Chapter 4: Part 5
The next time Haruna opened her eyes, the Christmas party would be in full swing. So, it would be best if we didn’t wake her now. Also, Sera should go and buy a convenience store cake for the party.
After I told Yuu and the others that, I left with Nene-san.
Nene-san brought me to an oden food stall, which was apparently where she had invited Chris to for a drink.
Right, I remember seeing Chris at an oden stall before too. That was when we were at the mixer and were chasing Kyouko around.
When we got to the front of the stall, Nene-san patted me on the shoulder.
“Well, Aikawa-kun will have to figure things out by himself from here on. I’m going back.”
“Okay. Thanks a lot for everything you’ve done.”
“Ahh, right. I forgot your Christmas present.”
Saying that, Nene-san wrapped both her arms around my neck and closed her eyes.
Eh? What was this? Her soft lips hovered right in front of my eyes. If I dropped my gaze just a bit, I would be able to see a particularly tasty pair of breasts.
This was… a kiss? I could kiss her right now?
“Nene-san. This is a bit… umm…”
I put my hands on Nene-san’s shoulders and tried to peel her off from me, when…
It seemed that my bonus time with Nene-san had ended. I sighed with a mixture of disappointment and relief.
“My my, Aikawa-kun. Did you actually want a kiss~~?”
“Nah, it wasn’t anything like that…”
“Well, now at least if you two do end up fighting, you won’t end up getting blasted into another dimension.”
“I infused this scarf here with my powers.”
“Ah, that’s what you meant by ‘Christmas present.'”
“Were you hoping for something pervy instead?”
“Nah… thanks a bunch.”
“I have the power to cancel out all other powers and magical energies. As long as you have this scarf, you won’t have to fear any kind of magical attack.”
“That’s pretty amazing. Ah! Don’t tell me that Yuu’s gauntlets are…”
“Yup. I gave them to her. The reason people call me an S-Class Megalo is because I can get rid of all magical effects. In other words, no magic or special abilities work on me. One touch from me and the masou shoujo lose their transformation~~.”
One touch from her and the masou shoujo can’t transform. I see… that’s why no matter how many masou shoujo go up against her they can’t win.
“That scarf is now even stronger than Eucliwood’s gauntlets. You basically have just as much of my power as I do now. However, that scarf is now negating your own abilities as well, so be careful, ‘kay?”
“So what exactly is going to happen to my powers?”
“Well, of course I don’t have the power to really do anything about your immortality… but all the powers you have that are the result of magic – your miraculous rate of healing, for example – those you should assume are not in effect.”
Ahh, so that ability had something to do with magic.
Well, that’s not good. I could push my body beyond human limits purely because I knew my body could heal quickly. If I punched someone at full strength, then it wouldn’t just be a question of whether my bones broke; my entire arm would probably fly off.
So, this was basically saying my defenses were reduced to zero, along with my offenses.
But, I knew Chris’s weak point. And I didn’t need any actual strength to just tickle her on the side.
“I understand. I hope it doesn’t come down to a fight though…”
“… I do know that guys sometimes talk with their fists, right? But, if you fight, then be sure to make nice again afterwards. Promise oneesan you’ll do that, ‘kay?”
Nene-san smiled and began to walk away.
Meanwhile, I pushed aside the curtain at the entrance to the oden stall and poked my head in.
There was only one customer. It was a small girl who looked like an elementary schooler. Her cheeks were flushed as she enjoyed her oden.
“Oh my my. Oniichan?”
A cute girl who was wearing a white Gothic Lolita outfit.
“Chris. I really wanted to talk to you again.”
“Ahh, looks like Naeglaria tricked me. That stupid cow.”
Chris stood up as she said that.
“Oh, are you done for today already?”
The shop’s owner was wearing a towel headband on his forehead. He gave Chris a smile.
“Today’s Chrismas, right? So Chris has a date~~.”
Chris entangled her slender arm around mine and we left the oden stall together.
We soon came to a park. This was the small park where I had battled that wild goat Megalo.
Chris sat herself on a swing and began to lazily swing back and forth.
“So, what do you want?’
“I want you to give Haruna’s magical energy back.”
“Well, sure. Chris already knew about that. Is that all?”
“That has been the only thing I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I’m here to get Haruna’s magical energy back, and nothing more.”
“Mmmm, okay. You sure love that girl, don’t you? But what does Chris get out of that? Absolutely nothing. So nope.”
I got serious and began to speak from my heart, not trying to make any sort of play.
“In exchange… I’ll do something about your curse. So, please give back Haruna’s magical energy.”
Chris looked surprised.
“Mmmm, so that’s Aikawa’s offer.”
“Yeah. I’ll do something for you, so you need to help do something for Haruna.”
“How do you plan to help Chris?”
“I’ll think of a way.”
“… There’s only one way. The queen herself has to remove the curse. It’s also possible that defeating the queen will get rid of the curse, but nobody has ever done that…”
“Well, I’ll be the first guy to do it then.”
Chris blinked at me before giving me a smile.
“Okay, let’s play a game then. If you beat Chris, then Chris will believe you.”
So… it really was going to go down that way.
I was used to it coming to this when I dealt with masou shoujo.
To them, fighting was the only solution.
Or rather, fighting was just how masou shoujo talked things out.
Chris hopped off the swings and then turned to look at me across her shoulder. Staying in that position, she then pointed her right hand at me.
A burst of air crushed the iron fence surrounding the swings, ripped up the earth, and went right past me.
“Wha-?” I was the one who said that.
The cement fence behind me had been destroyed behind me.
Was this my scarf at work?
“Is this really the time to be getting distracted?”
I heard a voice right next to my ear.
Crap. I was dealing with Chris here, and I had just looked away…
Chris had used her magic to quickly close the distance between us and assert her control over this battle.
Her small hand was like a blade as she ripped through my upper arm. Fresh red blood fell onto the sandy park ground.
“Oh my, you evaded that quite nicely. Chris was planning on taking your whole arm there. You deserve some praise for that.”
“Well, thanks. But more importantly, I don’t intend to fight.”
My legs were shaking.
Chris was aiming for my arms. And it wasn’t like my legs were shaking from fear this late into the battle.
No, I had just poured a bit too much power into my lower body to evade Chris, and my muscle fibers were now torn.
Well, crap. I’m so used to pushing my muscles beyond their limits that I couldn’t help myself.
Chris opened her palm up wide and held her hand out towards my head.
A huge gale roared around me, my hair flying up into the wind. It was hard to even breathe in this space.
“Hm? That should’ve been quite a strong attack, but your skull is still there. What happened?”
“Solving that mystery is part of the game, isn’t it?”
Chris gave me a satisfied smile before her body blurred.
Huh? What the hell? My vision was…
I swung a fist, and grazed Chris on the jaw.
“Hawah?! That surprised me!”
I’m the one who should be surprised. I almost hit her right there. Honestly, I didn’t think I would be able to land a single attack. I hadn’t even transformed yet.
Chris’s slender legs came at me with tremendous speed.
Ugh! I had no time to be surprised here. I scrunched my body and met her attack with my hands.
But, I was easily blown away.
My left arm went numb.
But, I was still moving. I had jumped back right when her attack hit me, so I had managed to minimize the damage.
Well, cracks were now running through my arm’s bones though.
It seemed that I really couldn’t defend unless I put extra power into my muscles.
I had to stop Chris from moving around somehow, or else we wouldn’t get anywhere with this conversation.
Chris could maintain her current form because of two items she had stolen: the pendant she was wearing that sucked up magical energy, and the ring she was wearing that allowed her to control that magical energy.
So, I had to snatch one of those things away from her, or I had to tickle her on the side.
Those were the conditions under which I could win this battle.
But, the pendant was probably under her clothes, and if she clutched her fists, then I wouldn’t be able to snatch the ring away either.
So… this game would be decided based on what happened first. Would Chris break my body into pieces first? Would my body no longer be able to endure the added strength I was pouring into my muscles first? Or would I be able to tickle her sides first?
“Chris, just listen. I’m-”
“Let’s go with fire next!”
It seemed that she wasn’t listening to me. In the next moment, her long white sleeves were engulfed in flames.
Zombies were weak towards light and fires, so if I took one of her attacks now I would just lose all my strength like anpanman when he was doused with water.
I eyed Chris’s slender right arm which was surrounded by flames. She kicked strongly off the earth and flew at me.
At that time… once again something strange happened with my vision.
I could see her!
I could see her movements… the action lines in the air that told me where she was going to move!
I see… these were all motions I already knew.
They were motions I already knew from Nene-san’s manga.
While I helped Nene-san draw her manga, I was already learning how Chris moved.
Maybe Nene-san had planned it that way too.
But… this could work.
This… maybe this could work!
Seeing that one single strand of hope, I couldn’t help but burst into a grin.
Two hundred percent!
I took Chris’s next attack head on.
I heard an ominous cracking sound coming from my entire body.
But as soon as the flames touched my scarf, they vanished like a candle that had just been blown out.
“Ugh, something’s really strange here!”
Chris puffed out her cheeks and she didn’t seem very happy, but she continued to attack me one after another in succession.
But I turned each and every one of her attacks aside.
I was okay.
If magic wasn’t a problem anymore, and we were relying purely on physical technique, then I wouldn’t lose.
But… what should I do here?
I would just get worn down like this.
If I was just a normal zombie here whose only ability was not being able to die, then I would eventually lose.
My left arm was also trembling, possibly from having stopped Chris’s attack from a moment ago.
I was already at my limit.
If I could feel pain, I probably would die purely from the shock.
Chris’s sharp hand went for my neck.
I swept her hand to the side from below.
At that moment, I felt my right knee being crushed. I lost my balance and then felt my left leg getting swept from under me.
My mobility… had been stolen from me.
Goddammit… she changed up her movements.
Was there no way for me to win here?
I was so close.
I had to just get to her side so I could tickle her and get her to a state where we could talk civilly.
Yes, right. There was that.
Time stop. And also… my scarf.
The scarf Yuu had given me was fluttering in the wind. I took one end of the scarf in my hand while maintaining my distance from Chris. This scarf would negate any magic and special abilities, just like Yuu’s gauntlets.
Could I use this as a weapon, then?
Nene-san had said that just touching this scarf would be enough to dispel a masou shoujo’s transformation.
So it really might have some effect.
I wrapped the scarf around my arm down to my hand.
“Hm? Hm? Can’t make a fist anymore?”
My legs were broken and wouldn’t regenerate like usual. But they just had to move for a moment longer.
I’ll regenerate you guys as much as you want later. But please… just endure this one more time!
“Sooo~~… shall we go again?”
Chris swung her arms and flew at me, her face all smiles.
Three hundred percent!
Using my zombie power, I wrapped around and took Chris’s flank.
Chris looked shocked.
Ahh, yeah, be shocked. You didn’t know, did you?
That I had gotten strong.
I concentrated on making circular motions, feeling like I was entering commands into a one-on-one fighter game.
Getting behind Chris bought me just enough time to perform this maneuver.
Chris turned around… but she was already too late.
“Hawah~~!” Chris sounded surprised.
Her movements had completely stopped, as if she was a stuffed hunting trophy.
Now, I could definitely reach out and…
Chris’s hand suddenly grabbed me.
“I never expected that oniichan would learn the Selvaria School Assassination Technique…”
So that’s what this time stop technique was called?
Wait, no, there were more important things right now.
“You can move?”
“Just the right hand. A century ago Chris was completely crushed by Naeglaria with this technique, so Chris prepared herself for it.”
Chris smiled. It was a cute, child-like smile.
It seemed that I wasn’t the only one who understood his opponent’s movements.
“You’re just way too weak compared to Chris. To think you could dare to think you could do something for Chris…”
At that moment, Chris grabbed the same hand of mine that had the scarf wrapped around it.
And then, the ring that was attached to Chris’s finger began to emanate a faint light. That was a ring made by the Demon Baron which allowed Chris to control her magical energy.
The minute it came into contact with my scarf, that ring had probably been rendered useless.
In other words…
“A-Ahh… that scarf… that’s why none of Chris’s magic was working…”
Chris’s eyes widened. She had solved the mystery.
“Exactly. Nene-san’s power is infused into this scarf.”
Chris’s white Gothic Lolita outfit vanished before my eyes. Her body grew bigger, and her slender girl’s body transformed gradually into the body of a middle-aged man of average height and build.
“No… Chris… I… I don’t want to go back…”
The magical energy that Chris was using rightfully belonged to Haruna. She had been using that ring of hers to control that energy.
So, once that ring had been rendered useless, she could no longer maintain her masou shoujo form.
“Just give it up.”
My legs were trembling and threatening to give out at any moment… and it was no wonder. A human body could only withstand around thirty percent maximum power, and I had pushed my legs to three hundred percent. My muscle fibers and bones were ripped to shreds.
Chris’s fist, which was now bony and covered lightly in hair, gouged into my cheek.
It wasn’t the monstrous attack of a masou shoujo, but just the punch of a normal middle-aged man.
It was an attack filled with frustration and anger.
Chris’s clothes had already turned into a sweater and a pair of chino pants, an outfit that lacked even an ounce of individuality.
This was the form of Kurisu Takeshi, my old homeroom teacher.
“It’s been a long while, sensei.”
Another fist went straight into my cheek.
I was a zombie who felt no pain, but I could feel a heavy sense of sadness in that punch of his.
His attack reverberated through my chest.
There was no way I couldn’t feel some pain in my heart.
“You… you bastard! Dammit! Are you telling me… are you telling me to go back to living like that?!”
“Do you really hate that form so much?! Do you really hate your life as Kurisu Takeshi so much?!”
I punched him back, my broken fist being held together by my scarf.
“As if you understand! As if you understand what it’s like to get your individuality snatched away, to get your powers snatched away…!”
My serious punch rattled his brains.
“I don’t know at all! But you should understand! You should understand what it’s like to be Haruna, to have your magical energy stolen away!”
In return, his fist rattled my jaw.
My body was already in tatters, and I couldn’t strengthen my muscles anymore.
This wasn’t a zombie punch, but the punch of Aikawa Ayumu, a normal high schooler.
And my opponent’s punches weren’t the punches of a masou shoujo, but of Kurisu Takeshi, a normal middle-aged man.
My punch sailed into his face, and his punch sailed into mine.
“Do you know how many decades I’ve had to spend like this?!”
“You managed to transform back sometimes, didn’t you?!”
“I’m out of breath just from going up the stairs! I can’t remember people’s names! My hips start hurting way too easily! My legs cramp! Do you know how painful all that is to a masou shoujo?! How miserable it makes me feel?! Do you know?!”
“I don’t! So tell me! And I’ll tell you something too!”
“Tell me what?!”
“About Hiramatsu! She’s so meek but she’s really daring when she’s asleep! About Anderson-kun! He’s so nice but he spits out abuse when he’s asleep! Mihara might look like that, but she has a cute girl’s hobby! Saras too! Tomonori is an idiot, but she’s good at cooking! Orito is disgusting, but he’s a nice person! Did you know?!”
“What does that have to do with anything?! What do those people with all their individuality have to do with me?!”
“All of those people were waiting for you! Waiting for Takeshi-sensei! Please just try to understand that!”
Our arms crossed and our fists plunged themselves into each other’s faces.
And then, I collapsed from the impact.
That right now… that worked, I think.
Ugh, I can’t move at all.
My head was spinning round and round.
I turned around and faced up towards the sky. My hands and my legs weren’t moving at all anymore.
My arms and legs were spread wide open here on this sandy ground of this park.
“I… no, all of us… we liked Kurisu-sensei, the homeroom teacher who was such an incurable middle-aged man. That’s why… that’s why I asked Nene-san to give me this opportunity. Not an opportunity to beat the strongest masou shoujo Chris, but an opportunity to save the homeroom teacher of year 1, class C.”
“It’s not just me. Hiramatsu and Orito… everyone liked Kurisu-sensei. It doesn’t matter if you have a personality or not. It really doesn’t. Everyone liked you all the same.”
Tears began to flow from Kurisu-sensei’s eyes.
Being easily moved to tears was a sign that he had really reverted into a middle-aged man.
“Everyone has their own set of faces. Don’t you think that’s interesting enough? You might be an unremarkable man, but you really are a masou shoujo who’s stronger than anybody. Having those two sides to yourself… that gives you more than enough individuality.”
“You don’t understand… you really don’t understand at all… Aikawa, you need to study Japanese better.”
“Well, I’m sorry for that. But, I really wanted to say this. There isn’t a single person who can say that they hate you. Do you really want to lose those students of yours… all for the sake of revenge?”
Having said all I wanted to say, I just lay there, staring up into the night sky.
Kurisu-sensei did the same.
And then, I felt Kurisu-sensei steel himself and mutter.
“…… Once I get back, I’m giving you all a huge pile of homework.”
“That would be the best Christmas present of them all. Thanks, Kurisu-sensei.”
And like that, my eyelids dropped over my eyes.
Zombies might be strong in the night, but they still got sleepy when they were tired.
And zombies might be weak to light, fire, fatigue, and sleepiness… but they were also weak to tears.