Dorian wiped the palm of his hands on his shirt, drying the sweat that had formed on his hand before gripping the hilts of the swords. He had changed from the two wooden swords to the two swords he had brought with him. Looking across from him, he watched as Meredith quickly stretched. He glanced at the two small daggers she had placed on the ground. So…those are the weapons she favors…

Meredith finished her stretching and grabbed the two daggers. "So, are you sure about this? Fighting with real weapons versus a special operations operative?"

Dorian nodded. "Yes, I am. I can't go all-out if it's just practice weapons. The clanging of steel, it's a sound that naturally brings the best out of me."

"I see…"

Meredith dropped down into a fighting stance, her two daggers reflecting the light from the sun. "Well then, Dorian, show me how strong you truly are!"

Dorian grinned slightly, also dropped down into a fighting stance, then charged forward. Swinging his right arm, his sword went quickly towards Meredith.

*Clang*

Meredith easily parried the blow and countered with a strike of her own. Dorian jumped to the side and used both his swords in a wide-arcing attack. Meredith parried both swords and charged forwards for a quick, unyielding attack.

Dorian parried the quick blows, however, due to Meredith's speed, was unable to launch a counterattack of his own. As he continued to block the attacks, he began to grin. How long has it been since I've been able to feel this way? Without being a part of them…

His movements began to become more and more compact and efficient. Surprising Meredith, Dorian squeezed off an attack of his own, almost slicing a cut on her arm. The few moments of surprise caused an immediate shift in momentum, as Dorian began an unrelenting attack of his own. Meredith began to fall back, being able to block all of Dorian's attacks before jumping backwards, causing some distance between her and Dorian.

"I can see why you were recommended by the intelligence agency. Your fighting prowess is top notch. I would have mistaken you for a top operative instead of just a student if I hadn't known beforehand."

Dorian chuckled. "Sadly, my skills didn't come from being in the agency, but they do know how skilled I am. You aren't bad yourself. I can see why you were placed in spec ops. Despite you using only daggers, your strength in being able to block two swords is impressive."

Meredith grinned. "I've been using these since I was a teenager. I couldn't fight with any other weapon now. However…"

Her grin disappeared as her whole body language changed. Her fighting stance changed as she stared at Dorian. "I originally only planned to fight you for a few moments to gauge how strong you are. However, that's no longer the case. There's no way I'm willing to walk away from such a fun fight. I'm not going to stop until there's a clear winner!"

Meredith again charged at Dorian, who stood in a defensive position, anticipating her actions. However, as he maneuvered his swords to block what looked like an obvious strike, he realized what was happening. He immediately changed his position and blocked an attack from the exact opposite side from which it appeared she would strike from.

Crap! She's able to use that in battle?! The only way to break through this is to—

Dorian managed to block another strike as he staggered backwards. Trying to change the momentum, Dorian launched a powerful strike, hoping to knock Meredith off balance. However, she easily parried his blow and launched another barrage of strikes, both strikes easily able to read and others deceptive as to where it would come from.

After several seconds, as his attention was solely focused on blocking her strikes, was knocked to the ground by a sweeping kick by Meredith. Before he could get up, he saw a dagger in front of his throat, Meredith standing on top of him. "And that's the match."

Dorian sighed. "I should have known you had something hidden, that you yourself weren't going full force. I am your student after all."

Meredith smiled. "That's what happens when you underestimate an opponent. I'm just glad you made that mistake as you could have turned the tables on me if the fight continued."

Dorian nodded. "Yeah…I've fought people who use the 'mirroring' technique you used and have beaten them…but you didn't fight like they did."

Meredith moved to the side of Dorian and offered him a hand to help him up. "When I was a freshman here at this academy, even though I was placed in special operations, I was the weakest one in my class. Yeah, I could fight using my daggers, but all my classmates had a 'trump card.' They all had a move or technique they could use in battle to turn the tide of battle in their favor. I didn't. My instructor at the time…he encouraged me to find something that works with my strengths and covers my weaknesses. The mirroring technique was the one I decided to use. When used with my natural speed with daggers, it's nearly unstoppable. It takes opponents longer to gauge how to parry my attack in a fight where speed is the difference."

"I see…but one thing from your past strikes me as odd."

"Hm?"

"No offense to my fellow classmates, but…all of them aren't exactly the strongest. Even the ones who come from military backgrounds are…lacking, and there's even people who don't know how to fight altogether. Yet, your classmates are all experienced, strong fighters."

Meredith sighed. "This class…is a special case."

"How so?"

"We wanted people who we could mold to their strengths. People who are already trained have habits that are hard to break. It usually takes two years to break those habits. Your class, with you being the exception, consists of people who don't have those habits. We don't need to break them down to rebuild them. We can build them up immediately, and, in theory, with two more years of constant growth, should become stronger soldiers and operatives than those already trained."

"I…see…"

Meredith glared at Dorian. "You better not tell anyone from the class about that. It was supposed to be confidential."

"Then why tell me?"

"…because I believe you're going to be the leader of the group, the one who guides them to victory and through the pains of defeat."

Meredith started to walk away. "As you're probably aware, this time of peace is nothing but a mirage. Tensions between us and Cellen are high, with both nations rapidly increasing their military strength. Most likely, you and your classmates will be used to help combat the threat. It's my job to train you all to be the strongest you can be. I hope you all will be ready for the hell you're going to be put through."