Although I'm not much of a yuri fan Lightning and Fang are one of the best couples out there. And my Lightning's always on top. ;P
It had been a long day in Bodhum. Serah and Snow were gone—enjoying their extended honeymoon. Lightning would hear none of it, it didn't matter that she had begrudgingly accepted the tall blonde, she would try avoiding being an aunt for as long as possible. Sazh was off on vacation with Dajh spending some much needed father-son time. Who knew where they were now that Sazh had his flying license back. Vanille was with her friends while Hope was with his, studying for finals. It was the two of us now. We were alone—at least for the time being. Stray pink strands tickled my cheek as I rested my head on her shoulder. My raven tresses fell on her chest in tousled waves, as she absently played with the crimson colored ends. Her arms were secured firmly around my waist as our legs wrapped themselves in a tangled mess of limbs. There would be no fooling around tonight—I could tell. Lightning was dead tired. I wasn't complaining on the lack of loving I was going to get this evening, with the new title she had been given, she was trying her hardest to live up to the reputation. With all the power and benefits of being a higher-up there came new responsibilities, some of which had Lightning coming through the front door at odd hours in the morning too tired to even drag herself to the bed.
On those nights I pitied her new workload. Being a true-blooded Pulsian as well as an ex-l'cie meant finding a stable job that wasn't in the military damn near impossible. Not like I needed to work anyway, with each of Lightning's promotions came a bigger fatter paycheck.
I thought Lightning had fallen asleep, her breathing steady, and she hadn't moved in quite some time. That was okay, I was content to lay in her arms for a while before drifting off to sleep myself.
"Fang?" Her soft voice cut through the silence.
"Yeah?" I mumbled unmoving. The soldier tensed for a moment—either because she was afraid (Farron scared? Who am I kidding?) or that was me breathing a bit too heavily on a sensitive part of her neck.
"I'm being ranked tomorrow morning."
"Okay." Not the time to be discussing important matters with me, Sunshine. My mind was muddled with the promise of sleep. And what the hell was "ranking" anyway? Dammit now I was curious.
"My superiors said I should enter." The soldier mumbled. Like this "ranking" business was being forced onto her.
"Enter? What do you mean enter? Is this some sort of contest?"
I felt her nod slowly even though I couldn't see it in the darkness. A contest eh? And from the looks of it, a contest the stoic soldier was pressured into. Probably becomes a mandatory event for people of a certain rank. Interesting.
"The Corps hold it every year. Military personnel are ranked by combat ability regardless of the rank they hold on a day-to-day basis. It's more for showing the public we're more than capable of handling their problems…"
"Well that's all fine and dandy, but there's a reason you're telling me this in the middle of the night right? 'Cause if there ain't I might have to—"
She cut me off with a gentle squeeze, "I'm inviting you."
Oh. I fell silent as she continued, "I… I'd be happy if you could attend."
"I had planned to do nothing tomorrow, but I think I can hold it off just for you, love." I sealed the deal by setting the rarely-used alarm clock. There weren't many days where I was expected to wake up early, and Lightning never used the horribly loud thing. With that settled it wasn't long before she was sleeping soundly. I followed soon after, wondering what tomorrow would bring.
When I was jolted out of my slumber by shrilly ringing bells signaling morning, I was tempted to introduce the damn nuisance to the sharp end of my lance. The promise of an interesting day stopped me. Eagerly ripping the covers off I headed for the bathroom to wash up but not before noticing a simple yet elegant envelope resting on the nightstand that wasn't there last night. Gingerly opening the letter I took the singular piece of paper with me, deciding to scan its contents while I brushed teeth.
You Are Cordially Invited To The
Annual Guardian Corps Ranking Contest
We would be delighted if you would attend this annual fundraiser while enjoying the bravery and courage of your Guardian Corps soldiers. Officers will be ranked by combat prowess through various events including Unarmed Skirmish, Marksmanship, Agility, and more.
Please join us in the Guardian Corps Training Grounds on the eighth day of January, two thousand fifty, at ten o'clock in the morning.
Support your family and friends by arriving promptly and efficiently through the Main Parking Lot. Food and Drink will be sold courtesy Cub Scout Pack #257. No formal dress is required.
Please have this invitation ready when you arrive at the entrance.
A mock-coliseum was built around the Training Grounds. Bleachers had been rolled out to surround the enormous track encompassing the football field. Not knowing where I was supposed to go I followed the flow of the crowd, elbows jostled by irritated mothers and eager children. Good thing I decided to wear a simple blouse and skirt, the soda dancing precariously on that guy's arm would not come out of my sari easily. Why Lightning never mentioned a huge event such as this was beyond me and the fact that she'd been coming here every year. She'd probably blame it on the "more important things we have to worry about" rather than some dumb contest. Although I must admit the fancy invitation I clutched firmly in my hands was snazzy and made me tingle just thinking about what would happen.
As the crowd of people approached the entrance I saw more and more soldiers, most just milling around with their families, talking amiably of the events to come. Almost every soldier had their helmet off and the ones working crowd control had friendly name badges clipped on their armor. It really was a family-friendly event.
A soldier bearing the name badge "Johnny" quickly grabbed my invitation, ushering me, along with the rest of the crowd, inwards towards the stands. Standing numbly in the aisle I took in the sights. What an amazing place they had turned the Guardian Corps Training grounds into… And so many people had showed up, it seemed like all of Eden had attended.
"Hey lady, can you move?"
I whirled around, ready to smack someone—I left the lance in the bedroom. It was just a bunch of teenagers. I slinked silently to one side of the aisle while the small crowd pushed past me.
"What was that lady's problem staring off into space like that?" I heard them say as they walked off to find a seat.
"This is probably her first time here, did you see that dumb look on her face?"
I ignored them, letting their conversation flow back into the hurricane of noises that flooded around me. I spotted a horde of people further down the bleachers and decided to see what the fuss was all about—I still had a good forty minutes before show time. I squeezed my way through until I could get a good glimpse of the large board showcasing all the participants in this year's event.
"Place your bets now!" I could hear the repetitive chant over the roaring of the crowd. So this is what was going on here. I'm sure Lightning wouldn't mind if I pocketed some money off of her winnings I thought as I dug around for some cash. That is, if she won anything. I didn't doubt her abilities, especially her combat prowess, but some of these other contenders seemed like they'd put up a heck of a fight. She probably went up against them in previous years, so it shouldn't be too big of a deal. I shoved my way past people to get to the betting station.
"Who are you betting for ma'am?"
I hesitated for a moment and only a moment before proudly displaying my gil, "Straight win on Farron."
A voice boomed over the intercom, "Please be seated ladies and gentlemen, family and friends, the annual Guardian Corps Ranking Contest will begin shortly!"
The hustle and bustle of people slowed as mothers ran to round up their children and friends tucked away into their food. While perusing the bleachers I had passed the food stand, the young Cub Scouts decked out in their scout uniforms screeching overpriced stadium food. The stuff here was expensive! But it was a fundraiser. I would've bought some to support the tykes, but I spent every penny on the little betting ticket I had clenched in my fist. A few people from the upper echelons walked out onto the field, the announcer stating his appreciation on behalf of the Corps, relaying a small anecdote of their merits and position in the military before escorting them into a reserved VIP box.
A few more minutes and the noise suddenly became a soft murmur, the intercom springing to life once more, "As many of you already know, contestants are working soldiers from the Guardian Corps, who must be at least Sergeant rank to participate. Third, Second, and First place Winners are counted by each individual event, a total of five events with fifteen chances to win a medal. The Platinum Winner is chosen from the compilation of the five First place Winners. Please don't forget to buy food and drink as well as place a bet on your favorite soldier! The Guardian Corps would now like to begin with the first event—Hand-to-Hand Combat!"
The crowd clapped, I joined in too. The contestants were filing out onto the field, their names being read over the loudspeaker as each soldier took a spot facing an opponent. Lightning's name was read as "Major Farron." I chuckled. Sure, people thought she had moved up the ranks far too quickly for someone so young, but after the whole l'cie business, it was like someone strapped a rocket to her with the way she was passing her superiors left and right. It wouldn't be long before she was named General and had her own damn fleet to command. I won't lie, the thought of "General Farron's fleet" was pretty damn hot. Lightning was dressed like everyone else on the field, simple short sleeve shirt with her contestant number displayed largely on her back and plain loose pants. The first round's rules were simple: knock your opponent out of the ring, pin them to the floor for five seconds, or just knock them unconscious using nothing but your body as a weapon. This would be easy for me—we used to play-fight like this all the time in Oerba, but who knew for sure how Lightning would fare, she always used her Gunblade to kick ass. The Winner was determined by traditional tournament rounds.
The first round was simple enough, Lightning had the poor boy flying out of the ring in under a minute. I clapped anyway. Lieutenant Colonels Jihl Nabaat and Yaag Rosch did just as well with their opponents. The only fight that had the crowd waiting was one with two Sergeants duking it out. The second round went much the same, Lightning's opponent turned out to be the Sergeant who won in the last round, the man politely threw in the towel before the match even started. …I clapped anyway. Eventually I watched Lightning shake hands with Nabaat before the start of the Championship round, Rosch having been beaten in a surprising underdog win, only to get slaughtered when said underdog entered the ring against Jihl.
"Decided to show your face for once Major," Jihl sneered as the referee counted down the seconds until start time. Lightning was silent but I could see her eyes flicker to the crowds for a second. I figure she was looking for me. The people directly down front were screaming for Nabaat while the family to my right had abandoned their chants for Rosch in favor of Farron.
The match exploded in a flurry of moves, Jihl's fighting style was powerful, complete with open stances that allowed her extra oomph in her punches. A few decent hits from Nabaat and the Lightning would find herself out of the ring in no time. If it were me in there, it would look like two sumo wrestlers going at it. Lightning fought quickly like a wolf, dancing in the line of fire only to jump out again, attack swiftly and repeat. She was quick on her feet occasionally taking to the air (much to the crowd's delight) to avoid the impending confines of the ring's boundaries. The Major's quick shove and a well-placed sweeping kick finally got Jihl on the ground and Lightning wasted no time in getting her into a chokehold. Obscenities flew out of Jihl's mouth as the ref announced five seconds had passed and subsequently announced the Winner. The nearby family cheered so loud I thought I would lose hearing in my right ear.
After a fifteen minute break, the second event was announced, "Marksmanship! In this event each contestant must shoot a perfect shot for five targets at varying distances. The Winner is decided by whoever hits the fifth target first!" Just like the first event, each contestant filed out of the changing room as their name was called. This time they had on their normal uniforms. Lightning's new uniform consisted of the same clothing but with two shoulder plates much like her old boss Amodar, and vibrant gold lines certifying her new rank instead of the pale yellow ones she had as a Sergeant.
I could plainly see five targets at lined up in front of each contestant. When the first target is hit dead center, the contestant moves on to the next target, albeit at a longer distance. With Jihl's attempt at the last event I kept one eye on her and one on my girl, who was already breezing through the second target while Jihl was furious at her rifle for not being able to hit the first target on her sixth try. After that I decided to forgo watching the Lieutenant Colonel and instead focused on Colonel Rygdea, just at home with the standard-issue GC rifle as any other gun. I was amazed Lightning was doing so well against the man, he shot quickly and accurately. Lightning's Gunblade was more like a shotgun or perhaps a rifle, but it was designed with AMP technology, the firing mechanism yielded no recoil nor loading. I do vividly remember Sazh fiddling with it on one part of our journey, when we had some down time, the older man finally giving up his curiosity with an exasperated sigh labeling anything he had questions for as AMP.
Many of the other officers put in a good effort most of them struggling with the fourth target, it was clear Lightning and Rygdea were the only ones who would even have a chance at hitting the fifth target's bull's eye.
"Well, well, well. If it ain't Lightnin'," Rygdea said good-naturedly between shots, "Looks like it's gonna be just you an' me in the final round!"
Lightning glanced in his direction as she loaded the gun, "Yeah. Seems like it."
"So what made ya decide ta come to the games this year?" He swore under his breath as his bullet missed the mark by mere millimeters, "You have a change of heart or somthin'?"
Another shot. Off by a couple inches. I could see her brows furrow. I knew exactly what she was thinking at that moment, if I had my Gunblade I could wipe the floor with these punks. But her only reply was a vague, "I guess."
"Saw yer work there in the first event. Nice fightin' in there by the way. I don't ever enter in that one. I'm a man of smoke and steel. I don't take too kindly to being punched in the face ya know," Rygdea was slowing down, from fatigue or from giving up I had no idea. The crowd around me was unusually quiet amid the bangs and pops of the guns in the stadium below. "I only enter the contest fer this event, 'course you prob'ly already knew that. 'Course then you'd also know," He lined up his rifle for the shot, "That I always win this one!"
Lightning fired just as the Colonel did. Actually I had no idea who fired first. Rygdea was hailed as the Winner, Lightning was only off by a miniscule amount. It would go down as a tie in my books. The crowd erupted into applause, some of the lower ranked contestants didn't do too shabby—I was impressed. Then again, I'm a woman who works with spears, what do I know of gunpowder?
As Lightning and Rygdea shook hands I watched Jihl storm off into the changing rooms her fourth and fifth targets untouched. She may be a brainy bitch, but she'd never survive in a gunfight. Another short break and they'd be getting geared up for the third event.
"Walk it off Light!" I shouted into the stadium hoping she could hear me, not as if it matted much, Lightning was never the sore loser type.
"Light? Is that your husband?" A voice asked from behind me. The question came from an elderly lady holding a gigantic hot dog slathered in ketchup and relish in one hand and a young boy—presumably her grandson—in the other.
"Huh? No, my girlfriend, Light, it's short for Lightning. Who are you here for?"
"My son, number 8," she glanced down at the boy holding her left hand, "His father. What number is Lightning?" She meant the number pasted on the back of the Major's shirt.
"Oh!" Grandma's face lit up in surprise, "The one who almost won just now?" Her grandson perked up at the mention of the pink haired soldier who had given consecutive-Winner Rygdea a run for his money.
"Yep, that's her."
"She's very talented for one so young. You're very lucky."
I grinned, "I know."
"For the third event, we have your traditional Three-part Track Race! The rules are simple, pass the obstacles and be the first to get to the finish line!" The announcer followed the usual routine, calling out the names of each competitor as they once more filed out of the changing room everyone dressed in the same uniform as the first event. There were visibly more competitors in this event than the last two. In my personal opinion, the obstacle course didn't look all that hard. A stretch of flat track, then hurdles, then a climbing wall. Didn't seem too hard but I guess being born and raised as a hunter really had its advantages.
As the starter pistol rang out it was no surprise when Lightning took the lead. She lived up to her name.
"Lightning is doing really well," Grannie said as she followed Lightning's progress.
"In a flat out sprint, no one can beat her, not even me," I chuckled as she pulled away from the pack, the veins on Jihl's forehead probably visible from space as she strained to keep up. I had nothing to say about Number 8, he clearly didn't stand a chance.
As the first few started crossing the hurdles, the race slowed a bit. At this point there was a clear distinction between those who would make it under ten minutes and those who weren't. Lightning still had a sizeable lead, but Jihl was right on her tail and closing in fast. At last came the wall. Most of the senior officers sailed over it without a hitch, not even bothering with the climbing ropes, leaving the rest to struggle. My hands were shaking, I didn't give a damn if she won or not… That's what I kept telling myself, but my eyes were glued to her as if I could feed her speed through eye-power alone.
A quick glance was all it took. Had I not been staring at her for the last few minutes I would have missed it but it was unmistakable:
Watch me win.
Knowing I was watching. Knowing I would see her… With a burst of speed I didn't even know she had, she pulled away from Jihl at the last second taking the lead to cross the finish. I was dumbstruck as the crowd's cheers faded into the background. She was standing off to the side catching her breath—a good distance away from Jihl I might add—watching me, knowing I had the shit scared out of me only for it to come hurling back as soon as the world stopped spinning. For a brief moment, for a split second, a genuine smile graced her face.
As I waited for the next event, a pair of teenagers took the seat next to me. They had obviously come as a date, but at the moment they were bickering like a married couple.
"Seriously? You've gotta be kidding me! That's the reason you bet on Ashelia?"
"It was my money Tidus! Why do you care what happens with my money?" The girl shouted back at Tidus who was shaking his head in disbelief.
"I care because it's your money!"
"You two havin' a problem over here?" I asked gently. I didn't want to get in the middle of their fight, but I needed someone to talk to. There were still ten minutes before the next event.
"Oh no," The girl was quick to apologize a sweet smile plastered on her face, "We are so sorry if we were disturbing you—"
I waved away the politeness, "Nah, it wasn't much that, I was just curious who this Ashelia was."
"No one worth betting on," The boy, Tidus, mumbled as the girl shot him a death glare.
"Who do you have your money on then, smart boy?" I asked teasingly.
He held up a betting ticket with a smirk, "Captain Basch Ronsenburg," then flicked his fingers and a second ticket appeared, "And Lieutenant Colonel Jihl Nabaat."
"You sound like you regret betting for Nabaat." Not that I could blame him.
"With the way she's going…At least I still have the good Captain."
"Please be seated for the fourth event—Showy Swordsmanship! This is the only event where contestants can choose their weapons, as long as there are no projectiles, any weapon is fine!"
"Ashelia's not going to make nearly enough points in this round, Yuna."
"Well at least she's got the best hairstyle. She should get extra points for that."
"One of your favorite events from last year's survey, we've brought it back just for you! The rules are slightly more elaborate than the last event. Contestants gain points for accurate hits to the target's vital areas but they also get points for how elaborate they manage to pull it off!"
"What did Basch do last year?" I ask Tidus slightly worried about my Major.
"Some really crazy tornado thing with his sword I don't even know what to call it. You had to see it to believe it. It was crazy. He literally blew the target off the ground. It was so incredible. He won by a landslide," Tidus boasted in awe as if just talking about the Captain would instill admiration in me. I didn't give a damn. I didn't give a damn about anyone—not Basch, not Ashelia, certainly not Jihl—it only mattered that Lightning win. And win by a landslide even bigger than Basch's.
The announcer piped up again, "Under ten seconds! That's right ten seconds! They have ten and only ten seconds to impress the judges!"
As the intercom blared the participating contestant names I realized only the senior officers were taking part in the event. Everyone was Captain level or higher, and those were only a few, their higher ranking clearly distinguished on their shoulder plates. Among them, Jihl, Basch, Ashelia, and someone named Drace. Of the people I knew, Yaag seemed to be sitting this one out and so was Rygdea. Ashelia stepped up to the plate first, her swordsmanship was pretty, but still needed work. As Tidus had expected, she scored decently even slightly higher than last year (according to Yuna's memory), setting the bar for the rest. Drace went next, her large mace sending chunks of wood flying off the target dummy. It didn't look too elegant to me, but it sure created a resounding thud whenever a hit connected. She walked away with a small lead over Ashelia. Basch emerged accompanied by a ferocious cheer, obviously the crowd expected him to up the ante from last year. The man looked determined but tired, worn with battle scars. His simple sword sent cracks in the target, with each swipe each indent in the wood cracked open more, and finally with a powerful thrust he sent the target into the sky, the cracked pieces falling back down like rain. The crowd cheered as Basch's score surpassed Drace. Jihl walked out after Basch, her nightstick at the ready. I think I laughed out loud, startling an old man in front of me. I'm a woman of spears remember? That thing looked like a toothpick. Unfortunately Jihl was commended for her accurate stances and fluid movements (fluid my ass) and creating sizeable dents in the target dummy despite the relative size of the weapon. She scored more points than Amelia, but less than Drace. Lightning appeared after that and I forgot everything else.
"Try not to stab yourself in the foot," Jihl taunted as they briefly passed each other at the changing room doors.
"I'll try not to leave you speechless," Lightning replied and with a swift swish of her cape she spun on her heel not wasting another second on the Lieutenant, "But I don't think I'll be able to, since you never shut up."
Jihl's eyes widened, her mouth agape. I don't think she was expecting a reply—and such a fiery one at that—from the stoic soldier.
The Major took off flying from the beginning, slash turn slash, the crowd was having a hard time keeping up with her Gunblade's movements, given only a slight reprieve as Lightning crouched, only to spring up into a full launch, uprooting the target dummy, sending it skyward. The crowd followed her up, twisting and turning in the air, doing aerial backflips and on the cusp of its descent a crushing blow that sent the dummy exploding downwards only to shatter as it impacted the ground. The soldier landed in a graceful crouch a half-second later. As she straightens I catch her eye awaiting some sort of response, but she merely smirks at me, and walks out of the stadium among the deafening cheers.
I hesitate before screaming into the crowd, "That was my bloody Highwind!"
Lightning had nudged Basch out of the way for a Win in the fourth event. I wasn't as irked as I thought I'd be for Lightning to use Highwind—it turned me on. She looked so goddamn sexy when she performed it, I've never executed it in the mirror myself, but I'm guessing it wouldn't look half as flashy. She was gonna have me squirming in my seat for the rest of the day if I keep replaying it in my mind.
Thankfully the next event came up quick, "And now for the secret fifth event! The last event is always kept unknown until now! Ladies and gentlemen, please applaud for your contestants will be… BABY BEHEMOTH HERDING!"
"Well that doesn't sound as crazy as last year's fifth event," Tidus sat back relaxing.
I was afraid to ask, "Which was?"
"Color me Cactuar."
The announcer went on to discuss the rules, "Herd the baby behemoths into the pen, without touching them or touching the fence, and without any weapons! Shock collars and Adamantoise tranquilizers are at the ready for your safety so don't hold back!"
No wonder the only competitors were Jihl and Lightning. For one, why would you want to ever go near a behemoth, baby or not, without something to defend yourself. And two, why would you want to die?
Jihl was up first. The three babies were ushered out of the gates and like raging bulls, as soon as they spotted Jihl, they took off running, not away from her—at her.
"Come on you dumb brutes," Jihl goaded as the behemoths came closer and closer with each passing second. And the very last second she jumped out of the way sending two of the babies careening into the pen. The third skidded from the sudden change in direction, pawing at the ground and taking off squealing as it came for the Lieutenant Colonel again. Jihl wasn't in any position to try the same method twice, the only thing she could do now was run. And run she did.
But the third behemoth wasn't having it. It didn't follow after her. Frustrated, she knew she needed some way to attract the beast's attention. She attracted like she had never attracted before—flapping her arms, screeching like a banshee, and generally just flailing about like a madwoman.
As the last behemoth was caged up, she walked briskly toward Lightning who had been watching her with an amused expression. Jihl's shirt collar was ruffled, glasses askew, and hair a mess, but she had an air of smugness about her.
"How was that, Major?" She sneered.
The referee signaled for Lightning's turn, "We're ready whenever you are."
"No thanks, I don't think I could embarrass myself as well as the Lieutenant did," Lightning chuckled as she passed the flabbergasted officer.
Jihl was announced the Winner with Lightning as Second place by default. No one else had signed up for the fifth event, apparently few ever did. Even signing up was a feat in itself.
With three First place medals and two for Second place, it was plainly obvious who would be taking home the Platinum trophy.
The betting ticket was crumpled and damp with sweat being strangled in my grasp for a prolonged period of time, but nonetheless readable. I giddy with joy as I headed down the bleachers to the betting station.
"No! Dammit!" I shouted as a particularly strong wind pried the ticket out of my hands. I needed that damn thing! I had plans, I'd take Lightning out for a nice celebratory dinner to some fancy place, just the two of us with the winnings. It was going to be perfect—but dammit I had to get that ticket back!
An unknown foot stomped on the piece of paper, effectively ending its flight. I breathed a sigh of relief. The man grabbed the ticket, cautiously lifting his shoe, glancing at its contents before handing it back to me.
"Thanks for catching it," I said.
"No problem," the man whistled, "Man, Farron? I had my money on Rygdea." He shook his head as if disappointed by his loss, "Damn, you've gotta be rolling in gil now…."
I felt sorry for the guy. I had probably wiped the whole stadium clear of their wallets, but I couldn't help widening my grin even wider. Hey, I was proud of my woman!
"Rygdea? I woulda' pegged you for a Jihl kinda guy."
"Yeah, I put money on her last year, but the return's low since everyone expects her to win," he sighed and muttered again, "Ugh I can't believe it… Should've went with Farron."
I had nothing to say and my sympathy had worn out for the guy, so I went for old-fashioned bluntness, "Yeah, you should've."
"It's weird though, no one even knew Farron would be entering."
"In all my years she's never entered."
"Wait hold on, I thought this was mandatory," She doesn't enter every year? I must have had one hell of a confused look on my face because the man just laughed.
"I wonder why she picked this year to enter?" the man mumbled to himself as he walked away. I could still hear him grumble about his loss and vows to bet on Farron come next year. Though the man had me guessing too. Why did Lightning decide to play in this little contest?
"I'd be happy if you could attend."
If my grin could get any wider, it just did. And not just because I caught a flash of pink hair coming out of the changing room.
"Yeah, I saw you lookin' around for me in the stands, sweetheart."
Note: Don't ask about the fifth event. I wanted four normal events and one wtf event, that's all I'm going to say about that. As for ranks, Raines is a Brigadier General with Rygdea being directly under him which makes him a Colonel. A few ranks down there's Major and five ranks under that is Sergeant. Or something like that. Please forgive any of my military jargon mistakes. I only have what little knowledge gleaned from FMA. ;) …And some research. Apparently a "straight win" is the person you're betting for must win for you to win. So Fang bets on Lightning taking everything. There are also combination bets and point bets but that's getting too complicated. Basch is an Order of the Knights of Dalmasca Captain from ffxii who works well with swords (regular swords, great swords, etc.) in the game. Ashelia ("Ashe") is a princess of Dalmasca who (I believe) is better equipped with a katana in the game. Drace is a Judge Magister and one of the Commanders of the Imperial Army wielding a sword and something which looks like a mace, also from ffxii which makes all of them military personnel. I only used them because I needed people who were good with swords. X) Basch's finishing move I took from when you launch enemies into the air and KO them simultaneously in ffxiii, they fly up and sort of disappear except I thought severed body parts raining down on the victor would be so much cooler. For Lightning I wanted to describe her Army of One (Scene Drive) ability, but mashed it together with Fang's Highwind at the part where she starts shooting. So you get the beginning sequence of Army of One with Highwind as a finisher. …I'd pay money to have that move as DLC. And if you don't think "Color me Cactuar" sounds bad just imagine trying to paint a creature the size of a small cat that can run as fast as a velocycle while simultaneously pelting you with 1,000 Needles.