Iori Yagami clicked off the television in disgust.  He knew that Ken Masters was a no-talent amateur, but to lose to that Hibiki buffoon was unforgivable.  Before he had disliked Masters on general principle, but now he had a concrete reason to despise him.

    -Bah, this is getting me nowhere.- he thought to himself.  -Perhaps I should, nahh.  It's best to keep a low profile.  Perhaps I'll get something to eat instead.-

    Iori got up from the couch that he was sitting on and put on a light jacket.  It wasn't that it was cold in the Ultradome, in never was, thanks to Her Divinity.  He was just used to having the additional weight on his shoulders.  A carry-over from his King of Fighters fighting outfit, if you will.  On the way to the door of his apartment he grabbed a package of cigarettes for after he was finished eating.  He turned around and examined everything to make sure all was in order, and then locked the door on his way out to the V.I.P. banquet room.

    He didn't need to pay attention to where he was going.  Over the past several weeks he had learned almost every nook and cranny of the Ultra complex by heart, the better with which to get to places unseen by prying eyes.  That ninja Kisagari had proved useful in that respect.  His familiarity with the building allowed him the luxury of concentrating on his own inner demons.  Kusanagi.  The Hakkeshu.  Orochi.  That stupid little Shingo brat.

    He ambled slowly on his way unheeding where he was.   It wasn't until a reddish haze began to encroach upon his mind that he snapped out of his musings and took assessment of his surroundings.  He was in a service corridor.  There were metal pipes and ducts in the upper corners and marked doors lined the walls.  What made him stop was not what he saw, but what he felt.  He could feel the blood riot trying to take control of his mind, but he fought it off with a slight effort.  This wasn't the first time he'd had to do so, nor was it the riot's strongest urging.  That meant but one thing.


    Iori was suddenly wary of his surroundings, though there was nothing menacing about them.  It was an ordinary service corridor leading from the residence wing to the services wing.  He'd taken it numerous times before, and nothing untoward happened before.  That meant that someone was waiting for him, and he knew just who it was.

    "All right Nanase, show yourself.  I don't have time for your games tonight" his bassy voice boomed down the concrete corridor.

    His presumption was confirmed by Yashiro's appearance from one of the side doors that periodically lined the hallway.  His hands were smugly in his pockets, and he had a sardonic grin on his face.  That witch Shermie was no where to be seen.

    "Heh, there's no putting one over on you, is there Iori?"  taunted the broad shouldered get of Orochi, "you always were the quick one."

    "Shut up and get the hell out of my way, I've something more important to do than to talk to you, like listen to Asamiya sing."  Iori's grimace showed his distaste at the very prospect of listening to one of Athena's sappy love songs.

    "Not so fast, Yagami. I'm not through with you just yet.  You see, the Orochi has plans for you, and if you had a functioning brain cell in your head, you'd go along with It.  If you don't, well, it isn't like the Orochi can't make you do what It wants anyway."

    Iori twitched inwardly at this last threat.  He knew full well what it was like to be in the Orochi's thrall.  Iori took a step forward and began to summon his family's ancestral flames.

    "You've just made your last mistake.  No one threatens me and..." Iori paused for a moment.  He saw movement somewhere behind Yashiro.  It was Yamazaki.  He was grinning fiendishly and had an index finger up to his lips.  He was shaking his head as though to say "let me handle this, I know what I'm doing".  Yamazaki then ducked behind something, hiding himself from view.

    "..lives.  I'll deal with you at another date, Yashiro.  In the meantime, I think I'll grab something to eat."

    Iori then brushed past Yashiro, thinking pleasant thoughts of dismemberment and revenge.  Yashiro, on the other hand, was bewildered by Iori's sudden manifestation of self-control.  He'd never seen the man fail to rise to a threat before, and he was sure that something was up.  What, he would not know until it was much too late.

    Later that evening, Iori returned to his apartment and switched on the TV to see what the rest of the Ultra fights were like.  The results of the Orochi match served to amuse him to no small end.

    "Orochibi..... heh heh heh heh HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!"

To be continued....