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"Sir."

Dr. Stein looked up from his desk without putting down his pen. Merce, along with the rest of his Students, were standing in front of his desk - had been, in fact, for almost half a minute before Merce had spoken. They were attentive, respectful, and for the most part, a little nervous. Nothing of note there.

"Yes?"

"The inter-school games are coming up, sir." Merce seemed to have been appointed cy'ree spokesperson today. "We were hoping you might have some advice."

Dr. Stein sat back, placing the pen down on top of his papers. "Of course I have advice," he said matter-of-factly, flicking a brief glance over his Students and waiting.

It took disappointingly long - almost three seconds - before any of them got past blank confusion. "Um, actually," Kevan said, "we were hoping you might give us some advice."

"Very good." The corners of Dr. Stein's mouth turned up in the faintest suggestion of a smile. "You remember my advice, 'know your team'?"

His Students nodded.

"Good. That is still my first piece of advice: know your team. Know how they think, how they feel, how they act and react. Where their metaphorical buttons are and how hard they need to be pushed. Know what strategies and responses your teammates will give before they know themselves."

He paused, glancing over them again to be sure they were still paying attention.

"My second piece of advice is: know your enemy, like you know your team. If you do - if you know them better than they know themselves - you are virtually guaranteed to win."

"But sir." Kevan spoke up again. "How are we supposed to know all that? We aren't going to meet them at all until the games."

Dr. Stein looked at him and smiled. (To their credit, only one of his Students visibly cringed.) "Well then, you'll need to learn very quickly."
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a brief sketch (no not the drawing kind)

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