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Chapter 5 : Prequel 5

Daedalus

of history before entering M1 at 2142

"Who are you and what have you done with Etana?" she asked sarcastically. She used a kind tone, but it was lost on Etana.

"Who are you and what happened…" he was about to make a rude remark about what happened to her legs, but he caught himself. Not because he was worried about offending her, but she had lost her legs in the same that had killed his Mother. The reminder was a self-inflicted punishment to Etana. "...to your hair."

Cisse touched her head, thought for a moment "nothing," she answered.

"Exactly," he said and messaged her a list of the top ten salons in Paris.

She waggled a finger at him.

The intake for this year was one thousand two hundred and seventy-five students. It was the same every year. There were five houses with two hundred and fifty-five students each.

Although it was a boarding school with astronomical fees if you did not pass and rank in the top thirteen hundred students, you would not be Although Fortescue was a tier three school, they always had more applicants than It was one of a few Academies in Europe and the only one in Paris. There were three in London, which hurt local pride, two of which had sprouted from the famous universities Oxford and Cambridge.

And Germany had three Academies also, it was an industrial giant, a for mech manufacturing, three was a low number for it.

Etana completed the Math, Physics, History, Language, Chemistry, Logic and problem-solving tests. As long as he passed the physical test his results in the academic subjects was sure to him in the top one hundred, let alone thirteen hundred.

He had not had time or energy to revise the academic subjects, but he excelled naturally at Math, Logic and problem-solving. He was no slouch at physics either, but it was massively broad with some subjective which he could not recall the exact answer to. Myrmidon was no assistance, activity was monitored and effectively disabled during the exam.

There were at least two thousand thirteen-year-olds taking the tests in waves, Etana had not yet turned twelve and was still the smallest in his group of a hundred. The sprint was first followed by the eight-kilometre run for the physical test.

He was able to middle of the field in the sprint, coming sixtieth out of his group of one hundred. And in the eight-kilometre run all his training paid off, he came in the top thirty. The fastest runners were miles ahead, however, a full six minutes. Etana was a long way from the peak students in the physical discipline.

He wondered why it was so important. Surely you could control a mech with a , and if you were taking an engineering focus, it would not matter at all.

He heard another student, who was slower than him about this very topic.

"Are you crazy?" came the response for a sounding girl, "you cannot pilot a mech if you are not fit."

"uh why?" asked the boy.

"Because, noob, it's not like VR gaming. We wear suits and when you move your arm the mech's arm moves. When you jump the mech jumps," she replied disdainfully. "How could you possibly operate a Mech for more than ten minutes if you are as fit as a sloth."

"That's stupid," he replied with no reason why it was stupid whatsoever. But Etana was inclined to agree. He would have to find out the reason later.

Etana barely completed the sit-ups and push-ups in the time permitted and only just passed the squeeze test as well. Most students completed the squeeze test effortlessly. He wondered how much time they spent preparing for this test.

After the obstacle course, he had completed all the elements. Myrmidon was permitted during the physical tests, and it had been monitoring his progress.

Myrmidon: out of these one hundred and twenty-three students you ranked -four which to rank eighteen hundred and eighty. This will affect your overall entrance rank, but, as long as you passed all elements and rank under twelve hundred and seventy-five, you will gain entry.

Daedo: what time do I need for the obstacle course?

Myrmidon: it's on the board, ten minutes.

Daedo: uh, I see.

It did not seem strange to Daedo that he had seen the board with his eyes, but he was tired and worried, so it did not register. Where Myrmidon had perceived the board with the same that Daedo received, through his , and the AI had noticed the and the significance of the board. This was one of the facets of their

They watched the students complete the course. This enabled Myrmidon to monitor and advice Daedo during his

Myrmidon: keep your head down, it's too high for the logs.

Myrmidon: catch your breath before the climb, your heart rate is one sixty, walk the twenty metres.

Myrmidon: the students who rolled forward after this drop performed the best.

Between his practice and Myrmidon's advice, Daedo was able to complete the obstacle course in nine minutes and forty-four Only sixteen to spare. But that was all that mattered.

He had passed the entrance exam.

Daedo would be attending Fortescue Military Academy in the year 2142.

Tier One Academies by Rank

Huawei MA

DaVinci MA

Svarksi MA

Oxford

Harvard MA

Massachusetts Military Academy (offshoot of MIT)

Tiger Eight MA (Asia)

Melbourne Military Academy

Toykyo Mech

Munich LMU

Bavarian MA

Stanford Scientific

Tier Two Academies by Rank

Berkley MA

Cambridge

Aachen MA

Duntroon MA

BAE Systems MA

Boeing NA MA

Mercedes MA

SAAB MA

Taiwan Tech

Renault MA

Abu Dhabi MA

Hitachi MA

Tier 3 Academies by 2141 Rank

ETH Zurich

Lockhead Martin MA

Heidelberg MA

Humboldt MA

Fortescue MA

MA

KAIST

Tsinghua MA

Seoul MA

Mumbai MA

Udon Thani MA

Tehran Mech

Houses of Fortescue Military Academy

Horus – Purple – Hunter, War

Osiris – Dark Green – , Damage

Amun-Ra – Red – Firepower, Energy

Shu – Blue – Flight, Speed

Thoth – White – , Research

Middle School (M1 to M3) Subjects

Maths

Physical Training

Tech Studies – equipment, , weapons

Human Studies – Debate, Leadership, Ethics, Profiling

Reference – Military History, Military , Space Travel History

Strategy – Philosophy, Thinking Methods, Tactics

Physics – Energy, Mechanics, Electro, Thermal

AI – Nurturing, Bandwidth,

Gunnery

Piloting

An letter and document arrived by certified email to Ikaros and Etana that evening.

"Etana, wait," his Father called to his room. "Let's open together."

He rarely did anything with his Father, they kept to themselves, even during meals. And now he would be moving away for most of the year. Etana felt a pang of guilt, he would miss his Father, but he had never really spent time with him. He wondered why he would feel that way.

They opened the registered email one a count of three. It required proof of identity before allowing viewing.

" Etana Daedo you have gained entry into Fortescue Military Academy for the 2142 M1 intake…."

It was followed by many regarding , schedule, appropriate , rules, , fees and required equipment.

One was the Military Grade which he already possessed and another unique item was the MG Inductive Bodysuit. They also suggested suppliers and brands purchase. There were strict rules regarding its on top of being Military Grade. It had to be able to change colour in line with the House colours, over one -nine percent of its surface excluding a few of the specialised sockets. And it was advised to purchase one with an allowable twenty percent minimum size capability.

"The semester starts in seven days, we should head into Paris tomorrow and purchase one of these," his Father said although he had work.

"I can just purchase online," Etana replied.

"These are expensive, and we want to get the right one, you can't try it on an online purchase," his Father replied.

"Yes, you can. If you have an like mine, you can mimic the size and sensory data to a physical fitting," Etana said.

"And how can you be certain that is ; He asked.

"Because it is," Etana replied offering no reason for his like a normal child.

"Oh alright. I need to go to work anyway," Ikaros gave in.

Suddenly Etana was sad that he rejected spending time with his Father. It did not cross his mind that it was an opportunity to spend time with him, it was thinking that purchasing from a physical store was archaic.

He started to search online with Myrmidon to hunt down the ideal bodysuit which met the Academies criteria. He knew they could possess many monitors which would assist Myrmidon. And if he had to do physical exercise he wanted one which would not stink, possibility provide him water and cool him.

This was the sort of item he had saved all his bitcreds for, and while the best suits were hideously expensive, they were easily affordable. Over the past three years, he had saved over thousand bitcreds. Even the most expensive suit capable of space travel was only one thousand bitcreds. He laughed at himself, one thousand, only. That was a massive amount of money. He could buy a good house with that much.

Her perused all the features and narrowed down the Until one company's offering caught his eye.

The Axel suit had a customisable where you selected all the add-ons, and within five days they would have it delivered to your door. There were only a few they were missing that competitor suits had.

Etana first selected all the essential criteria the Academy demanded. Then he added the most important.

Sensors internal body all. Rather than pick a few, he just selected all of them. He doubted he would ever need blood pressure monitoring, but, he wanted the best suit.

Sensors external all.

Inductive comm pads; all

He selected the most expensive polymer fabric.

Daedo: Myrmidon, check up on this fabric, it's the most expensive make sure it's the best.

Within minutes Myrmidon confirmed it was the best fit for purpose, allowing breathability, comfort, thermal , , wind resistance, water resistance and

There were security add-ons to stop it being worn or tampered with.

And most importantly the bodysuit interface which would allow direct by Myrmidon to all its This alleviated the need to have the bodysuit call for help if you were injured and other software features. Myrmidon could do all that and more and better.

Myrmidon: will the Academy consider its movement enhancement features cheating?

Daedo: If it's not in the rules, no. I cannot imagine the actual Military not using a feature, in a real battle you cannot cheat. You kill or be killed.

The last thing he added was a helmet which allowed a holographic and The Academies required a helmet which allowed from within a small mech, then four metre, which was virtually a large exoskeleton. But they did not require the enhanced modes, such as trajectory tracking, and holographic which would allow Myrmidon to assist him while piloting like he did in CyberMech.

He pressed the button on order. It would arrive before the semester started, he was no looking forward to his first day wearing this suit. With all the add-ons it came to twelve hundred bitcreds, it was even more expensive than the spacesuit.

Myrmidon: are we going to inform the teams of our absence from CyberMech?

It had been a month since their last appearance in-game. He had been too tired from training to even log in for a ladder match, let alone compete in a match.

Daedo: no, we will just disappear. We have no contracts, so we are not breaking any deals.

Myrmidon: our supporters will be disappointed.

Their streaming contract they were paid per individual viewer with other metrics like time and adds acted upon. Some crap company made a fortune by pretending Daedalus used their gear. He neither confirmed nor denied their

Daedo: I cannot help that, we will not be able to much. So I think its best this way. I was bored with it anyway.

Myrmidon: I have never been bored of anything. Do you think I am immune?

Daedo: you are probably infinitely more patient and disciplined than me. We are about to go to an Academy for six years with subjects like Ethics. We will soon know if you can be bored or you are immune.

The document included an with details of what to expect and his first day.

On his first day, he would find out what his entry ranking was and which House he had been assigned to.

Students were assigned to Houses based on profiling and test results. Etana quickly perused the Houses and their attributes.

Daedo: which House do you think we will be assigned to?

Myrmidon: Horus. Hunter War. That is certainly us.

Myrmidon was basing it on their CyberMech performance, and Daedo could not him, they had spent most of their time together in CyberMech. More than all other activities combined excluding sleep.

Myrmidon: what is your Daedo?

Daedo: I am not sure how well they profiled us. And this is an elite school with all the wealthiest people in the world attending. I have no idea what role they think to on us. I would like to be Shu. Flight, Speed. That sounds cool and fits our combat loadout And I like the colour Blue.

They were both wrong.

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