Chapter III: Raise Your Glass
When Instructor Kisaragi blasted her whistle, all hell went loose. There were cheers and battle cries from both sides. Paintballs of blue and red flew everywhere, splattered on uniforms and tree trunks alike. Lightning, after being on suspension and finally got her hands on some weapon, was trigger-happy. Cid knew this; that was why he placed her near him. And he was rather proud of his decision. For someone who was out of practice, her accuracy wasn't that bad.
They hid behind three tree trunks. Rygdea was on Cid's left while Lightning was on his right. Cid stood in the center, watching the girl out of the corner of his eye. She had been fishing through her pockets for sometime now. Curiously, he watched as she pulled out a rectangular piece of glass. When she held it up at a certain angle, there was a glare. Lightning stared into the glass, her eyes narrowing.
"There are at least a dozen of them blocking our way." She said. So that's what it was – a mirror. How clever. Women were crafty folk. When she tucked it away, she checked her paintball gun to see if it was still good to go. After all, one should always be careful. Lightning would hate it if her gun jammed now. She turned to Cid, tilting her head slightly and smirked. "Your call, Raines."
Of course, he was still the leader. "How confident are you, Farron?"
"Enough." She remarked.
"Rygdea, with me." Cid quickly said. "Farron, you're backup until I tell you to move. When we run, fire at will. Got it?"
"Just don't hit us." Rygdea laughed.
"Can't you have a little faith in a first year?" Lightning mocked.
Rygdea scoffed. "Our captain and first mate didn't last year."
Apparently, that was a sour memory. Lightning made the assumption that they had lost this event last year. Cid held his hand up, silencing the two of them, who then began to watch their leader carefully. He peered over, out of the safety zone and took a mental snapshot. They were up against Yaag Rosch, Jihl's right-hand man and a couple of his lackeys. Lightning hadn't heard much about him, but from the look on her commander's face, Rosch was a formidable opponent.
"On three." Cid ordered.
Lightning readied her gun, preparing to fire with rapid succession. She usually wasn't back up, but she wasn't terrible at covering her teammates. She just preferred to be at the front.
Rygdea crouched, his fingers twitching.
Cid's eyes narrowed, pressing his paintball gun closer to his chest.
The trio dove away from their hiding spots, startling their opponents. Rygdea and Cid charged, shooting anything that moved from Team Ultima. Meanwhile, Lightning remained behind, firing at will all the while careful not to hit her own teammates. She quickly glanced to the side, narrowing her gaze. There would be more coming. She could hear them.
Paintballs were everywhere. Rygdea was yelling, shooting and taking down Rosch's lackeys. Blue paint exploded more than red, but before Cid and Rygdea could fire at Rosch, their opponent retreated. Rosch's final move, however, took down Rygdea.
Red paint exploded on Rygdea's chest, tagging him. Lightning rushed forward, crouching beside Rygdea and firing blue paintballs at Rosch, but he had ducked behind a tree.
"Dammit!" She shouted at her wasted shots.
"Man down, Raines. You gotta go on without me." After grasping his friend's wrist, the Cavalry's second-in-command motioned his friend to run ahead, urging him to chase after Rosch. And so their trio was down to two.
"Cut the bromance," The pinkish-blonde joked.
Both males looked at her with their 'are-you-kidding-me' looks. It seemed that wasn't the first time they've received such a comment.
Lightning shook her head. "We still have a chance."
"Are you volunteering, Farron?" Cid lifted an eyebrow.
"What else does it sound like, Raines?" She answered with a question. The younger soldier trainee stared up at her superior, her weight shifted onto her left leg and her paintball gun held upright with her right hand. She was ready to go.
"What do you need me to do?" Her question uncomfortably rolled off her tongue. Normally, she would ask this with heavy sarcasm, but here, she genuinely meant it. She wanted the Cavalry to win. Hell, she was determined to do everything in her power to keep Jihl from winning.
"Follow my lead." That was his only order.
Along the way, they discussed multiple possibilities. One: chasing Yaag Rosch could lead them into an ambush; it sounded like something Jihl could cook up. Two: there was no ambush and the Cavalry had gotten most of Team Ultima. Both would prefer if the latter were true, but in such situations, they knew better than to assume the best. Otherwise, things would go horribly wrong.
They stuck together, diving over uprooted trees and avoiding all open areas. When they reached Team Ultima's base camp, Lightning grimaced as they ducked behind a rock. Jihl had to be there with Rosch reporting to her right next to the flag.
Cid clasped a hand on her shoulder. "Well, this is going to be interesting."
"I'll say," said the pinkette. She cursed the fact that she was unable to tag Rosch when he took Rygdea down. She broke out of her thoughts when he heard a male voice that was not Cid's, talking about intruders. What? Was their position compromised? No, it couldn't be. The rock was big enough for both of them to hide behind for the Maker's sake.
Listening into the orders, Cid then strained his neck to see who it was. And it shocked Lightning when he announced who he saw. "Elena. I'm surprised she's surviv—I apologize. She's been tagged, but she made a valiant effort. I think she managed to barely take Rosch down."
Smirking, Lightning made a note to congratulate her roommate. The odds were working in their favor. They were getting closer to winning. They just needed to cut off the head of the snake and grab the prize. "So it's Nabaat and how many others left?"
"About four others." Again, the odds didn't seem so bad. Not at all. Five against two, those numbers were not so bad. If she and Cid worked together, it was possible. "Farron, I'm trusting you to cover me."
"I will if you do me a favor." She said seriously. "Get the flag."
She was determined to get that smirk off of Jihl's face. On three, Cid sped off. Dropping to the ground, Lightning sniped from her position near the rock. She managed to shoot down two of the four 'guards' before she was forced to get up and move. Cid had charged in, shooting out blue paintballs. Jihl didn't appear too pleased when her number at the base was reduced to three. Team Ultima's captain was spitting out orders to the two remaining guards to move the Cavalry's real target.
She needed to cover Cid. That sounded easy enough, but who knew that big guy could be that fast? Lightning narrowed her gaze. This was getting tricky as she ducked behind a fallen tree trunk for cover. Taking a deep breath, she turned to see Cid nearby. They stared at each other before nodding.
He was going to make another mad dash for it.
'Understood.' She mouthed, turning away. When she heard him leap away from his hiding spot, she climbed to her feet and fired at will. Her fingers were exhausted at this point, but she needed to keep going! For fal'Cie's sake, they needed to win! Then she heard laughter – Jihl's laughter. Blue paint exploded on the chest of Lightning's opponent, leaving two enemies to guard the Team Ultima flag.
Seizing her chance, she fired at Jihl's last goon, aiming for his shin. Luckily, she made the shot and heard the goon cringe before falling to the floor. That left Jihl. Lightning made a run for it. For all she knew, Jihl had damn good aim; and the woman had her sights set on Cid, who was directly in front of Lightning.
Cover for me, said Cid.
And she was going do just that.
"Raines, get down!"
And before she realized what she was doing, she jumped and barely leapt over her captain's back. Landing in front of him, she charged at Jihl, who was firing at her. At the same time, Lightning was using whatever ammunition she had left. Blue and red clashed until Lightning heard a click.
She was out. Shit. She didn't like the way Jihl was smirking. A blue paintball struck Lightning's chest, right between her breasts. Biting back a curse, she stomached it. And then, she heard Cid rejoice and a buzzer go off, marking the end of the match.
"This match is over. Congratulations Cavalry. Better luck next time, Team Ultima," echoed the voice of Instructor Kisaragi throughout the arena. Jihl's expression fell before she began to fume. Lightning could only smirk to herself.
"Vaan, how in Eden's name did you get the booze?" Cid cried out, ready to smack the boy. The entire lounge was full of their teammates, red cups everywhere. Cards were scattered across the room. Drinking games ranging from King's Cup, Bus Driver, Flip Cup and Beer Pong were being played all around.
"How did they get it?"
Vaan shrugged. "Huh? That's a good question. I should ask my friend Fran how her partner does it."
"Enough talk, Cid! Drink up. Then, tell us how you and Light beat Jihl Nabaat!" Rygdea insisted, holding up a red cup in his hand. Upon stumbling upon this sight after Cid, both Lightning and Elena glanced at each other. It was half-past eleven at night. The duty line had passed through their hall for inspection. They had supposed Vaan had timed this rather perfectly.
Or Vaan had terribly good luck.
Lightning had her fists on her hips.
"You too, Light!" Rygdea shouted, raising his cup higher. "This drink is for you guys!"
A chorus of agreement echoed through the lounge. Elena was then dragged to play Flip Cup with Rygdea and some of the other guys. Lightning and Cid were then pushed toward beer pong, forced to be partners yet again. They shrugged simultaneously, picking up the ping-pong balls they were to throw into the red cups for the game.
When in Eden, do as the Edens do.
A couple of hours into the celebration, red cups were flying across the room. Mixtures of beer, vodka, rum, soda, and juice were spilling all over the place. And Lightning found herself sitting next to a very drunk Rygdea.
"You two make a good team. Maybe more ways than one?"
"Rygdea, isn't it a little too early to be having this kind of talk?"
"Hell no! It isn't!"
"Etro! No, I'mnotdrunk." He slurred.
"Heard that," Then, he suddenly burst out into hysterical laughter. "I bet yoooou were looking at Cid'ssssss. All the girls alllllways look at Cid'sssss."
And Lightning punched him square in the face, effectively knocking out the Cavalry's second in command. Rygdea closed his eyes, groaning and fell onto one of the lounge couches. Lightning shook her fist and grabbed her own red cup, filled with two full shots of vodka and downed it. The alcohol burned in her throat. And she suddenly wished she had a chaser. She had to keep herself from choking, but they'd have to get rid of all the alcohol somehow.
She tossed the cup onto the table, feeling her cheeks. Etro, she was getting dizzy and sat down on another lounge couch, away from Rygdea. She had lost count of how much alcohol she had taken in. Perhaps, it was a good time to stop.
"Hey Farron, could you help me with something?" asked Cid.
Huh? Lightning blinked. When did he get there? She wasn't quite sure. Perhaps, the booze was working faster than she thought it would. Then, her captain said something. She blinked once more, asking him to repeat as she raised her voice.
Author's Blurb: I had to chug this out because of the sudden interest. I thought all the Cid/Light fans were dying out. This is for all the people who asked me if this was discontinued. It's not, I swear! I apologize for being this on hiatus for so long, but Final Fantasy Type-0 plot bunnies have taken over. Again, I am so sorry. Stay tuned for future updates!