Hein - Chessmaster: cxd5 Nxd5

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Description: Following the defeat of Duke and Team Syndicate during the KoF finals, the brutal enforcer is delivered - via gurney - to Geese Tower... where he finds the German butler Hein, rather than Mr. Howard, waiting for him. The sadistic servant takes this opportunity to mock the man's defeat at the hands of a young girl, before he pushes the matter too far for Duke's liking.

Duke felt so tired.

Exhausted. In pain, such severe pain. The crime boss sees light through his shut eyes, a whirring sound. Shapes. Shadows. He remembers... the King of Fighters. The ninja. The girl ninja who cheated. Duke snarls, as his eyes open. He sees.... he is in an elevator? On some kind of gurney bed, escorted by people. Where was he, how did he get here? He moves to stand up.

Except he was strapped down.

Chained? No, but essentially so. Thick linen bindings, enforced by graphite cores, restrained him against the bed. The squeak of the wheels come, as four men in black suits escorted Duke; each wearing a stocking mask. The crime boss's yellow eyes -fume- as he tries again, his body snapping and popping at the effort. One of the men in the suits looks down at Duke, and then, the straps.

He presses the button on the elevator panel again and again.

Finally, the elevator comes to a halt. The doors open, and the men do not hesitate to push the bed along. Duke tries to speak, tries to roar... but only can let out a breathless croak. His lungs, his lungs and throat were still too damaged. Duke glances around, trying to make sense of this. And then he realizes it. He's been here before.

It's Geese Tower.

Two open the doors to the main office, letting the other two push him in. The bed suddenly tilts up, pushing Duke upright with him strapped to it. And there, reaching the apex, Duke hangs there, upright, staring ahead at the desk of his boss, Geese Howard.

But he wasn't there.

Mr. Howard may not be present, but Duke would only have a few short seconds to ponder why he's been brought to an empty office before he hears someone approaching from the side... someone who has no small amount of enmity towards the man secured to the gurney - standing quietly in a rear corner of the office, just /waiting/ for this new arrival.

How often is Duke not only weakened from a savage beating, but restrained as well? Ahhh, the potential is endless.

Signaling his presence with the rhythm of well-shined loafers striding softly across the polished tile floor; Duke would hear a whistled tune, as well... a philistine like him may not recognize it, but the song is 'Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht' - the German lullaby, composed by Johannes Brahms.

Seems the typically cold and professional employee of Mr. Howard known only as 'Hein' has a sense of humour, after all.

"My, my, my..."

Spoken with a barely-concealed joy, Geese's personal manservant and business administrator steps up alongside the stretcher which Duke is strapped to. The fingers of one hand, clad in a spotless white glove, curl around the frame of the stretcher - drumming lazily along the metal.

"Looks like your arrogance has finally caught up to you, hm?"

If Duke glances to the side, he'll notice a smirk on Hein's thin lips - twisted up at one corner with obvious smugness. In those usually emotionless ice-blue eyes, there's a shine that the enforcer might very well recognize from looking in the mirror - a sadistic glee, at his injured state.

"You know..."

A scolding, disappointed shake of the head, before the German butler continues speaking - this time, in a slightly more grave, serious tone... it seems the failure of Duke isn't just a source of amusement for him, but a rather serious issue as well.

"I would normally find your poor performance /quite/ amusing. If your presence, wherever you might go, didn't represent /MR. HOWARD/."

Those last two words have a sudden emphasis put on them; a sharpness cutting through the German's previously level voice, accompanied by a sudden tightening of his grip on the metal of the gurney's frame.

There's a pause, and then a soft chuckle - as though he were dismissing the outburst as a simple lapse in proper decorum - before Hein steps from the bound man's side to stand several feet in front of the upright stretcher that bears the Syndicate enforcer. Hein's back is stiff and straight, his posture perfect as he clicks his heels once his shoes carry him to his new position on the office floor. He seems to be assessing the situation as he stands, for a moment, in perfect silence... finally, he carries on - and there can be no disguising the sound of pleasure in his voice..

"What /are/ we to do with you?"

The song means nothing to Duke.

The whistling, however, draws a chill on Duke, quickly drowned by hot rage. Duke's face furrows into a scowl, as his freshly cut teeth are bared. His mouth broken again and again, but it all came back. Not that it mattered. Someone like Duke was a certain level of enjoyment for his 'host' at this. Not even Geese himself. Not even Billy, to return the favor. No, it was the butler. Duke had his own name for him.


Duke manages to muster out a voice. His body was healing, rebuilding itself without the rush of adrenaline to fuel it. It was slower, more precise. And yet, Duke was helpless, trapped... again. Duke's body burns with chi as he makes another effort to break free... and yet, only light and smoke. He -was- weak, drained out. And Hein was... enjoying himself. Batting around the fighter on a string, as he was helpless.y

"What is this about, Hein?" Duke growls low. "I have a tournament to win. Nagase will defeat the ninja I've weakened for her, and I will have my prize. Or does Mr. Howard want his cut of the winnings?" Duke smirks, arrogant even in bondage to the butler and his boss.

"Or maybe I forgot to tip you at the door one too many times?"

A soft chuckle is the only direct reponse to that last statement; it's no news to Hein that the savage fighter views him as little more than an upjumped lapdog. Let him think that, if he wishes - the fact is Hein is perhaps the closest of all the Syndicate employees to the man who rules Southtown. This trust and loyalty has earned him certain opportunities that Duke would never be able to understand - let alone appreciate.

"Oh, poor Duke..."

The tone of sympathy in Hein's voice is so filled with sarcasm, it's practically dripping off every word - each utterance drawn out longer than necessary, to savour this wonderful moment all the more. The middle finger of his right hand comes up to push his eyeglass frames further up the bridge of his nose, accompanied with a widening of that self-satisfied smirk that gives his usually calm and impassive expression a sinister bent.

"You've lost. There will be no winnings."

His words are matter-of-fact - the Butler isn't lying, isn't making things up just to twist a verbal knife into Duke's side as he might expect. It's the harsh truth of the matter; the monstrous man had been soundly defeated by a Ninja... and what's more, an 18-year old /female/ Ninja. Hein would doubtlessly be laughing aloud, were it not for the fact that this loss directly impacted the reputation of the Syndicate at-large.

"How does it feel, I wonder? To be beaten by a woman? I imagine it's embarrassing..."

Letting that hang for a moment, as though he were honestly pondering how such a loss must feel... but the glint in his eyes tells a different story; he wants to force Duke into realizing the true implications of his poor performance... what it must do to his ruthless reputation, so hard earned with years of brutal behaviour.

"Shameful, even."

Hein bares teeth then, for just an instant - a flash of pearly white that cuts across his sharp, almost feminine features... and then it's gone, the smile back to a smug, toothless grin.

"We truly expected more. What use is an enforcer, who cannot even dominate a young girl? Surely even a man as thick as yourself can understand the predicament here, hm?"

Stepping towards the bound and - seemingly - helpless brute, Hein lifts a gloved hand and turns it so his palm is facing towards himself. A small snort of amusement leaves his nostrils, before the backside of his hand is run down the length of Duke's left cheek; rather softly, clearly enjoying the current, weakened state of the man whom he's hated for as long as he's known him. To see Duke in such condition brings him no small amount of joy, that much is certainly clear.

The German butler leans in even closer, to utter the following words directly into Duke's ear - barely above a whisper, hot breath running over the man's skin.

"I wonder what use Mr. Howard might have for you, now that your reputation has been shattered so publicly? I wonder, how can you live with yourself after such a display of weakness?"

You've lost.

The smirk fades. Duke actually lowers his head, as he feels his face growing hot. It was all part of the mind games. This was all part of the process. To humilate, to drive his spirit into the ground. No, Nagase was going to win. He... did he believe in her? His partner? Or was he just clinging to what armor he had against the raw nerve that Hein was drilling into? Embarrassment. The shame of losing publically, even just himself, against a mere woman? Against a young girl? What -was- the Syndicate reputation now, because of his public loss? No, no, Nagase won, she saved their faces.

And yet, he knew.

He could feel the twist of that knife into him. 'What use is an enforcer, who cannot even dominate a young girl?' Duke does not respond, as he stares down at the floor. Why couldn't he hit her? Why was she so fast? Why did Nagase fail... no. It wasn't Nagase's responsibility. It was his. Why did -he- fail Nagase? Why couldn't he have done more? Against Noboru and Maki, he even scolded Nagase for not being there, when he could fight them himself? And when the time came... Duke didn't do enough. As Hein whispers in his ears, the heat becomes unbearable. He couldn't control himself anymore.

And he roars, as he fights against the straps.

Chi boils from his body, as he -twists- and bites. His bones wrench in their sockets, his flesh grinds and tears against the jacket. The gurney shakes, side to side, before finally, collapsing over. Duke -smashes- hard against the floor, as he struggles against his straps and binding. He squirms and wriggles, nearly breaking the gurney. And then.... and then, the fighting ceases.

In the end, nothing.

Duke gasps for air, his strength, his power, his rage... all not enough. His struggling stops, as he lays there, exhausted again. The question screws into his heart. 'What use Mr. Howard might have for you?' Duke's defiance. "You... you are lying." He grunts, looking up at Hein. "You sadistic bastard. You don't think I can't see through your lies? This entire show, this little pageantry... I know what it is. Geese wants to make me humble, to not let my strength and success get to my head." Duke twists again, uselessly, as he -glares- yellow eyes at Hein, drawing in a breath.

"You think you can break me?"

Those cold blue eyes of the German butler barely blink at the enforcer's flailing and raging; the only visual response as the gurney tilts and - finally - strikes the ground with a clatter is the raising of one thin, plucked eyebrow.

"Oh, no... are you /alright/, Duke?"

It's obvious from the almost sing-songy quality in those two words that Hein views the tipping of the gurney as anything /but/ a tragedy.

"You might think me some great deceiver, but I'm afraid the only one fooling you is... well, yourself."

As he speaks these words, Hein walks around the stretcher so that Duke gets a ground-level view of his carefully-polished, black leather dress shoes. From above, his voice continues to poke and prod at the fallen man... the tone - and every word that comes out - specifically designed to get under Duke's skin.

He is a /master/ of such things, after all. Although he is a skilled fighter in his own right, Geese's 'loyal' servant has always been a master manipulator, above all else.

"Does it sting? The pain of defeat? Knowing you were bested by an eighteen year old? In such a public display, for the entire /world/ to see..."

From above, there's a deep sigh; sounding as though Hein were gazing down at some mortally wounded animal who he pitied more than despised. Of course, pity is the /last/ thing that he has for Duke - the man who he has warned Mr. Howard about ever since the brute started to pull at the Syndicate's leash, testing his boundaries and his master's patience.

"I /am/ curious, you know. I can't imagine what it must be /like/. I'm sure if it were me in your place, well..."

Finally, the well-dressed German bends at the knees and reaches out to grab a handful of Duke's hair with one gloved hand. Twisting the man's head around to face him, Hein is displaying the casual, smug face that the defeated man might expect - the same sadistic gleam shining through those thin-framed eyeglasses of his. A slight inclination of his neck to one side - to better get a proper view of Duke's angry, enraged expression - precedes his next words.

"I might be inclined to crawl into a dark hole and /die/ of shame."

The killing instinct in Duke was overbearing.Duke wanted to rip Hein limb from limb. Break his arms, his leg, his bones slowly, one by one. Not out of any pure joy of the torture, but just to make him learn his lesson. TO make an example of him to every single person in the Syndicate. The stench of weakness was in the water. Right now, there was nothing more he wanted than to refuse the satisfaction of what Hein craved.

But he just wasn't strong enough.

Weakness was something that Duke loathed. He tugged at the leash, he pulled at it. The Syndicate was merely a way to express his power, his strength. THe only place left to express his power and strength with any meaning. And yet, broken and nearly killed, he was trapped here. Hein was piercing to the very heart of his weaknesses, only too aware of what he tread on. He failed himself, he failed the Syndicate. He failed his team. Failure was a short-lived mistake, especially for the ambitious and powerful. His cohorts, his underlings, his superiors were all ready to carve him up. He could sense it. But as Hein grabs him by the air, he doesn't break his gaze, even as his body boils with energy. "If you were in my place..." He says with choking contempt.

"You would be dead, Hein."

Duke's expression was locked in cold. In spite of his restraint, in spite of his helplessness, Duke refused to humble himself. His arrogance was unquenchable. His temper, unstoppable. But his strength was not unending, as he realized more than anything now. "And that will always be my value, living when anyone else would die. You know that. That was my -payment- for turning me into what I am." Not the original payment, of course. That was to save her life.

But he was too late, wasn't he?

As soon as the enforcer begins to respond, Hein loosens his grip on his prey's hair - leaving his gaze to fall where it may. Still remaining crouched, he listens to the man's words in complete silence - after all, half the pleasure in this little exercise comes from listening to Duke's pathetic excuses, his rationalizations, hearing the anger and frustration in his usually confident, boisterous voice.

The bound individual finally ceases his explanation of where his worth comes from, and it elicits another raised eyebrow from the German butler... as though he were wondering, did he /really/ say that? What a gift, handed over to the man who seems to be enjoying mocking the wounded and fallen brute so thoroughly...

"Living when anyone else would die."

Hein repeats Duke's words calmly; before lifting up one hand to rub at his forehead, as though he were honestly considering the man's words. He can't keep up the act for long, and a silent chuckle shakes his shoulders. When he lowers that hand, it's accompanied by another disbelieving shake of his head.

"Yes, Duke. You're a veritable cockroach. I believe I may have even used that term in Mr. Howard's presence, once or twice, myself."

Standing up out of his crouch, Hein pauses to let those words sink in for just a few moments as he takes the opportunity to adjust his white gloves and run the fingers of one hand through his perfectly combed hair.

"And where do such creatures belong?"

As if to answer his own question, the bottom of one Oxford shoe is lifted and pressed down upon the side of Duke's face. There's no real harshness behind it, no stomping; in fact, it might be all the more insulting for the overall gentleness of the gesture... as though anything more than that might break the wounded, fragile enforcer.

"I hope you've learned something from this. Ignorant pride in your own... hmm... negligible abilities, resulted in your defeat. Certainly nothing to do with the skill or strength of your opponents."

Lifting his heel off of the enforcer's face, Hein takes a few sudden strides away - disrespecting Duke further by showing his back... as though the brute laying bound could not possibly rise up to attack him. For a man used to being so feared and - in that way - respected, it no doubt serves to jam another proverbial blade into his side.

"You're not a smart man. You're not even clever. Maybe, though, you might find a lesson in this unfortunate occurence. Even the dumbest brute in the Syndicate knows not to test the patience of Mr. Howard... so what does that make you? Perhaps if you'd won the day, all might be forgiven..."

A single index finger comes up and taps at his chin, thoughtfully, before he suddenly wheels around to face the gurney on the floor once more. A vague gesture of the butler's hand, as though the very idea of Duke /ever/ being capable of winning that match was just a fantasy - something that could /never/ have come to pass.

"How fortunate, then, that you did not. Fortunate for /me/, at least. You should know, our employer wanted me to summon you to /him/; but you've disgusted him with your performance..."

Is he lying? Is Geese Howard perhaps just busy with other affairs? Was Duke brought here on Hein's orders alone - perhaps without their master even being aware of it - all so he could draw some sick, twisted pleasure out of the beaten man before he were brought in front of the Syndicate crimeboss?

Well... whatever the case, Hein certainly isn't giving away the slightest hint of it with his tone or expression - simply leaving those thoughts to fester in Duke's tortured mind.

"A disappointment, is what you are. A /disgrace/. Mr. Howard was considering giving you his invitation for Wolfgang Krauser's presitigious tournament... but you'd only /waste/ it, wouldn't you? Embarrass us all again?"

Duke always imagined himself more than this.

Ever since he was just a hoodlum and a thug working for the Syndicate, he always imagined himself with larger ambitions. A gang lord of his own block. Himself ordering around his own thugs. Him giving the orders, rather than having to listen to a bigger fish. That he would be the one taking care of her, getting her the medical treatment she needed. He was a violent brute, yes, even then. But he had a reason to keep himself from going too far. And the Syndicate took away that reason... and made him just that. Just the brute of the Syndicate. Their little cockroach, that could be sent in first, to receive the barrage of gunfire. To open the doors and boxes, so their traps would go off into his face. He was simply meat for the Syndicate to use again and again.

And Duke hates it.

Duke felt more like an idiot now than he had since he offered himself for that experiment. His schemes, his plans with Nagase, his ambitions. All of that was to hone his mind. That he was more than just an angry wrecking ball.And now, as the boot rested on his face, he couldn't even fight back. He wouldn't let himself be broken. He would fight. And yet, nothing would stop Hein from carrying out Geese's judgement, and punishment. He was helpless to the delicate cruelty of the butler. Helpless, and just watching.

As Hein takes him apart, piece by piece.

Wounded and helpless, he was so easy to just pick apart on how -weak- he was. When his only value to the Syndicate was his strength... he was worthless, being unable to smash his way through any problem. Maybe... maybe they really did think he would win. With Ryu Hayabusa missing, maybe it was his to lose. How badly did he humiliate himself? How many years of reputation did he squander away by losing to a red haired ninja? Duke was beginning to fall into a daze, his rage collapsing on itself. And in the festering blindness.... he barely latches on as his head falls.

"An invitation?"

Duke pauses, trying to parse together an understanding. "For a tournament? His invitation?" Duke repeats back steadily, as if he didn't understand it. "There is another... what tournament?" Duke's mind reels, grasping at the idea. Geese got an invitation. And him... a finalist in the King of Fighters? A world championship belt holder, who stood against Sagat? All this, a world class fighter...

Received no invitation.

Ever since first encountering the Russian man known only as 'Duke' to his 'comrades' within Geese's operation, Hein had dreamed of such a moment. It wasn't even his lack of loyalty to Howard that drove his distaste for the enforcer, for - despite all appearances to the contrary - the butler was hardly the epitome of faithful service himself.

It was the man's blind pride, his lack of cunning, the obviousness of his schemes and aspirations... it was an offense to a man like Hein, who considered himself a masterfully subtle manipulator of others. Duke's brute force tactics, his never-ending push against the authority of their employer, /did/ provide a useful smokescreen for the servant's own plots and schemes... it enabled him to be a counter-point to the savage, out-of-control ambitions of Duke.

And yet it also offended the German, the fact that this other man thought the Syndicate crimeboss - a man Hein respected, despite his own desires to usurp him - too foolish to notice, too cowardly to bring Duke to heel.

"That's right, an invitation."

He leaves the man's question unanswered for the time being, resting his chin between thumb and forefinger once again - as though he were genuinely trying to recall the details of the tournament. An act, of course; just another put-upon gesture to draw out Duke's torment - all to give himself more amusement at the situation playing out.

"I have a question of my own, I'd like to hear answered - before I respond to your own queries. Why, Duke?"

Dropping his hand from it's place underneath his chin, he tilts his head to the side and gestures at the enforcer's place on the floor. Hein's eyes are wide, now, sharp and glistening with glee as he prepares to dig this one final blade into his hated rival and fellow 'underling' of Geese Howard.

"If you're so strong... why did you let your sister die? You couldn't even say goodbye to her, in her final hours of life... Just imagine her loneliness in that moment; knowing she had been abandoned by the one man she thought would /always/ be by her side..."

A beckoning gesture with one finger, and two of the orderlies who had wheeled Duke's gurney into the office step forward and grip the frame on either side. A heave of exertion from the two men - Duke is hardly an easy individual to manhandle, not to mention the added weight of the stretcher - and the object is placed back on it's wheels.

"Oh, it breaks my heart to think of it."

Raising one hand to rest a palm over the spot where his heart /might/ be - if he weren't such a cold Germanic bastard, that is - Hein's face becomes an impassive, emotionless mask. Gone is the smug grin, the gleeful shining in those blue eyes - replaced with an air of neutrality, a veritable wall of ice that betrays nothing of what he might be feeling.

"Why weren't you there for her? What kind of /brother/ were you, in the end?"

His lowest point.

Humiliated by his peers. Failing on the most public of venues. Duke had only his reputation to sustain him... and he had nothing. He was only a stupid brute in the eyes of his underlings, his equals, his superiors. And a failure of one at that. Duke's head stares down, his spirit... growing faint. For all his ambition, for all his power... he was still just a minion and a thug, in a larger organization. But then, something happens. Hein... mentions her. He mentions about his sister. No. He was mocking him on it.

Duke's expression shifts.

There is a tone in the room, a presence. An incredible weight that suddenly descends hard into the office. As the gurney is righted up, Duke lifts his head. Duke stares, his expression... inscrutable. But his eyes, focused. Locked squarely on Hein, his rapt attention now locked on him. The men begin to look towards the door, the exits. They do not linger long around the gurney. It was their request, after all, to wear the masks. Duke takes slow, deep breathes. Was he about to cry? Was this the moment he would see Duke weep like a babe? Every word was like a hammer upon Duke. Like physical blows. Like a punch -squarely- into his heart-

There is a flash.

Fiery chi -detonates- over the crimeboss, like a C4 charge across this torso. The damage is likewise, similar. His ribs and organs mangled, his right arm jagged and fractured. And yet, his expression doesn't change. That dead focus, as he takes his mangled arm, and rips his other arm free. Duke forces through the weakened straps, as the minions... run. They run. As the remains of the straps are ripped apart, and dropped to the ground, his gaze does not break from Hein. He steps forward from the remains of the straps, taking only three steps. The naked, blooded chest begins to seal up, with oozing gore becoming clotted lines. Duke was as broken as he was before he came in, even more so with his own self destruction. And yet, a new fire burns within him, as Hein boldly crosses an uncrossable line, having misjudged the extent of Duke's weakness.

Duke's words are so precisely measured.

"It was before your time, Hein. So I will explain this to you." Fire builds in both of his fists, as Duke shakes his head. "Everything in the Syndicate is expendable. People, money, buildings, resources. It is the strength of the Syndicate, that any portion of it can be decapitated, any portion of it can be sacrificed. So I will make this clear, Hein. You are not the first to mention her, and you will not be the last. And I have made a promise to this organization, that I will give every transgression the benefit of a warning once." The weight of the presence descends like a hammer, as Duke seems to tower over the already tall Hein. "There are 206 bones in the human body, Hein. And If you ever speak a word about my sister again, I will, with no exaggeration, break every one. I will blackened your bones to ash, until it even hurts to look at you, and when I drop your writhing, still breathing body at Geese Howard feet, you will understand at that moment, that everything, and everyone, in this organization is expendable." Duke takes a single step, as the building -groans- under his feet, the very weight of his fury transfering to the whole of Geese tower.

"There will always be other butlers, Hein."

Duke snaps his fingers impatiently."The tournament, Hein." Duke states firmly, as the entire presence transfixes to a laser focused point squarely upon the hollowed out chest cavity that would be the butler's heart.

"What is this invitation, Hein."

The sudden explosion atop the bound man's frame seems to take Hein by surprise, as he raises one gloved hand in front of his face to shield his eyes and face from the blazing light (and heat) of the blast. As the chi finally burns out, he slowly lowers his arm back to his side - and his perceptive eyes quickly notice the minions fleeing the area...

...and yet, despite the effect his words have obviously had on the savage, brutal warrior - and the threats leveled against his own person in response - the German stands his ground... well, he /does/ take a half-step back, as the entire floor seems to shake under the man's heavy, furious step forward.

A keen eye would pick up a slight softening in his ice-blue eyes; no longer are they are sharp, gleaming windows into barely-controlled, gleeful sadism... there may, in fact, be a vague sense of concern for his own wellbeing visible there. As well, a single bead of sweat might be noticed as it forms on the side of his forehead; Hein not wanting to draw attention to this fact by wiping it away, he simply lets it roll down the side of his face. But for a man well-practiced at hiding his own emotions, well... that is all Duke will get as proof that his words are having any effect on Geese's loyal servant.

"You're done, then? I'll consider this melodramatic outburst my one warning, in that case."

One gloved hand comes up and pushes his eyeglasses up, to rub at the bridge of his nose underneath those thin steel frames. He shakes his head slightly; perhaps at the man's violent explosion of anger, perhaps at the fact that he seems entirely unaware of an event as prestigious as the World Warrior... perhaps at the fact that he nearly pushed matters so far, that they almost ended in tragedy befalling himself. Whatever the cause, the hand is soon removed from his face - ice-blue eyes once again being leveled directly at the face of Duke.

"Herr Krauser; surely you know this name? He is gathering the strongest in the world to Castle Strolheim... those whose ability is beyond reproach, have been given invitations freely."

Hein's other hand is liften up in the air, fingers splayed apart; and as he lists off names, he curls one finger down into his palm.

"Mr. Howard himself. Commander Heidern of the Ikari Warriors. Rugal Bernstein. Saishu Kusanagi..."

There's still one finger raised, a pinkie, and Hein pauses before stating the final name which he knows - through whatever method he had gained this information - was sent an invitation, without having to first prove themselves.

Before he offers up that last name, his lips once again curl up in an amused smirk... he knows Duke's own history with the next man, and he cannot help but get some slight pleasure from the fact that /he/ was deemed deserving one, but not Duke himself.

"Billy Kane."

The pinky is lowered, the hand now forming a fist that remains held aloft for just a moment... before he opens his hand once again, and lets it fall to his side to accompany his other arm.

"Maybe yours was lost in the mail? Regardless; there are three men out scouring the globe, looking for other candidates... Laurence Blood, the Spanish Matador. Gato Futaba, the Chinese Kenpo master. Eiji Kisaragi, the..." - another pregnant pause, and a further twisting of that smirk - ".../ninja/."

Yes, despite the attempted intimidation by Duke, Hein most certainly will /not/ forget his loss at the hands of a ninjitsu practitioner so soon. No doubt he will be reminded of it numerous times in the days, weeks, and months to come... though it's a fair bet that the German butler will be wise enough to leave the enforcer's sister out of any further insults.

"Find one of them, and earn your place in the halls of Castle Strolheim, if you wish to regain some of the honour you lost with your recent defeat."

A sudden shrug, as though the butler couldn't care one way or another what Duke decides to do with this information. As far as he's concerned, the ignorant savage has already done /enough/ damage to the reputation of Geese Howard and the once all-powerful Southtown Syndicate... no doubt the bumbling idiocy and incompetence of men such as Duke have played no small part in the Syndicate slowing losing the grip over the city they once ruled with an iron fist.

"Or don't. It makes no matter to me, you understand. I know what you are, Duke, and I know your /true/ worth. Oh... and I do believe we're done here. You may go."

Snapping his middle finger and his thumb loudly, the crisp sound echoing throughout the office - which is now empty aside from himself and Duke - Hein offers a slight nod towards the man. Though, noticeable, he does not turn his back to walk away... /that/ no longer seems like a safe option, as it once did.

Duke is patient.

The withering intensity does not fade. It simply radiates, as Duke waits. It was intimidation, yes. But Duke was doing Hein a favor. IN the past, Duke would simply crush the man or woman who would let loose a wry comment. Duke had to be reigned in from his wrath. And Duke compromised. He simply understood it as an effort to strike a weakness.

Do not strike Duke's weaknesses.

Duke doesn't even let up whether or not he would spare Hein for his comments. Reality, he might not be able to even fight, in his mangled state. And yet, at the moment, it was a dangerous gamble. This was chess, not cards. And no matter how easy it was to mock Duke's direct, aggressive style... the fact was, everyone had a plan until they were punched in the face. Duke just takes his breathes in and out, as Hein explains the tournament, with the utmost professionalism. The names give no reactions from the crime boss. Even the delay theatrics of Billy only gets the barest of a smirk; the crime boss not showing any fear. It takes the three opponents to challenge to make the smirk fade. Not Blood, not Gato.

There is an eye twitch as Hein mentions Eiji.

Duke doesn't say it. But his expression shows how he has made up his mind."I will humbly refuse Geese's invitation." Duke rumbles deeply, glaring harshly into the butler. "As my expectation is that I will earn my own invitation. I do not need a hand out. I will remind them all that this King Of Fighters match was an unfortunate fluke." And Duke... turns. The presence begins to withdraw. Duke actually seems to barely limp, as he turns away. A parting shot from Hien, makes him pause by the gurney. "Hm. My worth. I know your true worth, Hein." And with a slam, he smashes his fists into the gurney, sending the pieces scattering across the office. And there, he strides out of the door, back turned towards Hein, as he heads to the elevator... with only the final parting words.

"Don't forget to clean up the mess."

Log created on 11:58:08 01/26/2018 by Hein, and last modified on 21:40:00 01/26/2018.