"One generation plants the trees; and another one gets the shade." - Chinese Proverb
Pah! I don't believe it!
My father is a liar. It doesn't even look like it did in the brochure. There's crap everywhere, old grey pines overgrowing out into the courtyard, and all the main building does is strongly resemble a patch of multicoloured fungus. Every story, every word, that he told me is a lie. Pride. Honour. Glory.
It's hard to fathom such cruelty.
Frick, there's kids everywhere. Swarming in like flies to a fresh pot of honey. All the guys have this supposedly 'macho' haircut that looks like they used a flame thrower to dry their hair. As for the girls, the vast majority have seemingly decided to ditch the skirts and go for belts this year – but looking down at my uniform, looks like I have too. Crap. Girls wear blue; guys wear blue, yellow and red. Most mingle among one another: checking out the competition, flirting, starting fights, promising duels.
Only some are like me, standing on the outside with glassy eyes. Observing. Perhaps we share the same state of shock. The same sensation of disappointment and anger. Maybe one day we'll be friends.
But not today. Today I'm phoning my parents to tell them that they suck, and that I'm considering filing for parental divorce. Though, it's hard to tell what's worse – the fact that they did lie to me, or the fact that I kind of believed everything they said.
Mentally, I just know that I will never be the same again.
Oh god. Sarah Woods just flew past me and tackled a huge clot of guys. Cards go flying everywhere. She looks the same as she ever did, even when she's flat out screaming: "Fat lard! I'll show you facking fat lard, you facking dickstick!"
SOS. Help. Reinforcements. Whatever, just get me out.
Time has passed.
Duel Academy is different in more ways than one. It changed with every passing generation, each time a new one coming to fill the old one in. Years have gone by since there was ever any talk of moving shadows, a blinding light or strange worlds vast and different to the one we know. Sometimes rumours still filter through the students, but they lack the same excitement that they had once carried. Now they are misty legends, just old camp stories to be shared around an open fire.
That first year, the year after the eclipse, the number of student applications rose to the multiple thousands. Duelists from all around the globe applied: Duel Academy was the only school that could offer the impossible. It could turn amateurs into professionals, a menial into a legend. And that was an opportunity no budding duelist could pass down.
But life in the Academy failed to play out as most had originally perceived. The competition was high, the assigned classwork was challenging, and the teachers were fair – only, there was no magic. No supernatural threats meant no adventures, or at least not the kind the new students were looking for. They wanted to fill the shoes of those who had passed before them; to be the next generation of heroes. This, however, was impossible. Years flashed past, and the number of applicants slowly dwindled down, so eventually everything was exactly as it had been before.
Recounts became stories. Stories became rumours. And rumours became legend.
Until so came the time when that all changed – eighteen years later. Eighteen years since the shadow riders and the light, and since Jaden Yuki sealed away the final evil. And after eighteen years, the courtyard of the prestigious Duel Academy is once again swelling with new students. The last of them file in from the docks, and there they wait to be sorted through to the main building.
"What do you think?" A scruffy-looking third-year comments to his companion. A wicked glint smiles in his eyes. "Good turn out this year?"
She barely moves, but suppresses a laugh – her smirk brings no new light to her darkened eyes. Looking down onto the fresh batch of students, she contemplates their potential. However, when she sees a short chubby-looking girl rugby tackle a large group of boys, her efforts prove far too conclusive: "This school is screwed."
The two sit cross-legged on the top balcony over looking the courtyard. From below, they can barely be seen, and they enjoy surveying the new students through the safety of a one-way mirror.
"Recognize anyone? I reckon there'd have to be another Henry down there at least," The boy, known to most as Deo, says this as he cranes his neck on an angle, trying to get a better look. His hair is red, the colour of wine and apples, and his smooth chocolate eyes gather sparks of light from the sun.
"No, not really." The girl sighs, and lets herself fall back. "They're all the same. They think that they're the next fucking generation of heroes, but they're going to turn out exactly like we did."
"Well, aren't you just a pretty little ray of sunshine?"
"It's true, Dee. It's fucking true."
"Alright," Deo says. He lies back to face the girl with her closed expression, "but remind me, how exactly did we turn out?"
Her eyes turn to see his, but slowly they flicker back towards the ceiling. It's cracked now. Age has ran it's withered, weary hands along the surface, and the coating is flaking off. Specks of white fall and glide through the air. They are so weak it takes them an eternity to find the ground. But when they do, the wind carries them away and they become particles of light. From white to light.
She sits up, stands, and turns her back away from the first-years. Their noise, their excitement, becomes blurred and forgotten.
"I don't want to be a duelist anymore." She says so bluntly.
There is an understanding between the two, though it is unspoken. He joins her on his feet, and takes one final look over her shoulder to the students below. And then they move away together, towards the stairs, and down into the belly of the Academy. Deo chatters away, but the girl cannot bring herself to reply. There is too much emotion there.
Deo wears red. She is in blue.
"New students, if you'll line up here," A way worn-looking woman, wearing a lemon coloured jacket and matching skirt, loudly instructs. "And keep it straight, please. Second-years – get out! I'm talking to you Nicolette Flay!"
At it's time of pecking popularity, Duel Academy had been forced to cater for more and more students. It was difficult to fit such masses into one classroom so that they could be addressed. The students used to sit together on the many layers of seating: there wasn't enough room on the stage. But nowadays, there always is.
"It's bigger than I expected. I always thought it would be this humble little thing. A quiet little brainy school, you know?" Excited babble is exchanged among the bubbling students. One is so animated that she leaps down the stairs three at a time. "But it's like, this is it, you know? Gee, this is really it!"
"You're a fagot, Sarah Woods."
"Screw you, Anton Lasenby."
"Yeah, I'm sure you'd like to," Lasenby calls back weakly.
"And this, this, is the beginning of our dueling journey, Jose."
She heaves her way through the crowd, and is the first to touch the stage. Sarah, Sarah Woods, that is. She's small and fat and ugly, but of all the young duelists there, she is the first to reach the stage.
Slowly, others pile on. They are guided into rows by the woman wearing yellow, and are promptly hushed when the screen in front of them flashes on. A robust man with a receding hairline appears before them.
"Haw, haw, haw." His laughter is the coarse droning of a lawnmower.
"Students, welcome to Duel Academy! I am the chancellor, Chancellor Van Drake. And it is my pleasure to welcome you to our school. Every year we see great potential in our new students, and here at the Academy, it is our pledge to develop that potential into valuable dueling skills..."
A dark boy, called Joseph Reid, nudges Sarah from behind. "Van Drake? He sounds like a bloody vampire."
"Bet he is," Sarah snorts backwards in a hushed tone, "He's already feeding off the other students, and we're his next victims."
"Shhhhhhut the fuck up, I can't hear." Someone hisses.
"...and you'll all know that Duel Academy has a long, proud history of dueling legends. Zane Truesdale? Aster Phoenix? I'm sure you've all heard of them. And of course, Jaden Yuki..."
"Hey, I've heard of him."
A murmur circulates the students.
"Yes, Mr. Yuki certainly has one of our favourite success stories." Van Drake chuckles harmoniously inside the screen, "Here at the Academy, we like to think of him as a modern day hero. A hero who could easily be any one of you..."
And on and on he goes.
While he does, the students look amongst themselves. In each other, they see brightly coloured uniforms, hair gel and sententious expressions. They see that some of them are plain, while others are quite enticing. They see dueling cards tucked away in their belts. They see duelists. But they do not see heroes.
Who is this 'Van Drake' guy, anyway?
He's a freaking creep, that's who he is. He stands in front of us and lies his heart out. How dare he talk about 'great' potential – and pride – when practically the whole school is falling apart! God knows how I'm going to live in this environment, let alone get a decent education. If my father knew...
...which of course he does, doesn't he?
Well, the inside of the school (and I hesitate to say this, because I haven't seen very much) isn't actually as bad as the outside. Oh yeah, it's still crap alright. Just not crap to the same extent.
My father mentioned something about Kaiba Corp. withdrawing it's funding from the school – probably because of the tight demand of the D-Wheel industry. But even so, you'd think they'd still have enough cash just hire a cleaning lady, or a gardener, or even a bloody physiologist for the poor students here.
Chancellor Van Drake is still going on... God, I can hear Woods from all the way over here. She's distracting me. I made sure to stay as far away from her as possible, just in case she recognized me. She's talking to some kid behind her, and the funny thing is she's actually trying to do it quietly. Talking to Sarah Woods quietly is like standing next to someone with a megaphone.
Anyway, I can't wait to get up to my room (quality Obelisk accommodation, at least). I need to lie down.
I hope they serve alcohol in the cafeteria.
"...and with that, I'll leave you to get settled into your dorms. If you have any issues, feel free to talk to the head of your dorm or the older students in your dorm. I'm sure they'd be glad to help."
The screen shuts off, and Van Drake's transparent look of excitement vanishes. Students rub their eyes, blink away the boredom and gradually settle back into their previous conversations. Sarah is grinning broadly about something, and hauling Joseph up the stairs ("Watch where you're going, you freaking pansies!") and the rest plod on after them.
Above, and just outside the doorway, there is a large gathering of students. Most of them are in their second year now, and this gives them a grand feeling of superiority. Second-years have always liked to watch the first-years enter the school – it produces an opportunity to sneer, and gloat in their own self-importance. A chance to play grown ups with the buzzing new students. Third-years had of course gotten over such childish behavior the year before, and are now much more concerned with teachers and upcoming assignments.
Among the pack leaders are three petite Obelisk girls: Clarisse Merriweather, Nicolette Flay and Eleanora Percivinci. The look of utter contempt on their pretty little faces outshines everyone else's.
Never mind what school you go to, people like these are in every one. They move in packs of three to six, have smooth richly coloured hair and dangerously long legs. But the odd thing is, even though their features may be completely different, the sheer perfection of them makes each one look exactly the same.
And every year, this gathering is the same. It has become as routine as regular classes and the nine-thirty lights out bell (ten-thirty, if you're a third-year).
Sarah and Joseph burst through first, causing the group to scatter like fish. They initiate the 'look cool' sequence, which means chatting and laughing casually amongst themselves. Only every minute or so, do they let a sly look slip over to one of the first-years. As they gradually move away, the chatter dims down to a mumbling, and the nosy group stare after them.
"Well, what do you think Clarisse?" Eleanora Percivinci smirks, her arms folded to her chest.
Clarisse, leader of the leaders – basically only because her hair is naturally blond – slowly goes forward. Her school shoes click softly on the concrete floor. She swaggers to a stop, and raises one manicured hand to her hip. "We're in for some fun this year, kids."
Their immediate laughter evaporates, when the woman wearing lemon yellow emerges from the classroom. Her hands are heavy with papers. "Alright, alright. They're not that interesting. Now get! Go on. Oh, get out of my way Mister Chuster!"
Most members of the group roll their eyes. They know that it's time to move on, but they at least have to look rebellious about it. In small dividing hordes, the gathering is eventually dispersed.
Only the three Obelisk girls remain longer: their walk becomes a graceful shuffle down the corridors. In between one another, whispers of gossip about the arriving students are excitably exchanged.
They only fall silent when another girl passes by. The girl, that same girl from the balcony, with her dark hair hanging about her face, shoots past. Standing up, she is a towering figure, stocky, but also very intimidating. The obelisk uniform she wears stretches over her stomach and heavy thighs. Her shifty grey eyes meet those of the three. A look of pure disgust escapes them.
As she thunders past, Clarisse Merriweather cannot help but state loudly, amusement tingling in her voice: "Bastard!"
Nicolette snickers like a snorting pig on methamphetamines. Eleanora turns her head slightly, hoping to see a reaction. But there is no reaction: the girl just keeps on walking. Further and further away.
So the halls are left lonely. Bits of rubbish dot the floor, and move slightly in the breeze stealing from open doorways. Distant murmurs from students and teachers become apparent in the vast emptiness. Sounds echo and pass through the hallway, but they are lost in the depth of the school.
Duel Academy is tired.
Authors note: Greetings! Okay, try to keep in mind that, though this may completely suck, I've actually never written any fan fiction before. I'm on school holidays, and my English teacher suggested to my class that we do something to keep our creative writing skills up to scratch. So, here I am. I hope that, if anyone actually reads this, they like it.
And also, the reason why I set it in the future, is because I cannot write in character to save my life. Period. So I introduced new characters, and changed the setting a little bit. I just figured I'd offend less people this way. I'll try to update soon, though if you guys absolutely hate it, I'll spare you that pain.
Oh, and it's a bit long... and confusing... sorry about that.