KOF 2019 - KoF '19 - Broken Memories

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Description: Location: Southtown Young Fighters Initiative Center - Time is like a river, and while the facts and details may change, some things remain and endure Such secrets of the previous timeline has it's hunters, most damning being the infamous Relius. His prey? The infinitely wise Rei Hazuki. Evading a pack of NOL agents hot on his trail, Rei takes shelter at the Southtown Young Fighters' Initiative Center. As he recovers, Rei finds himself approached by Howard Rust Jr., The son of Rust has his own motives, but he has something important to tell the sage, and has many questions to ask about his father.

It might be public relations that saves him.

On the one hand: sure, your boss is a creepy man with a robot handmaiden who talks in a voice that sounds a bit like a workplace harrassment complaint waiting to happen, so when he tells you and yours to bring in a certain conspicuously red-haired fighter for questioning, that is a thing you do.

On the OTHER hand: if the building he's in happens to be the Youth Fighters Initiative -- his home turf -- and thus the likely outcome of attempting to take him in by force is going to be violence, even the brass-bottomed gall of the NOL doesn't seem to extend that far in terms of its foot soldiers. Nobody in the group of three uniform-wearing field agents outside wants to be the one to tell their higher-ups that they courted a PR disaster by messing up what amounts to a youth shelter to bring someone in "for questioning" rather than "as a clear and present threat to humanity."

This is why they fidget, dither, look annoyed, and then ultimately go home, staring at the brick and glass facade of the building and its front door -- propped open for the pre-summer heat! -- as they do so.

The second they wander out of sight, gray clouds that had been swirling overhead for hours, at the time welcome relief from a relentless overhead sun, start to move more aggressively and before long a SYFI employee is gently shutting the propped-open door as a thunderstorm of no small intensity begins outside.

In the demonstration dojo, with its high ceiling and floor-level windows, the result is an impressive yet strangely comforting gloom, in the way that being inside a home with the lights off during a summer storm can make one feel unreasonably safe and protected. Outside, the rock garden is pelted by rain, the silence of the room punctuated by roars of thunder muted by glass and soundproofing.

Other than one figure, the room is empty. In the center of the demonstration dojo floor sits Rei Hazuki, in a full lotus position, eyes closed. Meditating... or maybe asleep? Difficult to say, with this one.

The King of Fighters battle at Neo*Geo Land... well, it goes the way it does, however it does, and Rust Jr.'s sort of... no, Rust Jr.'s definitely taken off with a cellphone between a shoulder and an ear. The sort of thing that could, or should, just be as easy as 'oh hey I have to take this call, let me go to some quieter room.'
In this case, 'quieter room' has rapidly turned into 'at least a number of streets away.' Excessive. He's been known for wanderlust, as many fighters tend to be. Even this is sort of excessive.
Then again, Howard Rust, Jr., is not a late forty-something man known for doing anything in half-measures.
Or anything near the word 'measured.'
"Ohhhh... yep. Yep. Ahh, don't worry, I'm having a great time inside!" He says as he passes obliviously by three NOL field agents, none the wiser, as his free(r) hand rubs the side of his head with the dumbest grin on his face. "Yyyyyep. Hey, be sure to say thanks to her for... eh? All right, Jao, you bet--"
He looks up. Hmm, he'd feel better picking back up this current call inside. Fun as it is to sit around outside when it's all stormy and loud and fun! He likes him some loud weather and rainy skies, buuuut...
...he'd rather take it inside. Somehow, he just gets inside the SYFI building, just as the door is set to close.
"Ahh, sorry, sorry, I gotta come in for a sec," he offers as wanderlust just continues to take him beyond the lobby. Like there's an urgency. A whole lot of 'ohhh, hi,' 'yep,' as if hurried and sort of just humoring whoever or whatever's on the other end. It's loud. It's impossible to make out what is being said over the phone, but it's loud.
"...You bet..." He has the biggest grin on his face, one eye closed, rubbing at the side of his head. "Hey, so-- sure... yep..." He can't get a word in, period.
It won't be long before he strides along near the demonstration dojo floor, where all this noise will disrupt the collective tranquility of this place that has been hard fought to be reclaimed for the circumstances.

Well... it IS a public building. It's raining outside. And the SYFI's mandate is much the same as the 'predecessor' that no one but Rei knows anything about: this is a safe space in every meaning of the word. Plus it did just start raining cats and dogs outside. The idea of someone bursting in at the last second to avoid getting rained on does not get much comment, and in truth at this time of the day, there aren't many people in the center anyway.

But even if people don't know what's being SAID, there is something about... the non-verbal cues of a person having a cell phone conversation in a public space. The scattered pairs of eyes that track Rust as he meanders through the lobby start in confusion (what's going on?) and progress steadily to concern (uh, is he okay?) but by the time anyone thinks to say or do anything, which social convention almost anywhere but especially in Japan suggests they should not, he's already...

The meditating sennin opens one eye a fraction of a second before Rust enters the room, tracking the sudden arrival with his gaze but saying nothing. What WOULD he say, after all? He's not going to interrupt the conversation, because what would be the point. And perhaps more importantly, well...

In Rei's experience, a Rust has what game designers call 'the appearance of randomness'. Everything SEEMS like it's happening in some scattershot, unpredictable way but IN FACT, everything is happening for a purpose. It might not be Rust's purpose. But there IS a purpose.

To that end, Rei tilts his head, glances at Rust a second time, and then resumes his meditation. Whatever purpose the universe brought him here for, trying to rush it into the open won't accomplish anything.

That he would be some very specific function of the greater universe might be the kindest possible interpretation of what this man /is/, this has-been of an adventurer from over a decade back still finding some way, many ways, all the ways... or inventing entirely new ways... to get into or cause some of the strangest problems.
This is one of the blessedly minor infractions upon one's day that he can inflict.
"Sooo, I just wanted to say that I--" He stops. His face continues to hold this rictus grin of somewhere between joyful time-passing fat chewing, and/or bracing for being kicked in the gut for the next four seconds until he lowers the phone away. He exhales, as though the ability to take back command of his facial muscles were that of a difficult martial discipline to practice, and his stance uncharacteristically slackens. The way he slouches, lets his arms go limp, to let his gut stick out like that.
That looks a lot more like his father when he's--
"Eh?" He straightens out and looks up, eyes tracking the ceiling, the walls, the guy over there, as if he can't wait for the narrative to finish the previous thought before he necessitates it covers new thoughts and actions.
His face brightens up some. "Ha ha! Oh, it's y-- oh. This is a... whoops. Sorry, sorry," he starts taking a few steps back, as if to take himself right off the damn stage as he seems keen to let Frei get back to his meditatio--
aaaaaand he just steps right back up before /that/ can be finished too. Ugh.
"...Aaaaactually... hey," his voice is quieter, by only so much. Like he wants to attempt to have a voice that projects less the way it does, waving a pointer finger in the air. "...While I just, interrupted you... by accident... still am, hopin', same interruption! Not two... separate ones... ahh, you know what I mean, eh?"
"It's a lot to ask," making this hopeful 'one' interruption an even longer 'one,' however the math works out on the level of rudeness inherent, "y'know, it's... been a few years at... but..." He inhales, bringing his gloved hands together almost as in prayer, before they're pointed downwards.
"...You knew my dad, right?" Beat. "I, I knoooow, it's... kiiiiinda outta the blue with, but..."

There is a lot of narration to get through, and in a way that seems uncharacteristically rude for the person Rust is talking to, he does not move or open his eyes the entire time that the handyman ninja is working through whatever it is he needs to ask Rei.

'it's... kiiiiinda outta the blue with--'

The sennin holds up a hand to stop him, and then opens one eye and trains it squarely on Rust's face.

"First things first, and I need you to answer this question no matter how weird it is:"

This IS a Rust sitting in front of him.

"Is the front door to this building still attached to its frame?"

"You bet!" He replies instantly. He laughs. "I get that a lot...!" He rubs at the side of his head. His hairstyle, today, at least isn't quite as out there as it usually is. He's tied his hair off to one side of his head, over his shoulder, braided up. (That's still out there.)
He brings that hand to his chin. "The hinges going bad, eh? I could fix that for you right quick--"

Well, that's a relief.

"No! No, no," Rei says, opening his other eye and -- unbeknownst to himself -- letting out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding. "I'm sure it's fine. Just making sure." There is no way to explain why he asked that question without needing an expensive multimedia PowerPoint slide deck and, possibly, a quantum physicist specializing in entropy.

Swerving the discussion back onto the path, the sennin visibly relaxes, giving Rust a smile. "Been a while. Nice to see you again, and outside the context of a transdimensional south Pacific island where the rules of life and death hold no sway." Suave as ever, and letting 'I get that a lot' roll off his back like water off a baby duck. Instead, there is a more pressing question.

'You knew my dad, right?'

Rei seems about to open his mouth and respond and before he can get a word out, he falls silent. Setting aside the complicatedness of that question -- after all, the answer starts at 'maybe' and the resulting flowchart reads like a Star Trek movie plot -- there's the not-insignificant fact that if the answer turns out to be 'yes', the possibility exists that it's not just Rei who would be ducking inquisitive NOL agents on the regular.

There's a silent beat while he considers this, then stands up slowly, looking up at the not particularly tall, but clearly taller than he is Howard Rust, Jr. He gestures off to the side, at one of the rows of observer seats, and begins walking toward them, talking as he goes.

"That is a complicated question with a complicated answer," Rei responds, choosing honesty over simplicity. "Having met *you* the best answer I can give is: probably, but I don't actually have any of knowing wth 100% certainty."

The silent beat seems to pass unknowingly, on the surface, but there's something in that weird aging man's eyes that look all lit up and hopeful as he seems to be left hanging. Frei stands up slowly, deliberately, looking to the taller man of frankly cartoonish weight distribution about his body, and Frei motions over to the side.
His expression flattens momentarily, as if acknowledging - somehow, for a man who seemed to go through a hellish landscape of life and death in more cheer, ANY cheer at all, like it were all one big fun vacation - a grave possibility.
"'Probably,' eh?" Another awkward beat passes. "Ahhh... well... hm, how do I put this what..." His feet carry him over to those seats at a measured pace as he continues to rub at the side of his head contemplatively.
"Welllll, you seeeeee... I sure haven't seen him in a long time... and... and, well! I felt like he said and taught me all I needed to hear and know then, and... llllllllllllllll-short story even shorter," that is so not what he was going to say, "I know, he's probably... definitely... really old, yep. Buuuuuuut I figureeee... what with gettin' this nice vacation I got," King of Fighters, a vacation? Sure, maybe, outside of everything that happens around them...
"Now's a great time as any to... catch up for ol' time's sake, eh? Sooo... I got some ideas, where he might be at with, and I'm glad I came about you when I did," by sheer accident and happenstance.
"Would ya like to probably catch up with him too? Like, 100% certainty to catch up if we find him."

Now there's the question of the century. The way Rei cautiously eases in a seat, with surprising slowness, has all the hallmarks of a considerably older person than his appears-in-his-20s body suggests. He leans back in the relatively well-appointed stadium-esque seat, and turns to look up at the likely still standing Rust.

"How long HAS it been? if you don't mind my asking," he says, curious. After all, in their brief acquaintance, this man hasn't ever really talked about his father except in the most abstract terms. Knowing more about the actual man would probably be pretty useful in determining what his answer is to Rust's actual question: did Rei know him or not?

The mention of a vacation gets a briefly raised eyebrow, but without more context, Rei blows past that piece of information. "To be honest with you... yeah. If he really is the man I knew, I definitely have some questions for him, myself."

"Mmmmm," he has to think about it... how long ago was it? He puckers his lips, gazing ceiling-ward and tilting his head... and then counting with his free hand. "Uhhhh... a while! Yep. Lllllleast since we all moved out... to new families when," what other sentences is he thinking when he is letting something that ends with 'when' leaks into /that/, "or college... I went to MIT on a scholarship--"
Knowing how oblivious and/or stupid this man is, one has to wonder /why/ anyone saw him as being able to intellectually hang with some of the best and the brightest, "--...really, haven't seen him in... over twenty years by now."
The likelihood of him being long dead: not triple digits but approaching it fast from the runway.
"You got stuff you'd like to ask too, eh?" He smiles... and laughs. "Hey! If we're both there, we can both ask 'em... once we find him!" He seems really sure of this despite the odds not being in his favor, but he's such an odd man that maybe it's more a matter of the evens... no, that makes no sense at all.
Whatever floats this man's boat.

It's pretty difficult to stun or faze Rei Hazuki but in the style of his forebears, Rust manages to do it. There was just a lot, a LOT, of information to take in casually offered in that actually has some pretty significant impacts.

Leaning back in his seat, Rei looks at the ceiling. "Twenty years, huh..." And the man in front of him can't be younger than 30 and is much likely older than that, for sure, meaning that yes, the Rust *he* knew would, if he's still alive, be quite old by now. But does that mean it IS him, or ISN'T him? After all, Rei's existence itself is relatively non-standard. Ayame, Honoka, Zach... all grew up with a different history and context.

"You haven't kept in touch?" he suddenly asks, sitting back upright again. The way Rust is talking about 'finding' his father makes it sound like they're about to go on the world's weirdest road movie together. It's 2019; you'd imagine Rust Sr. would probably have a cell phone or an email address. "Did he do something insane like say," and here Rei does his best Rust Sr. imitation, speech halting, "I'm aaaaaaah goin' to the uhhhh Himalayas. Thinkin' of becomin' a monk."

"....Nnnnope," he's still smiling like this isn't weird and sad unto itself. What kind of loving father just drops off the grid entirely? As Frei brings out the best guess he can as to what's the last thing they ever talked about, whatever insane thing that is...
"...Llllllast thing we talked about, I was tellin' him what courses I was taking at MIT outside," outside? Another blended sentence then, maybe, "he just smiled, thennnn I said I was gonna do a Timmy's run, he said he was fine, that was... 'bout that."
A weird story where it is the son who decides to go out, metaphorically, for a pack of smokes and then the father's gone, then? That's not helpful, and also very weird!!
"...Mmmmm," he's scratching at his chin again, eyes to the ceiling... then he waves a finger. "Aha! Yep! I remember! I think my oldest sister spoke with 'em last... her name's Iris. She's the oldest of everyone, yep, ahhhh, she's kinda kept to herself with," the aging man of a truly weird hairstyle - never mind that his hair is full, healthy, and lush in ways a lot of women would be jealous of because genetics must have had a negative overlow happen.
"...Never really did ask her if he said much of anything, it was just... he seemed all happy with everyone, never really questioned it. Like, we all became all grown-up, that was that..."

That gets a furrowed brow. Rei's never been to Canada extendedly, that he can remember, and so the significance of 'a Timmy's run' blows completely past him. And thus, a thousand unfounded conspiracy theories about who 'Timmy' is and why Rust Sr. was running after him were born.

And of course the idea that the man in front of him attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is still a little... well. The pop culture image of MIT students is that they're as weird as they are brilliant, so maybe this isn't so unbelievable after all. "Oh. You have and older sister? Does sh--"

A pause. Her name is Iris. And in Rei's mind's eye, he is surrounded by a wood-paneled room with glowing candles, and hears his own voice say, 'In the language of flowers, it means "glad tidings", you know?' Hanakotoba comes to the rescue once more.

A long silence follows. It might not have been as long as he'd imagined, now that he thinks about it.

Rei looks down at his hands as he replies, voice quiet, after the brief self-interruption. "When I knew your dad, he hadn't met your mother yet," he starts, choosing his words carefully. "But he lived right here in Southtown, by himself. A repairman at one of the schools, I think... Pacific, probably, since he wasn't from Japan. And he was never... well..."

The seeming verve and good cheer of the man in front of him suddenly makes Rei hesitant to say what he was about to say. Because it might end up being an unpleasant truth for someone who clearly idolizes his father to hear without *context*. And that's the critical piece: Rei Hazuki -- Frei Renard -- knows the true worth of Howard Rust Sr. in *context*, an understanding of where he FIT in the world. A worth that is not measured in the metrics of traditional heroics and which might be unkind to a son's distant image of his beloved father.

But, Rei reflects, maybe that's the point. Maybe that's the reason Rust Jr. walked into THIS particular gin joint.

This time, the redhead makes an effort to make eye contact and keep his voice calm. "Your father wasn't a very confident man. Honestly it was exactly the opposite. He doubted himself all the time, was hard on himself, down on his abilities." A brief pause. "Truthfully, sometimes it hurt to see. Because there were lots of good things that were obvious to the people AROUND him that it felt like he didn't see."

'Really?' Could be on the so-called ninja's face, as if internally doing basic arithmetic to figure out the logistics of how old this guy before him must be. Further discussion about the sort of humble life they led, and his lips purse together tight... as if to try and hold back a big ol' laugh at the sheer idea of it!
They hold their gaze steady at him. The older man... actually, that descriptor is maybe no longer as easy to /place/ now as to who is really older, across so many difficult logistical metrics, so let's go with 'the taller man...' okay, from the beginning.
The taller man seems to heed the weight of seriousness in which they refer to his character, and he's left scratching his head.
"That's... uhhh..." He seems flabbergasted by the idea. "We... did stop by Southtown a few times when I was a kid--"
He knew him /before/ he met his mother. Obviously his existence would be after this timeframe. It may be for the first time in this man's life, he can finally look in the mirror and experience the exact same thing he seems to inflict on everyone he meets.
Brain-breaking confusion, logic-breaking craziness, stated matter-of-factly--
"Ohhhhhhh! I studied this at MIT, yep!" He claps his hands together. Studied wha-- "Awww. Shoulda met my roommate... ahh, jeez, forget his name now," he snaps his fingers, "last name started with a... B... used to be really, really, really into history. Heroes, like, from around the globe, sure that history was both right and wrong a lot and... ahhh, doesn't matter," he swings his hand down and laughs, "forget about it!"
It does seem like an irrelevant tangent, all things considered, in the big picture, like a colored egg accidentally left to its devices around a household for over a month.
"...Stiiiiill... if it's not /that/... I guess... he... coulda moonlit back then...?"
...It might be too much for him to really fully intellectually grasp, but there's that growing smile, as if bouncing back to some greater comfort zone of comprehension.
"So, sounds like we should go find him when!" When what? "He never really told me he felt down about anything... sure sounds to me you must've been really close to him if he'd entrust that sorta thing to you," he says to someone who visually looks twenty-ish, as if taking all leave of the previous arithmetic work.
"Soooooo I think he'd be really glad to see you, eh?"

As if reading Rust's mind -- not difficult at the moment -- Rei adds, with a wry smile, "I'm much older than I look." He'll let that other comment, his own thought about quantum physics earlier boomeranging back into his face via Rust's college roommate, fly right on by.

"Oh, he was a fighter, too, no mistake about that," he adds, once Rust Jr. brings up 'moonlighting'. And it is true that Rust took part in any number of Saturday Night Fights and Neo League matches and so on and so forth... but the more Rei thinks about it, the harder it is to remember Rust doing anything of the sort on any regular scale. It is much easier to remember him being involved in world-ending calamities, facing them with nothing more than an old lead pipe and more stubborn determination than was healthy for any rational human being. "But I think it was more of a hobby. Maybe Takuma-sensei talked him into being more serious about it?" Who knows, after all; maybe Rust Sr. sought out his former (brief) master in this new and exciting world.

Maybe there's a crazily-named Haoushoukoken out there with Rust's name on it, waiting.

Clearing his throat and banishing that image from his mind, Rei gets told that he must have been 'close' and that Rust Sr. would be glad to see him, and with his typical lack of poker face, lets his eyes drop half-lidded, the corner of his mouth tugging faintly upward in a rueful smile. "I don't know about that. I might... I might be a reminder of very painful times for him, Howard, you know? It's been even longer since *I've* seen him than *you* have, after all. The world is..." A pause, and Rei closes his eyes, taking a breath, before opening them again and continuing, "...different than back then."

A beat passes, or two, and in the silence Rei has time to reflect on his own conviction to let the old world's past die, to not be held back by it. That world is gone, for better or for worse. What's left to be done is here and now.

Standing up, he squares off with Rust Jr. and tries to put a smile on his face. "But you know? I do think we should find him. I feel like if you haven't seen your father after he mysteriously disappeared decades ago, you've probably got a pretty good reason for doing it, and for me, well..."

What is it anyone wants in life, in this situation?

"I wouldn't mind some closure."

"He sure was! ...I doooooon't remember a Takuma-sensei above," but it makes sense he must've been taught to fight by someone? Who, though! (...THEY JUST SAID!!!)
"Really? He... never spoke badly of you, or anything," he scratches the side of his head some more with his lips puckered close, winces once, and stops scratching that side of his head. He gently rubs it instead. Maybe it got sore from scratching so much.
"...Actually he didn't say anything about you! So it's probably fine, eh?" That's not what that implies!! But he means well by saying it. "I mean, if my dad was all 'this is/was bad,' I guess... he woulda said... yep..."
"...Never really said anything bad about anything, though... well, more like," his face flattens a bit as he speaks, "more like he said bad about nothing!" That's grammatically shaky and is almost doubtless more nonsense!! Nonetheless, more beats pass between them, as Frei stands up to square off with this... accomplishment... to the gene pool that his father has made, a smile met with another smile.
"You bet!" He snaps his fingers, and starts waving about that pointer finger again like a bad habit. (A bad habit shared with a certain someone else...)
"Sounds like it'd be great for the both of us, eh? I can fit it into this vacation I got going... yep." He rubs a hand across his chin once more, looking away, starting to mumble. "...Probably won't have to go home until it's all over at. Yep! It'll be fine. Just fine!"
This decided, he faces back to this friend of a father from a time long past, seemingly all too accepting of the logistically weird things. "And, uh... don't you worry, worse comes to worse... I got some copies of that movie you really like!" The one about the woman facing the real possibility that she has a terminal illness? He remembered!
"Aw, gee, I'm glad I walked in here while I was on the phone," it sounds like he's about to say another word to that, but he lets that trail off. "...and, uh... sorry about the interrupting, we're... we're still at one interruption, right? Not two? Just one? One long one?"
Why would that matter?

In spite of himself, Rust's question about how many times he's interrupted makes Rei suddenly burst out with the kind of laughter that definitely says some internal coiled tension spring that had been held for too long finally unwound. "It's a public building," he says mildly, "and this room's door was open. I technically wasn't really interrupted."

He SHOULD find it weird that he cares, but he doesn't. In some ways critically different, but in others, remarkably consistent. Like father, like son, as it were.

He's not even going to ask about why, let alone how, Rust got a copy of Varda's "Cleo from 5 to 7." He's definitely not going to add that basically anyone can stream it for free online right now. He seems so HAPPY about it.

"But, I did... hmmm." Something has been gnawing at him about this, and he takes a moment to collate all his various thoughts on the matter before coming to a decision. "I do have one suggestion, though. Your... son? Jao. We met during..." He trails off, not really willing to even SAY the words 'Mortal Kombat' right now. "Between you and me? I think you should go get him and bring him with us. It just... an intuition, understand, but..." He shrugs. The privilege of being a mysterious immortal sage is that you can say this Yoda shit and get away with it. "Just a hunch."

"Jao?" He speaks up during that uncomfortable pause. He should remember that whole mess as being as trying as anything, but his cheer doesn't break /at all/. It's... not a normal reaction. (This man is already well-established as not being 'normal' but this is absurd!! ...But so is he.) "He's doing great! About to go study abroa-- oh, oh." He stops as his ally from another space-tine continuum starts to make a suggestion. "Aww. I'd sure love for him to come with, more often...! I'd have thought after all that," he starts to glance away, but after all that one couldn't blame Jao for deciding to wrap himself inside an electric blanket and subsist on a diet of hot chocolate and cookies forever and ever after what he went through.
"I'd hafta swing by hoooooome," he stretches out that word, his voice lowering, "buuuuut, okay! Soon as Zach, Michael, and my Sasquatch friend're all ready to go, I bet we could make a detour where," where what-- oh, never mind.
"Heck! I'd love for all of 'em to meet dad," His voice trails off a bit, "I'm sure he'd have a lot to show me-- them. Them! Yep. Them."
He laughs. "Sorry, sorry, thinkin' two sentences at once, yep." Oh, NOW he says he's aware of that habit!

'Michael' is a name that could be anyone's; 'Sasquatch' is... well. It's a pretty specific freakin' word and Rust says it with all the emphasis of a proper noun, so that can't get overlooked. It's the name 'Zach' that catches his ear, though. Another one that might benefit from a little warning about Relius Clover, though given Zach's utter inability to not end up in life-threatening peril a potentially unnecessary one.

Rei's brain catches up, however, right before he can speak. Four names. 'Detour,' suggesting they're travelling together. And there was that bit on the news...

"Oh, bloody hell," the redhead says, suddenly pressing fingers into his temple. "This is King of Fighters, isn't it. You're on a King of Fighters team together."

In Rei's experience, 'King of Fighters' stays in the realm of 'professional tournament' for roughly 20 minutes into round one, before some form of world-ending apocalyptic disaster crawls out of the shadows. In his head, he's working through all the options that are solely *ones he knows about from firsthand experience*, wondering what it'll be this time. Orochi? Saiki? Maybe more Gears? Or is this going to be something new and fun like Shadaloo or NESTS -- which, thanks indirectly to Honoka and Alma, he knows exist here too -- decide to get involved?

The redhead has no poker face and the emotions that probably flicker across his face like shadow puppetry as he works this out may be confusing indeed to an observer like Rust.

"Well... all the more reason for me to tag along, then, I guess," he adds, taking his own turn to say something apparently utterly confusing and incomprehensible. Why the hell would KoF mean Rei has MORE reasons to go with him?

"Yup!" He says, as the red-headed sage of the very elements is going through a set of very complex emotions. Compare and contrast Rust Jr., who is entirely excited about this prospect without trepidation or doubt or anything anyone with a sound mind should have! "It was just... after all that's happened lately," he starts laughing, "I'm so glad they got me the invite! Not even sure how... but the name on it, everything... really came from the heart."
(He had Lucky Glauber's invite. That is absolutely not his name.)
Just as he seems to be thinking some happy thoughts... maybe?... his friend there decides it's all the more reason for him to tag along, which seems nonsensical to--
"Great! Adventure's best shared, eh?" He's not even going to question it. At all. He's all smiles, all laughter, all happiness about the idea, clapping his gloved hands together once. "All right! Let's go find dad for old time's sake!"
That statement is more loaded than he can ever realize.

'Lucky' isn't Rust's LEGAL name. Metaphorically, it fits.

There are a lot of famous statements about the need for flexibility and adaptability; Bruce Lee's 'be like water' quote, the aphorism "bamboo bends when harder woods break," and so on. Whatever it is Rei had going on in his life right now, at the moment it appears that it's all on hold so he can join Rust's party. But if this is a Dragon Quest analog, it's his sincere hope that Rust Sr. doesn't amount to the first act plot twist in some unpleasant way.

"Alright, then," he says to Rust Jr. "Lead the way."

'For old time's sake', huh...

As the two walk out, Rei observes that statement in his mind, and concludes: no. Rather the opposite, actually.

Log created on 20:22:21 06/06/2019 by Rust, and last modified on 01:35:02 06/07/2019.