Friendly Competition

A/N- Well, two friends of mine just got me completely hooked on Star Ocean. Actually, I'm playing 2 and 3 at the same time. ; Best RPs ever. Right now I'm kind of looking for a ship, so I'm experimenting with couplings. Through the first disk of SO3 (at least, the parts that Sophia was on) I was happy with FaytXSophia, but the second disk turned Sophia into the stereotypical weak, whiny female lead, whereas before she wasn't afraid to abuse/punish Fayt. Damn them… I hate that mold. –shudder- It reminds me of Aeris from FFVII. –Ahem- But aside from the crazy rantiness, I also thought that Cliff and Mirage as romantic interests was sweet. I started wondering how they had first met, and it led to this fic. Happy reading and all that. This is my first SO fic, so please review lots!

Chapter One- Jerk!

Mirage Koas sighed and stretched daintily, cracking her knuckles. Beside her on the ground, a male Klausian was laid out and making pitiful groaning noises.

"What did I tell you?" She cooed sweetly.

"Errr… That you'll only go out… with a guy who can… fight as well as you." He panted, his face red from the exertion of talking.

"That's right. Now get yourself to the healer and give up already, Dai."

Dai whimpered at the prospect of moving, even to get to the healer. Fortunately for him, two of his friends came out of the woodwork to assist their fallen companion. They muttered and gave Mirage as much of a glare as she'd allow, but when she raised an eyebrow at them, they fell into a cowed silence and left as quickly as they could, practically dragging Dai out behind them. At the door, one suddenly regained his courage and coughed something that sounded suspiciously like 'ice queen' before scurrying out the door.

Mirage sighed. At only eighteen, she was already incredibly bored with her martial studies. She was the uncontested champion of her father's dojo and could even beat him in a good two out of three matches. Unfortunately, that left her as the clear successor of the Koas School of Jingu, a prospect that bored her to death.

If I have to spend the rest of my life stuck here teaching over-confident students, I'll go crazy. She groaned mentally, Maybe I'll have one of my sparring partners 'accidentally' kick me in the head. Not that they could keep me out for more than a few minutes…

To make matters more exasperating, the male students had a competition amongst themselves to see who Mirage would finally take pity on and date. She couldn't stand it; she knew what they said behind her back, not that she really minded that part. It was how they expected her to pick one of them, even though they obviously didn't respect her and she had no interest in any of them.

Deep in thought, Mirage was completely oblivious to a slightly younger girl with white-blond hair entering the fighting arena. The girl snuck up behind Mirage silently and then tackle-hugged her, making Mirage jump about a foot in the air.

"Hey, Mirage! I saw what you did to Dai. Nice work; I've wanted to do that for a while. He always tries to peep in the girl's changing room before matches. Pervert…" The girl grumbled.

"Oh. Hi, Meriya. And thanks, I guess. I still don't know how you can manage to sneak up on me like that, though…" Mirage grinned, shoving the other girl playfully.

"Yeah, well, you were pretty distracted there. You alright? You didn't let Dai's group of cronies get to you, did you? They're all jerks."

Mirage sighed, sliding down on the floor, "No, it's not that. I'm just feeling pretty sick of everything right now."

Meriya made a face and sat cross-legged on one of the mats beside Mirage.

"At least you're graduating from school soon. You can go off to a university and study something fun. I'm stuck here for another joyous year. That is, if I'm lucky and get good academic marks, which seems unlikely at this point."

"Yeah, but I'm going to have to come back here to head the school eventually. You'll actually be free when you leave here."

"Yeah," Meriya sighed, "That is kind of rough…"

True, she could be ditzy at times, but Meriya was the closest thing she had to a real friend at the dojo. All the girls were too jealous to be friends with and the boys were out of the question. Most of them were to busy trying to get into her pants to be taken seriously. It could be humorous at times, but mostly it was just annoying.

"Well, you could always stow away on the spaceship that just landed on the grounds. Think of the adventure and romance of it all. Of course knowing what an over-achiever you are, you'd probably take upon yourself to save the universe or something."

Mirage grinned and rolled her eyes, preparing to mock-push the girl again, but stopped abruptly.

"Wait a minute! What do you mean, 'the spaceship that just landed on the grounds'? Dad'll kill them! That landscaping is practically his baby. I've gotta go avert crisis."

"… I knew there was something I was going to tell you!" Meriya said, wincing.

Running full-throttle out of the tent, Mirage caught a glimpse of the shine of some silvery alloy before it was blocked out completely by the group of students gathering around it. Distracted, she didn't notice the frightened courier-boy running toward her until it was too late. They both went down in a tumble of limbs.

"Miss… Mirage" the boy panted, "You've gotta do somethin'… I haven't seen him yet, but I … hah… don't think it's gonna be pretty."

"I'll try to calm him down." She said, but she couldn't quite convince herself it'd work.

Before she could go any further, though, an automated voice pierced the din of the crowd around it.

"The hatch is now opening. All entities should please move to a safe distance. Thank you."

The students didn't need to be told twice. They backed up to a respectful distance, all the while keeping an eye on the door to the living quarters of the dojo head, waiting for him to come bursting out. Before that could happen, though, a Klausian male in tight leather emerged from the hatch. A majority of the students let out a deprived sigh. The visitor obviously wasn't an alien race or hostile, and they quickly lost interest and began to meander away. That is, until Mirage's father stormed out of his dojo, a telltale vein popping from his neck.

"WHAT EXACTLY IS THE MEANING OF THIS?" He bellowed, giving a deathglare to anything in the general vicinity.

Most of the students either tried to look busy or innocent, but the Klausian grinned and strolled over to where the man raged.

"Hey, old man. How's it going? I was in the neighborhood, so I thought I'd drop by." The man said amiably, ignoring the glare aimed at him.

Dionysus Koas faltered in his anger and even cracked a small smile. He then whirred around in less than a second and attempted land a punch at the visitor's head. The man quickly blocked it and Koas grinned to himself.

"Ya still got it, Cliff, my boy." He said, cuffing Cliff on the shoulder with an enormous hand.

Cliff grinned, "Yeah, but yer getting' rickety in your old age. My grandma coulda blocked that."

The group of students collectively held their breath. No one could get away with insulting Koas like that and live, that was for sure. Instead of the explosion they'd come for, Koas began to chortle, an even stranger sight.


"Oh. That? It's mine."

Koas glared at him, but he shrugged it off, an admirable feat in itself.


"Well, I was operating the thing."

A look of exasperation flitted across Koas' face, but admiration chased it away.

"You mean you operated that thing all by yourself? No crew? Are you crazy?"

"Yup, sure was." Cliff grinned deviantly.

"I always said that you were too damned reckless." Koas grinned, "Come on in. There's always a place for ya here."

He then turned to his students, the fire back in his eyes.


Needless to say, the crowd quickly dispersed. Meanwhile, Mirage dusted herself off with as much dignity as she could muster and looked quizzically at the still-winded boy, who was looking after the leather-clad Klausian in awe.

"You know who that is, Belkin?"

The boy's face brightened slightly at being addressed.

"Yeah, I have to clean the trophies he won every day, not to mention the pictures. He's Cliff Fittir. He was the uncontested champion of this dojo seven years ago. At the age of twenty, he won the Pan-Galactic Jingu-Taijutsu Tournament. He's pretty hot stuff combat-wise. I hear he's been up to some project on Klaus III. Don't know why he'd come back here…"

"Thanks, Belkin…" Mirage said, and wandered off toward he father's quarters more informed, but only slightly less puzzled.

Cliff Fittir… why does that sound familiar…?

She paused just outside the door and couldn't help but stop and listen to the conversation.

"…getting older. I don't think I could just leave the dojo. I'm not as young as I used to be; can't just go cavorting around the galaxy."

"Aww, I understand, but couldn't you just leave it to the next in line? I'm sure you're training someone. We're in need of decent leaders."

"Well, I have been planning on leaving it to Mirage, and she's more than ready, but…"

Mirage silently smoldered. If this Cliff guy thought he could just waltz in and try to recruit her father for some project, dumping all this in her lap, he had another thing coming. She clenched her fists and kept on listening.

"You mean your daughter? She that good?"

"Sure is. I think you'd like to spar with her."

"Not my style to beat up on chicks, Koas."

What a pig! Mirage fumed, and I thought the guys here were bad. At least they grudgingly recognize that I'm better than them. This guy is just plain chauvinistic!

"Jerk…" She muttered under her breath.

"Scar-ee…" Cliff muttered and Mirage's heart stopped.

Great. He's a jerk with abnormally good hearing.

"Huh?" Her father puzzled.

"Err, I hate to interrupt our conversation, but you're losing your hearing, old man. Your daughter's outside and she doesn't seem too happy."

Before she could move, the door she'd been leaning on was flung open, and she fell into the room, only barely managing to prevent herself from falling. She glared at Cliff turned her back to him.

"So that's little Mirage. Last time I saw you, you were eleven. You've… grown." He said, unable to keep a smile off his face as he leered at her chest.

She gave him a death-glare rivaling her one of her father's.

"Hey, no need to get so huffy. I didn't mean to make you mad or nothin'."

"Hmph." Mirage responded.

"What'd I do?" Cliff sighed, exasperated.

"So you want my father to go traipsing around the galaxy with your little project team? I'm not being left to deal with this place by myself, got it?"

"Whadya want me to do about it? I didn't decide the succession."

"Well, the obvious answer would be to NOT RECRUIT MY FATHER."

"HOLD IT, YOU TWO!" Koas bellowed.

The room immediately became silent as the two of them involuntarily flashed into attentive student mode.

"I wasn't planning on going anyways. I'm enjoying my retirement, thanks." Koas snarled, "I was, however, planning on recommending my best student. She happens to be what you're looking for, Cliff. Technical experience, mean fighting skills, and leadership qualities."

"You mean you want me to work with him?" She balked.

"I don't think the position is open for whiny amateurs." Cliff said disdainfully, sizing her up.

That set off another spark in Mirage. She may not have liked the guy, but she couldn't let a slight like that pass. Insults to her pride tended to be her weak point, and Cliff had picked up on it, even if he hadn't done so intentionally.

"You think I'm an amateur?" She said in a sweet tone spiked with poison, "Well, then let's have a one-on-one match to see who's better, shall we? And don't worry about beating up a chick. I won't worry about laying out a cocky, leather-clad, past his prime jerk."

With that, she stormed out, looking for a victim to pummel in a practice round.

"Whew… she's a feisty one, isn't she?" Cliff murmured, awed.

"Yup, just like her old dad." Koas grinned.

A look of revulsion planted itself on Cliff's face.

"Ugh…" He groaned, "Don't say that. You're ruining my fantasies."

"Good." Koas said sternly.

"Uhhh… yeah. So, you think she'll really go through with it?"

Koas burst into laughter, appraising Cliff from head to toe.

"You have any practice in real combat in a while?"

Cliff looked at him ruefully.

"Well, not as much as when I went here, but I'm definitely not out of shape."

"Be ready to work up a sweat then."

Cliff grinned to himself, then tried to pull his thoughts back from the gutter, half-successfully.

"She really that good, then?"

"I do not over-estimate my students. You know that much."

"…crap." Was all that Cliff could manage.

He had a bad hunch about this…

A/N- Wellll, what did you guys think? I know, Mirage seems OOC, but think of it this way: She's nine years younger in this story (18) than what she is in the game. A person can mature a lot in that time. Same with Cliff. He's mostly IC in my opinion, but if you guys have any comments on anything, feel free to be constructive. Depending on the amount of reviews –cough cough- I'll update relatively quickly. Well, I'll let the Periwinkle box take it away…! Thanks for reading!

Periwinkle Box: Please… for the love of Apris, click on me. She'll abuse me if you don't… AUGH! Here she comes! … NO! Don't leave me with her!

Peppita: Huh? Oooooooooo! You're such a pretty color! I'm gonna hug you and love you and neeeeeeever let you go!

Periwinkle Box: ……help me.