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
It's a shop with a refreshing and
Cling, cling rings the bell at the
entryway and a lone woman enters
"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...?
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
Mary mutters this as she takes a
seat at the counter.
"Well, yeah, I suppose. So, how's
"Ah, the usual end of the world stuffé—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?"
most acute observation. Take a gander
Mary flips her laptop computer open.
"Well, take a look at this."
"What is that?!"
King seems surprised when she sees
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
"Yeah, that does seem fishy, doesn't
it...And the invitations have been
individually sent in all types of
"And that's what's fishy, is it...?"
"So, you've probably got one then,
"What? Are you telling me to enter
"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
"You've prepared everything, have
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
"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
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
Today's deadbeat has been able to
defend herself against whatever attack
It appears that this opponent is
one tough customer.
"Huff, puff...now just...come quietly
"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
"There? It looks awfully crowded
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
"Uh, excuse me."
King tugs Mary along with her and
they elbow people aside, making their
way to the center 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
"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
"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
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
Just thinking about what's about
to unfold is beginning to give King