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Dual Strife - History of the Moon

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Return to Fiction by Valesta


One month had passed since Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, and Youmu’s battle with Kaguya to recover Gensokyo’s true moon and the morning to eventually lead to the night of the next full moon begins.

At the Hakurei Shrine…

Asleep, Reimu turns and hits something, waking up halfway, Huh? Oh, it’s probably Suika. Whatever, I don’t feel like reprimanding her right now… Reimu turns in the other direction and hits something else, which causes her to wake up completely. She sits up and looks at the two figures sharing her futon: “Suika AND Marisa? AAARRRGGGHHH! Why can’t you two find your own damn beds?”

Marisa wakes up, while Suika is too drunk to hear Reimu. Marisa says, “Geez, Reimu, I’d think you’d be getting used to this by now…”

“That’s not the problem!”

“Oh, c’mon, what’s the problem with two or three girls sharing the same bed? It’s not like we’re… y’know…”

Reimu sees where Marisa is coming from and takes a deep breath, “Well, true. I guess it’s just surprising…”

Marisa shrugs, “Oh well, your childish reactions still amuse me to no end. Anyways, last night, I came over to borrow some of your sake, didn’t feel like going home, so I slipped into your bed. Suika was already in there for some reason, so I figured, ‘what’s one more?’”

Reimu gets up out of bed, “Whatever. I don’t want to talk about this anymore…” Reimu glances at the shrine’s entrance and sees a rolled-up newspaper lying on the floor, “Well, let’s see what Aya has to say, shall we, Marisa? Hopefully it’s not more bullshit about me…”

“Hopefully…”

Reimu picks up the newspaper and glances through it, “Agh! It IS more bullshit about me… and how the hell was Aya THERE when it happened?”

“What do you mean?”

Reimu tosses the newspaper to Marisa, who reads the article:

                               Bunbunmaru Newspaper: SPECIAL EDITION
   
  Scandal! One month ago, your daily reporter found herself in a dark castle deep in a bamboo forest! She was equipped with materials to interview someone very important, but she cannot say who.
  However, despite the confusion of the situation, she happened upon something very interesting…
  It’s a discovered fact that Gensokyo’s resident holy maiden, Reimu Hakurei, is an object of affection for Gensokyo’s not-so-holy maiden, Remilia “Scarlet Devil” Scarlet, but what happens what Scarlet’s closest servant, Sakuya Izayoi, goes and… dare I say… BETRAYS her mistress?
  “What are you talking about?” you ask? Well your reporter has taken the liberty of snapping a candid photo of the two women in question consummating their forbidden relationship…

Below, there is a picture of the moment Reimu was ripping Sakuya’s shirt open to see if her fatal wound from Eirin remained, conveniently zoomed in so Marisa and Youmu are excluded from the photograph.

Marisa had read enough and tosses the newspaper to the side, “Damn her! I guess she went there while she was under that bunny’s spell to interview Kaguya when we intervened. Maybe she went exploring the area, found us, and reinterpreted the facts…”

Reimu slams her fist against the shrine’s wall in frustration, “That damn bird!”

A bad thought occurs to Marisa, “I… hope Remilia never learns about this…”

“…” Reimu nods deeply in agreement.

--

White…

A color all around her, as well as above and below. It was where she spent the majority of her time, not that it meant anything…

From when she was born, she had been trained for a purpose and one purpose alone. Following orders were her life and being trained in combat was her blood. Everything she had done was dictated by a woman, dressed in red and blue with hair as silver as hers. The girl only knew this woman by her title: Doctor.

“How is she doing?” The people walk into the room, a man, a woman, and a young boy. The girl also knew them by their titles: Father, Mother, and Younger Brother, respectively.

Doctor answers, “As splendidly as ever.” She turns to the girl, “In fact, how about a demonstration of your skill?”

“Yes,” replies the girl flatly. Several knives appear in her hands.

“Very well, then. Let us begin.” Several targets materialize around the room and start moving.

“…” The girl tosses knives in various directions, scoring a perfect bull’s-eye on each target. Whichever ones are moving too fast, she uses her power to stop the movement and score an easy hit. After a perfect demonstration of skill, the four observers clap.

“Amazing!” exclaims Younger Brother, “And I can do that someday?”

“If you want,” answers Doctor, with a smile, “But this may be the last time you will see her do this. She is ready.”

“Her mission…” mutters Mother.

“It’s what she was born to do,” says Doctor.

“SAAAAAAKUUUUUUUUYAAAAAAAAA!” In Scarlet Devil Mansion, in a lobby guest room, a new recurring dream that Sakuya had been having since a month ago in interrupted by the yelling of a furious Remilia. Sakuya nervously rises from her chair as Remilia bursts into the room, followed by Flandre, who stares at Sakuya accusingly and Patchouli, with a facial expression indicating to Sakuya that she needs a miracle.

Sakuya, not used to Remilia getting so upset, stutters, “G-good morning… er… Remilia-sama! What is… um… troubling you…?”

Remilia flatly asks, “Why did you betray me, Sakuya?”

“Betray you? You know I would never do that, Remilia-sama.”

“Then what the hell is THIS?” Remilia shoves the special edition of the Bunbunmaru Newspaper in Sakuya’s face and points at the picture of her and Reimu.

Sakuya realizes exactly what Remilia is angry about. Blushing heavily, Sakuya’s eyes turn to the side and she tries to explain herself, “W-well… you know…” Sakuya hadn’t told Remilia about the circumstances revolving around her death and revival, as it is an issue even Sakuya herself fails to comprehend, let alone everyone else.

Remilia rips the newspaper in half, “NO, I don’t know, Sakuya. Listen up, my little bitch…” Remilia inhales deeply, preparing to make a long lecture to her servant, “Reimu is the only significant other I want in my life and it takes the worst kind of person to try to steal that significant other away from me, that’s you, Sakuya. As my maid, who I graciously took under my wing, you must respect my desires and not try to obtain them for yourself, no matter how hard you want it. It is your duty, Sakuya, to not tread on the forbidden grounds only certain people walk. It is because you are the worst kind of person to try to steal Reimu away from me, that…” Remilia’s lecture drags on and on with her repeating a lot of the same issues.

The redundancy of Remilia’s lecture causes Sakuya’s mind to drift off elsewhere and she thinks about the events from a month ago, Just how did I return from the dead? What did that Eirin girl know about me? Eirin… something seems even more familiar about her now than ever. I wonder how Reimu’s battle with her concluded. Is she still alive? Someday, I must_

STAMP! Remilia stomps the floor hard, interrupting Sakuya’s train of thought, “Listen to me, Sakuya! This is a serious matter I’m trying to express to you!”

Sakuya, being crushed between Remilia’s accusations and the curiosity and fear regarding herself, loses her composure and says sternly, “Please! Just leave me alone, Remilia-sama!"”

“…” Remilia is stunned into silence by Sakuya’s unexpected outburst and takes a few steps backward.

“Ah…” Flandre and Patchouli are equally surprised and wonder how Remilia is going to react.

After a few seconds, Remilia weakly says, “I’m sorry, Sakuya. Um… I’ll leave you alone now…” Remilia runs out of the room like she’s trying to escape from her servant.

“…” Flandre glares at Sakuya, and then runs after her sister.

Reality catches up with Sakuya and she plops back into her chair, “Shoot… I didn’t mean to do that…”

Patchouli walks over to Sakuya, “Well that will certainly be the highlight of today. Still, it seems Remilia is not the only one who is troubled. In fact, you’ve seemed even more introverted ever since you got back from your mission a month ago. What’s on your mind, Sakuya?”

“Well…” Sakuya figures she might feel a little better if she expressed her experience to another, so she explains her mysterious situation to Patchouli.

Patchouli’s eyes widen, “Is… that so?”

“Do you know what it might have been?”

Patchouli reluctantly admits, “No. I’ve never heard of anything like that. Even with all the knowledge I’ve obtained over the past 100 years, I don’t know of anything that can cause someone to return from the dead… On the other hand…”

“Yes?” asks Sakuya, wondering where the librarian is going.

“I’ve resided in this mansion far longer than you have and have rarely ventured out, but I am aware of enough to know that your abilities don’t seem to be of this world. Manipulation of Time is a top-leveled ability that is next to impossible for anyone to perform and no one is born with it… at least not in Gensokyo, it seems. There have been a few masters who have been able to do it to a minuscule degree, but you, Sakuya, you have mastery of it in every sense of the word. With your spell cards, you can freeze all time around you, freeze time in certain areas, control the time of objects, and more. Your abilities exceed the wildest dreams of those so-called ‘masters.’ Even without spell card aid, you can freeze it for a few seconds of ‘your’ time too, which may not sound impressive, but it’s an unreal gift to everyone else.”

Sakuya looks at the floor, “My time manipulation… It’s really that special?”

“’Special’ is an understatement. However, Manipulation of Time has been practiced by others in Gensokyo, but your revival, if what you say is the truth, is completely unheard of. Everything dies, and that’s an eternal fact. Youkai live long lives, but even they have limits. Vampires like Remilia and Flandre can be killed with the right tools and even though their natural lifespans are theoretically ‘eternal,’ a limit exists somewhere. Even the elder youkai, who have lived for over a thousand years, have a limit, and when that limit expires, it’s death. But you, a human, came back. That’s another mystery that appears to go beyond Gensokyo’s reckoning.”

“So… I’m not normal?”

“Huh…” Patchouli makes a sound that almost sounds like a chuckle, “Since when is anyone in Gensokyo ‘normal?’”

“Hahaha!” Sakuya laughs not so much at Patchouli’s joke, but rather the fact that Patchouli made an attempt at humor. After a few seconds, however, she lets out a sigh, “It doesn’t really matter anyway. I wonder how Remilia-sama will react to my outburst…”

Patchouli smiles slightly, “Tonight’s a full moon, hopefully an undisrupted one. Remilia will probably enjoy going out. It puts her in a better mood. I’m sure she’ll forgive you when her mood lightens.”

“I hope so…”

--

In Hakugyokurou, Youmu lays in the middle of a field, staring up at the clear day sky with a few sakura petals blowing in the moderate wind, flying across her field of vision. She is so wrapped up in her thoughts that she doesn’t notice Yuyuko tiptoeing toward her. She takes a slow, but deep, breath, then yells, “AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! GHOST!”

Youmu frantically sits up and looks around in fear and surprise, “Wh-where, Yuyuko-sama? This may be too much for me to_”

“Psyche!”

With a much faster heartbeat than before, Youmu lies back down, “That’s not a very funny joke, Yuyuko-sama. A month ago, I thought I saw a zombie. This is too much for me…”

Yuyuko giggles and says, “Sorry, Youmu. I just wanted to see a rise out of you, since you’ve seemed so depressed since you got back a month ago.”

“…”

“So, what’s on your mind?”

Youmu thinks back to Reisen’s illusion, where she pitted Youmu against her father Youki, “Yuyuko, you know my father better than I have. Do you remember what spell cards he used?”

“Well… I’ve only seen him use a few…”

“Please, just name a couple…”

“ Um… There was one called Ghastly Sign: Death Onslaught, where his spiritual half split into several copies, and they became many images of himself. There was another called Blade Sign: Tormenting Sword, where he swung his sword around very fast. It was super-cool!”

“Ah!” Youmu recognizes both spell cards Yuyuko mentioned.

“Why do you ask?”

Youmu decides not to get into her illusory showdown with her father, “It’s nothing, just curious. Thank you, Yuyuko-sama…”

“…” Yuyuko’s insight tells her that there’s more than what Youmu is letting on, but decides to let her keep her peace, “At any rate, I guess I’ll visit the Saigyou Ayakashi and tell Yuko about what happened today. Do you want to join me?”

“No thank you. I’d like to stay here for a little while…”

“Well, it’s not very busy today, so feel free to do whatever you want. See you later~” With that, Yuyuko walks away.

Youmu stares at the sky again “…”

--

Hours pass and night approaches.

Outside the Hakurei Shrine, Reimu and Marisa sit on the stairs, watching the beautiful night unfold. Marisa says, “One month… It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.”

“I agree,” says Reimu, “It’s like it was yesterday… or hell, maybe a few hours ago. That time I thought Sakuya died… It’s still a fresh memory. It’s like a dream, yet it’s so real…”

“Hello~ Marisa! Reimu!” Alice Margatroid runs up the stairs.

“Oh, it’s you, Alice…” greets Marisa half-heartedly.

Reimu smiles, “Hello Alice Hemor_ Er… What’s-your-name!”

“Is ‘Mar-gat-roid’ REALLY that hard to remember?” asks Marisa.

“Whatever,” says Reimu, “So, Alice, what brings you here tonight?”

Alice answers, “Well, we didn’t exactly get to spend much time together on the last full moon, so I was wondering if we could tonight. I want to hear more about your adventure a month ago.”

The moon starts to rise from beyond the horizon. It’s not as big or impressive as the one from the previous month, but still a decent sight.

“It brings back memories,” says Marisa.

“Bad memories, apparently,” says Alice about her situation before, “Not that I remember much about it…”

Suddenly, the moon starts to turn pink. “What’s happening to the moon?” asks Reimu.

Alice, looks at the moon, but it looks the same in her eyes, “I don’t see anything.”

“It’s PINK!” yells Marisa.

Reimu observes, “This looks a lot like what happened on the last full moon. Perhaps we should head back to that castle and see if there a reason for this?”

“Sounds like a plan,” says Marisa with a nod.

Reimu and Marisa get ready to fly in the direction of the bamboo forest. Alice says, “I don’t see anything different about the moon, but can I come along and see what’s going on?”

“Do what you want,” says Marisa.

Alice nods her head and flies after Reimu and Marisa, “Okay!”

--

At Scarlet Devil Mansion, Sakuya notices the same thing from the top of the clock tower, “The moon changed again. I don’t know what’s going on this time, but I should investigate…” Sakuya flies to the bamboo forest.

--

In Hakugyokurou, Youmu, who is still lying in the field, sees the pink moon as well, “The moon! Is something happening again? That castle would be the best place to start investigating. Hopefully Kaguya isn’t trying the same thing again…”

--

Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, Youmu, and Alice, from their respective locations, fly en route to Eientei. Along the way, their paths cross once again.

Marisa calls out, “Hey! Sakuya! Youmu!”

Sakuya turns in Marisa’s direction, “Oh, hello! I see that change in the moon has brought you here too!”

“That it has,” says Youmu to Sakuya.

Alice asks, “Are you the only ones who saw it? I honestly didn’t see anything different about the moon…”

“You’re that girl who showed us the way to the Netherworld last winter,” says Sakuya to Alice.

“Alice Margatroid. I wanted to see where your battle took place.”

“Well, whatever,” says Youmu, “Still, if we can see it, but Alice can’t, we are probably being led into something. After all, we were the ones who thwarted Kaguya here a month ago…”

Reimu says, “It could be a trap set by whoever was left over, but c’mon. Let’s just go to the castle and settle things once and for all.”

“Sure thing,” agrees Youmu, “After all, what real danger is left there?”

“And you have me,” states Alice confidently, “With my powers, your chances are absolute.”

Sakuya smiles, “That’s certainly good to know. Well, let’s get going.”

They fly deeper into the forest. Within about an hour, they reach Eientei’s front gate, where Eirin Yagokoro stands with her hand reached toward the sky, glowing bright red. “Welcome back to Eientei. As I predicted, my little lure led you here.” Eirin lowers her arms and the light disappears, and so does the moon’s pink color in Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, and Youmu’s sights.

Alice tilts her head to the side, “’Yen-tay?’ Lure?”

“Another guest?” asks Eirin.

“She wanted to tag along,” says Marisa.

“More importantly,” says Reimu, “What are YOU doing here? I saw you crash through that… thing and it blew up! How are you still alive?”

So she still lives… thinks Sakuya to herself.

Eirin returns Reimu’s question with another, pointing at Sakuya, “Have you asked her the same question?”

“Ah…” Reimu has nothing to say about it.

Eirin explains, “Listen, we don’t mean you any harm. We just wanted to discuss something with you. I created a little optical illusion specifically designed to attract the four of you here, though it seems we now have another guest, but she’ll be welcomed too. Please follow me.”

Eirin walks into the castle.

Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, Youmu, and Alice look at one another, shrug, and then follow Eirin.

They walk through Eientei’s main hall, then go off on the left branch when it forks, then enter one of the side doors, which leads them to the castle’s courtyard, which has a table where Kaguya, Reisen, and Tewi sit on one side, awaiting their guests. On the other side are four empty chairs.

Marisa looks at Kaguya, “Kaguya! So YOU’RE alive too? Why isn’t ANYONE staying dead around here?”

Reimu glances at Kaguya, “So that’s Kaguya. I was wondering what she looked like…”

“Welcome,” greets Kaguya, extending her arm to the empty chairs, “Please have a seat… Oh?” She notices that Eirin led in five guests, “There’s one more?”

Youmu sighs, “I don’t mind standing. But more importantly, what is this all about? Why did you lead us out here?”

Kaguya answers, “I realized we might have been a little… unreasonable before, so I wanted to explain why we did what we did and hope you understand.”

Sakuya shrugs, “Well, I was a little curious. It might be good to know…”

Reimu, Marisa, Alice, and Sakuya sit in the four chairs while Youmu stands nearby. Kaguya instructs Eirin, “Eirin, please get some drinks for our guests.”

“Yes, Kaguya-hime,” responds Eirin obediently as she leaves.

“So what was last month’s hypnotizing all about?” asks Youmu.

Kaguya says, “Before I answer that, you should know just who I am, exactly. You know my name already, but I suppose it’s only proper for us to formally introduce ourselves. I am Princess Kaguya Houraisan.”

Reisen introduces herself, “My name is Reisen Udongein Inaba.”

Tewi cheerfully introduces herself, “Tewi Inaba.”

Kaguya picks up, “And the lady who led you here is Eirin Yagokoro, my best friend and servant. Now then, now that you know who we are, would you care to introduce yourselves to us?”

Going along with the formality, everyone introduces themselves, “Reimu Hakurei, miko of the Hakurei Shrine.”

“Marisa Kirisame.”

“Sakuya Izayoi, maid of Remilia Scarlet of Scarlet Devil Mansion.”

“Alice Margatroid.”

“Youmu Konpaku, servant of Yuyuko Saigyouji-hime of Hakugyokurou.”

Kaguya claps her hands together, “Wonderful! Welcome, Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, Alice, and Youmu. Now then, you know I hold the title of ‘princess,’ but aren’t you curious what I’m the princess of?”

“What?” asks Sakuya.

“…” Kaguya silently point toward the large full moon in the sky.

Reimu guesses, “You’re the princess of… the moon?”

“Yes. That’s exactly right.”

“Bullshit,” Marisa cuts in, “I used a telescope once and the moon is nothing but a wasteland of dust and craters where no one lives.”

“Maybe not,” says Reimu, “Remember, Marisa, when Yukari showed us the worlds that parallel with Gensokyo? One of them had a moon with sort of a… crystalline appearance…”

“Ah!” Marisa recalls what Reimu mentioned, as well as the painting on the ceiling of Kaguya’s chamber.

Reimu continues, “Something about it… was not normal…”

Kaguya’s eyes widen, “So you’ve actually seen it? I assume the Yukari you were talking about is Yukari Yakumo? She’s the reason Eirin and I came to Gensokyo.”

“Yeah, THAT Yukari,” answers Reimu, “Anyway, you say you’re the princess of that moon we saw?”

“Yes,” answers Kaguya, “In another realm, the moon is the world that belongs to another civilization…”

Alice says, “So you’re not of this world…”

Marisa smiles, “An ALIEN princess? Cool!”

Alice then asks, “So what’s your civilization like?”

Eirin, returning with a tray of water in small glasses, answers, “It’s remarkably like Gensokyo, actually. They are skilled in magic. They discovered, and use, spell cards. Everyone there is also born with a power or gift, like in Gensokyo. There are also youkai that live there, albeit alongside humans, such as moon rabbits like Reisen here…”

Reisen nods in agreement.

“However, unlike Gensokyo, the Lunarians, the people of the moon, have also embraced science and technology. Those things, along with magic, have allowed it to be at the height of civilization advancement, as far as we can tell, at least.”

Marisa’s eyes widen, “Science and technology too, huh?

Eirin hands one drink to Youmu and places the rest on the table for the others, then sits in a chair across from Sakuya, “The Lunarians have had an ongoing war with its respective Earth realm for thousands of years. It started when the people of Earth decided to claim the moon as their territory. The Lunarians, with the moon being a closed place, up until that time, got angry and decided to try to take over the Earth as well. That battle had gone on forever, throughout the ages. To this day, the present generations continue to fight the battle their ancestors started. Both sides are dead even. Most of those involved in the war have even forgotten what the battle was originally about. Now, they just want to destroy each other as eternal enemies…”

Reimu puts her hand on her forehead, “Morons…”

Kaguya gets into another aspect, “Eirin and myself are eternal beings. You see, Eirin here can make almost any kind of elixir. My mother, the moon’s empress, is immortal, which led Eirin to…”

“Hold on,” interrupts Alice, “What was that about your mother being immortal?”

Eirin explains, “As I said, everyone from the moon is born with a certain power. Kaguya-hime’s mother was a once-in-a-many-millennium case. Before her, the moon’s ruler was determined in tournaments that take place after the death of the emperor. The winner, the one proven to be the most powerful among Lunarians, takes the throne. Eventually, there was a tournament, in which a beautiful woman named Lunariya Houraisan fought… won… and became the moon’s eternal ruler. Her power: Manipulation of Immortality.”

Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, Youmu, and Alice are surprised at that information, “What?”

Eirin says, “Basically, she can choose when… and if… she will die. Upon death, she simply returns to life…”

“!” Sakuya notices something familiar about what she just heard.

Eirin says, “I grew up learning about the empress who could never die. I knew the otherwise impossible dream of immortality was indeed feasible and my brilliant intellect concocted the key to its achievement: The Hourai Elixir. Drinking it allows a person to live forever, never aging and always reviving in the event of anything resulting in death.”

“…” Sakuya realizes her situation is within the description Eirin just gave. She takes a sip of her water. Eirin smiles mysteriously upon seeing her drink.

Kaguya picks up, “Eirin made herself the guinea pig of her invention. Eventually, I asked for the elixir as well. She didn’t have much of a choice, as I was, you know, Empress Lunariya’s daughter and all. However, my mother was very proud of her unique immortality and decided to punish me…”

“What did she do?” asks Alice.

Kaguya explains, “Lunarians typically despise Earth humans and one of the biggest punishments is to exile one to the Earth. I was sent to live among humans in one of this planet’s most underdeveloped realms…”

“Were you banished too?” Youmu asks Eirin.

Eirin shakes her head, “No. Thanks to my genius IQ, Lunariya decided that I was too valuable to expend in the moon’s war effort with the Earth, so she exiled Kaguya-hime and kept me.”

Disgusted, Marisa clenches her fist so tightly, her fingernails almost break the skin of her palms, “That bitch! She exiled her own daughter…”

Kaguya explains, “I guess my mother came around eventually. She sent Eirin and a small group of emissaries to pick me up from the Earth. However, during my stay, I came to love the humans I lived with and I didn’t want to return to that warmongering place that exiled me in the first place!”

Eirin picks up, “I understood Kaguya-hime and decided to help her escape from the clutches of her old home. I killed the emissaries I was with, but not before one of them, a moon rabbit, sent a telepathic message back to the moon, telling them of my betrayal…”

Reisen briefly states, “Moon rabbits like me can telepathically communicate with one another over a vast distance.”

Eirin continues, “Kaguya-hime and I fled. We could not stay where we were any longer. Eventually, other Lunarians came after us and things looked grim. However, at that moment, we met Yukari Yakumo, who took us here to Gensokyo. We escaped from the Lunarians and built Eientei, our home in this forest where you currently are…”

Reimu’s eyes widen, “A moon princess escaping from her old home… So that’s how Yukari met you…”

Reisen continues the story, “The moon eventually caught on that Kaguya-hime and Eirin-sama were not in the same dimension anymore, so they dispatched moon rabbits to various Earthly realms to find them. Kaguya-hime for the same reason Eirin-sama and the others were sent, and Eirin-sama to make more Hourai Elixirs…”

“Why more after Kaguya was kicked off the moon for drinking it?” asks Reimu.

Reisen answers, “For the war effort. It’s reached the point where immortality is needed and Eirin is the only one who knows the secret to creating the Hourai Elixir. Right now, the moon gives its elites a weaker mass-produced version of the elixir, which was made, based on the known aspects of the original. It stops aging and it can revive a person if he dies, but those effects only last for a day, so they must be consumed regularly, thus expending a LOT of resources. They wanted Eirin-sama in order to put a stop to that…” Reisen gets back on track, “I was one of those moon rabbits they dispatched to find Kaguya-hime and Eirin-sama. I don’t think I need to tell you that I was sent to Gensokyo for the search. Of course, I found them, but I have little love for the moon and what the Lunarians are doing, so I stayed with them under the pretense that I was still in the middle of an unsuccessful search.”

“Very interesting story,” says Marisa, “But you still haven’t answered our question: Why the hell did you use that fake moon?”

“We’ll get to that soon,” says Eirin, “The moon’s resources are much fewer than the Earth’s. However, as you probably figured out, the Lunarians had developed a technology that their Earthly rivals had not: They can shift across realms. Lunarians use that ability to gather resources from Earthly realms, other than their enemy’s, but also enslave the people of realms to fight for them. Sometimes, that’s a primary motive. It’s ironic that the Earth that the Lunarians hate so is also their biggest resource for supplies and soldiers. They rarely get a chance, due to the intensity of the war, but they always look across Earth’s dimensions for potential resources and ‘recruits…’”

“…” Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, Youmu, and Alice all have a guess on what their former enemies are getting at and their tension rises.

Reisen explains, “A few months ago, not long after that really long winter we had, on the night of a full moon, I was contacted by the moon. As usual, I feigned ignorance to Kaguya-hime and Eirin-sama’s whereabouts, but I learned something else. Something… unsettling…”

“…”

“They explained their agenda to make Gensokyo their target for enslavement. That’s why we did what we did.”

Everyone’s fears have been confirmed, but things still remain unanswered, which Reimu brings up, “What does that have to do with the false moon?”

Kaguya explains, “On the nights of a full moon, the Lunarian’s powers increase. Moon rabbits can communicate across entire dimensions when it is in that state, but there is something even more significant: With the power it provides and it’s identical appearance across all the dimensions, the full moon is a nexus that the Lunarians can use to shift from one realm to another. It’s the only time they can do it. We hid Gensokyo’s full moon to keep them from coming here. Using my power: Manipulation of Eternity, I switched one eternal thing, the moon, with another. The strain of doing that was tremendous, so Eirin made a charm to sustain the effect until the time that eternity would have been permanently replaced by my eternity.”

“So Lunarians are like vampires…” notes Sakuya.

Marisa says, “Well that’s fine and dandy. That wouldn’t have affected the rest of us much, but why the hell did you use it to make yourself everyone’s frickin’ goddess?”

Eirin answers, “Closing the nexus to Gensokyo would have only been a temporary solution. The Lunarians are capable of technology to freely shift over realms, but they haven’t needed to develop it, as they haven’t needed it, but they would have known something was up and make a way into Gensokyo, which would have been completely unprepared to compete with the might of the Lunarian forces…”

Reisen picks up, “Merging a small portion of my power over lunacy with Kaguya-hime’s moon, we would have had an entire population willing to fight for us, and together, they would definitely stand a chance of driving the Lunarians out.”

Youmu yells, “So what you’re saying is you tried to enslave Gensokyo to protect it? You’re no better than those other Lunarians!”

Eirin sighs, “We realized that, but we couldn’t think of any other effective way to match their forces. Since you came and stopped us, we realized the will some people of Gensokyo have to protect it, overcoming all odds. We now know that perhaps Gensokyo should face whatever’s coming head-on.”

“Hell yeah,” says Marisa, “With me on your side, I’ll totally blast those Lunarian bastards back to the moon!”

“That’s what I figured,” says Kaguya, which brings me to why I summoned you here.”

Reisen explains, “After our defeat, our actions did not go unnoticed by the Lunarians. I was contacted afterward and asked what happened. I feigned ignorance once again, but they probably know something is strange…”

Eirin states the main point: “The threat of an invasion is now more imminent than ever.”

“…” A long silence follows.

Reisen breaks the silence, “The Lunarians are often preoccupied with their war, like we said, but at this point, they could come on any full moon. It could be fifty years from now. It could be next year. Hell, it could be in a matter of minutes!”

“Please don’t jinx it,” says the distraught Alice.

“…” More silence…

Eirin rises from her chair, “Sakuya, would you mind coming with me for a little while?”

Sakuya gets back to her feet, “What for?”

“You’ll see…” Eirin leaves.

“…” Sakuya shrugs, and then follows Eirin.

A few more tense minutes pass. Finally, Reimu says, “This is so depressing. Gensokyo will eventually be invaded by moon people from another dimension? This sounds too stupid to be real!”

Kaguya says, “It’s real, and I won’t try to avoid the situation again. If Gensokyo values its lifestyle, then I will honor it. I love this place and it was a mistake to try to control it!”

Marisa says, “We’ll just have to teach them what happens when you fuck with Gensokyo, right? No problem. Bring ‘em on, so I can send them back and we can get back to our everyday lives. This tense atmosphere is the pits!”

Kaguya smiles, “Well, I certainly like your enthusiasm. I’d advise you to tell your friends about it too so they will be ready.”

Suddenly, there is a bright green flash of light. They all look up and see a light green beam of light extending up toward the moon, which starts to fade slightly.

“What the hell?” yell Reimu, Marisa, and Youmu at the same time.

“That’s different,” says Alice.

“The moon!” yells Kaguya.

“What’s happening to it?” asks Tewi.

Kaguya pauses in thought for a second, then observes the direction the beam is coming from, “It’s the direction of the human village, but why?” Kaguya thinks a little longer, then reaches a guess, “Don’t tell me SHE went to do something about it. From last time I swore not to change Gensokyo’s lifestyle, and I will honor it!” She turns to Reimu, Marisa, Youmu, and Alice, “Sorry, but there’s something I must do right now. Care to come, Reisen?”

“Yeah,” Reisen nods.

Kaguya and Reisen take to the sky and quickly fly in the direction of the beam.

“I wonder what’s up,” says Reimu.

“I’m gonna follow them,” says Marisa, “It looks like someone’s trying to get RID of the moon, and I, for one, would miss it, so I’m helping them out.”

“I’ll come too,” volunteers Alice.

Youmu shrugs, “Let’s all go. I have some memories that come back to me with the sight of last month’s full moon.”

Reimu rises, “Well, I’d hate a night without any kind of moon…” With that, Reimu, Youmu, and Alice take to the sky. Marisa hops on her broomstick and follows her comrades. They fly in the direction of the green beam.

--

Elsewhere, far away, Remilia, out enjoying the night of a full moon, sees the beam and the fading moon, “Huh? What’s happening?”

--

Minutes later, inside Eientei, Sakuya follows Eirin to the chamber where they fought before. It shows no visible signs of damage from the explosion of Eirin's charm.

“So what do you want?” asks Sakuya.

“…” A bow materializes in Eirin’s hand. She whirls around toward Sakuya, readying an arrow in the process, then fires it, which Sakuya narrowly dodges.

“Eirin? What are you doing? Aren’t we past this?”

Eirin explains, “For when the Lunarian invasion commences, you could be a very useful tool.”

Sakuya’s eyes narrow, “Tool? Why did you call me that? In fact, you seem to know something about me. Tell me, Eirin!”

Eirin pauses, then says, “… … … All right. I suppose you have a right to know.”

“Ah!”

“You see, Sakuya, as I guess I should call you, as we’ve never bothered giving you a name, you are, in fact, a Lunarian, just like Kaguya-hime, Reisen, and myself.”

“A Lunarian? Me? I’m from the moon?”

“Yes. Even from a long time ago, we had plans to eventually invade Gensokyo. Obviously, those plans get put back by hundreds of years, but it was always Lunarian intent. However, as you probably already know, Lunarians are empowered by the full moon, and as you pointed out earlier, so are vampires, which inhabited Gensokyo. Obviously, they would be a major obstacle when we decided to follow through with our plan. We decided to send a single agent to this land to deal with the menace…”

“Me?”

“Indeed. You were born with Manipulation of Time, a top-ranking skill that was expendable from our war effort, so you were chosen. You were trained to fight vampires. When the time came for you to embark on your mission, we wiped your memories of the moon to ensure your proficiency. Of course, to fall back on that to guarantee your success, I gave you a sip of the Hourai Elixir.”

“So THAT’S how I’m an immortal?”

“Yes. Honestly, I’m surprised you lived without a death up until our encounter. Of course, seeing you returned to life and controlled time, I was convinced that it was you, the anti-vampire weapon that I eventually abandoned. However, I now have a new use for you: For when the invasion comes, you will be a tool once again, to fight the Lunarians!”

Sakuya scoffs, “I’ll have to decline. I like who I am and I won’t let you take my memory away again. What’s the point in us fighting anyway? I’ll just return to life. I am immortal, after all.”

Eirin makes a creepy smile, “Tell me, Sakuya. What is your definition of ‘immortal?’”

“H-huh?”

“You see, I mixed your drink earlier with a potion I made, which erases an immortal’s memories upon death. An empty mind is easy to manipulate, after all. Might you agree that the concept of ‘life’ is purely based on consciousness and memory? Without those, a body is nothing but meat and bone. The point is that the next time you die, though your body will regenerate, the identity known as ‘Sakuya Izayoi’ will cease to exist.”

Sakuya takes a step back, “So I am… technically mortal?”

“You are now. I propose a challenge: You and me, Sakuya. A fight to the death. If I win, you will be my tool to prepare for the Lunarian invasion. If you win, then you will continue with the life of your choosing and I won’t interfere again. Does this sound fair?”

A knife appears in Sakuya’s hand, “Sure enough. I guess I should thank you, Eirin. Up till a month ago, I thought that when I died, everything ended. Now that fact is true for me. You brought me a step closer to true humanity.”

“You’re welcome…” Eirin prepares an arrow, “Let’s see if you have the skills to enjoy that newly found humanity…”

--

In the bamboo forest, Reimu, Marisa, Youmu, and Alice follow Kaguya and Reisen in the direction of the green pillar. Despite the fact that the two Lunarians had left not long before Reimu and the others, they apparently got very far ahead, as there is no sign of them in the distance. A few minutes pass and they suddenly hear explosions and other sounds indicating a battle.

Alice says, “I think those two are there now and it’s not on the most peaceful of terms…”

Marisa shrugs and asks, “What else is new? It seems anyone who’s willing to change things around Gensokyo doesn’t mind getting into a brawl…”

They pick up speed and fly further ahead. They suddenly see a figure lying on the forest floor.

Youmu recognizes the figure: “Reisen!” The four of them descend down to Reisen, who has a few mild burns over her body. Youmu kneels down and shakes her, causing her to wearily wake up, “Reisen! What happened?”

Reisen answers, “It’s… her… Please go ahead… Kaguya… They went deeper in…” Reisen falls unconscious again.

Reisen, in her daze, couldn’t speak in a complete thought, but they got most of the message, which Alice pieces together, “I guess a fight happened here, which caused ‘Reisen’ here to be beaten. Whoever they were fighting against went further into the forest…”

“Whatever it was…” starts Reimu, “we should keep going.”

Reimu, Marisa, Youmu, and Alice fly ahead at full speed. They quickly close in on the pillar’s origin point. After a few more minutes of flying they hear a voice, not belonging to Kaguya, say, “Well, what do you think, Kaguya? I never really had a lot of confidence in my intellect, but I must say, this time, I’ve had a plan which was pure GENIUS!”

Kaguya’s voice then protests, “Don’t do this, Mokou! I’ll admit that this might be a solution to the problem, but it might not, on the other hand! Regardless, taking away the moon is stupid! People enjoy seeing it! It helps people keep track of the time! Doing this is taking away a part of Gensokyo!”

Reimu whispers, “One voice is Kaguya’s… but who is the other one? ‘Mokou?’”

Marisa and Youmu, who recognize both Mokou’s name and voice, both answer, “I know,” at the same time.

Marisa picks up, “It’s that weird girl that ‘killed’ Kaguya a month ago.”

Youmu asks, “So she’s behind it? I wonder what her means are…”

They creep close to the scene. In the middle of a large clearing, Kaguya, on the ground, faces Mokou, who is also standing on the ground with her hands in her pockets and an arrogant grin on her face. Behind Mokou is another girl with green hair, wearing a green school-like uniform with a frilly skirt, and two horns extending out of her head. Her eyes are closed and her arms are spread as she stands in the middle of a magic circle on the ground, from which the green pillar of light extends up to the moon.

Mokou continues the argument, “This is for everyone’s own good. So what if we lose a moon in the process? When it comes to avoiding a war, sometimes ‘acceptable losses’ are necessary.”

Kaguya agrees with part of Mokou’s statement, “Yes, this is to avoid a war, but why do YOU care, Mokou? You live a lonely existence! As far as I can tell, your only rise in life is challenging ME!”

Mokou answers, “Honestly, I don’t, but I love Gensokyo and I don’t want it to be enslaved by aliens! Secondly…” Mokou points back at the horned girl with her thumb, “I know someone who can DO something about it!”

Kaguya states what she observes, “So you convinced Keine to erase the moon from Gensokyo’s history?”

“Keine?” whispers Youmu, turning her attention toward the green-haired girl. Sure enough, Youmu recalls some similarities between that girl and the Keine she fought in the human village, such as both having the same face and similar clothes.

“Bingo!” exclaims Mokou.

Kaguya says solemnly, “I understand what your reasoning is, Mokou, but I won’t let you take away something so important for that! I will stop you and Keine!”

“Figures…” sighs Mokou, “I’m afraid Keine’s a little preoccupied with the process of erasing the moon. Such a thing takes time after all, so it’s you and me again, Kaguya!”

Kaguya directs her right arm toward Mokou and a transparent sword forms around her hand, “I won’t lose this time! I will stop you and Keine!”

Mokou shrugs, “Brave words, princess. Let’s see if you can actually can this time…”

Youmu comes out of hiding followed by her three companions, “Kaguya!”

Kaguya extends her other hand to her side, “Stay back. This fight is mine!”

“Kaguya…”

Mokou grins, “Good, Kaguya! I wouldn’t like anything other than a good old one-on-one duel with you. That’s how real woMEN fight after all!”

“Rrraaaggghhh!” Kaguya flies toward Mokou, who leaps backward, extending her hand and fires a volley of fireballs at Kaguya, who counters by quickly slicing through them with her sword.

Mokou mouth opens in surprise, “Wow! All of them? You’ve gotten better, princess!”

Kaguya presses her assault and continues charging at Mokou, “I’ll show you just how much better I’ve become, Mokou!”

Mokou shakes her head, “Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. All I said is that you got better. I never said you’d become any good!” Mokou’s entire body ignites and she flies at Kaguya, intending a flaming body slam. Kaguya raises her sword in defense and it and Mokou clash. However, Mokou overpowers Kaguya’s blade and it shatters and Kaguya gets stunned by the force of the attack. Mokou takes the opportunity and delivers a powerful kick, which sends Kaguya careening across the clearing and into a tree.

“Kaguya!” yells the concerned Reimu.

Alice calmly observes, “Kaguya has some aces, but Mokou has the advantage. Spell cards would be Kaguya’s best tactic for the moment…”

Kaguya, aware of her current status in the duel, draws a spell card, “Divine Treasure!” The five objects appear, each radiating silver energy, “Brilliant Dragon Bullet!” All the objects, save the necklace, vanish. The necklace expands, then shrinks around Kaguya’s neck. Both of Kaguya’s hands glow with beautiful colors. Kaguya leaps into the air and flies over Mokou, firing several brilliant lasers of colorful energy down at Mokou, whose hands ignite and frantically deflects the lasers. However, there are too many and one pierces Mokou through the shoulder.

“AH!” Stunned, Mokou grabs her shoulder. Kaguya’s entire body radiates with color and she drops down to Mokou’s level in the blink of an eye and delivers and energy-filled kick, which connects with Mokou’s gut. “UCK!” Mokou coughs out blood and is sent flying back, landing near Keine.

Keine opens one of her red eyes and yells, “Mokou-sa_” The pillar flickers a little.

“I’m fine!” Mokou reassures Keine, as she gets back to her feet, “Focus, Keine! Don’t worry about me, okay?”

“Y-yes…” Keine focuses back on her historical manipulation.

Kaguya follows up her last attack as two prismatic blades, both four feet in length, form around Kaguya’s hands. She lunges at Mokou, swinging one of the blades, which Mokou narrowly dodges by jumping backward. Mokou draws a spell card, but Kaguya presses her offensive, “Oh no, you don’t, Mokou!” Kaguya swings her other blade, cutting Mokou’s spell card in half, “Ha!”

“Good move!” cheers Youmu.

Marisa nods in satisfaction, “Not half bad…”

“…” Alice closely observes Mokou’s movements, expecting a contingency technique.

“…” Despite her predicament, Mokou smirks. With Kaguya open, Mokou reaches forward toward Kaguya’s neck and rips the necklace off, negating the powers of Kaguya’s spell card.

“Ah!” Kaguya stops her advance and leaps away from Mokou, who draws another spell card.

“Good move, Kaguya, but a small victory like that isn’t worth shit! Limiting Edict!” The flaming phoenix aura forms around Mokou. Kaguya goes on the defensive. “Ihakasa's Moon Curse!” Feathers from Mokou’s bird-like aura fly out and take on the shape of fiery blades, which home in on Kaguya.

“Tch…” Kaguya extends her hand and fires small beams of silver light, which intercept most of the blades, but there are too many for her to fend off and she quickly jumps up and flies over the remaining blades and fires a bolt of energy at Mokou, who holds out her hands and forms a fireball in each. She cancels out Kaguya’s attack by tossing one fireball at the bolt and tosses the other at Kaguya, who narrowly avoids the attack. Mokou flies up to Kaguya’s level and her aura prepares to fling more blades at the moon princess, who quickly draws a spell card, “Impossible Request!” The five items appears, “Buddha's Stone Bowl!” All the items vanish, except the bowl which fades and expands into the barrier she used fighting Marisa. The blades deflect off Kaguya’s shield and Mokou’s aura vanishes. “Now takes this Mokou!” The magic circles appear and fire lasers at Mokou.

“Ah!” Mokou dodges a laser, then her body ignites. She charges at Kaguya in another flaming body slam. A laser burns her lower torso, but she endures and clashes against Kaguya’s shield, which quickly begins to strain against Mokou’s attack. “YAAAA!” Mokou unleashes another burst of energy, which shatters the shield, leaving Kaguya stunned. “Time to wrap this round up, princess!”

“Ugah…”

“YA!” Mokou flies toward the stunned Kaguya and spins, with her knee connecting with Kaguya’s neck. There is a gruesome cracking sound and Kaguya falls to the ground lifelessly.

“KAGUYA!” yells Reimu.

“Don’t worry,” says Mokou, “She’s just like me: Immortal.”

“I know that!” yells Reimu, “It’s just… wait a minute… Did you just say that you’re immortal?”

Mokou smiles, “Drank the potion and here I am who-knows-how-many-years later!”

“Whatever,” says Marisa, “Now that Kaguya can’t get in our way, it’s time WE settled things with you…”

“Don’t even try,” warns Mokou, “I’m not used to fighting anyone other than Kaguya, Eirin on a couple occasions, and that stupid bunny every once in a while. I’m afraid of what I might do to you… but then again…” She looks at Youmu, then Marisa, “You did defeat Kaguya a month ago, didn’t you? In that case, you might be worth the effort. Alrighty. Entertain me, girls! My adrenaline is still rushing!”

Reimu, Marisa, Youmu, and Alice get ready for action. “Oh, you’ll get one hell of a good time, Mokou!”

--

In Eirin’s chamber, the battle between Sakuya and Eirin begins. Eirin fires her arrow, which Sakuya quickly sidesteps, then counterattacks by throwing a couple knives, which Eirin easily dodges.

Eirin takes to the sky and readies an arrow, “So tell me, Sakuya…” she fires her arrow “… How did you end up the way you are now?”

Sakuya dives forward, under Eirin’s arrow, then flies straight at Eirin, who moves back to put more distance between them, “Even what you designate as a ‘weapon’ is still a living being that can feel and learn! I wondered why I wasn’t like everyone else and just what I was fighting for!”

“I see. I saw to it that you were cold and ruthless, but without anyone to maintain that mindset, I suppose it was inevitable that you’d developed a consciousness of your own. Oh well, you were my first, and only, human weapon, so I wasn’t aware of the potential drawbacks… Still, I’ll know better this time.” Several magic circles appear around Eirin and she prepares another arrow and fires it, other arrows shooting out of the magic circles at the same time.

Sakuya narrowly maneuvers through Eirin’s attack and draws a spell card, “Illusion Ghost!” Several magic circles materialize around Sakuya, “Jack the Ludo Bile!” Knives pour out of the circles and home in on Eirin, who swiftly moves to the side with the concentrated fire of knives closely behind her.

While retreating, Eirin prepares a spell card of her own, “Mind of God!” Her card shifts into the shape of several glowing arrows and a green glow emanates from her forehead, “Omoikane's Brain!” She throws the arrows, which increase in speed as if they were initially fired and they fly toward Sakuya, who takes evasive action. However, Eirin psychically controls the arrows and they follow the maid.

“Tch…” Sakuya, dropping her focus on her spell card, concentrates on avoiding Eirin’s homing arrows. Sakuya tries to intercept them by throwing knives, but they arc around them. With the arrows closing in Sakuya draws a spell card for a final defense, “Wound Sign!” Energy builds up inside Sakuya, “Inscribbled Soul!” With the excess energy, she swings her knife wildly, cutting through the arrows. Afterward, she looks at Eirin and immediately draws another spell card, “Time Sign!”

“…” Eirin grins and prepares a countermeasure.

A pillar of frozen time traps Eirin. With the doctor frozen, Sakuya circles around her, tossing several knives, which freeze short of Eirin, ready to attack at Sakuya’s next declaration. The maid returns to her original position and declares, “Private Square!” Time in the area resumes and the knives close in on Eirin. However, Eirin was expecting Sakuya technique and she releases a burst of energy, knocking the knives away. Sakuya is taken aback, “Wh-what?”

Eirin calms states, “You’ve learned a lot of things during your time in Gensokyo. Honestly, I’m quite impressed, but that particular technique will have no effect on me, as I personally saw to it that you learned it while on the moon.

“Damn it…” curses Sakuya.

“…” Eirin fires an arrow, aimed at Sakuya’ right arm, but the maid moves her arms and the arrow misses.

“That strategy won’t work twice!” warns Sakuya, drawing another spell card, despite the fact that Private Square required a fair amount of her stamina.

“Another spell card?” asks Eirin, “Well then, I guess I’ll test out my newest one…” Eirin draws a spell card that’s different in appearance than the others.

“Silver Sign!” Silver energy swirls around Sakuya.

“Trace Sign!” Eirin’s spell card turns into purple energy, which briefly mixes with the energy from Sakuya’s spell card, then returns to Eirin in the form of energy similar to Sakuya’s.

Sakuya hesitates at the odd nature of Eirin’s spell card, but decides to launch her attack, “Perfect Maid!” Several knives materialize around Sakuya and fly toward Eirin.

Eirin grins and declares, “Perfect Doctor!” In the same nature as Sakuya’s technique, several arrows materialize around Eirin and fly toward Sakuya.

Sakuya gasps, “What?”

Most of the knives and arrows ricochet of each. Sakuya, dual-wielding a pair of knives charges at Eirin, who blocks with her bow and pulls back the cord, causing an arrow to materialize.

“!!!!” Sakuya quickly flies to the side as Eirin releases, but the arrow sinks deep into Sakuya’s right hip, “Auughhh!”

Disappointed, Eirin sighs, “Just as I thought… Your years as a maid have made you soft. Such a waste of potential… Oh well, that shall all be remedied soon enough…”

Sakuya glares at Eirin, Damn it! This is not good. I won’t let her take away my memories… those that are important to me…

--

In the bamboo forest clearing, Reimu, Marisa, Youmu, and Alice get ready to battle Mokou, but know that Keine is their real target.

Reimu starts by throwing several needles at Mokou, who dodges to the side, but soon after, Youmu charges in close with the Roukanken. Mokou’s left hand ignites, providing protection and she catches Youmu’s blade, then knocks her away with a kick. Four dolls armed with lances materialize around Alice and she sends them charging at Mokou, who unleashes a volley of fireballs, which intercept and destroy the dolls. Youmu recovers and attacks again. Meanwhile, Marisa turns her attention toward Keine and fires a white magical laser.

“Tch!” Mokou zooms out of Youmu’s path and goes to shield Keine. With a flaming hand, she knocks Marisa’s attack to the side. Preparing to play the defensive for Keine, she draws a spell card, “Immortal!” Her bird-like aura appears again, “Fire Bird: Flying Phoenix!” From her aura fly several flames, which soon take the shape of birds, though smaller than Mokou’s aura. She sends one flying at all four girls.

Youmu draws a spell card, “Life Terminating Sword!” A long green blade of energy extends from the Roukanken, “Slash of Plutonic Muse!” Youmu swings her elongated sword down hard and slices through Mokou’s attack, but the immortal has more than one firebird to attack with and launches the two more.

Reimu and Marisa step up, each with spell cards to counter Mokou’s attack, “Treasure Sign: Ying-Yang Orb!” A Yin-Yang Orb materializes, which flies toward one bird, then busts with blue light, completely dispelling it.

“Magic Sign: Stardust Reverie!” Marisa extends her arm and sends a flurry of magical star-shaped shots at the other firebird, which rip through it, until there’s nothing left that can be considered harmful.

Alice prepares a spell card of her own, intending to dispel Mokou’s spell card altogether, “Puppeteer Sign!” Several blue-haired mermaid dolls, each armed with a trident, materialize, neatly lined up in front of Alice, “Dolls in Sea!” A watery aura surrounds each of the mermaid dolls and they charge at the remaining firebirds, where their auras burst, extinguishing the flames, and Mokou, whom they fire somewhat powerful blasts of water at, canceling the effects of Mokou’s card. The mermaid dolls vanish.

Mokou wipes some of the water off her, “Dammit!” She flies at the four girls.

Marisa prepares a spell card, “Love Sign!” The golden energy flows into her as she flies up close to Mokou, who prepares to deliver a fiery punch, but Marisa is slightly quicker to the draw as she holds her hand out in front of her, “Master Spark!”

“Ah!” At point blank, Mokou is blasted back by Marisa’s large laser and slides across the ground.

“Here’s our chance!” yells Marisa, “Attack the other girl now!”

“Got it! Spirit Sign: Fantasy Orb!” Using another spell card, Reimu launches six colored orbs of holy energy at Keine, who gets hit directly.

“Ah? Ahh!” Keine is knocked away and her pillar of light completely vanishes. The full moon’s form completely solidifies.

Alice gives a strategic suggestion, “Let’s split up! Two of us fight Mokou while the other two fend off the other girl. It could get hectic if they attack together!”

“Okay!” Youmu charges at Keine, followed by Reimu. They slam into Keine and knock her deeper into the forest. Marisa and Alice stay behind and prepare to battle against Mokou, who quickly recovers, furious.

--

Sakuya and Eirin’s battle continues, but Sakuya’s wound leaves her with little energy remaining.

Sakuya is kept on the defensive as Eirin’s magic circles move around her and fire out arrows. She tries to counterattack several times, but Eirin also manages to dodge or receive minor cuts from the knives.

Eirin sighs, “It’s depressing, but is that all you can do with your care toward your newly found ‘mortality?’”

Sakuya thinks, Is it? Before meeting Remilia-sama, I really didn’t care too much about my life. I just did what I knew: slaying vampires. She gave me a reason for my existence, but what was I? A loyal servant. Nothing more, nothing less. Someone who would gladly sacrifice herself at any time for her mistress. Ever since returning to life, I had even less care about my life and when I learned of my immortality, any reason to care disappeared altogether… Sakuya’s heartbeat increases … So why am I like this? Why am I so… frightened?

Eirin notices Sakuya’s facial expression and body movements, and asks, “You’re scared, aren’t you? Perhaps it’s normal. After all, until a few minutes ago, you had no reason to feel fear. Ha! In addition to the physical harm I deliver on to you, the psychological harm also makes my victory over you absolutely inevitable.”

Sakuya’s grip on her knife tightens, “I… I don’t…”

“Don’t worry,” says Eirin, drawing a spell card, “Fear is simply a shackle… a mental restraint that that you will be free of shortly. Esoterica!” The card splits into several silver orbs of energy, which quickly fly around Sakuya, then turn into magic circles, which completely surround her. In front, left, right, behind, below, above, all around her.

Sakuya frantically looks around her, “Wh-what is this?”

Eirin makes a deceptively sweet smile and answers, “My best spell card. It’s only fitting that you last moments as ‘Sakuya Izayoi’ will be ended in the most spectacular manner. Now then… Astronomical Entombing!”

An arrow flies out of one of the circles and sinks into Sakuya’s back, “AAAAAGGHHHHHH!” She lets out an anguished shriek.

“Yaa!” Eirin thrusts her hand forward and another one of the circles fires an arrow, which pierces her left thigh.

“UAAGHH!” Sakuya lets out another cry.

Eirin says, “See? I can get you from any angle. Honestly, I dislike using this technique, as it take too much of my stamina and it’s such an easy way to win, but make no mistake. I’ll do whatever I must. This next one will be the end and you’ll look like a hedgehog, I’m afraid, but it’s not like you’ll remember it…”

All the magic circles start to light up. Sakuya closes her eyes, So this is how it ends? This is what all my experiences throughout life have led me to? To become a tool to fight aliens? To forget everyone? Remilia-sama, Reimu, Marisa, Patchouli, Meiling…? Sakuya’s eyes open slightly. Several tears run down her cheeks, No! Not like this! This is worse than death! My identity and my memories… those that are important to me… I don’t want to forget them! I won’t forget them! Despite her body’s intense protests, Sakuya draws a spell card and declares, “Strange Art!”

Eirin raises an eyebrow, “Hm?”

“ILLUSIONAL MISDIRECTION!” Many small magic circles appear around Sakuya, which fire out knives as Eirin’s fire out arrows. The knives tear through the arrows and Eirin’s magic circles shatter. The knives multiply and fly all over the place. One sinks into the surprised Eirin’s lower gut.

“ACK!” Eirin coughs out blood, “How can you… after all that how can you have the energy to use a spell card like that?”

Sakuya’s eyes narrow, “I won’t lose to you, Eirin Yagokoro! You won’t take away the most precious thing I have! You won’t take control over my life again!”

“Mere words are meaningless,” growls Eirin, “Your resolve is no substitute for your predicament, so DIE!” Eirin quickly fires an arrow at Sakuya “… and be mine once again!”

Sakuya floats to the side, avoiding the arrow, which grazes her skirt’s pocket, creating a rip large enough for a piece of paper to flutter out. “Ah!” Sakuya reaches for the paper, but falls short. Eirin zips over to it, grabs it, then takes a look at it.

It is the photograph that was taken at the festival that took place in Miyohiga Village soon after Sakuya and the others defeated Yukari. Sakuya, along with Reimu, Marisa, Youmu, Yukari, Yuyuko, Ran, and Chen are present, smiling and together like the best of friends. An image flashes through Eirin’s mind, upon seeing the picture, of her in the photograph, along with Kaguya, Reisen, and Tewi, “Hu-huh?”

“Eirin?”

“I-it’s nothing…” Eirin drops the picture to the invisible floor below. Her demeanor softening, Eirin declares, “Let us finish this duel, Sakuya! If you can somehow win, I promise I will leave you alone and allow you to live the life you had made for yourself…” Eirin assumes a prepared stance.

Sakuya, even lower on energy than before, breathing quickly and heavily, thinks, I'm getting sleepy… I’m so worn down… She looks at Eirin, who is bleeding heavily from the wound she received, in edition to being significantly worn down from the spell card she used; All in all, Eirin still has the advantage. I have one last shot, so I’d better make it my best… Sakuya decides to put her wild card into play. She draws a spell card, summons up some more will-driven energy, and declares, “Buriallusion!” intending to use the same technique she used to defeat Ran. Uncontrolable energy flows into her, “Phantomic Killer in Night Mist!” Sakuya draws two knives as she enters a state of temporary insanity. She charges at Eirin, laughing, “HYAHAHAHAHA! FUCKING DIE, DOC!”

Eirin’s eyes widen, “Wh…?”

--

Outside the clearing an the bamboo forest, Reimu and Youmu confront the monsterous Keine Kamishirasawa, who asks, “Why do you intend to stop us? Don’t you know what’s at stake?”

Reimu sarcastically answers, “A bunch of aliens from the home of your friend’s enemy wanna come here and make us all their soldiers, by any chance?”

“That’s right,” says Keine, “Why do you want that to happen when it can be prevented?”

Youmu answers, “Because getting rid of the moon is a little extreme?”

“Everyone likes the moon,” says Reimu, “They will be sad if it’s gone.”

Keine directs her gaze toward the ground, “I know that. Everyone in the village like to gaze up at the full moon. It makes them happy and it makes me happy…”

Youmu yells, “If that’s how you feel, then why are you going along with this, Keine?”

Keine answers, “I don’t want to do this, but it’s for everyone’s good. I love humans more than anything in Gensokyo and I don’t want them to be enslaved by the Lunarians! This is the best way to remedy the problem and while I am in this state, I can make it happen. The freedom of everyone in Gensokyo, human and youkai, depends on me!”

Youmu raises an eyebrow, “’In your state?’”

Keine says to Youmu, “You seem to know that I’m the same girl you encountered in the human village one month ago.”

Reimu asks Youmu, “What happened? It does seem strange that you know her…”

Youmu answers Reimu, “I passed by a human village before I met up with you and the others. There, I fought the girl that stands before us, though she looked much more human at the time. She hid the village away from Gensokyo’s history, making it exempt from the moon’s effects. It was basically in a little world of its own.”

Reimu’s eyes widen, “She can hide history from Gensokyo? Unbelievable…”

“In my human form, I can,” answers Keine, “But on the night of a full moon, I become a youkai… a hakutaku. In this form, I can CHANGE history! It’s normally a power I have no use for, but this is an exception. By erasing the moon from Gensokyo’s history, the threat of an attack by the Lunarians will be non-existant. Besides, I love humans and love being a human myself. I despise this form and without a full moon, I will be a full human! The only reason I didn’t do this before is because my beloved humans love the full moon, but getting rid of it is now for their protection!”

“I understand what is going on,” says Reimu, “but taking away something everyone finds so precious is not the answer!”

“Then what is the answer?”

“We fight,” answers Youmu, “We’ll teach those Lunarians what happens when you try to enslave someplace like Gensokyo!”

Keine’s eyes narrow, “Do you even know what we would be up against? If we stand no chance, it would be too late to correct the error. I was simply erasing the potential threat before it even occurs!”

Reimu declares, “Gensokyo itself is filled with things that may be just as dangerous. We are more powerful than you think and together, we can show them that Gensokyo is the last place they’d want to invade!”

“You are too naïve!” protests Keine.

Youmu draws the Roukanken, “This debate is getting nowhere. Perhaps we can prove to you that YOU’RE the one that is naïve about what Gensokyo is capable of!”

“I don’t like fighting humans,” states Keine, “but if you are right, then I’d like to see the power that you believe can stand up to the Lunarians.”

Reimu smiles, “With the power you wield, I’m sure you underestimate yourself. I hope we’ll all have a better understanding of each other once this is over.”

Reimu, Youmu, and Keine all draw their spell cards at the same time.

--

In the clearing, the angry Mokou yells, “Damn you! You know what danger Gensokyo is in, don’t you? Why are you interfering?” Mokou tosses a flurry of fireballs in her discontent.

A few dolls materialize around Alice and she empowers them with blue auras. They tear through and dispel the flames, then vanish. Alice answers, “Because you are taking away something we love and will miss.”

“With the risk looming above, who gives a shit about that?” growls Mokou, who draws a spell card, “Exalted Personage!” Mokou’s bird-like aura appears again, “Advice of St. Germain!” The aura flaps its wings in the direction of Marisa and Alice, releasing a storm of large fireballs, which fly in various directions.

“Incoming!” yells Marisa. They attempt to move out of the way, but the nature of the movements of Mokou’s attack is unpredictable.

“Ugh!” One fireball slams into Alice, inflicting a painful burn, but she manages to endure.

Marisa fires bolts of magic, destroying some of the fireballs, but gets singed by the sparks left over, “Er! Alice, are you okay?”

“Y-yes,” replies Alice, clutching her burn.

The fireballs that didn’t connect with Marisa or Alice hit the trees surrounding the clearing, starting a blaze. “…” Mokou’s aura vanishes and she raises her hand up above her and waves it around in a circle. In response, the surrounding flames gather and condense into a massive fireball, which hovers above Mokou. All the flames condense and Mokou sends the massive orange sphere flying toward Marisa and Alice, “Do you think you can handle this?”

Marisa takes a second to think and draws a spell card. Alice asks, “What can we do, Marisa? That’s… too big to take care of with a single attack!”

“Yeah,” says Marisa, but I have a plan. Just stand back and defend yourself. Get ready to fight solo for a little while, because this is going to take a lot outta me!”

“H-huh?”

Before Alice can take in all of Marisa’ instructions, Marisa declares, “Magicannon!” Energy of various colors flow into her, “Final Spark! Marisa fires her massive laser, which flies toward Mokou’s fireball.

Alice yells to Marisa over the noise her attack is making, “That may be a powerful attack, Marisa, but that’s not going to destroy that flame!”

The Final Spark sinks into the fireball, inflicting minimal damage on it as a whole. Halfway through, though, Marisa makes a fist and the beam suddenly bursts into several smaller beams, which disperse, tearing through the inside of the ball, then fly out and arc in the direction of the surprised Mokou.

“WHAT?” Before Mokou can react, the smaller beams collide with one another, becoming a full Final Spark again, which slams into Mokou, delivering a powerful blow and stunning her.

Marisa, who is slightly dizzy from using extra energy to do her trick with the Final Spark, immediately draws another spell card, “Comet!” Marisa puts more energy than normal in the technique she has planned. Blue energy surrounds her as she aims the tip of her broom toward the large now-unstable fireball, “Blazing Star!” Marisa flies headlong into the flame.

Alice screams, “Whaaaa! You idiot!”

However, Marisa’s barrier of energy keeps her from getting burned and she bursts through the fireball’s core, emerging from the other side as it bursts. Alice shields herself with her arms, breaking into a hot sweat. Marisa rockets toward Mokou, who is slowly recovering. The back of Marisa’s broom jerks sharply upward, launching Marisa several feet up as the broom crashes into Mokou, “UGGHHH!” Mokou takes another heavy blow.

As the broom heads up to catch Marisa, she draws a third and final spell card, “Uh… Love… Sign…” Golden energy flows into Marisa, who wearily directs her right arm down toward Mokou, “Master… Spark!” With so little energy, Marisa’s Master Spark is much smaller than normal, but it still manages to deal a respectable amount of harm to the stunned Mokou, who gets caught by the beam and is forced to the ground at the end of a trail of upturned earth. The broom catches Marisa, who slowly descends to the ground, slowly turning her head in Alice’s direction, “If that… didn’t do it… then this is all you, Alice... Good night…” Once she descends to a safe distance from the ground, she rolls off her broom, tired and asleep from her heavy usage of high-level spell cards.

Alice sighs, “That was really stupid and reckless of you, Marisa. Still, I think that was enou… HUH?”

Mokou slow gets back to her feet and walks in Alice’s direction at a very slow pace, “Damn it…”

Alice gasps, “What ARE you? No one would still have the will to fight after THAT!”

“What am I?” scoffs Mokou, “I’m the same as Kaguya, an immortal, of course. I spent hundreds of years enduring the harsh elements and powerful youkai, as well as thousands of battles against Kaguya. I’m no more human. I’ve had plenty of experience in enduring pain and pushing through states of fatigue. Right now, every muscle in my body aches and, if I had a chance to, I would take a nap, and yet, I still have enough power to kill you…” Mokou walks up to Marisa’s unconscious body, “I’ll get my revenge on her once you are you of my way.” Mokou kicks Marisa out of her path.

“Marisa!”

Mokou’s hands ignite, “Let us continue!”

Alice says somewhat confidently, “You say you can finish ME off in the state you are in? I’ve only used a small portion of my stamina. Think you’ve got it backward.”

Mokou smirks, “We’ll see! YAAA!” With a sudden burst of speed, Mokou jets over to Alice, who is caught off-guard.

“What?”

“Ha!” Mokou delivers a flaming punch, which stuns the physically unaccustomed Alice. Mokou follows up with a kick, which sends the youkai sliding across the ground.

Alice rises halfway, and on one knee, she wipes the blood from her lip and extends her right arm toward Mokou, firing a volley of small lasers, which Mokou dodges by jumping to the side. However, in her fatigue, Mokou stumbles, which Alice wastes no time in taking advantage of. A magic circle appears in front of Alice and a doll armed with a lance shoots out, slamming into Mokou, who is knocked off her feet. Alice follows up and draws a spell card, “War Sign!” A small group of dolls, dressed like knights and armed with swords, materializes around Alice, who thrusts her hand in Mokou’s direction, “Little Legion!” The dolls fly toward Mokou, who recovers and throws several fireballs, destroying most of the dolls. Mokou jumps out of the way of the ones that made it through her counterattack, and throws a final volley, completely thwarting Alice’s attack.

Mokou lands near Marisa’s sleeping body and breaths quickly and heavily, “Damn… I guess I am overexerting myself a little… Time to take a rest… and let someone else cover for me…”

“What do you mean?” demands Alice.

Mokou draws a spell card, which suddenly glows orange, “Just this. A special trick learned through years of trial and error. Mokou drops the spell card on the unaware Marisa and declares, “Possessed by Phoenix!” Mokou’s phoenix aura appears… but not around Mokou. Rather, it appears around Marisa. The aura rises up, with Marisa’s unconscious body hanging in the middle of it like a rag doll. The aura flaps its wings.

Alice takes a few steps back, “Wh-what is this?”

Mokou answers, “I’m lending a degree of my powers to your friend, although she doesn’t know it. I’m just making things interesting.”

The aura and Marisa fly several feet up. Marisa, like she were a marionette puppet, raises her right arm forward and down toward Alice. From her hand, she fires a concentrated laser of flame. Alice leaps back, dodging it, but Marisa releases it continuously and it follows Alice’s movements, eventually burning her left arm. “AHHHHHH!” Alice, grasping her arm, slumps to the ground.

Mokou, standing casually nearby with her hands in her pockets, says, “See? Right now, your friend is my little puppet.”

Alice, realizing the potential complications that have arisen, clicks her tongue in dismay, “Tch…”

Mokou says, “Well, I’ll just sit back and let her be your playmate for a little while. Have fun.” With that, Mokou takes a few steps back. Marisa’s aura flaps its wings down at Alice, unleashing several flames.

Alice slightly lifts off the ground and flies around, dodging the onslaught of flames. She looks at Mokou, She’s the one that triggered that… thing, so she’s probably the one I need to attack to release Marisa… She draws a spell card, “White Sign!” Five dolls wearing thick coats and small cylinder-shaped hats, both accessories made out of white fur, fly in formation in front of Alice. She charges in Mokou’s direction and declares, “Chalk-White Russian Dolls!” The dolls fire blades of ice in Mokou’s direction.

“…” Mokou sighs and Marisa drops into the path of Alice’s attack.

Alice gasps as Mokou uses Marisa as a shield and she quickly yells, “Disengage!” The blade of ice vanish mere inches short of hitting Marisa, along with Alice’s dolls.

“Nice try,” says Mokou. Marisa’s aura flaps its wings, unleashing a small wave of fire, which engulfs Alice and knocks her off her feet.

With minor burns covering her body, Alice slowly gets up, “Shoot… This seems hopeless…”

Marisa flies up and toward Alice, poised to pounce on her when suddenly, a beam of light flies toward Mokou, outside her notice, and slams into her upper chest. “UUGHHH!” Mokou staggers backward, losing her focus over Marisa’s possession. Marisa drops in front of Alice, who looks in the direction the beam came from: The newly-revived Kaguya.

“Kaguya!” yells the relieved Alice.

“Shit!” grumbles Mokou, “You’re back already?”

“It was just a broken neck,” says Kaguya, “I can recover from that in very little time. Now, it seems you’ve run into quite a bit of trouble while I was out. Did those two cause you some problems? Not that I’m surprised. After all, one of them defeated me.”

“Shut up!” yells Mokou, “I just took them a little more lightly than I should have. Now that you’re back, however, shall we continue?”

Kaguya smirks, “I don’t know whether you’re brave, proud, or just an idiot, but I’ll be happy to finish you off.” Kaguya turns to Alice, “I’d like you to stand back again. I appreciate your help, but if it involves me and her, I’d rather it be JUST me and her.”

“Okay,” replies Alice with a nod.

“Good,” says Mokou, drawing a spell card, “This will really have you know just how big the gap between us is! Everlasting!” Mokou’s bird-like aura appears again, “Phoenix's Tail!” The aura flaps its wings, unleashing a large wave of fire.

Kaguya draws a card of her own in retaliation, “New Impossible Request: Red Stone of Aja!” A golden bracelet with a glowing red ruby materializes around Kaguya’s right wrist. Her hand glows and a blade of red energy extends to roughly seven feet in length. She swings the blade into Mokou’s attack and cuts through the middle, unharmed.

“RRRAARGGHH!” Mokou dashes toward Kaguya and throws a punch. However, in her fatigue, Mokou’s movements are a little slower and Kaguya easily dodges to the side. Mokou tries to follow up with a jumping spin kick, aimed at the princess’ neck, but Kaguya raises her left arm up and blocks it. Kaguya right arm glows with red energy and she counterattacks by slamming it into the side of Mokou’s head. “ARGH!” Mokou, feeling like she just got hit by a heavy object, is sent flying for several feet, spitting out blood.

“Good!” cheers Alice.

Furious, yet worn down, Mokou gets back to her feet and prepares to use another spell card, “Hourai!” The aura appears around Mokou again, “Fujiyama Volcano!” A magic circle appears below Kaguya’s feet, which she notices at the last second, and jumps off. A pillar of fire bursts from the circle, which heavily burns Kaguya’s leg as she dodges and burns away part of her skirt. Several more magic circles appear. Kaguya moves quickly and does her best to dodge them as the pillars erupt. Kaguya, who still has some power left with her current spell card, fires a red blade at Mokou, which sinks into her shoulder. “AHHH!” Mokou loses her focus on her spell card and slumps to the ground, clutching her new wound.

Kaguya, her bracelet vanishing, asks, “Do you give up, Mokou? There’s no point in going any further with this. At this point, I’m certain you will probably have a hard time just standing up.”

“Shut up!” Mokou attempts to stand upright, but her legs give out and she collapse, “Shit…”

Kaguya aims her hand at Mokou, “I will finish you. You’ve lost, Mokou.”

Mokou weakly pulls a spell card from her pocket, “Dammit, I’m not through yet. In fact, I’ll destroy all of you with this last spell!”

“Huh?”

“Last Word!” Suddenly, there is a strong pulse of energy from Mokou’s body, which knocks Kaguya several feet away from her.

Alice is surprised at Mokou’s declaration, “WHAT? Last Word? It can’t be?”

Kaguya asks Alice, “What about it? What’s going on?”

Mokou slowly rises upright. Trails of flame circle around her. Her phoenix aura appears and gradually grows larger in size. The trees on the outside of the clearing start to catch on fire. The combination of intense energy and heat make Alice and Kaguya sweat heavily.

Alice explains to Kaguya, “From what I’ve read, anyone can perform a Last Word spell, but I’ve only heard of a few people that have actually done it, all of whom were Elder Youkai. Spell cards normally demand a degree of physical stamina from their users, but this relies on something else: The user’s life energy.”

Kaguya’s eyes widen, “’Life energy?’”

“The very life force of the one performing the spell.”

“Wouldn’t that kill her?”

“Without a doubt.”

“It shouldn’t matter to her, though, since she is immortal, like me. She’ll just come back to life eventually.”

“Yes, she’s the perfect life form for it…”

“What else do you know?”

“They are far more powerful than spell cards. It takes a lot of focus to be able to handle it, though. To put it plainly, ultimate power in exchange for one’s life. It really is a Last Word.”

Kaguya nervously says, “Th-that doesn’t… sound… good…”

Alice tries to crack a smile, “We-well as Marisa would put it: ‘We’re in deep shit…’”

Mokou declares, “PHOENIX REBIRTH!” All the surrounding fire flows into Mokou’s body. Her aura’s wings wrap around the immortal completely concealing Mokou’s form. The mess of blazing flames which had overtaken Mokou starts to expand and take shape. The fire takes the shape of a bird, standing at a height of eleven feet. Out of the fire that makes up the bird’s form, a group of long aqua-colored feathers extends out of its head and down its back, roughly resembling Mokou’s hair, the only resemblance to the immortal’s true form. Mokou’s voice booms from the phoenix, “So what do you think? Pretty cool, huh? This is Phoenix Rebirth, my ultimate spell! I take on the form of my fire’s source and incinerate my foes. Granted, it took much practice to perform this and this is the first time I’m actually using it, but I know you don’t stand a chance now!”

Kaguya yells up to the phoenix, “Mokou! Just how strong IS your desire to erase the moon anyway? Is it worth going to such an extreme to destroy anyone who would interfere?”

Mokou’s voice answers, “That’s one of the last things on my mind right now. I’m just really getting into this battle and I’m doing whatever it takes to win. Now then, my life is draining from my body right now, so I’ll end this quickly.” The phoenix flaps its wings, releasing waves of heat in doing so, and lifts off the ground. “Uaugghh?” The composition of the flames briefly disrupts, but regains form within a few seconds.

Alice notices the flicker in the phoenix’s form and whispers to Kaguya, so Mokou won’t hear, “It looks like Mokou doesn’t have complete control over this spell. We may stand a chance…”

“Die!” The phoenix’s mouth opens and a stream of fire blazes out. Kaguya dives out of the way, and Alice, with her arm around Marisa’s unconscious body, dives in the other direction.

Alice uses a spell card, “Curse Sign: Straw Doll Kamikaze!” She sends a swarm of exploding straw dolls flying up toward the phoenix, which flaps its wings downward, unleashing a wall of flame, resembling Mokou’s Phoenix’s Tail spell, which engulfs the dolls, causing them to burst before they manage to reach their intended target.

The phoenix turns its attention toward Kaguya. It flaps its wings slowly and hovers. Its midsection glows blue and it fires a beam of concentrated blue fire down at the princess. “Ahh!” Kaguya does her best to dodge, but the beam’s radiating heat alone causes a moderate burn to her ankle. Kaguya, after dodging, draws a spell card and taunts, “I don’t care how powerful this spell is! You are still plain old Mokou to me! Impossible Request!” Kaguya’s five objects appear, “Hourai Barrage -Rainbow Danmaku-!” The objects, except for the jeweled branch, vanish. The branch becomes a little bigger and Kaguya grabs it. It glows with many bright colors. The princess waves the branch in the phoenix’s direction, causing several orbs of energy, each a different color of the rainbow, to materialize in front of her. The orbs fly up at the bird.

Mokou asks, unimpressed, “’Same old Mokou?’ I’ll show you how ignorant you are, princess!” The phoenix shields itself with one of its wings, using the other to remain afloat. It loses some altitude, but effectively shields itself from harm. It counterattacks by sending another lungful of fire down at Kaguya.

Kaguya draws another spell card, intending to defend herself, “Divine Treasure!” The five objects reappear, radiating silver energy, “Buddhist Diamond!” The objects, except the bowl vanish. The bowl expands in front of Kaguya, creating a shield. It assumes a more crystalline form, becoming a stronger shield. Kaguya’s barrier and the phoenix’s flame clash. However, her defenses only last for a few seconds. The flame is so powerful the diamond shield begins to crack. “AHHHH!” Kaguya throws her arms in front of her in futile defense, but as the barrier breaks, Alice sends six dolls, armed with shields, to fly in front of Kaguya and protect the princess. She gets out of the way as the dolls’ shields melt and they get incinerated.

As the phoenix pauses after attacking, Alice draws a spell card, “Curse Sign!” A doll, resembling Alice’s usual assistant, Shanghai, materializes in front of her, “Shanghai Doll!” The doll fires a large orange laser at the bird in it manages to hit, but the phoenix’s reaction to the damage is minimal.

“Darn,” mutters Alice in dismay.

The phoenix flaps its wings heavily, releasing a blast of hot wind, which knocks the princess and youkai off their feet. They, along with Marisa, slide to the edge of the clearing. Mokou says triumphantly, “I have you now! Time to end you. Of course, you’ll be coming back Kaguya, but I can’t say the same for the other two. Now then…”

A weak voice declares, “Light Sign… Earth Light Ray!” Suddenly, several small lasers shoot out of the ground below the phoenix and tear through its wings and flaming feathers. The phoenix’s form flickers and it loses altitude, but manages to stay afloat by flapping frantically. Marisa, who had woken up, mutters, “Damn… still not enough…”

“Marisa!” cries Alice.

“Shit!” Mokou curses, “You caught me by surprise, but that ends here!”

“Strange. Here I thought the surprises were just beginning. Loafing Sign: Idling Wave!” Suddenly, several bullets of red energy appear below the phoenix and damage its wings further. It falls and hits the ground hard.

Kaguya turns in the direction the new voice came from and sees Reisen, whose index finger is extended toward the phoenix, “Reisen!”

“Looks like I made it!” says Reisen, “Mokou beat me pretty good back there, but I feel much better now. Speaking of Mokou, that… thing seemed to be emitting her voice. Is it her?”

“Yes,” answers Alice, “It’s a technical story, but I’ll explain later. Right now…”

The phoenix, its form flickering repeatedly, tries to get back to its feet, “Da-damn… i-i-it…”

Alice yells, “This is our chance to attack! Let’s hit her with our very best!”

Marisa, Kaguya, and Reisen nod in agreement, “Yeah!” All four girls draw spell cards.

Alice goes first, and focuses the great portion of her remaining energy into her spell, “Magipulation!” Several blue-dressed dolls materialize around Alice, “Return Inanimateness!” The doll launch at the phoenix at the same time and explode in a large blue explosion.

Reisen cast her spell next, also putting a great deal of focus in, “Mad Dream: Dream World!” A crossfire of red bullets slam into the phoenix from in front and behind, then disappear, then reappear, bombarding it from the sides.

Marisa stumbles to her feet, putting her little renewed energy into one more spell card, “Magic Sign: Stardust Reverie!” She sprays a stream of small magical shots into the phoenix’s head, causing respectable damage.

Kaguya goes last, “Time to end this! New Impossible Request: Mysterium!” A light blue barrier surrounds Kaguya. She flies toward the phoenix and slams it several times, protected by the barrier. The princess ends it by landing in front of the bird and the barrier turns into a very long blade, which she uses to deliver a crushing slash to the phoenix.

“Ahhh! Damn! No fucking way!” The flames making up the phoenix disperse rapidly, causing its size to greatly diminish. Finally, all there remains is Mokou, in her regular form, whose clothes were incinerated in her transformation. She falls in the middle of a large patch of scorched earth, in the shape of a bird, “I… lost…”

Wearily, Marisa asks, “Should we finish her?”

Alice shakes her head, “No. There is no need.”

Kaguya walks over to the dying Mokou. Reisen calls out, “Kaguya-hime!”

Kaguya looks back to Marisa, Alice, and Reisen, “Let me talk to her. You look for the other two and Keine.”

“Okay…” Marisa, Alice, and Reisen leave the clearing.

Kaguya kneels next to Mokou, “Hey. It’s nice to see you back to normal. Looking at you up close like this, you really are an attractive girl. It’s a shame you decided to hide it with that ugly bird.”

“…” Mokou remains silent.

“Do you really think it’s necessary to erase the moon, Mokou? I told you before, even with that, there is no guarantee it will stop the Lunarians. I was their princess, you know. I should be well aware of these things.”

“…”

“Would you rather we live wondering what could have been, knowing that we sacrificed something important to us all in the act of running away from a problem? We should face the Lunarians and prove that we are not to be messed with. I tried running myself, but I realized how great the power and convictions of Gensokyo’s people really is. Together, we can win! I know it!”

“…” Mokou pauses, then chuckles a little, “Hmhmhm…”

“What’s so funny?”

Mokou answers, “What you just said… you just reminded me of my father, that’s all.”

“Your father? One of my suitors from the ‘old world,’ right?”

“Yeah. You wanted him to find the Robe of the Fire Rat, something that supposedly could set itself ablaze. Something I have the power to duplicate beyond any flaw.”

“Wha? You mean… your father could have made you make a convincing fake? He might have made me accept him as a husband, then!”

“But he didn’t. He loved you so much and wanted to prove it by finding what you asked for in an honest effort.”

A tear rolls down Kaguya’s cheek, “I… never realized… I was so selfish. Mokou, I’m so sorry! I’m… sorry… Your father was a great man! If I knew, I would have…”

“Whatever,” says Mokou, “It’s all a bunch of ancient history. Anyway, what you just said about confronting the Lunarians head on reminded me of my father performing his responsibility head on. He didn’t run away… and I should have followed his example. I’m a terrible daughter… Well, I’ll accept what you said. I’ll take on those Lunarian bastards, no matter how tough or advanced they are!”

“We just might be able to,” says Kaguya, “That power you used… ‘Last Word.' If more of us can perform that, the Lunarians will definitely have something to worry about. You taught me a valuable lesson. Thank you, Mokou…”

Mokou blushes, “Uh… yeah. Whatever… Don’t count on our next fight ending like this.”

Kaguya smiles, “I look forward to it.”

Mokou turns her head to the side as she dies. Kaguya heads out of the clearing in the direction Marisa, Alice, and Reisen took.

--

Reimu and Youmu’s battle with Keine had raged on at the same time. Neither side had gained any definite advantage, and the battle escalates to its final action.

Reimu, Youmu, and Keine, all worn down from each other’s attacks, draw one last spell card, each.

Keine declares first, “Pseudo-History!” Several magic circles materialize high above them, facing the ground, “The Legend of Gensokyo!” Continuous lasers flow from the circles and move across the ground, leaving trails of burnt earth in their wake, toward Reimu and Youmu.

“Ahh!” Reimu and Youmu jump away from a group of lasers, and then sidestep another.

Keine extends her right hand and another magic circle appears in front of her, which sprays out small red beams. Reimu throws an ofuda in front of them, and it forms a barrier, blocking Keine’s attack. However, the hakutaku follows up and fires a single larger laser. Youmu focuses and deflects it with the Roukanken.

Reimu whispers to Youmu, “This spell is pretty hazardous…”

“Don’t worry,” reassures Youmu, “I think I can handle this. Just get ready. I’ll lead this final attack.” With that, Youmu raises her spell card, “Human Knowledge Sword!” Youmu’s ghost-half glows blue and merges with the Roukanken. She charges at Keine, zigzagging around the complex of lasers coming from above. One laser manages to scrape the gardener’s arm, but she endures. She moves in a spinning motion, maneuvering around the last laser before Keine, who attacks with her claws, slashing Youmu in a brief moment of vulnerability.

“Youmu!” yells Reimu.

“Ugh!” The gardener staggers, but manages to maintain her focus. Keine strikes again, but Youmu maneuvers around her attack and through the hakutaku’s defenses. “Angel Dance!” Suddenly, the Roukanken feels as light as a feather and Youmu, lighter as well, moves, guided by the energy of her spell. She slashes Keine repeatedly, in a series of lightning-quick, but graceful, sword techniques.

“Gr…” Keine manages to defend against some of the attacks, but takes most of the damage. Her focus on the spell breaks. Finally, completing the combination, Youmu circles around Keine, and delivers a kick, which sends her flying in Reimu’s direction.

“Here’s your chance!” Youmu yells to Reimu, who prepares her spell card.

“Divine Arts!” Reimu’s spell card glows with pure white energy. As Keine gets close to her, the miko slams the card on the ground and a magic circle spreads, “Omnidirectional Dragon Slaying Circle!” From the circumference of the circle, a pillar of blinding white light erupts. Keine is sent flying upward. Reimu’s spell soon ends and the hakutaku hits the ground between the miko and Youmu.

Keine slowly rises to her feet, “Ugh… pretty good…”

“You want more?” asks Youmu, moving into an attacking stance.

“No,” answers Keine, shaking her head, “I admit my defeat. I had underestimated the power and resolve of you humans.” All three of them pause to catch their breaths.

“It’s admirable for you, a youkai, to defend humans,” says Reimu to Keine, “but, as you noticed, there are very powerful humans as well, who can defend themselves, and Gensokyo. However, you are very strong too. I’m sure many innocent humans feel safe with you to defend them. You shouldn’t hate the form you are in right now.”

Keine’s eyes look downward, “They don’t know about this form. The humans I protect… They are terrified of youkai… and me as well, if they knew my secret…”

Reimu says, “I hunt youkai that cause trouble. When I was younger, I used to believe they were all scary and evil. That’s why I chose the path I did, as a hunter. However, I found out that a lot of them really aren’t bad at all. They used to endanger Gensokyo, but they weren’t… and aren’t bad creatures at heart. Some are strange and others have some less than desirable tendencies, but that doesn’t mean they are evil. That’s a valuable lesson I learned in my life. If other humans can learn to understand them better, maybe Gensokyo would be a more harmonious place.”

“I see,” says Keine, “Maybe when it comes down to it, I will present this form, but for now…”

“Anyways,” says Youmu, “We can beat the Lunarians when they come. Maybe it won’t be easy, but I’m sure it can happen.”

“Perhaps you are right,” says Keine, who starts to walk away, “I guess I was wrong to do what I did. I admit, I, too, feel safer, knowing that there are people like you to protect us. Removing the moon would have only raised the question of what we could of done or how it would have gone if the Lunarians did come. I understand now. I will accept whatever fate awaits and do my best to make our future a happy one.” Keine disappears into the forest.

Within minutes, Marisa, Alice, Kaguya, and Reisen arrive. “Hey!” Reimu shouts out.

“You look alright,” says Marisa, “I guess it went well for you…”

“Yes,” says Youmu, “How about you?”

“Pretty rough,” answers Marisa, “but we managed…”

“Let’s head back to Eientei,” says Kaguya, “There is something I want to discuss with you…”

The six girls fly back in Eientei’s direction.

Along the way, Marisa asks Kaguya, “I’ve been wondering, what’s the story between you and Mokou?”

Kaguya answers, “Let’s just say that she has an everlasting chip on her shoulder due to some of my selfish mistakes of the past. Let’s leave it at that.”

--

In Eirin’s chamber, Sakuya, in her mad trance, rapidly attacks Eirin. Blood, dripping from both girls, stains the seemingly invisible ground below.

“YAAAHAHA!” Sakuya swings one of her knives at Eirin, who dodges, only getting her center thigh grazed, then counterattacks with an arrow, which sinks into the maid’s upper gut. Despite being mortally wounded, Sakuya only flinches a little and resumes her attack.

The big advantage to Sakuya’s technique, Phantomic Killer in Night Mist, is that, in her berserk rage, she attacks powerfully and fearlessly, casting aside all emotion and pain for the time being. However, she gets so focused on the offensive that she focuses little on protecting herself. Sakuya was aware of this when she cast it, but she was low on options in her current state and found it to be the best solution.

Sakuya rips through the air, toward Eirin and swing her two knives down hard. Eirin raises her bow to block the attack, but it gets cut clean through. With her main defensive measure gone, Sakuya lunges straight at the doctor and sinks both of her knives in her middle chest. Sakuya’s mental state reverts to normal as both to the dying girls plummet to the floor below. They hit the ground beside each other, backs first, their blood splattering upon contact.

With both of them hanging on by a thin thread, Sakuya says, “Damn… I tried… but I just couldn’t beat you without myself getting done in as well. If I knew this would happen, I would have said goodbye to Remilia-sama instead of getting into that fight with her about Reimu. What a stupid way to go... At least I get the satisfaction of knowing that I took you with me, Eirin… though that doesn’t mean much…”

Eirin pauses, then says, “Sakuya, open my front pocket.”

“What?”

“Open it, please. There is not much time for either of us.”

Despite the pain and the maid’s bodily protests, Sakuya rolls over in Eirin’s direction and open a small pocket on the front of her shirt. Inside, there is a small plastic flask, filled with a pinkish liquid. Eirin tells Sakuya, “Now… drink it…”

“…” Sakuya pauses briefly, then, knowing she has nothing to lose in her current status, gulps the liquid down whole. It tastes very bitter, as expected, but that is overshadowed by the good feeling Sakuya gets from all over her body. All of her energy returns to her and her once-fatal wounds mend themselves instantly. Revitalized, the maid sits up and looks down at Eirin, “You…”

“My full-recovery medicine,” explains Eirin, “I only made one flask worth and I had it since my days on the moon… It can heal any wound, no matter how bad. I always had it on me for someone who needed it… In the end… it was you...”

“Why?” asks Sakuya, “You wanted to kill me and make me your weapon! Why did you use something so valuable to save me?”

“I’m about to die at your hands… You won, so you should live… Let’s leave it at that...”

“Not good enough, Eirin! I’d think I’d be the last person you’d save with that.”

Eirin slowly moves her arm across the floor and points that the picture she took from Sakuya, laying on the floor. Some drops of blood fell on it during the battle, but, for the most part, it’s in good shape, “That picture…”

“What?”

“I knew you had companions… allies that you fought alongside to accomplish a similar goal… but looking at that… I noticed something more than that… I noticed a relationship similar to the one I have with Kaguya-hime, Reisen, and Tewi… At first, I believed that you were nothing more than just a servant of your mistress… but in that, you look… happy. In the end, I felt it would be unfair just to take you from them… so I made extra sure to test your convictions… and this is the result…”

“Eirin…”

“That miko… She was so sad… heartbroken when she thought you had died. I was selfish. I realized that there would be too many people that would miss Sakuya Izayoi…”

“I see…”

“You were desparate to preserve your memories... You went through a risky measure to make sure you won… You were troubled by the news that you memories would be erased when you died. Before, I saw to it that you were just a person that went to whatever lengths to achive her objective… What changed you? What taught you the value of your existance?”

“At first, I was what you said. I wandered around Gensokyo, slaying one vampire after another, but around me, there were people who were concerned about many things, leading ordinary lives, and I wondered how I was so different. Remilia-sama gave a new reason for my life, and since then… Reimu… Marisa… Meiling… Patchouli… Youmu… All my friends… have taught me the value of my existance. As a simple servant, I was relunctant to admit it, but soon enough, I realized that they were people that cared about me… and I care about them. They would be sad for me… and I would be sad for them. I couldn’t just let myself die.”

Eirin closes her eyes and chuckles, “Hmhmhm… I see. You really have become a real person. I’m happy for you, Sakuya. Please continue living. After all, Sakuya Izayoi has just one life to live now.”

“Yes…” Eirin dies. Sakuya says, “Thank you, Eirin. What you did with my life and what you tried to do really makes me mad… but it’s because of you that I came here and met all those that I care about…” Sakuya picks up her photo, looking at her friends that were with her “… Thank you…” Sakuya leaves the chamber.

--

Later, everyone, with the exception of the still-dead Eirin, meets in Eientei’s courtyard. Everyone takes a seat at the table.

“So what did you want to tell us?” Reimu asks Kaguya.

“Well, after our battle it occurred to me that…” Kaguya explains her plan for countering the Lunarian’s coming invasion.

“You want us to WHAT?” yell Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, Youmu, Alice, Reisen, and Tewi at the same time.

“You heard me,” says Kaguya, “I want you all to train and discover your Last Words.”

Marisa slams her hands on the table, “That’s fine for Mokou, since she’s immortal and all, but it could KILL most people!”

“Don’t worry,” says Kaguya, “I have an idea for that. For now, just try, okay? I don’t know much about it. In fact, Lunarians, in spite of the fact that they use spell cards, don’t know about it, and THAT is our advantage!”

“I’ll take your word for it,” says Reimu, “but it still feels a tad reckless…”

Reisen says, “The invasion may not be for a long time, as the whole war effort keeps most Lunarians from venturing off, but we should stay on the lookout on every full moon.”

Reimu nods, “Okay.”

Kaguya stretches her arms out, “Well, tonight was certainly exciting. I didn’t mean for all that to happen, but at least we won. It feels good to find some allies to fight the Lunarians alongside…”

Youmu asks, “Kaguya, just how do you feel about fighting against your old home? Your fellow Lunarians? Your own mother, even?”

“I don’t think much about it,” says Kaguya, “I’ve accepted Gensokyo as my home, now and for eternity. I won’t let them have their way with it, and they won’t take me back. Don’t worry about me.”

--

Later, Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, Youmu, and Alice leave Eientei and return to their respective homes. Along the way, Reimu asks Sakuya, “Hey, what were you doing with Eirin while we were gone?”

“You see…” Sakuya explains the details of her encounter with Eirin.

“I’m glad you made it,” says Youmu.

“So you are now mortal?” asks Alice.

“Mentally, yes. My lifetime will be immortal until I next die. My life must be well taken care of from here on.”

“I see,” responds Reimu.

Sakuya smiles, “And I also realized… how glad I am to know you.”

Reimu gives Sakuya a friendly pat on the back, “We’re all happy to know you, Sakuya.”

“Yeah,” says Marisa, “At first, I thought you were kind of a bitch and all, but I felt depressed when I thought you had died. I’m pretty happy to know you, like Reimu just said.”

Alice smiles unassuringly, “I’m sure that’s a pretty good compliment… coming from Marisa, anyway.”

--

Mokou revives. She notices that Keine is carrying her through the bamboo forest, “Keine…?”

Keine sasy happily, “Ah! You’re awake, Mokou-sama!”

“Yeah… I was beaten by Kaguya and the others, but… I decided not to have you erase the moon. I’ll face whatever is coming without taking an easy way out of it.”

“That makes two of us, then.”

“Hm?”

“Humans are powerful creatures and there are youkai that can help to. We all share this land called Gensokyo and we can join together and defend it in a time of adversity.”

“I see…”

Over the horizon, the sun starts to rise. Sunlight slowly spreads across Gensokyo. Keine reverts back to her human form.

“A new day begins. I don’t know when that time will be, but we’d best be prepared on every full moon to come. Well, until then, we’ll just live our lives as we want, without worry. Well, Mokou-sama, let’s head back to the human village. I’ll sew you up some new clothes.”

“That sounds good. Thank you, Keine.”

--

Sakuya arrives back at Scarlet Devil Mansion, where she is shortly confronted by Remilia, “Welcome back, Sakuya.”

Sakuya says, “Remilia-sama, I’m sorry about earlier. I wasn’t thinking. I assure you that there is nothing between me and_”

“Don’t worry about it,” interrupts Remilia.

“What?”

The vampire gives Sakuya a sideways glance, “I thought about it and I’ll accept you as a rival.”

Sakuya blinks a couple times, “What? I assure you_”

Remilia cuts in again, “Don’t be so modest. You do you best… and I’ll do my best. I’ll enjoy beating you in this contest of affections! Now go and scrub the toilets!” Remilia skips away, proud of herself.

Sakuya puts her hand on her forehead and groans, “… Just what have I gotten into?”

--

Days pass. The events from the past two full moons feels like a distant memory to everyone involved. Even though the threat looming high above is now known, nothing feels different and everyday life continues as it has been.

In the bamboo forest clearing, now marked with a large burn upon the earth in the shape of a large bird, like a memento of the decisive battle to determine the convictions of a girl that had sought to erase something important to everyone for their safety, Kaguya and Mokou prepare for battle once again in their rivalry that will last as long as their infinite lifetimes.

Nearby, where Eirin, Reisen, and Tewi are watching, Tewi groans, “They’re at it again. How many more times is this gonna happen until they are both satisfied?”

Reisen shrugs, “Well you know what they say about how hard it is to get rid of old habits…”

“…” Eirin notices something slightly different about this latest encounter, however. Both Kaguya and Mokou are smiling slightly, despite the fact that they are about to get into another battle where the loser dies, albeit temporarily, and the winner only gets a fleeting sense of satisfaction.

Both the princess and immortal walk toward each other. Kaguya says to Mokou softly, to the point that her three onlooking servants don’t hear, “Even with my apology, you still insist on getting your revenge… again?”

Mokou shrugs and says in the same low tone, “I just enjoy fighting you, that’s all. How the hell else am I gonna spend my free time? Besides, I’m rarely one to break tradition.”

Kaguya smiles, “I see. Well, I’m used to this too. I like to see it as practice for when the Lunarians come.”

Mokou smiles, “Okay then, princess. Let’s ‘practice!’” Both girls draw spell cards and leap away from each other.

“Impossible Request!”

“Everlasting!”

The eternal rivalry continues. Yet behind what would appear to a person as bitter hatred, is a deeper meaning, or maybe even a friendship. The previous trial had led the two immortals to have a greater understanding of each other and when it comes to Gensokyo’s defense, the two may even have some common ground, in spite of the differences that were formed between them long ago.


Next Night….

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