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THE KING OF FIGHTERS 99
KOF99
TEAM STORY
HERO TEAM FATAL FURY TEAM ART OF FIGHTING TEAM IKARI TEAM
PSYCHO SOLDIER TEAM WOMEN FIGHTERS TEAM KOREA TEAM KYO KUSANAGI
IORI YAGAMI

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 grueling 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 jewelry 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.

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