|"Hooray for Master Kim!"|
"Best of luck!"
Chang & Choi gave a hypocritical--that is to say, blatantly false--er, rather, heartfelt cheer for Kim and Terry as they waited in the airport lobby.
The path leading to this particular turn of events had certainly been a twisted one.
On one of Mai's chance encounters with Andy, she lost her temper and told him it would be just fine with her if they "didn't participate," and dragged him off on a forced vacation... and Joe Higashi had been forced to abstain, as he had a scheduling conflict with a Muay Thai title match.
Finally, Tizoc, who had joined with Terry last year, had already joined a different team for this year, leaving the Lone Wolf in a bit of a tight spot.
It was then that he ran into Duck, looking as carefree as ever.
"Hey, Terry? What's up? You don't look yourself."
Flashy clothes, sunglasses, a mohawk and those high-tone dance steps.
Terry felt his spirits lift slightly on seeing one of Southtown's minor celebrities, and thought he might have a way out of his jam. He replied immediately with a cheerful, "KOF? Sure, why not? Might help relieve the boredom!" Perhaps the gods were smiling down on Terry again.
"But aren't we missing someone, Terry? KOF teams need three people, right?"
"Yeah, I'm working on that part..."
Terry planned on getting the leader of the Korean team, Kim, to split from them.
Since Choi Bounge hadn't participated last year, due to the inclusion of Jhun Hoon, it made sense that he might not participate again this year. And since Jhun wasn't planning to fight this year, the Korean team's roster had was a bit short of the three needed.
"Well, if we invite Kim, that ought to settle things, right Terry?"
"It would be great if he joined us, but I don't think he will."
"He's worked hard with Chang & Choi. KOF is where they've done most of their training. It wouldn't really be fair of us to cut in on that."
Duck gave an exaggerated shake of his head. He looked remarkably exasperated.
"Uh, Terry, you really should think a little harder."
"Kim's students have improved themselves during KOF, right?"
"Am I right?"
"Hooray for Terry and Duck!"
"We just know you're going to win!"
When presented with Terry's offer, Kim had been reluctant and unsure, while Chang and Choi looked as though they might burst into song and dance. Unsurprisingly, they offered much encouragement.
"If you go without us, Master Kim, you can fight much more powerful opponents," said Chang.
"We can use the time to train more for next year's KOF!" added Choi.
They have not forgotten their feelings are just window-dressed and just want to justify it. As the three boarded the plane, they waved small flags in the lobby, wishing them a safe trip, and the like.
If they'd learned anything in their time with Kim, it was that he was very observant, and was not easy to fool.
"You've done a good job training them and steering them on the right path. Are you a little worried, Kim?"
"Of course not. Hah hah hah!"
He wore his usual smile, and seemed quite confident.
Now his team would be at full fighting strength, but still...
Terry considered their plans, and elbowed Kim in the ribs. He sat down and whispered quietly to avoid letting Duck hear him.
"Hey, Kim. Is it okay for Duck to dress like that all the time?"
"If you think about his prospects, KOF could be the chance to kinda steer him right, you know? Put him on the right track."
"Ah, I see... you may be right, Terry."
Now that he'd been given a goal to work toward again, Kim folded his arms and pondered.
Suddenly, he felt another elbow in his ribs, this time coming from Duck.
"Hey, Kim. Don't you think it's time Terry stopped playing the part of the wandering warrior and settled down somewhere? As a friend, I kinda worry about him."
"If there's anyone who could show him the value of a traditional life, it's you."
"Ah, I see... you may be right, Duck."
Kim was feeling more cheerful than ever.
In unity, there was strength.
Now that he had new goals for which to strive during this new KOF, he could begin his preparations like always. The plane holding the three flew high above Southtown.
"...They're finally gone," said Choi.
"Those two just don't understand Master Kim one bit, do they?"
"You got that right."
"It ought to be fun to see what kind of changes he's inflicted on them when they get back."
"You know, it's actually a little bit lonely here now..."
"Yeah, just a little bit."