So, we've finally reached the Field Trip Arc… I will admit, the first two Chapters contain no duels whatsoever. The Chapters contain, more or less, Jaden's exploration of Oneiro. The remaining Chapters of the Field Trip… are mostly duel. A single duel, between Jaden and Duke Incendia. You'll be learning more about him soon enough. Unfortunately, this is the last update I'll be able to squeeze in for a while. I'll be away from June 3rd until mid-July. I hate to break up the Field Trip arc like this – being unable to 'air' the episodes back to back – but I've no choice in the matter here. I wanted to give you guys one more update before I took my leave for a month and a half, so… here you are. Apologies if it's 'too' rushed, I'll make up for it next Chapter. There's a lot of info to disclose... And, yes, 'Oneiro' and its plot are not completely my own - rather, it was inspired and plays fairly close to a certain game's plot. But I hope you'll enjoy the arc, all the same. Anyway, enough from me, on with Chapter Eight.
Storm clouds surrounded Duel Academy on the dawn of the new day. Today was the day. The Field Trip to Oneiro. The beginning of the end for Jaden Yuki, or so Seth Phoenix predicted.
The Society of Light was currently boarding their cruise ship. Seth Phoenix and Bastion stood a distance from the ship, and waited and watched as students got on in an orderly, single file line.
Turning to his master, Bastion asked, "So… This is where it all begins, sir?"
Seth smiled and closed his eyes.
"The downfall of Jaden Yuki all begins at Oneiro… If he is not the Chosen One, then he and his friends… Well… You'll just have to see when we get there… But, if he is the Chosen One… Then Jaden Yuki will fall on another day. Even if he is the One… I will not allow Jaden to change Destiny… I will stop him myself, if necessary… Fate declares that Jaden Yuki will fall, and I will enforce that sentence by any means…"
Bastion made a determined face as he looked beyond the cruise ship and the stormy weather.
"I will not let you down, Master… I will make certain that it doesn't have to come to you, to finish Jaden off… I will do it myself, if I have to…"
Seth gave a chuckle and opened his eyes.
"Do not make promises that you cannot keep… You are strong, Bastion, but you have much to learn…"
Bastion frowned, but didn't give a reply. He was determined to prove himself to Seth, even if Master said he had 'much to learn'…
Jaden and his friends were ready, as they boarded their much smaller ship - some more begrudgingly than others.
"I don't like this…" Chazz grumbled. He stared enviously at the cruise ship that the Society of Light got to ride to their field trip destination. "WHY THE HECK DO THEY GET TO TRAVEL IN STYLE?"
Chazz finished angrily. Alexis sighed exasperatedly. She thought that, maybe, Chazz had sensed something wrong was going to happen on the field trip, but ended up getting her hopes up. Jaden, Hassleberry, and Lorenzo were actually pumped for the trip, despite not knowing quite where they were going, and Atticus was nonchalant about it. Yes, the Society obviously had sinister reasons for wanting to go where they wanted to go, but Atticus that they would be alright, as he had faith that their dueling skills would get them out of any jam.
Jaden was one of the last few to get on the boat. He spotted Aster hanging around the boats, but he wasn't getting on either of them, so Jaden decided to walk over and see what was up.
"Hey, Aster! Ya stoked for the big field trip?" Jaden questioned perkily.
Aster snorted, and crossed his arms.
"Yeah, right. You want me to go where a psychopath has some 'test' prepared, just for you? And then you want me to rely on you to pass that test? No thanks, I'm not taking any chances with this 'field trip'. I'll stick around here at Duel Academy."
Jaden blinked and scratched the side of his face.
"But… he's your manager, isn't he? Don't you trust your manager?"
"WAS my manager. Don't tell me YOU trust him, Jaden. He's turned your friends against you, hasn't he? Haven't you seen his true colors by now? I have."
Jaden crossed his arms and contemplated the point.
"Well, I guess he has… And he has tried to eliminate us a few times…"
"Exactly! I'm pretty sure this is another one of those times, Jaden. You might be better off staying here, too."
Jaden shook his head and frowned.
"No… That's not an option. 'Lex, Chazz, Lorenzo, and Hassleberry are going, and I don't want them getting hurt… Besides, how can I pass up a challenge? Seth might be untrustworthy and all that, but my deck'll trump any duelist he throws my way."
Aster rolled his eyes, but smirked nonetheless.
"You have had a knack of throwing a wrench into his plans… Guess we'll know in a couple days' time."
Jaden nodded and laughed.
Hassleberry ran up to Jaden and Aster and ran in place.
"Sergeant Jaden, we gotta double-time it! The Society's boat's about to set sail!"
Jaden jumped back a little, but nodded.
"Woops! Better get goin'! See ya later, Aster!" With that, Jaden and Hassleberry dashed to their boat, where Lorenzo was waiting for them.
Aster shook his head and sighed.
"I hope I do, J… I hope I do…"
- YU-GI-OH GX! -
It took about three hours for the Society of Light to reach their field trip's destination. Despite having to go through a thick wall of fog, Seth Phoenix managed to guide the boat to the tiny, old port that they sought. The port looked like it had been unused in decades, and fog hung around the place heavily.
When the Society of Light disembarked, they did so in an orderly single-file line, like when they boarded their boat. Seth and Bastion were the last to get off, and Bastion turned to his Master to pose a question before disembarking.
"Is this really the place, Master? What is significant about testing Mr. Yuki in such a rundown place?"
"Bastion… That would ruin the suspense. Savor the mystery while it lasts. Now, I have a very important task for you, Mr. Misawa."
Seth motioned for Bastion to disembark with him, and then he proceeded with giving Bastion his task.
"I have an errand or two to take care of before the main event, and I need Jaden and his friends occupied. And they will be, believe me. I will know every little thing they do in this… wonderful… city. But, your task is not to tail them around and report to me. There will be no need for that. Rather, I need you to guide Mr. Yuki and his friends to Incendia Castle. Just let them wander around Oneiro for a couple of hours – two hours should give us ample time to prepare, but please, do feel free to let them 'investigate' to their hearts' content. I have a feeling that this place will capture your curiosity as well, so enjoy yourself. Just make sure you all make it to the Castle, eventually…"
"Y-You're letting the enemy roam freely? Whatever for?"
Seth gave Bastion a harsh stare, but sighed, eventually, and eased his gaze.
"Bastion, if we kept 'the enemy' holed up somewhere, they would be focused on breaking out of whatever prison we put them in, and finding the Society of Light, and ruining the 'surprise.' I am certain that this way is safest – they won't head to the Castle right away. The Castle is absolutely off-limits for the first two hours of us being here. Do I make myself clear…?"
Bastion nodded and hung his head a bit; ashamed he made Master Seth even slightly cross.
With that, Seth walked away from Bastion and made his way to the front of the line of Society members. Then he led them into Oneiro, and out of the fog that clung around the port.
Bastion was left alone to his thoughts now, and he looked out to the sea, even if visibility was very low. His thoughts drifted to Alexis, and her not joining the Society of Light upon losing to Princess Rose.
Alexis… I apologize that you were not recruited into the Society… But mark my words, you WILL be recruited someday soon… Your talents are wasted on Jaden… You will be acknowledged as the top notch duelist that you are… But only when you become an elite member of the Society of Light…
And with those final thoughts, Bastion walked away from the port to get a good look at Oneiro for himself…
Jaden and co. reached Oneiro's port about five minutes after the Society docked their ship. They had lost sight of the Society's ship a few times while making their way through the heavy fog, but they did, eventually, arrive. Upon arriving, Alexis couldn't help but notice how ancient the port looked. Other than their boat and the Society's boat, no other boats were moored there. Any metal that could be seen was clearly rusty, and the air itself was deathly quiet. The water, and those that arrived in the second boat, were the only sources of noise there at the port.
Chazz grabbed a railing and got a good look at the port.
"Whoa… You sure we got the right place?"
Hassleberry shook a fist and cried irritably, "Of COURSE we 'got the right place', Private Princeton! The enemy's docked here, and it's obvious they've gone ahead!" Hassleberry motioned to the Society's boat, which was now devoid of life.
Lorenzo shuddered after seeing how abandoned the port looked.
"Whew… This place gives me the willies! Maybe they've got the wrong place! BADABING!"
Alexis shook her head and pointed to a very aged and faded wooden signpost not too far away.
"No… That clearly says 'Oneiro'. This is definitely where Seth Phoenix wanted us to be… But why we're here is beyond me…"
Jaden shrugged and gave a wide grin as he pumped his fist into the air.
"Oh, well! I say we check the place out! Can't be creepier than the Abandoned Dorm, right guys?"
"Ugh… Jaden, this place COULD be just as creepy… But Bastion and Sy are out there, so turning back isn't an option…"
Jaden nodded and maintained his happy-go-lucky grin.
"Right! Let's go!"
Jaden was about to dash off ahead of everyone else, but was held back by Hassleberry.
"Sarge, we need to stick together. I think I speak for all of us when I say this place is mighty creepy… Who KNOWS what'll happen to us in an abandoned place like this…?"
"Stick together, J-Man… No reason to split up and lose one o' our own!"
"Aw, you guys are no fun…" Jaden sighed and continued, "But… Okay, we'll stick together… I just wanna check this place out! It totally looks cool!"
Everyone groaned. Jaden didn't see this place as suspicious at ALL. In pairs, they all disembarked and made their way to the abandoned ticket station, which was up a flight of stairs. There were some pictures of the Town of Oneiro in the ticket station, and everyone took time to look at each and every picture. The pictures were in color, but it was pretty evident that the pictures were dated. Very dated. The bricks of the brick roads looked like they were just laid in the pictures, and the buildings weren't anything like the 'modern' buildings of the present. Some people could be seen in the photographs, and they were definitely wearing different attire, such as poof-y dresses and older suits and tuxes.
Once they were about halfway through the ticket station and had gotten an eyeful of all the photographs of Oneiro, everyone's sight got blurry, and there seemed to be a bizarre flash of light. Everyone happened to close their eyes for just a moment. When they opened their eyes again, simultaneously, and got an eyeful of the present-day Town of Oneiro…
"WHOOOAAA! This wasn't what I was expecting!"
Eerily, the Town looked exactly like it did in the photographs that everyone took notice of only moments ago. Not even the tiniest of differences was in sight. And there was no fog to speak of whatsoever. There were dazzling lights everywhere, and the Town had a festive look about it. A statue of a man that seemed vaguely familiar to Jaden and friends was situated in the center of a plaza, of which they were now standing in. Suddenly, everyone wasn't so much spooked as they were awed by the 'Glimmering Utopia of Oneiro.' A banner that said 'Welcome to the Glimmering Utopia of Oneiro' hung over the plaza that they were currently in, and no one seemed to have any objections to the title. Oneiro was a dazzling spectacle to be sure, and it seemed to be even more beautiful since it was nighttime.
"… Wait." Alexis frowned. "It's not even noon yet… So how can it be dark…?"
Everyone that hadn't noticed that oddity looked up and noticed the sky WAS dark.
Jaden scratched the side of his face again.
"… Huh. Well, no time like the present! Let's go explore!"
Hassleberry rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
"We'll cover more ground if we split up… I get to be the Sarge's wingman!" Hassleberry grinned cheekily and stood by Jaden's side.
Lorenzo growled and shook a fist at Hassleberry.
"Oi, Military-Dino-Wannabe, I get to split off with J-Man, capice?"
Hassleberry growled back, and his eyes flashed Dino for a split second.
"Know your place, son…! I AM the Sarge's second-in-command!"
Alexis sighed and shook her head.
"… Look. Maybe it'll be better if we split off into groups of three. You, Lorenzo, and Jaden can be one group. I guess I'll go with Atti, and…"
Chazz clasped his hands together and sighed contentedly.
"AND ME! Oh, Lexi, I just KNEW I'd like going on this field trip…!"
Alexis' eyes widened, and she growled irritably. She knew she had no other choice, here. Jasmine and Mindy opted to stay behind at Duel Academy, like a few other students.
"Fine, Chazz… But no flirting.
Chazz pouted, but brightened again instantly, as he still got to walk around with 'Lexi' anyway. Alexis turned her attention back to the statue, and gave it a contemplative stare.
"I guess we can start our 'investigation' there… I'm a little curious as to whom that man is, and what he means to Oneiro. He looks a lot like Seth Phoenix, but he's obviously a different man. The man depicted looks… older, anyway."
Atticus rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
"Yeah… I can see the resemblance… But you're right, they just HAVE to be two totally different people. If that WAS Seth Phoenix, he'd be as old as Kagemaru, am I right?"
"We don't even know how old this Town is, Atti. It MIGHT not be so old, but those photographs back in the ticket station tell me otherwise… We need to investigate this place. I only hope we can find answers…"
Jaden pumped his fist into the air again excitedly, and cheered, "Alright! Exploration time!"
- YU-GI-OH GX! -
The two groups walked together farther into Town, and broke off fairly quickly. There were some shops early on, and Alexis, Chazz, and Atticus checked out those, while Jaden, Hassleberry, and Lorenzo moved further in, in the hopes of finding something 'juicier'.
The first shop Alexis' group set foot into was an antique shop. All sorts of knick-knacks, vases, and lamps lined the shelves. Some furniture was also lying about the shop, just begging to be bought.
It didn't take long to find the only other person in the store, the store owner himself. He was a kindly-looking, older gentleman, wearing dress pants and a red sweater, which made him seem kind of average. He wore glasses, and he seemed delighted to have company.
"Ah, welcome! Come in, come in! Is there anything particular you're looking for, or do you need any assistance?"
Alexis smiled at the older gentleman.
"Well, this all looks very nice… But we're just here to ask a few questions, if you don't mind answering them. They're mostly about this Town… Oneiro…"
The gentleman chuckled and straightened his glasses on his face.
"Ah, tourists, I see… Well, I would be delighted to answer any questions that I can."
"Thank you… Um… First off, when we first came into Oneiro, there was this statue of a man…"
The gentleman clasped his hands together and smiled warmly.
"That would be Duke Incendia. He was the Hero of Oneiro – that's why we dedicated a statue to him, after all." It was at this point that the gentleman frowned thoughtfully. "Unfortunately… I don't seem to remember why he is remembered as a Hero… It's been so long, that I've forgotten… I'm sure if you'll ask another citizen of our fair Town, you'll get a reason… I just… can't seem to remember. Now, what else about Oneiro piques your curiosity? I'm sure you would like to know much more!"
Alexis smiled sheepishly.
While Alexis, Chazz, and Atticus got to know more about Oneiro, Jaden and his group found themselves in the 'slums' of Oneiro. They passed the 'dazzling' parts without a second thought, because they wanted to find something 'different', and begin their investigation there. This led them to a gruff-looking man hanging around what appeared to be a rundown house, located far north from the pier that they arrived at.
"That guy looks like he might know somethin'!" Jaden grinned and ran right over to the stout man eagerly. Lorenzo and Hassleberry were a little hesitant, but they came over, as well. Jaden addressed the man. "Hey, mister!"
The stout man, clad in a black coat and pants, and an orange shirt underneath the coat, wore a brown hat. He appeared to be in poverty, if the house was his and indicated his current state of affairs at all. The man scratched his ear and frowned.
"Name's Hank, kid… Waddaya want?"
Jaden rubbed his chin.
"Well, I was just wonderin'… Why do ya look so glum? Isn't Oneiro somethin'?"
Hank sighed, took off his hat briefly and ran his hand through his hair, and then placed his hat back on his head.
"I guess it's kinda… uh… what's the word…? 'Sparkly'…"
Jaden bounced up and down.
"Yeah, yeah! So why're ya down in the dumps?"
Hank shrugged and rubbed his nose.
"Well, I live here for one… And second… uh… I guess I… kinda lost my job… It paid real well, too…"
Jaden stopped jumping up and down.
"Oh… I'm sorry. But you can get another one, right?"
Lorenzo and Hassleberry remained silent throughout all this. Neither of them knew quite what to say.
Hank scratched the back of his head and frowned.
"You tourists or somethin'…? I guess I can find another… uh… job… But everyone got laid off. Meaning it's the end, pal! No point in seeking other jobs now!"
Jaden scratched the back of his head.
"The end? Waddaya talkin' about?"
Hank's frowned deepened.
"I'm talkin' about the mines! They're shuttin' 'em down! Oneiro depends on them mines! Without 'em, Oneiro's gonna die… in a matter of days… Oneiro's on its last legs, and it doesn't even know it…"
Jaden frowned, crossed his arms, and tilted his head.
"So… mines shutting down is bad. Oookay… But I'm sure the Town'll pull through somehow, right?"
Hank sighed and shook his head. He stared at the ground and kicked a pile of dirt.
"You gotta be a tourist… You from Domino or somethin'? Nobody livin' in Oneiro could be so clueless!"
"But we're not ALL clueless.
Jaden, Hassleberry, and Lorenzo all turned at the sound of Bastion's voice. Hank looked up at the newcomer. Bastion walked over and crossed his arms.
"I apologize, but I couldn't help but overhear… You mentioned mines, and asked if these gents," Bastion motioned to Jaden, Hassleberry, and Lorenzo, "were from Domino?"
Hank stared confusedly at Bastion. He'd never seen someone wear so much white.
"Uh… Yeah? What about it? Oneiro thrives on the mines, plain 'n simple."
Bastion rubbed his chin and appeared to be mulling over something.
"… I didn't read all the details, mind you… But I read somewhere that, more than fifty years ago, before the city of Domino was founded, Towns in the valleys surrounding the general area of Domino prospered after finding large sources of gold. But, sadly, fifty years ago, said Towns died out, because the mines were emptied completely, yet Domino began to prosper after that, as people from all over moved to Domino. And I do believe that 'Oneiro' was one of the few towns that I read about, that died out… Just what is going on here, good sir? Did Oneiro locate another source of gold…? But that can't be right, if Oneiro died out, and the people scattered…"
Hank shrugged, and appeared very confused. Hank rubbed his chin and frowned deeply.
"I dunno, bub… Maybe you misread or somethin'? Anyways… All I know's is, Oneiro's on its death bed, and it don't even knows it. Maybe you're right. Maybe Oneiro'll die again. Who knows? If ya don't believe me, I suggest going to check out the mines. The mines were shut down recently, so that should be all the proof youse needs. Just be careful around them mines, 'kay?"
Jaden visibly brightened at the prospect of something more to investigate, even though Bastion was with them and not quite in his right state of mind. Lorenzo and Hassleberry seemed elated as well.
Bastion continued to appear troubled. Oneiro was definitely a mystery, Master Seth had been right about that. More importantly, though, Bastion wanted to crack that mystery. But before he could go and look into the mines, Bastion felt he needed to know more about Oneiro itself before setting out for the mines... And he WOULD learn more, even if that meant eavesdropping on Alexis, Chazz, and Atticus… Bastion swore he would be the one to crack the mystery, not Jaden. Bastion WOULD be victorious, this time…!
- YU-GI-OH GX! -
An aged man hurriedly ran around a corner in the now-in-shambles castle that he called home. Duke Incendia had managed to keep the enemy at bay for fifty years, but now said enemy had brought in… reinforcements.
Upon reaching the end of the corridor, Duke Incendia screeched to a halt, as six figures clad in white blocked his passage. They had cornered him now. No way out but to battle them and, hopefully, emerge victorious. Somehow the Duke highly doubted that would be the case. The enemy was strong within them.
"Duke Incendia…" Seth Phoenix spoke. He was flanked by Syrus, Bonaparte, Crowler, and two other Society members. Once Incendia's eyes were on him, Seth continued. "You did well to elude the Light for fifty long years… However… No human can escape the Light indefinitely. You are needed for a very important test…"
Duke Incendia raised a bony finger, and pointed it accusingly at Seth. Seth reminded Incendia very much of what he looked like in his youth, but Incendia KNEW that wasn't the man's true form. He just knew.
"Y-You… The Enemy is strongest within you… Do you have any idea what the Enemy will do, if victorious…?"
Seth chuckled and closed his eyes.
"Well, Duke… I do… Frankly, it will be… spectacular." Seth ceased chuckling and opened his eyes. Pointing right at Incendia, Seth continued, "As I said, you are needed for a test. In order to make a better world, you are necessary. Tonight we are taking you, Duke Incendia…"
Duke Incendia's eyes widened, and he attempted to retreat, despite the knowledge that he was cornered. He didn't make it very far, as mysterious flashes of light got very close to him until, finally, the Duke was sent crashing into a wall. Hard.
Please… Someone… Defeat the Enemy…! It's too late for me…My only wish is… that I do not bring harm… to… any… one…
And with those final thoughts, Duke Incendia was out cold. Seth Phoenix stood over the Duke and smirked.
"Tick tock goes the clock
And what now shall we play?
Tick tock goes the clock
Now summer's gone away?"
Seth chuckled as the nursery rhyme played through his head. The test would begin soon…
To Be Continued…