“Our dream is almost over. Soon, we will return to our everyday lives. For now, however, let us reminisce on our adventures together.”

“Reminisce? We could have many more adventures together! Just come back with me!”

Reimu shakes her head, “I’m afraid not. Gensokyo was fun, but it was just a way of keeping myself entertained until I got my life back. At the end, the true form of my existence awaits me. You should want to get your life back too.”

I turn my head to the side, “Reimu… will nothing I say convince you to come back and revive Gensokyo? We have friends trapped in the void that remains of it. Are you just gonna leave them?”

Reimu sighs, “It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it’s going to have to be. There is no stopping the natural course of dreams.”

Shit. I guess reason is not going to affect Reimu. Her position is not budging at all, “Will nothing I say convince you to come back with me? To continue the dream?”

“I’m sorry, Marisa, but no.”

I make a fist, “You must, Reimu! Sakuya… Kaguya… Mokou… You are their only hope… and everyone else in Gensokyo!”

Reimu responds, “How many times do you have to be reminded, Marisa? Those that disappeared… they are not real. They do not exist. They are pure fiction. Having any lasting emotional attachment to them is childish and silly.”

I grit my teeth, “Damn it, Reimu! I WILL take you back with me, even if it means dragging your unconscious body back with me! I’ll do whatever it takes!”

Reimu sighs, “It’s the last moment we’ll spend together and you want the situation to be a violent one?”

“I’ll make sure we’ll spend MANY peaceful moments together after this!”

“Marisa, do you truly believe you are in the right?”

“I do!”

“I see. Then we’ll let this battle be a contest of who is right and who is wrong. If you defeat me by any chance, I will return Gensokyo.”

“Fine by me.”

“Then let’s do this.” Reimu descends and lands on an invisible surface. I follow her. Sure enough, we are standing on solid ground, although it’s invisible. Reimu opens her hand, and her 5-foot-long gohei staff materializes. I grab my broom, intending to use it as a weapon too. Although Reimu’s gohei and my broom are wooden, they were imbued with powerful magic, so they are as durable as steel, although they still weigh as much as wood.

“REIMU!” I charge at Reimu and swing my broom. However, she turns her body, narrow evading my attack.

“Teehee! Your attacks are still as predictable as ever, Marisa.” Reimu ducks down and knocks me to the ground with a sweep kick.

“Ah!” Even though I hit the ground rather hard, I recover fast enough and extend my left hand toward Reimu and fire off a green burst of magical energy. Reimu jumps away, remaining inches in front of the blast and deflects it with her gohei. She lands then jumps again, with several ofuda appearing in her left hand she tosses them at me. I quickly get my right foot firmly on the ground a spring away as the ofuda close in. Upon hitting the ground where I was, they explode in a blast of white holy energy. The force of the explosion pushes me back, and the brightness of the light stings my eyes. Luckily, I manage to adjust my eyes just in time as Reimu jumps at me and swings her gohei. I raise my broom and block her attack. She attempts a low attack, but I block that too, and she follows it with a second high attack, in which our weapons clash again and press together as we try to overpower each other. I’m the first to wise up to the circumstances, however. I grin as I step to the side and lower my weapon as Reimu’s suddenly wasted strength causes her to stumble forward, dropping her defenses. I attempt a quick counterattack; however, Reimu uses her right foot to spring upward and, using her flying ability as a means of performing an otherwise physically ineffective attack, launches a midair reverse-roundhouse kick. Her heel connects with my cheek and I’m sent flying several feet, the motion blowing my hat off in midair. I hit the ground, back-first. Reimu jumps up and above me with her right leg raised, intending to hit me with an axe-kick. At the last second, I roll out of the way as her heel hits the ground. I thrust my broom’s shaft up at her and it connects with her jaw.

“Ah?” Reimu stagger back as I return to my feet. I swing my broom at her like a baseball bat, but she quickly ducks below my attack then springs up, performing a back flip, the tip of her foot connecting with my chin, launching me upward. I aim my hand toward the ground while the rest of me is stunned and blindly fires off a laser. “UGH!” Reimu grunts, which indicates to me that my attack hit. I recover in midair and land on my feet. Reimu recovers as well. A needle materializes in her hand which she tosses at me, but I deflect it with my broom.

“YAAAAA!” We both charge at each other. Our makeshift staves clash. Out left hand both let go and glow with magical energy and holy energy respectively. We both throw a punch, which connects with the side of each other’s faces, the force sending us both flying several feet. We both hit the ground, recover, and rise back to our feet at the exact same time, panting.

“Not… bad…” says Reimu, in between breaths.

“Just what… I was… expecting…” I say. With both take a few seconds for our breathes to catch up.

Reimu pulls a spell card from her pocket, “That was quite fun, Marisa, but I think it’s time to take this up another level.”

“What are you gonna do?” I ask, “Use the spell cards of people like Remilia, Meiling, Suwako, and Aya?”

Reimu shakes her head, “We aren’t in Gensokyo anymore. I lost that power with my departure from that world. We are no longer in a world specifically of my mind’s creation. As a result, I’m somewhat weaker that I was when I fought you, Sakuya, Kaguya, and Mokou. However, as long as I’m like this, I have one more power to draw out with my spell cards.”

“What’s that?” I ask.

“My memories,” answers Reimu, “Time to reminisce.” She raises her spell card, declaring, “Scarlet Dream: Cogwheels of Fate!”

The red mist around us vanishes, making the view of the area a great deal clearer. A red aura emanates from Reimu. Just what does she have going?”

“Lävatein!” A red beam, about 7 feet in length, extends from the tip of Reimu’s gohei and she swings it as me, catching me off-guard, as I wasn’t expecting it. “Hailstorm!” Several blades of ice start to rain down from the sky diagonally.

I recover and use a spell card, “Ritualic Space: Orreries Solar System!” Six shining orbs materialize around me. I jump toward the hail of blades and my orbs smash through them. I then launch them at Reimu, but she suddenly fades into the darkness, and then reappears after my attack flies by, unscathed.

“Killing Doll!” Several knives materialize around Reimu then launch toward me in a concentrated fashion. I step to the side, though the series of knives grazes my right arm. Reimu’s red aura vanishes, “What do you think?”

“What… the… hell…? What was that? Those attacks were…”

“… From my memories? If that was what you were thinking, then you’re absolutely right. My past battles play a part in this present battle.”

I was actually thinking that those attacks weren’t actually hers, but she had a point about the past battles. During the mist incident, Reimu fought Sakuya, Flandre, Cirno, and Rumia, a darkness youkai that recently became one of Alice’s students more recently. She used spell card techniques belonging to Flandre, Cirno, and Sakuya, and Rumia’s ability to fade into darkness. She can take on the abilities of opponents she fought during specific incidents?

Reimu pulls out another spell card, “Let’s move onto the next memory of our adventures, Marisa. Ghostly Dream: Wakeless Spring Slumber!” In the distance, the fully bloomed Saigyou Ayakashi, the Perfect Cherry Blossom vanishes and a pink aura emanates from Reimu.

Time to think… Whose abilities will Reimu use? She fought Lunasa, Merlin, and Lyrica Prismriver, poltergeist musicians of Yuyuko, Chen, a nekomata shikigami belonging to Yukari’s kitsune shikigami, Ran, and Yukari herself.

Reimu smiles and declares, “Prism Concerto!” Two Reimu clones appear at her side, one in red clothes, more so than her usual outfit, and the other in black clothes, and with the original Reimu’s white clothes, the three clones sort of resemble the Prismrivers. A bow of light appears in one black Reimu’s hand and a sword with a curved blade appears in the hand of the red Reimu. All three of them draw spell cards, “Flight of Idaten!” They suddenly vanish… or rather take off at an intense speed, as I have to really concentrate to follow their movement. As if their speed wasn’t enough, however, they are also using Yukari’s boundary manipulation skills to open portals, disappearing an emerging from another portal in varying locations. I can’t predict them at all!

I try to keep my distance, firing bolts of my magic, but always missing. Finally, the Reimus decide to stop confusing me with their movement and go on the offensive. The red Reimu emerges from a portal that opens in front of me and swings her sword. I jump back, barely avoiding the attack. However, from a portal above ‘Red,’ ‘Black’ emerges and fires an arrow of bright light at me, which pierces me clean through the left shoulder. “Errghhh!” Okay, it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, but it was still somewhat painful. ‘Red’ and ‘Black’ vanish into their portals and, floating behind them, Reimu (the original) materializes a large number of rainbow-colored blades around her and sends them at me. I deflect as many as I can with my broom and magic, buts finally, one breaks through my defenses and the others tear through. After the attack, ‘Red’ and ‘Black’ appear in front of me again, their weapons readied at point-black range. This is not good…

“Okay! Now then… huh?” As the original Reimu is about to give an order to the two duplicates, she notices something in the air above and behind me.

“Marisa! Hold on!” A familiar voice yells as a red laser shoots down at the black Reimu, piercing her through the chest, causing her to fade into thin air. A doll armed with a sword dives down at the red Reimu, who jumps up and cuts through it, but another ‘sword doll’ backs up its fallen comrade and also pierces her through the chest, causing her to vanish.

Although I know who just came to my aid, I look back anyway, “Whew! Thank you, Alice! I was in sort of a tight spot there…” Alice descends to my side.

Reimu sighs and says, “Alice Margatroid. Do you know what you are doing? I am the reason you are here. I am like a mother to you.”

Alice responds, “Even if I am a part of your dream, Reimu, I cannot think of you as my mother. After all, you lived as an equal with the rest of us for a long time. I fail to see you as anything different, even now. Even if it is as you say, I will protect and help Marisa and the rest of my friends, and take you back with us.”

Reimu chuckles, “It’s strange… how the figments of my own dream are trying to prevent ME from awakening. Very well, Alice. You can try to stop me. After all, there are only a few more minutes and the sun rises and this all ends.” I won’t doubt what she’s saying, but the sky hadn’t gotten any brighter since I got here. I find it hard to believe…

I glance at Alice, “We’d better not waste any time…”

“Yes,” responds Alice with a nod.

Reimu readies her next spell card, “Imperishable Dream: Nocturne at Two o'clock!” The pink glow of the lunatic moon vanishes and it expands into a full moon. At the same time, the sky turns from black to a dull blue. Shit, NOW it’s easy to believe that our time is almost up. Kaguya’s moon made sure that it was always night! Reimu turns toward Alice, extends her arm, and cracks a mysterious smile, “Master Spark!”

“Wh_?” Before Alice could figure out what was happening, Reimu engulfs her with a massive laser, with the same name and appearance as mine. Oh yeah, she DID fight ME during the moon incident, while I was under Reisen’s mind control… When Reimu’s attack ends, Alice is on the ground, several feet away from her original location, “Ugh…”

I ready a spell card, preparing to counterattack, but Reimu glances at me and snaps her fingers, “Force Crisis!” A purple meteor-thing rockets down from the sky and toward me. I jumps back, but an explosion follows, with enough force to knock me away. I land next to where Alice was knocked to, landing on my feet, just as she is getting back on hers’.

Alice declares a spell card, “Corps Command!” Alice’s doll, which is always around her, Shanghai, multiplies into tens of duplicates. “Shanghai Battalion!” Spears, rapiers, axes, bows, scythes, old-style firearms, and various other weapons materialize in the hands of the many Shanghai dolls. All at once, the charge at Reimu or prepare to shoot at her from a distance.

Reimu smirks slightly, “Impressive, Alice. If I hadn’t the appropriate countermeasures, I might even be intimidated. Butterfly Storm!” Several glowing butterflies materialize around Reimu and charge at Alice’s incoming army. Both forces clash. However, Reimu’s butterflies gain the upper hand by guarding against the dolls’ attacks by blocking with the razor-sharp edges of their wings, then crashing into the dolls and exploding. Reimu picks off the dolls that broke through her counterattack by throwing ofuda at them, which detonate on contact. The result is a large cloud of gray and pink smoke.

In an attempt to catch Reimu off guard, I declare a spell card, “Magic Sign: Milky Way!” I send a flurry of star-shaped magical blasts into the cloud. On the other end, I hear some light bursting sounds and some grunts from Reimu’s voice. The smoke clears and Reimu is down on one knee, supporting herself with her gohei.

Reimu return to her feet, “Not bad, Marisa. I figured you might do that, but it was before I could properly prepare. However, that was not good enough. Now get ready for the next memory! View Dream: Revolving Lantern of the Tenth Year!” Reimu declares her next spell card. The unbloomed suzuran on the trees whither away. Coins, each with holes in the middle, materialize in Reimu’s hand. They are afterlife currency, called karma, but Komachi, back when we fought her, has the ability to infuse them with energy and use them as powerful weapons. “Storm Day!” There is suddenly a cool breeze around us… which quickly picks up and becomes a tornado, sucking me and Alice in. We both grab my broom to keep us from getting separated and to move in this windstorm… at least a little. Reimu appears at the middle of the cyclone, seemingly unaffected by it, as Alice and I spiral around her. Alice summons a doll, which appears in front of Reimu and fires a red laser before getting swept up as well. However, Reimu extends her hand and blocks it. “Higan Retour!” Reimu throws the coins at us, which multiply along the way, which also get caught up in the whirlwind, making the going very hazardous. Both me and Alice get hit and burned several times by the energy-infused coins.

A coin hits my shoulder, “Agh! Damn it! We gotta end this soon, or…” I grab a spell card with my free hand and declare, “Magicannon!” Intense magical energy flows into me as I instruct Alice, “Alice, don’t let go of the broom!” I pull myself up, kick off the broom’s shaft, and dive toward Reimu, who suddenly has six beams extending from her back. “FINAL MASTER SPARK!” I cast my ultimate ‘spark’ spell. My massive laser flies toward Reimu. I summon my broom over to me to keep myself in place, barely resisting the tornado’s wind.

However, Reimu was not unprepared this time. “Last Judgment!” Reimu fires a large purple laser at me, of equal size, a technique belonging to Sikieiki. Our beams clash and the magical and divine energy from our respective attacks goes crazy, flying outward, causing the coins to explode. I’m barely holding on, but Reimu doesn’t seem to be having much trouble, “Oh, Marisa. I may be weaker than I was when you fought me with Sakuya, Mokou, and Kaguya, but my power still outclasses yours!” Reimu’s laser gradually overpowers mine. Damn it, this is not good to say the least.

“Arcane Craft: Magical Marisa Dolls –Master Spark-!” Alice declares a spell card I’ve never heard of. I look out the corners of my eyes. In one direction, then the other. Alice had summoned two dolls, which look just like ME! They even have the hat ribbons and aprons! Both dolls extend a hand in Reimu’s direction and fire slightly smaller versions of my Master Spark. They join with my Final Master Spark, making the laser even more powerful! The status of the power struggle becomes neutral, with either side gaining the advantage. I glance at Alice with a serious expression. Alice nods in return. We both focus all the power we can into the attack, making our beam quickly overpower Reimu’s.

“WHAT?” Reimu’s eyes widen in awe and dismay as the laser completely engulfs her. The spell is broken. The tornado stops and the three of us are sent flying in various directions. We all hit the ground hard. The taste of blood is in my mouth as I crawl in the fallen Reimu’s direction. Reimu looks at me and smiles wearily, “That was pretty good, Marisa. I guess I shouldn’t have underestimated Alice’s power.

Alice recovers slowly, “When I have such an important goal in mind, not even you can stop me, Reimu.”

“I see,” responds Reimu.

I say, “Come back with us, Reimu. Please. Is the life that awaits you on the other side really that important?”

Reimu slowly rises to her feet, “Of course. It’s my family… my friends… my life… Dreams like this are fine, but in the end, that’s all they are: dreams. We all have to wake up sometime. Even you, Marisa. You may lack the memories of you other self, so you fail to realize the significance of what you have.”

“I don’t…”

“Ah! Marisa! L-look…” Alice gets to her feet and points at the sky. I get back to my feet as well. Up above, the sun appears over the horizon.

“It’s time,” says Reimu.

Suddenly, there is an acute pain through my head, like the kind of headache that makes it suck to be alive at the moment. I feel the information in my brain rearrange in ways I can’t describe. I close my eyes tightly and slump to my knees as I hold my head with my hands. I remember things… that are not of my life as Marisa Kirisame. My parents, my friends, my school, my experiences, both good and bad, my ambitions, my desires, my passions… my life! I’m…

“Marisa, your clothes!” Alice shouts out.

I look and see that my clothes had changed color. Instead of black, they turned white, like Reimu’s.

More memories come flowing back to me. I was staying at school late to complete an important project. As such, I missed the bus home. As my house was not within walking distance, I decided to take the subway instead. As I was crossing the last crosswalk, a truck ran a red light and… … … … Wow… Life bites you in the ass when you're not expecting it at all. I guess that's a... unfortunate, yet charming aspect of it… Still, it’s not like all bad came of it…

Reimu looks at me with a welcoming smile, “I see you are now with us… Marisa Starr.”

A portal opens up nearby. Yukari emerges from it, saying, “So it’s too late. Things couldn’t be changed…”

“Shoot. I was rather aware of this possibility, but… Reimu and Marisa… up until now, they had always found a way of turning things around…” A second figure emerges from the portal. A figure I was not expecting at all.

“What? Sakuya? But… but how did you…?”

Sakuya says solemnly, “Honestly, Marisa, I think we have more pressing matters at hand at the moment…”

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