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Part Nine: City, Netherworld, and Underground

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On the other side of the mountain range, in the ruins of a city, the group consisting of Reisen, Cirno, Mokou, and Yuyuko, were soon ambushed by waves of fairies not long after landing. Fighting through the seemingly endless swarm, they made it into the city, on the streets below the highway area, trying to find cover among the ruins.

Reisen glares straight at a small group of fairies, and fires two beams of psycho energy out of her eyes, destroying all but one. She draws her handgun and takes out the last with a bullet. All the fairies burst and vanish upon being destroyed.

Three more fairies appear right ahead of them. Cirno extends her hand toward them yelling, “Go away! Leave us alone, dammit!” She fires three freezing beams, which pierce through the youkai, causing them to turn to ice, fall to the ground, and shatter.

Another fairy attempts to tackle Reisen from behind, but Mokou notices it, twirls quickly around to face it, her hair swishing around her, and tears through it with a flaming punch, “You might as well just kill yourself, ya damn fairy, and save us both the effort!”

However, the small amount of fairies they had just destroyed were only a vanguard for a much larger group, which surrounds them.

Mokou puts her hands into her pockets and glances around calmly at the surrounding swarm, “Well, shit.”

“More of them?” complains Cirno.

Reisen looks at the swarm frantically, “Shoot! If we take too long with them, that will buy them time for reinforcements to appear…”

Yuyuko, not even bothering to observe the situation, says, as she pulls a spellcard from out of her kimono, “Oh? Is that all?” She raises the card and declares, “Death Sign: Ghastly Dream!” From all around the four of them, butterflies, made up of spirit energy, materialize, quickly outnumbering the fairies, and fly out, cutting through them with their blade-like wings. Almost all at the same time, the fairies burst.

Mokou lets out an impressed whistle, “Da-amn! Glad you’re on our side, ghost girl.”

Reisen looks around. Her eyes are glowing as they are in a state of infrared vision, as she looks for heat signatures from fairies. Finally, her eyes return to normal, “I didn’t see anyone else. It looks like we got everyone…”

“… For now,” says Mokou, completing Reisen’s statement.

“For now,” confirms Yuyuko, “We mustn’t lower our guard. With all the fairies we’ve had to fight through, there are bound to be more before too terribly long.”

“Dammit!” whines Cirno, “I’m hungry and tired and I need to go pee! No more fairies! I hate fairies!”

“I won’t even point out the irony in what fairy girl just said,” remarks Mokou.

Reisen says, “Well, regardless, what Cirno said probably holds true for all of us. I’m hungry and I could use some rest. How about you, Mokou?”

With a lighthearted laugh, Mokou says, “Aw, what do you take me for, bunny girl? You haven’t seen a tenth of what I can do!” However, Mokou’s bravado is undermined by her stomach growling, “Er… heh…”

“I want food too,” says Yuyuko, “Let’s find a place to eat.”

“Do you even NEED food?” asks Cirno.

“… In a manner of speaking…”

“Anyway,” begins Reisen, “we should find a place where we can hide out and eat. Let’s get going.”

“You make it sound like it is no daunting task,” says Yuyuko, “but are you sure we can find nourishment among these ruins?”

“Of course!” answers Reisen, “Don’t forget, these ‘ruins’ came to be only a few days ago! That and it IS a city. There are more places with ‘rations’ than we can count! Houses, restaurants, anything!”

Cirno’s face lights up, “Ah! Reisen is so smart!”

Reisen rolls her eyes, “Not really. It’s just basic knowledge…”

Having eliminated their opposition for the time being, they focus on finding a place for nourishment and rest. As good fortune would have it, they find the remains of a supermarket within a half-hour of searching. Even though the exterior is as drab and broken as the rest of the city, the only thing unsightly about the interior are that the power, and thus, the lighting, is out, with the only way to see are the chunks of the ceiling that had collapsed into it, in turn allowing the sunlight to shine in.

Upon seeing the hundreds of packaged foods before her, Yuyuko’s expression becomes cheery in a childish way, “Ahh! So much food! I’ve never seen so much in one place! Reimu’s world is so amazing!”

“Well, treat yourself to whatever you want,” offers Reisen, who glances at the unoccupied cash register terminals, “I’m sure it’s all the same to whoever owns this place…”

“Yay!” Yuyuko runs deeper into the store, like a child who had gone to the fair for the first time.

Mokou studies the store attentively, “What to eat…?”

Reisen says, based on assumption, “There is no power here, so there is no cooling… I guess frozen foods, produce, and all that are out of the question…”

“Whatever,” says Mokou, “There is meat here, right? I can heat one up…”

Around the market, Yuyuko eats a wide variety of foods, Cirno freezes, and then treats herself to the frozen inventory, and finally, Mokou heats a steak, which she and Reisen share.

As Reisen eats her portion of the steak, she says to Mokou, who is sitting right next to her, their backs leaning against the wall, “You’re being surprisingly generous, Mokou…”

Mokou takes a bite out of her portion and says, “Yeah? What of it?”

“I’m only saying. Normally, I’d expect you to keep the whole steak to yourself, and not share it with anyone, especially not some follower of ‘that bitch Kaguya,’ as you put it.”

“Don’t overanalyze,” advises Mokou, “I can’t do this alone, and arguing with all of you is a pain in the ass that I can avoid, so I can do you favors every now and then…”

“It’s strange to hear that from a loner…”

“I know something of working as a team, y’know. I’d just rather… not.”

“Are you sure?” asks Reisen, “If I remember correctly, you were watching my back, back there. Could it be that you’re… fond of us?”

“Hell no!” protests Mokou, “I… um… It was a fairy, and we had to kill fairies, right? It was just another to take care of…”

“Hmhmhm…” chuckles Reisen, noticing the unconvincing tone of Mokou’s voice.

Mokou is aware that Reisen hadn’t bought in, so she decides to come clean, “Okay, you win, dammit! I’ve known you for so long. How about that? I have no quarrels with you, like I do with Kaguya, and I know you won’t live forever, so you should live as long as you can…”

Reisen blinks, “What?”

Mokou wildly chomps a few bites out of her steak, and states, “I used to be mortal, y’know. I remember what it was like. My life was the most precious thing I had, and I did all I could to hang onto it. Sure, I drank the elixir, and my life… is not worth so much anymore, but people like you still treasure it, right?”

“Um… right.”

“Then live, alright? When you die, you won’t get any more chances like me. Do your best to make the most of it. Don’t…” Mokou freezes, “Don’t make the mistake I made…”

“Do you regret it?” asks Reisen.

“That won’t change shit. I just accept it and live accordingly. An eternal life of angst? I might as well be in Hell if that were the case…”

“Mokou…”

Mokou tries to smile to the best of her ability, “Don’t look at me like that!” Her expression turns solemn again and she leans back further, her body sliding away from the wall, “Still… If I could change things, I would. That elixir should have burned. I was just so focused on getting revenge on Princess that I hadn’t given a thought to the future…” Mokou lets out a depressed laugh, “Haha… ha… I’m such a fool…”

Reisen tries to find the right words to console Mokou, “Mokou… I’m sorry… you…”

“Not another word, bunny girl. It’s just the way things are. Besides, there are ways to die that not even immortality can override. Hell, Princess and I had that chance inside miko girl’s head. Thanks for ruining that, by the way.”

“…” Reisen pouts.

“Oh well, it may be another few thousand years, but time will tell, and time is all I have now. At least I can ‘share’ it with another unfortunate victim of the hourai elixir…”

Reisen raises her ears, “Mokou…”

“Well, let’s find Princess and doctor girl, Leader.”

Reisen’s eyes widen, “’L-LEADER?’”

“Who else can play that role? I won’t, I have my doubts about ghost girl, and fairy girl sure as hell can’t call the shots. I’d say you’re the most dependable to keep us together.”

“You’re joking…”

“I totally am.”


Elsewhere, across boundaries, a large wooden ship skims across a seemingly endless body of water toward its destination: A place with tall buildings and roads decorated with occasional cherry blossom trees, with many people wandering about. Overall, a place much like a city. Many white wisps fly around the ship until it docks at the city’s harbor.

Standing at the ship’s bow, a girl with dark hair, dark eyes, and dark clothes, holding a scythe, announces, “We have arrived!”

The wisps fly away from the ship and approach the ground, each assuming a humanoid appearance in the process. Finally, one of those wisps assumes the form of Yukari Yakumo, who now has the characteristics of a ghost, namely small spiritual wisps circling around her body.

Yukari lets out a sigh, “That was a long trip… Still, it was a… unique experience and that shinigami was so diligent… unlike a certain other I know…” Yukari looks at the city, still mumbling her thoughts, “So this is THEIR Netherworld… but something is odd. I’m sure I was here years ago, but there were no large buildings. I remember it looking almost exactly like Hakugyokurou…” Suddenly, something catches Yukari’s attention: A large banner hanging from the roof of one of the buildings. On it, there is an insignia she finds vaguely familiar: A circle with part of it as a golden crescent, and the rest black. She remembers seeing the same thing as a pin on Reisen’s jacket, “I wonder…”

Yukari walks further forward. She gets an idea she can’t believe she hadn’t thought of seconds earlier, “My powers! Let’s see…” Yukari opens a gap in front of her, its destination set for Yumei’s Gensokyo. Yukari proceeds to enter the portal, but an invisible force repels her from entering. Yukari lets out a depressed moan, “As I feared… As a ghost I’m bound to the Netherworld. I can’t leave, even if I had a means to. Yuko and Mima both received special permission from Sikieiki, which is why…” She closes the gap and performs another experiment by opening a gap, the exit of which, is another gap to her left. She sticks her arm into it, and it emerges from the other. “It looks like I still have control within this boundary. That’s good…” Yukari suddenly gets an idea, “Wait! If I can only be within the Netherworld, then… Fufufu~”

CRACK! As Yukari is about to open another gap, however, her focus is sharply diverted by the loud noise of a whip cracking. Yukari and all the other ghosts that had arrived stop in their tracks. In front of them, a young-looking girl with long red hair tied by a yellow bow, wearing a purple kimono, and holding a leather whip, approaches. At her back and sides, there is a large group of girls in blue uniforms, each with rabbit ears extending from their heads and red eyes, much like Reisen. None of them have ghostly characteristics. Also among the group, there is a black-haired girl with a timid expression, dressed exactly like Sikieiki Yamaxanadu. Yukari and all the other ghosts focus their attention on the girl.

The girl announces, “Welcome to the afterlife, everyone!”

“…” There is absolute silence among the crowd.

The girl pouts, but continues to speak, “My name is Kotohime. I am the fourth princess of the Lunarian Empire. For the ignorant masses that don’t know us, all you need to know is that we are the future sovereigns of all creation…”

Yukari mutters, puzzled, “The Lunarians control a Netherworld? How is that possible?”

Kotohime continues to speak, “While you are here, there is one thing you must be perfectly aware of: I am your god. To cross me means to have your soul sent straight to Hell…” She glances back at the black-haired girl, “Isn’t that right… Yama?”

The girl, thoroughly intimidated, struggled to speak, “Um… you… you see…”

“Spineless fool,” mumbles Yukari.

Kotohime cracks her whip, “TALK!”

“Ye-yes… Um… Please do as Princess Kotohime says… please?”

“Hmph…” Kotohime’s expression turns to a satisfied smirk.

Kotohime focuses on the ghosts again, “Pay close attention. While I am present in this place, a resort designed by yours truly, you are expected to work. Yes, as of today, you can consider yourselves my slav… er… ‘loyal vassels!’”

A lot of commotion arises among the crowd. “What a bitch,” says one of the ghosts.

Kotohime lashes her whip wildly, “Who said that? I heard someone call me the B-word! I HATE being called the B-word! Talk! I will see to it that all of you get sent to Hell if one of you doesn’t own up!”

“…” The Yama looks at the ghosts worriedly.

A lot of the ghosts look at the one who said it, shortly forming a path for Kotohime and her bodyguards to walk through. She stops and looks at the ghost condescendingly, “Was it you?”

The ghost, now shaking, says, “Y-yes…”

“You shall be disciplined!” Kotohime prepares to strike the ghost with her whip.

Yukari thinks, So this is my afterlife, huh? Being bullied and enslaved by an outside force? Well, not if I have anything to say about it. Yes, time to teach that spoiled twit a lesson! Yukari enters a gap, and then emerges from another in the whip’s path. Yukari holds out her parasol in front of her, and the whip twirls around it.

“HEY! Where did you come from?” demands Kotohime.

“…” Without a word, Yukari pulls her parasol back, yanking the whip out of the Lunarian princess’ grip, then slings it off her makeshift weapon. Yukari opens another gap, enters it, and emerges a few feet in front of her original position, right in front of Kotohime. Yukari swings her parasol down hard over the princess’ head, causing her to fall to the ground. Thunderous cheer comes from among the ghosts.

Yukari says coldly, “I believe a new Netherworld order is needed.”

“Eep!” Kotohime sits up, and then crawls backward away from Yukari, saying to her bodyguards, “What are all of you standing there for? Attack her!”

“Yes, your highness,” respond the moon rabbits in unison as the reach for their handguns. However, Yukari is faster on the draw, and she sends orbs of energy slamming into each of the rabbits, knocking them to the ground, all of them unconscious.

Kotohime grits her teeth, “You monster! We’re not done! Special forces! Protect me!”

Suddenly, out of the shadows of the tall buildings, a few black blurs fly out and stop in front of Kotohime, revealing six figures in black jumpsuits, with dark red scarves wrapped around the lower parts of their faces. However, each has rabbit ears and red eyes, making them identifiable as moon rabbits. Each has a short sword sheathed at the hip opposite of their dominant arms, and small blades tucked under their belts.

“Tch…” Yukari prepares for more action.

One of the rabbits bolts forward, quick-drawing her sword at Yukari, who leaps back, narrowly avoiding the blade. However, another rabbit follows up her partner, thrusting her sword forward, impaling Yukari through her gut.

“Huh?” However, Yukari doesn’t feel any pain from the strike, but does feel an acute decrease in her ghostly body’s spirit energy, though the coming fatigue might as well be pain, though not enough to render her incapacitated. There is no blood emerging from her wound, but rather, white smoke. Yukari extends her hand in front of the rabbit’s face and releases a powerful burst of energy, knocking her out. The remaining five rabbits draw their swords.

Kotohime rises her to feet, “Not bad, monster, but you were just lucky!”

“How original,” says Yukari, drawing a spellcard, “Boundary Field: Mesh of Light and Darkness!” Portals open up around Yukari and they begin to fire volleys of lasers. However, Kotohime’s protectors disperse quickly to avoid the attack. Fortunately for Yukari, however, Kotohime lacks such agility, and the lasers home in on her.

Kotohime, her hands in front of her in futile defense, screams, “You idiots! Protect me!”

“Damn! Protect Princess Kotohime!” orders one of the rabbits. Two of the dark rabbits, their arms spread, appear in front of Kotohime as a living shield.

“Hmph!” Yukari smirks as she sees her plan work. The rabbits get bombarded by Yukari’s lasers. Yukari’s attack ends and the rabbits drop to the ground, unconscious.

“Grr… Useless fools!” growls Kotohime.

“Hah… hah…” pants Yukari, beginning to tire, “I still… need to get accustomed… to this body… Heh… So this is what it’s like to be Yuko…”

The remaining three rabbits surround Yukari. “She is wearing down! Now is the time to finish her!” announces one of the rabbits. They run circles around her in unison, their speed rapidly increasing to the point Yukari, nor Kotohime, nor the ghosts can follow their movements.

While Yukari has little power left, mostly due to the sword strike before, she doesn’t need to use much of her power at all under the current circumstances. The rabbits pause a second before they perform their intended action of narrowing in on Yukari, skewering her from different directions. However, Yukari open a gap below her and drops in, causing the rabbits to accidentally skewer each other. The ghosts cheer and whistle for Yukari. The Yama lets out a relieved sigh.

Yukari emerges from a gap in front of Kotohime, “Do you have anymore minions?”

Kotohime futilely tries to hide her fear, “Grr… C-curse you, monster!”

“I’m not monster, I’m Yukari Yakumo, a ‘ghost,’ just like everyone else here. Now, you Lunarian have no right to be here. If you hold your life dearly enough, you and your alien friends will return to the moon.”

Kotohime slowly walks backward as Yukari advances on her, “How dare you? I’m Princess Kotohime! Empress Lunariya’s fourth daughter! You’re nothing but garbage! What gives you the right to tell ME what to do?”

Yukari smugly replies, “Because in ‘Yukariland,’ your title is meaningless.”

Kotohime loses her royal composure and yells, “F-fuck you!”

Yukari smiles with satisfaction, enjoying the moment, “So you show your true colors.”

As Yukari advances on Kotohime, however, she fails to notice one of Kotohime’s bodyguards regain consciousness. She gets up and charges toward Yukari’s back.

“Look out!” yells one of the ghosts.

“Huh?” It’s too late. The bodyguard pulls a taser out of her uniform’s front pocket, activates it, and presses it against the back of Yukari’s head.

“UG-H-H-H-H!” Yukari’s spirit energy rapidly drops, due to the strong electric jolt, to the point where she can no longer stand. She slumps to the ground, and then lays on her front, unable to move.

“…” Kotohime walks toward the ghosts, who are now stunned into silence, picks her whip off the ground, walks back to Yukari, and then lashes her back repeatedly. CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!

“Ughhh!” groans the boundary ghost.

The lashing continues for a half-minute. Kotohime walks over to the Yama, her temper still uncontrolled, “You! Send her to Hell! Immediately!”

Despite her limited courage, the Yama explains, “That’s impossible to do right away, princess.”

“WHAT?”

“Um… there are… certain… proceedings, you see. Her sins must be looked at, and… well… It can take up to a month…”

“RAAGGGHHH!” Kotohime slaps the Yama so hard, she falls to the ground, “You’re useless! I’ll come up with an appropriate…” Suddenly, Kotohime’s lips curl into a smirk, “Wait… Hmhmhm…” She kneels in front of Yukari and lifts her head up by her hair, “I have a use for you~ That is a… rather interesting power you possess…”

“Wh…” Yukari is barely capable of speech in her current condition.

Kotohime slams Yukari’s head against the ground, stands, and turns toward her bodyguard, “You! Take her in for some… ‘conditioning.’ Afterward, throw her in the dungeon, along with that Yama who was foolish enough to lecture me and her stupid shinigami friend.”

“Understood,” responds the bodyguard obediently.


In the underground cavern, the girl, still unseen by Reimu, taunts, “You are outnumbered, nya. Just give up, nya!”

Reimu shakes her head and sighs, “That’s an amazingly simpleminded boast. In fact, I’d ask the same of you…” Reimu positions her hand in her pocket casually, “Come on! I dare you to order your fairy friends to attack!”

“Fine! Fairies, attack, nya!” The fairies start to close in on Reimu, all at the same time. At that moment, Reimu pulls a spellcard out of her pocket, declaring, “Dream Sign: Evil Sealing Circle!” A pillar of white light surrounds the miko and expands, engulfing and destroying most of the fairies. Two, who were further back in the group, avoided getting hit by the spell, but Reimu materializes two needles between her fingers and throws them, piercing and destroying the remaining fairies.

“NYA?”

“There goes the ‘outnumbered,’ aspect,” says Reimu, “Care to take this matter upon yourself, ‘Not-Chen?’”

“…” The hidden girl does not answer.

Reimu smiles victoriously, “What’s the matter? Too intimidated to talk now? In that case, I’ll take my leave. I have no intention to waste time here anyway.” Reimu walks in the direction of the passage on the other end of the large room. However, out of that passage, something zooms across the floor, leaps up toward and past Reimu. At that time, Reimu feels an acute pain in the side of her face and realizes she had just been cut.

The thing stops and stares at the miko. It is a black cat with red eyes, “Hsssss!”

“Ugh. Damn… A cat...? But… who was talking?”

“REAOW!” The cat springs toward, Reimu, who positions her gohei defensively, stopping the cat from going any further. However, the cat clings to her gohei, and bites Reimu’s hand.

“AGH!” The cat then leaps onto Reimu’s head, then straight into the air above her. Reimu recovers and looks up. In midair, the cat begins to shapeshift. It transforms into a girl with red hair tied in two braids, dark red eyes, and wearing a green dress with black highlights. As expected, she has catlike ears and a tail. Also, in her hand, she has a large object, but it’s so unexpected, Reimu can’t properly identify it in the time she currently has. The girl drops back down, swinging the large object downward. The miko leaps back, but the girl follows up her attack, swinging again, this time delivering a direct and heavy blow, which sends Reimu sailing back and slamming back-first into the room’s stone wall.

Reimu take a couple steps and finally gets back upright, “Who… are you?” She finally identifies the weapon: It is a wheelbarrow.

The girl proudly introduces herself, “I’m Rin, nya. Rin Kaenbyou. But you can call me Orin, nya. I serve the mistress of this underground complex, Satori Komeiji, and under the orders of the world’s absolute mistress, Yumei, she told me to take care of you, nya. Nothing personal, nya.”

“Yumei, huh? Where are Marisa and Youmu?”

“Your friends, nya? Somewhere else in the complex, nya. Miss Satori and Utsuho are taking care of them.”

“I see…”

“But why am I telling you, nya? This is where you will die, nya!”

Reimu’s eyes narrow, “Somehow, I fail to find that intimidating. I will defeat you and find my friends.”

“Let’s do this, nya!” Orin turns back into a cat for the sole purpose of covering the ground between herself and Reimu quicker, transforms back, and swings her cart, which Reimu manages to block with her gohei, who then counterattacks with a kick, which sends the cat youkai staggering back.

Reimu uses a spellcard, “Spirit Sign: Fantasy Orb!” She sends six orbs of holy energy flying toward Orin.

Orin positions her cart vertically in front of her, hiding behind it. The orbs slam into it. The force of the attack pushes the cat youkai back, but causes no harm. Orin goes out of hiding with a spellcard prepared, “No good, nya! Atonement, nya: Needle Mountain of a Former Hell!”

“Wh…” Reimu notices a magic circle appear below her. She leaps up just as several long spikes shoot out from it. Breaking into flight, she dives toward Orin.

Orin readies another spellcard, “Malicious Spirit, nya: Spleen Eater!” Suddenly, around Reimu, several wisps, not unlike the spirits found in the Netherworld, appear and quickly close in. Orin, with her open palm directed in Reimu’s direction, makes a fist, and all the spirits clash together and cause an explosion of spirit energy, which creates a force which sends Reimu crashing against the wall again, and falling to the ground.

“Ugh… Damn it…”

“Nyahaha! NOW are you scared, nya?” Orin leaps into the air with her cart raised and sails toward the downed Reimu.

“Tch…” Reimu raises her gohei and blocks the cart. Orin tries swinging her unconventional, but effective, weapon a few more times, but the miko continues to guard, despite being at the cat youkai’s mercy. Finally, Orin rears back to deliver and extra powerful attack with her cart, intending to break Reimu’s defenses, but the miko takes the opportunity to slap an ofuda on the cat’s chest. The ofuda creates a burst of holy energy, which sends Orin staggering back, and also dropping her cart in surprise.

“Nyaaooo!”

“Take this!” Reimu draws a spellcard and attempts the spell that failed before, now that Orin had lost her defensive measure, “Spirit Sign: Fantasy Orb!” The orbs slam into Orin and send her tumbling and sliding across the ground until she stops, almost at the other end of the room.

Orin gets back to her feet, though she stumbles a bit before regaining her proper footing, “You’re… good, nya…”

“You’ve lost,” says Reimu, walking toward the cat youkai.

However, Orin simply chuckles, “Nyehehehnyahaha!”

Reimu stops, “What’s so funny?”

Orin says, “Thank you for helping me back there, nya! Now you’ll see my real power!”

Reimu raises an eyebrow, “’Helping you?’ ‘Real power?’ What are you talking about?”

Orin responds with actions, “Cursed Sprite, nya!”

“Huh?”

“Zombie Fairy!” Suddenly, the fairies that Reimu had destroyed before reappear. They have the signs of the injuries they had received before, many of them singed by holy energy, and two penetrated by needles.

Reimu’s eyes widen, “This is… necromancy?”

Orin smirks, “Let’s see you beat them this time, nya!”

Reimu rolls her eyes, “They’re still fairies. No match for me.” She whirls around, tossing needles in rapid succession. However, while the needles hit home, the fairies don’t burst; they simply keep approaching her like nothing happened. The fairies retaliate by charging at the miko, who jumps out of the way, but then they turn and fire blast of energy, which Reimu blacks a couple of with her gohei, but the rest get past her defenses and bombard her. Reimu gets forced back with her arm over her torso, “Damn…” A couple more fairies body slam her, knocking her to the ground. However, Reimu notices something strange: Orin isn’t using one of the taunts she uses when the battle starts to flow in her favor. Reimu momentarily glances through the group of fairy zombies and notices that Orin’s eyes are closed in concentration. “I see…” She realizes that it is the same case when Alice is controlling an abundance of dolls and she has to devote a lot of her concentration to controlling them, leaving her open.

The fairy zombies fire another volley of energy bullets, which Reimu rolls to the side of, narrowly avoiding harm. Still on the ground, she tosses a needle, which goes very low, under the fairies, and finally, pierces through the fabric of Orin’s dress and sinks into her right shin. Orin’s eyes burst open as she feels the pain, “MEOWCH!” The fairy corpses drop to the ground like ragdolls.

Reimu springs back to her feet and dashes toward Orin. The cat youkai fights back by extending her arm toward the miko and firing a blast of spirit energy, which Reimu deflects by swinging her gohei. Orin attempts to deliver a kick, but Reimu outmaneuvers her by dodging to the side, then stunning the cat youkai by thrusting her staff into her gut, “ACK!”

“It’s… OVER!” Reimu dashes to Orin’s front, and jumps away in a backflip, her foot connecting with the cat youkai’s jaw, launching her several feet upward. The miko finally finishes her combo with a spellcard, “Border World: Hakurei Danmaku Bounded Field!” Several portals open around Orin, and each fire out lasers of holy energy, riddling to cat youkai. After the spell ends, Orin falls to the ground, exhausted and unconscious.

“Whew…” Reimu takes a few seconds to catch her breath, and then runs ahead.

==

I enter the door. Beyond it is a large room. It is round and goes up quite a ways, so it’s almost like being inside a large cylinder. It actually reminds me a lot of the room where I fought Kaguya during the moon incident, except the walls are white, as opposed to the light blue walls, and it stings my eyes a little. Looking at the floor, there is a small hole in the middle of it, and around it, the floor is painted black and yellow, looking like a ‘nuclear’ symbol. I still have a bad feeling about this. However, at the other end of the room, there is another door. I decide to make a move for it.

However, before I’m even halfway across the room, I notice a ball of orange energy shooting down at me from in front and above, I jump back, dodging it, then jump again to dodge another. I look at where they came from.

“Crap! I missed! You’re really annoying you know. You are going to die anyway, but you always pulls some fancy tricks under some lameass idea that you’ll live somehow. It’s so stupid…” I look up at the person who bitched to unreasonable lengths about targets that naturally try to avoid harm: A girl with unkempt long black hair and black eyes, wearing a white shirt with some red eye-like design on it, a short green skirt, and a green hair ribbon… but that’s not all. She also has black wings, reminding me a lot of Aya Shameimaru’s, which she wears a white cape over, and on her right arm, there is an orange… cylinder-shaped… thing… Seriously, what the hell is that thing? It looks like something a robot would have. Her right foot also seems to be encased in something gray, but who cares about that? What’s on her arm?

“Who the hell are you?” I demand.

The girl poses proudly in midair, “My name is Utsuho Reiuji. I am in possession of ultimate power. A power which_”

“Okay, okay!” Damn, this girl is full of herself, “Where is Reimu and Youmu?”

‘Utsuho’ answers, “Oh, they’re somewhere down here, dealing with beings worth less than myself. I hope you said goodbye, because you’re gonna die here! You’ll never see them again!”

“Shut the hell up. I will see them again if I have anything to say about it!”

“Do you know who you’re dealing with?” demands Utsuho, “I have the power of nuclear fusion! There is nothing greater! That is why your life ends here! Whatever power you have can’t compare!” Well, that does sound pretty intimidating, not that I was unprepared, what with all the ‘nuclear’ symbols I’ve been seeing around here. Of course, I was afraid because of the effect it’s had on society in my ‘other’ life. Nuclear energy has proved beneficial to everyday life, but has also been the cause of countless deaths… but whatever. So has water.

I pull a spellcard out of my pocket, “You obviously don’t know me. I’ve seen some pretty impressive powers, and the way I see it, yours is just another for me to overcome. Come and get some!”

“Yahoo! The moment I’ve been waiting for! Taste nuclear death, bitch! Hrahaha!” Utsuho points her ‘arm thing’ at me and begins firing blasts of fire from it. I continuously dodge to the side, “Hold still, dammit! Die with some dignity!” How the hell is standing there and letting myself be killed dignified? She’s weird…

However, it seems like she can only fire off a few shots at a time. There is a break in her attacks, and I declare my spellcard, “Magic Sign: Milky Way!” I fire flurry of magical energy at Utsuho, who tires to dodge, but is too slow (good thing she isn’t as fast as Aya, despite sharing some attributes…)

“UGH!” She gets hit by the magical blasts and crashes into the far wall. She gets back to her feet pretty fast, though, “Ow! That hurt, dammit! How dare you hit me, Utsuho, with such a cheap shot!”

I shrug, “This is a battle and I fought back.”

“Shut up!” Utsuho takes to the air, firing her ‘cannon’ like crazy. I hop on my broom and take to the air as well. We circle around, exchanging blasts of nuclear fire and magical energy. I dodge everything Utsuho sent at me, but the bird youkai get hit by a couple of my attacks, “Shit! Stop dodging! This isn’t fair!”

“It’s not my fault your aim sucks.”

“YOU BITCH! I’m the one with ultimate power, not you! I won’t lose to trash like you! RRAAAGGHHHH!” With a desperate look in her eyes, Utsuho flies straight at me. I hit her with a few magical blasts, but she only winces slightly to them. She swings at me with her ‘cannon’, but I tilt back and dodge it, but the bird presses her melee assault and gets me across the face with a second strike. The impact knocks me off my broom, sailing through the air, slamming against the wall, and falling to the ground, feeling sore and my head ringing… Holy shit… She has some serious pride in her powers… She’s like Cirno, except the fairy has her head on right…

“Ugh. Dammit…”

“Hahaha! You like that?” Utsuho draws a spellcard, “Atomic Fire!” A large ball of energy starts to build at the tip of her ‘cannon,’ “Nuclear Fusion!” She fires the ball at me. I rise to my feet and try to dodge to the side. However, when it hits the corner I was in, a force pulls me in momentarily, and then sends my flying as it creates a somewhat sizable dome-shaped explosion. I hit another wall, near where I dropped my broom.

Utsuho, looking proud of the fact that she fucked me up a little, draws another spellcard, “Try this! Explosion Sign!” More energy gathers at the tip of her cannon. This time, she’s trembling a little, so the next one has to be something big.

I decide to counter with a spell of my own and hope something good comes of it, “Love Sign!”

We both fire off our spells, “Mega Flare!”

“Master Spark!” We both fire large beams at each other, only mine is a golden beam of magical energy and hers is an orange beam of nuclear energy. Our attacks cancel each other out, one not proving to be any more potent than the other.

Well, both of us prove our stubbornness for the next couple rounds of spells, “Magicannon: Final Spark!”

“Explosion Sign: Giga Flare!”

We do the same thing again, only with larger beams, but the result is no different. Finally, I go for my top tier magic beam. Beat this, Utsuho, “Magicannon: Final Master Spark!”

“Explosion Sign: Peta Flare!” One more time, our spells clash. Dammit! Utsuho has one to match my Final Master Spark? Before, when our spells proved ineffective against each other, we stopped and moved up to a higher spell, but this time, we keep going, trying to overpower the other. It looks like Utsuho is on her most powerful beam as well, otherwise she’d just upgrade again… either that, or she’s running out of stamina. I know I am…

We keep pouring more and more energy into our spells. Whenever I try to one-up on Utsuho’s spell, she increases her power, and vice versa. Finally, after one of the longest minutes of my life, we both reach our limit and end our attacks. We’d be out cold of we kept rapidly losing energy like that.

Frankly, it’s time to give up, but Utsuho’s pride, naturally, gets the better of her, “Dammit… I have… ultimate power… I will… not… LOSE!” Utsuho points her ‘cannon’ at me and fires off more shots. However, she is so weak at this point, they are just small bursts of fire, which I intercept and dispel easily with basic magical shots. At this point, the bird youkai looks like she’s on the verge of tears, “No! NO! You don’t have ultimate power… I DO! How can you…”

I force a grin, “It’s not about ‘ultimate power,’ dumbass. I’m just better than you.”

“ARGH! You’re not better than me! I’ll show you!” She pulls a spellcard from her pocket. What? How can she…? “Blazing Star… RRAGH!” Utsuho falls to the ground. She tries to get up, but it seems that her legs are now so weak, they can’t support her weight. She coughs out some blood. She tried using a spellcard when she has too little strength to do so? She’s so proud, it’s stupid…

I let out a long sigh, “It’s over. You’ve lost.”

Apparently, I didn’t choose the right words, because she attempts a REALLY stupid move in retaliation, “I…. have… not… lost… yet…” She moves her hand slowly across the floor to her pocket and pulls out a spellcard, “Die… Last…”

‘Last…’ as in ‘Last Word?’ I extend my arm toward her spellcard, “Oh no, you don’t!” I fire off a very small magical laser, which couldn’t hurt a fairy, but is enough to burn a spellcard.

“No…” Utsuho doesn’t even have the energy to look angry now. She just gives a whimpering expression, then closes her eyes and passes out. I walk toward the exit. Damn, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so desperate, just to win. I enter the doorway, using my broom as a support for my walking, since I feel like shit, due to the energy I expended, though it’s probably nothing compared to Utsuho’s situation. Beyond the door is a corridor of showers and brushes, which I totally welcome. I’m no expert at nuclear physics, but since Utsuho has that kind of power, I wouldn’t be surprised if my body had become irradiated at some point, so this is good. I want to sleep, but right now, I gotta find Reimu and Youmu, wherever they are…

==

In Satori’s chamber, Youmu continuously attempts to attack the mysterious girl, but she keeps dodging with perfect precision, as if she were reading the gardener’s mind, and all other things considered, she just might.

Youmu delivers a horizontal slash, which Satori ducks. She then places her hand on the gardener’s chest and releases a moderately powerful blast of energy, which sends the gardener sailing back, letting go of the Roukanken in surprise, and landing hard on her back, “Ugh… Dammit…” She looks at Satori, “How can you dodge me for so long? No one has ever done that! It’s not fair!”

Satori’s eyes narrow, “I just did, so obviously, someone can. Stop complaining.”

“Gr…”

“Tell me, Youmu. How much do you love your mistress?”

“Why are you asking me this?”

“Answer the question. How much do you love Yuyuko?”

“… With everything I’m worth. I would gladly give my life for her.”

Satori smiles mysteriously, “I see. So that is your answer, is it? Are you truly positive about it?”

“I am!”

“Then let us explore that, shall we?”

Youmu rises to her feet, “What are you talking about?”

“…” Suddenly, Youmu feels a slight draft. A breeze, seemingly coming from Satori’s forehead, lifts her bangs us, revealing a slit.

“Wh…?”

The slit opens, revealing an eye. Satori says, “Let us explore the deeper reaches of your heart…” The eye glows as Youmu looks at it. Suddenly, everything blacks out.

Youmu finds herself surrounded by grass and cherry blossom trees, and at the foot of a long flight of stone steps leading up to a palace. She immediately recognizes the location, “The Netherworld… Hakugyokurou? I’m back? What happened to Satori?” Youmu glances at two statues at the bottom of the stairs, which bear a close resemblance to Yuyuko, whom they represent. Youmu briefly recalls her father telling her that he sculpted them himself not long before she was born.

However, no sooner does Youmu have her recollection when there is a bright white flash. Soon after, the heads of the statues fly off and hit the ground with a thud. Youmu’s eyes widen, “What?”

Between the statues, a figure Youmu least expects appears: someone who looks exactly like Youmu, except her dress is blue and her hair is shiny pink. She stands with her own version of the Roukanken drawn.

Youmu is speechless at the sight of the other Youmu, “Wh… who… why…”

The other Youmu smiles, “Just the reaction I’d expect. It’s not everyday something like this happens. Tell me, how did you feel when I cut through those statues?”

Youmu recovers from her shock and her eyes narrow, “How dare you? How could you disrespect Yuyuko-sama in such a way? Especially when you LOOK exactly like me? Are you some evil fake created by Satori? Answer me!”

The other Youmu sighs, “I was going to answer you anyway. You didn’t have to tell me to. As for me being fake… well, it takes one to know one, doesn’t it? Admit it, you actually LIKED what I did, didn’t you?”

“WHAT?”



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