Driving Test




 Written by Anna-mathe


 All rights reserved, for I have none.




 This fic is independent of any other FF tales, and takes place about a

 year before the game begins.  Before Cecil can become the Captain of the

 Redwings, he must pass one little test . . .






             Cecil had never realized just how frightening the hairy man

 could be when he tried.  However, his position forbade him to display any

 crude emotion such as fear, even if his pride did not, so he stood at

 attention without wavering as his tormentor paced back and forth before

 him, grinning demonically and mumbling observations periodically to one

 of his assistants, who was trying in vain to keep up with him.


             “So,” Cid finally said to Cecil, coming to a halt just in

 front of him and glaring him down, “the King thinks you should command my

 Airships, eh?  Well . . . *chuckle chuckle* . . . do you feel up to the

 challenge, Mr. Dark Knight?”


             Cecil suddenly felt more insulted than nervous - after all,

 he was surely more than a match for this bumbling old fool he’d just met

 - and glared back.


             “My orders stand,” he declared defiantly.  “What you or I

 think has nothing to do with it.”


             Cid chuckled some more.


             “I get it.  You’re looking at this as a promotion.  That you,

 leading the Redwings, will automatically become one of the most powerful

 soldiers on this planet.  Well, that’s all fine and well . . . if you can

 do it.”


             “Pardon?”  Cecil was still glaring defiantly.


             Cid’s sinister grin darkened and grew.


             “Did His Majesty tell you about . . . the driving test?”


             Lightning flashed.


             Cecil blinked.


             “The . . . driving test?”


             Lightning flashed again.


             Evil laughter came from the engineer.


             “You think you can just jump on board an Airship and take

 off?  Oh, no!  First you have to prove to me that you can fly one of them

 safely, observing all traffic rules and regulations.”


             Cecil thought.  That didn’t seem so bad.


             Cid laughed some more, seeing the slight relief on his

 victim’s face.


             “And, of course . . . you have to pass Serpentine . . . and



             Lightning flashed, and somewhere, an organ began to play.


             Cecil, noticing all these strange abnormalities in the

 weather, wondered if it was a sign.


             “Well?” Cid inquired, raising an eyebrow.  “Ready to try your

 hand at flying an Airship?”


             Cecil swallowed, set his jaw firmly, and nodded.




             A wiry old man named Ferdinand informed the Dark Knight that

 he would be his driving instructor.  Cecil hated him instantly.


             “This is our flagship, the Adversity,” Ferdinand told him.

 “You can look, but that’s all you’re going to do for now.  Dark Knight,

 before you begin to learn the controls of this craft, you must complete a

 six-week book-work course . . . in three days.  Here.”


             Cecil numbly held out his hands and received two large books

 which his teacher held out to him.


             “This is your Driver’s Ed. workbook and a book with the

 traffic laws for the country of Baron.  By tomorrow, you’ll have to have

 read and memorized all the laws and completed exercises for chapters 1 -

 11 in your workbook.  Tomorrow you get the traffic laws for Toroia and

 Damcyan, the next day you get Fabul and Eblan, as well as minor

 independent territories like Silvera.”


             “But . . . how can there be all these traffic laws?!  No one

 else has even heard of an Airship!!  We’ve only just invented them!!”

 Cecil suddenly grew suspicious.  “Is Cid just making all this up to give

 me a hard time?”


             Ferdinand slapped him in the face with a ruler.


             “You have detention, young man!  Go stand in the hall until I

 come for you, and think about what you’ve just said.”  He turned away

 then, mumbling about how kids these days thought they knew everything.


             Cecil swallowed, feeling a shame he hadn’t felt since

 grade-school, turned, and went to stand in the hall.




             Long into the night, the Dark Knight sat at his desk in his

 tower quarters, filling out pages and pages in his workbook while

 repeating the Baronian traffic laws to himself quietly until he thought

 he was either about to go insane, or was already gone.


             A light knock on his door startled him back to awareness.


             “Yeah, waddya want?”


             The door opened a crack and Kain stuck his head in.


             “Do you have any glazed donuts?”


             “NO, we don’t have any glazed donuts!”


             “Do you have any jelly donuts?”


             “NO, we don’t have any jelly donuts!”


             “Do you have any Bavarian cream-filled donuts?”


             “NO, we don’t have any Bavarian cream-filled donuts!”


             “Do you have any bear claws?”


             “ . . . wait a minute, I’ll go check.”


             For a moment, Cecil stared at the papers in front of him,

 wondering what on earth he was talking about.  Then he jumped to his



             “NO, WE’RE OUTTA BEAR CLAWS!!”


             Kain stepped in and tapped his spear against the floor.


             “Well in that case . . . in that case, what do you have?”


             Cecil rubbed his temples.  It appeared that Kain had come by

 just to annoy him.  Again.


             “I have a headache, Kain, that’s what I have.”


             The Dragoon blinked.


             “What?  No box of one dozen starving crazed weasels?”


             “Kain, shut up!!”




             For a moment, the visitor stood there silently, watching the

 agonized Dark Knight pace his room.


             “I saw your light on, Cecil.  You are aware, aren’t you, that

 it’s three in the morning?”


             “Is it?  I wasn’t paying attention.”


             “Obviously!”  Kain glared at him.  “What’s up, Cecil?  Rosa

 said you’d stood her up for dinner and didn’t even send a message.  She

 was worried that she’d made you upset . . . but I guess it’s not her, is



             “No, it’s not her,” Cecil sighed.  “It’s just . . . “


             Kain waited.


             “ . . . “


             “ . . . “


             “ . . . “


             Then he got sick of waiting.


             “Just what, Cecil?”


             “I’m only on chapter 3!”




             With a relieved frenzy to be venting his frustration, Cecil

 explained the predicament he’d found himself mired in since his meeting

 with Cid that afternoon.


             “ . . . and I still have 8 ½ chapters to go!  I’ll never get

 this, Kain!  Then what can I do - go to His Majesty and say, ‘Sorry,

 Sire, but you’re going to need to find someone else to captain your air

 force, because I couldn’t pass Driver’s Ed.’  Something tells me that

 wouldn’t go over too well with him!”


             Kain frowned, deep in thought.


             “I agree.  Well, that only leaves one other option.”


             Cecil gawked at him.


             “What other option?”


             Grinning slightly, the Dragoon turned and left the room,

 calling over his shoulder, “Do your homework, Cecil!  I’ll see you

 tomorrow!  Er, later today, I mean.”


             Cecil watched the door slam shut, sighed, attempted to rub a

 kink out of his neck, and went back to his workbook.




             The next day, he appeared in Ferdinand’s office with all the

 enthusiasm of a dead cow and handed in his assignment.


             His teacher glanced at the papers appraisingly.


             “You really need to work on your penmanship, young man.”


             Cecil bristled.  Just who did this guy think he was?  Cecil

 was not a child - he deserved better treatment than this.


             “Now, it’s time for your examination on the laws you were

 instructed to have learned for today.  You may begin.”


             Cringing inwardly with what little energy he had left from

 the overnighter he’d just pulled, Cecil began mumbling about the speed

 limits within castle zones during daylight hours, when Ferdinand suddenly

 keeled over, completely unconscious.


             Cecil blinked.


             This was not expected.


             He felt a light touch on his shoulder and turned to find Kain

 standing beside him.


             “He won’t wake up for several days.  You have plenty of time

 to learn your stuff.”


             “What did you do?!” Cecil exclaimed, horrified.


             Kain threw a quick glance around to make sure no one was

 watching, then replied nonchalantly, “I drugged his honey bun this

 morning.  Rosa managed to get me put in touch with this great stuff that

 - “


             “You drugged him?!”


             “Sure!  Why not?”


             Cecil looked again at the snoring heap of tyrant asleep on

 his desk.


             “Cool!  Now, excuse me, I’m leaving.”


             “Where’re you going?” Kain asked.


             “To sleep!”




             Cid was flaming mad when he found out, but Cecil bore his

 venting with good humor, knowing that there was nothing the Engineer

 could do about it.


             Finally, Cid regarded him with glazing eyes and said,


             “You obviously can’t complete the course until he wakes up.

 I suggest you use your time wisely.”


             Hearing the seething edge to his voice, Cecil could only just

 barely suppress his laughter.


             Cecil:    1


             Cid:      0




             The Dark Knight had no reason to have contact with the

 Engineer or any of his people during the following week, for during this

 time Ferdinand remained thoroughly unconscious.  Using his time wisely,

 Cecil managed to, using his good study habits, learn every traffic law on

 the face of the Earth and still maintain regular sleeping hours.  He

 decided to do a very big favor for Kain someday.


             When the day came, nine days later, that Ferdinand had

 awakened, Cecil was not as undisturbed about it as he’d intended to be,

 however.  He knew the hardest part of the course was yet to come.




             Ferdinand stood beside Cecil at the wheel of Adversity.


             “You checked your fuel?”


             “Yes, Sir.”


             “Your landing gear?”


             “Yes, Sir.”


             “All lights and signals?”


             “Yes, Sir.”


             Ferdinand glared at him harshly.


             “What about your blinker fluid?”


             Cecil blinked, feeling a sudden panic.


             “My blinker fluid?”


             “Yes.  Did you check your blinker fluid?  Did you, or didn’t



             Cecil swallowed numbly.


             “I . . . didn’t think of it, Sir.”


             His teacher sighed in an exaggerated manner and gestured

 sharply to the edge of the Airship.


             “Go check it.  Now.  You’re wasting my time.”


             Cecil got up quickly and ran to the side, not wanting to

 admit that he had no idea where to check the blinked fluid.


             One of the crewmen walked by just as he reached the edge and

 bumped into him.  Hard.


             For one sickening moment, Cecil felt himself falling through

 the air, then felt the painful thud as he hit the ground from the top

 deck of the Airship.


             Moaning slightly and sitting up, he looked up.


             “Sorry!” called the crewman.


             Ferdinand then appeared over the railing.


             “You fool!” he yelled.  “There’s no such thing as blinker

 fluid!  You should know better!  That was the oldest trick in the book!

 Get back up here!!”


             Cecil glowered darkly, but complied.


             Cecil:    1


             Cid:      1




             “How’d it go?” Rosa asked intensely over the small table

 where she, Kain, and Cecil were eating in the village Inn.


             Cecil shuddered and poked at his plate of meat.


             “I . . . didn’t hit anything,” he hopefully told his friends.


             Kain blinked, then realization dawned on him.


             “You scratched the paint, didn’t you?”


             A shudder ran through the Dark Knight.


             “I . . . I . . . I didn’t see the tree!  Honestly, I . . . I

 thought I had plenty of space!  It was in my blind spot!  No, it swerved

 into my lane!  I . . . “


             Kain held up a hand to silence him.


             “THE TREE JUST JUMPED UP AND BIT ME!!!!!”


             “Relax, Cecil.  It was your first time on the road.

 Accidents happen.  Cid should just be glad no one was hurt.”


             “Cid tried to wring my neck.  Only he couldn’t manage to dent

 my armor.”




             “I don’t see why they’re all being so rough on you,” Rosa

 primly declared.  “After all, what do they expect you to do?  Show up and

 instantly be a model driver?  They should know that these things take



             “I guess life isn’t always fair,” Cecil sighed.  “Anyway,

 they made me paint over the scratch in the paint, then I had to endure a

 lecture on paint expenses, both financially and to the ecosystem.”  He

 frowned and looked up.  “What the heck is an ecosystem?”


             Kain and Rosa exchanged a glance.


             “Sh!” Kain told him.  “It’s a secret.”


             “No, really.  We’re living in a medieval society.  We have no

 knowledge of the environment - just that we use it however we feel like!”


             “Cecil,” Rosa told him, “Cid would just use anything he can

 think of to get you into trouble.”


             Cecil sighed, knowing she was right.


             Cecil:    1


             Cid:      2




             Two weeks later was the big day.


             His driving test.


             Cid took his place beside Cecil at the wheel and told him to

 begin when ready.


             Cecil swallowed, started the engine, and pulled out.


             So far, so good.  Nothing had blown up yet.


             The driving portion took a little over an hour - Cid gave

 directions, Cecil followed them.  He observed all traffic signs, signals,

 stayed within the speed limit, and made observations for “conditions.”

 Everything was going fine.


             Then for the fun part.


             The other four Airships were deployed into positions in a

 straight line, high up in the air, along with a few blimps so that there

 were seven objects in all.


             Serpentine formation.


             “You’re familiar with the procedure, I should hope?” Cid



             Cecil swallowed and nodded.  Simply weave through the line of

 cones, reach the end, then weave back.  Backwards.  He’d done this

 before, in practice with Ferdinand.  He’d done it well.  He could do it.


             “Begin when ready,” Cid bluntly told him.


             Cecil nodded and eased the Airship toward the awaiting line.


             Forward . . . turn . . .brake . . . forward . . . turn . . .

 turn . . .


             Before he even realized it, he’d pulled Adversity to a stop

 with its hind bumper even with the last cone, which happened to be the

 Airship from which Ferdinand was observing the test.  Pointedly ignoring

 him, Cecil clinched his teeth and shifted the Airship into reverse.


             Backward . . . turn . . . backward . . . turn . . . don’t . .

 . stop . . .


             Cecil heaved a deep sigh of relief.  It was over.  He’d done



             Cid peered over the nose of the Airship, noting that it was

 exactly even with the cone.  Cone, as it was.  He nodded and grunted.


             The other four Airships then changed formation - making up

 the great aerial rectangle Cecil was so dreading.  A single blimp moved

 to the front for the fifth cone.  It was time.




             A shudder ran through Cecil, making a faint clang in his



             “Pull up even with the cones, then proceed when ready to the



             Cecil gnashed his teeth.  Of course it would be to the right

 - the right was his weaker side.  Oh, why couldn’t it have been to the



             He pulled the Airship even with the first two cones and

 stared ahead.


             Kain’s advice came back to him like the breeze of summers

 long past.


             “Don’t worry so much.  If you screw up, you can just throw

 Cid overboard and be done with it.”


             That was right!  Why was he so worried?


             Suddenly infused with a new energy, one that flowed from deep

 within his spirit, Cecil gunned the engines and eased forward at an easy

 speed, checking his mirrors and looking over his shoulder for possible

 oncoming traffic, which might cause an aerial wreck.  Finding his way

 clear, he progressed to the right, steering carefully around the Airship

 to the front right and coming out even with the blimp that was serving as

 the fifth cone.  He stopped and glanced at Cid.


             The Engineer was scribbling something on his clipboard.  He’d

 been doing that for most of the test.  It was driving Cecil crazy - was

 he really doing so badly?!


             Steadying himself against a sudden rush of anxiety, Cecil

 began to progress backwards the way he’d came.


             This part was slower - more careful . . .






             Straighten out . . . straighten out . . . STRAIGHTEN OUT -


             The Airship rocked with a sudden jolt.


             Cecil slammed his eyes shut.


             Cid glowered at him darkly, triumphantly.


             Cecil had hit a cone.


             It was all over for him now.


             Cecil:    -54


             Cid:      infinity




             Kain was waiting for him on the ground.


             “Well?!” he asked adamantly when Cecil got off the Airship in

 a daze.  “Cecil?  What happened?”


             Cecil looked at him with somber, hooded eyes.


             “I failed maneuverability,” he murmured in barely more than a



             For a moment, Kain didn’t seem to know how to react.  He

 shook his head.


             “Man . . . I’m sorry, Cecil.  Maybe . . . maybe next time,

 you’ll get it . . . “


             Cecil couldn’t meet his eyes.  The shame he felt was too

 overpowering.  He couldn’t bear this any longer.


             What could he do?  He’d be denied his command of the Redwings

 now - he’d failed his driving test.  Surely His Majesty would not look

 upon this lightly.  Cecil would now be seen as a failure: a disgrace to

 the crown.  He’d lose his position as Dark Knight.  He’d be demoted to a

 common soldier, or even expelled from the army altogether.  If not, he’d

 resign.  He had to.  The shame was too great - he couldn’t show his face

 in Baron ever again.  Even his friends, Kain, Rosa . . . they’d now look

 upon him with pity and contempt.  He’d have to take a self-imposed

 exile.  What would he do?  Where could he go from here?


             Cecil had failed his driving test.  It was the absolute end

 of his life.


             Cid came over to them, gloating.


             “You could repeat the course,” he told Cecil.  “Ferdinand

 would be delighted to have you as his student again, I’m sure.

 Otherwise, you can just go to the King and tell him that you couldn’t

 pass your driving test.  I’m sure he’ll be . . . understanding.”  He

 chuckled darkly.  “And just for the record, you can tell your Dad that

 this is only the beginning of my revenge!”


             Cecil blinked, too startled to say anything.


             Kain frowned.


             “Tell who?”


             “Who’re you?”


             “I’m Kain, the Dragoon.  What’s all this about Cecil’s Dad?”


             “He should’ve known this was coming, that old fogi!”


             Kain’s frowned deepened.  And Kain could be quite

 scary-looking when he tried.  And he was trying.


             “Mr. Cid, Cecil is an orphan.”


             Cid’s grin vanished abruptly.


             “What?” he asked in a choked voice.


             “I’m an orphan,” Cecil emphasized in as tiny a voice as could

 still be heard.


             Cid turned a fierce glare on him.


             “You’re not Cecil, son of Torlah?”


             “No.  I’m Cecil, son of KluYa.  The late KluYa.”


             Cid turned bright red, then a deep purple.


             “Oh.  Euh . . . excuse me, Cecil, I seem to have mistaken you

 for someone else.”  He turned from deep purple to a sickly green.  “I . .

 . euh . . . crud.  My mistake.”  He shook himself and returned to a

 normal color.  “Well, Cecil, we seem to have gotten off on the wrong

 foot.  Sorry about all that turmoil I put you through.  I’m sure we’ll be

 good friends from now on.”


             He turned to leave, beginning to change color again.  His

 embarrassment must have been great.


             “Wait!” Cecil called after him.


             Cid stopped and turned slowly.




             “What about my driving test?”


             “Oh, that.  Never mind.  I’ve no objection to your becoming

 Captain.  Report for duty tomorrow, Cecil.”


             And he was gone.


             For a long, long moment, Cecil and Kain stared at where he

 had gone.  Then one of Cid’s assistants came up to them and handed a

 small card to Cecil.


             A driver’s license.


             Cecil looked up with a sudden resolution.


             “Kain, I’ve gotta go.”


             “Where are you going?”


             “To find Cecil, son of Torlah, and kill him!!!!”




             Cecil:    Winner


             Cid:     Painfully Defeated . . . for now!



The End.

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