|“||Are you running from your destiny? I'm not. I've learned that destiny is something to overcome.||„|
Leona Heidern (simply known as Leona) is a heroine in The King of Fighters series. She was introduced in The King of Fighters '96 as the new member to the Ikari Team. Before production for her debut game began, developers wanted to create a suitable replacement for Heidern as a part of the game's overhaul. Leona was conceived to be an Orochi descendant by the time of her debut and her designers took special care to let their interests at the time reflect in her actions. Her official nickname is The Silent Soldier.
Leona was born in an unnamed village, residing with her family. When she was a child, Goenitz arrived at her home and demanded to talk with Gaidel, the leader of the village. He requested that Gaidel join him in their duties to serve Orochi, as everyone in the village were Orochi bloodline members.
However, Gaidel refused as he and his family liked peace and not the violent tendencies created by the Orochi blood. Enraged, Goenitz leaves; the same night, Leona underwent the Riot of Blood and slaughtered everyone in the village. Goenitz, pleased by the results, puts her blood lust to rest for another time "when he needs her again". Dazed and shocked, she loses her memories and wanders aimlessly until she is found and later adopted by Heidern. Surprised by her natural fighting ability, he decides to raise her as a Ikari warrior under his command.
In 1996, she receives her first official mission to enter the King of Fighters tournament with Ralf and Clark. Their mission was to investigate Geese Howard who had entered the tournament in search of an unknown goal. During the events of the '96 finals, Goenitz confronts her and reminds her of her Orochi lineage, causing her to worry about the future.
Her troubled state carried over to the battlefield, which eventually lead to her and her partners' suspension from military service. Wanting to cheer her up, Ralf enlists them again in the the next year's tournament. She eventually remembers her past fully during the events of The King of Fighters '97. Towards the tournament finals, Leona undergoes the Riot of the Blood induced by Orochi. By the tournament's end, she is successfully subdued and Orochi is sealed away. Even so, Leona regrets her actions and attempts to end her life. Ralf stops her, and encourages her to continue living.
Leona stays as a member of Ikari team for each and every King of Fighters tournaments during the NESTS saga. It was assumed she partook in her normal duties with Heidern during this time frame.
At the end of the tournament in 2003, Orochi's seal is broken. She enters the Riot of the Blood and attacks Ralf and Clark, badly injuring them. She is pulled out of the team by Heidern in The King of Fighters XI due to the emotional trauma she suffered after the incident. Overcoming the shock, she is designated to join the KOF XIII tournament with her old teammates, determined to live with whatever flaws the Orochi blood invokes. After the tournament's climax, she loses consciousness and sleeps for several days. Her teammates were worried for her and stay beside her until she awakens. Comforted by their concerns, she laughs for the first time in the series.
Leona is a reticent individual who has trouble expressing herself outside of combat or a mission. Due to her past, she often keeps her emotions in check as she is afraid of losing control and hurting her friends because of her Orochi blood.
Aside from Ralf, Whip, Clark and Commander Heidern, Leona does not talk to anyone. She often feels lonely, but is comforted with the new family she has found with the Ikari mercenaries. Ever since the attempted suicide, Leona resolves to take control of her own Orochi blood, using it only when the situation calls for it, something that she tells her opponents in her own pre-fight dialogues.
- Leona originally appeared in The King of Fighters series. In every team-based game she has participated in so far she partners with Ralf and Clark.
- In KOF 98, Leona mysteriously salutes Chang Koehan and belittles Ralf. This was originally thought to be a bug in the game mechanics, but developers add that it was her showing respect for "real power". The exact meaning of this statement remains unclear though it became a popular subject in fan doujinshi for a time. They salute one another in KOF XIV.
- In KOF: Maximum Impact 2, Fio compares Leona to Eri.
- Unlike other characters, Leona's hair does not retain its colour if she's burned - rather, her whole body is charred.