2016-09-12 - Utena vs. Takeo, First Duel

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Title: Utena vs. Takeo, First Duel

Takeo finally challenges Utena to a duel -- and allows the memories of his past life to flow through him far more deeply than he ever has before. Unfortunately, it's not enough to supersede the Power of Dios. Other Duelists observe from the Chairman's Tower.


Utena Tenjou, Takeo Akamizu, Kasagami Araki, Shizuru Fujino, Kozue Kaoru


The Dueling Arena, and the Chairman's Tower

OOC - IC Date:

09-12-2016 - 11-20-2014

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Takeo Akamizu had awoken on this day and broken his normal ruetine. He was not late to homeroom, which isn't that uncommon, but happens quite a bit. He then did not sleep, once during homeroom, or any of the classes before lunch. He was awake, and attentive, and even tried to honestly answer questions when called upon. He was mostly wrong, but he did give an effort. To those who know Takeo all of this is a bit ... Off. Maybe he was trying to turn over a new leaf? Try to become if not a good student with good grades, at least try to be a little more attentive.

The truth was that this was not a day that Takeo Akamizu could risk getting detention. He had a very important errand after instruction today.

At lunch, Takeo skipped food and instead searched through the Academy's large student body. When he found whom he was looking for he walked briskly and with determination toward his query. He stopped near the girl with the pink hair who had been sitting amicably with the girl whose hair was auburn in color. He took a breath to steady himself. Then took out form beneath his jacket a single rose and laid it before Utena Tenjou and Wakaba Shinohara, his eyes set and determined. "Tenjou. You know what this means." He turns and begins to walk out of the cafeteria. "After school we settle this."

The rest of the day felt like it dragged to Takeo, and not for the normal reasons. It was a lot just to keep the adrenaline in check. However eventually everything must come to their appointed time in Fate's grand designs, and so too did Takeo Akamizu's alotted time come. He found himself, as tradition had dictated the first in the arena. But he was not transformed. Not yet. He was, for as long as he could hold onto it, Takeo. He held in his right hand a single Boken, the symbol of one of his loves, that of Kendo, and in the other hand a simple shield amulet with a sword etching. He watched the place where his quarry would enter. Where he might very well loose who he was, but it didn't matter, he would do that and more, and it showed on the grim and determined look he held as he waited. Patiently.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

When last they met, Utena and Takeo were both visiting someone in the hospital. They'd arrived separately, and they would leave separately, but that moment of togetherness was warm and pleasant enough. Then again, it's not like she and Miki had had some kind of argument before he gave her a rose. And Kozue had mixed business with pleasure, in her mode of advance.

Her blue eyes sad, but a lot less surprised than they would have been a few months ago, she reaches forward and gingerly picks up the rose.

As Takeo is leaving, he can hear Wakaba ask, eagerly, "Ooh, what /does/ it mean? Is this a /confession/? Is someone making a play on /my/ Utena-sama?"

Her Utena-sama pinches the bridge of her nose and sighs.


And here she is, having surmounted the gate of stone, the gate of water, and now, at last, the gate of sky. Takeo can't have felt what Utena felt, as she took the stairs one at a time -- what she feels every time this comes around, but is only gradually beginning to appreciate, much less anticipate. Everything about this is a bother, even an offense, both in practice and in principle, but as ruffles materialize beneath her jacket, golden cords above it, her heart beats a little faster. It's not the battle she's approaching, that makes her feel that way. It's the person.

The Rose Bride stands before her at the top, and Utena gives Anthy a soft smile, a smile that backlights her eyes with a thousand thousand candles. She's never happy to see Anthy here, dressed like this, but that Anthy /is/ here has gone from a source of bafflement and frustration to a uniquely powerful comfort.

That smile was for Anthy alone, however. By the time she's turned to regard Takeo, it is with a coolness, a distance, that wasn't there before, in the hospital room. There's a sense of palpable disappointment, and as her brilliant blue eyes sweep him up and down, of judgement. "You sure you want to do this?" she asks, not entirely sure why she's bothering.

The Rose Bride afixes a rose of darkest orchid to Takeo's chest, and then, her steps completely silent, her gown hardly even making the softest shushing sound, returns to Utena to pin upon her breast a rose of white. She doesn't bother repeating the rules. Everyone here knows the score.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"Really? This guy?"

Kozue Kaoru is seated, with her feet propped up between crenulated stone, the front legs of a small velvet backed chair off the stone, the back balancing precariously. It leaves her a little open but she doesn't mind.

She's dressed in something patterened after her Aohime debut. Jeans, a tank top, a flowing blue top over it. Designer sneakers. It's a reasonable facsimile. None of the clothing actually bears the logo though, or the tell-tale touches that would actually make it part of Tsuru's line.

The fact of the matter is that production was already beginning, and right now the prototypes were precious commodities. Part of her was amused as she thinks about the state of Tsuru's shop versus that high class fashion show. Once she was in full swing, she'd have more than enough to wearHer hands were behind her head, fingerless white gloves, one hand sporting her rose signet. A pair of opera glasses is set upon her lap, there for when she needs them again. She's already gotten a glimpse of him from earlier.

"This guy was chosen by Ends of the World to duel her? What a laugh."

She doesn't have much room to talk though, given how she was beaten, so handily. But that's part of being the loser in a den full of wolves, keeping up the bravado that she's stronger than whoever's the current challenger. Whether she actually was- well she was about to find out, wasn't she?

A silhouette appears at the gate of sky. The Engaged is here. Kozue doesn't raise her opera glasses yet even as the two take their places, as the rose bride starts affixing the flowers but she's obviously- interested.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.


Not quite asking what Kozue means to say, Shizuru Fujino is also seated in one of those velvet-backed chairs, sitting straight and looking out over the arena. She is seated before a tiny table, a cup and saucer rested before her. She is dressed in her uniform, as the Vice President of the Ohtori Student Council, her white jacket impeccable, her small red bow perfectly placed. The only notable adornment she wears at all is the rose signet on her left hand.

In her right, of course, there's a pair of opera glasses, to better see the action in the Arena.

...But for now she tilts her head, as if thoughtful. She turns her head to look at Kozue with a small smile. It even reaches her eyes.

"My, Kaoru-kun. I'm surprised that you could join us. You must be terribly busy with your debut."

A beat, as she turns back towards the arena. "But it's not for us to know who our next Engaged will be until it happens. Perhaps he'll do as well as Kyouichi-san."

Shizuru, of course, has not yet had the opportunity to duel the Engaged. But her time will come. Of that she's certain. And in the meantime...

She very much wants to see /this/, and stops talking to watch first Takeo, and then Utena herself in detail as the roses are affixed.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The impending Duel gave her goosebumps. Butterflies in the stomach. A strange sense of nervousness that Kasagami couldn't pinpoint. The Disciplinary Executive is here at the traditional table. Both booted feet are kicked up on the back of another chair, the young woman laid out in a display of pure excess as she occasionally yanks a sour grape and devours it. Her free hand has a pair of opera glasses pressed at an odd angle to her good eye. Her head is tilted, and she's smirking. Den of sharks indeed. Despite her own feelings about this match, she puts up a brave face.

Could she be worried? Nah. Not at all.

She doesn't even look away from the standoff between brown and pink tresses. She's uncharacteristically silent for a while.

Of course, she's here in her uniform: Student Council through and through, not unlike Juri's uniform only with dark red and black accents all over. Her coat is draped about her shoulders as usual, and her sheathed sword is leaned against the back of her chair.

"Awww, c'mon, Shizuru! Who'd miss this, right? Box seats to the best entertainment in the world! That just means you've got taste for blood sports...Kozue, wasn't it? You'll fit riiiight in. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!" Encourages the Disciplinary Executive, with all the casualness as if this was some off-season baseball game. The set to her jaw and the stiffness in her back might say otherwise deeper down.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

He watched as Utena arrived, his eyes uniquely focused, and that gaze never left Utena as Anthy came and pinned the dark flower to his chest. She asks the question he himself had asked himself a thousand times. A hundred thousand times, if not a million times. He gives a bit of a rueful smile. "No." He answers truthfully, his voice confident in it's tone. "I have watched you, here, since I was made apart of the council, and I could see that this whole thing is ... " He pauses, searching for a word, before he finally finishes the sentence. "Stupid."

He tosses the boken aside and looks to the shield amulet as he continues. "But I figured something out. You. You're supposed to be a hero, and you have all this power." His eyes go a little darker as he looks up to Utena, that rueful grin gone and his face marred with anger. "You have all this power, power that can //save// others, and what do you do with it?" He makes a fist with the hand that threw the bokun aside. "NOTHING. You do NOTHING. I have power, but mine is just to destroy. Merlin uses me to fight HIS enemies, and all this power, all this magic and I can't save my sister." He points an accusing finger. "But you can. You just don't. For some god awful reason you sit here on top of this tower and do NOTHING while others literally die around you." He shakes his head and holds the amulet before him. "But not anymore Utena. I'll use the weapon Merlin made me and take that power from you and I'll be the damned hero. I'LL BE LANCELOT!"

He holds the Amulet and cries out, "I SWEAR TO DEFEND THE INNOCENT!"

Normally a veritable storm of lighting assails Takeo, each bolt of lightning would transform into a shining piece of armor, with the final becoming the blade of Arondight itself. Not this time though.

Instead Takeo is consumed by a maelstrom of lighting swirling from the amulet and his entire body begins to glow a bright Cyan. The maelstrom stops and the glow begins to peel away, exploding into tiny bursts of lightning, eventually revealing a man in shining silver armor, and holding out two arms. He then brings his fists together and pulls them apart, lighting crackles there, and forms into not one, but TWO swords that look just like the single blade of Arondight he wielded before. Lighting crackles along their gleaming white edges and he twirls them and settles into defensive stance. "Draw your blade Utena, and let's find out who the Hero in this little adventure REALLY is!"

COMBAT: Takeo Akamizu transforms into Chevalier Knight Lancelot!

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Wait, what? That isn't-- I'm not--"

Utena blinks, puts one and one together, and gets Mika. It isn't hard. Even so, watching the explanation rise in her face like the full moon over an even sea is both a breathtaking sight and a slightly pathetic one. It takes its time, after all. Nothing can hurry the moon.

Frustration passes over her like a cloud. "You're breaking your oath today then, I guess. 'Defending the innocent.' Hah." She exhales, sharply, as though she's been stabbed, and Anthy moves into place to /actually/ be stabbed. Well -- in reverse.

Everything darkens save for the occasional distant lantern beneath the celestial palace that rotates lazily above them, as the air shivers with the invocation of something like sorcery. Something like ritual. Something like showmanship. Something completely unlike any of these things.

Utena shivers too, every single time. She'll never get used to this. She doesn't even want to.

"O rose of the noble castle," intones Anthy, "power of Dios that slumbers within me, harken unto thy master and be revealed..."

Buoyed by an invisible wind, the hem of the Rose Bride's gown rises along with the tips of Utena's hair, as she reaches forward to catch Anthy's dip before it becomes precarious, to support her back with the firm strength of someone holding something truly precious.

As it turns out, nothing has dimmed, after all. It's just that no mere sunlight could hope to compare to the orb of light erupting from the Rose Bride's heart. The hilt of the Sword of Dios emerges, marked with the same bloom as the duels themselves, and it fits perfectly into Utena's hand as she grasps it, and gently pulls. It is much the same feeling as drawing the lava from a volcano, or opening an ancient bottle of perfume. Sacred, ancient, powerful, and ensoulled, the blade emerges, reflecting the Rose Bride's lips, and with it, words, words that in turn use Utena's lips to make themselves heard, but not a chant she knew until the first time they burst forth.

"Grant me the power to bring the world revolution!"

The radiance reaches its climax as it spills down the blade, lifted in a salute not to Takeo but to higher powers, perhaps to the castle itself and everything it represents. Perhaps to the Rose Bride. Perhaps to the shade of a prince that lives in her heart. Maybe even she isn't sure whom.

It gathers on Utena's precious ring.

The bells of the Chairman's Tower peal, jarring a brace of truant birds to flight. They should have left for warmer climes a month ago -- but they'll go now, and never, ever look back.

Utena stares down her blade at Lancelot. "Win or lose, you're no hero today, senpai."

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"Not too busy to miss this. A few volunteers from the fashion club are answering my fanmail for me anyhow." They'd certainly been enthusiastic volunteers too, her image not completely changed, but at least brightened considerably overnight- as if some of the tarnish had been polished off. "It's been too long anyhow, Shizuru-chan. How long has it been since Suzushiro-san last tried to have me dragged in front of you?" A smirk touches her lips, "It was always fun wasn't it?"

Her eyes are upon Kasagami as she watched the exuberance of the other spectator, "Ah, how times have changed." A bob of her head at her name, "That's right, Araki-chan isn't it?" She knew. Of course she knew, she was the masked girl there that night. But it was convenient enough for Kasagami not to know, for have that edge upon her. "And what a show it will be." She murmurs, mostly to herself, pulls her feet off the stone, sits up, raises her opera glasses.

Takeo's little rant causes her eyes to narrow. That smirk returns, "My- he sounds upset." She let's that hang in the air for a while. It reminded her a little of Sayaka, thinking that fulfilling Miki's dreams was the noble thing, the right thing.

But it's not like that at all. She doesn't buy it, not with Lancelot. It lacked a certain sincere innocence.

She can certainly empathize with wanting to save- protect a sibling though.

"So he's one of those. A little boy who's trying to justify what he's doing as noble." She lowers the opera glasses for just a second- shakes her head, "I wonder if that's really it though. Maybe- she just turned him down or something."

But in the end, why any of them are doing it doesn't matter, does it? It only matters who wins and becomes the Engaged. If Lancelot won, then all of her words were meaningless.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

"Ah, now how proper would blood in the arena be?" Shizuru doesn't acknowledge Kasagami's informality, but has acknowledged her pleasantly and as usual for while they've been up here. It's as if there's no change at all.

"I certainly was always happy to see you," Shizuru answers Kozue's question of her. "...Yes, I expect it will be."

Her smile doesn't fade as Takeo begins to speak, but her eyes harden, hidden beneath her opera glasses. 'Stupid', the challenger says, and Shizuru hears. She watches him as he speaks, watches him toss his bokken aside and grow so angry in his proofs. He swears to protect the innocent... And in that maelstrom, she finds something to hate.

"Indeed he does," she says, distant on the observation platform. "Who knows?" Shizuru asks Kozue, and also rhetorically. "It was certainly quite the speech. I hate to imagine what could happen next." But she quiets, watching Utena. Watching her retort. And she gives one... But that's only part of what she's watching for. Anthy and Utena together...

And there it is, such brilliance that it burns something in the Vice President, not in her eyes but in her heart, as amidst all the ritual the Sword of Dios is revealed. Every time she sees it, it's the same. And the bells toll...

As Utena issues her statement, her challenge, Shizuru picks up her tea. "I'm going to enjoy this one. Ah, I wonder how it will go?"

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Then I guess you're just one more mistake I have to correct." Lancelot says and is suddenly, in motion. The memories flood through him as he assumes the form, and with it, some of his true ability and power. The one that might surprise others as it does him, is speed. He's always been fast, especially his reflexes, but now they've been turned up to eleven. With a crack of thunder Lancelot moves past the point to Utena's left, the opposite of her sdominant hand, slashing once, twice, three times. Each time alternating which blade is swung, and each swing blindinly fast. Arcs of electricity crackle and leap, searching for some thing to ground them.

He punctuates the attack with a stab from hsi left balde, the right ready to deliver another slash, or parry. His eyes focused on Utena's core. Searching her body language for movements or tell tale signs of her reactins and coming attacks.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami Araki frowns slightly. "I didn't mean literally!" Protests the Council member to Shizuru. A little childishly perhaps. She still hasn't quite grown out of that phase yet.

Kasagami coughs as Kozue speaks. "That's the name! Call me Kasagami though! It's 'Director Araki' when you've screwed up! ...I'd really prefer you don't do anything to make you call me that. It better be, I'll get annoyed if it gets boring and I have to catch up with the winner to make 'em pay!" A winning smile, and she actually pulls away those opera glasses to wink at the young woman.

For just a moment, Kassie's face softens as she overhears Takeo's outburst. Utena refuses to use that amazing power of Dios, and he desires to lay claim to it. She can understand the young man's frustration. She too feels it. Why doesn't Utena use that power?

Kasagami thinks back to the questions she's asked, and can only think of one thing: ignorance. Pure ignorance. A nuke in the hands of a child, not unlike what she said to Shizuru not long ago. In both Engaged and Challenger, she finds sympathy.

A sucking breath. She doesn't understand anything else, but the young man has a sibling to fight for. It causes Kassie's heart to skip a beat. She sighs openly, then plugs her mouth with grapes. Scarf nom scarf. Crunch crunch crunch. She spits out the vine.

Two sword appear in the young man's hands. Kassie whistles. "Two-sword style, huh? Wonder what she'll do to defend..." Mutters the Disciplinary Executive, focusing herself on the here and now, and most importantly, the two Duelists. Her good eye narrows as she takes it all in, unwilling to look away lest she miss any important tactical notes.

Kasagami's eyes squeeze shut even over this distance, as the light of the Castle and Dios pour forth, Utena drawing that blade from Anthy's chest in a low dip. When they reopen, that shining blade is held in the young woman's hands. It draws the Council Member's attention, wholly, covetously. She shivers, and finds she's grinning. A single hand reaches out into the air as bells toll all around the Tower.

Only to fall to her lap. Not yet. Tonight is Takeo's show. She leans back a little. "Idealistic little... Heroes don't exist in this dirty world. There's just people with power and strength. Right now, only thing that matters is how good he is as cutting Utena up."

And then the lightning-blades of Takeo's slices forth, and Kassie's attention is entirely on the pair. She laughs under her breath all the while, enjoying the spectacle entirely too much thus far.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The idea of Anthy being 'engaged' to this guy is enough to extinguish any last reservations Utena had about meeting Takeo blade to blade. She winces backwards, away from the impossible speed of his swords, but every time she takes a step, he's already coming in from a new angle. Her footwork is terrible at the best of times -- well, except, that is, for the /very/ best of times -- but this is a new low. He is the storm, and she's trapped in its eye.

As the twinned Arondight clashes against the Sword of Dios, the song that erupts out of nowhere in response, somewhat unusually, is not accompanied by electrified instruments -- no metal of any kind, heavy or otherwise. Today is for lute and harpsichord, and a distinctly spanish guitar.

And then the usual Greek chorus starts howling a madrigal at the top of their lungs.


It's all Utena can do, to hold her sword across her heart and let Lancelot's blade beat against it, her own blood beating in time. Sparks pour down from each impact, amplified and directed by his power, which swarm down the Sword of Dios to drown the girl in the sizzling fires of heaven. That, at last, forces her to make a move; she covers the rose with her hand, instead, all but instantly suffering a scratch for her temerity, but it allows her to put her blade somewhere else.

She keeps it simple, simply jerking it into the perpendicular, for Lance to impale himself on if he doesn't approach her with a little more care. Her lips jerk, too, lamely, in that way that a person might when they're thinking something a bit pathetic.

Namely, 'getting an extra sword is kind of bullshit, but then, it's not like they called this thing off back when someone else brought a giant robotic duck -- and the ocean.'

Utena has long since accepted her fate of being eternally outgunned, but never outclassed.


<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"I'll just call you Kasagami all the time then." Kozue says with an air of sultry sweetness, "Because I'm sure you'll be smarter than she was- anyone who tries to bring in a wild animal for being an animal can't be that sharp. Anyone dumb enough to try to put a leash on me tends to get their fingers gnawed off."

Her eyes are upon the lightning display of bladework, upon the second blade in hand. Already in her head she's trying to calculate what she'd do, how to defend against it if she went up against them in the challenge brackets, or if he became the Engaged. Lightning against water- well Cassandra could be very precise.

But the way Utena is fending him off is good. Even if she lost, the longer she held out- made her look better. She watches that bob, her putting up her blade in the defense when Lancelot presses in. She sees that look on Utena's face, remembering last time. How she'd gotten overconfident, overextended...

"My. Kasagami- you sound like you're trying to convince yourself." Kozue replies just as bluntly, "If I didn't know any better I'd think you had stars in your eyes. What do you think, Shizuru-chan?"

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

There it is. The thrust he knew was coming. The right blade creates a sort of cross with the Sword of Dios and an explosion of lightning erupts and plays along both blades. Lancelot leaps back, because despite the parry, he still risked having his gut impaled and a new shiny object poking out his back. Which, really put a damper on this whole winning the dual idea.

As he leaps he points at Utena with the left blade and cries out in a menacing voice, "HEAVEN'S WRATH!" The lighting swirling around that blade suddenly erupts into a massive stream of lighting. The blue and white bolt crackles and snaps, burning a path of destruction, searing black what stones of the arena floor it hits, and crackling with burned ozone. Forks branch out as it arcs toward Utena, searching for a place, or a target to end.

Lancelot lands on one knee from his leap, blades held to the side, an aggressive gesture. Almost inviting, but not so secretly extremely deadly. He then launches forward, ready to meet whatever Utena tries next, his eyes fixated, and determined. Gone are the usual snappy (in his mind) comments, the usual not so observant discoveries. He looks completely focused, and if anybody had seen him in a match, would think that he was facing a serious foe in a Kendo tournament.

if that tournament involved lighting, and real steel weapons, and the people wielding them were trying to kill each other.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

"Ah, then how dreadful of me to misunderstand," Shizuru responds, absently-sounding, to Kasagami's complain. She lets the two of them talk a moment as she keeps watching. That speed makes it difficult for her to keep track of Takeo, but focusing on Utena shows well enough fo the moment.

"And always she defends the rose," Shizuru murmurs with some approval, sipping from her tea and then setting it back down again as she continues to watch every detail that she can capture.

"Araki-kun, with stars in her eyes? I'm sure she'd never believe such ridiculous things as that." It's smooth, and if she were running, she wouldn't break stride.

Neither does she break her attention. That lightning makes it all harder to watch, but that doesn't stop her watching, either. Right up until...

That leap, and that focus as Takeo launches forward. "...Hmm," she remarks, thoughtfully.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

For a moment, Kasagami sighs in relief. "Finally. Someone gets it." A thumbs-up to Kozue.

Then, a long smirk. One eye peers at Kozue over her shoulder. Both hands raise up 'helplessly' in the air in a shrug. "Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! Mother nature is /beautiful/ Kozue! Smell the roses, appreciate the animals around you and all! Don't worry. I don't bother putting leashes on wild things. Just taints 'em. Nah, I just put down the ones with rabies, that's all!" Her gaze is on Kozue for a full moment, then away again.

She sits up. "...Oooh, they're really going at it!"

But the pair are quick to double team. Her entire body seizes up. Kassie briefly glares at the duo. No words. Just a blush and a sudden look away.

Entirely too belatedly she finally speaks. "No idea what you two are talking about. Eyes on the prize!" She's entirely too forceful as she watches with renewed attention.

"Not a bad strategy. Cut the rose, you win. Anything else is useless. That guy has the upper hand in skill, but..." A small frown. "I wonder..." Her attention triples on the dueling duo.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"My. I think she's blushing Shizuru-chan. But that's fine, if she weren't, I'd wonder if I'd- lost my touch."

Kozue kicks back up her legs, leans back in her chair, turns her attention back on the fight in general as she raises her opera glasses. "Skill isn't everything. You see it all the time, karate practitioners who train for years to get their black belt, think they can take on the world- then lose their first brawl in a bar. I think you're underestimating our Engaged."

The analogy isn't a perfect one for Lancelot of course. Not even close, but in making Utena sound better, she /looks/ better for having lost to her. With every clash, there's a flash, sparks filling her vision.

But is she cheering Utena? Certainly not. A girl who told her that things can go back to the way they were- they can't.

That's why she needed the power to Revolutionize the World.

Better she lose now, than get crushed harder later.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.


Utena's hand has no business trying to grab a lightning bolt, and doesn't try. In the nick of time she manages to recover from her thrust -- 'recover' is a strong word, 'angle the blade so that it's more distantly between her chest and the electric stream' is much more accurate, she remains badly overextended -- and the Sword of Dios encounters the wrath of heaven, instead.

She doesn't realize that she's screaming, but she wouldn't be ashamed to do so, either, at a time like this. Both hands are forced to grasp the sword, now, as she struggles to control it. It shakes and jerks and shudders with the lightning arcing through it, writhing like something alive. Many who love swords would contest the simile but accept the feeling behind it.

Utena doesn't love anything about this experience, though; howling bloody murder, her hair standing on end like the world's greatest and pinkest and most instantaneous afro, she plunges the Sword of Dios into the arena floor like a hot knife (which it is) into butter (it is not).

There is a mighty explosion.


Lancelot finds himself running into the subsequent debris cloud, which is what fog would be if it were neither cold and wet. But it seems that it doesn't matter how deeply you dig; the Dueling Arena is always white, and no mere detonation of lightning has changed that, either. The crater that he runs down was created from the force of Utena's blow, alone.

There's no time to defend herself properly as Lancelot closes in for the kill, especially with her field of vision drastically reduced. No one outside of the two of them can see what happens next; their eyes meet, and Utena grunts.

With a flex of her mighty, magnificent legs, the ones that have if not a literal fan club, at least six or seven different informal followings on the midnight dorm room floors of an Ohtori sleepover, Utena draws her sword from the stone of the ground, and leaps, vertically, directly upwards. Observers witness her erupting from the top of the debris cloud like an angel soaring towards heaven.

She flips in midair, her hang-time sublime, hair falling around her in waves of rose, and gestures with her sword, sweeping it grandly before her. The force transmitted by that air-felt strike is enough to blast the rest of the debris off the dueling arena entirely.


<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Shizuru doesn't laugh at Kasagami's denial. Instead she simply remarks to Kozue, "You're a terrible girl, Kaoru-kun." ...Beneath the distance and distraction, there's the slightest hint of affection in the Vice President's voice.

"Ah, but our challenger is making a strong showing for himself so far," the quiet young woman answers. "His is certainly a bombastic style..."

She sips her tea, and keeps watching. Those screams don't penetrate Shizuru's facade. She watches through it, waits silently, stone-facedly with cup still in hand, to see what will happen as a result of this attack, of waht she's doing--

She can't see what happens in the middle of the debris, presses her lips together in irritation--until Utena erupts from above. And this...

This reminds her more of Utena's dancing than the fighting before.

"How considerate of the Engaged," Shizuru says. "That's much easier to see."

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Lightning itself overtakes Utena by Takeo's hand, and Kassie is briefly gifted with the sight of Utena-shocked-afro. If only she had a camera with her. She blushes all the harder.

"SHUT UP! I'm doing no such thing. It's all the humidity and /glory of honorable dueling/!" Someone is protesting too much.

And then they clash as the Sword of Dios rams into the ground, and there's a dust cloud that kicks up a field of debris! Kassie tch's! "Oi, I want to see it all!" She protests, before Shizuru speaks up. A swift nod. "He doesn't hold back. I like it!" She encourages vaguely.

A handful of grapes, before she suddenly sits up as Utena erupts from the debris cloud on glorious legs.

"Maybe skill really /isn't/ everything." She mutters to Kozue at the sudden burst of pressure from Utena. Her heart hammers in her chest. Her sword clatters to the ground, and she's on the edge of her seat as Kasagami's entire attention is drawn to the duel. Her breath comes in tatters, so excited by the clashing pair is she.

<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Lancelot does charge right into the debris field, the explosion being a bit of a surprise. He slides to a stop, using one of the baldes as an anchor to stop him faster. He locks eyes with Utena in that frozen moment inside the cloud. Giving a slight tilt of acknowledgement toward the pink haired girl. He may be the more experienced fighter, but she was skilled, and he could appreciate and respect that in an opponent. She then sails upward after a mighty leap and he grits his teeth. "Got you." He states calmly.

Then a bit more loudly he cries out, "ANIMA TEMPESTAS!" And launches himself after her. The twin blades of Arondight trailing a hurricane's worth of lighting bolt's each. He charges right for her in his leap, swinging his blades in a series of rapid attacks, each one strike unleashing that stored lightning storm. The Thunder scatters the debris field to the winds, dissipating it as if it had been mere fog, and the wind rolled in to scatter it to oblivion. Lightning explodes in every direction as that storm, where Lancelot is the heart, is unleashed. Here a pillar is shattered. Here more of the arena is scored and blackened from the power unleashed.

Despite the sheer power and strength of the attack, despite how one might believe it is an attack of brute strength, unleashing all of nature's fury, it is surgical and precise. Aimed at Utena's breast, or more specifically, the twin blades of Arondight aim to sever the Rose from their spot on her uniform. To send the petals fluttering to the arena floor below the pair as they soar upward in their dramatic gravity defying leaps ...

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"It's a part of my charm." Kozue says all too sweetly to Shizuru. Though over the din she's how Utena manages that electrocution. The pink fuzzy afro- if only she had her camera. But then the explosion as the gleaming blade of Dios strikes the ground fills her vision with a cloud of debris.

She sniffs, as if a touch of dust reached all the way to this deck. "Bombastic is a word for it." Not holding back another. She plays coy with her own word for it though, not giving it out quite yet.

"There's no glory to be won here. Nothing 'honorable' about dueling Kasagami. Best get that notion out of your head, or you'll be at the bottom of the brackets before you know it."

Something in her eyes changes as the dust clears, as she watches the two in the midst of their gravity defying leaps clash. There's a reflection of their clash in her dull blue eyes, "This is just the savagery of two people trying to protect someone important to them."

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Shizuru smiles again, without looking at Kozue, continues watching as Lancelot launches upward, as he charges.

"Honor is an illusion that will hold you back," Shizuru answers both Kasagami and Kozue's words, but also how she addresses the duel before her. And this, she sees. She sees the debris shattered, she sees lightning explode outward. But she is not looking for glory. Not yet. "...And glory is not something that's a part of battle itself."

She waits for the clash, and hears Kozue's words above it. Trying to protect something important to them...

She waits for it. She waits for what must happen next, and doesn't answer. Shizuru Fujino understands that savagery already.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami breathes out a sigh, and she turns to Kozue. "There's glory and honor in struggling for something you care about, even if it's impossible, Kozue-san." The young woman offers, suddenly incredibly formal. There's even a bow. How utterly unlike the Director.

A glance to Shizuru. Her good eye narrows. "Battle should follow rules. If they don't? Then make your own 'honor'. Those at the top, with the most strength, decide those kinds of things. And I won't win without honor." She practically spits, only to turn back to Kozue.

"And besides, savagery is /always/ a part of a fight, honorable or not. As long as the two follow the rules of the Arena...then they can go wild and be worthy Duelists as far as I'm concerned." She reaches out to the table, lifts a glass of wine, and toasts the pair of warriors beneath the Castle all at once.

Opera glasses are pressed harder to her face. A whistle. She's impressed as lightning consumes the Arena, a pillar shatters, and the young man goes for the Rose.

"Don't give up your offense!" She encourages not unlike some soccer hooligan. Complete with a fist shaked in the air. Yes, there's dredges of wine /everywhere/ at this point.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

This speed is something new, something incredible to behold, something that has yet to be seen in this Dueling Arena in these quantities, and may never be seen again. It's a blinding, eye-stinging acceleration, it's streaming wind and screaming engines and the open road twisted into a moebius strip.

And all at once, Utena's starting to get used to it.


The Chevalier Knight comes for her with all the precisely-aimed fury of a tactical nuclear explosion, but somehow she's keeping up with him, or, at least, doing more with less. Back and forth the Sword of Dios sweeps, and having had a taste of lightning once, it knows its enemy now, knows it and sups upon it like a fine wine. No longer do these fires threaten to consume its wielder, but are instead flung from the tip of the sacred blade with every jarring parry, to lance harmlessly into the sky.


At last they make a flower with their blades, six-petaled; Arondight crossed, and Utena's perfectly vertical, once again held before the rose. But this time, it's not the flat of the blade held a scant centimeter before those untouched white petals -- it's the edge, and it's pressed further and further towards her with every passing moment as the two of them plummet towards the floor like falling stars.


They land, and the blade lock ends when Utena's feet hit the ground, allowing her purchase and momentum. She launches herself backwards, away from this impossibly powerful knight who so eagerly seeks her destruction, if not her demise. Again she lands, harder, this time, her shoes smoking their protest to being used like the brakes of a car.

Her chin comes up, and she sees Anthy, standing somehow unharmed within the rubble of Lancelot's widespread assault. She's all Utena can see, in that moment, and all she can feel is a thousand beating wings, a thousand rising suns, a thousand opening blossoms. Inhaling, she can't smell the rose on her breast, but she can smell Anthy's fingertips on it. They linger.


Everyone else sees something completely different: the highest tip of the tallest tower of that impossible floating castle has the same light in it, now, as dwells in Anthy's heart, as gleams in Utena's eyes. It launches downward, connecting the distance in a sparkling fountain of raw, unchecked, untethered glory, all the unleashed potential of a story that begins, 'once upon a time...'

He comes with it, too, though it's impossible to make out finer features. He is fair of hair and dark of skin and beautiful as the dawn, and so is she -- they're indistinguishable now, as inseparable as the cold and the void, the heat and the flame. Together, they burn.

The light lives beneath her skin, now, and she closes the distance in a manner that is objectively much slower than Lancelot's advance, but /feels/ infinitely faster in the same way that one is infinitely greater than zero. That one-tenth is. One-one-billionth, even.

It grips the heart to see -- and then we see her, on the other side.


Purple petals scatter, bells peal an ending. Utena straightens up, just plain Utena again, the blue sky resurgent all around her. Is she more or less on her own? Was there ever more than her in the first place? Even now, she is a prince.

Her eyes flower with concern for the defeated, and her lips part. It takes a few moments for her to suck in air, reorient herself on her feet, remind her nerve endings that they somehow managed to survive the afternoon more or less intact.

And then, once she's able, she speaks. It is a voice of entreaty -- of regret. But the regrets aren't for her.

"Listen, Takeo... I think if you spent even a tenth of the energy that you do on pursuing this power, showering it on your sister instead, that would do a lot more for her than victory ever could."

Anthy joins her, places a hand on her neck, gazes steadily, calmly, at her knightly suitor, straight over Utena's shoulder.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Kozue's eyebrow arches as Kasagami suddenly switches to formality, "There's no glory and honor. There's only power, and selfishness in trying to seize it. Those at the top may make the rules, but every last one of them had to dirty their hands, throw something away- to get what they wanted. Nothing can keep its shine at the top- nobody. All that honor you started out with is gone, and all that glory is just a trail of people shattered in your wake. It's fine to be proud of that, but be honest to yourself what it is."

Again she shakes her head, "A girl who doesn't even know that, has no place sitting up here."

The motion stops, a smirk touches her expression, "For everything you say, you're still naive, and that- is just going to hold you back."

Again and again they clashed, she sees the floral pattern of their blades their blade lock. She whistles to herself, impressed when they land, hit the ground.

For all of how unaffected she'd like to appear by what happens next, her breath catches as she sees Utena's advance upon Takeo. Petals scatter.

She feels herself breathe again.

There's something about what Utena says that strikes her hard though, rocks her as if it had been directed at her. Closing her eyes, her gloved hands clench and-

-there's a tinkle of shattering glass.

She'd crushed one of the lens of her opera glasses. Her eyes open. She lets it drop, gives her hands a clinical look. There's a small shard of glass sticking out of the leather. She extracts it, clenches her hand again to apply pressure. "You were right, Shizuru-chan. It was good to see you again but-" She stands up, her leg hooks around the chair, it topples over by the same motion of her leaving the observation deck. "-I really didn't have time for this."

<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The cut may not have been to his skin, or even to the armor, but it was there. It felt like a physical slash that rent his heart in two. As Utena slides past him, the Knight, veteran of a hundred battles, and also a seventeen year old boy whose world had been thrust into these battles, falls to his knees. Arondight digs into the arena floor holding him up as the armor dissipates, mote by Cyan colored mote and he hangs his head. The hair that had previously turned blonde fades to black as the hands gripping the hilts of Arondight fall to his side.

He had failed. Again.

He was inches. Moments. A heart's breath. The distance didn't matter. He had failed. A single tear, and then another begins to fall form his eyes. He had held the sheathe to Excalibur and failed. He had battled for the Power to change the world and he had failed again. By the end of the thoughts, Takeo kneels there on fallen knees, his head hanging low as the tears silently fall.

Utena speaks and he listens. Silently he listens as words he knows he needs to hear drift his way. He closes his eyes and squeezes out the last of the tears, lifting a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose, then, remove the tears as stealthily as he can. He takes a shuddering breath to steady himself. "You... You're right." He manages softly. He looks to the side, so he can see Utena out of the corner of his tear reddened eye. "At least mostly. Victory means she lives. Defeat means ... " He gestures with a hand, leaving the word unsaid but implied. "I can do better by her, but I have to find a way to save her. If that means facing you, eventually again, then I'll do it." He turns more fully and closes his eyes before he says to the Rose Bride, "I'm sorry Anthy."

Then he looks to Utena. "I'll do all I can to keep others from this, but ... " He looks away and up, at the sky and takes another breath. "I don't feel like I have a choice. I'll see Mika more. But we'll fight again Utena. I truly am sorry. I like you, and hope, that despite this, you'll forgive me."

He remains kneeling looking at the sky. Heart broken, defeated, but also filled with determination. Not the kind he brought to the battle. No, it's the kind to do better. To be a better hero, and save his sister with the love she needs.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Glory... And Honor. Glory, and honor.

Kasagami's words go distant in her ears, and so do Kozue's, as Shizuru watches the last of this battle. She hears distantly some words she's said before, but she sees a battle approaching its climax. She doesn't need a lesson in selfishness. ...She allows herself a tiny moment of wondering about what it would feel like to approach these battles in that way, as she looks between Utena and Takeo. What it would be like to share that sheer amount of passion. Something stirs within her, as she watches.

...And watch she does. She looks to the wondrous miracle approaching, and finds that glory. She sees the burning of this power, of this change that in some ways isn't a change. Any pretense she has of caring what happens up /here/ fades away. And then...

Then, it is done, and her heart, too, was gripped and now she feels the loss of that moment's passing. She doesn't smile as the bells toll, and neither does she smile at those words. She just watches Utena--only Utena, now--with the Rose Bride.

And the tinkle of shattering glass stirs her. "...Of course," the Vice President answers Kozue. "I'm sure I'll see you again." A beat. She looks back to the arena, watches Takeo there, now--Takeo himself. She watches his pain, his tears, and is silent for a few moments as if from respect. ...Until the apology. From that, she looks away, finally setting down her own glasses on the table beside her tea.

"...On the other hand, Araki-kun, perhaps you're right. This was a battle won with honor."

She pushes her chair out from behind herself, and stands.

"...See how comforting honor is."

The Vice President steps away, and begins to walk for the exit.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami's breath is caught, and she /glares/ at Kozue. Her entire body shivers. "Say what you want. I won't deny it's selfish. But glory and honor are equally selfish by their own ends. Doesn't matter if you want to help the world or cut it to pieces, you can hold yourself to standards and still win!" Her words are almost desperate to the pair of women near her.

And then she turns her gaze back to the fight, and Kasagami gasps. Blades flash, and yet Utena seems to get better with every passing strike. Teeth grit, her heart skips a beat, and her entire focus is on the pair. Takeo's blade presses, and then they land and lock! Kasagami ignores the world, her eye is only for Takeo and Utena!

She lets out a deep breath, only to grit her teeth as light fills the tip of that floating tower, blinding the young woman! She leans back, covering her eye with an arm, dropping her glass before she vaguely opens it just a shutter!

Will it be Takeo, or Utena who wins in this single moment!?

And then a petal is struck, and the young man falls to his knees. Kasagami can't help but feel sorry for a brief moment. She knows what it's like to feel for family. She can easily put herself in his place. The young man looks to the sky, and Kassie smiles for but a moment.

She turns away. "Not bad. Not bad at all." She offers quietly to the wind, eyes closed. She shivers, blushing all the more, at Utena's strike and Takeo's attempt. She burns it all into her memory, and already the gears in her head turn.

But Shizuru speaks. Teeth grit, and suddenly, she peers at Shizuru. Teeth grit. No one could ever doubt Takeo's honor. She'd have much herself to say about that.

Silence reigns, and she pours another glass of wine. "...Don't misunderstand. It's not about comfort, it's about..." She trails off. Eyes close, full of tears, and she sucks down the glass, face still red and yet her entire body shakes.

"Ambition." She finally breathes out with something like a sob.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Utena shakes her head. There's so much she could say, about how a sword is a sword and it didn't help with her final exams at all, not even a little, she had to study like mad before summer break and only barely managed to eke out grades she doesn't have to feel ashamed of. In a way she fought harder, and certainly she fought far longer, for that, than she ever has up here beneath the castle in the sky.

But it occurs to her, as she watches the older boy weep on the ground, that he might need this. And that that need is stronger than any truths she might try to offer him, any veils she could rip off the sun to let reality shine through. There isn't much point in trying, anyway.

She folds her hands in her jacket pockets, the Sword of Dios having returned to light and then to nothing at all. If they're fists, no one can see but the gum wrappers in there.

"We all do what we gotta," she reflects, and then, Anthy having moved her hands down to Utena's elbow, the two of them disappear down the stairs.