Description: Alexis Lovell of Killasaurus Orphanage fame (...of a sort) has herself an idea - she wants in on the King of Fighters, and she needs a team for it! Good thing she already has a team of her bandmates to whip into shape... or not?! Can a chance meeting with the (in)famous Howard Rust, Jr. change their tune?! Maybe he stands to send the whole thing into further discord... who knows? Might as well just go along with it, eh?
==*== SOME TIME AGO ==*==
The room is dark save for the liquid crystal glow of the computer screen as the scene that filled the monitor plays out. The shot of teenage brunette Alexis Lovell in a Canadian flag-sporting t-shirt zooms out as she swings her guitar like a battle-axe at Yuri Sakazaki, only to have the weapon rebound chaotically as the attack is reflected. Seconds later, Alexis goes in on the offensive again - only to take an uppercut full to the jaw. Soon after, as Alexis drops, Yuri is eliminated by a swift kick from the young Lightning Spangles. Teeth clench in the darkness of the room, the screen's light glinting dimly off of them.
The door flies open and the light flicks on. Alexis, in her pyjamas, nearly falls out of her computer chair, barely managing to keep her mostly-eaten bowl of poutine from splattering onto the carpet.
"Holy shit, Kim! What happened to knocking?"
"Oh, sorry, Lexi. I should've known you were in here, what with the lights being off and all," the currently-platinum-blonde Kim Steele replies brightly as she wanders over to sit at an empty computer desk beside the one at which Alexis is seated. "Are you FightTubing that time you lost to Lightning Spangles again?"
"No," Alexis replies tersely, quickly closing the tab.
"Oh, good. Hey, I have an idea! You know that new tournament everybody is talking about?" Kim queries as she fires up her own computer. "You should totally enter it! You just need to like, get a team together. Is there an ell-eff-gee channel for things like that?"
"Kim..." Alexis peers in utter bemusement at her roommate and fellow band member. "...What the hell are you talking about?"
After about an hour of plumbing the depths of the online fighting forums, it becomes clear that there is, indeed, some kind of international tournament in the works - a team tournament. Where would Alexis find a team of fighters...?
==*== THE NEXT DAY ==*==
The sound of instruments being tuned fills the air in the exclusive practice space of Killasaurus Orphanage - drummer Matt 'Math You Bad' Barker's mother's basement. Matt sits at his drum kit, chatting with guitarist Benny 'Benny Lava' Lavoie as a blue-haired Kim "Kim Penetrable" Steele converses with Steve, who is there because Kim is. The noise is interrupted by the sound of the basement door slamming, followed by the sound of boot soles on wooden steps. When Alexis comes into view of those in the basement, she doesn't have her guitar. Instead, she's carrying a rather sizeable Killasaurus Orphanage sport duffel, which she lets drop noisily onto the basement floor. A broad grin tugs at the corners of her lips.
"Is she smiling?" Benny asks Matt with a hushed tone that blends equal parts confusion and apprehension.
Matt, for his part, slowly frowns.
Alexis -is- smiling, and that never ends well.
==*== A FEW MINUTES LATER ==*==
"Forget it, Lexi! Absolutely not! Do you remember last time I got in a fight?" Benny protests, near hysterics. "I had to donate those pants to charity! The smell never came out!"
"There's no way that we can all afford fighting insurance," Matt adds. "Not to mention, I'm a pacifist, eh?"
"I think it sounds fun, guys!" Kim contradicts the other members of the Killasaurus crew. "Just because Lexi is ranked and we're total noobs doesn't mean she can't help us power level to cap, right?"
"This is blind pick! If we queue as four, we're just going to get pub-stomped by some premade group!" Benny fires back. "Literally! We could literally be stomped in a pub!"
"Hey, if you guys won't join my fighting team, then I'm leaving the band!" Alexis threatens, her eyes burning with anger.
"Oh! If you do, does that mean I get to wear your stage outfit?" Kim pipes up.
"Dammit, Kim -"
"Band vote," Matt proposes. The two male members' hands stay down, while the girls' hands go up.
"It's a tie," Benny says, looking slightly relieved.
"Wait. Steve didn't vote!" Kim exclaims, pointing at the sound tech, who blinks as he's suddenly drawn back to relevance. All of the band members exchange glances, then look at Steve expectantly.
"Uhh... what did Kim pick?" Steve asks, scratching his head.
Alexis breaks into a triumphant grin.
==*== IN THE PRESENT ==*==
A piercing shriek fills the air as a body slams into the padded wall of the gymnasium before crumpling into an effeminately-sobbing heap of protective gear.
"Oh for crap's sake, Benny! I didn't even hit you that hard!" Alexis growls as she tugs at the wrists of her fighting gloves, the hum around her fists slowly fading.
The Maple Street Gym has seen better days, but it was the best deal that Killasaurus Orphanage could find on a new set of memberships. For the past two weeks, the band has practically been living here under the training of their self-appointed fighting instructor, Killasaurus Lex.
"Come on. Don't be a scrub, Benny! At this rate, you won't be ready to fight a kindergartener by the time the tournament starts!" Alexis shouts at the whimpering guitarist.
"We don't have to fight any kindergarten kids, do we, Lexi?" a pink-haired Kim questions reluctantly as she starts putting on her own training gear. "I would feel bad about beating up a kindergartener. I think grade four is the lowest I'll go. /Maybe/ three."
"Lexi, you /are/ avoiding head shots when you spar with Kim, right?" Matt questions, in the midst of removing his own protective gear.
Alexis sighs in exasperation, pushing a hand over her forehead as she lowers her head. "Ugh. Maybe we should've looked for a real fighting coach," she admits regretfully.
==*== SOME TIME AGO... ==*==
There is a seal on a red scooter wearing a green cap with a bag slung around their body. This bag seems to be carrying a slab of stone - a tablet? It seems too heavy to realistically be carried by a seal. (One should have stopped asking questions at the scooter, but, here we are anyway.)
They stand before a shadowy figure whom by some means has derailed this... scooter-driving creature.
"You will see to it this gets exactly where it says," an indistinct threatening voice says, "you'll drop everything you're doing... won't you?"
The seal gulps, nodding vigorously in compliance.
==*== IN THE PRESENT ==*==
Someone slaps their hand against the doorway to the men's locker rooms from the inside, as if on some sort of cue. A single long braid of black (...actually under this light it looks sort of purple in highlight? Let's just say 'black' for now) hair sways out, to a face half-obscured by a bang over one of their eyes, as though moving with all due caution. With some sort of expectation, as they turn their head...
Then the rest of their form steps out as an overweight middle-aged man in shorts, sandals, and what was probably the top half of a mechanic's outfit, their midsection decked out with a whole lot of tools that do not appear to be making any noise in spite of close proximity with one another... is that a length of pipe through one of the toolbelt pockets? Anyway, they pull themselves along out with a singular, triumphant...
"Showers are done with!" He calls out. "You wouldn't believe how much better it looks in there! Like it just opened today at, Iiiii... uh. Huh."
He taps the doorway again, ambling along the grounds of the Maple Street Gym while muttering reasonable questions about where so-and-so is, they were right there some hours ago, surely so-and-so would still be there, where on Earth could they have gone--
Benny is spared another blow just as one of his feet nearly jabs him in the ribs, the middle-aged man of... very interesting choices in hairstyle... reaches down with his free left hand to help him up.
"Ooh! Sorry about that. Didn't see you there, c'mon, let's get you up..."
He turns his head over to the rest.
"Sorry if I'm in the middle of something, but have any of you seen the man in charge here? Wanted to let him know I finished work on the showers over in the men's rooms... gave 'em the full Howard Rust, Jr. treatment--"
The beleaguered Benny eagerly accepts the offered aid, rather uneasy on his feet in the (at least slightly) excessive layers of padding that he's armored in. The youth staggers past Rust and into the men's locker room, murmuring something unintelligible but almost assuredly pathetic as he stumbles toward freedom.
"Oh, uhh, I think he's on his lunch break or something," Alexis informs Rust after a deep breath, the interruption having pulled her out of her malaise for the moment. "Anyway, I think I could call him, eh? I just need to get my phone..." The brown-haired teenager brushes her bangs out of her face and starts to roam toward the womens' locker rooms, but a creeping thought in her subconscious causes her to slow in her steps.
Howard Rust, Junior. Where does she know that name from? A mental glimpse into the past reveals...
==*== BLITZ MEGAMAZE, SEVERAL MONTHS EARLIER ==*==
"SCHOOOOLGIIIIRL CHALLENGE! WINNER RECEIVES..." There's a jingle like a slot machine turning that plays as the loot table is checked by the RNG. "AUTOGRAPHED TOOLSET BY HOWARD RUST JUNIOR!"
==*== BACK IN THE PRESENT ==*==
"Ugh, that chick was sooo gross," Alexis mutters to herself as a shudder runs through her frame, before she continues walking.
"Hey, Lexi! Isn't Howard Rust Junior the same name as that other guy from Canada who was in one of those world title belt matches? Except didn't he actually win one?" the other, pinker-haired teenage girl calls out to Alexis' back.
"I was ROBBED!" Alexis blurts out suddenly, whirling about face in anger as her hands clench at her sides. The sound of her voice echoes in the nearly-empty gym, the inadvertently chi-empowered protest filling the silence that follows until the sheer awkwardness overwhelms Alexis' aggressive attitude.
"...Yeah, Kim," Alexis confirms as she deflates, slowly turning back toward the direction of Rust. "That's right. I'm sure there's a lot of Howard Rust, Jrs., though - holy shit."
The name could easily be a coincidence. The occupation and accompanying toolbelts could be happenstance.
The terrible hairstyle, though, is unmistakable.
"You're Howard Rust, Junior!" Alexis exclaims, abruptly starstruck as she approaches the middle-aged man. "I have your toolset! It's signed!"
The wheels in Alexis' head spin faster as her brain shifts into a higher gear. Rust is more experienced, more accomplished, than Alexis is. And old guys are always better at teaching stuff. This could be exactly the break she needs to save Team Killasaurus Orphanage.
"You have to help me!" Alexis insists, almost pleading. "I need you to tea-"
"Join her team!" all three of the other Killasaurus Orphanage band members yell in unison.
"Save us," Benny begs from the locker room.
"If you join her team then we don't have to!" Kim realises aloud.
"I find violence distasteful and would appreciate a substitution," Matt chimes in.
"What? Come on, guys! I was going to ask him to help you guys train!" Alexis protests, turning to the other punk rockers.
"Screw that, eh?" the group retorts in unison.
"Thanks a bunch!" The odd handyman says as he stretches out one of his legs as if to work out a kink that's come from resting on it for who knows how long today. The intricacies of the suffering of the band in their leader's latest attempt to entwine themselves into fighting superstardom appear largely lost to whatever this man has going for the rest of his day. "Let 'em know I'll be up front, eh?"
For his part, he seems oblivious when his name starts being uttered, more in favor of whatever it is he's doing up front - is that a pile of materials he brought? Materials and paper? There's one thick block of... something. Some other paper scrap under there? Maybe it's nothing of interest. Could just be your everyday contractor, with a bizarre taste in women's hairstyles, an over-equipped toolbelt, and that length of pipe--
Oh, who are we kidding? That's him, all right!
Startled by the shouting of his name, Rust Jr. drops what he was picking up directly on one of his feet. Aside from a simple 'ouch,' he doesn't seem inclined to push the matter of just how much excruciating pain his foot is in. (Or he's too stupid to realize it is now in pain beyond the initial shock, either or.)
"You bet! That's me-- oh! You do? That's good!" He says with a cheer that transcends the initial hiss in his words as he leans down to pick up what he dropped, whatever it all is. "Yep, that set'll last you a good long while with, I'd use it myself if they didn't take it after I put my name on i--"
His babbling is quickly cut off with Alexis' pleas... no, that's not really a plea comapred to the Killasaurus Orphanage bandmates, their united plea for him to join their team threatening to dig deep, deep, deep into the recesses of a man whose psyche has witnessed and partaken in so much, as if to tickle the inner hero, to the sorrowful cry for help from poor Benny all the way down in the locker room--
"Eh? Team?" He brings his right hand up against his chin, looking back towards what he's carrying. Whatever he's ruminating, he does so as Kim and Matt elucidate further. "Well, can't do much until the guy I'm waiting for comes back..."
Is that a yes? Will they be saved from further pain, suffering, and humiliation above and beyond what they are already subjected to?!
"So!" He looks over the rest, sizing up their manner of dress. Alexis and her crew have, to perhaps great joy, attracted the eye of a proven(?) champion in their hour of greatest need. Through his guiding hand, he may yet mold them into a force of nature, a true team to be reckoned wi--"What're we playing?"
"Dodgeball? Back when I played in, we didn't use padding--"
Tickle the inner hero? Give a backrub the outer fool, more like...
Disparate expressions hang on the faces of each Killasaurus member as Rust speaks: the pleading, yet hopeful expression in Alexis' eyes; Matt's polite and stoic demeanour betrayed by the tense drumming of his fingers; Kim's contemplative, yet vapid stare; Benny's nauseated grimace that goes unseen in the depths of the locker room. Yet all of them light up in unison when it seems that he's going to agree to their request.
Then, an awkward silence falls as Rust asks what they're going to play.
Kim's cognitive processes do not recognize awkward silences, and therefore she is the first to break this one. "I love dodgeball!" she chimes.
"I hate dodgeball," the locker room groans through the ajar door.
"We're not playing dodgeball," Alexis interjects, folding her arms across her chest. "I mean... that's not why we're making a team. I'm Alexis Lovell, and I'm going to enter the King of Fighters tournament. But to enter the tournament, you have to have a team. And these guys -" she gestures sweepingly at the other bandmates as Benny emerges from the locker room, unarmored and disheveled - "we're all in a band called Killasaurus Orphanage. So I thought it would be cool if they learned how to fight so we could be a team, right?"
The heads of Matt and Benny shake in unison behind Alexis' back, while Kim smiles and nods.
"So the problem is, these guys suck at fighting," Alexis summarizes.
"Hey, I don't think we suck," Kim argues, frowning.
"We definitely do," Matt says flatly.
"It doesn't help that she sucks at coaching," Benny bitterly remarks.
"Hey, I don't think she sucks," Kim argues, frowning.
"She definitely does," Matt says flatly.
"So, -anyway-, it's really great to run into an old - uh, I mean, someone with so much more experience, 'cause I'm mostly self-taught, and... they're having trouble following my lead," Alexis says carefully as she looks to Rust. "It'd be really great if you could... maybe help us out? I mean, I could even..."
The smile that Alexis forces on as she speaks her next words can't fully mask the pain that the girl seems to suffer in doing so. Through clenched teeth, she practically mumbles: "...pay you for your time?"
"Ohhhh. A tournament! Okay." The inflection in one Howard Rust, Jr.'s words may be baffling among the more perceptive - the King of Fighters is a big, big brewing thing. Why does he sound like he's only hearing for it for the first time...?
"Well, as it is," he says, trailing out the last word, "I can't go too far out before I see the guy who hired me to fix up the men's room showers... I don't see the harm on going over the basics!"
Famous last words? If one asked him, they'd be more like famous first words, as he re-negotiates his unwieldy grasp of that pile of paper and whatever-the-other-thing-is as to clap his hands together.
"Heck! I'll let you in on some of my favorite training techniques!" He says with the most earnest, genuine, and warm smile as befitting of a man that may well be bereft of the foresight of what may well come of all this - a man who might not quite have registered the stress and duress already suffered by Alexis' unlucky bandmates (is there any other kind?).
"Don't worry about the money - this is all just fundamentals. Don't even have to go too far out at..."
This could be the big break all of them had been waiting for in the attempt to forge a great, powerful team to take the world by storm...!
==*== A TEST OF BALANCE AND GRACE!!! ==*==
Suddenly, beautiful Canadian wilderness. It's a clear, beautiful day. The air is brisk and nippy, but it's easy enough to acclimate to, eh?
"Balance is a big one!" Comes one Howard Rust, Jr.'s voice. A moose comes into view, grazing and otherwise going about their clear, beautiful day... aside from a single shadow that grows over them...
Looking up, somehow, this heavy-set man is managing to balance precariously off the tip of one of their antlers without so much snapping them off, or even tilting the head of the moose, holding his right hand up with an extended three-finger gesture, his right leg raised and bent inward upon his balancing left. On a sandal.
"You live, breathe, and exist within every passing moment... of every force in the world. You let yourself be a part of it, it never lets you fall." How does that take...?
==*== A TEST OF STRENGTH AND STAMINA!!! ==*==
Suddenly, a fast-moving river that flows against the cold air. A man swims through it - none other than Rust Jr. himself - carrying sticks with at least one hand drenched to the limit in mud. His hands move fast as he affixes sticks to mud, deep in the construction of what appears to be a dam that would largely be the business of beavers - surprisingly rather far along in a short amount of time given he is one man.
"You got to hold strong against the very elements that would erode away at you," he explains somehow above the sound of unfathomably cold rushing water, "master 'em by outlasting 'em! Build by hand the means in which nature itself bends it to its will, like the beavers... you get strong enough, no current can sweep you away!"
Those words sound great on paper, but...
==*== A TEST OF STEALTH AND PERSEVERANCE!!! ==*==
It all goes back to civilization after a brief jaunt in the wilderness, where Rust Jr. is not at all conspicuously wearing a lot of Calgary Flames memorabilia - enough that somehow being set on actual fire would make him less stand-out, as the case may be.
"It's a simple and sad truth, that life finds ways to divide and yet unite! Nations, teams, politics, you name 'em! They'll find ways to drop the gloves for any reason, if they think you'll give 'em one."
Case in point, some particularly rowdy (mostly drunk, they're pleasant folk outside of this) visiting Vancouver Canuck fans who are already busy taking the piss out of the day.
"Deep, deep down, we're all still one - you tap into that with, you move through anything like it isn't an opposing force, even when it all seems to just box you where you're at." He demonstrates by deftly moving in between some of them, even in the middle of a conversation, with such casual grace and ease that it might have been that they never noticed the wrong colors at all - as if there were some subtle understanding of human behavioral cues that lets him move in such a way between their blinks, nods, and drinks that he never registers to them. (That or it's just the devil's luck...?)
==*== A TEST OF MIND AND SOUL!!! ==*==
Finally, sitting comfortably at one of the tables inside a certain omnipresent fast food chain, Rust Jr. contemplates a cup of coffee.
"It all ties back to the mind and soul too, eh?" He says, as he lifts the coffee cup upwards, head tilted back as though staring into the sky beyond the boundaries of the ceiling above him. "Knowing the way things are, the inevitabilities and the truths, meditating on them with a clear mind..."
"That things won't ever be the same after those royal burger folks got a hold of our coffee and doughnuts," it seems mournful, but somehow he works up a placid, peaceful smile as he sets the cup down on the table.
A truly heavy thought, for all involved, indeed.
"You know, inner peace with these sorts of things." Can they find it within such sadness over the horizon...?
Before long, it's back to the gym...
Where, within the span of Rust's training regimen, the Killasaurus crew appears broken. Matt sports his share of bruises and abrasions, while Benny is dressed in as much medical plaster as fabric. Kim, for her part, is rocking back and forth, hugging her knees, her magenta hair disheveled. Alexis is the only one standing as the other three occupy a bench by the gym wall. While she has a black eye and has her arms folded across her chest, she looks otherwise unfazed. But what happened in the trials themselves? Well, let's start from the beginning, with the trial of...
==*== BALANCE AND GRACE!!! ==*==
The first to volunteer, Kim climbs the moose while it munches on a pine cone. Relatively light on her feet, she manages to keep her balance without startling the distracted creature. When congratulated afterward, she comments, "I just wish it didn't steal my pine cone. I was going to save that for Christmas."
Second to go, Matt takes a cue from Kim, offering a pine cone to the beast. While less steady than the green-haired girl, he at least manages to balance on the moose's head for a few seconds before falling off into a bed of pine needles.
Alexis is next, and follows the pattern set by her predecessors. Somewhere between the first two in natural balance, she manages to balance on the creature's antlers, though in doing so she clearly agitates the moose as she's a bit heavier than Kim. Before it can become too riled, she hops off hastily - and a ripping sound fills the air as her skirt catches on the creature's antler. She dangles, flails and curses for several seconds before managing to free herself, yet the moose remains docile.
Finally, Benny's turn arrives, and after much coaxing and reassurance that the beast is actually kind of harmless (given its docile state), he requests that Kim feed it another pinecone while he climbs on the creature's back. Kim agrees happily, wanders off to climb a tree, and returns within a few minutes to supply her offering to the moose. Benny has managed to make it onto the moose's back by the time the buzzing starts, and soon a nasty swarm of wasps is buzzing around the creature's head.
"Where did Kim get that pine cone from?" Matt wonders aloud as the moose charges off into the forest, carrying a screaming Benny head-first into a low-hanging tree branch.
"From that maple tree over there," Kim answers, pointing. ==*== STRENGTH AND STAMINA!!! ==*==
One by one, the members of Killasaurus Orphanage undergo the beaver challenge. At the end of the day, Matt shivers uncontrollably under piles of blankets next to a bonfire, while Alexis and Kim, both local bain de neige champions back at home, lounge in their swimsuits, towelling off the mud covering their bodies. Benny, wrapped with several bandages, has not participated.
"This is actually pretty fun!" the red-haired Kim says with a smile, a sentiment that goes unconfirmed by the others. ==*== STEALTH AND PERSEVERANCE!!! ==*==
Kim, now sporting a black mane of hair, manages to slip through the crowd of Canuck fans without drawing their ire, but not without drawing attention, probably at least in part because the way she chooses to wear her memorabilia is rather flattering.
Matt makes his way through the throng in rival jerseys by smiling and offering beers from a six-pack of Molson as he makes his way amongst them.
Benny attempts the same strategy as Matt. However, as he offers the first beer, he accidentally trips and spills the entire thing onto the Vancouver fan's Canuck jersey. Before he can be punished, he runs away crying in terror. The fan whose jersey has been violated looks down at the stain, then after Benny. Holding up a hand, he calls, "Sorry!"
Finally, it's Alexis's turn. Taking a cue from Kim, but a step further, she's made sure that her Flames jersey and pants are tight in all the right places. As she makes her way through the group of men with all eyes on her, she stops to chat with a rather strapping looking one. "So, you're a big Canucks fan, eh?" she asks coyly.
"Oh, me and my buds won these shirts from a draw at the Canucks game. We're actually all Canadiens fans," the man replies amicably, lifting his jersey to reveal a Canadiens jersey under the Canucks one. His fellows follow suit. "Tu vois?"
Suddenly, Alexis' eyes flash with anger. As a Leafs fan, the sight of so many Canadiens jerseys has her seeing red (and also some white and blue, less figuratively speaking). After a moment, though, the Canadiens fan adds, "Hey, do you like Bieber? I have these concert tickets and -"
==*== MIND AND SOUL!!! ==*==
Alexis, Benny, and a coat-clad Matt all quietly contemplate Rust's words as they stare into their coffee cups. So does Kim, except that her eyes slowly widen as she thinks deeper and deeper. Abruptly, she drops to her knees in horror and throws her hands to the sky. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-"
==*== BACK IN THE PRESENT ==*==
"Wait. How did Matt end up getting so beat up?" Kim, whose hair is now blue, suddenly wonders.
"Snowboarding accident," Matt explains, before the group all turn expectantly to their newfound sensei.
In comparison, the master of the moment - at least someone who appears to be putting forth a reasonable job of appearing something along those lines after a string of undeniable embarrrassments before today - seems almost as fresh as when they first left the gym to embark on those crazy training adventures appearing hardly worse for the wear. It's like he never left, visually speaking. Even his hair is intact!
"That wasn't a bad first try!" He appears to be able to say this without any moment of hesitation to consider his words, as though he actually believes it. Maybe there is something that this old (washed up) name in fighting - who for whatever reason won the World Champion title - sees in the broken, bruised, battered, belittled lot as he holds that pile of paper-and-whatever underneath his arm.
"At this pace, accounting for... well, injuries, recovery," he starts doing math in his head with the tap of some fingers against that solid object thing that he's hoisted under his arm with all the papers, "long you're willing to take the water when it gets even colder in, a steady supply of out-of-town hockey fans, and such, and such," the math appears to be exceptionally laborious, given the silence that follows where he's still tapping his finger, "Iiiiiiiii'd go... saaaaay..."
He turns about-face, with a smile. "Three more years' worth of that, and you'd be really getting somewhere!"
"Huh, say, when is this 'King of Fighters' going to happen?"
At that, the backing members of Killasaurus Orphanage groan, sigh, and throw up their hands in surrender. Alexis alone stands firm, but disappointment casts a cloud even over the lead vocalist's visage. Her posture slumps a little as she exhales long and loud.
"It's in... like... a month," she estimates half-heartedly, gesturing off into space as she does so. "There's no way these guys are gonna be ready in a month. I mean, I'm sure that it's a great training regimen or whatever, but, like..."
"We are not fighters, eh?" Benny remarks, seeming more drained than nervous for once. "My amygdala is wired directly to my stomach."
"I'm a philosophical pacifist," Matt adds, leaning back in his seat.
"I'm Canadian," Kim pipes up. Then, after a beat, she adds, "Where are you from?"
Alexis heaves another sigh, pushing an ice pack up against her black eye. "You're right, guys. I should have known this was a bad idea. We're a team, but... we're not a fighting team." Frowning, Alexis adds, "I just don't know who else would wanna team up with someone like me..." Though unspoken, the thought of how quickly the three-way battle between Alexis and the other rookie-tier opponents had turned against her weighs heavily on Alexis' mind, a genuine weight showing in her eyes.
"Technically, we didn't want to team up with you, either," Benny mentions.
"Shut up, Benny," Alexis says with a scowl.
"A month? Ooh, that's... a lot shorter than three years, yep." The aging man exhales slowly as though his mind were dancing about the alternatives, while the barbed tongues lash out to the bitter taste of ill wills between a group of musicians that might as well be referred to as 'Dogan Dirt' as a derisive nickname.
To say nothing about himself, oftentimes mocked for just not knowing when to call it a career, hang it up, and go home and be a family man - never mind the fact he holds the title of World Champion, the height of what was formerly a merely middling career.
"Now now, hold on!" He at last speaks up, hands up in the air as if to try and stop things from coming to blows between Alexis and Benny, or really anyone else for that matter. His right hand lowers. The left, a raised finger as if to say 'hey, wait,' but is instead - to those in the know - a genuine warning sign so blatant as to be an alarm klaxon.
"Sooo... turns out maybe the training sessions weren't my best idea." The preface to a series of words that, when coming straight from this man's mouth, is within the triple-digit ranks for some of the most dangerous words to be spoken in the English language. (It was once ranked as high as the two-digits - 97th - back in 2008, just ahead of luminaries like 'let's breathe in deeply the air at this oil drilling site.')
"That's okay, I got another!" That's the sound of the universe cringing in advance. Oblivious to the background noises and thoughts beyond mortal comprehension and observation, he sets the pile of papers down on a nearby bench to hold up what was the most inexplicable piece of the puzzle pile.
The revelation of what it is - a stone slab - still doesn't disqualify it from the previous and current descriptors. It is full of notches and squiggly marks that may approach artistry if gone over with a fine eye for details, at least marks that probably have some purpose. How did he even come acr--
"You see, turns out, this came in the mail." Oh, he's explaining that now. "I thought it was strange, because... well, for one, I'm certain it was sent to the wrong address!"
He points a finger helpfully to one of the squiggly marks up to the top without missing a beat. "You see, back when I went out and about the whole globe with my dad and the rest, used to see this here mark to denote the Rockies! Further north end. Made me think about, must be its postal code, eh? Something like it. That's not the weirdest thing!"
surely, he must be acknolwedging the fact it's a slab in the mail not carved in any known human language is the weirdest thi--
"I live down in the States with my family, out in Oregon - lovey place - but the Rockies don't go there in." He laughs. "Wrong state, wrong nation, wrong house, so I figure... the postal guys must be having a rough time of it. So I'd just go deliver it for 'em after I was done with the shower here."
He starts looking a bit sheepish. "I'd have been out there sooner, but, already had to reschedule this job twice... so, what I'm thinking, and this is my keen idea..."
He places the slab thing back down on top of the stack of papers, and to the verbally abused, the physically injured, the spiritually exhausted, with all the boundless optimism of a fool...
"What say you, we all go on a rip that-a-way? I mean, we'll got to stop some times to eat, might run across some good teammates for your King of Fighters that way while I figure out where this mail's got to go at. If all's you need to compete is a team, I don't see how any of this can go wrong, eh?"
Who's up for a two-vehicle road trip slash recruitment drive that may or may not get all of them killed, off a crazy man's strange interpretation of a stone slab none of them can read?!
The Killasaurus Orphanage members turn to each other as Rust finishes suggesting his idea. Thoughtful expressions tug at the lips of each musician as the idea is processed. Alexis turns to Rust and speaks slowly. "So, what you're saying is..."
She looks back at the others. "Road trip?"
All three of the other band members (and Steve) cheer in unison. If it weren't for a shared love of road trips, Killasaurus Orphanage probably wouldn't be where it is today. (Well, technically, they would be, since they're currently in their home town, but that's beside the point.) What could be better than shirking responsibilities to travel the countryside in a cramped van?
"Wait. We won't have to climb on any more mooses, eh?" Benny brings up.
"Don't be such a f***ing dweeb, Benny. Why would we mess around with the wildlife when we're going on a recruitment drive?" Alexis says, rolling her eyes.
"Recruitment... drive. Recruitment drive. Hahaha! Get it?" Kim says with obvious amusement. "We're going on a 'recruitment drive,'" she echoes, complete with air quotes.
Though the gym echoes with the sound of palms against faces, Alexis is too busy giving a double thumbs up to Rust to join in. It's clear that Killasaurus Orphanage is in for going on tour again!
The enthusiasm is infectious! With reckless abandon--
"Making sure I bring the rest of my mail too," Rust Jr. says as he checks the rest of the paper-y pile of stuff he's been looking to walk off with to begin with, "wouldn't surprise me any if I got some more of someone else's mail in there... ah, won't be a problem, I'll go over 'em after we get this one where it needs to go." Where he thinks it needs to go, which is an important distinction.
Ahem. Now... with reckless abando--
"Whoop, maybe I ought to leave a message, too," he says as he starts to scramble for one of the many pens the gym has for signing one's name in, murmuring as he writes out a sincere apology about having to step out early before seeing him again, and so forth, and so forth.
At last, with reckless ab--
"Maybe make a few calls back home, let Jao know he's in charge..."
...What other fiddly thing can he think of doing befo--
"Some water," he suddenly chimes as he goes to a water fountain. Has he run out of little fiddly things to do before they pack up and go?
Well? ... ... ... ... ...Looks like that's it. So, without further interruption, one can now write with confidence the following: with reckless aba--
"What's wrong with me today, almost leaving my toolbox behind at the washrooms," says the man as he ambles along back towards the men's room, and with it, the patience of the narrator in question.
So, let's just throw our collective hands up and say that now begins a journey across the Canadian countryside to gather a mighty team to take the world by storm in King of Fighters...!
Could they be forgetting something important? Might be that's better to go over another time.
Log created on 19:53:35 05/09/2016 by Rust, and last modified on 12:49:40 05/18/2016.