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Chapter 10 : M1 - Term: 1, Round: 1


Attendance at Fortescue Military Academy M1 Y:2142

House Thoth, Squad Zero

M1 Rank: ?/1275, Tier 3 M-Rank: Null

Term: 1, Round: 1

The first was for powered exoskeleton armours, known simply as exos. There were literally thousands. Which made sense there were over seven hundred cadets in Thoth M1 to M3. The exos appeared in four main shapes and sizes although none were larger than two meters, as most were for young cadets.

Master Nader gathered the two hundred and fifty-five cadets from M1 Thoth.

"M1 cadets, whether attending or conducting physical training or general activities around the Academy you will wear your bodysuit at all times. During gunnery, you may don an exo over your bodysuit. And during the Gauntlet and Arena combat from M1 to M3 you will be using an exo. You will not be permitted to use a four-meter mech until U1."

There were quite a few groans from disappointed cadets who wanted to jump right into Mechs.

"The standard exos will be provided from here," her arm swept to indicate the thousands of exos lined up on racks.

"They fit into four specific categories. Mesh, Light, Medium and Heavy. You will be free to choose a standard exo from any category."

"Once you have selected your chosen exo for , you will need to book it out in your name. You can only have one exo booked. This is the only exo that you can tune tweak and adjust. If you choose to change categories, you must revert it back to its original state before returning. Failure to do so will result in demerits."

"When you modify your exo it still must adhere to the Academy You can find these in the provided in the Academy guidelines. These are the same which are used for inter Academy all the way up to Tier-one. So if there is a change to the overall inter Academy rules, you may need to adjust your exo, so it meets current criteria."

"What we have on racks here are over a thousand exos, but there are more beneath. You merely pick your exo up using the library, log it out and log it back. When you figure out what you want to use, on a more permanent basis, there is a single store it in your living space where you can stow your selected exo."

"What this means is, if an exo is modified it cannot be returned here, it must be stored in your apartment. If you are to return it here, it must be reverted back to its original state."

"Although the exos are only for M1 to M3, as U1 to U3 progress to four-meter mechs, we need enough to outfit the three-year levels, at any one time, for purposes. You will only ever be able to store one exo in your room, which if you are competent in math is the same number you are permitted to have booked in your name."

"If you have any submit them on the House form, and the answer will be sent to all," Master Nader finished her lecture and wait a quick salute strode off.

The cadets watched her depart. She was both enigmatic and frightening. The way she talked, stood and even walked. The fact you could never see her face or hear her real voice added to her mystique. It was most likely that over two hundred cadets had no idea whether she was male or female.

Squad zero collected together in a huddle.

"We have free time now?" Barran asked.

"Yes, I would think so, the only assignment we have is the report on your squadmates strengths and weaknesses, and our next item in the calendar is our first tomorrow," Gaumont answered, and a few nodded.

"So, are we allowed to power up an exo and take it for a spin in an arena in free time?" Barran asked excitedly.

Daedo the controls and reported back to the group, "they are locked until we have completed Probably in piloting and gunnery ;

"Damn," Barran said.

"I'm going back, I need to write the report and get a start on Picard's AI," Daedo announced and started back to their quarters. Picard and most of the others followed.

Daedo began to discuss the AI with Picard while the others listened, "there are several ways your AI will learn. It can watch you, or you feed it directly. You can send it out to grab from the public net, not advisable. You can games with it or against it. And you can code it directly. The core that I will write will be lean, it will contain only one directive, other than the safety measures and that is to learn from you. This will allow it to operate efficiently and autonomously. Which of the above methods will you likely utilise the most?" he asked her.

"Ah, I think it will be watching me, I will feed it directly, and I will games with it," she answered taking his advice not to send it to the net to gain Myrmidon did that, but only when it was after on a subject, he deemed its knowledge was inadequate. Daedo put no on it.

He also did not it could be educated by another AI because no one should have one to educate her AI with. "What are the main roles you would like your AI to perform?" he asked as they would dictate how it should be trained.

", general and mech systems handling and a gopher," she answered.

All fairly standard, generic answers, Picard did not know enough to know specific combat roles she wanted her AI to fulfil.

"All right, I have enough to create the , be prepared to spend all your spare time on it initially, it will know less than an off the shelf AI, but it will be leaner and faster," he said.

The speed of an AI was limited by two things, the of the and its code efficiency. Bloatware could slow down the fastest processor.

"Shouldn't you add in general knowledge regarding the Academy rules, or Maths and Physics into its core?" Mace asked she was most likely the most proficient coder in the group aside from Daedo.

"No, they will go into primary memory, the cache must be clear for the current processes only, I will also code all data to be stored in the cloud and not in the primary storage onboard the ," he responded.

"That sounds amazing, I didn't know that it could be done that way," she stated.

"Axel has storage capability as a prototype add-on in their suit, I am keen to use this as tertiary space for the AI to utilise," Daedo said.

Axelzero nodded and said, "it's a pity we didn't meet earlier. And of course, know we would be squaddies. If you are after extra storage, you could always purchase another or volunteer yourself as an R and D subject for a study into using your brain as storage."

"I already ruled that out, but purchasing another is an , I did not have the bitcred at the time," Daedo replied.

"When did you get your Military grade ; Axelzero asked.

"When I was nine, before my first attempt to pass the entrance tests," he replied.

"Ah of course," she said, nine was extremely young to take on a military grade , but it was done.

Daedo sat in the communal area and completed his first assignment, then put the finishing touches on Picard's AI, it did not take long as he already had one prepared. As far as anyone was concerned, it was prepared for himself.

The next day was packed with five for their ten subjects, as several which had methods of delivery and were combined.

First was Maths and Physics combined Then came another combined for , Reference and Philosophy. Before they broke for lunch, then there was a combined on Tech studies and AI, while after lunch Gunnery and Piloting combined and last for the day, Physical.

It would be a full-on day. Daedo got as much rest as he could retiring at 2100. He would rise at 0600 with Gaumont, and they would explore the obstacle course together before breakfast and starting at 0800.

The obstacle course for M1 was supposed to be basic, there was no wall running or falls from heights greater than twenty metres. It consisted of elements of speed, strength, agility and endurance. There was an agility obstacle, a swinging pendulum array where the runner needed to jump from pendulum to pendulum in order to cross the chasm. There were six in all with an three swinging in the

The other obstacles had components of all three, the rings were both strength and agility. Climbing up the vertical wall. A spinning tunnel required speed or agility or both. The course was both amazing and scary. A few cadets had set times yesterday with the best being forty-two minutes.

Axelzero, Vannier and Barran had come as well, they were there to train. And although you had to complete the obstacle course solo, two cadets could run side by side without interfering with one another. This system also allowed faster cadets to pass slower ones using the lane. Due to the sheer numbers of cadets this obstacle course was for Thoth only, there would be four more for the other houses. They were identical to allow times to be compared across the Academy.

Squad zero arrived early, it was a Sunday and the control panel allowed for one entry for the day. In future, they would have to book in a and follow that schedule for the entire term. If all two hundred and fifty-five cadets showed up to the obstacle course at 0615, it would be clogged all day.

There were other physical outlets if the obstacle course did overcrowded. There was the Thoth gym, large enough for three hundred cadets, it serviced all M year levels. There was a track which toured the Thoth of the underground facility, you could also go topside for some sun and run through the parks. And then there was the hand to hand combat arenas attached to the gym, where you could battle using AR pistols, swords and other melee weapons.

The on the obstacle course was it had to be booked, to preclude overcrowding. But they were not able to book it at this time, it was still locked in holiday mode. If it wasn't booked and had capacity, it allowed free use.

"There's no one here, and I can't book it," Daedo after Barran, Gaumont, Vannier and Axelzero arrived. They looked at him why didn't he say so earlier.

"We probably have to come early to ensure free usage," Gaumont said. But looking around they were the only ones here.

"We can look at the bookings again after I am surprised there isn't more here now, I thought 0700 would be primetime," Barran suggested.

"They are probably at the gunnery range or the exo AR arena around," Axelzero said, "we are in Thoth after all. This is the obstacle course. I bet Shu's has a hundred cadets lining up now."

"We should think about arranging friendlies in the arena with squads ranked ten or lower," Vannier how the term should She knew from older cadets that they would get one arena slot and they could trade combined use with other squads, and practice against one another.

"That's a great idea. Damn, someone's coming. We should start," Barran said.

The door read the cadets identifiers as they filed in. Registering them for a circuit attempt.

Daedo had trained for a month before the entrance exam, running eight kilometres twice a day. After he passed the physical, he had stopped his daily runs and strength exercises. He realised now that was a mistake.

The course was punishing, climbing a sheer wall was time-consuming, jumping over from one moving a tile to another was difficult when out of breath. The required that he did not have. He had to attempt it four times. And there was a lot of running, up and down to keep you out of breath. Even swinging on the rings made his arms ache and it was not long before Barran passed him. Although he started a full three minutes behind, he had passed him within the first ten minutes.

Then Vannier passed him, Axelzero and finally before finishing the course, and starting a whopping twelve minutes behind, Gaumont passed him just after the zig-zag run through the pretend ruins.

Daedo's lungs were burning, and every muscle in his body ached. There were some that ached that he did not know existed before this morning. Myrmidon was little help, all he could do was tell Daedo the best time to jump on the pendulums and report on his suits internal health sensors.

The worse part was the last incline, it was fairly steep, at least forty degrees, but it also spiralled which it made impossible to carry momentum from the before the start. Daedo had fallen to his knees four times before finally cresting the top and what was supposed to be a sprint finish, he walked.

His time was over seventy-six minutes, he barely had enough time to shower and have breakfast before the first started. Fortunately, the were running today, and he hightailed it back to their living quarters. He was surprised to see everyone, except Barran, had waited for him. And he did not Barran in the slightest, who now had the of thirty-nine minutes and forty-one He was the fastest in Thoth by almost ten percent and was overall on the M1 rank board.

There were a few times slower than Daedo, but perhaps those cadets were fooling around with times of minutes.

Time flew by, 0800 was fast approaching as he and his squadmates hustled to their first lecture. The lectures all took in the M1 auditorium which was large enough to cadets from all the houses, all twelve hundred and seventy-five.

There were stools and a bar for the cadets to lean on, some cadets took notes. However, notes and capture of the were provided. The head teacher for each subject was simply known as Chief.

Each Chief had thousands of cadets, and there were only thirty of them in the entire academy. The Chiefs for M1 to M3 carried them through the same ten subjects which would only change, to more specialised, in U1 to U3. In the Middle Academy, there were ten Chiefs, and the Upper Academy had twenty. Signifying the increase in subject choice and variety.

Most of the work the Academic Chiefs completed was in , primarily creating the and programming their robot aides. Once the interactive tutes, usually in VR were made, the cadets could learn at their own pace. The chief would either code an aide or create a specialised AI to with the cadet. There were many other media the Chiefs used to convey the subject material, they used vids, streams and even reading matter.

The respective Chief merely had to keep on top of the content and check any anomalies with the grading from the robots. This was true for Maths, Physics and Reference. As well as the theory parts of Tech Studies, AI nurturing and Philosophy.

The practical or other components that needed in-person were scheduled and completed in groups with a one, two or three forty-five minute per week.

Physical, Gunnery and Piloting were entirely interactive. With the Chief or a robot aide present for each They each had two per week, and as with all interactive , the length of a double was minutes.

The Cadets were going to work hard, extremely hard for the age of thirteen. With ten subjects they would be spending anywhere from sixty to eighty hours per week to achieve first-rate results.

The for Maths and Physics informed the cadets on how the was to be delivered and how they were to progress through the modules. There would be ongoing testing and challenges, but overall no final test. It would be impossible to cheat because the Chief would know if it was not you completing the challenges and tests.

The Math chief would set five problems for the term, these problems were meant to challenge the top cadets. Where the physics chief had one practical project for the term. The project was to be of the Cadets choosing, it just had to match the terms in some way.

Gaumont leaned in to whisper to Daedo, "so we could theoretically complete all the work for the ten-week term and then put Math and Physics aside to focus on other subjects."

"That may be the point of this method," Daedo whispered back, "it is not only teaching us these subjects but time management and ;

"What are you going to do?" Gaumont asked.

"Just as you said, I have bigger problems than Maths and Physics. I will probably spend more time on my weaker subjects," Daedo replied.

Gaumont smiled. If Daedo skimmed through Maths and Physics, he wouldn't get the top grades. Gaumont wanted him to , just not beat him.

The room was full of all M1 cadets. Daedo looked around, but no one really stood out. There were just twelve hundred kids sitting in their suits listening attentively, or using some screen. Daedo had his helmet on his back, it could be useful in the downtime to get some work done. Or he could just talk to his squadmates, which strangely, after the dry lecture seemed more appealing. Even his brain needed to rest. During the whole lecture, he was thinking up study strategies.

"What's the best way to approach these two subjects? Think as a team, not as an individual," Vannier opined.

"You want to work through these as a team?" Barran asked.

"It was made clear that strategy is open to us, and helping each other is not forbidden, only cheating is. Even Master Nader Daedo to help his squadmates," she said.

"And we are competing against everyone, especially Horus, they have Karine Fortescue and the Paget sisters," Mace said.

"But in the end who are we really competing against?" Daedo asked

"What do you mean?" Gaumont asked, "there is an intra-house ranking, a year ranking and there are In order to do well in the surely you have to excel at piloting, gunnery, strategy and engineering."

"And then, who do Fortescue compete against?" Daedo asked.

"The other Academies," Mace answered seeing where he was going, "in the end cadets like Karine Fortescue will be your squadmate against KAIST or If you make the Fortescue team."

"And then after you have graduated?" Daedo asked.

"Other companies?" Barran answered unsure of himself.

Daedo shook his head.

"It does not matter, all that matters is we excel, whether it's alone or as a team, it does not matter," Daedo said.

Vannier stared at him. He had a way of thinking that was both strange and amazing. She had merely thought of pooling their resources to not worry about competing against each other but to worry about M1 and competing against the other Houses. Where Daedo had thought ahead ten steps. Is this what Master Nader meant when she said think things through.

"What do you think we should do?" Axelzero asked Daedo, Mace and Barran nodded agreement at the

He shrugged, "do your best and help each other if needed. It would be the most efficient way. I can see where some guidance with Tech studies and AI nurturing will assist, but the others are self-taught from the learning assets. You either complete it, or you struggle at a point and if you struggle you seek assistance," he replied simply.

"That's simple," Barran opined, "I expected some master strategy coming from Daedalus."

"Efficiency is usually simple," Daedo answered.

"Speaking of help, I have constructed a training regime to assist me to improve fourteen aspects of Physical Training in order to complete the obstacle course faster. Would you review Barran?" he asked.

Vannier peered at him, "Barran is probably not the best choice, he is too naturally talented, you want Picard to review."

Barran looked offended for a moment until he realised he didn't want to review the document anyway.

Daedo thought about what she said, reviewed the content and she was correct, Picard had worked hard to get where she is, Barran had it handed to him. She would have a keen understanding of using training method as a means of improvement where Barran would be a good guide for strategies in the obstacles themselves while completing the course.

Picard, who was the proud owner of his bespoke AI, nodded and gave a rare smile.

"Sent," Daedo said The next lecture was starting.

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