Xianghua (Soul Calibur 2) says...
You're going to regret this!
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King of Fighters XI
Storyline of King of Fighters 11, The
"Hands up!"
In a small bank, a man holding a gun called out to those around him.
Most of the people did as commanded, except for a blond-haired Japanese man, and a black-haired young man, who gave each other a knowing glance, then followed suit.
(You sure about this, Nikaido?)
(It should be fairly simple... wait for an opening, then deal with the shotgun.)

In southern France, in a small town with a population of only a few thousand.
Benimaru Nikaido and Duo Lon came here to meet someone, and in order to keep a low profile, they lifted their hands above their heads.
Normally, Benimaru would have made a bigger show of the robbers, but there were no women below the age of 50 anywhere in sight.

It was a textbook small French farming town, with a church in the center and small shops around it.
Herd farming was common, here, and cows and horses could be seen everywhere downtown.
The bank itself had only four tellers, and was in an old building, so it was anything but imposing.
Only the customers, including Benimaru and Duo Lon, and perhaps the robber himself, were foreign. Everything else was local.
If they hadn't received an invitation from someone claiming to have close ties to Ash Crimson, it's likely that they would never have come anywhere near this place.
Even though their timing in stopping by the bank to ask for directions had happened to coincide with the robbery, they were not overly concerned.

"P-put your hands behind your heads and lay f-face down! Now!"
The robber was obviously nervous. One could tell that his lips were trembling beneath his cap, and the barrel of his gun wavered unsteadily. No one in the bank had screamed, and the situation continued in an eerie calm.
If one were to look out the window of this surprisingly homey bank, one would see a truck loaded with bales of hay, as well as multiple cows walking by. In the muted winter sunlight, the view from the window almost looked like a painting.
(So, now what...?)
As he lay on the floor in an undignified posture with Duo Lon, Benimaru was calm and collected, and rather enjoyed the atmosphere. Even so, there wasn't a man alive who could properly enjoy the idyllic setting with a bank robber trying to take hostages not twenty feet away.

(...)
(What is it, Nikaido?)
(...A horse.)
(What horse?)

A white horse was walking in front of the window.

(...That horse?)
(...That horse.)

Astride the white horse, there sat a woman.
Though she would normally have been out of view, Benimaru and Duo Lon could easily see her face from their vantage point on the floor. She stretched and took the reins and a riding crop in hand.
With her short hair and the firm set of her mouth, she gave off an air of nobility.
As beautiful as she was, Benimaru felt reluctant to pursue her. Not to mention, anything he could say while lying on the floor, under the direction of a robber's gun, was unlikely to be particularly impressive.
Since this was more or less the worst possible first impression one could make on a woman, he decided to make things a bit more impressive.
Just as he had made this decision, however, the woman came through the front door, horse and all. She pointed the riding crop at the robber and shouted.
"Drop your weapons and surrender! That is an order!"
Her voice rang out clearly in the still air.
It appeared she was not speaking solely to the robbers, though.
After several moments, the villagers-turned-hostages began to speak.
"Mademoiselle Blanctorche!"
"Lady Elisabeth!"
Though her voice gave off a palpable feeling of comfort, it was also plainly evident that she held absolutely no compassion for the robbers.
"Y-you bitch! You want this gun right in your eye?"


***

"Gah, still can barely see. Are you okay, Duo Lon?"
"Yes."

And just like that, the robbery was over.
Through some unknown ability, the woman called Elisabeth had summoned some intense light, leaving robber and patron alike stunned and trying to clear their vision.
Once one could see again, the robbers were already tied up on the floor. The police were there shortly thereafter, and they took the robbers away while seeing to the hostages.
In the course of all of the police interviews and the like, the whole ordeal went on for quite some time, though the event itself had been fairly straightforward.

Some time earlier, the woman called Elisabeth stood before Benimaru.
As before, she stood regal and proud.
Benimaru introduced himself and Duo Lon, then proceeded in his usual fashion to try to win her over with lighthearted conversation.
"Well, I know you were a bit busy with stopping those robbers, but I had hoped to get to have a word with you."
"Is there a problem?"
Elisabeth flatly and fearlessly declared that if he had any strength, he should've taken a stand back there, rather than groveling like a dog on the ground.
"Hey, that's a bit much, don't you think? We had to consider the hostages' safety."
"Big words for someone who was just on the ground."
As effectively as a slap, Elisabeth had effectively muzzled Benimaru.
"Well, it's nice to meet you, Duo Lon and Benimaru Nikaido. I appreciate your taking such pains to see me, but I'm afraid the house of Blanctorche does not associate with cowards. I bid you good day."

As the words were leaving her lips, she was already turning and walking away.
Benimaru gave a small whistle.
"I always knew the French were proud, but that was just snotty... No denying her looks, though."
"Shouldn't we get her to wait?"
Duo Lon called out to Elisabeth's retreating back.
It was exceptionally rare for him to do anything of the sort.
"Ash Crimson has obtained the power of Chizuru Kagura... the Yata's power..."
Elisabeth stopped in her tracks.
"..."
"So, you know about that."
"And you've done your homework. Just as one would expect... for a former member of the Flying Brigands."
"..."
"Ron (Long) says that their village was destroyed, but even so..."
Then Benimaru cut in.
"I have a question. You've learned the proper names of Kusanagi, Yagami, Mukai and Orochi, correct? We were part of last year's KOF. We know some things you don't."
"...Very well. Let us discuss this."
"In spite of our previous dialogue, I wanted to talk to you about joining our KOF team."
"Make your offer and I'll make my decision. Old man!"
An old man, who had previously been holding the reins of the horse just outside the bank, respectfully came over.
"Since you'll be returning first, please show these two the way to the mansion."
"As you wish, milady."
"Later, then. Hah!"
As she said this, she mounted the horse and took off like the wind.
The scenery seemed an ill fit to the 21st century.

"She has always been a rather stern type. I do hope you weren't too offended."
The old man bowed his head in assent.
Both of his hands held the reins. Just ahead, two horses stood tied.
"Once through this pass, you'll find the mansion. The horses know the way. Now, if you would..."
He led their gaze to the cart, led by two horses in fine condition.

"Horses."
"...Horses."

The two walked with the horses back to the house of Blanctorche, and finally made it there as the day reached its end.


Since 2006
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