Long live the Empire

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Xīntiào (Heartbeat) - A Love of Violence

Sometimes I don't feel like I'm a human.

I think I am, most of the time.

But recently I've been trying to act more like one.

And I hate it.

He waited patiently in the heart of an empty restaurant. A glass of water sat across from him, barely even looked at let alone touched. Condensation dripped down its surface, staining the table linen with a ring of moisture. He was moving his leg while he stared at nothing. The salad bowl was empty.

The waiter finally came with a plate of steak, a baked potato, and grilled asparagus. He took the used dish away, leaving the man with his main course. He leaned back in his chair, popping his neck with a slight roll. In his hands were the knife and fork meant for this kind of exchange between man and beast. An animal died so that he could ingest one fraction of muscle from its body. The rest of it was shared between countless other humans across the county.

He gripped the knife tightly, his entire arm shaking. The wood splintered in his hand and the metal underneath bent into the shape of his clenched fist. He set it aside quietly. Such was not the fate of the fork, which found its way stabbed through the tablecloth and into the wood underneath. He grabbed hold of the steak with both hands, chewing through it without restraint. If something died to give him nourishment, it would have the decency of being mauled. Blood dribbled down his chin and throat. His white undershirt became a sickening pink.

He ordered a cordon bleu steak, and this certainly did not disappoint. He stopped in his attempt to give 'honor' to this creature. It had been dead for far longer than it was dutiful for such a gesture. He set the steak back on the plate and opened another set of cutlery, indulging in the meat like he was supposed to.

The waiter came back around, smiling. "How is your meal, sir?"

The man swallowed a mouthful of blood, with flesh intermingled in the taste. He finally drank some water. "It is,"

His fingernails were caked in red. It wasn't cooked blood, but it was warm. He looked down at his plate. Gone were the utensils, the cloths and napkins, the water... he could only see the carcasses of countless people lined up before him. Flies swarmed their bodies, and their children drank deeply of the rot.

He looked back at the waiter, shaking his head free of what his eyes recognized as reality for a split second.


His handlers were required to give him a clean shirt. He walked down the street with them trailing behind. He could feel them watching the back of his head, his heels, his fists. Anything that would betray a lapse in mental judgment, they were there to keep track of.

"Hey, bastard!" a voice came from behind all of them. It was a large gentleman, his build similar to that of a world-class super heavyweight boxer.

"I had a reservation in that place for over a year, and you think you can hog the whole restaurant to yourself just to eat one steak?!"

The two men now faced each other, the handlers shifting position to always remain behind their charge.

"Who are you?" the quieter of the two men asked.

"I'm Ulrich Caesar, you dumbass! I've won fifteen boxing championships worldwide, and I'm about to beat you in the ground!"

"Interesting," the man opposite Ulrich said, but he didn't put up any sort of guard.

Ulrich took the opportunity and smashed his face in with a right haymaker so profound that he knocked the man into the window of the restaurant and shattered the glass with his skull.

"Seven foot, four inches," the man replied, standing out of the wreckage with a bleeding scalp. Glass slashed dangerously close to his eye, making him shut it as the area swelled. His left eye remained untouched, for it was the jaw that Ulrich went for - like any decent boxer. "Three hundred and thirty-three pounds,"

"What?" Ulrich was confused, not only by the fact that his punch didn't seem to have any effect but also... his opponent was listing off his statistics, but was confused about who he was before?

"That's how tall you are, correct? And your body weight? Judging by the mass of your muscles,"

"Oh, so you're just guessing about that," Ulrich sighed, assuming a stronger stance than just street fighting. "You had me worried there for a second,"

The man tilted his head, curious.

"Worried that I knocked you senseless!" Ulrich went for a liverblow, intent on ending this quickly. He was getting a weird feeling in the pit of his stomach that this wasn't a normal guy.

It connected, but there wasn't an immediate reaction. Ulrich raised an eyebrow, mentally questioning himself. Did he miss? No, it hit... there wasn't an impact though. It was like hitting the round side of a punching bag. His blow just rolled off. The man in front of him grabbed his arm, putting it into a vice between his elbow and oblique muscles.

Ulrich panicked and used his other arm, hitting the man in his stomach until he let go. It took two strikes, but the boxer picked up some residual information. It wasn't that he was hurting the man, but rather that the man was testing him. He looked at his other arm, the one that was caught in the hold. His eyes widened as he saw skin breakage down into the muscle fiber. Blood dripped from the perfectly circular wound strangling his forearm.

This guy... he knew how to hurt people. His heart started to pound. This wasn't a normal fight, and it was never going to be one. He was in danger here. The guy in front of him knew his stats just by looking at him, learned how to mitigate the damage from his blows from the beginning, and now... he was intent on clipping his wings.

Ulrich took special note of the jawline he had punched earlier. The guy was just slightly cut and bruised, maybe just from residual knuckle contact at the most. Sometimes that was enough to knock someone out cold. But Ulrich tightened his fist, the fist that he used on that jawbone. It could kill a normal person. It could bust holes in sandbags. His fist was a weapon. But the guy in front of him was bleeding more from the glass. His brain wasn't scrambled. His footing was solid, and he was even sliding into a stance similar to Ulrich's.

The boxer glared at his opponent. "Is this a joke? You're going to box with me?"

"Why not?" was his only reply.

"That's not funny. I've accidentally killed people in the ring with these fists,"

"If it was on accident," the man started his reply. Ulrich could feel the night growing darker, and it was centered on his enemy. "Then none of your punches mean anything,"

Ulrich paused. "Who are you?"


I don't feel like I'm alive.

Not when I do things I'm supposed to do.

It's tedious, and boring.

I'd much rather be on the brink of death.

I'd much rather be fighting for my life.

Bellator, Latin for 'warrior'.

He proved that much in the next salvo of attacks and defensive maneuvers. The opening barrage Ulrich tried to end him with tested both of them. It hammered into Bellator's resilience, and bit into the boxer's resolve to continue. They were both fighters. They both had reservations about this battle, but conflict never rests. Ulrich started something he had to finish. Bellator would be there from beginning to end, an obstacle for him to overcome or be overwhelmed by.

Ulrich's fist was like a cannonball. Each muscle in his arm and body commanded him to move forward with it, a freight train on legs. It was definitely no accident that he killed people in his matches. He was biologically meant to steamroll the competition, to destroy whatever was in his path. That was what his genetics decided for him. The clenched hand arrived knuckles-first, colliding with Bellator's guard but not staying with it. Again, there was no impact. Collision did not mean victory. Bellator proved this by rolling into Ulrich's chest, his innermost defense, almost instantly. Inches away from him, Bellator fired his own artillery bombardment.

Six quick punches, unleashed from mere fractions of an inch. It was madness, how much power they contained. Ulrich staggered, because they had impact. They came from an angle he didn't expect, and landed into spots he couldn't defend quickly enough. Rolling, ducking, dodging, clinching, guarding... none of it mattered. He tightened his core as best he could, but the first punch didn't even lash out at his center. It went for his chin. Bellator feigned his way into Ulrich's guard, making him lose concentration on anything else, and made him panic into something that he couldn't control afterwards.

The boxer lost consciousness on contact with his opponent's fist, but regained it halfway through the remainder of this skirmish. Bellator noticed that, but did not relent. He struck out with conviction into Ulrich's core, shaking the very mesentery between his organs. The liver vibrated, as evidenced by Ulrich's sudden loss of composure. Half-filtered toxins flooded his circulatory system, and his brain went into panic mode trying to squeeze it all back through. His blood pressure plummeted. His nervous system told his body to go down, and that's what he did.

But that wasn't the end. Ever since he retired from boxing, Ulrich still needed a job. He went back to his roots as a high school and college wrestling champion, and became an instructor on grappling. As he was on the ground, writhing in pain as his heart rate slowly climbed back to normal, he clenched his teeth together.

Bastard... went straight for a killshot...

Ulrich gave no warning as to what he was about to do, and Bellator had no clue. All he knew was that, in an instant, he was several feet higher than he normally was and then completely on the ground with Ulrich on top of him. The boxer was straddling his torso, and throwing massive blows with murderous intent towards Bellator's face, throat, and chest. All Bellator could do was guard for now. Three hundred thirty-three pounds of muscle... and he could feel it all crushing his lungs against the concrete.

His handlers, however, were not moving. Ulrich noticed this, but didn't call attention to it. Some bodyguards, watching the guy they're supposed to be taking care of getting the crap beaten out of him! He smirked, finding holes in Bellator's guard and exploiting them with his giant fists.

Ulrich sneered as he drew blood, scattering the red across the pavement. Bellator's guard was getting skinned like a deer for leather, his flesh starting to peek through. Just give up already! Tap, come on!

But it was too late.

Ulrich choked on his breath and stopped his barrage. The skirmish was over.

Bellator grabbed his wrists and pulled, but Ulrich's head was still angled awkwardly and his breath couldn't be circulated. Bellator had sunk under Ulrich's legs, slowly but surely, and snatched his throat with his calves. In that moment of uncertainty, he held the boxer's hands back. Either he choked into unconsciousness, or had his neck broken... both eventualities suited Bellator just fine.

Just as one skirmish ended, another began. Such was war.

Ulrich's leg strength was incomparable. With one, he lifted himself back up using Bellator's grip against him. With the other, he bent it into a knee and dropped it with all his body mass into the man's intestines. Almost like having a release button pressed, Bellator squirmed out from underneath the boxer. He was breathing heavily, having over three hundred pounds focused into his torso all at once - but he was standing. Ulrich followed him to his feet, rising into another guard. This one was for grappling, but his footing was meant for boxing.

"Why aren't your guards helping? What do you pay them for, just to stand around?"

Bellator looked behind him for a split second. He was confused, but understood what Ulrich was talking about after a moment. "Guards? No, they're my handlers,"


"That's why I bought out the whole restaurant. I didn't want to risk any altercations,"

"Trying to avoid fights, and here you are with one... you're too cautious,"


"That's why you're going to lose."

They tightened their guards and went in again. Ulrich kept his torso blocked off, hitting only one side at a time. Bellator kept trying to get inside his chest again, but only caught elbows and knees. He dished out a headbutt and broke the boxer's nose on impact. It shook Ulrich's spine and legs, but he kept his ground and headbutted back. Bellator felt like he was being driven into the ground like a nail into wood. But his legs were still under him, and he was still standing. For fifteen seconds, they were completely even in terms of hits or being hit.

For fifteen seconds, they were spilling each other's blood. Ripping each other's skin, shaking their teeth, concussing their brains, mauling organs...

This... this is glorious.

No Caption Provided

Bellator threw a punch at the boxer's face, but Ulrich dodged it with a quick shift of his neck. He grabbed the arm it was attached to, and hammered Bellator's liver with his cinderblock of a fist. Bellator was lifted off the ground, his chest flattened by the blow. He felt bile in his stomach being churned against his will. His blood pressure went to practically nothing, and he could feel his brain sizzling from lack of gas exchange. Oxygen was building up in his veins.

He gasped as Ulrich continued to lift him up and slam him into the ground on the opposite side. He was in the street now, his liver the connecting body between Ulrich's fist and the asphalt. Bellator's body quivered even more with the continuation of the strike. He couldn't breathe, his blood was sizzling. He wanted to stand up, but his legs wouldn't listen. His flesh betrayed him. His wings were clipped by a single attack at one of his organs. He was in a crater, impacted there like he was pinned by a car wreck.

"Stay down," Ulrich huffed. He was also shaking from their exchange of artillery. His flesh was still pounding from the vibrations. "You've proven your point, you're a dangerous man,"

He took his fist from Bellator's liver. But he did not expect the man to get up again. This time, Bellator put the boxer into an armbar. Ulrich was still on one foot and a knee, so he had the advantage of angle.

"You're also a stubborn bastard," the boxer lifted all two-hundred and eighty-two pounds of Bellator's body with one arm. He staggered over to a lamp post despite having his limb being stretched and practically ripped out of its shoulder socket.

With one large, imposing sweep of his body, Ulrich bent the solid steel of the pole with Bellator's spine. His grip weakened, but he was still holding on. Ulrich tried again, this time harder in order to break the man in half, but that was part of Bellator's plan. He suddenly tightened his grip again, harder than before, and the sudden shift in centripetal force sent Ulrich into the pavement chin-first. It would be little less than a few seconds before Bellator fully snapped Ulrich's arm out of its socket. Blood was trailing out of his nose, but he kept going until skin started to pop. Ulrich was screaming in pain now, tapping the pavement.

"I give up already, I give up!"

But this was the reason why his handlers existed. They weren't there to stop him, or to ward off any would-be opponents. They were witnesses to his fights.

They were there to observe them when it turned into a massacre.

And they were there to gather what he needed for his sacrifices.

The blood started to spray, and all he could think of was the steak from before. How it reminded him of human flesh, and all the bodies he stepped on to get to this point.

"This reminds me of home~"

Human blood and human flesh;

That is what Purgatory is built on.

That is what we fight for.

That is what humans die to escape from.

What's the matter, don't you want to go to Heaven?