---Author's Notes---

First I believe that an explanation is in order before the story begins again. It has been brought to my attention that Ranma is entirely OOC in this series by several people, my response to this is that Ranma is OOC in _all_ my fanfics. In not one of my fics is Ranma the brainless idiot or pig-headed martial artist of the anime and manga, mainly because I believe (as others do) that after the wedding fiasco Ranma would mature and learn to think before he speaks. Besides which this is a piece of _fanfiction_, something I wrote for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others, so if you don't agree with my Ranma — don't read my works! However, several loopholes and loose threads as well as the extreme nature of Ranma's OOC-ness in this fic has forced a rewrite, instead of the Ranma takes the place of Utena' storyline, this fic will now be a crossover. I think that it will be more interesting to write a crossover in the same vein as the Roses and Swords' sidestory to Quantum Destinies, only place it within a joint Ranma/Utena canon. Well, I just thought I'd blow off some steam (^_^;) Anyway, on with the story!

---Title---

Revolutionary Aquatranssexual Ranma

To Till — Rewrite

Thanks to his mother's idiotic manly' ideals, Ranma Saotome was late for his first day of classes at the prestigious Ohtori Academy. After Principal Kuno's impromptu call to the Saotome matriarch's abode, and their discussion of Ranma's failing marks on the past progress report, Nodoka had decided that a change of scenery was in order for her son after the failed wedding fiasco. So, she had forcefully taken Ranma from his father's hands and sent him on the train to Ohtori that morning, he was just arriving at the campus as the bell tolled the lunch hour. Ranma really wished the bells would stop ringing.

He pulled a small pamphlet from his pants, his Chinese silk trousers — not the Academy uniform, and opened it to the map. Eyes searching for the main High School building were inevitably drawn to the photo of a shy-looking dark-skinned girl on the facing page. Anthy Himemiya, the prize-winning rose grower who was profiled in the brochure as a rising student, somehow his gaze was always pulled back to her as he felt a strange bond to her — even though they had never met. According to the map if Ranma continued on his path he would pass right by the rose garden on his way to the student dorms, maybe he would get a chance to meet her in person even if for a little while. Nodoka, Genma and Akane would arrive with the six p.m. train; his parents to arrange his tuition and sign the appropriate forms, Akane to make the rest of his first day in his new school a living hell. [Oh joy! Somethin' ta look forward to after all] Ranma thought with no small amount of sarcasm.

It was an almost comical sight, a tall young man wearing non-regulation uniform walking calmly down the gravel paths and marble overhangs of the school with a backpack the size of a trailer strapped to his back. What made the sight all the more incredible was that the boy seemed unperturbed by the weight and didn't even seem to be breaking a sweat. Naturally, Ranma drew a lot of eyes from the girls but even the guys were staring at him with wonder in their eyes at his strength — the whole lot of them resolved never to get on the new senior's bad side.

Ohtori Private Academy was perhaps one of the most prestigious and exclusive schools in Japan and for the life of him, Ranma could not figure out how he was accepted. For all he knew his entrance exam was a disaster, his grades were dirt poor and the expense of his room and board alone would have bankrupted his mother — so how did he receive a full term scholarship? He didn't know - his grades weren't high enough to warrant his free ticket, but he was not going to disappoint his mother. Heaven help him if he disappointed hershe might reconsider his vow of seppuku.

The campus was huge. Designed around a single structure, the Junior High School, High School and University buildings were laid out like a triangle with the bell tower at it's centre. The bell tower was itself the first thing one saw as they arrived, it's commanding size stunned him when he had first arrived. Sure the skyscrapers in Tokyo were fifty-stories high, but the simple stone of the Student Council hall impressed him far more than a simple building of glass and steel. Elegant was the only word to describe it, elegant and solid. Set at the top of a hillock with a long spiraling concrete street, the academy was also home to an immense forested enclosure towards the back of the campus protected by heavy marble walls. Ranma's eyes had almost popped out of their sockets when he'd first seen the campus as his train rolled down the mountainside into the valley overlooking Ohtori Academy and the massive lake next to it.

The sun had risen and beat it's rays down on the pig-tailed martial artist as he neared the main school building, so Ranma decided to set his pack down on the grass outside an atrium and stretch out on a rock bench. He had until the end of the day to enroll for classes and fill out his personal information; his mother would finish everything else with the school guidance department and administrators later that night, so as it was only two at the time, Ranma decided to kill some time. Latching the flap to his pack securely (in other words so tightly even Ryouga wouldn't have gotten it off), he walked into the empty courtyard and bought a tea from one of the machines.

Little did Ranma know that at that very moment one Utena Tenjou was leaning over the railing above him. He also didn't know that across the courtyard, Anthy Himemiya and Saionji Kyouichi were just leaving the greenhouse in the middle of a spat. Ranma Saotome would soon know all three individuals in due time, but the more important fact was that Ranma was watching as Saionji slapped Himemiya savagely on the cheek and reared his arm back for another blow.

Utena Tenjou was also watching the proceedings but thought it nothing more than a lover's quarrel. [Private rose garden'? The student council here _always_ gets special treatment. It's just too weird] Utena snorted derisively before leaning further on the railing and burying her chin into her cupped palm.

The dark-haired girl she'd never seen before, her blue hair curled around her head and distinctive glasses adorning her face. She wore a uniform that pegged her as a junior high school student; she looked to be in the eighth grade with a quiet way about her, an attitude that immediately implored one to protect her. However, there was also an eroticism about her, a sensual aura she projected that hinted to the baser levels of human beings; Utena was (thankfully) unaffected by it's influence. [They should do that someplace where no one has to see-] Suddenly the green haired boy viciously slapped the girl, causing the watering pitcher she was holding to fall and splatter over the marble entrance to the greenhouse. Utena stood stock-still for a few moments before her mind understood what had happened, the man had just hit the girl with no provocation whatsoever. The boy grabbed the girl's arm and twisted painfully, drawing back his hand for another blow

Which was precisely when Ranma dashed across the courtyard in a blur of motion and shoved Saionji roughly through the glass-paneled door and into the greenhouse in a shower of razor-sharp diamond shards. Utena breathed a sigh of relief that the girl had been saved from the guy's hand, Himemiya stared in unbelievable surprise that someone had caught Saionji-sama by surprise, Ranma stared down in disgust at his soon-to-be classmate, and finally Saionji groaned in pain on the floor. Time seemed to stop as Ranma raised his first for a strike, all the participants sucking in a nervous breath as the pig-tailed boy's hand began it's inexorable descent at Saionji's brow. Luckily for the teal-haired senior, It was at that moment that Ranma stopped at the feather light touch of Touga Kiiryu on his arm.

Utena watched as the stranger lowered his arm and pulled the downed upperclassman from the wreckage. So engrossed in the tableau was she that she didn't notice Wakaba until the chestnut-haired girl leapt on his back. After the preliminary struggles to reach safety within the hall and Wakaba's profuse yelling of Utena-sama!' they watched as the stranger pulled away from the group and swaggered out of the courtyard.

"Wakaba, who are they?" Utena slid over as her friend squeezed in next to her at the window frame.

"Saionji Kyouichi."

"Saionji? The guy with wavy hair? And the straight-haired one is the Student Council President, right? His name was TougaKiryuu?" Wakaba seemed truly astonished at Utena's ignorance.

"You recognize the Student Council president but you don't know cool Saionji Kyouichi, the council VP and Kendo team captain?"

"Yeah wellanyway, who's the girl?" She pointed to the shivering foreign-looking girl, her dark skin suggesting Indian ancestry but her face clearly of Japanese descent.

"Anthy Himemiya. Actually not very many people know that much about her. She's a kinda gloomy girlshe's in the Student Council, but unlike the other elite members the only thing she can do is take care of the roses. She's in our grade, I think."

"Is Saionji going out with her?" Wakaba looked positively scandalized by the mere idea and began shaking Utena.

"Of course Saionji-sama would do nothing of the kind!"

"I was just asking"

---The bell tower---

"JuriI wanted you two to be present as witnesses when I deliver my opinion as the Student Council President." Kiryuu with Saionji and Himemiya in tow, arrived in the Student Council chambers at the top floor of the bell tower. Saionji's arm was wrapped in a bandage and he was noticeably favoring his right leg, but he still managed to pull together enough noble haughtiness to look down his nose at his fellow council members. The chamber was expansive with a narrow balcony jutting out into the air. Touga stepped around the round table where his two compatriots were seated. Saionji and Himemiya stood in front of the party. Kiryuu beckoned to the standing pair. "Saionji Kyouichi and his bride come forward!

"Saionji! We are chosen for the Student Council by the rules of the Rose Sealbut your violent treatment of Himemiya debases all we stand for!" Kiryuu pointed at his VP, literally shaking in fury. Saionji simply raised an eyebrow and adopted a haughty pose.

"That's not true! She's my bride. How I treat her is my business!"

"NO!" Kiryuu response was explosive. "The rules of the Rose Seal are the will of World's End!"

Miki Kaoru stood from the table; his blue hair shaking as his repressed feelings towards Himemiya bubbled up to the surface. He was short and far younger than the other three members but was the dueling and mental equal of any of them; he was already attending classes in the university even though he was only in the ninth grade. "We are merely duelists — granted a chance by World's EndA chance at greatnessor defeat." The effeminate secretary of the Council rose from his chair to stand next to the President.

"You can't just interpret the rules to your liking, Saionji! You know that" Juri, the blonde champion fencing captain spoke from beside Kiryuu, oozing conceit through her pores.

Saionji snorted, raising his head and closing his eyes in mock innocence. "I know nothing of the kind!" Kiryuu's eyes slitted as he watched the other council members, growing more and more agitated by Saionji's attitude.

"Saionji!" Kiryuu snapped, his hand drawing back to hit his VP

Before Himemiya stepped between them, her head bowed low and a sad cast to her face.

"II am hisfor now I belong to Lord Saionjiso everything must be as he wishes. That is what I know." She bowed hurriedly and returned to Saionji's side where the tall boy wrapped an arm around her and smirked at Kiryuu. It was apparent to all that Himemiya was as disappointed with her position as the rest of the Student Council but she did not speak out against Saionji. Miki, Juri and Kiryuu had long memories, as the door slammed shut behind the couple, they all recalled times when Anthy would appear with fresh bruises. Saionji, with Himemiya at his side, limped slowly to the lift and then was gone.

"What can we do? Should we let Saionji do as he pleases with Himemiya?"

"No, Miki, Rose Seal law must guide us." Kiryuu turned to his fellow members, ushering them back to the table. "Saionji may have his way with herbut only until someone else wins the bride. We'll turn a blind eye until the next duel." Touga sat down at the table and picked up his cards, gesturing for the others to join him. As the cards were dealt and Touga held in a cry of frustration at having the old maid, Juri glanced back at the lift as it returned from it's slow descent.

"How did Saionji get those bruises?" Miki looked up from his cards and plucked the old maid from Touga's hand, he too repressed a shudder.

"Yes, and that cut arm."

"And he seemed to be favoring his right leg as well. Is there something we should know Mr. President?" Touga folded his cards on the table and slapped an envelope from World's End on the growing pile of discards. "I didn't receive any letters lately."

"That arrived in the Council mailbox this morning addressed to meapparently World's End isn't pleased with Saionji's treatment of the bride either, this letter prophecies that a new duelist will appear today and defeat Saionji. As I walked back from the cafeteria, I witnessed a new student move like lightning and shove Saionji through the glass door to the greenhouse for slapping Himemiya. I believe he is the newest duelist." Juri raised an eyebrow as Miki struggled to write down Touga's long litany.

"'Newest duelist'?" The blue-haired boy was struggling with his pencil and notebook.

"Newest duelist. Does this boy posses the Rose Seal?" Juri was beginning to warm up to the conversation, in fact, Touga noticed, she began to take more than a passing interest in the new student

"Yes. I saw it with my own eyes, except it is slightly different."

"Different? How?"

"The band was made of crystal, not silver." Touga took up his cards once again. "I'm sure that it was a Rose Seal however."

"Hmmwhat on Earth could it mean?"

---Later---

[The ring with the rose seal looks a lot like the school emblemkinda cool.] Ranma was stretched out on the grass near his pack after filing out what seemed like twenty-thousand forms on everything from his name and birth date to what sexual preference he was, to what he liked on his teriyaki eels. Ranma thanked the Gods that he'd taken that challenge from the Kusenagi School of Anything Goes Calligraphy. Still, the ordeal was over and he had nothing to do until his mother arrived, when all hell would break loose once again with Akane's arrival. He had no idea what dorm he would be in nor where to find out, so he planted his bag and behind on the grass and decided to wait.

[That girl was Anthy Himemiyathe same girl in the brochureand that jerk was hitting her! Son of a bitch must pay!] Ranma's hands clenched into fists as he remembered the look of cold anger on the boy's face as he hit the girl that was before Ranma hit him however. [I sure showed him, didn't I? Still, there's something strange with Himemiya, I just feeldrawn to her somehow.] He folded his arms behind his head and began to drift off into a peaceful catnap when a pink-haired girl stomped on his stomach and trampled on his head. As his eyes opened in amazement, he caught the briefest glimpse of the girl's briefs, at which point he realized she was wearing a boy's uniform tunic and short shorts. He trailed her with his eyes, not wanted to start a fight on his first day on campus just because of such a stupid little slight against him [Hey! Ryouga's after me for a stupid reason just like that! What an idiot!]

Utena stormed off towards the Kendo hall after chasing Wakaba from the bulletin board and leaving her in their room, fully intent on smashing Saionji's face into amusing shapes. She barely noticed stepping on Ranma's firm body, so intent was she on her mission of vengeance. She burst into the kendo room just as Ranma realized he'd wanted to follow her.

Ranma ran after the girl and arrived at the Kendo team's dojo, not a place that brought up the most flattering memories after Kuno. Still, the yelling that began to filter through the walls was enough to overcome his momentary phobia and he opened the door just in time to get knocked over by Utena as she left. [Heh, heh, it's gettin' kinda lateguess I better get going] Ranma picked himself off the ground, dusted himself off and walked down the winding road towards the inn at the foot of the hill.

---The Happy Cicada Inn---

"Son! How was your first day of school?" Nodoka and Genma were sitting in the entrance as Ranma walked in from the evening. The Saotome matriarch wore her plum kimono and had the Saotome family blade laid out on her lap, Genma just sat next to her, occasionally grunting. "Did everything go well?"

"Naw, I got here late cause of the later train so all I got ta do was fill out some stupid forms. They got some more for you ta fill out up at the school." Ranma made a show of looking around the corner. "I don't see any uncute tomboys lurkin' around, didn't Akane come with ya?" A hearty smack in the back of his head answered that question as Akane Tendo appeared behind him, mallet brandished threateningly and an angry blue aura swirling around her body. The bellhop appeared next to her and possessively placed a hand on her shoulder.

"What did you say, Ranma? How dare you insult me while you're off womanizing on the other side of the country!" She bopped him firmly on the head, earning him a ringing headache. "Why can't you just keep your mouth shut for once?!" After trampling on his unconscious body she left out the door with hardly a word to either of the elder Saotomes.

"Oh dear it looks like Ranma will be out for a little whileGenma, dear, won't you put Ranma in our room so I can return to the school and finished his paperwork?" Genma sprang into action at her word, splashing himself with a nearby fire bucket and rolling around on the floor with a ball. "Dear?" Genma held up a sign reading I'm just a cute little panda!' and continued his antics. "Dear!" Nodoka ground the word out through her teeth, her hands gripping the scabbard to her katana in fury. "You _WILL_ take Ranma to our room, change back and accompany me to the school!" The animal sighed in defeat before shouldering his son and waddling up the stairs with the astonished eyes of the proprietors following each step. [Honestlythat man is such a fool]

---The Dueling Arena---

The day passed slowly for Utena, the minutes crawling by towards the time of her duel — a challenge she was eagerly anticipating — nerve-wracking. Deftly leaping over the DO NOT ENTER' sign, she found herself in a long corridor of stone with an intricately carved relief at the end. Curiously enough, Utena could hear the roar of water and feel the rushing fluid vibrating underneath the stone walkway The faint vibrations rocking her body from side to side along the long corridor of stone. The presence of water around made the hackles rise on her neck. She finally came to a stone lever protruding from the masonry. [I guess I ring the doorbell] As she clasped the handle, a single droplet of water fell backward - horizontally — at the rose crest ring on her finger from a rose-colored pool set behind the knocker. "Ahh! Cold!" No sooner had she retracted her hand than the decorative statures lining the sides of the entranceway burst with water and forced her closer to the bas relief.

"What is all this!?" The water gushed and spread, the waterfalls converging in loops until they blotted out the dying rays of the setting sun. The rock masonry folded in upon itself, the hard marble wavering like fabric in the wind until a gateway shot up from beneath her feet. Although it only took moments, the transformation was astounding to say the least for the rock bas-relief folded to become an enormous rose sculpture high above the gates. Utena settled her nerves, double-checked that her bokken was intact, and boldly walked into the dueling arena entrance.

The first thing she noticed was the spiraling staircase heading and suspended in nothing. A dense fog rolled around her ankles as the heavy gate shut tight. The rock was old but stable enough to walk upon and the pink-haired girl began to scale the steps. The staircase spiraled upward but also bent at a sharp forty-five degree angle away from the entrance so that the top platform swam in relative air. Utena nearly dropped her bokken in shock at the sight she beheld as the next level of stairs lifted from view.

It resembled a gaijin castle, like something out of the fairy tales. White with blue spires bent down from the blue sky of the grove, although intellectually even Utena knew that such large objects such as the castle suspended upside-down, the staircase, and accompanying bell towers couldn't possibly fit within the tiny dimensions of the woods. She continued on through a symmetrical gate and onto the massive, flat arena. Far away, one could hear the school bell tower toll six, an almost hollow, artificial sound in that place.

[What's going on here?!]

---The Happy Cicada Inn---

Nodoka and Genma were seated across from Ranma and Akane in their room after they returned from Ohtori the bellhop was apparently at their beck and call as he was seated slightly off to the side of Akane. Ranma lazily leaned his elbow on the table as his mother continued to spout how manly he was and how she expected nothing less than B's' from him for the rest of the year. Akane flipped through the brochures but really wasn't reading. Nodoka was just beginning to tell her son all about the extra curricular activities she signed his name to on the application.

"Now son, it is not very becoming if you simply accept Ohtori's gracious scholarship and do nothing in return. I have taken the liberty, Ranma dear, of signing you onto the Martial Arts teams and Fencing team. It is only proper that you learn to handle a sword if you're going to one day inherit the Saotome family blade, and you used to play so well with that Kuno boy" Ranma snorted.

"'Play'? The freaking bastard tried to take my head off with that Katana at the wedding!" Still, he knew that he could erect only token resistance to his mother's wishes. One wrong answer and

SLICE! Down went the katana.

Ranma gulped loudly and continued to peruse his catalog, paying careful attention to the fencing section. Strawberry-blond curls bounced in the air, a tight white fencing leotard adhering to all too obvious feminine curves as a photograph of Juri Arisugawa jumped off the page at him. According to his booklet, she was a Japan national fencing champion and a member of the Student Council, good looks, good grades "and a killer tight ass"

[Hmm?] Ranma looked at Akane as she glowed a jealous blue and tore the table in half. Ranma sweatdropped as he realized he'd said the latter thought out loud while blatantly staring at the picture of Juri's attractive backside. He darted out of the way as Akane's mallet broke through the tatami mat and missed his head by an inch, his mother and father a splint second behind in their respective leaps.

"Ungrateful boy! Apologize to your fiancé right now!" Genma made a weak effort at admonishment as he met Nodoka's stern gaze. "Uhright now." Ranma decked his father out the nearby window and seethed in anger as he forgot about the threat Akane posed with Mallet-sama'. He froze in his tracks as the enormous shadow of the mallet slowly descended on his back and spring-boarded him upward through the roof and high into the air.

"RANMA NO BAKA!!!!!!" Akane threw the mallet upwards with amazing accuracy to collide with his then descending form which sent him further up and away towards Ohtori Academy and a certain Dueling Forest. With his lazy airspeed and his projected destination plotted, Ranma opened his eyes and began to prepare for the inevitable touchdown, which looked to be more painful than usual. Ranma twisted his midsection like a cat so that his feet would land first (they had a better chance of landing flat) then braced himself for impact within the odd circle of trees in the centre of Ohtori.

[I have a feeling] The trees sped upward faster and faster.

[That this is] They were closer now, he could make out an eldritch light emanating from the foliage.

[] He felt the barest whisper of bark against his legs.

[GONNA HURT!!!] Ranma covered his eyes and plummeted down into the treetops as foliage snapped round him. Suddenly he encountered a barrier, an invisible force that seemed to repel him from falling further, almost like a safety net. Ranma's eyes snapped open in an instant and he looked down at the black nothingness that supported him and absently rapped it with his Rose Seal in curiosity. The crystal ring made a cracking noise as it hit the magic forcefield and he reflexively pulled it back, examining it for possible breaks. Finding none he stood and began to walk across the canopy. [Weirdreally, really weirdwhat the hell is holdin' me up?] Unfortunately the barrier chose that exact moment to open its secrets to the youth and swallow him whole into the Dueling Arena.

He felt like he was falling, falling into infinite darkness, until a cold wave blew through his body, chilling him to the bone and momentarily freezing his joints. He was enveloped in rosy energy, warmth suffusing his body to banish the cold and just as suddenly he was expelled from the illusionary castle and hurtled down towards the platform below. The landing platform was etched with a red rose seal, identical to the ring he wore but Ranma really didn't have time to comment on the similarities as he plummeted down at the trio standing in the middle of a duel. Even as he twirled and positioned himself for a safe landing, something still felt off

Meanwhile down below his projected landing sight, Utena Tenjou stared blankly at the ruined bokken she held, disbelief painted over her face. "Y-you meanthat trick sword is real?" Saionji laughed heartily and brandished the Sword of Dios for the final blow, the glinting shaft aimed at Utena's white rose jutting precariously from her top pocket. Utena gasped and closed her eyes as Saionji began to move, Himemiya covered her face and turned away, and even Touga in the bell tower above looked worried for the briefest of instances.

"If you dare challenge the Sword of Dios with a wooden practice sword, I'll stain that white rose with your blood!" Saionji thrust forward but fell to the ground as an enormous weight fell from above, knocking him into unconsciousness and the ground.

Ranma pointed his feet and sped through the air as he fell away from the last spires of the castle, noticing that it was Saionji, Himemiya and the pink-haired girl he'd met before standing atop the platform. Having keen eyesight, Ranma could clearly make out Saionji as he pulled back for the final, killing blow. In a burst of rage Ranma shot down even faster, the pointed toes of his shoes digging painfully into Saionji's back as he fell.

Utena slowly opened her eyes, fully expecting to see the pearly gates but instead seeing her Prince, dressed exactly the same as when they first met, standing over the body of a downed Saionji. His dark hair was ruffled and he now wore a pigtail that she didn't remember from before, but the white uniform, white/red cape, scarlet rose on his breast and handsome face told her it could be no other. Himemiya gasped as the stranger picked Saionji up off the ground and plucked the rose from his pocket, crushing the flower in a blazing white glove. Touga nearly fell off the balcony as the man from the castle looked straight into his eyes and winked at him.

Ranma let the wisps of burnt rose flutter out of his hand. The uniform he found himself in wasn't there before, he felt the fabric and moved his arms a little to test its durability and restrictiveness. [Hmmnot bad, lightweight, smooth, and it ain't constricting! pretty good! Now how did it get on me?] Ranma absently plucked the cape away, finding it a nuisance, and draped it over Utena's shoulders as he saw the first signs of mild shock manifest themselves with her faint twitching. "Are you alright?"

"Are you alright?" The smooth baritone rang in her ears as she gratefully accepted his hand. He was her prince, the one from all those years ago come back again to marry her! "That jerk didn't hurt you or nothin' did he?" Well, maybe he wasn't exactly her princebut he sure was a good substitute! Utena wobbled as she stood, grasping onto him for support before letting him go and walking slowly to the stairway gate.

"Thanks for saving me again, Hakuban no ouji-sama!" With that and a victory salute she started down the stairs. Ranma watched her go, confused by the whole incident. After Himemiya checked Saionji just in case his injuries were life threatening, which they weren't, she took her place behind Ranma

"Dios-sama, I don't know what to say" High above them on the balcony, Touga was speechless as well.

"'Dios'? Who's Dios? The name's Ranma, Ranma Saotome, pleased to meet ya!" He held out his hand and was rewarded as Himemiya shakily grasped it and daintily shook it with a firm grip. "Ijust started school here so I don't know what this's all aboutsome kind of school play?" Ranma's limited mental capacities for social and societal situations forced him to fall back on previous knowledgewhich included the botched production of Romeo and Juliet.

Himemiya looked at him with a blank face for a few moments, then smiled kindly as her dress, the Sword of Dios and the castle disappeared into a dim darkness. "Something like that." Touga left as the darkness prevented any further voyeurism. "My name is Anthy Himemiya"

---The next day---

"Whaddaya mean I gotta live in an old dorm!?!" Ranma's first day at Ohtori had gone less than satisfactory. That morning his parents had thankfully left, and afterwards a student appeared to show him around to his classes. Unlike Furinkan, Ohtori's extra-curricular activities were part of the student's schedule with specific times each day so aside from fencing and the martial arts clubs, Ranma was forced to endure History, Math, English, and Science. On the whole not a bad schedule considering each class was an hour with a half-hour in between, so much of Ranma's first day was spent lounging about or eating.

Miki Kaoru was taken aback by the vehemence of Ranma's reaction. He was there with the new student as a favor to Kiiryu Touga, a personal favor to watch the newcomer for any signs of strangeness. Yet, as of the moment, this Ranma Saotome had shown only a superhuman appetite. "The Student Council has decreed that you are to live in the East Dorm, you have to obey their decree."

"But I heard that the East Dorm hasn't been used for a decade! How the hell'm I supposed ta live with cobwebs'n stuff!" Ranma slung his bag over a shoulder while following Miki through the front gates and down towards the dorms. The last thing he wanted was to be stuck in a creepy old dorm probably filled with jealous ghosts or possessed dolls.

"I'm sure it isn't all that bad, Ranma, Ohtori keeps all of its dorms in pristine condition as befitting structures of their importance." They arrived at the entrance of the East dorm with its obelisk sundial and rose trellace. "Why don't you go in and get settledI'll be back tomorrow morning to take you to your classes again." With that, the Student Council secretary walked away.

Ranma waved goodbye and slung his pack onto the stoop, taking out his key to the dorm, of course if the building ended out as bad as he thought it would, he wouldn't be staying for long. With equal parts of fear and excitement, Ranma unlocked the door and burst inside

To find that no one was there to greet him.

Now normally a dorm mother would be behind the curtained office in the main foyer, but there seemed to be no one in the entire building. Even with his ki-enhanced senses, Ranma detected no one in the floors above or below and decided he'd just pick a room to stay for the night before arranging permanent arrangements; tomorrow the Student Council would find an irate young martial artist in their midst.

The bags were heavy, but not of such a significant weight for Ranma to carry up the stairs, his knapsack and a few duffel bags of books and supplies the school had allotted him for the semester. Scaling the steps he opened the first door he saw and was supremely surprised when Himemiya popped into his area of vision dressed in an apron and kerchief. It wasn't entirely her presence that disturbed and surprised him, but rather that his finely tuned senses hadn't detected her sooner, it was intensely difficult to mask one's ki signature either from the environment itself or objects one came into contact with, something was definitely wrong with Himemiya

"I'm sorry, Ranma-sama, I wanted to get the cleaning done before you arrived." Himemiya seemed to put on a mask of happiness at his presence, as if she were used to faking happiness to please someoneperhaps Saionji? "Is something the matter?"

"Uhno. I just thought that no one was in this dorm with me. I wasn't expecting you ta be with me or anything" He idly noticed the name Utena Tenjou' printed on the door, above Himemiya's hastily written addendum. "Where exactly is my room? Why are you cleaning the dorms too? Don't ya have maids or a cleaning service?" Himemiya knelt at the table in the parlor and removed the kerchief from her curled dark hair.

"It is Rose Seal that I am engaged to the winner of the duel, Utena Tenjou. As her bride I must live with her and be with her at all timesI must obey their wishes and do whatever they ask." The latter half was tinged with a kind of resigned indifference, as if she'd been through the situation many times before. "Your room is down the hall and I simply felt like cleaning the rooms by hand."

"Uhwell thanks for cleaning up the place, I was kinda worried about dust and dirt'n stuff." This time when she smiled, Ranma felt it wasn't quite as forced as before. "Now what's all this stuff about Rose Seal Law' and the Student Council?" He plunked down his sack by the bunk beds and moved to the table with her, his other bags shoved off beside the door.

"Your ring that you wear qualifies you to be a duelist, all of the Student Council members have one and as such much conform to the Rose Lawa series of codes of conduct placed down by Dios, the founder of this school. Your hand in Utena-sama's victory last night was unplanned and unexpectedI believe the Council is afraid of you." She began pouring the tea that was unnoticed before by the side of the table, cookies and cups already laid out. "Your ring also differs from theirswhere did you get it?"

Ranma became very defensive. "A guy gave it to medamn pervert tried ta kiss me when I was down then gave me the friggin' ring saying something about meeting me there', whatever the hell that means." He accepted the cup of tea, the white porcelain etched with a red rose like everything else at Ohtori, and hastily sipped from it, glad to be rid of the topic.

"What was the man wearing?" Himemiya's face was down, her hands shaking as she handed him a plate of cookies; of course Ranma, being Ranma, didn't notice her odd behavior.

"Short dark hair, white uniform, cape, kinda like the stuff I was wearin' last nightwhy?" Ranma abandoned his tea as he leapt over the table to support Himemiya as she wilted to the floor. A lone tear ran down her cheek.

---"?"---

"You've been waitinghaven't you?" A dark figure swathed in reignments of darkness swirled into the light, a wide beam of brightness illuminating the Egg of the World. With little effort, the figure spun down to the rock sphere, his short hair blowing freely with the curling breeze of rose petals blowing in the chamber. "Silently pulling the strings againhaven't you?"

Another figure appeared, a thin man sitting across the shell with his arms draped over a knee. He was silent.

"She's already herebut of course you knew that already, Dios." The first person spun lazily around the Egg, commanding the air around him to ferry him along the room of darkness. With a feral smirk filled with anger and self-infatuation, the man pointed accusingly at Dios with a gloved finger. "YOU marked her as a duelist! YOU gave HER the ring to the castle! YOU manipulated the plans I'd so carefully laid out for World's End!" The hand drew into a fist, clenched tightly at Akio's side before opening wide to measure the expanse of the Earth. "The first cracks have appearedbut it's not your time yet. You just continue to sit here and sleep, Dios, until I have call for you. Soon will be the time we will both benefit from the plans, soon we will be one once again." Akio drifted out and away, to where is better left to the imagination, but suffice it to say that Dios was alone once again in the darkness.

"He will do well"

---East Dorm, later that night---

Utena Tenjou dragged her backpack and luggage up the smooth concrete entranceway leading up to the East Dorm's front door. It was well past six, long past when she normally ate dinner, so her hunger just added to the list of uncomfortable feelings running through her body, fatigue the foremost among them. [I'd have been here on time for supper if Wakaba hadn't insisted on going shoppingwhy did I get stuck in a Dorm unused for a decade? Probably tons of creepy-crawlies falling from the ceiling and mice running from the rafters] Her black top was slung over a shoulder and her red shorts left little to the imagination as they were drenched in sweat from the walk uptown since the school shuttle stopped service promptly at four. Wakaba had been the lucky one while Utena was forced to walk from one end of town to the other then up the hill. [How she managed to get the last seat is beyond me]

Utena walked sluggishly past the concrete obelisk outside the dorm and opened the doors, her luggage left out on the stoop. She was greeted by an empty lobby with the curtains drawn and the smell of warm food wafting from the dining room. Looking at the bags she still held in either hand, she ascended the stairs and found her room at the very top along with Anthy's hastily written nameplate. [That girl is so weird! First she comes up to me last night and says something about a Rose Bride', and now this!] She heard the muted trilling sound of giggles below and at the same time felt her stomach grumble with hunger; she decided that it was time to face Himemiya and finally get some dinner.

As such it came as a complete surprise when Utena entered the dining hall and saw her prince chatting with Himemiya as she served dinner. Ranma was dressed in a variation of the Student Council Member's uniforms with white shirt and pants, black trim and gold shoulder pads, perhaps he was being groomed to become a member of the Student Council. Utena coughed lightly to alert her dorm-mates to her presence and was rewarded as her prince looked up and stood. "S-sorry to interrupt" She blushed as he stood from the chair and crossed the distance to stand before her and suddenly he wasn't wearing the princely uniform at all but his normal Chinese tangs. "I"

Ranma looked at the girl and didn't know what to think, he couldn't tell why she was blushing or looking down at her feet, of course he was also inept in the opposite sex. He didn't notice Utena shudder as he leaned down and whispered in her ear, his warm breath blowing softly. "Himemiya's kinda weird, huh?" He shot a sideways glance at the smiling bespectacled girl as she played with ChuChu. "I meanshe cleaned the whole dorm today and insists on staying in your room, even with dozens of empty rooms available!" He stood back up and leaned casually on the back of a chair. "And what's with all this Rose Bride' stuff? Do you know anything about it?"

"N-noshe just came up to me last night after the duel and said that she belonged to meI don't know what to think." Utena repressed the urge to embrace her prince after so many years and instead accepted his offered seat, sitting down for an awkward dinner.

Himemiya seemed to grow even happier when she noticed Utena and served supper shortly thereafter.

---The next day (I assume you know what happened that night)---

"The Rose Seal now faces the greatest threat it has ever known." Touga stood on the flying platform and addressed his fellow Student Council members, Juri and Miki sitting on the wrought-iron lawn chairs. "The one engaged to the Rose Bride was defeated by Dios himself and is now betrothed to the middle school girl."

Miki looked up from his notebook. "Apparently, Dios didn't like the way Saionji was treating Himemiya as well."

"I don't understand why she is not engaged to the stranger who defeated Saionji." Juri sat in a huff, her strawberry-blonde sausage curls thrown defiantly back with her hands laced at the ape of her neck. "He _was_ the one who defeated Saionji."

"The stranger was Dios himself, I saw it with my own two eyes, he descended from the castle and defeated Saionji with a single blow." Touga's eyes were glued to the Dueling forest. Was that a faint beam of light emanating from the wooden glen?

"And what of the middle-school girl, Utena Tenjou?" Miki tapped his watch and recorded the time.

"She is a rare and privileged girl." Touga's tone rang with the faint hint of seduction. "She and Anthy Himemiya share the same room now; living in the same dorm as the new student. What can you tell us about him, Miki? Was he the new duelist?"

"Ranma Saotome, formally of Furinkan High School in Nerima, excels in physical activities and practices an advanced form of martial arts." The blue-haired secretary closed the dossier folder on the table and handed the glossy photo to Juri who sat next to him. "I did not notice any Rose Seal but it was dark"

Touga never turned, simply continued to stare out at the campus like a high overlord overseeing his serfs. "Continue, Miki, I understand."

"Likes to dress in Chinese tangs but has agreed to wear a stylized student uniform. Sleeps in English class but speaks passable English, teaches his gym class basic self-defense."

"He has also signed up for the fencing team." Juri plucked the glossy from the rose-motif table and raised the photo until her eyes met those of the new student. The moment seemed to grow pregnant with tension, Touga seemed to notice from the periphery of his vision a subtle shifting in Juri's expression, before she thrust the picture back at Miki in disgust. "It will be interesting to see just how talented he isgreat martial artist and all."

"He is also the student who wears the crystal ring, as Touga says, least you forget. Juri-samahe has secretsbe careful." Miki slid the photograph back into his file and stood up, citing a piano lesson he had to teach. The blue-haired secretary dropped below the threshold of the elevator shat and Juri rose as well, opting to take the stairs as exercise. Soon, only Touga remained on the platform, looking out at the Dueling forest once more and the white, gleaming marble of the school buildings. He watched as Utena walked across the courtyard and into the rose garden. He decided to make his move.

---The fencing team gym---

"Again!" Ranma pushed himself up off the mats, his cloth slippers sliding on the plastic as he took an offensive poise. He was dressed in the fencing uniform, white leotard stretching from the turtle-neck to his waist and pulled between his legs, covering the light gray jumpsuit underneath. The spandex covering barely concealed the firm muscles rippling underneath, the stretching of which Juri was unable to tear her eyes away from as they regarded each other again.

"Again?" Juri pulled the mask back down over her face, smoothing the metal mesh to highlight her aristocratic nose. "Don't you ever get tired of losing?" Her foil bent as she tested its malleability and swished it experimentally before striking a stance.

"I'm going to beat you yet! Ranma Saotome never loses!" He swished the foil through the air and cursed himself. They had been at it for over an hour; already one class had ended and another filed in, they still fought on. The fencing team stood off to the side, regalia discarded and mouths agape. Soon enough the battle was joined once more.

Miki walked in from the locker-room, helmet in hand and slid next to another team member. Neither combatant moved, each intent upon the other's face grid — faceless, empty they waited. Sunlight streamed through the windows behind and cast the pair into shadow. The tension hung in the air — Miki watched Juri's arm muscle twitch underneath the jumpsuit and was astonished to behold the opponent turn his foil into a defensive slash against his body, as if warding off the feigned attack. The blonde-tressed girl stood still, he was not going to just lose this match so easily. "What's going on? Why doesn't Juri-sama attack?" The student next to Miki Kaoru, a green-haired boy with blue eyes, turned and tapped his shoulder.

"Shhh! This is the ninth time they've fought. The new guy's lost every time but he just doesn't give up! Even after Juri-sama told him he made the team, another vice president even! But he just doesn't want to admit defeat." Miki's mind boggled at the opponent; the ninth time and they were still facing each other, the stranger must have enormous strength! "Juri-sama beat him easily the first six times but since then the guy's been more cautious, he moves like water! If I didn't know any betterI'd say that it was just Juri-sama's skill that's beat him so many times."

"But why-"

"Shh! They're starting again!" An excited voice called from further down the line, apparently a group of girls (Kozue Kaoru among them) had camped out at the doorway to watch the match.

Juri lunged forward unexpectedly and began a furious attack, stabbing at the young man at tremendous speeds but all were deflected by a Chestnut-first defense. Ranma's arm blurred into motion as the attack ebbed and set to attack but Juri leapt away and fell into a defensive crouch. Ranma responded by swinging his right arm over his chest, so that the radius bone in his arm touched his pectoral muscles and the foil's rounded tip pointed straight behind him to the far wall. Neither opponent moved as both retained their unorthodox poses, facing each other yet again. (Kinda like a slow episode of Dragon Ball Z, huh?)

"Do you think to win with a form like that?" Juri's deep voice rang in the cavernous emptiness of the room and reverberated until she realized he was no longer in front of her. The gust of wind followed soon after and she could feel the odd, long-forgotten sensation of cold steel across her breast. "What!?" She turned and dropped her foil in shock as Ranma's foil stabbed her again, lightly in the chest. "How did you do that?" Miki and the entire team, not to mention the gaggle of girls in the doorway, were stunned at such a sudden victory and defeat for their Prince', Ranma's smirk could be seen even through the wire mesh covering his face.

"Never underestimate your opponent, first rule of the Revised Saotome School of Martial Arts." The masked martial-artist walked off the mats with a new spring to his step and threw the foil at the next member who caught the steel rod clumsily. "Hey Miki, thanks for the tour but I still got lost getting here." He sat down on the bench and tore the face mask off, letting the stubby pigtail fall against his back. "Hey? What's wrong? Don't ya remember me?" Ranma tapped the secretary of the Student Council on the shoulder and shook him forcefully when he received no response. "Miki?"

"Y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-"

"Yeah?"

"Y-you b-beatJuri-sama!" He grasped Ranma's leotard and pulled the taller boy down to meet his panicked eyes. Juri was renowned for his quick temper, it was said that teachers would rather resign than face her wrath. The fencing team members lived in constant fear of her tiger's fury. Perhaps there was something threatening in her mysterious quiet nature that raised the hairs along the rape of one's neck. The new student paid the astounded team captain no mind and opened the neck of his turtleneck and fanned himself. Half the females in the room fainted.

"Yeah? I told ya, Ranma Saotome never loses!" The next member shakily stood with the foil and remained off the mat, waiting for Juri's command. The captain didn't move for the longest time, until she raised up to her full height and looked solidly at Ranma as he reclined on the bench, all other fencing members giving him a wide berth. The helmet turned to gaze at the foil in her hand and Juri didn't move for a few minutes — the member still waiting on the threshold of the mats. Miki watched, his eyes wide, his mouth agape, as Juri brought the foil to her face and threw it clear across the room.

"Dismissed!" The unfortunate boy dropped the weapon in his haste as the team clamored out the door — Ranma swaggering slowly behind them. The entire fight and resulting battle of wits had eaten almost the entirety of the period. Miki ran up to Juri as the team finally left.

"Are you alright?" Juri didn't speak, not at first — no, first she clawed off the mask and threw it out the open window. "Did he hurt you?"

"No, no just my pride." She watched with fascination as Ranma reappeared from the locker-room in full student regalia. White uniform with black trim and an ebony strand reaching from the lapel brooch to his shoulder, if anyone else had seen his outfit they would have figured the boy to be President of the Student Council. "Overstepping our bounds, aren't we Mr. Saotome?"

"Naw, the school just gave me this weird get-up cause I won't wear the normal uniform. Came last night with a weird letter." Ranma dug into his pocket and produced a rose-pastel envelope with a red wax seal — The Rose Seal of World's End. "The thing tells me I haveta go to the bell tower next period." He didn't notice Miki and Juri gasp. "what?"

"Juri closed her mouth, her teeth clicking together neatly in her surprise, and looked away, brushing aside her sweaty locks. The "Handsome Duo" shared a brief look before turning to him in unison. "Ranma Saotome, you have been chosen to be a member of the Student Council, Juri-sama and I are members as well, we shall escort you to the bell tower ourselves."

"UhI think?" Ranma scratched his head and plucked his school bag from underneath the bench. "Should I take my stuff?"

"No. No, you won't need anything." Juri ripped open her suit and sauntered off into the girl's locker-room. Ranma had detected the creamy rise of her breast over her sports bra. Miki walked off into the boy's locker-room to change and returned in five minutes, he hadn't the need for a shower due to the fact that he hadn't the chance to practice. The blue-haired boy looked at Ranma strangely as the raven-haired student ran through a quick kata with a foil. Apparently Ranma wanted to hone his fencing skills after losing to Juri so many times. Juri reappeared ten minutes later.

"Saotome-san," her voice tinged with sarcasm, "don't think that a day's worth of training will beat year's of skill."

"I don't Juri-san, it took me eighteen years to develop these skills, I wouldn't think to insult your training." He continued the kata, once again unknowing of Miki's gasp at his casual honorific. He looked to Juri only to find her eyes going slowly over Ranma as he flipped through the air, was that a hint of hunger in her eyes? Her breath was coming in fits and starts, Miki had never seen his sempai react so to any member of the opposite sexexcept maybe Touga. The auburn-haired girl shook her head before turning to the door and looking back at her fellow students.

"Come now, we have a meeting now and still have to find Touga."

They walked out of the open gymnasium and across the concrete paved campus, most students around them stopping to greet them or bow slightly as was the custom at Ohtori. Ranma walked with his normal gait, his feet not even making whispers on the ground as he flowed from step to step, while Miki and Juri trotted next to him. The bell tower loomed hugely in the distance, a tall structure around which was constructed the complex revolutions of walkways and courtyards that made up the Ohtori Academy. Juri had a feeling Touga was up in the meeting room already, nursing his wounds if she read the tinkle of shattering glass right. [Really, one day his womanizing is going to land him in trouble] "So this is the Student Council's building, huh?" Ranma lifted his head and squinted to view the very top as planes overhead reflected the sun in his eyes.

"Yes, Ranma-sempai, Touga the President is probably inside waiting for us already."" Miki withdrew his stop watch and jumbled the pile of folders in his arms. "Shall we go?" Juri walked past the both of them and entered, not even bothering to hold the door for her compatriots.

"Friendly isn't she?" His eyes passed over the broad shoulders and long mane of auburn hair before moving downward to the tight swell of her buttocks.

"Juri-sama isn't normally like thisI think it's because you beat her today. I don't think anyone's ever beaten her before, I'd watch myself around her if I were you." Together the three boarded the elevator and were soon on their way to the top.

Touga stood at the iron table, effectually dabbing at the shallow scratch Utena gave him during their brief meeting in the Rose garden. [Ouch! Those thorns wound me almost as much as her rejectionbut she'll come around] The wound had stopped bleeding and now only a light smear of red showed that he was ever wounded. Blue eyes closed in memory of her smell when they kissed, he could still feel the soft fabric of her tunic as he pulled her in close

He was broken from his revelry by the distinct slam of the door, Juri's forceful gait echoed by Miki's andsomeone's he did not know. Touga's eyes fluttered open.

The new student, the Ranma Saotome' Miki spoke of was standing between his fellow council members exuding a quiet respect and just a faint air of arrogance. "And who is this new student who aspires to become one of us?"

"Ranma Saotome, Touga-san. He received a letter from World's End, along with his uniform." Juri stood proudly next to the new student; was that some strange glint in her steely eyes? There was something off in her demeanor, a slight twist to her hips and closeness to Saotome that piqued Touga's interest.

"It'snice ta meet ya" Ranma scratched the back of his head and met the council president's eyes.

"QuiteI fear we have no positions available but I think one will soon show itself. Welcome to Ohtori, Ranma." Touga shook the boy's hand with his manicured nails and studied his face. Handsome, with a certain roguish charm diametrically opposed to his own good looks. Yes, this one would be one to watch. He smiled at the boy and was surprised when Ranma smiled back, Juri and Miki standing on either side of the pig-tailed boy. Saionji was due for another duel tonight with the Tenjou girl, the Student Council would have to keep a close eye on Ranma Saotome; as would World's End, he suspected.

---The dueling arena---

"Now I'll show you my real power!" Utena was in trouble as Saionji viciously began his counterattack. The pink-haired girl tumbled on the dueling platform, the Sword of Dios clattering on the stone as she clutched her rose protectively. Touga and Juri watched from the tower with opera glasses as Saionji slashed continuously at the retreating girl.

The fight had gone on for far too long, Utena had over-extended herself and was paying the price as she was absolutely powerless under the vice-president's katana. Himemiya stood off to the side, her hand covering her mouth as she readied herself to watch Tenjou's imminent defeat. Touga gasped as Saionji raised the weapon and prepared to strike the rose off Utena's chest, no doubt willing to take blood if necessary. Even the duelists knew who had lost even before the decisive blow had been dealt.

[I can't losefor Himemiya!] She gave her opponent an angry glare and funneled all her hatred of Saionji into reviving her tired muscles. Suddenly the Rose Seal on her left hand lit up — scintillating the seal across the expansive skyline. The light cascading from the pearl castle stopped abruptly and all present were cast in darkness as a sparkling light show began in the centre of the warped space above. Touga smiled in triumph and tapped Juri on the arm, pointing at the phantom prince as he swooped down from the glass spires.

Ranma had been sitting in the study of the East Dorm, trying to fathom his way into the depths of his history book. The mire of Japanese history proved to be a daunting opponent, one which Ranma seriously doubted he'd be able to best, as sweat dripped from his forehead. Still, Ranma Saotome never lost and he poured even more effort into keeping awake.

His hand was asleep, he had in shoved roughly in a pocket to keep warm against the chill present in the structure. Unfortunately, the East Dorm was in possession of inadequate heating and the boiler only produced warmth sporadically and even then only in certain rooms. THE tea that Himemiya brewed earlier was cold at his shoulder. He threw the loathsome text across the room and sat up from the chair, stretching the kinks out of his back. Hmmhis hand still hadn't awoken, Ranma raised the numb appendage to his face and yelped in fright as he realized that his hand was no longer there! He saw the stump of his arm and muscles flexing underneath as he moved his thumb clearly enough, and slowly the phenomena crept upwards until his arm disappeared.

HE flailed his arms and ran around as the invisible clutches ripped more of his body away. He still had his chest and head but the rest was gone — disappeared. It wasn't like he couldn't still feel the limbs that were spirited away, but the visible stimulus was unnerving and frightening. His chest went next, the world was spinning as it rose to his eyes. Like a veil of sparkles, the experience ended as it passed over his eyes and he found himself staring at stark blackness.

The room(?) was dark and a steady him emanated from all around, the vibrations thrumming the floor beneath his feet. He looked down at his clothes and the ethereal glow surrounding him; the same uniform from the previous night adorned his frame. The gloves snapped with the grating pop of rough cotton on rough cotton, the thin slacks wrapped around his thighs, a thin red cord bounced against the jewel brooch on his neck and the white jacket hugged his torso snuggly. Ranma patted the vestments and looked at the darkness which was suddenly broken by a bright pin-prick of light. Widened eyes followed the dot as it expanded over the bleak background and swallowed the floor around him, enveloping his body and indeed the entire room in a floating eldritch glow.

"What the hell is this!? Where am I?" His head lowered down to view through the light of the portal and beheld the glowing spires and bleached white cylinders of the upside-down castle suspended over the dueling platform. Two figures fought atop the Rose Seal and two stood miles away, perched on a precarious balcony. Who were they? Why were they fighting?

"Tenjou-san and Saionji-san." Ranma looked towards the voice but only saw a clean mop of blue-white hair standing out in the darkness. "You must go down and save the prince."

"Who are you?"

"One who knows." Pink-haired Tenjou fell with a scream as Saionji kicked her savagely in the solar plexus. Ranma's jaw clenched tightly as he watched the Kendo captain advance menacingly with the gleaming steel katana. "Go." Ranma jumped from the lip of the portal and floated slowly down in a hail of rose petals. The players on stage stopped to look up towards him and he observed Touga and Juri watching from the balcony.

"What the hell!? This is the last time you interfere!" Saionji slashed at the sparkling barrier blocking his path and frothed at the mouth in violence. Ranma paid him no mind as he landed gently by Utena's side, the shoulder-pad tassels and lapel cord along with his coattails fluttering to land around him, crouched as low as he was.

"Who is he?" Juri wouldn't believe her eyes as he patted Tenjou's shoulders and wiped the tears from her eyes. "He can't be Dios!"

"Oh! But he is, dear Juri, he is!" Touga smirked at his comrade, at her stubborn disbelief of the miracle in front of them.

Utena, finding herself in a rose-scented embrace, looked up and saw Ranma's face framed by the golden motes of light floating around them, concern evident in those blue orbs. He smiled and touched her eyes with his immaculate white gloves, gently brushing the brimming tears away and kissing her closed eyes just as her Prince had all those years ago. If asked, he wouldn't have know why he kissed her, it just seemed right and it did succeed in relieving her sadness. He smiled at that, happy that he had retrieved her good humor from the brink. "Don't worry, Utena-sanI'll take care of it now." He walked over to where the Sword of Dios lay and plucked the golden hilt from the white marble. The grooved handle fit smoothly in his hands, and he touched the blade to his forehead. A ray of light shot forth from his blade and shattered the invisible glass enclosure guarding them from Saionji's blows. He took a stance and crossed the sword over his chest, his right shoulder facing the opponent, his right hand holding the blade parallel to his arm. Juri watched the stance and saw the odd attack, realizing that the lanky man was not this "Dios", but rather Ranma Saotome. She kept the secret from Touga, however, for the time being.

"Ha! You think to defeat me with such an unorthodox form!? Die!!" Saionji lunged with the blade, a sailing whistle attesting to the speed of his slash. Ranma's brow furrowed and he seemed to explode into motion, sliding across the ground as if his feet did not move. He slide forward as Saionji slashed horizontally and a painful shriek of metal on metal deafened the audience in the chamber.

When their eyes opened from being shut in expectations of pain and blood, they beheld Ranma on one side, Saionji on the other — backs to each other. Green rose petals drifted in the air.

---Later---

Darkness had fallen on the campus as the trio arrived back at their dorm, ready for dinner and deep sleep. Ranma was still dressed as Dios, the svelte luminous uniform standing out in the darkness and startling the messenger sent top greet them. Utena's uniform was ripped in a few spots and sliced near the breast from one of Saionji's closer blows, while Anthy had reverted back to her immaculate school uniform. None of them expected a boy sent on such official business as he was, even though Miki Kaoru was not a stranger to them.

Ranma at first noticed the birdy gaze on his vestments and undid his short cape, draping it over one of his arms. Utena passed the blue-haired boy by and entered the dorm, Anthy tarrying only long enough to smile slightly at the young man. Ranma tried to shake Miki's hand but realized the boy had three wrapped parcels under his arms.

"How are you Miki? Did Juri send you?" Ranma unclasped the clips keeping the light blue jacket on his shoulders and light fabric slipped down his arms. "What's wrong?"

"Nothingnothing's wrong Ranma, I'm just here on an errand. Here, these are for you and the others. "Miki handed the flat cardboard boxes to the older boy and gave him a friendly salute before disappearing into the darkness. "See you tomorrow!" Ranma waved goodbye to his friend and pushed open the stout doors with the parcels balanced precariously in one hand. A ruckus was going on upstairs, amid much girlish giggling, Ranma wanted no part of whatever his roommates were doing. The cape slung over his arm was hung on the wall next to the shoe rack and the jacket crumpled to the couch, followed quickly with the annoying dangles clasped onto his shirt and collar. Finally Ranma sat back in the common room in a pair of workout pants and white T-shirt, but no sooner had he gotten comfortable than a shrill scream echoed from the second floor. The white boxes on the side table were of little concern to Ranma as he leapt to Utena's room in a single bound just in time to catch Utena and Anthy as they dell from the top bunk and landed in a pile on the floor still clutching Chu-Chu. Who was wrapped around a small milky-pink flower vase

Filled with cold water

Which was flung to the door

"Oops! Sorry Ranma I-Who are you!?"

"Oh my!"

---At the Student Government Council room---

"I did what you asked Juri-sama, Touga-sempai." Miki was back at the Student Council chambers. Juri and Touga lounged on two opposite couches across from one another, both thoroughly engrossed in their own petty schemes.

"What, pray tell, was Ranma wearing when you met him at the door?" Juri was fairly certain of his answer but asked anyway to further rankle Touga. "Was it his school uniform? His Student Council dress?"

Miki shook his head. "No, Juri-sama, it was neither. Ranma was wearing a tight white uniform with red tassels and blue stones hanging from his breast pocket." Touga seemed visibly distressed by the news while Juri sat back in satisfaction. "Did I speak out of turn Touga-sempai?"

"No, Miki, just informed him of something he refused to believe. You've done well, we'll meet tomorrow morning to practice before classes." Miki bowed low and walked out, shutting the ornate gilded doors behind him firmly. Touga looked away, out at the pale moonlit patio and saw the ghosts of fortune pass by, the white shadow of their passing burning blazing trails of fire through his soul. Juri smirked in triumph and rose from her seat, slinking seductively to his back.

---Unfinished---