A/N: I don't have many good excuses for why I haven't updated in a while. I do have several crappy ones, ranging from college, my computer needing repairs, the awesomeness of GaoGaiGar and G Gundam, and working on Maoh Soma on fictionpress. On with the show!

A moment passed between Geese and Alfred where neither man acted, instead both merely surprised that the Atami Nage had failed so spectacularly. It was Geese who broke the silence.

"… It's… quite a shock to the system…" Geese muttered as he cradled his bloody arm. He couldn't really put much stock in it for the rest of the fight, and he'd have to get medical attention as soon as possible. Otherwise, he'd lose the limb and that would really suck. Taking his shirt off, he managed to wrap it around his forearm and made sure it was tight enough to stop the bleeding.

"That being said…" he continued, " The only way a fighter can improve is if the flaws in his pre-existing style. I'm lucky to have the weak point in the Atami Nage exposed during a normal, friendly battle, rather than a struggle between life and death." Of course… he added internally, This is going to make fighting Terry infinitely harder.

Alfred's shock at what he did slowly subsided, before he finally let out a sigh of relief. "Great… glad we-"


The blue ground wave slammed into the off-guard aviator, blasting into him and knocking him to the ground.

"Don't forget we're still fighting, boy!" Geese snarled. The ferocity of the line shocked Alfred, but he quickly got up again.

Don't falter! Alfred screamed at himself. If you get distracted whenever you get an advantage, you'll never defeat White! Pulling himself up, the pilot swept the dust off and charged straight at Geese again, repeating the same unusual slashing gestures with his hands.

Knowing that his infamous counter technique was now useless, Geese found himself trying desperately to play keep-away while thinking up a strategy. He found himself cursing his reliance on that technique shown to him during the final hours of the King of Fighters '92; just because a technique was good didn't mean it was perfect… and that was a lesson he had just learned.

Amidst dodging another of Alfred's strikes, Geese took a kick to the side of the neck and the force sent him to the ground. Spitting out a bit of blood he felt his neck with his good arm… Damn, Howard thought, I'm having more trouble with some brat than I've had with adult men, for God's sake!

In spite of that realization and the frustration the blonde was feeling, Geese still smiled as he got up again. After all, once this fight was over, he would have defeated the only man capable of breaking the Atami Nage.

"I can't believe how close I am to victory…" Alfred said incredulously as he slashed into the air, sending a razor-sharp wave straight at Geese. "I'm going to be the man to defeat you in battle!"

"Don't count your eggs before they hatch, Alfred!" Geese snapped back as he fired a Ressatsu bolt straight at the wave. The energy blast cut through Alfred's move, pushing the air out of the way of Alfred's attack's path. With no air, the "ripple" fizzled out, and right before Geese's attack hit its mark.

Alfred winced as the attack struck his shoulder, causing him to double-over slightly and clutch it. "… Okay, I admit that I haven't won just yet… but-" The second half of Alfred's response was cut short when he looked up, seeing Geese face away from him.

"But what?"

"Well, why the hell are you facing away from me?!" Alfred shouted.

Geese just shrugged. "This technique is an experiment, an attempt to improve on the Atami Nage."

"You're crazy, Howard!" Alfred responded. "You wouldn't even be able to see my attacks coming?"

"I'll just have to settle on instinct then, no?" Geese chuckled. "Besides, I usually only have a fraction of a second for the technique anyways. How does this change things at all?"

Clenching his fists, Alfred decided to prove Geese wrong the easy way: attack him, and make the move decisive. He came at Geese like an airplane ready to rip apart a bird that strayed too close to its jet turbines, to finish this in one final stroke, his hands ready to cut into Geese's exposed back.

He was promptly humiliated.

At the last possible second, Geese rolled forward partially, bringing his legs up and slamming his feet painfully into the sides of Alfred's arms before Geese continued the roll, flinging Alfred around and slamming him into the ground. Geese promptly finished the sequence with a Raging Storm, blasting Alfred two dozen yards away where he landed in a crumpled heap.

"And that…" Geese remarked as he walked away, "Is game." Next stop: the hospital.

It'd been nearing the end of the day when the phone cal came to the Howard household. Billy was off, training up for the next King of Fighters. He would've entered the Maximum Mayhem tournament, but Geese had been adamant about tackling this himself. And so really it was just Marie, reading a short book mainly with pictures to her six-year-old son.

And then the phone rang, which she answered. And then almost immediately, she told Rock to go up to his room and stay there no matter what he would hear from downstairs until she went up and got him.

One look into his mother's pleading red eyes was enough to make him comply without the slightest doubt.

Marie waited long after Rock left her sight and counted to ten.

Immediately afterwards, she picked up the phone, threw it into the wall, and sank to her knees before weeping pathetically.

"Dammit Geese… why now? Why for God's sake… n-"

Her furious declaration was cut short as her eyes opened wide and pain ripped through her body. B-but… Marie Howard thought before she fall forward onto the ground, This… this shouldn't be happening yet!

She still had time left. She was supposed to have time left. There were supposed to be weeks left, precious few weeks left before it happened. Why was it happening now?

"Geese... I'm sorry..."

"We meet again, Shiranui."

"And the same to you, Ryan."

In the middle of a deserted street -it was late at night- two women who had not faced each other in battle in so long found themselves again paired up together. As before, Terry Bogard was the ultimate mastermind behind the tournament.

"… How's Mr. Howard doing?" Mai asked, with almost a slightly condescending tone to her voice. Mary could only leer at the ninja for the response.

"He's… fine…" Mary responded. "His arm's damaged, he'll need some surgery… but it's nothing to write home about."

Mai smiled. "Good. Hate to think he couldn't duke out against his best friend, after all."

Mary waited until the ninja began to wax poetic about the nature of friends battling against each other, and then charged, delivering fierce punch to the forehead and knocking Mai to the ground before springing away. The red-clad ninja was knocked flat on her back, wincing in pain before realizing that her nose had been broken.

Wha-what? Pushing herself up, she was surprised Mary had managed to put so much for ince the attack. Wiping the blood off her face, she crouched down slightly and then sprang into the air before throwing dozens of fan at Mary. The attacks did very little; the distance between the two giving Mary plenty of time to jump away and guard against whatever was coming too fast to evade. Mai did, however, manage to get into position for her real goal: reach a flagpole sticking out of the nearest skyscraper and then use it to let her shoot back down at a tremendous velocity.

Mary could only look in shock as Mai burst into flames before hitting the ground, sending up such a blazing explosion that she likely would have been disqualified from the tournament for sake of safety if there had been civilians watching. Mary screamed out as she was sent flying backwards, Shiranui breathing a sigh of relief amidst her fire. Compared to her previous battle with Mary, that hadn't been really that bad at-


Mary's furious scream knocked Mai out of her private reflection as the detective burst out of the inferno with a flying kick, slamming her foot straight into the red-clad ninja's face. Stunning Mai, Blue Mary once again moved forward, swinging one leg up and hooking it around her opponent's throat while the other entwined her left leg.

"Rose Spark Bridge!" Mary announced, planning on doing to Mai what she had done to Hon Fu in order to win the match. There was only one problem though: the flexibility of the Shiranui ninja.

The long-haired woman bent back with the attack, managing to tilt her head enough to escape the hold while Mai's hands caught her fall. With a roar, Mai then brought her elbow up and let it smash into Mary's chest, knocking the woman onto the road painfully.

"Damn…" Mary grunted as she tried to push Mai's arm off of her. "You're… pretty driven this time around…"

"Thanks," Mai answered before suddenly gasping in shock as Mary managed to land a solid punch to her stomach and knock her away. "Gotta say the same for you too. Unfortunately, this is going to end her-" her taunt was cut short as a sharp pain rose up in her gut. These exchanges were certainly taking a lot out of her.

The same went for Mary, noting that the woman she was fighting seemed a far cry from the one years ago.

Nevertheless, both women knew the fight had to end, and the dying flames on the street made for great symbolism. The two women charged at each other before changing their stances to perform flying kicks.

Impact, and then departure. Shiranui and Ryan touched down ten feet away from each other, wondering for a moment about which attack connected first, and which attack hit harder.

After a few seconds, the answer seemed obvious.

Mai gasped, clutching her chest as she fell on her knees. She could hear Mary offer a bit of at least begrudging respect in her declaration of victory and tried her best to offer a suitable response.

"Don't… think this fight…" Mai slowly said, "Don't think it's over!"

Mary was about to verbally question Mai's grasp on reality, but then… it struck. The force of Mai's attack from before… it was like it had finally caught up with her, blasting Mary backwards.

Up… Mai thought desperately, I've… I've got to get back up!

Mary was nearing her, and Mai had to win. She was going to bury the hatchet with Terry and finally get her priorities straight. She was going to deal with White once and for all and end that horrible man's existence, and then she and Andy… they could live their lives by their own terms.

It felt like her entire body was in agony. Then again, Mai guessed Mary was probably feeling the same torture as she spun backwards and bringing her right leg up. The attack connected, straight to the side of Mary's neck and launching her off through a glass window. Seconds passed as Mai stood weakly, feeling her strength abandon her as Mary stumbled out of the wreckage. The two women, each run ragged from the battle of attrition, looked at each other for a long while, and then Blue Mary Ryan smirked.

"Well… shit…"

She promptly collapsed. Mai fell to her knees again and let out a joyful, yet dead serious laugh. She'd done it.

The door was unlocked, as Kain R. Heinlein had suspected. He felt a little bad about breaking and entering, but then again, this was an issue dealing with family. He couldn't turn his back, no?

He remembered bringing this issue with Marie only hours after the birth of Kain's nephew, and it was time for her to pay the piper. Walking through the lower floor of the Howard estate, he finally discovered her… his sister just lying there on the ground. Her dull, glazed-over eyes were a sign of what was coming about, but had not fully taken hold yet.

Kneeling down, he smirked.

"Thought you still had time, no?" he asked. If it had been anyone else in this situation, Kain would have not hesitated to kick the victim in the face. But this was his sister, after all… and he was also her guest.

Marie Howard's skin was ghostly pale as she stayed as still as possible, but Kain knew she was still in there. She wasn't gone just yet.

Laughing quietly, Kain looked around for a moment. "Where's my nephew Rock? Certainly he isn't off somewhere I can't find him, I hope." Walking away from Marie, Kain let his powers manifest slightly, light blue energy emanating from his hands.

"Maybe this is karma," Kain continued. "Maybe your early… decay… is punishment for caring for a man such as Geese Howard. Maybe it isn't, for all I know. That being said… I feel no shame in knowing what's going to happen." Pulling out his cell phone, he quickly dialed 911.

To return, victorious from the Maximum Mayhem tournament, only to discover his wife was dead would no doubt be a shock to Geese's system.

To be able to watch her die, with even the best of medical care unable to save her… that would make Geese go through the same torture that he'd inflicted on Kain by stripping Marie away from him. It didn't get any better than that.

"How's your arm?" Goenitz asked as he and Geese sat opposite of each other in the hospital, Howard's left forearm bandaged. The blonde shrugged.

"Less than perfect," Geese reluctantly admitted. "That boy certainly knew how to fight, I give him that. But I'm bitter about this, no matter how nice it was to have to push myself."

"Are you still going to be in the tournament?"

Geese laughed before pointing at Goenitz with his good hand. "Don't talk like that, Quetz! Don't forget I beat you last time."

"That was more you just trying to survive long enough for me to get brought back to my senses," Goenitz countered.

"And you were also stronger back then because you had yet to reject the Momentum of Wills," Geese taunted.

"And you also had two good arms to work with!"

The two men were almost nose to nose, the desire for another battle in their rivalry growing and growing inside of them. Finally, their right hands swung up, both men taking a painful blow to their face as everyone else in the hospital lobby could only look in dread.

Falling back a few steps, Geese glanced at the various spectators. "You know… Quetz… I think we should take this outside."

"That's no problem on my end," the former priest said. "And you should know something too."


Goenitz smirked as he reached behind his seat and pulled out a briefcase before sliding it over to Geese. "I'd been expecting us to get a fight, so I thought it'd be nice to give this to you. The fact that Alfred shredded up your old hakama and shirt, well, it's more justification, no?"

Grinning with anticipation, Geese squatted down and opened it up, discovering inside the case an orange hakama. Moving it aside, he found a white kimono shirt underneath it, and by the looks of it, an embroidery was on the back too. Turning it around, Geese found the image of a hawk had been sewn into it.

"They say a bird is supposed to be the rival to a snake, no? Just as I'm a Serpent God, Geese, you're… well, you're Geese."

Looking up at his best friend, Geese nodded his head in appreciation for the gesture and its symbolism. "Thanks. It really means a lot."

"I'll meet you outside. We can settle our battle there." Goenitz waved to Geese before walking away, Howard just standing there in utter respect.

Finally, Geese grabbed the briefcase. "I won't keep you waiting long. Our fight… will be one for the ages."

A/N: Whew! I really hadn't expected the Mai vs. Mary rematch to be so intense, but it just ended up that way. Part of this arc's meant to let Mai actually fight reasonably well, instead of losing just for the sake of plot advancement, and I feel she's done a good job at that. Anyways, there's only three more rounds in the King of Fighters Maximum Mayhem, an arc you've all been waiting to be finished for over a year, which translates to about three more chapters. Stay tuned, because chapter 63's coming out within two weeks!