Disclaimer:The Power Rangers are the property of Saban/Disney. No claim is made to them. King of Fighters/Fatal Fury is the property of SNK. The Arashikage, and all mentions of them are part of G.I.Joe continuity, and are currently the property of Devil's Due and Hasbro. Vito is based on a former wrestler that worked for WWE. And mentions of Michelle Chan are from a character on Nash Bridges, which is the property of Carleton Cuse productions.
King of Fighters 1995: Fighters of FateBy: The Q-Team </B>
A bustling metropolis, considered by many to be the center of technology and industry in the east, if not the whole world. Many came to Tokyo in awe of its splendor, magic and wonder just as one other was about to do.
Katherine 'Kat' Hillard disembarked from the United Airlines International flight she took from California to Tokyo. For her the flight was smooth enough, but the minute she disembarked she took in every sight before her as if it was the beginning of a new adventure. From when she left the airport security gate to head to the baggage claim Kat took in every sight, every smell, and every person she could so she could take in the mystique that was Japan.
Kat had never been to Japan. None of her friends had as far as she knew, so this experience was a treat for her. She would need to take in the treat, for when she arrived at her training grounds she would be in for a series of hell.
Kat was selected to be the third person in a three girl team called 'The Lady Wolves' alongside Alison Bogard, cousin of Terry and Andy Bogard, and Cassie Chan of the Kusanagi family. It was a challenge given to her by her Psycho Ranger duplicate named Ivy Howard who apparently learned some new fighting techniques. Techniques that involved the manipulation of ki energy. Everyone knew Kat had to learn some tricks of her own. Hense the trip to Japan.
After picking up her bags at the baggage claim she made herself out to where a man with a sign that said 'Hillard' was waiting for her. Kat knew this person was waiting for her. "Hello. I'm Katherine Hillard." she said to the Japanese man. "Are you waiting for me?"
"I have been sent by Master Eiji to come for you." the Japanese man, who was now clearly a chauffer, said. "Your car is this way." Katherine followed the driver to where the car was waiting. After putting in her bags she got in the back seat and immediately she got her first glimpse of Downtown Tokyo. For Kat the term 'Bright Lights Big City' definitely applied here.
It seemed like the whole city was one big neon light. It looked like there were areas where it could rival the hustle and bustle of Times Square in New York City, if not surpass it. Kat had been to New York, and really couldn't compare the sights of Tokyo to the Big Apple.
Once leaving the city limits the car took in the Japanese countryside. It looked a lot more beautiful than many of the landscapes she had seen with all the trees and greenery. She didn't think anything else could compare. That is until she arrived at the temple where she would train. "Wow!" she said as she slowly made her way down the stone path to where a young woman was waiting. Once she got closer Kat introduced herself.
"Hello. You must be Yuri. I'm Katherine." Kat said offering her hand. The young woman known as Yuri accepted it with a smile.
"Yes I am." Yuri said. "Yuri Sakazaki. Pleased to meet you." Yuri helped Kat with her bags and showed her around the grounds. Kat was impressed with what she saw as she walked. Even seeing a training class taught by someone Yuri introduced as her brother.
"That's Ryo." Yuri said as he demonstrated a series of moves to some students expecting them to follow. Some did, while others.....had better luck. "Is it that hard?" Kat asked.
"Actually that was a beginner's class." Yuri explained. "Your training will be different." Kat wondered briefly how different the training would be but then decided she may not want to know. "I take it Alison and Cassie filled you in?"
"Yeah."Yuri said coldly. "Who would have thought Geese would have a daughter? As if the thought of him breeding wasn't enough of a nightmare." Kat detected an undercurrent of emotion matching that of Terry Bogard's, yet she had the feeling this hatred didn't stem from Jeff Bogard's murder. -What else has Geese done?- Kat asked herself. Yuri then turned and asked "What do you know of her? This....Ivy?"
"Well it's kind of hard to explain." Kat said wondering what to say. -Should I tell her that she's a duplicate of me with a mad on and an identity crisis? Also that she's got some freaky new power from Geese Howard that she wants to fry me with?- Suddenly Yuri smiled. "Don't worry. The head filled us in on the details."
"The head?" Kat asked. "You mean Zordon?"
"Yeah. Although it's kind of weird Terry hanging with super heroes now." Yuri explained. "From what I'm told, she's a psycho replica who used to be a clone of you. Then she joined Geese and became his daughter? What's up with that?"
"I'm guessing she wanted a life." Kat said. "She didn't want to be a tool for someone or...."
"Or in the shadow of you?" Yuri asked. Kat pressed her lips together and nodded. Yuri then added "Talk about taking sibling rivalry to a whole new level."
"Excuse me?" Kat asked confused. Yuri smiled as she tried to explain.
"Well aside from the replica angle and cloning thing it just sounds like she is in competition with you. You have everything she wants, and its driving her crazy. So she goes to the first person who offers her a new life and identity, then takes it. I don't know why it would be Geese that she'd go to though."
"May I ask something?" Yuri nodded as someone who had nothing to hide. So Kat asked her question. "If you already know what all happened, why ask me what I knew?"
"A reasonable question." Yuri answered. "I guess I was looking for answers that were outside the details. Answers that were more on a personal level. You do have those don't you?" Kat considered the question and believed she had an answer all right. Quickly she gave her answer.
"Well Kaat, or should I say Ivy, was always meant to be something of a bad seed." Kat said. Finally the two girls had arrived at the room that Kat would be sleeping in. Opening the door Kat peered inside. She was stunned by the sight of the room. It looked so simple, and yet it had its own beauty in it. "Amazing." Kat said in awe.
"There is a closet over there for your things." Yuri said pointing to the closet. "It also has your training gi in there." As she opened the door Kat saw the training uniform sitting in the closet. It looked similar to the ones Tommy and Jason had worn, but this one was red with pink striping. It also had no pants.
"Wh...where are the pants?" Kat asked. Yuri then smiled as she noticed Kat's observation.
"A little joke." Yuri said. "Some wondered if perhaps you would have crossed the dojo grounds in only the top, as some female students have done." Kat blushed as Yuri then pulled out a series of tights that would double as Kat's pants.
"Somehow I don't think those are much better." Kat said.
"They work for me." Yuri said as she showed off her tights that seemed to form fit her legs, and what could be seen of her butt. Kat smiled a little as she took the pants when Yuri then said "Change quickly. Your training begins."
"Today?" Kat asked. "That doesn't leave me..."
"You can get situated later." Yuri said. "But the sensei doesn't wait long. And if you keep him waiting you may find yourself waiting longer to figure out how you are going to beat Ivy". Kat then asked "Where will I be training?"
"The main dojo across the compound." Going to the window Yuri pointed to the place where she said Kat would begin her training. Yuri then bowed leaving Kat alone in the room staring at the training gi that waited for her.
Kat took off her shoes and dressed in the training gi that had been left for her. When she was changed Kat then walked down the stairs across to the compound where her training would begin. When she walked up the steps to the room Yuri had told her and before she even knocked she heard. "Enter."
She did that and there sitting in a meditative position was a man in his late sixties, graying hair and bifocals, wearing Japanese robes. "You are Katherine Hillard, are you not?"
"I am and you are..."
"You may refer to me as the Ancient One. A perhaps grandiose title, but one given unto me by the previous holder," the man explained. "Do you know why you are here?"
"I'm here to learn how to gain the same ability that..." Katherine started to say but the Ancient one looked at her and she stopped.
"Gain what your clone has? How does one gain what one already owns?" the Ancient one said, getting Katherine's eyes to open. "I know all about your situation young Katherine. Terrance explained it to me."
"Terrance? You mean Terry Bogard?"
"Terrance came here twelve years ago once he understood that fists and outer strength alone would not help him to survive the perils that he would face in his life," The Ancient one began to explain. "I cannot teach you how to fight Katherine. I do not fight with a style. I am not a martial artist. What I am, is a master of my own chi."
Katherine looked on at man and saw a bare outline of silver white around him. "Do you have only a small amount?"
The ancient one smiled. "No. What you see is only the slightest bit, which no normal human can see." The smile did not fade as now the Ancient one's entire aura was shown filling the room. Katherine fell back at first in fright but then felt calmed by the aura and sat in awe. Eventually the Ancient one stopped and all was normal. Yet in the back of her mind Kat had a thought creep in that concerned her.
-What no normal human can see? What is he saying? That I'm not normal?- Kat dismissed the thought for the time being and focused on her main concern. Ivy.
"And she can do that." Katherine muttered referring to the Ancient One's ki aura..
"No, she cannot," the Ancient one explained. "Katherine. Do you know how long Terry has trained to achieve his level. Or even your fellow teammates?"
"And you do not find it strange that your copy learned how to throw off what appeared to be ki in only a few weeks?"
That caught Katherine's attention. "So, it's not ki?"
"It is and it is not," the Ancient one said, seeing Katherine confused he explained again. "Ki is energy. It is power and it is life. It can come from anything. Even from power that dwells within. Your Ranger powers, or any other inner power, that comes from your bloodline. The Yagamis, The Yata and the Kusangis all have techniques that use their bloodlines with ki. From what I know of Geese Howard and his own skill and what has been said about Ivy's skill, the difference is clear."
"And that difference is?"
"She's made her self a labrat in order to harness the power she has in order to short cut her way to imitate Geese's style," The Ancient One said. "Now that isn't to say she is a threat. She has cut corners in order to reach this level but she lacks to the training and experience of developing chi. As a result, without real training and experience, her powers cannot develop past that point of what you saw."
"Taking out a tree with one blast was still something, and she's likely to be training more to improve her chances," Kat said to the Ancient One.
"This is why you are here," Ancient one said to her. "It takes a person a year at least with hard training truly connect ones inner ki. You do not have that time. In short, you will need to do what she has done. You will need to learn how to find the power that lies with in you as she did."
"I can show you techniques to channel and feel your ki. But in order to connect to it... you must find out the trick yourself. Only you can do that. Only you child."
"Where do I start?" Kat asked.
"Well first you can start by telling father to take off that ridiculous disguise." Yuri said appearing in the doorway. Kat looked at the Ancient One confused as he smiled and removed the glasses revealing the face of Takuma Sakazaki.
"Looking for another fighting identity father?" Yuri asked as she looked at the Tengu mask that hung on the wall. A mask that reflected Takuma's identity of Mr. Karate. An identity he took a few times during KOF tournaments and other instances.
"Sometimes such disguises serve us well daughter." Takuma said. "It allows us to see in ways not detected by the human eye, but in other ways."
"Other ways?" Kat asked.
"I see much potential in you Katherine Hillard." Takuma said. "You have crossed a threshold that few cross. And not just in terms of being a Ranger, but in other terms as well."
"Other terms?" Kat asked.
"You have touched the planes of magic briefly." Takuma said. "A plane that opened the door to other planes as well. One of those planes is to the harnessing of ki energy. But this road is difficult, and not without its challenges. So I must ask you, do you wish to continue down this path?"
Kat said in a firm, strong voice "Yes."
"Good." Takuma said as he got up to stand by his daughter. "For tomorrow your training begins. Be prepared."
Kat watched Yuri and Takuma leave. Tomorrow would not be an easy day.
In a special gym inside Geese tower technology came to life. Specialized technology used to monitor Ivy's training.
Ivy started with a rowing machine and equipment was used to monitor her pulse, heart rate and biorhythms. Ivy seemed to be going at an incredible speed as she rowed hard and rowed fast. In the background Geese watched as his daughter trained hard putting all of her will and effort into her workout.
Geese smiled as she saw his daughter's persistence. He could tell that she had the will to win.
The first training lesson was not going to be easy as Takuma said it wouldn't be.
As Kat had awaken the next day and put on her training gi, she crossed the compound catching sight of several of the training classes that were taking place. She saw many people fighting karate at a pace she never thought possible. She also saw students using abilities that she never would have believed.
She also saw more than her share of people hitting the ground hard.
She walked until she came to the main dojo where Yuri was waiting. "This way Katherine." Yuri said as she led Kat inside. At the main pedestal sat Takuma in a meditative style overlooking the dojo. Yuri then made it up the pedestal and sat at the left hand side of her father. Kat faced Takuma and bowed respectfully. Takuma accepted the nod and waved his hand across the dojo where someone else stood.
Kat looked across the dojo as she saw who Takuma was referring to. He looked rugged with a strong build. The sleeved on his fighting gi were ripped off revealing well sculpted arms. His blonde hair ruffled as if giving an impression of someone wild and free.
"Katherine. I would like you to meet my son Ryu." Takuma said. "He shall be your opponent."
"Opponent? For what?" Kat asked.
"We must know your fighting ability. This sparring session will determine that." Yuri said.
Kat sighed as she realized that she may be outmatched. She knew some Martial Arts thanks to teachings from Tommy and Jason, but she was nowhere near the level of skill that some of these students were. But Kat believed she had no choice. She needed to know how to beat Ivy, and if that meant taking a few bumps and bruises along the way, then that was the price she'd have to pay.
Bowing to Ryu Kat took a fighting stance just as Ryu had done. Takuma then called out "Begin!" and the two began to fight. Ryu threw a punch which Kat blocked, and then a few others. Kat then went on the attack with a few punches and kicks of her own. Ryu had blocked each one.
Then Ryu upped his game and launched a series of punches and kicks in succession. So fast was Ryu's style that Kat couldn't block them all. Some had made contact, and Kat definitely felt the sting of pain. But she still refused to go down.
It was then that Ryu delivered a roundhouse kick to Kat's back sending her down to the ground. Ryu stood over Kat allowing Kat to get up on her own. When Kat stood back up Takuma called out "Resume!"
The fight resumed as Kat and Ryu fought again. Kat was feeling the pain of Ryu's strikes but was seeking to fight through it. Ryu however seemed to execute his moves with seasoned grace, seeming to move flawlessly. Kat tried to block Ryu's shots, but she found herself in the same fix she was before. Kat tried to land shots in to Ryu's chest, but Ryu seemed to dodge each one.
That was when Ryu ducked down and did a leg sweep to Katherine's right leg. Again she fell down to the ground hard.
Yuri wanted to go to Kat's side and help her up, but Takuma held her back. He nodded to Kat and said "Continue." Again Kat got back up and fought through the pain as she fought Ryu again.
Ryu seemed to be going much faster this time as Kat had an even harder time fighting back. It was then that Ryu delivered his last shot.
"HAOU SHO KOH KEN!!!"
A burst of flame shot out from Ryu making it's way towards Kat. A blast that hit her full force as the force of what became known as the Tiger Flame Punch sent Kat flying back into the door of the dojo, which crumpled on impact the moment Kat landed. Yuri got up and went to Kat's side hoping to see if she was all right.
"I'll live." Kat said struggling to get up. Ryu then came to her and offered his hand, which Kat eagerly accepted. Once Kat was back up all three faced Takuma who seemed to be judging Kat.
"Basic moves and style." Takuma said. "We have much work ahead of us." He then got up and left the dojo to give Kat some time to prepare for her next lesson.
Kat wondered what else could happen during this 'training course'
For Ivy her sparring session was by no means easy, but lack of confidence and ability would not be a problem.
She threw punches and kicks knocking back many an opponent, as Geese sent more and more in a gauntlet match format. Ivy beat them all, even though some of the moves were not considered very....honorable to some senseis. But then Geese never cared much about honor.
Finally Ivy saw where the opponents were coming in and threw out a Reppu Ken towards the entrance. The entrance exploded and shattered burying the last two opponents Ivy had.
"Hope you guys were insured." Daniel Kane said as he looked on.
Kat had found out an hour later what Yuri and Takuma had in mind as they took her to the next training obstacle, and Kat couldn't believe what she saw.
She saw a ground where different sized logs standing vertically surrounded by gravel. On different sides of the ground were sandbags that seemed to be released from above. At the very end of the course was a lower level sandbag that reminded Katherine of the heavy bags that Jason and Tommy practiced on. Kat wondered what she was supposed to do here.
"Jump from one end of the obstacle course to the other and kick the heavy bag at the end." Takuma said. "Do not fall or you will lose." Kat looked at Takuma and wondered if he wasn't crazy.
"I had to do it myself Katherine. Don't worry, you'll be fine." Kat sighed as she went to the beginning of the course and jumped onto the first standing log. Her balance was shaky but she was holding her own. She jumped to the next log which was slightly taller, but she maintained her balance.
It was then that Takuma had decided to make things difficult. Signaling one of his students to release a sandbag the sandbag flew through the air hitting Katherine in the back. Her balance became shaky, and she almost fell over, but Takuma ordered her to continue.
Katherine jumped to the next log as another bag was released. This time Kat was ready as she backhanded the bag knocking it back. Takuma then ordered another bag released and Kat knocked that one away as well. It was then that Takuma ordered things to become even more difficult as he ordered three released.
Kat had no time to fight or get away. All three bags hit her and another student followed up with a fourth bag released. Katherine fell off her post and hit the gravel hard.
Yuri rushed to her side seeing if Kat was okay. Kat nodded indicating that she was in pain, but she would live. It was then that Takuma stood over her and looked down.
"So disappointing." Takuma said. "Especially since the knowledge to get through this course is already known to you."
"What? What do you mean?" Kat asked.
"You must find the answer to that question on your own." Takuma said as he turned to walk away. Ryo and Yuri followed with Yuri looking back briefly at Kat as she lay in the gravel. Sadness in her eyes.
Yuri hoped Kat would succeed with the training. She wanted Kat to succeed with the training.
For Ivy she had run laps around a jogging course as four bags dangled from the ceiling. Every time Ivy passed one she would throw a cross sending the bag dangling. Again her training was supervised by Geese and Daniel.
Finally they came to the balance beam in the center and Ivy jumped on it. She smiled as she thought that was more Kimberly Hart's forte', or Kiim's as the case was with the Psycho Rangers. But Ivy vowed she would beat this obstacle.
Once Ivy got on Geese ordered Billy Kane to get on the beam as well and fight her on it. Billy couldn't believe what his boss was asking on him. "Boss you sure?"
"Do it." Geese ordered. Billy nodded and soon Geese's right hand was facing Ivy on a narrow beam. Billy threw a punch which Ivy ducked, and Ivy threw a punch to Billy's gut. A final kick from Ivy sent Billy off the beam and down to the mat below. Geese couldn't help but applaud.
"Well done daughter." Geese said in approval. Ivy also smiled as she believed she had come a long way in so little time.
As night fell that Sakazaki's met for dinner. Yuri offered an invitation to Kat, but she declined, deciding that she needed to rest after the painful lessons she had taken. When Yuri entered the family dining room she sat down and ate with her father and brother.
"So how is our young pupil?" Takuma asked.
"Walking wounded." Yuri said. "And not just in terms of body."
"She must overcome her obstacles." Takuma said. "The ability is there in her. She just needs to find it."
"She has great potential." Ryo said.
"More than even she knows." Takuma said. "Perhaps that was why the space witch took her."
"I see a lot of me in her." Yuri said. "Before and after..." Yuri broke off the sentence as her mind returned to an event of the past. A past all the Sakazaki's remembered, but Takuma tried to encourage to put behind them.
Like you daughter Katherine is a flower in bloom. Hers is a growth we must nurture."
"But how can we do that father?" Yuri asked. "How can we bring her to that threshold?"
Takuma thought for a moment and then had an idea. "Perhaps a trip to the waterfall for some meditation." Yuri nodded and thought that was a good idea.
Kat followed Yuri to where a waterfall had been located. The sight was beautiful as Kat took in the fall as well as the greenery around it. "What are we doing here?" Kat asked.
"This is where we begin your meditation training." Yuri said. "Where one separates their mental and spiritual selves from the physical world by immersing ourselves in it." With that Yuri then disrobed out of her training gi leaving Kat to stare at her naked body. Kat looked on wide eyed at the sight, and Yuri appeared flattered.
"You like what you see?" Yuri asked.
"It helps if one is naked during this as clothing are trappings of the physical world." Yuri then stepped into the water until she was neck deep. She then turned to Kat and swam as if waiting for her to disrobe. Slowly but surely Kat did so and soon Yuri was taking in the side of Kat nude.
"Not bad." Yuri said taking in the sight of the nude Kat. Yuri then nodded for Kat to get in the water and soon both swam to where the water fell. Climbing up on some underwater rocks both girls sat under the waterfall and assumed the lotus position.
"It's so cold!" Kat yelled.
"The sensation of cold is part of the physical world." Yuri explained. "In order to find peace one must learn to close one's self from such sensations. Sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. Transcend them to get in contact with the spirit. With one's self." Yuri then closed her eyes and brought her hands together in a symbolic gesture. Her right hand closed to a fist with her left hand over the fist.
The symbolism of peace over war.
Kat had done the same taking Yuri's lead, then closed her eyes. She tried to focus inward, letting all the trappings of the world fall away. The sting of the water, the rustling of the falls, she wanted it all to fall away.
And as such Kat felt herself entering another world. A world within herself.
She had walked down a path of memories. She saw herself being born. Feeling the love of her mother and father. Walks in the park, as well as journeys in the outback of her native Austrailia.
Then she came across another memory. A memory she had long since forgotten.
When she was five she saw her mother, before a cauldron. She was casting a spell almost like a witch. She had no idea what the spell was, or what it was for, but to see her mother in such a sight scared her.
Kat felt a burst of cold water hit her, but she wouldn't give up. She had to know more.
She then came across the memory of her talking to the boy she met when her parents arrived in Angel Grove. A boy that had turned into a Tenga Warrior under the command of Rita Repulsa who cast a spell commanding her in all that was rotten and nasty. Then the darkness came over her, a darkness that seemed to blanket her soul, yet release something else.
Something that allowed her to take another form, the form of a cat.
Another burst of sensation jarred Kat,as sound and cold touched her again, but she wouldn't give up. She could not fail.
Then there was Tommy. Handsome, sexy Tommy.
He looked so well toned. So fit. How could a woman not want him? But he was with Kimberly.
Sweet innocent Kimberly. As sweet as Katherine once was before Rita enspelled her. Now all there was was jealousy. That Kim had what Kat wanted.
-But Kim is like me. I'm not evil. I'm good. I'm like Kim.-
-But Kim had Tommy. I want Tommy-
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Kat said as she charged out of the waterfall and swam for the shallow end. Yuri came out of her trance and swam by Kat's side. She guided Kat to shore and redressed her in her training gi. "Kat? Kat are you okay?" Yuri asked.
Kat was shivering. Her mind on what she saw. Her mother practicing witchcraft? Rita possessing her. Kim with Tommy. Wanting Tommy. Wanting Kim out of the way. Hating Kim.
But why? Why did she hate Kim? She shouldn't have. She was her friend? Wasn't she?
What was real? What wasn't anymore?
The following week two teleport streaks entered the training compound. One in pink, the other in green. "Well this brings back memories." Alison said.
"Yeah." Cassie said taking in the sights. "Most kids get to go to summer camp when they're younger. We went here."
"And sometimes we wish we didn't." Alison added as she remembered her one summer at the Sakazaki training grounds in Tokyo. She quickly found herself empathizing with the kid who always tried to escape summer camp in the camp movies. The only thing that kept her there was the fact that the return plane ticket could not have been exchanged for an earlier flight, and she didn't have enough money to get a second ticket. Cassie had felt the same way when she went during her year.
Both went to the grounds different years, so they never had a chance to meet face to face. It was only when they were Astro Rangers that they truly met. Yet after talking with Cassie it amazed both girls how they seemed to pass each other like ships in the night at so many different events. One event in particular.
After their reminiscence Cassie and Alison walked up the path to the main dojo where Yuri was coming out. At the sight of her two friends she went out and hugged both of them. "CASSIE!!! ALISON!!!"
"Great to see you Yuri." Cassie said as the girls embraced. Yuri was a friend to both of them during their respective stays. At times Yuri's friendship made their training more bearable when Takuma was at his hardest. Yuri then looked at Cassie and noticed she had worn her traditional Kusanagi garb.
"So you have embraced your family legacy." Yuri said.
"I couldn't avoid it." Cassie answered. "My mother was heartbroken when I...."
"I know." Yuri said. "I never would have thought. A female Yagami alive."
"Three actually." Alison answered. Quickly she explained about Trini Kwan and her mother and how she had hoped Trini would have been spared the blood feud just as Cassie's mother had hoped to do the same for her daughter. "We shall see if they are successful." Yuri said as she took in Alison in her fight garb of jean jacket, green ball cap, green t-shirt and jeans. "You really seem to be the spitting image of Terry. All that's missing is your own star jacket." Alison blushed at Yuri's comment and said "Maybe someday."
Yuri then added. "I'm glad you found your birth family."
So am I." Alison answered, but now it was time for business. She then asked Yuri "So how is Kat doing?"
Yuri shook her head. "She is making progress, but it's not at the rate father, or Katherine herself, would like her to be. It seems like she's on the threshold of something, and then she is yanked back before she can cross it. There is something in her that is holding her back. Some connection that is keeping her from attaining her ki. Her center. Her soul."
"Is there anything we can do?" Cassie asked.
"We're going to be heading into the mountains for a campout." Yuri said. "Hopefully I can get through to her and maybe we can convince her of the responsibilities of the tournament."
Cassie and Alison both nodded saying that they would be there ready to help.
The next night, after a welcome from Kat, all four girls donned their backpacks and hiked up the mountains. When they reached their campground, they set up their camp and looked out at the scenery.
The camp ground Yuri had chosen was a forest area overlooking Mount Fuji. Everyone agreed that the inactive volcano had its beauty, and the sight was perfect for them to camp out at. Once they had their tents pitched, they made ready their campfire, which Yuri ignited with a small ki burst.
"I wonder if I'll ever be able to do that." Kat said sounding a little down on herself. Alison put her arms around Kat's shoulder as if encouraging her to cheer up a bit. "It will come Kat." Cassie said.
"The answer is within you." Yuri said. "We just have to work on finding it is all." Kat hoped Yuri was right. It was then that Yuri asked the first question hoping to strike up conversation. "So. How did you get involved in affairs of magic?"
"It's a long story." Kat said in reply. "And I'm not just saying that. It is."
"Bet mine could rival yours." Cassie said as she sat across from Alison with Yuri sitting off to their right. Kat smirked in Cassie's direction as Yuri then pulled out a sword blade out of her bag which Cassie found herself looking over. "Pardon me. But this sword. It just looks so....beautiful."
"That is an Onihashi blade." Yuri said. "One of the few still in existence. They stopped being made after an apprentice brought a disgrace on his forge."
"A disgrace?" Alison asked.
"An apprentice tried to kill a promising student in the Arashikage Ninja Clan." Yuri said. "But got the leader of the clan instead. When Professor Onihashi found out he took his own life when he found out the disgrace brought about his forge."
"Isn't that a bit extreme?" Kat asked.
"Not here it isn't." Yuri said. "In this culture honor is everything. As is family." Kat turned and picked up the emotion in Yuri's voice as if remembering something from her past.
"For a while my family lived in Southtown. We had, and still have, a dojo there. But Geese Howard was looking to take over the entire town. He tried to blackmail my father into killing Jeff Bogard, but father refused. Geese then hired a thug named Mr. Big to abduct me until he obeyed Geese."
"Ouch." Kat said. "Your father was blackmailed to try to take out Jeff Bogard?"
"I found my own way out." Yuri said. "But Geese got Bogard anyway. Apparently he had Mr. Big help him with that. Still my father regrets what he was forced to do, and Ryo and Robert were tearing Southtown apart to get to me."
"I know about regret." Kat said. "I was enspelled by Rita and forced to do a lot of evil until I shook the spell off."
"You have something Kat." Yuri said. "Rita knew it the moment she saw you. Father knows it too. And if we're lucky we'll make you a fighter more than a match for Ivy."
"You think I can beat her?" Kat asked.
"I may not know Ivy, but I know Geese." Yuri said. "Everything about him is power based. All her training will revolve around power. She may pick up some skills on her own but everything will be about the power kill."
"So we need to focus around smarts then?" Alison asked.
"Pretty much." Yuri said. "While Ivy will more than likely go for offensive Kat might be able to get in a good defensive shot with the two of you providing support." She nodded at Cassie and Alison acknowledging their role in the battle. The two girls nodded back in understanding.
"Do you know any offensive styles?" Kat asked. Yuri sighed and answered Kat's question.
"Since I was freed from Mr. Big I've trained in the art, but I don't go for the offensive styles. Just the defensive." Yuri explained. "And I've also picked up a few tricks of my own while I was at it."
"Which you will need for the KOF tournament." Cassie said. "Because there you'll be going into a world you've never seen before. And it can throw you for a loop. Trust me I know."
"You ever been to one?" Kat asked. "A KOF tournament?"
"One or two." Alison said. "Especially the one in '95."
"With cousin Kyo." Cassie added. "And Iori Yagami."
A city of mystery, a city of intrigue.
And on some nights it was a city of danger. For two, it was one such night.
On the Hong Kong harbor front Kyo Kusanagi walked into one of the least used warehouses to confront the person who had 'requested' his presence. On the table in his hotel room he saw a note saying 'Harborfront-Dock 22. 'I When Kyo looked down on the floor he saw the body of a dead maid indicating that the person who left the note meant business.
Kyo knew the person all too well. It was someone fate had decided he was born to fight. When he entered the warehouse he saw the person in question. Purple hair, family fighting gi, and an insane look in his eyes.
Across from Kyo Kusanagi stood his rival Iori Yagami.
Kyo stood opposite Iori in silence. He had known Iori most of his life and he knew that the blood feud between them would only end if one of them died, yet Kyo could not bring himself to kill.
"You have quite a reputation now Kyo." Said Iori with a sinister smile. "You're now the King of Fighters, I'm impressed."
"Oh cut to the chase Iori. You're not here to compliment me are you?" asked Kyo as he covered his face.
"Then die." Said Iori with a smile. He then swung his hand upwards. A purple flame immediately ignited and streaked across the ground towards Kyo.
Kyo immediately jumped out of the way. At the same time, he took out his combat gloves and put them on. Upon landing, he turned to face Iori. However, Iori was already in front of him.
Kyo immediately prepared himself for the inevitable pain that would strike him. Indeed, Iori clawed at Kyo's face with his fingers. Blood appeared on Kyo's face. Kyo ignored the pain the best that he could and shot a punch at Iori. Iori ducked under the punch and jumped upwards, hands outstretched and purple flame emitting from his right hand.
The flames immediately engulfed Kyo and send him flying backwards and crashing onto the ground. He flipped upright as quickly as he could and prepared for counter any attack Iori was going to throw at him. He did not expect Iori to be standing where he was.
With a shout, Kyo blasted a stream of flame at Iori. Iori just stood there as the flame sped closer to him. Suddenly, Iori thrust his arms into the air and crossed them. He then skidded across the ground towards the flame.
Kyo looked in shock as Iori sped through the flame unharmed. That moment of hesitation cost him dearly. Iori released a fury of claw attacks on him. Each strike drew blood from the 'King of Fighters'.
As the onslaught continued, Kyo thought back to his younger days. A time when he was carefree and happy.
The Kusanagi and Yagami clans were enemies for over eight generations. The ninth generation however had been able to try to work on peace between each other. The members of that generation were Kyo and Iori's fathers. The two managed to get along while their own children in the beginning were ignorant of the blood feud and became friends.
The methods of training were very different. Kyo's father went the right amount of strictness with his son but with compassion however Iori's father was a very harsh and brutal man. His son enjoyed music but his father simply destroyed anything musical he found his son using.
Still Kyo and Iori had been friends through it all and although Yuki's family had nothing to do with the Kusanagi and Yagami clans, they were the best of friends thanks to school.
However, this all changed the day Iori and Kyo reached the age of twelve.
Iori's father challenged Kyo's father to a duel. A one-on-one battle. The battle was fast and furious and there was no clear winner. However, Iori's father used a skill that was not suppose to exist and attacked Kyo's father. He intended to kill Saisyu.
Saisyu Kusanagi was forced to use the most powerful attack in the clan of Kusanagi, 'Mu Shiki'. The move not only killed Iori's father, it also cremated him, leaving no body for Iori to take back. It had been in self-defense but Iori didn't care.
He instantly hated the Kusanagi ever since seeing Saisyu kill his father before his own eyes.
From then on, the feud between the clans renewed once more. However, Yuki knew nothing about this. Kyo and Iori had made a pact not to fight each other when Yuki was around and not to tell her about the feud. Both Kyo and Iori could not bear seeing her hurt should she be caught in the crossfire.
Pain brought him back to his present predicament. Iori still had not stopped his attack. Suddenly, Iori wrapped Kyo's head with his hands. Kyo knew that this was the best time to retaliate but his body was too weak and unable to even use a bit of flame.
Iori pulled his head back and then faced Kyo again with a smile. "So this is the strength of the King of Fighters. What a weakling!" with that, purple flame emitted from his hands and set Kyo on fire.
Kyo flew into the fire, purple flame surrounding his body and then he dropped like a stone. Slowly, the purple flames extinguished. Iori turned around and slowly walked off laughing.
After Iori had left, a figure then came out and left a card and put it in Kyo's hands. -I hope the idiot reads it.- the person thought before leaving.
Hours later, Kyo regained consciousness. He looked at his hands. The blood had dried up and it was nighttime. 'I'd better get home.' Thought Kyo then he noticed the card in his hands. He then opened it and his eyes widened with shock after reading the card's contents.
'This year, the King of Fighters competition has been organized once more. As with last year, only teams of three will be allowed to compete. Break a spine. From R.'
"These are just like... the ones Rugal sent last year..." Kyo muttered. -No, it can't be. He's dead! He couldn't have survived the explosion!-
But then thoughts of the possibility that Rugal WAS still alive entered his mind. If that was the case he could expect something just like last year to happen at the end of the Tournament.
Benimaru and Daimon are good friends... but I know what happened last year. How Rugal just beat them effortlessly. And I am betting that Iori's expecting them to be my partners. Kyo thought. -And there's something else, I'm not the King of Fighters. Not really. Terry would have beat me if he didn't hold back in the end. The two of us and King really did a number on...- It was then that he stopped his thought as inspiration came upon him.
-I hope I can pull this idea off because if I can then I know nothing will be impossible for me.- Kyo decided.
Kyo grabbed the next plane out of Hong Kong. He had to find a team to put together, and he had to find time to train.
Kat was wide eyed when she heard this. "He was capable of that?"
"Iori was obsessed." Cassie said. "He was devoted to the Yagami cause."
"Like Kali?" Kat asked.
"No she's just crazy." Alison answered.
"I still can't believe it, even after hearing it from before." Yuri said. "A female Yagami. I thought none were left."
"There are three." Cassie said. "Fortunately two want nothing to do with the feud."
"Let's hope it stays that way." Alison answered as Cassie continued her story with what happened in '95.
A week later... New York
-New York, New York is everything they say, and no place I'd rather be.
Where else can you find a half a million things all at a quarter to three.
Kyo remembered the old line from the Huey Lewis song 'The Heart of Rock and Roll' and found it to be true as soon as he set foot in Times Square. It looked like there were shops that never closed, people walking, even at the late hours of the night. He wondered if anyone in New York actually DID sleep.
But Kyo had other matters in mind. He needed to find the first person he wanted for his team. To that end he boarded the subway and made his way to the Bronx, which he heard was one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city. If the person he was looking for wasn't there, then he'd make his way to Brooklyn, which he heard was another tough neighborhood.
To say that Kyo's journey was tough was not an exaggeration. He ran across several muggers who tried to take his money. Kyo sent them packing, some of them even had burns on them. Kyo made sure though that they weren't anything more severe than first degree burns. Then he went on his way.
He reached the person he was searching for when he came across a fight circle illuminated by fires in a barrel. Kyo saw a young man in a red ball cap with a red vest that had a star on the back, as he was facing someone that looked to be a mix of gangster and wrestler. The fight ended when the man in the vest launched a wheel kick knocking the gangster down to the ground. "And I didn't have to use ki for that one." The man said.
Kyo smiled as he made his way to the betting desk where the man was picking up his winnings.. When the man saw Kyo he smiled in greeting.
"Terry. Nice to find you." Kyo said to the Lone Wolf. "I have a request to make."
Two days later... Southtown
The bar called Illusions.
Looking around the bar, it seemed to be little more than the average clientele. A few regulars, some rowdy drunks. -Same ol' same ol'- the bar's owner. A Mui Tai fighter named King thought as she surveyed her patrons. She new it would only be a matter of time before the bar brawl started. -Oh well, gives me some time to try out my new bouncer.-
Off to the corner King looked at the bouncer she had hired. He was big, burly, and looked like he could rip one's arms in two. There was only one difference about him. One major difference.
He wore dresses.
King had wondered about this. She had worn men's clothes in the past, but a man wearing dresses was always something that would cause one to raise eyebrows. When King asked the bouncer, named Vito, about this, all he said was that he 'just liked to wear dresses.' He was as much a man as the rest of the men were. Only Vito-wore dresses.
King decided to give Vito a chance and noticed him as he stood by the door, wearing a sleeveless floral number. -He might like to wear dresses, but he's got to get better fashion sense.- King thought. Just then some drunks were getting rowdy by the pool table. It started to get violent when one bashed the other's head with a beer bottle, and the other smashed his 'friend's' head with a pool cue. That was when Vito went to work.
Sure enough Vito was a fighter. He threw haymakers that knocked back both men, and then threw them through the plate glass window. King sighed as she knew she'd have to get another window. That was when Vito was attacked by another drunk from behind who said "Throw me out freak!"
Vito got up and did a leg sweep to the third drunk and got back up, allowing some of what was under his dress to show. King just shook her head as she thought -That's something you don't see in children's programming.- . She then saw Vito throw out the last drunk and Vito then bowed to all the patrons of the bar who seemed to applause.
Walking in Terry and Kyo saw the tail end of what had taken place. "New bouncer?" Kyo asked.
"Probably." Terry said. "Oddly enough he seems to fit in here." Terry and Kyo then went up to the bar where King decided to handle these clients personally.
"Terry, Kyo. What brings you to here?" King asked the two fighters.
"A favor." Kyo replied.
Kyo then told the story of what had happened in Hong Kong, and what Iori wanted. After hearing Kyo's proposal King had a good idea of what to do next.
"I've got some calls to make." King said. Kyo understood, and so did Terry.
"Let us have the phone when you're done huh?" Terry asked. King nodded.
One of the calls made from Illusions was to Japan, where the person on the other end of the line was not happy with the news he had just heard.
"WHAT?!" Benimaru shouted over the phone.
"I'm sorry Benimaru but I won't be participating with you and Daimon in KOF this year. You are going to have to get another partner." Kyo said.
"So you aren't even entering the tournament?!" Benimaru shouted.
"Oh I'll be there. It will just be a surprise." Kyo stated before hanging up.
"Kyo... Kyo!!!" Benimaru slammed the phone down. "What the hell is he up to?"
In Southtown Joe Higashi got a similar call, and like Benimaru, he didn't take it well. As did another not take a call that came in well. A call that had a similar message.
"I don't believe this!"
Andy turned his head to see both his best friend and his wife yelling and saying the same thing. The fact that they were looking at each other and said the same thing was surprising to them both.
"What? What can't you believe?" Joe Higashi shouted. "That your manicurist screwed up your nails again?"
"Oh this is real good from you." Mai Shiranui-Bogard responded. "Someone who makes sure his training regime includes a body oil rubdown." Soon Joe and Mai got into a shouting match which Andy had to intercede in in order to get the topic back on track, even though he found the shouting to take a humorous turn.
"QUIET!" Andy shouted. "One at a time! Joe?"
"Terry just called me and told me he wasn't going to be on our team for KOF this year but he's going to be participating in the tournament!" Joe said. "I don't get it! Not only that but now we need a third teammate in order to enter the tournament!"
"Alright! This is perfect!" Mai said excitedly.
Andy saw the look in his wife's eyes. "Mai... why do you say that?"
"Darling you got your third member right here-ME!"
Joe chuckled a little. "Yeah right. Aren't you supposed to be on the all female team again with King and Yuri?"
Mai then whacked him over the head with her fan. "For your information the reason why I am mad is because King called me and told me she wasn't going to be with me and Yuri this year but she's going to be in King of Fighters anyway."
"Wait. Both Terry AND King dropped out of their own teams but are going to compete anyway? Just what is going on?" Andy asked.
That was a question running through the minds of a lot of people.
Another who was asking the question was Geese Howard, the self-proclaimed 'King of Southtown', as he took another phone call from one of his operatives.
"Yes thank you for the call." Geese then hanged up the phone. -Interesting. Terry Bogard, Kyo Kusanagi and King have all withdrawn from their teams from last year yet they are listed in the tournaments as participants and yet they are not single entries. I wonder.-
For nearly four years now Geese Howard had been obsessed with the utter defeat of Terry Bogard ever since he had been beaten by the son of Jeff Bogard. Left scared across his chest with a wound that seemingly would never heal but his power would only grow until it did.
When he found out last year of Terry's defeat at the finals of last years King of Fighters Tournament at the hands of Kyo Kusanagi, a fighter he had never even heard of before and was even younger than Terry himself, he was automatically intrigued. He bared no ill will toward Kyo Kusanagi (yet) however by defeating Terry, he had become Geese's newest project. He sent investigators and agents to dig up what they could about Kyo and his family. After a few months he learned that Kyo's style was Magmata or 'Kusanagi no ken'. The stay was passed down from generation to generation.
It was during his research that he learned of another clan, who were the Kusanagi's mortal enemies. The Yagami Clan. They had only one living descendent. Iori Yagami.
He decided he needed to find Iori. He wanted to see the results of a battle between Kusanagi and Yagami.
Immediately he began to make preparations. One to find Iori, and two, to find teammates that would stand with him. For he knew the perfect battleground to see this battle.
The King of Fighters tournament.
"You were there?" Kat asked Yuri. "As a competitor?"
Yuri nodded. "There was no love lost between my family and Geese, but then there never is. But Geese wasn't the main focus of the tournament. And his attention wasn't on us."
"It was on Kyo." Cassie added. "And Iori."
"A fight Geese wanted really bad." Alison added. "Even if Iori didn't."
Three months later...
That was something Iori Yagami had never known for a long time. Yet where he was now, he found peace in abundance.
He sat in the grounds of an abandoned ninja compound. A compound belonging to the Arashikage Ninja Clan. But since the death of their Hard Master, the compound fell into disuse and had been abandoned. No one came here.
And Iori wanted it that way. He didn't want anyone to disturb his peace.
He was about to be disappointed as he sensed a presence behind him. Iori waited until the presence got closer, and then leapt up into a roundhouse kick. A kick that the person coming behind Iori dodged.
"Good." Geese Howard said. Iori however scoffed. "What do you want stranger?"
Geese took out an envelope from his pocket and laid it down at Iori's feet. Out of curiosity Iori opened it and read the contents. It was an invitation. To the King of Fighters tournament.
"I am not interested in this tournament." Iori growled angered that he been brought into this place all for nothing. He was thinking if he should take out his frustrations against Geese.
Geese then smirked. "What if I told you Kyo Kusanagi was participating in the tournament?"
Iori blinked his anger forgotten. "Kyo... he's not competing with his partners from last year. They already have someone else in his spot. I thought he dropped out."
Geese smiled. "Oh he's not going to be participating with his partners from last year... he's selected two OTHER fighters to fight with him." Geese then pulled out another envelope which Iori opened. He couldn't believe it when he saw the contents.
Contents that were photographs of Kyo's supposed partners.
"Are you serious?" Iori asked.
"Come take part on the team I am creating and find out." Geese smiled. Iori knew his answer.
"Very well Howard. I'll be a part of your team. Just find me some 'strong' partners." Iori stated.
"Don't worry Iori Yagami. I know the perfect partners for you." Geese smiled.
Billy Kane was doing sit ups as he looked out at the San Francisco skyline. Geese had sent him to the city in hopes that it could be used for a future business venture. Billy found some good....opportunities could be found in San Francisco.
He also heard there might have been some problems as he heard that a Bogard might have been living there. A girl Bogard. Billy however had no time to think about that as he picked up his cell phone as it went off. "Yeah?"
"Billy." Geese said on the other line. "Suspend your San Francisco operations. I need you to take a flight to Tokyo."
"Tokyo boss?" Billy asked. "Is it tournament time again?"
"Yes." Geese said. "And this time you'll be on a team captained by....Iori Yagami."
"Iori Yagami?! Boss you can't be..." several moments passed before Billy spoke again. "Yes... yes sir I will accept. I understand." He then heard the phone hang up. He then threw his cell away, picked up his bo and then smash the glass table. "DAMN IT!!!" He cursed as he then looked at the mess he had made. "Great... just bloody great. Why do I have to be partnered with the insane lunatic!"
Mentally sighing, he decided to make reservations at hospitals and make sure his health insurance was perfect.
He had a bad feeling about this.
In a darkened gym in Southtown Eiji Kisaragi thought back to the events that made him a member of the Yagami team.
Mr. Big had employed him to kill Geese Howard. However, Howard was too strong and Eiji proved to be no match for the senior. Geese Howard then made a deal with the Ninja and got him to leave Mr. Big and work for him instead.
After finding Iori, Geese then got him to compete in the K.O.F. competition. With nowhere else to go, Eiji was forced to do as the underground lord ordered. Now, he was teamed with the ultimate psycho as well as Geese's godson, Billy Kane.
"How do I get myself into these things?" he asked aloud. He had no time to answer as Geese came and told him to get ready.
Eiji had a plane to catch.
Iori looked at the mirror in front of himself. What he saw was everything that Kyo could have been if fate had destined him to be so.
He remembered vividly how his father had died. The pillar of flame emitted from Saisyu, Kyo's father, was unlike anything that his father was capable of doing. That, in Iori's opinion, was the cause of his father's downfall.
-He was weak. Iori thought. -However, I am not and I will destroy the Kusanagi clan as they destroyed mine. Soon Kusanagi, very soon, you will die.- .
September 24, 1995 King of Fighters 1995 Tokyo, Japan
"Hmmmm. Let's see." A young girl asked as she tried to find her seat. She had picked up a little Japanese, but there were still a few gaps in her knowledge that got to her. Fortunately she found a guide that was able to take her to where she was to be seated.
"Arigato." The girl named Alison Bogard said to the attendant as she took her seat. She was considered the kid sister of the Bogards, and had yet to compete in a KOF tournament. This was also the first time she had seen one firsthand. What she knew of them were secondhand knowledge from her cousins Terry and Andy. It took a lot of pleading to her grandfather to allow her to come, but finally he relented.
Alison stayed with Terry and who he was competing with. But Terry kept quiet about his plans. When she saw Andy and he asked her what all was up. She had to admit she didn't know. All she could do was go to the Tokyo Dome and sit in wait. She was going to be as surprised as everyone else.
She sat for a while and then the pyro went off signifying that the tournament was due to begin. Then the fighters all marched out for opening ceremonies. Alison recognized a few of them, as well as Billy Kane, whom she thought of with distain. Despite that, it looked like a pretty impressive lineup.
All of the teams were gathered... and yet Terry Bogard, King and Kyo Kusanagi were still no where in sight.
-I wonder where Terry is.- Alison thought to herself. Terry had told her that he would be participating in King of Fighters this year but he had told her he couldn't tell her how yet. He wanted it as a surprise. -Well if this suspense gets any more intense then I think I'll go crazy.-
In another section of the audience far away from Alison, Kyo's girlfriend Yuki as well as Kyo's cousin Cassandra Chan sat down awaiting Kyo's entrance.
Unlike everyone else, they KNEW what Kyo had done.
"Are you all right Cassandra?" Yuki asked the young girl. Cassie just shot a glance at Yuki as she was lost in her own thoughts.
Cassie's mother wanted her family to have no part of the Kusanagi legacy. Any time she tried to find out from any of her relatives they would clam up telling her that it was for adults only. Even her older sister Michelle, who was a San Francisco cop in the Auto Theft department didn't know. The only one that did know was Kyo, and he was the one who told her everything.
Cassie had reservations about learning the Kusanagi art, but after she and her friends were attacked she had a change of heart. She went to Kyo wanting to learn, and Kyo said he would teach her, but under one condition.
She had to attend a KOF tournament and watch, and see if she wanted to know more. Cassie said she would, and she was here now wanting to learn all she could. She was able to pass the trip off as a visit to family, which was true to an extent. Kyo had expressed an interest in Cassie visiting Japan, and convinced Megumi Chan to allow the trip. Kyo even paid for the plane ticket.
What Kyo didn't tell Megumi was that Cassie was going to be watching the KOF tournament, and possibly even begin her Kusanagi training. Cassie turned her focus back to the tournament which had the Psycho Soldiers come out.
The Psycho Soldiers were a young team of great mental power and discipline. Their members, Sie Kensou, Chin Gentsai and Athena Asamiya walked out to cheers. Especially Athena as she had a budding carrer as a pop singer. A career Cassie hoped to take one day.
"And now our first match will begin. The Psycho Soldier team will fight against..." The announcer then read the name of the team they were fighting. "... 'the Kings of Fighters Team'?"
The whole arena was in a rustle trying to understand this. There was no such team listed.
And then the music came. A song that was called 'Oh Angel'.
Everyone was in shock when they saw the team that came out to follow the music.
The three members of the Kings of Fighters Team.
Kensou just let his own jaw drop but overcame it quickly before Athena saw it but his thought was still the same. -We are SO screwed!-
"WHAT THE HELL IS THIS!!!" Benimaru shouted at the sight of Kyo. -Son of a bitch! I can't believe this! Why the hell did you ditch me and Daimon! Why! Oh I swear if... WHEN we end up fighting against each other I am SO going to kick the crap out of you!-
"Bogard teamed up with King AND Kusanagi?!" Billy let his own shock be apparent.
"This is not a good thing is it?" Eiji asked. Billy was too surprised to answer.
Iori just smirked. -Well played Kyo. You chose some REAL fighters to watch your back this year. Now this really WILL be a fight to savor.-
"You were both in the stands?" Kat asked.
"On opposite corners." Alison asked. She then looked at Cassie. "I didn't even know you were there."
"It was a family visit." Cassie said. "Even if she didn't want me as part of the blood feud she did want me to be close to family. And Kyo was family."
"Wasn't that also when he started you on training?" Yuri asked. Cassie nodded.
"He barely mastered the art." Cassie said. "But I insisted he teach me. Mom wouldn't. And after that incident in the park, I didn't want to be helpless again." Cassie remembered when friends of hers were attacked and she had been forced to sit back and watch. She went to Kyo and asked him to train her.
"But first he had to get through the tournament."
The fight between the King of Fighters team VS Psycho Soldiers was intense. But one by one the King of Fighters team eliminated their competition, and the crowd was going wild.
"All right Terry!!!! WHOOOO!!!!!" Alison shouted as Terry was about to deliver the last move on the last Psycho Soldier.
"POWER GEYSER!!!" Terry shouted unleashing his Desperation Attack on Athena. Athena went down joining Sie, which Kyo eliminated, and Chin, which King eliminated.
"Winners! Kings of Fighters Team!!!" the announcer said. The arena cheered. Even Andy and Joe looked on impressed by what they saw.
"Here's hoping we don't face him." Andy said. He hated the thought of facing his own brother, even though he would if he had to.
But with a team like Terry had this year Andy knew the fight wouldn't be a cakewalk.
"Wow." Kat said impressed with what she had heard.
"You should have seen Iori and his team though." Alison added. "They were deadly."
Team Yagami was up next facing a team known as 'Team Ikari'. Billy smirked as he said "These guys are going to lose, and lose big." as he faced his opponent. A fighter named Clark.
"Go!" shouted the referee and the match began.
Clark rushed forward. Billy was quite surprised but his fighting instinct immediately kicked in and he swung his staff at Clark.
Clark ducked under the attack and grabbed Billy by the shoulders. He then threw Billy into the air and then waited for him to fall down.
Billy spat blood as he slammed into Clark's shoulders. Clark then threw him onto the ground and Billy spat out even more blood. Billy then forced himself up and then swung his staff which hit dead center in Clark's chest. He then ran forward to continue his assault.
However, this was what Clark wanted him to do.
Just as Billy came within range, Clark grabbed him and threw him into the air. Billy went up and then came down again, slamming into Clark's shoulders. However, it did not end there. Clark threw Billy into the air another two times before throwing him to the ground.
Billy spat out blood before falling unconscious. He was declared eliminated and then the crowd cheered for Clark.
Eiji looked at Clark, shaking his fist at him. "Let me at him!"
Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Turning around, he saw Iori. "You are already injured. I shall go up and fight. We still need you for the next fight." Said the young Japanese.
Eiji just looked at him in shock and then noticed what the last sentence meant. -Damn you, Yagami.-
Clark got ready while Iori just looked on. "Why bother?" Iori asked, "You are no match for me."
Clark tipped his cap down slightly and muttered, "We'll see."
Clark had no time to react as Iori was on him so fast, and had no time to mount an offense. A brutal offense where Clark already started to bleed-profusely.
Clark reeled as Iori clawed down on him. Blood splattered onto the ring. Iori then swung his hand, releasing a burst of purple flame. "YAMI-BARAI!!!"
Clark sidestepped the flame and rushed at Iori. Upon nearing him, Clark swung his right arm at Iori's face.
Iori ducked under the punch at elbowed Clark in the ribs. He then rammed his shoulder into Clark's chest. Clark spat blood and fell down.
Iori stayed still as he waited for Clark to get up. Clark staggered slightly and Iori finally spoke, "You are injured. My fight is not with you, bring the next one on."
Clark looked at Iori, gritting his teeth. I can't give up. I've got to keep fighting. he thought. Clark then rushed forward and lunged at Iori.
"Baka." Iori sighed as he avoided Clark's lunge and struck him on the back. He followed with an elbow to the left and another to the right before swinging his right arm upwards and jumping as well. "ONI-YAKI!!!" Purple flame emitted from that hand and torched Clark in purple flame.
"Clark!" Ralf shouted as he rushed into the ring to help Clark put out the flames. Clark was soon declared eliminated and then Ralf helped his friend out of the ring.
Everyone was now taking interest in Iori Yagami.
From the audience, Yuki and Cassie looked at the fight. Cassie was just in pure shock and starting to understand why her mother didn't want her to be part of the blood feud.
For Yuki, her body numb. The Iori she knew what nothing like the Iori she was looking at.
-What has happened to you Iori?- Yuki thought.
Ralf punched and punched continuously at Iori but the young man avoided every last one of them.
"Not so easy to hit me, is it baka?" Iori smirked as he continued avoiding the punches.
"Why you!" Ralf spat as he became angered and started putting more effort into his attacks. His right arm glowed in flame and shot a straight punch at Iori. The Japanese ducked under it and gave Ralf a backhand. As Ralf reeled from the attack, Iori immediately put out the small fire on his right shoulder. "Not bad." Iori muttered as he jumped into the air at Ralf.
Ralf stopped and raised his hands in a guard pose. He knew that with his present injuries, he would be hard pressed to win this match. 'Got to weaken him enough for the commander to win.' Thought the war veteran.
Iori then swung his hand to shoot a wave of flame across the floor. Ralf immediately blocked but as he lowered his arms, Iori suddenly appeared in front of him.
Ralf reeled in pain as Iori clawed him multiple times. Just as Ralf's legs began to buckle, Iori's attack stopped.
Ralf opened his eyes in curiosity and saw that Iori was now walking away from him. 'What?' thought Ralf when he noticed the white cloth on the ring floor. He turned to look at Heidern in a questioning manner but understood the implication of his commander.
"A smart move old man. Best to save yourselves further injury." Iori smirked at Heidern before leaving.
The announcer walked out and said, "Team Ikari has surrendered. The winners are, Team Yagami."
The audience was too stunned to applaud. The audience was in a stunned silence. An audience that included Cassie and Yuki
Yuki tried to absorb all that had just happened. "Iori has become a monster..." muttered the young girl. All Cassie could do was place a hand on Yuki's shoulder offering her support.
"Oh my god." Kat said.
"Yeah." Alison said with Cassie nodding. "And they were that way all through the finals."
"Where Terry, Kyo and King were waiting." Cassie added.
Many teams had fought, and many teams had fell. Only one match remained. The final match which had the Kings of Fighters Team VS Team Yagami.
Both fighter teams took the center. All eyes were on them. It was decided that Kyo and Iori would start first.
However before Kyo and Iori could end the fight smoke engulfed the arena. People were starting to be hearded towards the exits. Alison looked on in the ring wondering if Terry was all right, refusing to leave until she saw a sign of her cousin. Across the arena Cassie and Yuki were much the same way. The smoke however started to clear as audience members took to their seats.
Once the smoke finally cleared and security arrived, they found that all members of both the Kings of Fighters Team and Team Yagami had disappeared.
"Where did they go?" Kat asked. "Who won?"
Alison, Yuri and Cassie smirked a bit. Apparently Kat was getting into the story and now was coming to the other tradition in the King of Fighters tournament.
The sudden death match that took place outside the arena.
The strike was silent. SO focused were the fighters on each other they didn't notice the lights go out, or the tranquilizer darts shot in each of their necks. The tranqs in the darts didn't last too long. They could have only worked for a few minutes.
It was long enough.
Terry, Kyo and King got to their feet around the same time as Billy, Iori and Eiji had done. All six of them looked around at their surroundings. It looked like a missile silo, or the interior of one. Iori glared at Kyo and shot out "What trickery is this Kyo?"
"What makes you think I had anything to do with this Iori?" Kyo asked. Iori responded "Everyone knows the Kusanagi lack of honor."
"I think you are confusing Kyo with your teammates." King said looking at Eiji and Billy Kane both. Neither one flinched at the accusation. Neither confirming, nor denying. Iori however wasn't bothered. "It matters not Kusanagi. Whether it be at the tournament arena or here in this dock, it ends with you."
"Not yet it doesn't." a voice said off from the side. All six turned to see two figures standing off to the side. They looked like two fighters they had never seen before. One of them looked like a blonde in a business suit. The other was a Japanese woman with real short hair.
"I am Vice." One of them said. The other introduced themselves as Mature.
"What do you want?" Terry asked. Vice said "It's not what we want, but rather what our employer wants." Vice and Mature then stepped aside as someone walked between them. Someone that had only three words to say.
"Welcome to hell!"
All six fighters looked up and looked past Vice and Mature and saw...
"Rugal?!" King gasped.
"I don't believe it!" Terry shouted.
"You're alive... how!" Kyo shot. Rugal didn't answer Kyo's question. He merely raised his hand as it engulfed in purple flame. "The power you feared I embraced."
Kyo was taken aback. "The Yagami power? How can you hold it? You are not Yagami."
"But I seek power!" Rugal said. "And this is true power."
"You cannot hold it." Iori said. "Only those of the blood can hold the Yagami power. Or the Kusanagi for that matter."
"I think differently." Rugal said. "Everything about me is power. The power of life, and death. Especially yours."
"I don't think so." King said gathering her bravado. "I think you will wish you had died on that ship." Rugal looked in King's direction and imagined King as a statue in his gallery. A gallery of 'conquests' he had in the past. Not just of fighters, but of women as well.
"I think I will love to have you in my gallery of metal King." Rugal smirked. "But enough about the past or future conquests. What does matter now is your death... at his hands!"
"Who?" Billy Kane finally asked. "Whose hands?" Everyone looked on as the figure seemed to come closer. Terry and King thought they could make out a shape. A familiar one.
Kyo could only stare in horror as he saw the figure that had come out and attacked all six of them with crimson fire.
"... father?" Kyo breathed.
Saisyu Kusanagi didn't speak or blink. He just attacked again.
Terry and King were the first to be thrown back. King the worst as she seemed to have all her clothes burned off. This was due to King being closer to Rugal while Tery was still a distance away, so his shirt and cap were still save.
"Deal with Mr. Kane and Mr. Kisaragi." Rugal said to Vice and Mature. Both went to fight their respective opponents leaving Kyo and Iori to himself. "And now Kusanagi, you."
Kyo was thrown back by a powerful flame wave. When Kyo hit the ground Rugal went on the offensive beating Kyo down. Kyo was beat against a wall as Saishu was delivering punch after punch, and kick after kick. Iori looked on surprised at Kyo's lack of offense. Kyo simply took the blows as they came, looking for an escape. Finally he found one as he ducked under a punch and jumped out of the way towards Iori's feet.
"Why don't you attack him?" Iori shouted. Kyo said nothing, but Iori had a feeling he already knew the answer. Despite Rugal's manipulation of Kyo's father's mind Kyo could not hurt his own father. Iori however didn't have the same qualms.
"Hrmph." Iori pushed Kyo away. "If you won't fight him then I will..." He faced Saisyu. "This is for my father and my clan old man... YAMI-BARAI!!!" Saishu seemed to see the attack coming and leapt up high in the air. He then delivered a side kick straight into Iori's jaw knocking him down.
"Father?" Kyo asked. Saishu looked in his son's direction and waved his hand. A flame circle surrounded Kyo, Terry and King keeping them trapped. This left Iori, Billy Kane and Eiji to face what was before them. A brainwashed Saishu, and two hot looking women. Billy and Eiji knew who they would rather face.
"I'll take the blonde." Billy said looking at Mature. Eiji was stuck with Vice. Both women looked at each other as if wondering if they couldn't believe who they were facing. They decided it was best to put on a show.
"BACK RUSH!" both shouted simultaneously. Billy and Eiji took the blow as it came leading Mature and Vice to capitalize. They then decided to go in hand to hand, but Billy and Eiji threw some blocking maneuvers warding off their attack.
"This ain't another pretty face." Billy said with a smirk. Mature gave a similar smirk saying "Neither am I."
Billy and Eiji were now fighting Vice and Mature respectively. Iori however was fighting Saishu, and getting the snot kicked out of him. Kicks, punches, all coming in hard and fast. And yet through the pain Iori sensed something. Something amiss.
Or rather, something...missing.
It was when Iori looked into Saishu's eyes that he realized the truth. Saishu had a vacant stare in his eyes. His moves seemed like he was going through motions. Like a computer on an assembly line. His fighting style had no soul. No passion.
And that meant Iori had an edge.
For while Saishu was under control he could feel nothing. While Iori could feel EVERYTHING.
All the rage, all the power, all the madness. It was at his command. And Iori brought it to bear against Saishu in one concentrated burst. He could do it. He could call up the attack that destroyed his father and take Kyo's father away from him. All it took was one technique, one command.
Iori chose another attack.
"YAMI BARAI!!!" came the call from Iori as purple flames shot out from him and hit Saishu dead on. When the flames died Saishu was knocked out cold. Free from Rugal, but out like a light.
Iori was now off to the side recovering his wounds but he felt great. He had just beat his father's killer. Kyo however rushed to his father's side once the flames subsided. Awareness flooded into Saishu's eyes.
"Father..." Kyo said holding his father in his arms.
"Kyo... stop Rugal... do it... for me..." Saisyu then fell limp in his arms.
Kyo's head then snapped back in a wail of moaning... but that was nothing compared to the look of hatred he shot at Rugal. "Rugal... this time... I AM GOING CREMATE YOU!!!"
"No, I shall cremate you." Rugal said as he underwent a transformation. He seemed to grow in size as his body mutated and altered. When Rugal's transformation ended. He was now 9 feet tall, his skin onyx colored, his left hand was cybernetic as was his right eye and his hair was white. "Now you three will face the power of... GOD RUGAL!!!"
"You're not a god! Its time we showed that to you!" Terry shouted. Rugal was not fazed as he launched what lookrd like a pilar of energy with the image of a skull in the middle. The pillar hit Kyo, Terry and King dead on knocking them down. He then turned to Mature and Vice who were fighting Billy and Eiji. With a wave of his fingers he motioned his two secretaries out of the way. He would finish the last two himself.
"Time to die..." God Rugal powered up his God Kaizer Wave.
"RAGH!!!" God Rugal staggered in pain from being attacked from behind. He then turned around.
It was King. She was top less thanks to Rugal blowing all of her clothing off, she was battered and bloody but she was still on her feet. "This isn't OVER yet you bastard!"
God Rugal took a step back for the first time in fear. "IMPOSSIBLE! You couldn't have survived my God Kaiser Wave! You should be dead! WHY ARE YOU NOT DEAD!!!"
King them smirked. "Because my friends aren't dead. They haven't given up and as long as they don't give up... <B> I can't give up!"
God Rugal had been too occupied with King that he took his attention off of Terry and Kyo and it was all the time they needed to launch their Desperation Attacks at God Rugal. King then followed up with her own Desperation Attack, Illusion Dance.
The tide was turning and God Rugal knew it. All three launched separate attacks. Some ki based, some hand to hand. In and out strikes keeping God Rugal disoriented until all three made ready their final strikes in unison.
The strikes hit God Rugal dead on.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! HOW COULD I, A GOD, LOSE TO YOU WORMS!!!" God Rugal screamed as his body was being ripped apart by his own power plus the combined attacks of Terry, King and Kyo.
Surprisingly Iori gave God Rugal his answer. "Baka! Only those of the bloodline can hold your power! It isn't meant for humans!"
"GWAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!" God Rugal cried as he was totally turn apart and then a purple pillar of power erupted and in that pillar was a purple skull. Everyone saw the sight. Even Billy, Mature, Vice and Eiji.
"Time to bail Vice!" Mature shouted shoving Eiji Kisaragi to the side. "We will have to finish this match some other time."
"Gladly." Eiji said as he and Billy got clear. Even Terry, King, Kyo and Saishu made tracks out of the silo.
Everyone save for God Rugal got out of the silo before it blew up.
Once everyone got clear the fighters started to collect themselves. Kyo stayed by his father's side as he drifted in and out of consciousness.
"Father..." Kyo sighed with his head down.
"Kyo..." Terry put his hand on his shoulder.
Kyo then smiled. "He's alive Terry... he didn't die. I know that."
"What a pity. It would have been one less Kusanagi to worry about." Iori spoke up. Terry, King and Kyo turned to face him, Billy and Eiji.
"Well well well it looks like we do get a chance to finish this after all Bogard." Billy smirked. -I must be looked upon by god himself to get a chance like this. Finally I'll get my title back and get a LOT of points with the boss.
"There's no honor in this." Kyo said. "Attacking wounded fighters?"
"Who cares how as long as you get the 'w'." Billy said as all three of Iori's team took fighting stances. It was then that Iori attacked. "SHIKI YAOTOME!!!"
Only his Desperation Attack was turned on his own teammates.
Terry, Kyo and King could only stare as Iori attacked his own teammates and in under a minute rendered them blooded and unconscious with many broken bones.
In his defense Iori replied, "They were going to back stab me anyway. Better I do the backstabbing them." He looked at Kyo. "Keep the title Kusanagi. You and your team won... this year." He then turned around. "But next year you WILL fall before me."
"One last question." Kyo said. Iori then turned. His face kept taut. "Why the Yami Barai? Why not the Mu Shiki? Why not vaporize my father out of vengeance?"
Iori then gave a slight smile followed by a chuckle. "It would have been too much of a mercy Kusanagi. I want you to live with your pain, just as I live through mine. When your pain ends it will not be merciful."
With that Iori Yagami just walked off into the sunset. This left Billy and Eiji alone.
"Boys, discretion is the better part of valor." King said. Billy and Eiji followed suit and ran. Terry, Kyo and King were all tired and they had to get Saishu to a hospital.
"Let's get the hell out of here." Terry said for his team. No one argued.
The battle was over. For now. When the three made it back to the auditorium Team Kusanagi was the winner.
Nearby, Heidern walked through the debris left from the explosion of the silo. Nothing had survived. All that was left to show that Rugal had been in the factory was his cybernetic right arm.
"Finally, you have been laid to rest Rugal. If your soul burn for all eternity." With that, Heidern took out the photo of his wife and daughter.
-Rest in peace.- With that thought, Heidern left the grave of Rugal.
"Despite all that power he still lost?" Kat asked.
"It's not power that matters." Yuri said. "It's skill. And that's what we need to harness from you. As well as power." Kat nodded and then looked to Alison and Cassie wondering how the story ended.
"So Kyo was declared the winner?" Kat asked.
"Him King and Terry." Alison said. "And I was applauding."
"So was I." Cassie said. "I wished though I could have been at his side though."
"Same here." Alison said. "Maybe we could have met then."
"But we did meet later." Cassie added. "And it was a nice celebration."
This was not the first time that a fight had taken unusual circumstances during a KOF tournament, so the fight commission had decided to make a special ruling. That if a fight, or final match, was taken outside the arena, the first team to make it back to the arena would be declared the winners.
The first team to make it back was the King of Fighters team.
"And now I declare Terry Bogard, King and Kyo Kusanagi, Team Kings of Fighters, our 1995 King of Fighters Champions!" the master of ceremonies said. Everyone rushed forward to offer their congratulations. Cassie and Yuki hugged Kyo while Andy, Joe and Alison congratulated Terry.
"Careful kid. Someday this could be you." Terry said to Alison.
"I'm so going to beat your time." Alison said with a smile on her face. With Kyo his expression was a lot more serious as he looked at Cassie.
"Now you know what you are getting into Cassie. Do you still want to learn?" Kyo asked.
Cassie nodded "Yes."
"Then we begin your training immediately." Kyo said.
"And that leads us to today." Alison said with Cassie looking on.
"Now you know what you're getting into." Yuri said. "What we have to prepare you for."
"You won't be alone though Kat." Alison said. "I'll be there. As will Cassie." Cassie nodded and added "And Ivy will rue the day she decided to go after you."
"So what's it going to be Kat?" Yuri asked. Kat paused for a second then answered "I'll keep going."
Yuri smiled glad for Kat's decision. She knew Ivy would be in for a fight if the training schedule for tomorrow was going to be any indication.
Once again Kat returned to the waterfall. Yuri, Alison and Cassie all following. Kat looked at her three friends as if saying "Here I go."
"We'll be with you in spirit Katherine." Yuri said. "But this journey you must take alone." Kat nodded as she disrobed and swam out to the falls. She then took the meditation pose once again under the falls and focused within herself. Focusing on the journey within herself.
Again Kat was lost in memory as she saw her mother casting her spell. The words were hard to figure as Kat could only understand syllables and tongues. Then her mother saw her and the caldron her mother was using spilled over. The contents were all over the floor as her mother wept. Kat crept away as if causing her mother great pain.
-What? What did I do?- Kat asked herself.
-Follow.- a voice sounded echoing all around her. Kat asked. "Who's there?"
-Follow down your path of life. The answers will come to you.-
So Kat walked, again to where Rita enspelled her, and to where she saw Kim with Tommy. Kim who was so much like her, yet Kim having what she wanted. Tommy.
-And yet you didn't keep him did you?- the voice asked. "Why is that?"
"I....I don't know." Kat said. "He just was so handsome, and good....and dark."
-Much like the darkness within you?- the voice asked. Kat shook her head. "But that was Rita wasn't it?"
-Not totally. Some of it was you. But it was also normal to feel jealousy. Especially from one much like yourself.-
"But....Kim." Kat said.
-Some say that when one finds oneself they hate oneself.- the voice asked. -Did you hate Kim because you hated yourself?-
"That's absurd. Why would I hate myself?"
-Because of this?- Then Kat watched and saw herself in Rita's chamber enspelled, and turning into a cat for the first time. Rita cackling as she said "Perfect. Her inner powers are awakening. She has so much potential and that potential will be mine! Ah ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!"
Kat backed away from the memory and then turned to see her mother. Or rather the image of her mother. "Hello my child." she said.
"Mum?" Kat asked. "What is this? What's going on?"
"I prayed that you would never find out about this." the image of Mrs. Hillard said. "I had hoped you could live on to have a normal life. But destiny has denied that to you. It has turned you towards the direction I had taken."
"What? What do you mean?" Kat asked.
The image of Mrs. Hillard then spoke. "You are not of normal blood Katherine. Yours is a bloodline of great power and magic. One which you are now waking."
"What?" Katherine asked.
"The powers you possess have been handed down from generation upon generation of women on our bloodline. We are a line of white witches. Witches that fight for the light and preservation of goodness and life throughout the world."
"White witches?" Kat asked.
"I had hoped to spare you this destiny, but I was foolish." Mrs. Hillard said. "That day you saw me casting my spell. It was a spell of protection....for you."
"For me?" Kat asked.
"The power you held was more than any white witch of my line had ever produced." Mrs. Hillard said. "So much that I knew evil would corrupt you. I had hoped to cast a spell of protection about you to keep evil from knowing who you were, and allowing you to live a normal life. But when you walked in the cauldron overturned and the spell was broken. Allowing Rita to find you when she did."
"Couldn't you just recast it?" Kat asked.
"No my child." Mrs. Hillard answered. "That was a spell that could never be duplicated. "I'm sorry."
Kat then fell to her knees weeping. The time under Rita's spell, the pain she had caused. All of it could have been avoided. had she not gone into her mother's room that day. Kat cried as her mother came to her side and placed a hand towards her. "I'm sorry my child. I was a fool."
"A fool? How?" Kat asked looking up.
"I should have trained you as soon as I knew your potential. But I was afraid." Mrs. Hillard said. Kat didn't understand. "Afraid? Of what?"
"Of losing your father." Mrs. Hillard answered. "When we met I was so in love with him. But he could not understand the world I came from so I turned away. I didn't want to lose him, and I wanted a family more than I wanted the power and obligation of being a White Witch. So I didn't train you in the art, or in protecting yourself from Rita when she came for you. I should have been there for you."
"Mom. You were always there for me." Kat said. "In all the ways that mattered."
Mrs. Hillard smiled at the forgiveness her daughter was showing. Kat then asked "But what are you doing here? Aren't you in California?"
"What? You think meditation isn't part of a Witch's training?" Mrs. Hillard asked. "I have touched this plane numerous times. But this is the first time you and I have touched it together."
"But, why are you here. now?" Kat asked.
"To bring you to your next step of preparation." Mrs. Hillard said. "You have already taken several during your enspellment of Rita and your taking up the Zeo powers. Recently you have come across a third step during your time trip." Kat remembered her trip to Vietnam and coming across the Red Carnation, which allowed her to turn into a cat again briefly.
"That step you will touch again at a later time. But now you are at the step you need to confront Ivy." Mrs. Hillard then waved her hand showing Kat a light. A light so warm, so full of life, so much....a part of her. As if on instinct Kat reached out to it, knowing full well what it was.
It was her center. Her ki. It was the next step of her journey. Kat reached out and touched it.
Her mind then opened to everything. She saw everything she was and could be in life. She saw herself as Pink Zeo. She saw herself as Katherine Hillard. She saw herself as PC the park cat. She even saw herself in was she couldn't have even imagined. Such as herself as a Pink Turbo.
An aspect she could have been, but would not become. No, her path was now different.
She saw herself now in her fighting garb. Almost like Yuri's except her headband was now pink. Her pants skin tight and her blonde hair tied back into a pony tail. Past her she saw something else. A figure in red, holding a sword.
"That is for tomorrow. Focus on today." Mrs. Hillard said as she seemed to fade away, leaving Kat with the light that was herself. A smile spread across her face as she touched it.
In the real world Cassie, Alison and Yuri all watched Kat as she sat in the waterfall. A smile across her face, a pink glow around her body.
"She has found her center." Yuri said. "Now she must make use of it." Next second Kat left the waterfall and put on her training gi. She looked at Yuri and said in a voice of calm and confidence "I am ready for my training."
Dawn came to the obstacle course as Kat looked the course over.
She refused to let anything get the better of her. She was going to conquer this challenge. She would not fail.
Kat made it to the lip of the course where the first log stood. In her mind another image came to the fore. Herself on the diving board ready to execute any number of dives. She closed her eyes and let the image overtake her, but there was a lingering doubt in her mind. The doubt being the accident that cost her team the Pan Globals.
She would not give in to it. She pushed the image outside her mind. She would stand tall and proud.
On instinct Kat leapt up into the air and landed on a log. standing like a graceful swan. Now her mind focused on her dance pose. A dance she had also done on numerous occasions. She leapt up high in the air again onto the next log., giving a spin in mid air before landing. Again her balance remained perfect.
The next log came and Kat leapt again. Doing a mid air roll like she did of the diving board. Again a graceful landing. She did the same routines many times until she came to her target. Once she arrived Kat came face to face with the sparring dummy that was at the end. She called up the power discovered within her
HAOH SHO KOH KEN!!!
A flaming punch erupted from Kat sending the training dummy into the far wall. Yuri stepped out and clapped as if in appreciation of what Kat had just done. "Ready for the next challenge?"
Kat answered by leaping in the air and landing gracefully next to Yuri. "Let's go." Yuri noted something about Kat's landing. "That was a graceful landing. Almost cat like."
'Maybe." Kat said as she followed Yuri to the dojo for the next challenge. Kat looked back at the course with pride. She had made it through the obstacle course using the skills she knew. The grace of a dancer, the acrobatics of her time as a diver, and her drive as a Ranger. Added to her newly discovered chi she had stood triumphant over the first challenge she had faced when she arrived.
When Kat and Yuri arrived at the dojo, Kat's next challenge was waiting for her. Her new sparring partner. Off to the side Takuma sat ready to oversee the competition.
"Good luck." Yuri said as she went to sit beside her father. Also in attendance were Alison and Cassie who were hoping Kat would win as well.
Kat got into a fighting stance and then the two fought. It seemed to bea dead even until the opponent decided to utilize a ki move.
The opponent launched a series of lightning fast punches towards Kat, which she dodged with dancer's grace. When the punches stopped the opponent was exausted, giving Kat an opening to launch her ki offensive.
Kat then launched forward and delivered two flying spinkicks to her opponent. The trainee fell after Kat made contact with the move.
"WINNER!!!!" Takuma said raising Kat's arm in victory. Yuri, Alison and Cassie also came to Kat's side in congratulations. Kat felt proud of her victory. But there was still one thing she had to do.
Go for a run.
Ivy ran fast on the climbing treadmill. Going faster and faster as her spirit and body would allow. Her mind focused on one thing.
Katherine ran up the path from the Kusanagi grounds to Mount Fuji and ran as fast as she could go, climbing higher and faster until she reached the top. The climb was hard, but Kat would not be deterred. Higher and higher she went. Never once looking down. Her eyes focused on the top. The sky being her goal.
After miles and miles of mountain she finally reached the top. Once she did she screamed in triumph, and in challenge, the name of the woman she would face in the KOF tournament. "IVY!!!!!!!"
Ivy Howard was the next obstacle she had to face. Kat had conquered so many mountains, now came the final one. And that mountain would be conquered at the King of Fighters tournament.
Mature and Vice stood on a hill overlooking the factory. Suddenly, a breeze formed behind them and a person suddenly appeared.
"Is he dead?"
"Absolutely." Mature said. "No human can ever contain the power of the Hakkeshu."
"Very good Mature. Our plan is going along perfectly. Soon, our master will live again." Then, the mysterious man turned to her partner. "Vice, do you know the part of the mission?"
"Yes," Vice responded, "To keep an eye on Yagami and help him destroy Kusanagi."
"Very good, I leave it to you to deal with it." With that, their master disappeared in a sudden burst of wind.
"The world is going to get very interesting. Very interesting indeed." Mature smirked.