Neo League 465 - #465: Rugal vs Duke

Description: Neo League season two debut?! Rugal and Duke clash in a fight of titans that would put Godzilla to shame! Which reigns supreme, stylish goatees and hair highlights, or eloquent mustaches and CYBORG EYES?!? This log brought to you by the Better and Faster Than Kurow Foundation. Where believing Kurow is a weenie isn't just an obligation -- it's a PASSION. (Winner: Rugal)

The Neo League was in need of some revitalizing in a major way. Ratings were on the decline, participation from the more renown fighters in the world dropping off to such impossibly low levels that some school girl of only minor fame was able to hold the number one rank, uncontested, for months on end. A change was needed or the upstart competitor to Geese Howard's amazing SNF franchise was going to end up dead in the water before long.

Rather than allow the league to collapse in a sinkhole of public indifference, Master's people put in motion some daring changes to turn things around. A major announcement was made, declaring the end of the Neo League as people had known it, announcing the top ranked fighters - a mixed bag of well knowns and unknowns, and then wiping the scoreboard clean in order to commence an all new season of the Neo League ladder. New rules were put in place intended to lure more fighters into the league and other improvements, such as seasonal champions being declared, and the like.

There's also the matter of going far more out of their way to request appearances from some of the bigger names in fighting history. One of those requests managed to convince none other than Rugal Bernstein to make an appearance for the Opening Match for this season to get things started with a bang. While the elusive tyrant of 'R' had been invited to many an event in the past only to not appear, this time he accepted, his reasons his own, agreeing to take the risk of fighting in front of a large crowd at Ken Master's very own stadium. Who his opponent is is unknown to him. He was only promised that it would be worth his time. They weren't going to get him to come off his ship to beat on some no-name after all. That would hardly be a ticket seller.

And thus the man has arrived, walking up the stairs into the arena. The reaction from the crowd is mixed, his reputation as a fighter being uncertain. While the man has clearly demonstrated incredible power in the few appearances he's made in the past, and while very few in attending would have any idea what 'R' even was, his dark demeanor and infrequent fights have kept him from garnering the same fanatical following that Kain Heinlein has built up with his regular domination over the weekly SNF contenders. Mostly the audience seems facinated with the prospects of seeing what the once KOF and Second Victory sponsor brings to the table now that he has entered the Neo League.

Dressed in his signiture crimson suit, Bernstein waits on the side of the arena with the shallow water, standing calmly atop the surface of one of the flat rocks there, his expression passive, neutral. Let's see who the NL felt would be of sufficient challenge to be worth being declared 'worth his time'.

"Iiiin the left corner, we have one of the foremost fighters of the world of martial arts, former King of Fighters host himself... RUGAL BEEERRRNSTEEEIIIIN!"
Despite Rugal's relative lack of public appearances, his impact is clear; the moment the name is uttered, cheers rise up from the fans. It's a packed night tonight; it is, after all, the debut match of the new, 'rebooted' season of the famous Neo Leagues. People from all around the country -- all around the GLOBE -- whoop and hollar at Rugal, the faintest 'boos' intermingling and drowning out amidst the roars. The lights flare, the spacious, nature-ridden grounds of the Red Arena illuminated in the glare. It's truly a moment to savor. But who, then, is the man that Rugal will be fighting? The one who will be so 'worth his time'?
"And in the right corner, a man who is quickly making his presence felt in the fighting circuit..."
As the announcer blares out his prolonged introductions, the second fighter emerges; a dim, tall figure in the midst of the dead lighting on his side of the stadium. He lifts a hand up to his neck, fingertips touching at his throat.
The fans once more cheer; while the man in question had been a relative unknown until recently, his sheer, overwhelming brutality and his rocket-fast climb to fifth place in the previous Neo Leagues have earned the man known as Hell's Executioner in less known circles a bit of popularity. He advances towards the middle of the arena, neck and shoulders rolling to loosen the kinks. Dark eyes fall upon Rugal, only the faintest hints of a deadened smile creeping at his lips. Of course, he knows who Bernstein is. So they meet again.
"... heh."
This should prove to be most interesting.

While it fails to appear in his neutral expression, there is an internal smirk at the reaction of the crowd. Bernstein had been skeptical of Kain's participation in Howard's weekly spectacles. But a discussion and vicious match between the two fighting tyrants left him thinking otherwise now. Perhaps this has played into why the man has stepped out of self-enforced obscurity to take to the arena this time.

A thin, black scarf hangs open around his neck, the end of which he has taken to folding and unfolding around his right hand, an almost unconscious habit of his as he watches the other side of the arena intently. He is able to discern Duke among the shadows before his name is announced - even at a distance, able to perceive only a vague outline of the man, Rugal's swift mind is able to pick Duke out of the mental filing cabinet he keeps on every fighter he has ever faced. There is a grunt from Rugal as he lifts his hands together, knuckles cracking, black scarf trailing down from his right arm.

Worth his time indeed. Geese's man already proved himself an able fighter before. His reputation as a fierce brawler with incredible vigor for his fights is well earned. His right hand folding across his waist, his left hand extended out to his side, Bernstein offers Duke a very formal, aristocratic bow before standing up straight again, his arms lowering to his sides, his left one bent at the elbow as if like a coiled serpent preparing to strike.

"Duke," comes the deep, German accented voice, "So we meet again. Masters must really be hoping to spice this league of his up with matches like this." There is a dark chuckle as the crimelord adjusts his footing on the rock. He shows no signs of intending to move from that location, even as the final seconds before the anticipated bout begin to tick down. He shakes his right hand, unwrapping the black scarf from around it, allowing the end to fall down to dangle at knee level, his breathing slow, patient, disciplined. Everything about the man suggesting that he is every bit in control. The crowd, the publicity, the press. None of it remotely phases him now.

COMBATSYS: Rugal has started a fight here.

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Rugal            0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Rugal takes no action.

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Rugal            0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Duke has joined the fight here.

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Duke             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Rugal

A short nod is given to Rugal's bow, Duke's head dipping in a simplistic, yet elegant way of it's own. Not the grandiose gesture afforded him, but he's sure Bernstein won't be offended by such trivial details. Last time they fought, Rugal proved just how strong he truly was. This time... well, it should prove to, at the very -least-, be an interesting fight.
Slowly, the SouthSynd enforcer takes in his surroundings. Masters certainly has eccentric, excessive tastes in arenas; he never thought someone would try to take a cross section of natural habitats and just obnoxiously shove them into a stadium floor. But it at least provides, in and of itself, a variety of potential. The mobster will consider the use of said surroundings later. For now?
For now... Duke shifts his concentration on the tall man before him. His hands falling to his pants pockets, the scarred brawler offers a dry, humorless smile at the German's greetings. "...It certainly seems that way, doesn't it?" Cracking his neck with a roll, the mob lieutenant drops into his almost casual fighting stance, hands coming up to either side of him in preparation. "Still... all these people came here to see a show." Duke's right leg tenses, pressing against the sandy earth beneath them.
"Let's not disappoint them."
Within the matter of a second, Duke is pushing -off- the ground just as suddenly as he adopts that fighting stance of his. -Bursting- across the space between himself and the German arms dealer, Duke rears back his right arm, hand clenching into a large fist. With one swing, he seeks to bring that fist DOWN -- and slam it STRAIGHT across Rugal's prominent jaw. "HRAARGH!!"

COMBATSYS: Rugal interrupts Strong Punch from Duke with Fierce Punch.

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Duke             0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0            Rugal

A show indeed. And what better way to start off than with trading a set of extremely brutal, punshing blows. The likes of which that can end fights in a single hit against the type of opponents that aren't meant to take this kind of abuse. And in that instant, the fight is joined, Hell's Executioner beginning with a brazen charge toward the deceptively passive 'R' tyrant. But standing calmly, arms at the ready, hardly means that he isn't prepared to meet force with force.

As Duke's fist slams forward into his jaw, he'll find his gut being countered with a strong left hook from that previously coiled left arm as it comes unsprung with rock shattering force. That is just the setup though, as Rugal's right knuckled fist comes in secondly, giving his challenger a solid blow to the chin in return for the one Duke managed to land against him. "RAGH!" the man roars, a sudden spike of passion in his voice for the fight at hand. But the surge passes just as swiftly, Rugal calming down immediately as he lowers his left arm back to his side, his right hand lifting up to clench his chin, applying a little pressure from the side, as if to reset a bone that had been knocked slightly ajar by the impact from Duke's fist.

If the crowd wants to see a bloody slug fest, they're quite likely to get one out of these two.

Certainly, Rugal is prepared -- and perhaps more prepared than Duke gives him credit for. The Syndicate enforcer's fist swings outward, but before it can fully meet that jaw, a fist is buried into his gut. Soon enough, it's followed by that crushing -strike- to Duke's jaw. The force of Duke's blow is somewhat deadened by the impact, and he imself is sent in a short launch upwards. Soon enough, though, Duke is reorienting himself in mid-air, landing in a drag across the dirt. As always with Bernstein... this is going to be the shining definition of an 'uphill battle.'
Despite the titanic blows behind Rugal's fists, Duke still looks whole and hearty; and certainly -capable- of continuing the fight. Pressing against the earth, Hell's Executioner SPRINGS upwards into the air in a sudden leap, displaying a surprising amount of mobility for a man his size. He descends rapidly, falling towards Rugal with intent to SLAM into the man with the full momentum and mass of his body, SLAMMING his hand forward at the last second to grip 'R''s tyrant by the neck and thrust him straight into the dirt. "GRAAAARGH!!" Bloody indeed.

COMBATSYS: Duke successfully hits Rugal with Quick Throw.

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Duke             0/-------/--=====|===----\-------\0            Rugal

The first collision of fists was enough to seperate the two men for only a fleeting moment as Duke charges right back with as much force and determination as his first brazen attempt to strike out at Bernstein. This time his attempt is met with more success, however, as Rugal doesn't intercept his trajectory in preemptive strike but rather takes the attack in full, the Syndicate's man getting a crushing death grip on his throat for a moment before launching him up into the air.

But getting in close enough to get a grip on the man has its risks too and even successfully sending him airborn doesn't guarentee safety as both of the man's arms lash out with incredible speed to try and snag a hold of Duke's mighty neck in return.

The intent is obvious - pull him airborn with a vicious wrenching of his neck while the two fighters travel through the air in a trajectory toward the middle of the arena. If he does get that grip, he'll be trying to position the other man in such a way as to line him up for further brutality before they even hit the ground again!

COMBATSYS: Rugal successfully hits Duke with Medium Throw.

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Duke             1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0            Rugal

It seems that today is to be a blinding flurry of blows between Bernstein and Duke. His grip on the German arms dealer secure, Duke nonetheless finds himself suddenly gripped in return; powerful, gloved hands wrap around his throat with a sudden -exertion- of pressure, eliciting a choked up growl on the part of the brawler. He is, unfortunately, too slow to muster up a proper defense this time around -- proper as it can be, in any case. And as such... both he and Rugal go on a little trip, and Duke is introduced, back-first, into the Red Arena forest floor.
The impact alone kicks up dirt and rock in a veil of debris that settles around both Duke and Rugal. The Southtown Syndicate gangster coughs up a small oozing of blood at the corner of his mouth as they land. And as the recovery begins... Duke rolls -backwards- and away from Bernstein, to gain a few feet of distance, before SLAMMING his foot into the ground. "GRAAAGGH!!"
The -second- that Duke's clad foot impacts the ground, it strikes with such tremendous force that ripples shake the ground surrounding himself and Rugal in a miniaturized earthquake of sorts, to unsettle the German tyrant's footing. At the same time, a circular blaze of chi-laden fire blossoms forth from Duke's foot, searing an omnidirectional path all around him with intent to crashland directly into one Rugal Bernstein.

COMBATSYS: Rugal overcomes Seismic Impact from Duke with Reppuken.

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Duke             1/-----==/=======|==-----\-------\0            Rugal

After smashing Duke into the ground, Rugal presses off of the man, using him as a spring board, his feet never actually touching the ground until he lands a few yards off, leaving his opponent time to get up for a change. It isn't really mercy, by any means, as the tyrant has already begun to charge a deadly attack - a technique so kindly borrowed from Geese Howard himself, as he rolls his coat covered arm behind him, a flash of blue-white chi congealing in his palm. "So tell me," chuckles the tyrant, feeling strongly in control of this match thus far, even if Duke has gotten his licks in. "How goes the war?"

As the ground beneath him literally begins to quake, the man slams his arm down and forward, driving the energy in his fist to form the broiling, infamous projectile, pulsating with so much power that thirsts to find a victim against which to explode. "Reppuken!" And as it blasts forward through that ring of lashing flame, it might just do that, cutting a wake through Duke's attack, leaving Bernstein unscathed and barreling in on self-proclaimed immortal.

Rugal lowers his arm, the white crackling energy dissipating from his fist as he unclenches his hand and flexes his arm muscles beneath his coat. Ah, yes, it feels good to draw upon that power of his. The prospect of many more battles like this one ahead is certainly an invigorating thought.

COMBATSYS: Rugal successfully hits Duke with Reppuken.

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Duke             1/--=====/=======|=====--\-------\0            Rugal

He remembers this. Last time, though, Rugal's Reppuken didn't perform quite as well as it does now. Still, Duke knows what's coming, and odds are... he knew before his foot even touched the ground. Whatever the reason, though, the enforcer doesn't seem terribly disconcerted when Bernstein's cerulean wave of chi breaks into the impact. Fire meets sapphire energy in a sudden clash, that leaves the remnants of that circular wave dispersing to the wind as what remains of the Reppuken barrels onward. And what does Duke do?
He just attempts to take it. All of it. Unfortunately, it crashes into poor Duke before he can even bolster his resolve. It slams into him, but whatever remains of the rippling blue chi is just a pale comparison to its full power. It only brings Duke staggering backwards a single step, the front of his crimson suit sizzling vaguely with the power output from the strike. "Hmph." How goes the war, Rugal asks.
"... All going according to schedule," is Hell's Executioner's vague, perhaps cryptic reply as he lifts his hands up into the air. "And how's business...?" Clenching those hands together, he brings them swinging DOWN in a vicious hammerblow towards the ground, CRACKING his fists against the forested earth before a literal -wall- of flames EXPLODES from the ground beneath him, carving through grass and dirt as it burns a path towards Bernstein, with intent to crash into him explosively. "HRAAAAAAGH!!"

COMBATSYS: Rugal blocks Duke's Sledgehammer.

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Duke             0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0            Rugal

There is a thin lipped nod in response to Duke's answer, followed by, "It will be picking up quite well very soon," speaking with an equal lack of useful information except to hint that something is in the works. Something bigger than his normal routine backstabbing and treachery. " The earth rending flamelash explodes toward him and Bernstein extends his right arm calmly, looking as if perhaps he intends to stop it all together with the creation of the swirling Dark Barrier he has used in times past. But instead he merely allows the attack to crash against his arm, burning leather gloves and shreading fine, expensive fabrics. But that wasn't a blind, suicidal sacrifice of his arm by any means, for even as the chi pours over him, he combats it with his own mastery of energy, dismantling the attack with raw will power, leaving it to strike for a fraction of what its fury was really capable of as it finishes washing over him.

"When the time is right, I believe we will be able to discuss how business might be of help to the both of us." the man states before switching back on the offense. Covering a tremendous amount of distance with each stride, it barely seems as if his feet are hitting the fractured earth as he switches from the single or dual attacks from before into a slower, brutal sequence of kicks, starting with a left round house that allows him to spin around into a follow up of three strong, bone crushing, yet precise kicks aimed toward stomach, chest, and face. A rapid sequence, borrowed from a kick boxer of the opposite gender who also has a taste for fine suits... It manages to dish out a ton of power, yet also set him up as being a fairly decent distance afterward.

COMBATSYS: Duke interrupts Strong Kick from Rugal with Crack Up.

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Duke             0/-------/=======|=======\=------\1            Rugal

Picking up quite well? The response earns a humored enough grin from Duke, who sets about almost casually wiping blood from his lips, still bleeding from the aftermath of Rugal's initial blows. He rolls his neck in a nonchalant manner, seeming for all the world to be fine save for the obvious damage done to his body. Observing as Rugal so easily presents a sudden, impressive defense to his rushing torrent of chi, Duke says little -- the onslaught is stopped with an ease to be expected of a monster like Bernstein, and it does its other purposes just as well. Fire rips and rends against Rugal's iron guard, to start the slow process of simply -eroding- it.... just as Rugal himself dismisses the rest of that raging energy with the sheer might of his will. Still, Duke smiles -- calmly, lowering himself in preparation for what is to come.
"... that a fact?" Opportunity is what catches Duke's notice this time around, his attention perking at the mentioning of business. "Maybe, when the time comes then... you'll join me to indulge in some opera." Leaving it at that, Duke notes the sudden rushing train of power that is Rugal coming for him. And in response...
... Hell's Executioner rushes RIGHT into the man's assault.
"GRAAAARGH!!" The moment that sweeping roundhouse kick crushes into the ambitious enforcer's shoulder, his right hand is snapping -forward-, purchasing a solid hold onto the arms dealer's blonde locks of hair. Fingers curling in and holding -tight-, the brawler stops any further assaults with a stunning SLAM of his left fist into Rugal's abdomen, holding him from staggering with his other hand. This is followed by a blur of scarlet fabric as Duke -drives- his fist into an uppercut just underneath Rugal's jaw, carrying with it force enough to launch the man straight upwards into the air. And before he can react? It is all finished by a wind-up -hammerblow- of a punch aimed into Rugal's sternum, to send the airborne criminal mastermind rocketing away from him. "HRAAGH!!"

"Indeed," the man grunts even after his assault has been stopped short, the three follow up kicks not having a chance to be delivered. No time for chatting after that as Duke delivers a crushing blow to his stomach that renders even him speechless, the air rushing from his lungs with a blood-spattered gasp. It's good that he acts quickly to finish the attack though, as while he hsa Bernstein in his grips, the tyrant growls, one powerful arm slaming out with a pointed stap towards that very scar in Duke's neck, as if intending to finish a job left uncompleted sometime in the past.

But Hell's Executioner didn't get to where he is by having poor timing, and before Rugal's hand can reach him, his uppercut sends the man airborn, leaving him an easy target for the final punch that sends him flying backward. His feet dig into the ground, forming twin furrows as he slides to a stop several yards away, scarf and coat trailing behind before fluttering down against his sides. "Well played," comes the calm reply, his left hand rising to rub back against his mouth, brushing away traces of his own blood for a change even as his body begins to regenerate from the brutal blows.

But everything has its cost, and he can tell the price Duke paid just in stopping his attack that way. Hands tighten, the sound of joints popping audible even from a distance, then he stands up straight, a thin red line of light appearing in his dark, right eye. Everything about Duke's condition is taken into consideration, information being collected in an instant that would take even most observent fighters minutes to ascertain. Preparing to finish this, the man smashes his right fist into his left palm, forcing air between his fingers in the form of vapor trails that vanish swiftly. The signal is clear - let's finish this.

COMBATSYS: Rugal focuses on his next action.

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Duke             0/-------/=======|=======\=------\1            Rugal

Everything has a cost. But let it not be sad Duke does not have staying power. Damage to his actual body is all but ignored; it's not that it's not THERE, because it certainly is. But Duke has endured enough abuse in his long crawl up the road of ambition that the pain of injury is just a passing thought to him, now. There is a reason he is called what he is, after all; a reason he has the reputation he does.
Though the exertion of that last series of blows seems to take its toll on Duke, after a few, deep breaths, the man is standing straight and staring towards Rugal with that everpresent sensation of cold rage that burns deep within those dark eyes of his. Fire burns at his hands and feet for a moment, before they snuff out, the entire process seeming to reinvigorate him -- even if not in such things as superficial injuries.
But... he's being beckoned. Eyes narrow as he takes a good look towards Bernstein, brows furrowing in contemplative thought. He seems not to care about the fact that Rugal clearly has something up his sleeves -- the man wouldn't be so carefully planning if he did not. Instead, almost -recklessly-, Duke moves forward... and lurches downward, his body moving in a surge of blurring black and crimson. He moves low to the ground, before snapping himself -upwards- in a sudden, short hop, one long, black-clad leg snapping outwards and to the side... to simply smash itself into the side of Rugal's head. "HRAAGH!!"

COMBATSYS: Rugal counters Light Kick from Duke with Scorpion Blow EX.

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Duke             1/----===/=======|=======\-------\0            Rugal

All the speed in the world probably wouldn't have spared Duke what comes next as his foot comes flying in toward the side of Bernstein's head. With seemingly imperturbable aplomb, the tyrant watches the other man's motions, that inhuman eye tracking the slightest adjustments his muscles require in order to control his motions, predicting, analysing, updating projections on the fly and feeding the information directly into the razor sharp mind of the crimson suited man.

The stop comes suddenly, a black gloved hand snapping up to take a decisive hold of Duke's ankle, muscles flexing with the type of force necessary to stop the momentum of even the large fighter's inertia, teeth gritting from the strength required. Flashes of light blink around the stadium, capturing that moment on film, the two fighters completely frozen in time for what feels like a long while... before everything starts moving again Rugal pulls Duke down the rest of the way, his opposite arm coming forward to deliver in a single blow the same level of devastating force that Duke managed to deal to him with three strikes. "RAH!"

The grip on Duke's leg is loosed and Bernstein stands, his smashing fist held out in front of him for a long moment before he finally retracts it to his side, standing up straighter now. Slowly the fingers unclench, the pent up power that was used to deliver the hit causing them to tremble slightly as they extend.

Painful, but not unexpected, comes the sudden, halting thrust of Rugal's hand. For a brief moment, everything freezes for a glorious instant in time... before Duke feels with stinging clarity, the sensation of a fist burying itself into his gut.
Breath expells from Duke's lungs forcefully in the wake of the blow. Spit intermingles with rich scarlet blood as it flings from the Syndicate enforcer's mouth and off to the side. In one fell swoop, Rugal quite clearly displays why this fight is -not- in the favor of Hell's Executioner. The differences between them is staggering. But has that ever stopped Duke before?
The answer comes the moment that the mobster lands. With a single bounce off the ground, he comes to a crouch -- clearly punished, but yet, perhaps against all odds... not -down-. Heaving breaths, the man comes to a full stand. Slowly, he cracks his neck, his wrists... loosens his muscles. And then, in a slow drag, Hell's Executioner runs those thick fingertips across that distinct, jagged scar across his neck. And he smiles.
"... Nice hit."
And then, without even so much as a moment to spare, Duke simply RUSHES across the ground between himself and Rugal, lashing out with a single fist carrying with it the tremendous force of all that perpetual rage of his, fashioned in the form of a haymaker seeking to hammer across Rugal's jaw.

COMBATSYS: Duke successfully hits Rugal with Volcanic Bomb.

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Duke             0/-------/----===|=======\===----\1            Rugal

Rugal's felt this furious attack before, and now? He gets to experience it once more. The fist slams into Bernstein's face like an explosion of dynamite, more than enough force behind it to just -level- the arms dealer right there and then and likely make his own, pretty Rugalcrater in the ground. Before he gets a chance to greet the arena floor, though, two large hands grip onto his crimson pantslegs, making an absolutely secure iron grip. With the tyrant securely in tow, Hell's Executioner swings once around in a full 360 degree spin, continuing this as he begins to pick up more and more momentum. Rugal is lifted straight from the ground by that sheer momentum alone, and by the third spin... Duke releases to send him HIGH into the air.
But that's not the end of it. As soon as Duke releases Rugal, he's already running at breakneck speeds beneath the other crimeboss, the dark-skinned man becoming little more than a blur. As the German descends, the brawler -ascends- in a mighty leap, intercepting him halfway down in a powerful grip. "HRAAAAAAAAGH!!" Cameras flash, audiences hush, as Duke simply drives Rugal DOWNWARD... -SLAMMING- him straight into the ground in a powerbomb so gruesome, so horrendously strong, that the rocky earth beneath the arms dealer will literally EXPLODE into a rain of rubble and debris, the ground caving in to form a deep, brutal crate in the very dead center of the red arena.

Grabbing hold of Rugal is like wrestling with a lion ready to rend flesh from bone as punishment for such audacity. Even as Duke slams the man toward the ground, Bernstein is lashing out with a hand, fingers extended almost like claws, as if borrowing a slashing attack from Imawano-ryuu in order to cleave the man's skin in retaliation. But Duke is too fast for that. As he is being spun, Bernstein begins to fight back against the whirl, powerful stomach muscles crunching as the man seems almost ready to reach for Duke's face right before he is released and sent flying...

When he grips him out of mid-air after a blurringly fast charge, the beast he holds twists in his arms, attempting to strike him back preemptively, but there's nothing Rugal can do to prevent the culminating power bomb that wrecks the ground with explosive, destructive force, sending rocks and debris in every direction, leaving the pit behind in their absense.... It might just be enough to fell the tyrant of 'R'... except for the leg that snaps out even before he bothers to recover, driving with crushing force toward Duke's stomach, aimed precisely to debilitate his ability to continue if at all possible. Only after that swift strike does Bernstein slam his hands against the ground, shoving himself back up with a single execution of opposing force.

COMBATSYS: Duke endures Rugal's Light Kick.

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Duke             0/-------/--=====|=======\===----\1            Rugal

Much like any other end to a fight between titans of brutality, the blows that are delivered between Rugal and Duke come with relentless speed. In the span of seconds, what could very well be the final flurry of blows occurs. Duke SLAMS Rugal into the ground, embedding him into it... just as Rugal himself lashes out with his own attack. It comes quickly, suddenly. A blur of crimson cloth, and suddenly there is a leg lancing towards Duke's abdomen. And his response?
He moves -into- it. Accepts the full force of the blow without flinching, without and sign of halting. It drives into his stomach, sapping not only strength, but chipping away at his precious reserve of power. Yet... he does not collapse. He does not falter. Instead, as Rugal shoves himself -upwards-...
Duke lashes out with a single hand, seeking to make a firm grip upon the lapels of Bernstein's coat. "HRAAAAGH!!" his bellow floods the space between them before he'll simply seek to lift Rugal up... and then SLAM him, brutally, into the earth.

COMBATSYS: Duke can no longer fight.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Rugal            1/----===/=======|

COMBATSYS: Rugal counters Quick Throw from Duke with Jab Punch.

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Rugal            1/------=/=======|

The match began with a frenzied exchange of vicious attacks, escalating in a trading of powerful blasts that tore the ground asunder and sent rock and debris exploding off, leaving craters, trenches, and a devastated arena stage. Climaxing with the incredible assault on the part of Duke against the resilient Bernstein, the tyrant manages to survive the attack that would have sent most fighters straight to the hospital.

And then it's over. A swift kick, perfectly designed to strike at chi-lines invisible to most, disrupting Duke's strength, followed by him getting a grip on Rugal's suit lapels all the same, perhaps not aware just how finalizing that seemingly inocuous enough kick really was. "I'm afraid this match is already over...," comes the calm, composed voice of a man battling against injuries concealed by the conservative clothing he choses to fight in.

As if to drive home the point, his right hand comes out with a swift hook for Duke's cheek, only to be followed by his elbow, and then a backfist as he retracts his arm following the attack. Three simple, light blows, delivered with the precisely calibrated force of a man who knows /exactly/ what it takes to finish the job. Perhaps that's what seperates him from the other Titans Duke has felled. He may share their brawn, their ability to crush, rend, and break. But he has something they don't. An eye that sees more than any other except perhaps those who have transcended beyond mortal limits could hope to see. And a mind that knows just exactly what to do with that information.

The three-strike attack delivered, his other hand simply brushes away Duke's hands from off his coat before both hands lift up to adjust it over his shoulders. "As powerful as I remembered. I've heard word of your other victories. I can tell now that they weren't flukes," Rugal states, his voice relaxed, his body recalibrating his breathing rate perfectly now that the fight has ended. "Keep at it. I see in you the ability to obtain what it is you seek. As long as it doesn't conflict with me, there are few that could hope to stop you."

Ah, that ability to negate and divert the force of any kind of attack directed at him -- that's the power that makes Rugal truly a hard foe to overcome. Kain had raw power on his side. Rugal, though, has something far more -- a veritable jack of all trades of the fighting realm. And once Duke has overcome -him-, well... he'll know the kind of progress he has made.
As it is, Duke takes his beatings without much in the way of complaint or fury. Most of that anger, that cold, controlled rage that seems to fuel the man, has already sunk back into the recesses of his being at the tail end of the fight. The swift, light punches break across his face, sending him staggering backwards. Blood drips down his mouth as he stands, silently, staring towards his opponent with an almost blank look. It appears he might not fall at first, that he might keep moving...
Duke, the man known as Hell's Executioner, makes a single step before he ultimately falters and falls onto his knees.
Hushed silence comes from the crowds. Despite the brutal beatings Duke has taken, he has clearly only barely been pushed over the edge here. But it's enough. Kneeling, unmoving, Duke has been beaten. And as the announcer roars out the final outcome amongst the screams of the crowds, the ambitious enforcer looks up to Rugal... and offers a bloody smirk.
"... Still as resourceful as I remember," he offers up in rebuttal to Rugal's commentary, slowly bringing himself up to a staggering stand. He did better this time. It's a good sign; it means he still has much more room left to grow. "It's not enough. But I'll get there soon enough... in the meantime..." Duke turns, hands shoving into his pockets as he makes a slow, staggering walk towards the arena entrance.
"... if you're ever feeling inclined to see an opera, I'm sure we'll bump into each other again, soon."

Log created on 15:53:48 09/02/2007 by Duke, and last modified on 01:11:55 09/03/2007.