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6. – The Obligatory Time Skip
"Alright… three… two… one… go!" Quistis ordered, blowing a whistle.
"After you," Lyn said with a grin and a twirl of the sai in her left hand.
Reneey was actually wearing a semi-serious look as she made a lunge with her bo at Lyn which the older girl easily parried. From there it turned into what seemed to Reneey like a badly choreographed dance. Lyn attacked with her other sai which Reneey twisted the bo to block but then Lyn pulled back and came at her with both sai in an attack that Reneey had a hard time seeing in time, much less blocking…
In the end, the match lasted about thirty seconds before Lyn knocked the bo out of Reneey's hands and had the tip of a sai at her throat. However, this was at least twenty-nine seconds longer than Reneey would have lasted a week before, so it was a definite improvement.
"Impressive," Quistis said with a smile, nodding at both fighters as Reneey retrieved her fallen staff. "Very impressive, particularly when one considers you've only been here for three weeks."
"Of course, since I trained her," Zell said with a gloating smirk.
"That's true, chicken-wuss," Seifer commented from the sidelines. "I guess that means we should all consider it a miracle she isn't more screwed up than before."
Naturally, at that comment, both Zell and Lyn bristled and Quistis put a hand on each of their shoulders before announcing, "Alright, this training session is over. I will be delivering my final progress reports for this class to the headmaster this afternoon.
"This does not mean you stop coming to class!" she emphasized, getting that penetrating, halfway threatening look as her eyes swept the training center. "It only means that whomever I recommend as ready will be eligible to complete the requirements for and participate in the SeeD exam next week."
In response, there were a lot of excited murmurs as well as a couple of whoops and one muttering of, "Whatever." Apparently you could always count on Squall still being Squall.
When Quistis walked into the headmaster's office with her end-of-the-semester reports, she already knew which students he would be most interested in. Of course, being an instructor, she couldn't be partial, so she went through the normal class listing anyway from Almasy to Tilmitt. Then at the very end of the class roll were two names written in her own handwriting because they had been added only last week – the two names Cid was most concerned about anyway.
"Essentially, Fayette is the only student I would not recommend personally for this exam," Quistis stated before taking a deep breath and continuing, "As for the newcomers, Lyn has only exceeded my expectations the more I have seen her fight and train. She is exceptionally gifted with tactical ability, has excellent problem-solving skills, and…" Quistis chuckled. "Well, she definitely knows how to motivate Reneey. She would make an excellent commander and I am also recommending that she be appointed a squad captain at the exam in order to best evaluate this leadership potential."
Cid seemed to be waiting for something and when she did not continue, he prompted, "And Reneey?"
"Reneey is, as I said before, somewhat under motivated," Quistis said slowly. "However, she has improved greatly under the coaching of Lyn and Zell Dincht. Today she lasted thirty-eight seconds in a sparring match against Lyn."
"Thirty-eight seconds?" Cid repeated, sounding unimpressed.
Quistis smiled. "That's a pretty impressive number. Raijin only lasted sixty-two and he's been training for five years. Lyn has quite a bit of training against bo staffs and no one else in Garden fights with sai. No one quite knows what to expect from her. She and Zell have made Reneey quite unpredictable, as well."
Cid paused a moment before breathing a sigh and asking, "And your evaluation?"
"Under ordinary circumstances, I would like to keep Reneey back until next year, when she has had more formal training," Quistis admitted. "But I do not feel it would be dangerous for her to participate in the examination. She has a good basic foundation of how to use her weapon and it has been tested in battle. All that she truly lacks are experience and perhaps a little more forethought before she acts."
Cid's eyes lit up and he looked truly pleased. "Is that your honest evaluation? Not colored by my desire for both of them to test?"
"I see no danger in allowing both of them to take the exam," Quistis said with a nod. Of course, that didn't mean she expected both of them to pass but she didn't have to say that out loud in front of the headmaster.
"Good," Cid said, breathing a sigh of relief. "I was hoping you would agree."
Quistis paused. "Sir, if you don't mind me asking… Why are these girls so special? Who are they?"
Cid bit his lip. "In the end, I think that is for them to decide."
Quistis blinked. "Sir? What do you mean by that?"
"Their pasts give them great potential," Cid said slowly. "Unfortunately, that potential is not restricted only to us. They could choose to fight against us if they desired. And that could be an incredibly dangerous thing for us all."
"But doesn't everyone, sir? I admit that Lyn is a gifted fighter and that Reneey could be a formidable combatant with more experience, but are they really so different from any other student who has trained here?"
"No, of course not," Cid said reassuringly but Quistis couldn't help but think there was something guarded, almost deceptive, about his smile. "I merely wish to give them the opportunity."
Quistis paused. "Are you saying I should give the same opportunity to Hector Fayette as well, assuming he would not likely get himself killed in the SeeD exam?"
Cid was looking at the ceiling and not at Quistis as he responded in a quiet voice, "Everyone deserves a chance to become whomever they are meant to be…"
Though she wasn't honestly sure whether Cid was talking about Fayette or not, Quistis carefully scribbled out the exception notice next to his name on the roster. Well, whatever else this might mean for the SeeD exams this year, there were going to be a lot of squads on notice.