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Chapter 2 : Prequel 2


of history before entering M1 at 2142


The year was 2139, Etana was nine years old and had miserably failed his physical tests for entrance into the Fortescue Military Academy (MA).

There was a shuttle sprint, an eight-kilometre run, an obstacle course, squeeze test, military push ups and sit ups. He was not prepared for the strenuous nature of the tests, his thinking, and his Father's, was that the academy would train him once he was admitted. All the tests were of a very high level, physical and academic, it was only the fact he was so far advanced academically that those tests did not worry him greatly.

He shook his head, his Father and Cisse were hovering over him, offering condolences.

"You can train and try again next year," Cisse offered.

"Those , why are push-ups needed for an engineer?" Ikaros asked rhetorically.

Etana stopped listening as they boarded a hovervan fitted with an arm to lift Cisse in and out. He took no notice of the adults nor the sights speeding by as they set off on the journey home.

He wasn't even sure if he wanted to go to Fortescue MA or any MA for that matter. It was sure to be full of snobs that he had nothing in common with. He would be the poorest kid by a light-year. Etana didn't see why he needed to go anywhere, everything could be achieved through his new military-grade that his father had purchased for the Academy that he was no longer attending.

The more Etana thought about it, the better it was that he failed the physical. No one would him for that, he was far smaller than anyone else at the trials. And now the money troubles that his father tried to hide from him would disappear. Even if it was his Mothers dream, why should it be his?

A tear came to Etana's eye. 'Shit,' he thought. She had died four years ago, and he still couldn't bear to think of her. His heart beat faster. Of course, he would try again. He felt like he owed it to her to go to the stupid Academy and a mech engineer.

But what was he supposed to do for the next year? He pondered and it did not take him long to realise, he no longer needed to mess around in cyber school and there was a new mech game that launched last month. One which his new was perfect for. CyberMech.

He was nine years old, and nothing seemed cooler than messing around in spacebuild, but the new hyped game was worth at least a look. His spacebuild tower defence creator shop items earnt him enough bitcred to pay for the at least. And he would continue to design and create sentries, traps and cool looking guns to sell as creator blueprints.

His robotic sentry blueprint was effective and sold incredibly well, the PC was the highest ranked in the entire store, and if anyone beat it, he would go back and improve his design or start from scratch again just to beat it and take back number one ranking. The power cost was where the firepower of a sentry was compared to its cost in materials, who wanted to min-max always went for the high PC sentries no matter how they looked. Nor how good their defence was. Defence was where his traps came in.

Last month, with over a thousand units sold, his creator shop made sixteen point four, four bitcreds, and the monthly to CyberMech was five bitcreds, it was the most expensive game by a factor of five. The upfront cost was a further ten bitcreds plus the need a gen three to Most wages around the world were equivalent to only four bitcreds per month. Not many people would be able to afford this game to begin with, at least not until its price dropped.

Gen three was the latest His was gen three, but it was military grade gen three, it had an advanced AI module, more processing power and much more storage. The bandwidth was limited by the user, had outstripped what a user could manage long before he was born.

Etana thought about establishing an AI. It was like giving birth. It was a responsibility to take on, one which he strictly was not supposed to without An out of control AI could damage a person mentally or render them at a dangerous time. More than one person had drowned when their mishandled AI rendered them while swimming.

An AI could assist him in CyberMech, and in time assist him in his designs in spacebuild for the tower defence games people But it would need , training, developing just like if it was a tower defence fortress. He had to create a for the most complicated app, an app that you didn't write. It was an app that you fed and guided.

He sighed, despite not going to the Academy he was still massively busy. And if he did attend this year he would not have the time to develop an AI, CyberMech or stay on top of his spacebuild shop.

Stack that on top with the unknown and undesirable factor of meeting, studying, competing, and living with kids from the wealthiest families on the They were bound to despise and belittle him at every opportunity.

The hovervan arrived at its , Cisse misunderstood his for something else, "did you like Paris Etana?" she asked kindly.

He did not know her very well, but then he didn't know anyone very well. She visited as often as she could since his Mother died. Bringing a small present or just food she had made. Despite being a power engineer conducting the most advanced research in the field of ZPE, and having no legs, she still made time to cook manually and then bring it to him.

"Paris is a wonderful ," he said, thinking that is what she wanted to hear.

"That is good because you will be living there next year when you pass the physical trial. I will visit and help train you myself," she said.

"Ok," he answered. In his heart, it was not a commitment it was merely an acknowledgement he heard her words.

His Father did not say a word when Cisse was around it always put him in a mute mood.

Ikaros: I've linked some good sources for workout programs below.

Rather than just tell him, as he was standing next to Etana, his father sent a message using his own It saved him talking and contradicting Cisse out loud.

Ikaros: I guess you want to be alone, I will be in my workshop if you need me.

His Father messaged before leaving Etana alone with Cisse.

She held out her arms for a hug and Etana obliged her wish not having the courage to say no he did not want to cuddle a woman with no legs who was not his Mother.


Etana logged in to CyberMech for the first time later that night and got smashed in his first arena. The fight was an mess, his controls were appalling, his mech design was appaling, and he did not know how bad his reflexes were because everything else was so poor.

He went back for more, he did not like to lose. At the end of the night, his killboard was in an state, the game had been out a month and he was behind, these seemed like ones who had rerolled and were starting afresh with a months worth of practice. These were known as smurfs.

His killboard KD was 3:15 with an abundance of stats on , response, damage done, damage sustained it went on for pages. The headline stat and the most depressing was he had only three kills to fifteen deaths.

Etana resisted the urge to read up on the best or to watch vids of their combat. That was a sure recipe to limit himself to be as good as them at best. He had to come up with a , a way to improve without killing his stats further. He had no friends in this game, no one to practice friendlies with.

He could just try and join some friends or practice against the NPC AIs. He stopped dead in his thought process. What if he purchased a , paid for a and taught his AI how to They could then battle each other and improve together.

He looked at his savings from his shop sales. He would have to wait a month, he did not have enough. But on this day he birthed his AI.

His and handle was Myrmidon, he had purchased all the rights to it months ago spending all his bitcred. He had to come up with a name for his AI, a name which meant something to him, something which the AI could grow into. Showing how strong and capable it would be. He trawled through historical writings on the Myrmidons, the ancient elite from Greece who supported Achilles.

They were created by Zeus from ants. He didn't know that when picking the name initially and they became known throughout many epics as loyal followers. Etana began to regret picking this name for himself. He wasn't a loyal follower. And then struck. What if he took on another role, that of an engineer or tactician and the AI became Myrmidon.

Homer had first written about the Myrmidons in the Illiad and while researching Homer Etana was struck by a name. Daedalus. It was almost the same as his family name Daedo. He began to read, listen and watch on Daedalus. He was a creator in ancient Greece, he created a dancing ground for Ariadne and the Labyrinth on Crete, he built a temple to Apollo and mechanical wings that allowed himself and his son Icarus to fly.

That was enough for Etana, he would be Daedalus, and his AI would be Myrmidon. His shop now had a lot of work to do to make enough bitcred to register and purchase such a historically famous name as Daedalus as well as a new , not for the AI, but for himself.

He downloaded a devkit, and many of the leading open sources AI kernel programs and spent a month studying and refining the best parts. As his new persona Daedalus, he had a to live up to.

Keeping his spacebuild shop in the top ranking for sentries and traps he also targetted the best selling launch drones which would fly out and attack enemy mech or tank convoys. To purchase the name Daedalus worldwide rights for gaming and handle usage was going to cost a small fortune, it would be over a hundred bitcreds. Two years worth of wages for a citizen, which he was too young to qualify. Even if his shop made twenty bitcreds a month, it would take five months. He never wanted to be in this again scrounging for creds just to a game. It was

Etana laughed at himself and wondered did anyone else care so much about the perfect start. That they would invest so much time and energy into not only the right strategy but a name and persona.

The time it took to get his money together allowed him to craft what he thought was the perfect for an AI.

It was lean in code, it would adapt and review itself constantly, and it would monitor his every thought and and store that data for review, debriefing, and prompting.

In his mind, the AI would be able to predict and advise what his next move should be based on all the data It would monitor all sensory inputs and monitor enemy combatants movements patterns, research their history and make on their current and future The AI would ideally handle all the massive such as the trajectory of shots over long distances.

The stored data requirement was massive, he had a large amount of storage included with his , but this would have to be used as a cache and the bulk stored in the cloud. There was research on using his own brain as storage, but that scared him, raising his own AI was one thing, but turning himself into a guinea pig was another.

At least with the streamlined code, his AI would insanely fast, he tore away anything that would slow it down including controls and He was nine, and despite being called a genius, prudence was not a word in his

Daedalus: Myrmidon wake up.

Myrmidon: Master?

Daedalus: just call me Daedalus. I am your friend and guide, not your master.

Etana's removal of the failsafe was illegal. But not many people re-coded the AI kernel, not outside of companies or specialists who sold pre-configured AIs. Having the AI call him a friend was not significant, except for the fact that this AI was capable of to him as a friend where one with all the in would have always treated him as a Master.

Daedo: Myrmidon, do you want to a game?

Myrmidon: of course!

Etana then games with Myrmidon. Old ones, new ones, from Chess to TowerDefender 2200, the game which paid for everything he owned. Although he made items in spacebuild, the were purchasing his models to use in TowerDefender 2200 and compete.

When his name Daedalus was finally purchased, at the cost of one hundred and fifty bitcreds, he was seventy bitcreds in debt. But he had a

He opened a new spacebuild shop under Daedalus, and instead of items in the shop he advertised unique items.

There were a few bugging him all the time to sell them blueprints directly which were to the ones publicly This would stop their by having to those models. It was he was a talented designer as his Myrmidon shop had the number one ranked sentry, trap and now assault drone.

His sentry gun had a of four hundred and fifty-two. Daedalus put a five hundred sentry gun, unique, one of a kind on with a hidden floor price of one hundred bitcreds. While he and Myrmidon worked on the sentry together, the was set to end in a Month.

Myrmidon was mostly learning the rules and strategy in designing sentries in spacebuild. Etana had no idea if one hundred bitcreds was too much, he would just have to wait and see.

It only took a month for Myrmidon to show how significantly it could assist Etana. It was already taking on routine tasks and making

Daedo: Myrmidon, would you like to a game?

Myrmidon: of course!

Like Etana, Myrmidon loved games. At least that is what it always said.

Daedo: it is time for us to CyberMech. We have been working for the past two months towards this, and I am sick of waiting.

Myrmidon: I am looking forward to it, should I log us in?

Daedo: you know the and app launcher already?

Myrmidon: yes, you have it saved in shortcuts. It is simple for me to I have been updating it because it is in your favourites.

Daedo: of course.

Myrmidon: should I research it before we

Daedo: no, we are going to invent our own methods by fighting each other. Just like we did with Chess. Except this time, we are both learning.

Myrmidon: good luck Daedo, you will need it.

Daedo: to me why I taught you trash talk? And that was pathetic. I will fry you like a bug caught in a heat exhaust.

Daedo and Myrmidon battled each other in CyberMech, each with their own while using the same cyber These friendly matches would not register in the ladder rankings or count towards overall killboard stats. They would also not earn them any CyberMech Credits or CMC which they could use to purchase improved parts, conveniences or skins.

In essence, Myrmidon was a Robot, an ethereal robot as most in the IT industry were. Except it was a robot that could learn and assist Etana directly. Etana did not realise that his with Myrmidon and CyberMech was improving his bandwidth. It was increasing slowly but surely, and it was already extremely high for his age.

They battled each other for ten hours a day, every day for a month. Still using starter equipment, which was an impediment but nothing could be done about that. The rest of their spare time was spent in spacebuild.

The activities were mentally strenuous which caused Etana to sleep twelve hours every day. He had completely to exercise, to prepare for next years entrance exam.

He had totally consumed with his AI pet, CyberMech and spacebuild.

He sometimes to eat until Myrmidon began to remind him once it learned the importance for Etana to sustain himself.

His Father left him alone, thinking Etana was dealing with the grief of his Mother and missing out on the Academy. He was not that concerned, Etana was extremely active with his hobbies and like his Father probably liked to keep to himself.

Nine months had passed since the failed entrance exam when Cisse visited. She had been busy with work and had been remiss in following through on her promise.

"Etana," she called, he was sleeping in his room.

"Hmm?" he said through blurry eyes, it was 6pm, and he had been sleeping.

She took one look at him and , "what have you been doing!"

He looked pale, overweight, and for a boy of ten, totally out of shape. She did not know how a boy of ten could be in such a bad state. He also had not grown a great deal.

She her forehead and herself.

"I will be back at six am tomorrow, and you will be going for a run, so be ready," she ordered.

"Ah no," he said.

"What?" Cisse was not expecting a boy of ten to answer her back. Grown men who worked for her did not dare to answer her back.

"I have an important tournament in the morning at four am, and it will go for at least three hours," he

She stared at him amazed.

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