets laid out to their liking. Among them are some
who have removed their shirts, enjoying a bronzing
session along with the ballgame. It's well into autumn,
but today is a paragon of an Indian summer day.
Mai loses no time sinking her teeth into her hot dog.
"Wow, this is really good - just the right amount
"I told you so. These are the perfect accompaniment
to a tall glass of beer."
"By the way, Mary, although I do know my pool,
baseball's all Greek to me."
"Don't worry about it. It's fun enough just watching
the players throw, hit, and run the bases."
"Hmm, I guess so. How many points do you get for
"All I know is battledore and shuttlecock, myself,
so, come on, teach us the rules. How many points for
"Uh...Oh, don't sweat the details now. Watch and
The batter smacks a fly ball, high and deep.
The white sphere shoots into the serenely blue Southtown
sky, but the centerfielder snags it with barely a move.
It's the third out and the sides change. King tries
to strike up another conversation once the play comes
to a halt.
"By the way, Mary."
"That was an out. You don't get points for that."
"That's not what I was trying to say..."
Mai seems to be aware of the situation too. There aren't
too many of them.
But some clearly well-conditioned individuals around
the stairs to the seats, in the shadows of the billboards,
and behind the light posts have them encircled and
are gradually closing in.
"Five, no I'd say six. Mai?"
"At least in the immediate area I'd say so. There
may be more waiting in the wings."
"I'm sorry, looks like I got caught with my pants
With that remark, Mary shoves the last bite of her
hot dog into her mouth, washes it down with a swig
of beer, and then licks the ketchup off her fingers.
The eyes of the three remain on the action on the field.
"They don't seem too anxious to use guns. I say
we let them move closer into range, sound good to you?"
"It's your call, Mary."
With the previous change-up the match completes the
top of the third and the visiting team is now looking
at a man on first with no outs. The clean-up batter
is at the plate.
Along with the short bang of the dry bat smacking the
ball, Mai backhands the nose of the man who has approached
her from behind. She takes his right hand and it no
more than a couple of seconds she twists it up behind
In a flash King swings her feet along the ground to
trip up the feet of another man coming to the aid of
Mai's assailant. The man falls flat on his back onto
the grass. King's heel then lands in a flowing motion
down on his unguarded solar plexus.
The baseball meanwhile bounces into left center and
the runner makes a beeline towards home.
The small crowd erupts in cheers and applause for the
Still another man witnesses the unfavorable series
of events unfolding before his eyes and tut-tuts his
accomplices in spite of himself, then glances backward.
"What are you doing? Malin!"
The moment he lets his guard down, Mary seizes his
It's a brief and speedy action that appears as if she
shook her arms up and down just a few times. And with
that, there is a disagreeably dull snap accompanying
the dislocation of his shoulder.
The final brawl is drowned out by the cheers for the
batter just making the slide into third base. The home
(visiting?) team has just taken the lead with a three-base
hit. A flashy display appears on the scoreboard and
the screaming color commentary of the announcer from
a radio of one of the fans echoes in the area. No one
appears to be aware of the action taking place in the
"I suppose this is a warning for me. They're telling
me to go home. But Blue Mary doesn't give in to threats."
"Damn, no one told me something like this would
happen. So it wasn't just him?"
"You're not very up on your intel for someone
in your line of work. Just try pulling something like
this with my pals here. You'll have to answer to me,
"And your friendly neighborhood bouncer, who wishes
to remain anonymous."
"?! ...Y-you're those fighter chicks from KOF,
aren't you? Tch, I'm out of here!"
In spite of the shape of their bodies, the men retreat
in a right quick and orderly fashion.
"My precious hot dog is ruined!"
Unlike Mary who managed to gulp hers down in the knick
of time, King and Mai's superlative sausages rest on
the lawn, splotches of ketchup and mustard color the
The three are not at all fazed by their predicament,
nor are they in the least afraid or jittery. They are
seasoned fighters, pros who have survived scuffles
more severe than this.
"I'll go get us some new ones."
Mai gets up and makes her way to the singular stand
that served them before.
"I'll take two hot dogs (Hmm, Mary could probably
use one more too). No, make that three."
"Hey, you were just here, weren't you? You don't
need to pay."
"Huh? But why?"
"It's already been covered. Here you go, three
"Covered? By who?"
"What? Don't you know her? She's a petite, cute
little thing. Her name was, uh, yeah...it was Maria,
or Mario...no, something like Marie, maybe? Nah, I
think it was Mariko?"
"Do you mean, 'Malin?'"
"Yeah, yeah. That's it! It was 'Malin.' She left
me a message for you, too."
Mary and King immediately sense that things aren't
right with Mai.
"What's up, Mai?"
"It looks like someone already knows of our plans
to enter this year's KOF."
"So what's the big deal, we're in it every year?
Was she scrounging for an autograph or something?"
"No, just the opposite. She sprang for our hot
"What's all that about!"
"And she left us a message. It reads, 'This competition
looks like it's going to be a blast, so you'll be seeing
more of me later. Your pal, Malin.'"
"Malin? ...Didn't that bunch of thugs mention
"Oh, whatever. We'll find out all the details
once the tourney starts. Look, another hit!"
The dull roar of the crowd emanates from the baseball
stadium on the town's outskirts.
And the sun has begun its westward descent.