Yuri Sakazaki (King of Fighters 11, The) says...
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King of Fighters XI
Storyline of King of Fighters 11, The
"I'm sorry, Yuri... if only I were in better health...," said Takuma Sakazaki.
"You don't need to worry about that, Dad," replied his daughter.
"I have only one regret... that I never got to see the third generation of the Kyokugen School's family..." He broke into a fit of coughing.
"Master, you really should take it easy," said Robert.

It had been some time since the attack on Takuma's at the end of the last KOF tournament. To further compound the problem, the Garcia Foundation was in the middle of a major project, which meant that Robert Garcia would be unable to compete this year. That left just Ryo and Yuri, and they couldn't join without a third member.

"Per... perhaps King could help us out," said Takuma between his coughs.

His voice had been so weak on the phone that King rushed to the hospital in a panic, a bouquet of flowers under one arm. When she got there, however, she thought there was something strange about how he looked. For a man who'd been hospitalized for about a year, his complexion was pretty darn rosy, and his muscles had shown no signs of atrophy. Yuri, on the other hand, looked like she was exhausted from having to tend to him.

"A-anyway, look. I've brought you some flowers for your room," said King.
Takuma looked at her kindly and said, "You're too good to me, King... but once those flowers die, my time will be up as well."
Yuri responded immediately. "Dad, you shouldn't talk like that!"
"Oh, it looks as though I'll never make it long enough to see the third generation of Kyokugenryu..."

At that moment, a passing nurse peeked in and said, "Mr. Sakazaki, was there something you needed today?
"Huh?" replied Takuma. "Uh, no, nothing right now..."
"Well," the nurse said, "you always seem to be in such high spirits... it's a little strange, don't you think?"
Takuma stammered. "Th-that's not true!"
"Right!" affirmed Yuri. "This is... uh... just the like when a candle burns brightest just before it burns out!"
Robert piped in at this point, adding, "That's right! Our master isn't long for this world!"

Before the nurse could reply, Robert and Yuri shooed her out of the room.

"You've got to be kidding...," King muttered under her breath, trying very hard not to let her expression betray her thoughts.

"Mr. Sakazaki, it's time for your examination," said another nurse.
"Dammit, why do the nurses keep showing up one after another?" muttered Robert.
"Probably because it's a hospital," replied Yuri with a smirk.
The nurse ignored Robert's comments and primly stuck a thermometer in Takuma's mouth. "By the way, Mr. Sakazaki," she said.
"Wh-what?" mumbled the elder Sakazaki around the thermometer, and coughed.
"Lately, one of the patients has been sneaking off to the drugstore nearby at night to get food... apparently, the hospital food isn't enough for him. I don't suppose you'd happen to know who he is, would you?"
"I have no idea," Takuma said, then broke into another mild coughing fit.
The nurse's gaze didn't waver from her patient. "Witnesses have said he wears a Tengu mask on his face... long nose and all. Are you sure you don't know who it is?"
"I-I don't know."
The nurse went on to further state that the man in the Tengu mask appeared to be in remarkably good health for a hospital patient, displaying strength and agility enough to easily leap over a two-meter-tall gate, and always seemed to get Japanese soba noodles from the nearby drugstore.
The thermometer showed a reading of 36.5 degrees Celsius (97.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Hardly a "fever," by any definition.


***

"So that's the story of when I went to pay my respects," said King.
Ryo sighed. "I'm really sorry, King. Stupid old man... stupid little girl... and that moronic tiger-boy."
Having chastened his entire family equally, Ryo bowed his head to King.
"Don't worry about it," she replied. "So what about you? Still stuck on trying to improve your technique?"
"Huh? ...Oh, yeah. My students are all away, so right now it's just me."

The dojo was almost eerily quiet, and gave off a slight air of divine majesty. It was covered from wall to wall in immaculately-kept tatami mats, and the Shinto shrine had a young and healthy sakaki tree. It was precisely maintained, and almost perfectly silent.

"So how's he doing, anyway? There must be something wrong if he's still in the hospital."
"What, you mean his injuries from when he was attacked after the last tournament?" Ryo replied. "The main problem there was that it aggravated his old chest wound. It healed a lot faster than we expected, though. Right now, he's just in for a check-up."
King looked doubtful. "A check-up?"
Ryo nodded. "Well, he is getting older. I sent him in for a one-week observation, and they found some issues with his blood pressure and his liver, and so on. Thanks to that, things have been pretty quiet around here."
"Well, he must be pretty bored, if he wanted to try calling me there like he did today," said King.
"Yeah, most likely..."

The conversation had ground to a halt, and now there was uncomfortable silence. Ryo looked about, trying to think of something to talk about.

Finally he settled on something and said, "W-well, with dad's condition being what it is, coupled with the fact that Robert's got his plate full with business matters, Yuri and I are kind of stuck. We can't join this year's KOF with just the two of us, and I'm not sure any of my students are ready for that kind of challenge yet."
"So what are you going to do?"
"I guess we sit this one out. It probably wouldn't be such a bad idea to focus more on the administrative duties of the dojo, anyway."
King gave a thoughtful "hmmm" in reply, as a gentle breeze wafted in through all the open windows. "You know, Ryo, you've probably already reached the point where you're a true master."
"Huh?" replied Ryo quizzically.
She smiled. "This is the ‘Kyokugen' school, right? ‘Utmost limits.' I'm saying I think you've already reached the highest point."
"Not even close, King," said Ryo. "This road is a very long one, and I'm still barely a beginner. I've got mountains' worth of things I haven't learned yet."
"So then fight. This isn't like you. You don't get many opportunities to hone your skills like KOF gives you."
Ryo frowned. "But we don't have enough members--"
King cut him off. "Would it kill you just to ask for help?"
He smiled slightly. "...Yeah, you're right. Will you help us out?"


***

"That's our King," said Yuri. "With my planning and acting skills, it was no sweat."
Takuma sighed. "At the rate I'm going, I really will never see the third generation of the Kyokugen school..."
"Don't worry, master!" said Robert. "Yuri and I can get to work on that for you!"
"Mr. Sakazaki!" shouted the nurse as she suddenly had to restrain him. "A hospital is no place for a fight!"
After he calmed down a bit, Takuma spoke again. "All right, on to our next plan. Listen carefully, both of you."


Since 2006
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