I'm a superstar!
Thought to have been destroyed in the destruction of his private aircraft carrier, the Black Noah, in 1994, the criminal mastermind Rugal Bernstein, hiding behind the laughably obvious "secret" identity of R, mysteriously returns to host the 1995 King of Fighters tournament . . .
Not much is known about Rugal Bernstein prior to his appearance on the world scene as a notorious arms dealer, operating out of his nuclear-weapons-equipped aircraft carrier, the Black Noah. Rugal had the perfect business set up--everyone knew about his illegal arms dealing, but no nation could act against him directly, for fear of nuclear retaliation. Even so, many countries dared to send covert operatives on raids against Bernstein, but he, and his mercenary forces, easily slew them (It was during once such attack, that Heidern lost his family and right eye at Rugal's hands). In addition to his criminal activities, Rugal was also a big name in the underground fighting circuits. Unfortunately for his opponents, Rugal had the sadistic hobby of "collecting" the defeated and dipping their bodies in liquid metal, creating life-size trophies to commemorate his victories.
Sometime prior to the King of Fighters '94 tournament, Rugal sensed a great power calling out to him. Intrigued, he steered the Black Noah towards the source, which turned out to be a small, uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. Exploring the barren landscape alone, Rugal discovered the sleeping might of the ancient Japanese 8-headed dragon, the legendary Orochi. However, before Rugal could act on his find, he was confronted by a man named Goenitz, one of Orochi's chosen few on the Earthly plane. The two men clashed, with Goenitz easily defeating Rugal, ripping out the criminal's right eye in the process. Surprised that a mere mortal like Rugal had actually survived a blow from an Orochi King like himself, Goenitz not only allowed Rugal to live, but let him absorb a small amount of Orochi's power, knowing that if Rugal ever overused it, not being of Orochi blood lineage like himself, his body would not be able to handle the immense energy and it would destroy him. Just to be on the safe side, Goenitz also arranged for two of his disciples, the deadly femme fatales, Vice and Mature, to gain Rugal's trust and serve as his eyes on the Black Noah. Rugal did not suspect a thing and employed the two women as his personal assistants.
Time passed, and, bored with his usual pursuits, Rugal decided to become the host of the 1994 King of Fighters tournament, only with a twist--no longer would single participants be accepted, fighters now had to be part of a three person team in order to compete. Arrogant as ever, Rugal reasoned that fighting the three winners of the tournament at once would give him the challenge he so desperately craved. The matches preceded smoothly, and the champions, the Japan Team--Benimaru Nikaido, Kyo Kusanagi, and Goro Daimon--found themselves confronting Rugal inside the control tower of the aircraft carrier. Rugal defeated Goro and Benimaru relatively easily, but Kyo proved too much for him. Unable to accept his loss, especially to someone as young as Kyo, Rugal activated the Black Noah's self destruct mechanism, sending himself, and all of his prized possessions, to a watery grave.
But that wasn't the end of Rugal.
The dormant Orochi power that Goenitz had allowed him to absorb years before saved his life. However, he did not escape the blast unscathed--parts of his damaged body had to be replaced with cybernetic implants, including his entire right forearm which had been holding the Black Noah's detonator. Hungry for revenge, the newly rebuilt Rugal began to organize the 1995 King of Fighters tournament, under the guise of "R". He even went so far as to prepare a special surprise for Kyo: his father, Saisyu Kusanagi, brainwashed by Vice. However, all of his scheming came to naught, as Kyo and his comrades bested Rugal--now transformed into Omega Rugal via the power of Orochi--once again, and Saisyu overcame the mind control he was under. Before the battered Omega Rugal could do anything, his body, pushed to its limits, and beyond, by the Orochi power within, exploded, finally ending Rugal Bernstein's murderous life.
Badly injured after the explosion of the Black Noah, Rugal's ravaged body was rebuilt with the aid of many cybernetic implants. The most obvious of these improvements are his artificial right eye and hand. These mechanical components enhance Rugal's already formidable strength and speed and are much more resistant to damage than flesh. Rugal's artificial eye also provides enhanced vision (it allows him to see in the dark, detect heat, and zoom in on faraway objects).
Awakening the sliver of Orochi power Goenitz allowed him, Rugal transforms into his ultimate form: Omega Rugal. His blonde hair turns white, his remaining pupil disappears completely, a large tattoo of the Greek Omega symbol appears on his back, and his muscle mass increases considerably. Unlike Iori Yagami or Leona, when they fall under the "Riot of Blood", Rugal retains his higher thought processes.
Rugal Bernstein has mastered most known forms of hand-to-hand fighting, including "House of Strolheim" and "Hakkyokuseiken" (the arts practiced by previous King of Fighter tournament organizers Wolfgang Krauser and Geese Howard, respectively), in addition to inventing original techniques, such as the much-feared "Genocide Cutter". Rugal has battled, and killed, dozens of martial arts masters, never knowing defeat until he ran afoul of the Orochi King, Goenitz. In a fair fight--assuming a fight against Rugal could ever be considered fair--an opponent has only the slimmest of chances of surviving the encounter.
Years of highly profitable criminal dealings have made Rugal one of the richest men on Earth. Money is never a concern for him (how many people do you know that can afford to own, and maintain, a fully stocked and armed aircraft carrier?). His deep pockets have also bought him the allegiance of countless corrupt politicians, law enforcement officers, etc. the world over.
Rugal Bernstein has an incredibly inflated ego, even going so far as to declare himself a deity. While he is certainly one of the most dangerous men in the world, he is not invincible.
Rugal Bernstein has no Orochi blood in his lineage, which, unfortunately for him, makes it impossible for his body to handle the power of the legendary eight-headed serpent that Goenitz allowed him to absorb. The dormant Orochi power saved his life when the Black Noah exploded, but transforming into Omega Rugal fully awakened it--a decision which lead directly to his death, as Rugal's body couldn't cope with the energy.
Rugal is incapable of accepting failure and goes berserk, with strong suicidal tendencies, when faced with the ignominy of defeat. His loss in the King of Fighters '94 tournament is what prompted him to foolishly activate the self-destruct mechanism for the Black Noah.
Rugal's glowing right eye is a dead giveaway to his location in low light conditions and his right hand whirs and clanks noisily when in use (the medical technicians could have made this mechanical appendage silent, but Rugal likes the racket it makes and insisted they leave it that way). If necessary, he can hide his hand inside a glove or pocket and turn the eye off if he needs to move about in public without drawing undue attention. However, the fact that he tops the "most wanted" list of criminals in just about every country, with a hefty reward attached, makes sightseeing ill advised to begin with.
(In no particular order of importance.)
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