Of course, we reversed instantly and I came back — but now, we have a slight problem nyah.
Basically, the abnormality which I am based on, the Hindering Cat, really isn’t something you can count on in a fight. I am a ridiculously weak, low-level phantom nyah.
Not the front line-type nyah.
Facing off against the Tiger, free and unrestricted by any base, is just a little out of my style nyah (I know ‘style’ is the wrong term to use here, but so what?! As long as people get what you mean who cares if you misuse it! It’s friggin’ annoying to say ‘out of my league‘ every single time! I’m on the brink of an eat-or-be-eaten situation here nyah!)
Besides, it might be normal to think that I’m the elder and the Tiger is the younger just because I was born first, but we are abnormalities nyah.
Mistress described the Araragi sisters and their bastard of a brother as differently-aged triplets, and me and Mistress and the Tiger, we’re pretty like that too — but it’s possible that the Tiger is not in fact the youngest nyah.
After all, stress is something born from the conflicts between emotions — if Mistress was the fount of the Tiger, then maybe, the Tiger was the fount of me nyah.
I was only born first. Maybe the Tiger had been there before that.
That’s why, to make a very simple comparison, the Tiger should be much higher ranked an abnormality than Black Hanekawa, and more annoyingly, the Tiger is the next in the product line nyah.
When it comes to computers and machines, don’t later units tend to be superior?
By the same logic, there’s no way I can take down the Tiger if we fight normally nyah.
Compared to when she gave birth to me, Mistress has gotten more deeply skilled at ‘creating abnormalities’ nyah — like the note said, that’s why it turned out to be a tiger nyah.
Anyone could clearly see who the winner and the loser would be in a fight between a cat and a tiger nyah.
Anyone would be able to see it.
It makes me want to turn my back to it nyah.
…But Mistress has decided not to turn her eyes away — decided to stand up against it, so I can’t exactly turn tail and run nyah.
And besides, the Hindering Cat,
doesn’t have a tail nyah —
I escaped the fangs of the Tiger by a hair’s breadth — but as the saying goes, ‘you can’t catch the cubs without entering the tiger’s den’, so I slipped under its huge body nyah.
A tactic that uses the enemy’s great size nyah.
There’s even a proverb, ‘a cornered rat will bite the cat’, so it’s not so strange for a cat to bite a tiger — not to mention,
I still have,
my trump card as the Hindering Cat — in other words, my Energy Drain!
It will work even if the opponent is an abnormality nyah — if I can absorb the Tiger and then return to Mistress, my goal is achieved.
will be granted.
Nyah, it might be a bit too rough seeing as I’m just supposed to bring back a sister who ran away from home, but we can talk it over once we are back nyah.
There’s no wonder drug for a family problem nyah.
We can’t just suddenly come to an understanding, like some family drama that’s just too good to be true — it’s been cut away from Mistress, and cut itself off from Mistress, for eighteen years now.
They can’t just go back to the way they were right away nyah.
There’s nothing for them to go back to in the first place.
They have no choice but to rebuild it all from square one nyah.
Today is just the first step nyah — and,
hanging onto its belly — I embraced the Tiger.
With my entire body.
With all my strength.
To attain the greatest performance of my Energy Drain, I did everything possible to touch the Tiger’s body with my own.
`Hmph — `
“Nya… aaaaaaaaaah — !”
Against the Tiger’s short grunt — I gave a great cry.
It wasn’t a shout I gave to fire myself up, making sure that I never let go.
It wasn’t nyah.
Energy Drain, my special trait as an abnormality, is the only thing that gives me an opening to defeat the Tiger, but going by that same line of thought, I had to also consider the special trait of the Inflaming Tiger.
An abnormality with an affinity to fire.
The Inflaming Tiger.
In this case, I came up with three patterns.
The pattern that’s easiest to understand nowadays would be what is called ‘pyrokinesis’ nyah. However, a special trait of being able to light the target on fire simply by thinking it would be closer to a psychic power than an abnormal phenomenon. I get that feeling that that would be a human’s skill, not an abnormality’s (whether or not I actually believe in psychic powers is another matter nyah). If the Tiger really were causing fires by using pyrokinesis, then to be honest, I wouldn’t be able to do a thing nyah — anyone would be burnt to cinders as soon as they entered its line of sight nyah.
But like I said, I didn’t think this would be the case to begin with, and in fact, despite our very long talk not even my clothes were burnt, let alone my actual person, and its first attack was an animal ‘bite’, so I can be sure there’s no need to hold back on that front nyah.
So we move on to Pattern 2.
You can say this is also quite easy to understand, and comparatively easier to imagine, but basically, it could be that the Tiger breathed fire from its mouth — or shoot flames from its paws, or something along those lines nyah. In that case, it could ‘bite’ and ‘claw’ in tandem and it wouldn’t contradict with its form as a wild beast nyah.
It’s an old stand-by in children’s cartoons and creature features for the monsters to breathe fire nyah — from this point of view, the biggest possibility is that this is how the Tiger’s ability to ignite flames works.
And really, I was hoping for it to be this way nyah.
But it wasn’t.
It wasn’t Pattern 1, which was the worst one of all —
But the Tiger’s affinity was Pattern 3.
“Nyah — hot — !”
Without thinking, I nearly withdrew the two arms clinging to the Tiger’s body, but I adjusted my hold just as I was about to let go.
The Tiger’s body,
became a flame.
“So your whole body is fire — I thought so nyah!”
It’s not like there aren’t abnormalities that can breathe fire, but this is the standard, after all nyah!
Stickler for rules that she is, of course Mistress followed an older example when creating an abnormality!
What she created was unpretentious, and orthodox —
She created a will o’ the wisp nyah!
`Do not be thoughtless, Cat.`
Said the Tiger.
`It is the law of beasts to fear the flame, but to embrace it — even as a beast, your actions err, much less as an abnormality.`
It’s — totally composed nyah.
It’s for the same reason why, even when I carried that vampire and my Energy Drain involuntarily activated regardless of who was being touched — Oshino Shinobu was still doing fine nyah.
Basically, the ability of Energy Drain, which appeared invincible at first glance, did in fact have a weak point.
A weak point, or rather, a structural defect nyah.
A defect by necessity.
No matter how much I absorb the energy off a target, if said target has a practically infinite reservoir of it, then the result is just the same as how a dam can’t just dry up nyah — of course, I doubt that the Tiger, as the incarnation of Mistress’ dark emotions, and its energy could rival a vampire’s, but,
its energy is, as it is, heat energy.
Fire itself nyah.
It’s clear as day that I will be roasted before I can possibly absorb it all nyah —
“…Screw that! I knew already!”
And it was all the more reason why,
knowing that it was clear, I — yelled.
I cried — as a cat.
“I may be an idiot, but I know a cat can’t beat a tiger nyah!”
Even a cornered rat will bite the cat — but biting is all that it can do nyah.
It’s not like it can win, or beat it back.
It will just end up being eaten by an enraged cat nyah.
End up just like me.
To be honest, thinking that this Energy Drain can work on the Tiger or give me an opening or somesuch, I didn’t even believe in half of any of it — I knew that it wasn’t even worth betting on.
I just pretended not to know nyah.
The Tiger asked.
It asked, looking down at me pathetically dangling from its body.
`Then why — why be so thoughtless? Why be so senseless? Why do something so meaningless?`
“Mistress asked me to.”
“Mistress asked me to.”
It just doesn’t get it nyah.
You were just born, so of course you don’t understand nyah.
You just don’t know how happy it is, to be asked for help by Mistress, who has been doing absolutely everything by herself — you don’t know how happy it is, to be asked for help, pride or no pride, shamelessly, by Mistress, who has been trying to work out absolutely everything by herself — asking me, just a cat that got run over.
She asked me, brazenly.
She called me her little sister.
She called me, family.
“She asked me with a ‘please’ — to take care of you!”
And — I looked at Warren Villa.
In the same way, Senjougahara Hitagi asked me to take care of someone too.
Take care, of Mistress —
“…Nyaaaaah — !”
Without even knowing what temperature the Tiger now was,
I wrapped my arms around it even more tightly — and pressed my face in, rubbing my cheeks against it.
My clothes have already been burnt.
Hot. Hot. Hot. Hot.
Hot. Hot. Hot. Hot.
It feels like I am embracing the sun.
Maybe that really is what I am doing nyah.
It wouldn’t be strange for the flames of jealousy that Mistress had been pooling together to turn into such a mass nyah — and that’s all the more reason why,
I have to swallow it all down.
Let it burn hotter, let it grow bigger.
I can’t let it go nyah.
It’s something I can’t stop embracing —
It’s an emotion nyah.
“Uu… nyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh — !”
The Tiger tensed.
As though it were drying itself after being drenched, the Tiger shook its body — and just like that, I was blown away.
I slammed against a nearby concrete fence.
“Nyah — !”
Even as I heard my own cry, the extreme temperature difference made me lose consciousness for a moment.
No, I can’t nyah. I can’t go unconscious now nyah.
My whole body is practically on fire right now.
If I lose consciousness now and change places with Mistress, she will die instantly from the burns all over her body — it’s because I am an abnormality that I can still handle this temperature nyah.
But… that was some serious power.
There really is no comparison nyah.
Speaking of which, there is apparently this abnormality good at sumo called a Ghost Flame (What’s the deal with that, huh?) — but the Tiger had a monstrous strength that was superior to that nyah.
That son of a bitch. Which, in this case, is also an odd thing for me to say.
I managed to hold on to my consciousness, barely, but with just that one attack I can’t even move my body anymore nyah.
Not a finger nyah.
What’s the matter with me?
Even after getting all fired up and bracing myself, I still ended up like this — that’s just pathetic nyah.
But this is how hard that human bastard has always worked himself — he’s fought a lot of different things nyah.
Even as he cried.
even as he endlessly complained.
He did cry, didn’t he?
That’s right nyah.
If only Mistress had cried too nyah —
She’s been so sad.
She’s been so lonely.
She’s been so frustrated.
If she’d done that, then even if she hadn’t given birth to me or the Tiger — things might have actually gone better.
Wait, it’s the other way around.
It’s because we are here that Mistress does not cry.
That’s, nyah, of course nyah.
If she had had little sisters like us,
our big sister wouldn’t have cried nyah —
`Feeble creature. Is this it?`
Said the Tiger.
It was expressionless.
Bit by bit — it crept over, like a heat wave.
`Is this all you have to show for your so-called ‘obligations’?`
`Hmph. Very well. We are kin, born from the same womb. As such, I will drag you down to Hell personally.`
The mass of flame coolly murmured these fearsome words.
Down to Hell, huh.
A bit better than a nightmare, at least.
But — I really don’t want to die so many times nyah.
I died getting run over by a car.
I died running after Mistress.
Now I’m going to die getting run down by a tiger.
Just how many times do I have to die nyah?
They say that the only cure for stupidity is death, but that’s a lie nyah.
I’m just going to be stupid, forever —
“Geez, I really was happy, you know nyah.”
Still, maybe this is the untamed part of me talking, but when the Tiger entered my vision, slowly drawing closer while on guard against my Energy Drain,
I muttered nyah.
Are these my last words?
No, it isn’t.
I’m just being a sore loser nyah.
“I fight with my life on the line, and all I can manage is slowing your fire down for ten seconds — it’s horrible, knowing how weak I am nyah.”
`That — was what I had told you.`
Said the Tiger.
Indifferent as ever, of course.
Just an indifferent — surge of emotions.
`It was thoughtless. It was senseless. It was meaningless.`
“It was thoughtless nyah. It was senseless nyah. It was meaningless nyah.”
You know, in the end, I never did get a chance to say it.
Even though I loved him so much.
So much so that I turned into a monster.
I never once told Araragi-kun that I loved him —
“It was thoughtless. It was senseless. It was meaningless.”
“That’s not true, Hanekawa.”
in an instant — the swing of a nodachi came flying down from the night sky.
It pierced through the head of the Tiger, and fixed itself into the ground.
That sword — I,
I knew it.
It is inscribed — the magic sword Kokorowatari, ‘Heartcrosser’.
Unparalleled across the ages, the blade of the slayer of abnormalities —
“It might have been thoughtless. It might have been senseless. But — it definitely wasn’t meaningless. If you hadn’t risked your life to slow this tiger down for just ten seconds, I wouldn’t have made it in time.”
His black hair had fully grown out since Spring Break.
His frame was small and neat.
His clothes were in tatters, and one of his shoes had come off.
How horribly worried he must have been, how terrifying a journey he must have had — the figure now standing here before me was more than enough to tell his story.
“And if that happened, I would definitely cry.”
As he grasped the hilt of the sword,
Araragi-kun — smiled.