DISCLAIMER: Revolutionary Girl Utena and all related trademarks belong to BePapas and (in North America) Right Stuf International. Yu-Gi-Oh! and all related trademarks belong to Kazuki Takahashi, Konami, and (in North America) 4kids Entertainment.

First Duel: La fiancée de la Rose

Once upon a time, many years ago, there was a little princess, and she was very sad, for her mother and father had died. Before the princess appeared a traveling prince, riding upon a white horse. He had a regal bearing and a kind smile. The prince wrapped the princess in a rose-scented embrace and gently wiped the tears from her eyes.

"Little one," he said, "who bears up alone in such deep sorrow, never lose that strength or nobility, even when you grow up. I give you these to remember this day. We will meet again. This ring and deck will lead you to me one day." Perhaps the ring the prince gave her was an engagement ring, and the deck of cards a gift of commitment.

This was all well and good, but so impressed was she by him that the princess vowed to become a prince herself one day. But was that really such a good idea…?

"UTENA TENJOU!" a shill female voice rang down the halls as she approached the individual.

Utena Tenjou was, at this time, currently wearing a black variation of the standard boy's uniform of the prestigious Ohtori Academy's middle school facilities, only the pants were replaced by short, skin-tight red biker's shorts. Utena also had pink hair that flowed down the back and brilliantly blue eyes.

She was also a girl.

Utena turned around to see the one female teacher that had been the bane of her stay at Ohtori thus far; she was quite clearly in her middle ages, complete with a beehive hairdo, and ridiculously pointed sunglasses, dressed as a stereotypical, prim-and-proper old hag would dress.

"Why are you wearing that weird get-up again this semester?" the teacher demanded.

"Why not?" Utena snidely responded. "I mean, it can't be weird if all of the boys in this school wear one."

"Perhaps, but you are not a boy," the teacher fired back. "Girls are supposed to wear the school uniform that is offered to them by the outfitters, not a modified version of the uniform that is given to boys!"

Utena blinked, then took out a small handbook, sifting through the pages quite rapidly. "Actually, I don't see a rule in here that says a girl can't wear a boy's uniform," she countered after a thorough look; the old hag's look was quite scandalous indeed. "Since we don't seem to have a problem here, I'll just be on my way." With that, Utena put away her handbook, and proceeded past the teacher, quite aware of the dangerous glare underneath the old hag's sunglasses.

"She must make it her mission in life to undermine my authority," the teacher muttered to herself.

Ohtori Academy was situated on the outskirts of a rather large city, but in reality, the city itself belonged to the Ohtori Group, who also happened to operate the Academy. One of the school architecture's unique features was that almost all of the structures were colored a pure white, sometimes gilded with either gold or silver. The other… was the rose motif. You couldn't walk a single step without being assailed by all of the rose imagery surrounding you. At first, it was disorienting, and you would think that you'd never get used to it. But then, you'd learn to tune out all of that, and it became just another school campus.

The rose motif was even present in the gym and basketball court, the latter of which was where Utena was currently dribbling circles around the boys, much to the female crowd's admiration. It was as if she was a prince herself. The outcome of the match was, as usual, a total shut-out for the boys.

'Honestly, those boys,' Utena thought to herself as she was putting her blazer back on while walking down the hallway. Once again, the captain of the basketball team had asked her to join the team, and she had declined; after all, she was a girl, and she didn't like being drenched in male sweat. In fact, the only reason Utena dressed like a boy in the first place was so that she could become a prince, but she didn't want to sacrifice what femininity she already had along the way.

It was just as she was freeing her hair from its temporary prison that she noticed something in the courtyard to her right: it was a greenhouse, and contained within were roses of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Inside was a dark-skinned female student that Utena had yet to see. Judging from the mark on her forehead, she was most likely of Indian descent, and she had short, wavy purple hair that flowed outward to either side. A pair of glasses on her face would tell anyone that she was suffering from vision problems, and with the watering can in her hands, one would safely assume that she was responsible for the various roses in the greenhouse.

Subconsciously, Utena looked at the ring on her left hand, the scent of roses filling the air. "Why is it that roses always remind me of the past?" she muttered to herself as she pulled a deck of cards out of the right pocket of her uniform. While the ring itself seemed connected to the imagery around campus, the deck, at first glance, did not. The backs of the cards featured some sort of brown substance spiraling into a dark abyss. Anyone would recognize these distinctive backs as belonging to the wildly popular Duel Monsters trading card game.

The cards in her deck, with a few exceptions, were unique in that she had never seen them on sale or in booster packs. She had never seen the cards in play by any other player, or Duelist, in any type of play setting. She supposed that these were one-of-a-kind, meaning that she was the only one that had these cards in the whole wide world.

She was left gazing at her deck for quite some time before echoing footsteps caught her attention.

'What's this?' Utena wondered as she looked up; the girl with purple hair had come out of the greenhouse, and was standing next to a man with olive-green hair. 'If they're having a lover's spat, they should go and do that in private-' It was then that the man with green hair slapped the woman full-on in the face. 'Okay, now that's going too far!' she mentally cried, preparing to jump down there to give the man a piece of her mind. Before she could do so (and before the man could slap the purple-haired woman again), he was stopped by another boy who looked to be the same age as he. Like Green-hair, the new arrival wore a white blazer with golden-yellow trim. However, whereas Mr. Green wore green dress pants, the other's was a brilliant shade of crimson, matching his own long hair.

'Whew!' Utena inwardly sighed. 'Disaster averted, it looks-'

"UTENA!" a very peppy voice yelled from directly behind; almost at once, she was tightly embraced by a certain brown-haired girl who also happened to be her best friend.

"Wakaba! Let go of me!" the pinkette demanded.

"Consider this punishment for ditching me at the school entrance this morning!" Wakaba Shinohara chided. It was then that the brunette saw the three people below her. "I wonder what Saionji-sempai is doing here… though I have a pretty good guess, considering Himemiya is here, too."

"What are you talking about, Wakaba?" Utena questioned.

"What?" Wakaba almost practically shouted. "You mean you don't know about them?"

Utena let out a sigh. "How could I? I've never seen them before."

"Well, that's Kyoichi Saionji, the Vice President of the Student Council," Wakaba exposited, pointing out the man with green hair.

"Then… the one with the red hair must be Touga Kiryuu, the President," Utena realized, looking at said individual. "Which leaves… the girl with the purple hair. Himemiya, you said her name was?"

"Yup, that's Anthy Himemiya," Wakaba confirmed. "She just kind of keeps to herself. I think she takes care of the school's roses as a sort of hobby. I really can't avoid her, considering that she's been placed in one of my classes this term."

"I see," the pinkette mused as Kiryuu walked off the scene. "Is there anything going on between those two? Himemiya and Saionji, I mean."

"WHAT!-?" the brunette practically screamed. "There's no way Saionji-sempai is going out with Himemiya! She just happens to be on the Student Council as well, and that's that!"

"I didn't say anything about the two of them dating…" Utena snarked, her narrowed eyes sliding to get a better look at her friend's face. Wakaba brilliantly flushed in silence. "Do I detect a hint of jealousy there…?"

If it was possible, Wakaba's faced glowed an even brighter shade of red. She then gripped Utena even tighter than before. "You're just imagining things, Utena! You know that you're my one and only love!"

"Yeah, well, you're heavy! Get off already!"

Later, during lunch break, an emergency meeting was being held in the Student Council's club room, a balcony overseeing much of the surrounding view that lay outside the school's boundaries.

"Such prompt summonings, my friends," Saionji greeted as he walked in with Himemiya. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"To be blunt," the blue-haired Miki Kaoru piped up, writing intensely on a page in his green handbook, "we're concerned about your treatment of the Rose Bride."

"After all," Juri Arisugawa chipped in, her orange hair magnificently trailing down her back, "we were all chosen to be on this council, and even we have rules to follow."

"I fear that your new-found power may be getting to you, my friend," Touga concluded. "Champion of the duel you may be, it does not permit you to treat the Rose Bride as you please."

"Not a chance…" Miki whispered, halting his writing mid-word.

"Truly, how chauvinistic of you," Juri chided.

"Abusing the Rose Bride is heavily frowned upon, Saionji," Touga warned. "Remember, we of the Student Council act with the grace of End of the World. If they learn of your… actions… they may not be as forgiving as we."

"I hardly see why any of this concerns you," Saionji growled, pulling Himemiya closer to him. Their bodies were very nearly touching in certain intimate areas. "The two of us are merely a couple of flighty love-birds, nothing more nor less. Meddlers like yourselves shouldn't pry into such private business."

Miki hit the STOP button on the stopwatch he carried with him at all times as Himemiya let out a heavy sigh. "Love-birds? Do you honestly expect me to believe that?" the former asked in disbelief.

"It's true," Himemiya spat out, her eyes averted from the rest of the council. "I shall do whatever Master Kyoichi wishes."

"See that? Nothing to be worried about," the green-haired vice president smugly supported. The two of them then made to leave the balcony before they stopped, Saionji giving the others a glance to the side. "And one more thing: if you're so concerned for the Rose Bride's well-being, then you are free to duel me for her any time you wish, as stipulated by the rules of the Rose Seal. My Warriors shall triumph over any pathetic strategies you may devise."

"Just remember, Kyoichi," Touga added as a final word of warning. "A new duelist shall be joining the games soon, so you'd best be on your guard."

"Then perhaps I shall look forward to this mystery competitor, when, or if, they seek me out." And with that, Saionji and Himemiya left the balcony together.

"So, who gave you that ring, Utena?" Wakaba asked of her while the two lay on one of the school's spacious lawns after classes had ended for the day.

Utena blinked, coming out of her self-induced stupor. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, look at it. That crest looks a lot like our school's symbol, doesn't it?"

"I can't say I'm all that surprised," Utena responded. "After all, it's positively crawling over the school… our symbol, that is."

"Right!" the brunette chirped. "And that's why I wanna know who gave you that ring."

"A handsome prince…" the pinkette answered. Wakaba made no other noise, so Utena decided to continue. "He was very nice. When he gave it to me, he told me that it would lead me to him one day."

It was then that his words echoed in her mind: "Little one, you who bears up in such deep sorrow, never lose that strength or nobility, even when you are grown." She then remembered that the ring wasn't the only thing she had received from him. Digging back into her pocket, she pulled out her deck. "This ring and deck will lead you to me one day," the voice echoed once more.

"Oh, wow!" Wakaba interrupted, her wide eyes gazing at the deck. "I didn't know you played Duel Monsters!"

"I don't really get much opportunities to play the game," Utena admitted.

"Man, I really want to get my own deck someday. It sounds like fun!" said Wakaba. "So, where'd you get your deck?"

"Same guy," Utena casually threw out.

"Your prince also gave you a deck?" Wakaba probed.

"Yup," Utena sighed, closing her eyes. "But it was so long ago… I was only a little girl back then, so there's a lot I still can't remember. The only things I can clearly recall are that the prince wore white clothing, and that he gave me the ring and deck. Beyond that…"

"So, a white prince came along one day and saw a princess… perhaps in distress?" Wakaba pondered. Utena opened her eyes, serving her friend an odd glare. "But then again, I guess I can see where you're coming from. When I was a little girl, my mom told me that I was a princess from the far-away Onion Kingdom."

"You think that maybe it's because of your huge forehead?" Utena snarked back.

As the two headed back into one of the school's open-air hallways, they saw a mass of green congregating near one of the message boards.

"What's up?" Wakaba wondered as two more boys joined the group. Through a gap, they saw that a pink envelope and fancy paper with pink trimmings had been posted on the board. The brunette instantly grew stiff and silent.

"What is that?" Utena asked one of the boys.

"Ah, somebody tacked some sort of love letter up there," a voice from the right answered.

'A… love letter…?' Utena inwardly questioned, not noticing that Wakaba had gotten pale, as though she was deathly afraid of something.

"Alright, let's see here," a bespectacled student announced as he leaned in closer to read the contents of the letter. "'…and so I dance with you in my dreams, dear Saionji. You smile at me gently; I guess I'm just a fool.' My lord…!"

"Who's more foolish, the fool or the one who follows him!-?" the pinkette demanded, shoving her way through the crowd. When she got there, she instantly tore the letter off the board. "Participating in something like this is absolutely inappropriate, the lowest of the low!" she continued, tearing the envelope off the wall as well, all while Wakaba silently looked on.

"What's the matter with you? It was put up there, so it was meant to be read!" the reader practically yelled into her ear.

"A real man would do the right thing… by taking it down and respecting the author's privacy without reading it!" Utena fired back. It was then, however, that she finally noticed how silent Wakaba was being. With tears swimming in her eyes, she swiftly ran back down the hallway.

"Wait! Wakaba!" Utena called out, chasing after her.

She caught up to her at a tree located within one of the school's many courtyards, crying out her heartbreak.

"You wrote this… right, Wakaba?" Utena gently queried.

Not bothering to turn around to face her friend, Wakaba merely gave a small nod. At once, Utena realized that Saionji, the recipient of the letter, was the one responsible for not only humiliating her friend, but also breaking her heart as well. 'Don't worry, Wakaba,' Utena silently swore. 'He'll get his. Saionji will pay for all of this… and I'll be the one to make him pay.'

After comforting her friend, Utena immediately headed for the high school's kendo dojo to confront Saionji, who, in addition to being the vice president of the Student Council, was also the captain of the kendo team. Unfortunately, dealing with him was proving trickier than first thought.

"I don't really know… you must understand, I throw a lot of love letters away," he smugly claimed. "Anyone could have found it and pinned it up there."

"Then why toss it in a place where someone could easily get to it?" the pinkette irately demanded.

"They're my letters," Saionji fired back. "Ergo, I can do whatever I want with them."

A palpable silence hung in the air, and Utena certainly wasn't swallowing his explanation. It was Saionji who broke the silence.

"Ah, yes, now I remember," he drawled. "I thought it would be nice if I lightened the atmosphere over there using that… incredibly sweet and heartfelt letter. I'm sure they got a chuckle or two out of it." He then continued practicing, as if the conversation had finished. He swiftly stopped when he saw that the girl hadn't budged. "Is there anything else you wanted from me today?" he asked her.

"As a matter of fact… there is," she responded, drawing a practice blade from the nearby rack. "A duel."

"What?" Saionji growled.

"You're the captain of the kendo team, right?" Utena demanded, pointing the tip of her blade at him. "Tonight, after club activities wrap up. I'll duel you to preserve my friend's honor."

A slight chuckle escaped Saionji's lips. "Just who do you think you…" he trailed off. "Ah. Now I see. You must be the new duelist we've been expecting."

"What are you talking about?" she demanded.

"You do have a deck, don't you?" he queried, ignoring her demand entirely.

'A deck…? Wait, could he be talking about…?' "Playing a kids' game with you was not what I had in mind," Utena growled.

"It's not what I imagined things would be like, either, but them's the breaks," the vice principal responded. "Meet me in the forest arena at sunset tonight, and you'll get your duel."

"You mean… the forest no one's allowed into?" Utena balked.

"Are you scared?" Saionji snidely demanded. Utena's eyes narrowed in response. "I'll take that as a no," he assumed. "One last piece of advice before you leave: if you don't already have a Duel Disk, then borrow one from a friend or… well, you could always try your luck with the local stores." He then returned back to his katas, and spoke no more. Utena put her kendo sword back into the rack, and left the dojo.

It was evening practice time once more for the school orchestra and choir, whose club room was the spacious amphitheater sitting quite close to the forest Utena was just about to enter. The conductor (a dark-skinned, purple-haired man) raised his baton to lead into the usual favorite piece.

"Excuse me? Sir?" one of the members raised their hand. The conductor's head turned to see the girl, pasty-skinned and blue-haired that she was.

"Yes? What is it, Ms. Yuugyo?" he asked of her in that seductive voice of his, a smile playing on his lips.

"I…" Yuugyo stuttered, blushing madly. "I was… practicing that piece you gave me the other day… and I was wondering… if you wouldn't mind, then I can…"

She trailed off, leaving the conductor to stroke his chin in thought. When he removed his hand, his smile deepened. "Why not? Personally speaking, I was getting a little bored of the usual," he accepted. "Ladies and gentlemen of the orchestra, please turn to page 105. We'll be performing the piece that begins on that page for tonight's practice. Ms. Sakana Yuugyo, if you would please step forward."

Sakana flashed a nervous smile and nodded, rushing and stumbling forward. She took a deep breath.

With an obsolete duel disk loaned to her by a classmate latched onto her right arm, Utena stopped in front of a gigantic stone sculpture. The gateway beneath the sculpture was sealed, its blue and white spiral pattern almost seeming to be mocking her. As it stood, there was no way she could get into the forest proper, and the walls on either side of the sculpture had no footholds of any kind. They were also too tall to jump over, so that was out of the question.

It was then that she noticed an odd white handle placed in the very center of the spiral. She walked up to it to get a better look at it. By its own design, it seemed to be more like a lever or switch than a handle proper, the grip of said lever neatly blocking the small reflective surface that sat behind it. Grabbing the grip with her left hand, she gave the lever a good tug. At first, nothing happened.

"Figures I need a key to get through here," Utena grumbled, still holding the handle. It was then that she heard a strange rippling effect. As she looked down at the handle, her eyes widened as the strange structure regurgitated a small droplet of water. The drop, defying all known laws of physics, floated to the ring she wore on her hand, which was currently the one grasping the handle. As soon as it made contact with the engraved rose, the drop burst. Utena yanked her hand back, startled by the drop's cold touch.

Mau yuki wa hoshi no kakera…

After an audible squeak, the hidden sluices let loose torrents of water into the sparkling pool surrounding the podium Utena was currently standing upon. In very little time, the girl's visibility was nearly shot, as the area was filled with a heavy mist.

tentai ni te wo nobashite

All Utena could see was the silhouettes moving from all around her; the sound of the marble chirping was near-deafening.

Ikikau negai kanjiteiru ne

As Utena saw, the stone that barred her entry was slowly lifted up, and heavy iron gates flew to either side. The "beak" of the bird lifted up as its "wings" came up to its sides.

Subete wa ima monokuroomu no naka

As the mist lifted, Utena gasped as the shape revealed itself to be a massive rose made out of marble. "Talk about impressive engineering. I'm sure Kaibacorp would like to know how it's done," she snarked to herself before walking through the gate. As she stepped forward, a large spiraling staircase revealed itself to her. Without so much as a look behind her, she began her ascent, her eyes fixed ever forward.

Sotto koboreta shiroi iki tsutaetakatta kotoba no katachi
Kitto nukumori no bun dake sora wa honnori akaruku natta

Kanashimi ni nureta tsubasa kasanariau junpaku e
Watashi atta mirai e no yasashii yuuki

Daremo shiranai sekai no yoake wo matteiru kodou
Hikari wo tsurete tabidatsu watashi ni hajimaru ashita
Mau yuki wa hoshi no kakera tentai ni te wo nobashite
Ikikau negai shinjiteiru yo
Subete wa ima monokuroomu no naka

As Utena was currently making her way up via the spiral staircase, Saionji comfortably rode the elevator up with Himemiya, the latter of whom was garbed in an elegant red dress with golden tiara. As a result, she looked more like the stereotypical fairy-tale princess than ever before. It was, by all accounts, a quick ride.

Kogoeta kioku wo tokasu te ni ireta ai to tomo ni
Furimukazu ni kanjiaou sora no kanata

The two stepped out of the elevator, the doors closing behind them. Without so much as a single glance from either of them, the car sunk back down into the floor of the arena. Saionji swiftly made his way to the side of the arena opposite that of the entry gate. All he had to do at this time was wait for the foolish little girl to show up.

Sorezore ga tadoru kidou tatoe mou aenakutemo
Hikari ga miseru ginga no dokoka de tsunagatteiru ne

As Utena was nearing the top, she was overcome with a feeling of foreboding. Come what may, she felt that as soon as she got up to where Saionji was surely waiting for her, then there would be no going back.

Chiru hoshi wa suna no you ni mata mune wo amaku naderu
Shizuka ni nemuru yume no zanzou

As she stepped through the gate, Utena could only look up and gape at the sight she was seeing. "What is this…?" she whispered, her eyes transfixed…

Subete wa mada monokuroomu no naka

It was a castle, hovering upside-down above the arena floor several hundred feet above them, slowly spinning in a mesmerizing fashion.

"It's only natural to be mystified," Saionji called out; Utena reluctantly re-directed her eyes towards his voice. "After all, this must be the first time that you've seen the castle."

"What the hell is that thing?" Utena immediately demanded. "I couldn't see it at all outside the forest!"

"Just think of it as a mirage of sorts," the vice president replied. "Or a trick of the light, whichever you prefer."

"A… mirage?" Utena repeated dumbly.

"Forget about it for now," Saionji snapped. "We have more important matters at hand than figuring out how a castle like that can exist. For instance, how can you, one who is not a member of the Student Council, bear the Rose Seal?"

"Rose Seal…?" Utena again repeated.

"These," Saionji replied simply, elegantly displaying a ring on his hand; it looked eerily similar to Utena's own rose ring.

"So that's what you're talking about," the pinkette mused. "Well, if you beat me, maybe I'll tell you."

"So brash," Saionji shook his head. "Anthy, explain the rules for us. It's been so long since I've had a proper duel, after all."

"As you wish, Master Kyoichi," Utena heard from her left. She turned around and privately marveled at Himemiya's new ensemble. "This shall be a one-duel match. Both players' Life Points will start at 4000. Should your Life Points be reduced to 0, then you lose. You may use any card you desire, so long as it is not a card that is prohibited by a pre-determined list." Himemiya then turned to Saionji. "Is this acceptable, Master?"

"Simply exquisite," Saionji accepted, bowing.

"Then let's get this show on the road!" Utena cried out, inserting her deck into her Duel Disk. With a few audible creaks, her disk activated in a flash of holographic light. It was then, however, that Utena noticed something a little off. "Wait a minute! Where's your disk?" she demanded, pointing at Saionji.

"Heh… all good things come in time…" he merely whispered.

Himemiya approached him, drawing closer into what could be considered his personal space. "Before we continue, allow me to wish you luck, Miss Tenjou," she greeted.

Saionji looked extremely displeased, and thus slapped her with enough force to send her sprawling to the ground. "I'm deeply disappointed in you, Anthy," he lectured. "You are the Rose Bride. Ergo, you belong to me! And I do not need you wishing my adversaries luck!"

Utena, not bothering to dignify Saionji's outburst with a remark, instead directed her next question to the girl on the floor, "Why do you put up with stuff like that!-?"

"Because Master Kyoichi is the current Champion of the Duel," Himemiya miserably explained. "As such, I must do as he says."

"Anthy. It is time," Saionji ordered as Himemiya lifted herself off the floor.

She immediately brought her hands up near her chest. "Rose of the noble castle…" she intoned, creating and manipulating a ball of light. As it shined, she made it grow, leaning back as she did so. "Power of Dios that sleeps within, heed your master and come forth!" Himemiya called out. Saionji swiftly caught her in his left arm, then plunged his right into the light. As he withdrew it, Utena saw that something had clamped onto it. The very middle of the contraption was adorned by a fanciful red rose, the very bud replaced by a sort of numerical display. All around it was a green oval gilded with gold. It had two slots; one was large enough to fit a deck of cards, facing outwards to his hand, while the other opened to the left.

'No way!' Utena mentally cried. 'She can conjure a Duel Disk out of thin air!-?'

"Grant me the power…" he called, continuing to pull the disk out of the light. When it was completely removed from the orb, he pushed Anthy back up, slotting his deck into the appropriate slot as he lifted the device up into the air. "… to bring the world Revolution!" Saionji finished, the Monster and Spell/Trap slots unfurling from the central rose, each section locking into place. The disk activated as Himemiya returned to what seemed to be her proper place on the sidelines.

Their eyes narrowed as their hands reached for their decks…

"LET'S DUEL!" both duelists shouted, each drawing five cards. The bell-towers surrounding the arena swiftly sounded, signaling the start of the duel.

Utena: 4000 LP

Saionji: 4000 LP

"The challenger makes the first move, as is the rule here in this arena," Saionji smirked.

"Gee, thanks," Utena expressionlessly accepted, drawing a card from her deck. "I'll start by placing one card face-down, then I'll summon a monster in Defense mode." After placing the physical cards into the appropriate slots in her Duel Disk, two holographic card-back representations, one horizontal, the other vertical, appeared on Utena's side of the field. "Let's see what you've got, Saionji!"

"Very well," he accepted, drawing a card from his deck. "I think I'll begin by summoning the Marauding Captain to the field in Attack mode!" Saionji slapped a card down on his unique disk, summoning his monster with a flash of holographic light.

Marauding Captain: ATK 1200/DEF 400/EARTH/LV 3/Warrior-Type/Effect

"Don't let his stats deceive you; he has quite a few things in reserve that make him worth all the fuss. Next, I think I'll summon Command Knight, also in Attack mode!" After slamming down another card on his disk, a female knight appeared in a burst of flames.

Command Knight: ATK 1200/DEF 1900/FIRE/LV 4/Warrior-Type/Effect

"Hang on!" Utena shouted out. "You can't summon twice in a single turn!"

"Are you sure you're a duelist?" Saionji sneered. "If you were, you'd know that my Marauding Captain allows me to special summon one level 4 or lower monster so long as he is normal summoned correctly."

It was then that both Command Knight and Marauding Captain glowed with a faint red aura.

"Ah yes, before I forget, allow me to explain my Knight's special ability. You see, as long as she remains face up on the field, all of my Warriors gain 400 additional attack points."

Marauding Captain: ATK 1200 – 1600

Command Knight: ATK 1200 – 1600

"And that's why Saionji is the current champion," Touga remarked as he watched the duel through a pair of spectator's binoculars, he and Juri currently located within one of the nearby overseeing towers. "Even I would be intimidated by an opening move like that one."

"Are you quite sure of that, Touga?" Juri asked of him. "In my opinion, you're the best duelist out of all of us."

"I'm not so arrogant as to claim that title for myself," Touga responded before turning back to the duel.

"Now then!" Saionji commanded. "Marauding Captain, destroy her face-down monster!" At once, the Marauding Captain dashed forward, stabbing his blade into the card on Utena's side of the field. Briefly, an image of a helmeted warrior, kneeling as it held a diamond-shaped shield appeared before shattering.

"Next, my Command Knight will attack your life points directly!" As the Marauding Captain leapt back to Saionji's side of the field, the Command Knight charged, her sword aimed for Utena's jugular.

"Not so fast!" Utena shouted. "You've just activated my trap card! A Hero Emerges!" In an instant, the face-down card flipped up to reveal an image of a man punching, surrounded by waves of energy. "Here's how it works: if you attempt to attack me, then I can force you to select one card in my hand. If it's a Spell or Trap, then I have to discard it. If it's a monster, on the other hand, then I get to summon it. So, what's it going to be?"

"Hmm…" Saionji ran his fingers through his hair. "I think I'll choose the card to my far left."

Utena looked at the card, then smiled slightly. "I see…" She then slapped the card down on the disk. "You've just allowed me to summon my Queen's Knight in Defense mode!" In a flash of light, a woman in elaborate red armor appeared kneeling on her card, her shield held in front of her in a gesture of defense.

Queen's Knight: ATK 1500/DEF 1600/LIGHT/LV 4/Warrior-Type/Normal

"A stroke of luck," Saionji growled, canceling his Knight's attack. "I think I'll finish up by placing one card face-down on the field." A face-down card then appeared to his immediate left before gesturing to Utena. She wordlessly drew her next card.

"I think I'll even the odds by summoning my King's Knight in Attack mode!" she announced, summoning a blonde-bearded man with golden crown and armor, his purple cape fluttering regally in the wind.

King's Knight: ATK 1600/DEF 1400/LIGHT/LV 4/Warrior-Type/Effect

"And this is when his special ability kicks in," Utena continued. "If I have Queen's Knight in play when I summon him, then I can also summon Jack's Knight. Guess you're not the only one who can special summon."

In another flash of light, a blonde-haired knight in blue appeared, landing between the other two knights.

Jack's Knight: ATK 1900/DEF 1000/LIGHT/LV 5/Warrior-Type/Normal

"Jack's Knight! Destroy the Marauding Captain!" Utena ordered. In a flash, the knight dashed towards the blonde mercenary knight. With a fierce roar, Jack's Knight delivered a jagged diagonal slash, shattering the Marauding Captain. Saionji shielded his eyes from his monster's demise.

Saionji: 3700 LP

It was here that Utena bit her lip. 'I could just sacrifice my King's Knight to destroy his Command Knight… but with my Queen's Knight in Defense mode, that wouldn't really be the best move,' she strategized. 'That, and I need all three of them on the field long enough to bring out one of my heavy hitters…' "I'll wrap this up by placing one card face-down," she announced aloud, another card appearing on the field.

"Which brings things back to me," Saionji muttered as he drew from his deck. 'This isn't the card I need…' he mused, looking at it. 'Even so, I can cause some damage with this next monster.' "I'll summon Ninja Grandmaster Sasuke in Attack mode!" he called out, calling the warrior forth. It was dressed mostly in silver with a green overcoat, and wielded a pair of kunai in either hand. His face could not be seen, but the eye-holes of his mask showed his pupils were jet-black, and purple hair flowed out from the top in a long, regal pony-tail.

Ninja Grandmaster Sasuke: ATK 1800/DEF 1000/LIGHT/LV 4/Warrior-Type/Effect

All too soon, Saionji's monster glowed with that same faint aura that once enveloped his Marauding Captain, which made sense in Utena's mind, seeing as the Command Knight was still on the field.

Ninja Grandmaster Sasuke: ATK 1800 – 2200

"And thanks to the fact that I have another Warrior-type monster in play, my Command Knight can't be attacked without going through him first!" Saionji revealed.

'Crap!' Utena panicked. 'Right now, that ninja's stronger than my Jack's Knight!'

"Sasuke! Wipe out her King's Knight!" the emerald Duelist commanded; as though controlled by strings, the ninja dashed forward with inhuman speed.

"Nice try! You've just activated my trap! Negate Attack!" Utena announced, her card flipping up.

"I think not," Saionji countered, his own face down card flipping up. "Royal Decree! Thanks to this card, all other traps are negated as long as it stays on the field!"

'Which means Negate Attack won't work!' the pinkette shockingly realized, as Sasuke continued unhindered, sticking the tip of his kunai into King's Knight's chest, the latter exploding into holographic splinters.

Utena: 3400 LP

"I think that's enough punishment for one turn, so I'll hand things over to you," Saionji finished, skipping his second main phase entirely.

'That's odd,' Utena noticed, drawing her next card. 'Why didn't he play another card, like a trap? …oh yeah, Royal Decree. It affects him just as much as me.' She then looked at the card she drew. 'Not exactly what I was hoping for, but there's no doubt that it's better in this situation.' "I summon the Knight of Seven in Attack mode!" Utena cried out, her new monster emerging in a flash of multicolored light.

The warrior looked similar to Queen's Knight and Jack's Knight, except that its face was concealed in an all-encompassing helm. His armor was silver with black highlights, and there were seven spade emblems arranged in a cluster on the armor of his chest. A black cloth jutted out from the waist, covering his backside but leaving the front of his legs exposed.

Knight of Seven: ATK 1500/DEF 1000/LIGHT/LV 4/Warrior-Type/Effect

'Knight of Seven?' Saionji pondered as his eyes narrowed. 'I've never even heard of that card before. What is she playing at…?'

"Well, isn't this interesting?" Touga muttered as he watched the duel, enraptured.

"I've heard of the Queen/King/Jack's Knight trio, but I've never heard of any other cards besides those three," Juri commented.

"I've actually heard of three other cards that go along with them," the redhead responded. "But as far as I can recall, none of those three were named anything like, 'Knight of Seven'."

"Then… could it be a counterfeit card?" the orangette asked.

"Not possible," Touga countered. "Her duel disk obviously recognized that card. If said card were, in fact, counterfeit, then an error message would have popped up, and no monster would have materialized." Juri fell silent at that. 'Ms. Utena Tenjou…' Touga ruminated. ' …just how did you manage to get cards like that?'

"Next time," Saionji huffed, "try summoning a monster that has more attack points than my ninja."

"What was that?" Utena growled.

"As of right now, Sasuke currently has 2200 attack points. That's much higher than your pathetic excuse for a knight's 1500."

Utena smirked. "That's what special abilities are for." Her Knight then glowed with a golden light. "First, I'll flip a coin," she elaborated, taking a coin with an Egyptian eye emblazoned on the heads side and a rose symbol as the tails. "If I call it wrong, then my monster is destroyed. If I call it right, on the other hand… well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it." She then flipped the coin into the air with a call of, "Heads!" As it came back down, she caught in her free hand and slapped it onto the back of her card-holding hand. Utena smirked again. "Well, whaddya know? It's heads, alright!"

With that proclamation, the aura surrounding the Knight of Seven changed colors to green. "Because I called that flip right, I get to destroy one monster whose current attack strength is greater than or equal to my Knight of Seven's original attack score!" she announced.

Saionji paled. 'This is not good!' he panicked. 'Right now, both of my monsters are stronger than her knight!'

"Knight of Seven, cut that ninja down to size!" Utena ordered; the knight growled menacingly, heaving a jagged sword above his head, which then emitted a beam of light skyward. With a mighty roar, the Knight of Seven swung downwards, and the beam of light angled down with it, bisecting Sasuke down the middle. The Ninja Grandmaster faded away, which left Saionji's Command Knight vulnerable. With a single gesture, Jack's Knight stabbed Saionji's last remaining monster in the stomach, whereupon she shattered into many holographic fragments.

Saionji: 3400 LP

"All this carnage, and my Knight of Seven hasn't even attacked yet!" Utena boasted. "Well, that'll soon change, courtesy of a direct attack!" The Knight of Seven, wielding his jagged sword once again, slashed through Saionji's mid-section, causing him to cry out in apparent pain.

Saionji: 1900 LP

"Damn you…" he muttered. "…I won't lose Anthy to you!"

"What is your problem?" Utena irately demanded as her Knight of Seven returned to her side of the field. "I'm not out to take your fiancee away from you!"

"You don't get it… do you…?" Saionji growled. "Anthy is the Rose Bride. Whosoever has control of her shall lead the world to Revolution."

"You mean… you two aren't romantically related?" the pinkette once again demanded.

"No, I do love her," Saionji denied, drawing a card from his deck. "The whole part about Revolution is just a small bonus to me." He then glanced at the card in his hand. 'It's a gamble, for sure,' he pondered. 'Surrender, however… is not an option!' "I activate Pot of Greed!" the emerald duelist shouted, slotting the card into his disk. As it's holographic representation flashed, Saionji drew two extra cards from his deck. His eyes widened when he saw what it was that he had drawn. 'I can't believe my luck!' he gleefully thought. 'These were the cards I needed! Now I'll show that silly girl her place!' "Pay attention, now," he taunted aloud, "because things are about to get complicated. Step One: I summon Gearfried the Iron Knight to the field in attack mode!" In what was surely a stunning display of holographic technology, a warrior clad in an all-encompassing black armor jumped off from the top of one of the bell towers, landing squarely in the middle of the arena. He gracefully stood up, the lights from the castle above glistening off the jet-black iron.

Gearfried the Iron Knight: ATK 1800/DEF 1600/EARTH/LV 4/Warrior-Type/Effect

"Now, before I continue, I'd like for you to hear a story… a legend, so to speak," Saionji drawled on.

"Give me a break," Utena deadpanned in response. "I'm not expecting Shakespeare or anything like that."

"A long time ago, in a land far from here," he begun, ignoring the girl's response entirely, "there lived a great swordsman. So skilled was he at his craft, that it was said the very world shook whenever he lifted his blade. That power of his eventually brought ruin to the people he protected, however. One day, he fell into the throes of madness, and his out-of-control power destroyed the village he lived in. No one but he survived that cataclysm. When he regained his sanity, he wept at the sight of his demolished home. Partly to atone for his sin, and partly to prevent it from happening again, he constructed a special suit of armor, one which, when sealed around his body, would greatly limit his strength. From that day forward, he became known as Gearfried the Iron Knight."

Utena's eyes widened as she realized what Saionji was up to. 'No way… he has to be bluffing…!'

"…Which brings me to Step Two!" he roared, slotting his next card in a Spell/Trap slot with great ferocity. "I activate the spell card Release Restraint!" The card appeared, depicting the Iron Knight glowing with a lavender hue… and a bare-chested man with manacles contained within an orb of the same aura. "This card allows me to sacrifice the Iron Knight to summon a more powerful monster. Can you guess who it is?"

'He wasn't bluffing!' she flinched.

"That's right…" Saionji whispered, as the Iron Knight's armor glowed along the seams. A sudden flash of light forced Utena to shield her eyes. When the light faded, the bare-chested warrior stood in the Iron Knight's place, his long black hair fluttering in the breeze. "Gearfried the Swordmaster!" he called out.

Gearfried the Swordmaster: ATK 2600/DEF 2200/LIGHT/LV 7/Warrior-Type/Effect

'If Saionji uses that thing's special ability, then I can kiss this duel goodbye!' Utena inwardly panicked.

"Gearfried, destroy that Knight of Seven!" Saionji ordered. As soon as the sword magically appeared in his hands, he swung it downwards, a wave of thin white energy racing towards the silver-and-black knight. As soon as it passed through his body, the Knight of Seven grew stiff. Then, from a portion of his left shoulder to the mid-point of his right hip, the upper half of his body slid down diagonally. It burst into virtual pixels, followed closely by the other half.

Utena: 2300 LP

"I'm done. Make your move," he demanded of her.

'That was… odd…' Utena noted as she drew her card. 'Why didn't he use Gearfried's effect?'

"Oh dear," Touga sighed as he looked on through his binoculars. "It seems as though Saionji is letting his emotions get the better of him."

"How so?" Juri queried. "As far as I can tell, he made a sound move, and he summoned a monster that she'll have a hard time beating."

"He didn't use his monster's effect," he explained. "When given an Equip Spell Card, Gearfried the Swordmaster can destroy one monster on the other side of the field. What he should have done is use the effect to destroy her Queen's Knight, then used the regular attack to destroy either Jack's Knight or the Knight of Seven."

"Maybe he didn't have any equip cards to use," she theorized.

"Perhaps, but his deck is overloaded with equip cards, aside from the occasional trap or normal spell. No, I think it more likely that anger and frustration caused him to overlook Gearfried's effect," Touga countered.

"No wonder, considering that he still has less Life Points than she does at the moment," the orangette conceded.

"I call upon the Card of Demise!" the pinkette announced, sliding said spell card into its appropriate slot. Immediately, the representation of the card's face (which had a picture of a miniature guillotine literally cutting a deck in half, shocking a man in robes) shimmered into existence. "Now I get to draw five extra cards, but if I don't use my entire hand in five turns, then I have to discard them," she explained, drawing the requisite amount of cards. Utena took a look at her nearly-fresh hand, and narrowed her eyes, a game-ending power-play immediately coming to mind. "Next, I'll activate The Warrior Returning Alive!" she continued, a card with the image of a ragged and exhausted Marauding Captain cutching a large blade as support also shimmering into view. "You know the drill: I select one Warrior-type monster from my graveyard, and add it back to my hand." At that moment, King's Knight slid out of Utena's discard slot, upon which, she added the card back to her hand.

"Unless one of the cards in your hand can destroy my monster, you're just wasting your turn, I'm afraid," Saionji taunted.

"And now, I'll summon my Knight of Three in attack mode!" she pressed on, summoning her newest monster. From a flash of light emerged a small boy of a knight, with a small, cherubic face, around which was a red, heart-shaped helm. Along with his tiny sword and heart-shaped shield, he looked positively cute in his armor: a giant (in proportion to his body) heart made up his chest-plate, and the armor was colored mostly red, with a few white highlights.

Knight of Three: ATK 900/DEF 1000/LIGHT/LV 3/Warrior-Type/Tuner/Effect

Saionji let out a large, taunting laugh. "What can that little pipsqueak do? He's nothing before Gearfried!"

"I'm not done," Utena calmly interrupted, cutting Saionji's laugh short. "I still have one more card to play. And it's this one." With that, she flipped the card she plucked out of her hand around, revealing a Spell Card, and it's picture was that of two orange figures swirling around a bluish vortex.

"Polymerization!-?" he gasped.

"And I'll use it to mix together Queen's Knight and Jack's Knight, who are on the field, and King's Knight, who's in my hand!" she confirmed. As King's Knight materialized on the field, the three knights were instantly blended together with impressive graphical technology. From the multi-colored vortex, a new being stepped forth. Drabbed in black clothing with golden shoulder-plates and skirt armor, he wielded a large blade with a green diamond set into its hilt. His hair was ebony, and atop his head was a black-colored armored helm, the brim of which was gold, adorned by multi-colored, diamond-shaped jewels. "Awaken, Arcana Knight Joker!"

Arcana Knight Joker: ATK 3800/DEF 2500/LIGHT/LV 9/Warrior-Type/Fusion/Effect

'No…' Saionji paled. 'No! I had everything all set! There was no way she could win! How did she manage to draw the precise combo she needed!-? Just… how!-?'

Utena closed her eyes, once more recalling the words the prince had told her long ago.

"Little one, you who bears up in such deep sorrow, never lose that strength or nobility, even when you are grown."

"Joker," she commanded, "take out that Swordmaster!" Joker nodded once before taking a great leap into the air. "Wild Card Slash!" Utena shouted. With a great roar, Joker's blade burned with green flames. As he landed, the burning sword easily sliced through Gearfried's longsword, the latter vanishing in an emerald blaze. Saionji took an uneasy step back.

Saionji: 700 LP

"And now, for the rest of your Life Points," the pinkette concluded. "Remember the 'pipsqueak'? I think he wants a word with you…" Indeed, the little knight swiftly ran up to the emerald duelist, and gave him a solid punch to his gut. Saionji gracelessly fell to his knees.

Saionji: 0 LP

The bells instantly tolled, signalling the end of the duel as the holograms vanished from the arena.

Touga sighed as he put down his spectator's glasses. "Well, I hope he learns that wild emotions do not belong in elegant duels," he outwardly mused as he and Juri left the watch-tower's balcony. "Still, Miss Utena Tenjou has me intrigued. I can't wait to see what else she can come up with."

"Anthy… how could I…?" the Vice President of the Student Council muttered helplessly.

"It seems you've been given quite the defeat… Saionji-sempai," Himemiya serenely observed, eyes narrowed behind her glasses. Saionji's eyes widened in shock, and for good reason. No longer was he the Champion. No longer did he possess the Rose Bride.

No longer would Anthy relent to his desires.

And, at the moment, there was nothing he could do about that fact.

Utena silently walked out of the arena without so much as a backwards glance at the kneeling, punch-drunk man.

As she made her way off of the school grounds, Utena found that her thoughts were currently roiling with all of the strange occurrences of the evening, not the least of which was the topsy-turvy castle that hovered in the sky above. "Maybe I should just forget about all of this," she muttered to no one in particular before she directed her feet to the steps down. Before she could reach them however, Anthy Himemiya stepped out from one of the pillars surrounding the walkway. "What are you…?" Utena began.

"I've been waiting for you, Miss Utena," Himemiya greeted docilely. "From now until the end, I shall belong to you, for I am the Rose Bride."

For the longest time, Utena just stood there in silence.

Être continué…

Utena: A… a rematch in the arena tomorrow…? And… is the rumor about the Student Council killing those who resist them true?

Anthy: Miss Utena… are you sure you want to do this?

Utena: All I have to do is lose, right? Then I won't have to do this anymore!

Anthy: Of course… do as you please.

Utena: Next time, on Utena, Duelist of the Roses: Pour qui sourit la Rose.

Anthy: Everything shall be shrouded in a shade of monochrome…

A/N: Yet another little fanfic idea that I've had rattling around in my head for a while. I got sick of listening to Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku when I first watched this series, so I decided to replace it with the much more epic Monochrome from Star Driver. I also didn't really like the Shadow Girls, so they got the ax in favor of the orchestra, and eagle-eyed watchers of Utena will hopefully recognize who the conductor is. I hope you liked my original additions to the Poker Knights archetype, as there are more of them on the way. Finally, and this is a biggie for me, this is, perhaps, the longest chapter I have ever written for a fanfic, at around 20 pages in OpenOffice.