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THE KING OF FIGHTERS 2003
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FATAL FURY TEAM STORY

 At the appointed coffee shop, the figure of Terry Bogard is still nowhere to be found.
 The seats of the open terrace are fully exposed to view from the street. The two sitting in the delicately constructed chairs are men of exceptional build. Between the two, one is the champ of Muay Thai kickboxing, and the other is the king of professional wrestling.
 "...Don't sit there like a clam. How about a cup of Java?"
 "No."
 "Look, if you'd just take off that bird mask, you'd be able to drink it, right?"
 "It's not a bird. It's a griffon mask."
 "Whatever! Take it off. Now! Thanks to your whack little mask, even I've begun to feel like a complete freak."
 "Being noticed is the fate of a hero, don't you know?"
 (...Terry, Andy, enough playing around. You'd better show up, like, yesterday...)
 Mind you, Joe is not averse to standing out. But standing out and being part of a freak-show are two different things. Being noticed has got to be on Joe's own esthetic and philosophical terms.
 "Hey! It's Tizoc! Tizoc the Griffon! How about an autograph?!"
 "Hah, hah, hah! You got it, buddy."
 "All right! Thanks!"
 Flushed with joy, the child begins to leave...then he and Joe's eyes meet.
 "U-Uh, can I get your autograph? You gotta be the Great Ninja Mister Minami, aren't you? You lost the title match with Tizoc recently and became his bootlicker, I hear."
 "OK, kiddo. Listen and listen good..."
 "Y-Yeah..."
 Had you removed Joe's trademark headband right now, you'd probably be able to make out the vivid blue vein bulging out from his temple.
 "I...am really...the one and only..."
 "Great Ninja, Mister Minami, aren't you? Sorry. Guess I'm late again."
 "Geez, Terry. You're ancient! How about being on time just once, eh?"
 With his typically casual air, Terry Bogard made himself known. Squatting down, he looks into the kid's eyes.
 "If you're not polite and leave out the 'Mister' he might turn you into a toad with his ninja arts. Mister Minami's pretty tough, you know."
 "U-Uh OK. I'll be careful."
 "You've got your autograph. Now we've got some important stuff to talk about now, so why not go play over there?" "OK!"
 Joe, having been referred to as the 'pretty tough' ninja, throws a hissy fit and takes it out on the waitress by yelling for an alligator steak. Terry orders a cup of coffee.
 "Take a chill pill there, Mister Minami."
 "Hmph. You got the kids eating out of your hand as always."
 "You lack the knack with tykedom."
 "Butt out, bird face. So, where's Andy? This tournament...I'm talking KOF, of course. He's in, isn't he? He's doing it, right?"
 Terry shrugs his robust-looking shoulders.
 "Hey, hey! What do you mean? You're not telling me this beak boy'll be subbing for Andy, are you?"
 "It's not a bird. It's a griffon mask."
 "That's right."
 Whether affirming the nature of the mask or Andy's substitution is unclear, but, at any rate, Terry nods. The coffee arrives. The alligator steak doesn't.
 "You remember Andy's disciple, don't you, Joe?"
 Terry inquires of his friend while he heaps cream and sugar into his coffee as any Yank like him would.
 "Disciple? ...Oh, yeah, that something-Maru guy. Wasn't he just a kid?"
 "The mumps, I'm told."
 "..."
 The disciple's condition isn't fatal, but the big A's worried about aggravating his condition. That's why he didn't want to leave Japan at this time...anyway that's the way Andy's message read."
 "Hmph. Talk about your doting masters."
 "Hey, shut up. In spite of that, he's a tough task master. But I guess that's different from training. I guess you'd call it 'koshi-kondo' in Japanese."
 "'Koshi-kondo' ...the phrase that expresses the sublime relationship of trust between master and disciple. The Japanese language sure is cool. Seems your brother is, too."
 "He can't match you, champ."
 Terry and Griffon. The two exchange a firm handshake across the table.
 "Hey, hey. Try to get along, you two. Jeesh! How about I teach you another sublime Japanese expression? It goes, 'Atchi ni ike, kono busu!' Try it the next time you're hitting on chicks."
 "Wow. What does it mean? This KOF's sponsor is Japanese, you know. Mixing a little Japanese into my victory speech marks the consideration of a true gentleman."
 "Okay, I'll teach you a load of beautiful Japanese expressions after we win."
 Terry sucks out the contents of his coffee cup to the last drop.
 "Well, here we are. We go with the team we have here this time. I'm counting on you."
 "I've got no complaints. As long as chickadee face doesn't cramp our style."
 "I've no objections. As long as we fight fair and square, I'm in."
 "OK! Everything's copasetic. With this solved I can finally pay my respects to my father."
 "? ...Oh, a little memorial visit, is it?"
 "My ritual before the tournament. I hate to say this but could you guys wait here awhile?"
 "No way! You've got to be joking! You'd have me hang out here longer with the mysterious bird boy? I'm coming along with you."
 "It's not a bird. It's a griffon mask!"
 "Can it! If the beak fits, wear it. Bird boy! Bird boy! BIRD BOY!"
 "It's a griffon mask!!!"
 Terry reclines back in his chair and looks up at the sky. His long hair parts to reveal the high wide sky above.
 (Pop, this year...what can I tell you?)
 "I said stop up your cakehole, bird face! Chew on a caterpillar, why don't you?"
 "How about you buttoning up?! For I am Tizoc, the gentlemanly griffon!!!"
 (...It looks like it's going to be a raucous and tiring tourney.)

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