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The Pillar Man, Santana (「柱の男・サンタナ」 Hashira no Otoko Santana) is the third story arc in Battle Tendency.

It narrates Joseph's effort to investigate Speedwagon's whereabouts in Mexico, then the fight between him, the nazi officer Rudol von Stroheim, and the Pillar Man named Santana. It subsequently introduces Caesar Anthonio Zeppeli, the grandson of William Anthonio Zeppeli, and a fellow Ripple User.

Summary

Since the Nazi Party took over Germany, the German military have been working to get an advantage over the rest of the world through science and ancient relics. Major Rudol von Stroheim was sent by his superiors to Mexico to find out if the Stone Masks could be of use to the Third Reich. Once Speedwagon regains consciousness, he is brought to a secret bunker built under the hacienda where the Pillar Man is stored and is horrified to hear Stroheim's intent to revive him.

DonovanTrapped

Joseph leaving Donovan tied to a cactus.

Elsewhere, after a brief run-in with thugs in a village, Joseph is riding a motorcycle through the Mexican desert until he confronts his stalker: A German assassin named Donovan whom Stroheim sent to intercept Joseph for intel about Straizo. Joesph manages to defeat Donovan, learns Speedwagon is alive and leaves the assassin tied to a cactus after getting directions to the hacienda. Once there, after a failed attempt to sneak inside in drag, Joseph knocks out the guards and takes one of their uniforms.

San Tan Abs

The revived Santana consuming a vampire.

Inside the bunker, after killing most of their prisoners for their blood, the Nazis proceed to revive the Pillar Man which Stroheim named "Santana" after the wind. Upon awakening, Santana's attempts to situate himself off the ground proved hilarious to Stroheim. They then begin the experiment by introducing a vampire they starved for days into the bunker, with Santana allowing the creature to attack him without resistance. A disappointed Stroheim was about to press the kill switch when he and his group realize that Santana is absorbing the horrified vampire into his body for nourishment. But once Santana finished devouring his prey, he shocked everyone by saying Strohiem's full name.

SantanaVent

Santana escaping through the vents.

The moment everyone's gazes were away from him over that he is learning their language, Santana had suddenly vanished. Confused, Stroheim orders them to stop the oxygen flow into the room and replay the recorded footage. On the film in slow motion, it depicts Santana distorting his body to squeeze into the air vent. Stroheim realized too late that Santana heard his name though the ventilation system as the Pillar Man forced himself into one of soldiers near the grate. The rest of the soldiers waste no time firing on their doomed comrade's bloated body as Santana consumes his host, The Pillar Man proving to be vastly intelligent as he demands why he was prematurely awaken before using the bullets in his body to kill everyone in the room. Only Speedwagon and Stroheim were spared as Jonathan makes himself known and shields them with his “Ripple Hair Attack”.

SantanaMeetsJoseph

Joseph meeting Santana.

Joseph then tries to be friendly with Santana to the bafflement of Speedwagon and Stroheim, the latter getting into an argument with Joseph over if Santana is truly evil or if he only killed the Nazis in just defense. Though Santana ignored the "primitive" Joseph to suit his curiosity of the Germans' weapons, he eventually gets annoyed and tries to kill the human. Confused when Joseph's Ripple prevented him fro absorbing the human, he decides to consume Speedwagon to see if he would get a similar response. This infuriates Joseph, finding his Ripple-infused punch to have no effect despite Speedwagon assuring him that his energy is protecting him from being absorbed. Santana physically overwhelms Joseph and absorbs him once knocking the wind out of the human, only to realized too late that Joseph was holding his breath to lull the Pillar Man into a false sense of security to blow him up with a surge of Ripple.

Binding Santana's torso in chains as his body begins to reassemble, Joseph tries to drag up the bunker and expose him to sunlight. Joseph succeeds with Storheim's help after being forced to chop his leg off. However, Santana enters Stroheim's body through his wound with the Nazi keeping himself from being moved towards a well as he takes out a grenade. Stroheim tells Joseph of the other Pillar Men his people discovered in Rome, asking him to find a way to defeat them before triggering the explosion to kill himself and leave Santana exposed. Joseph was touched by the German's noble act before a furious Santana he lunges at him while they fall into the well. But Joseph allowed the Pillar Man to get the drop on him so he can be exposed the reflection of the noon sun, turning Santana back into stone.

PillarMen

A mural of Santana and the three Pillar Men above him.

Santana's damaged body is subsequently brought into the Washington branch of the Speedwagon Foundation, stored away with UV light exposure. After analyzing the mural from the ruins, Speedwagon confirmed that there are three more Pillar Men that are stronger than Santana as he decides to contact an associate to meet him and Joseph in Rome. The associate is revealed to be William Anthonio Zeppeli's grandson Caesar Anthonio Zeppeli, who clashes with Joseph in their first meeting.

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