Vigil of the Fates Chapter 5
At the Cafeteria
Having conducted the transfer student to the campus directory and given her a few quick explanations, I take leave of the Peppiest Girl That Ever Lived. It seems that she, the tiny lady she is, already completed training at Trabia Garden and transferred here to join SeeD. She will also be taking the field exam today, she said. Its difficult to imagine someone like her on the battlefield.
I have about an hour before meeting up with the instructor. I head to the cafeteria to get myself some refreshment. It is not recommended to eat shortly before combat, but it has been an eventful morning, and I will not head out to fight with nothing but painkillers in my system.
Upon arrival, I note with some dismay that standing by the vending machine near the entrance are none other than Seifer and his two croniesFuujin, the damsel with an eyepatch, and Raijin, the muscleman. The three of them make up the small but phenomenally pesky Student Disciplinary Committee of Balamb Garden. Why the master faculty decided to leave a committee like that in the hands of the worst miscreant in the Garden eludes me. Most likely Seifer took over the committee from whoever headed it before him through some kind of unpublicized coup.
Seifer. Drink? asks Fuujin. Seifer makes no response, his arms folded and his head down, deep in thought.
Raijins thick, loud voice interjects. Can I drink somethin? Id like some spring water, yknow.
Fuujins lone grey eye hardly even rolls in the burly cadets direction. ...Ignore. She is in the unique habit of limiting her speech to a single word between periods. Sometimes she will expand it to two or three words in a fit of magnanimity, but I wouldnt be surprised if no one here has ever heard her utter a complete sentence in private conversation. To my knowledge, she comes from some distant spot on the globe where the language structure apparently makes that sort of speech halfway decipherable, if not completely natural. But when spoken in direct translation to our language in her idiosyncratic manner, the effect is something freaky.
I approach Seifer and Company, not because I want to but because they stand squarely in the way into the cafeteria. Seifer looks up for a second, and says as his head plunges back down into whatever reverie that has occupied him: Squall, cant you see that the Disciplinary Committee is busy? Dont bother us.
What the hell? I havent even said anything.
Yo, its Squall, Raijin announces. Announce is the right word; his voice always roars. For his size, however, he is actually the mildest of the bunch. Oh, yeah. Fuujin was about to treat us, yknow? You want something?
That was from Fuujin, and with it she delivers a vicious kick to the big mans shin. Raijin groans and jumps about precariously on one foot, rubbing the hurt shin. It is a pathetic sight, but to Raijins credit he is in genuine anguish; a martial artists kick to the shin can inflict no small amount of pain, no matter how ridiculous it may look. Almost grabbing my shoulder for supportI veer out of his way quickly, Raijin whispers to me: Fuujins got a really short temper sometimes, you know? Better watch it, but I keep forgettin.
That was again Fuujin, who of course heard Raijin. He had actually thought she wouldn't be able to hear him. He hastily bellows, O-oh! Its nothing!
Enough of this, really. I move to pass by the Disciplinary Committee. A rush of blue uniform from behind beats me to it. It is a cadet, and he makes a beeline right through the four of us to the cafeteria counter. Coming to a halt before one of the cafeteria ladies, the cadet huffs and heaves in exhaustion for a few moments and declares the reason for his prodigious urgency:
Do... you havehuffany hotdogs left?
Sorry, sonny, but Im afraid youre a bit late. They were all sold out earlier than usual, what with the excitement about the field exam and all.
DAMN! howls the cadet, shoulders slumping. Not again...! Its hopeless if you arent an early bird... Fine, Ill try again next time... Dejected, he turns around and goes back the way he came, walking by us with considerably gentler speed than before. The front locks of his blond hair stick up like a roosters head. It could be due to his mad run just now, but I doubt it.
...Indoor speeding. Seifer breaks the silence.
What? I say.
Lets go arrest that student for violation of academy conduct regulations. Come on, Fuujin, Raijin!
Affirmative! says Fuujin.
Roger, boss! echoes Raijin. The committee exits after the cadet.
I take a light breakfast and drink and seat myself at an unoccupied table. The cafeteria is crowded this morning because of the lax regular schedule in preparation of the SeeD field exam. Talks about the field exam abound, and the conversation of three cadets at the table next to mine makes its way into my ears.
So todays the SeeD field exam..., one of them says with a distinctive sigh.
I choked last time... I was way too nervous, says another.
At least you made it to the field exam! the third exclaims. I cant even pass my written test yet!
Well, I guess youre just not as brilliant as I am.
Yeah, right! I already heard you are getting stuck on campus this time cause your teach thinks youre slipping in your study.
Well, then... I guess we all suck.
Were just a sad bunch... It sure oughtta at least qualify us for SaaD...
I tune them out of my attention and focus it on eating. Breakfast ended, I rise to dump my plate and leave.
Hey, Squall, I hear youre taking the field exam today, too.
I turn to see the speaker. He is a tall cadet whose face is vaguely familiar but whose name I cannot recall. I think I take a class with him. Maybe two. I hope he doesnt have much to talk to me about; it could get awkward.
Yeah, I simply answer.
Im taking it also. Youre sure to pass it easily, huh?
Ill find out this afternoon. Was his name Ni... something?
Ill bet you will. Hey, have you heard about this card club on campus? They call themselves the CC Groupbasically a bunch of card maniacs looking for worthy opponents day and night.
Im getting impatient fast. I hate random small talks. So?
Well, cards are a big deal with SeeDs, you know. Its like a revered pastime of theirs, because they can play cards even out in the field. Once we become SeeDs ourselves, were sure to be challenged to games by a lot of card-playing SeeDs, and itll be really awkward if you dont even know how to play. Being good at cards is like a mark of any genuine SeeD membera bonding activity, you know?
This conversation is what I am finding really awkward at the moment. Whatever. Im off. Good luck on your exam.
Thanks! The same to you.
Thank Heavens I didnt have to recall his name.
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