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Chapter 13 : M1 - Term: 1, Round: 1

Daedalus

Attendance at Fortescue Military Academy M1 Y:2142

House Thoth, Squad Zero

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

Term: 1, Round: 1

A tall girl, tall compared to Daedo, with brown hair, thin lips and cute freckles across her nose and cheeks. Her big brown eyes viewed him in amusement, "Verbal contracts do not hold any credence in Military Law. This Academy is under Military Law, it protects it from most wrongful death cases."

Daedo was burnt on his first salvo.

Myrmidon: sorry.

"That does not matter," Vannier stepped forward and looked at House Thoth members, "I know it's our day, but you may regret selling out your House. We are going to be in the same House for six years, and this is how you want to start? What will everyone say about you?"

Myrmidon: oh she's good. We have much improvement to make.

The tall freckles girl looked Vannier up and down, "but you are House Thoth, you are designed to serve us. You have never come in the top three houses in any year, ever. Your whole House was created with the creed, and research. This is why we approached your squads to purchase slots, we have three in a row, and this will be the fourth. Now, what will everyone say about them? Nothing because three other teams already sold out. If anything, they will praise squad two for getting more bitcreds out of us."

"One thousand bitcreds," Daedo announced. That equated to twenty per where Horus had just offered fifteen.

The tall freckles girl went to open her mouth to speak, and Daedo cut her off, "is our wager that we will kick your ass at the end of term two , plus we will duel you for the slots you have already purchased. We will pay and take this one off squad two. If you win, you can win it off us, and it will cost you nothing. If you win the next weekly match, you can win our slot too."

"So when is the first match?" she asked smiling brightly.

"Give us two weeks to put our teamwork in order. Our first match can be beginning of week three and our match beginning of week four," he answered.

Gaumont: what the frig are you doing?

Barran: it's ok. We need to teach these pricks a lesson.

Mace: that only works if we win.

"I hate to sound like a stickler, but what is the form of the match?" Freckles asked.

"Survival seven versus seven," Daedo said. Survival was the match system closest to reality when you died, you were dead, no respawn. It was a team of the last man standing. It did not necessarily have to be eight versus eight it could be any number versus any enemy.

"Bold move Thoth, but stupid. I am afraid you just lost two slots and over a thousand bitcreds," Freckles said laughing lightly.

Daedo grinned back, "I guess we need it in writing since verbal contracts and someone's word means nothing here." With that statement, he at squad two. Daedo thought they were short-sighted and cowards. Even if their goal was to be engineers, a great engineer would need to know the effect of tweaks and changes to systems. And the only real way to make worthwhile was to test them properly in the they were meant to be utilised within, combat

And they were cowards by immediately freckles view that Thoth was crap. Even Barran admitted his sister kept beating him due to her tuning and ability.

The Horus squad zero members left. No one spoke except freckles. She was the undisputed leader of their squad.

"Do you know who that was?" Axelzero asked.

"No idea," Daedo answered.

"That was Karine Fortescue, as in Fortescue Group," Axelzero said.

The others, excepting Picard, knew. Karine was a celebrity in their circle, daughter of Zidane Fortescue, one of three children to the CEO of Fortescue Group. Her grandfather was the chairman of the board, and her mother was head of for the group. The Fortescue Group itself owned over twenty subsidiaries and had significant holdings in another hundred. The Axel, Gaumont, Barran, Vannier and Mace families were poor in comparison. Even in the top one percent, there were stratospheres of wealth and power.

"Then you're even, she had no idea who you are either," Barran laughed.

The cadets now had some free time before dinner. There was no strict lights-out policy, the Military program was weirdly open to the cadet's own They were monitored closely, by their House Master, her robots and some of their Chiefs, but otherwise were free to eat when they wanted and sleep when they wanted.

This was not an unusual regime for Daedo, he had no idea how the other cadets coped and did not really care that much. Outside of his squad, he did not pay much to the other cadets.

He now had a clear goal, other than getting on top of his subjects, he wanted to beat House Horus. Before arriving at the Academy, he had no clear , no goals, no He was here because of his Mother's wish. But after meeting his squad mates and listening to the , he set new goals for himself.

He actually liked some of his squad mates. This was a new for him, he never really had any friends. His only in his life was Myrmidon up until this point.

The only people he talked to , other than Myrmidon, was his Father and Cisse. And those were truncated.

Vannier was interesting, talented, she had a keen mind, and she was taller and older than him. He thought she was pretty, but, his feelings on the subject did not go much past that.

Axelzero was friendly and helpful. He couldn't really say he knew much more about her strengths yet, but they had not been tested. She certainly smashed him on the obstacle course. It was not lost on him that she had been kind and supportive of him since he arrived. The only time she had let him down was when she did not believe he was Daedalus.

Barran was not friendly, but Daedo did not find him antagonistic either. He went from brainless to funny in a heartbeat. They were on different wavelengths entirely. Daedo respected his physical prowess, Barran even left Picard in the dirt. Barran also trusted him enough to request his AI, which meant a lot to Daedo.

Mace was clearly smart. And she did not give much away, which is what he would have been like if he kept his mouth closed. Between Myrmidon and Nader he felt he had been to reveal much more than he would have if they had not pushed him. He wanted to find out more about Mace, her white hair and sharp blue eyes made her look exotic as well.

Gaumont was still a child in the head. Of all his squadmates Daedo had the least respect for him. They were thirteen and Daedo twelve, but these were elite students now turned cadets. There were not many top-tier Military Academies in the EU, twelve to be exact, and his squad mates were in the top thirty-five of M1 in Fortescue. To make it into squad zero Thoth meant he was incredibly smart. Contrasted with his academic Gaumont had on several demonstrated maturity well below his squad mates.

Daedo respected Picard, but she was not open-minded. Clearly, she worked very hard to get where she was but was limited by her thinking and prejudices. Hopefully, the philosophy course would help her. She would certainly be an asset against Horus.

Daedo: I am going to survey the exos. Everything in three subjects will hinge on the choice. Does anyone want to come?

Picard, Vannier, Mace and Axelzero all responded in the positive immediately.

Barran: I'll just go with a heavy, everyone uses heavies.

Mace: is that trust or laziness?

Barran: feel free to choose one of those as well. I am going outside while it is still light, being underground all the time is killing me.

Gaumont: I am going to get a start on the Math and Physics tutes.

Daedo: ok.

He then limited the to the squaddies coming with him to the Thoth mech bay.

Daedo: We have no time, during the week, to familiar, tweak and improve I will spend all my weekends to this end.

"We spend enough time in these things. I am taking mine off," Vannier said after removing her helmet.

Daedo was used to a VR game for ten hours straight, wearing a helmet for a couple of hours was not a stretch.

"Ok," Mace said as she pulled hers off and they all followed suit.

They jumped on a and set off for the mech bay, it was only moments before they arrived.

"Do you have a strategy in mind?" Vannier asked.

"Do you know enough about them to have a strategy?" Axelzero asked.

Mace was quiet, as usual, but her lack of words was not to be with consent to a Daedo knew exactly where she was coming from because it was his normal modus operandi.

"I want to hear your thoughts on the four main types first, starting with Mace," Daedo asked, putting her on the spot.

She cleared her throat and began to speak, "Mesh is the fastest and most agile, it needs to have light, fast weapons or long-range weapons. It has the least resistance and damage , the lowest strength modifier, one point two, and the least air supply. It has a mobility factor of one point five. Due to being the lightest, it has the best jump height, and distance and its burn rate are low in comparison to the other suits. Its jump jets will last forty-five on top of an already fast suit."

"The Light exo has a lower mobility one point two five-factor, but is damage , and resistance is twice that of a mesh exo. Its strength factor is increased which for its weight, in the end, equating to one point five strength multiplier. Its jump jets have a thirty- burn time, the increased weight offsets the storage capacity."

"The Medium exo mobility drops down to status quo. The increased strength and armour weight eat up all the gains. It has jump jets with a thirty- burn time, whether used all at once or tiny spurts. Its strength multiplier is two, allowing the wearer to use the heaviest weapons. A forty kilogram minigun is possible even for a small cadet. A strong one will be able to run and carry it as if it were a twenty-kilo lightweight mod. And its damage and are double that of light. It can take quite a hit."

"The heavy requires a strong person with adequate stamina to operate. Due to its armour and strength mods, it is the slowest exo by far. It will reduce the pilot's speed by a factor of zero point eight. About twenty percent. It has enough fuel to allow the jump jets to operate for thirty It can wield the largest weapons, and the strength multiplier is five. You can punch through concrete walls with this exo. Its armour's and damage are double that of the medium. It would be truly difficult to take down, and under direct fire, in a one on one it will always win assuming it can hit its target as often as it is getting hit." Mace finished her

Exo Type Strength Armour Mobility JumpJet

Factor (X) Value Factor (X) (runtime s)

Standard Mesh 1.2 10 1.5 45

Standard Light 1.5 20 1.25 30

Standard Medium 2 40 1 30

Standard Heavy 5 80 0.8 30

"You really know your stuff," Picard observed.

Daedo thought about the , in truth he only had a passing familiarity.

Daedo: have you found anything in to that

Myrmidon: the lighter exos can be tweaked for gains in mobility whereas the heavy ones gain in armour are difficult with no advancement in the alloy material. I think we could get higher gains from lighter mechs. Loadouts will be a determining factor as well.

"I will take a light exo, I think I will be able to tweak it more than the other types, and it will support most weapons I would use," Daedo said, "but really everyone else needs to pick an exo which suits their strengths, style and weapon choice."

"What about strategic group makeup?" Vannier asked.

"I don't think we are ready for that yet, we know too little about each other and the suits. For all, we know seven mesh suits would be the best strategy," Daedo replied.

"I like fast suits and dual pistols," Axelzero said, "I think I would go mesh or light, what do you think Daedo?"

"If you choose light, then we can double down on any gains I can come up with," he answered.

"What weapon are you thinking of using Picard?" Vannier asked her squadmate.

"Railgun, two-handed, it does the most damage at the range if you are and I can use it with a light exo as well," she answered.

"I am a good shot with a Railgun as well," Vannier said, "we will be a duo."

That left Mace.

"Can you add enough strength to the light for the loadout to hold forty kilos of traps?" she asked.

Daedo thought about it.

"What weapons?" he asked.

"Launcher," she replied.

"Ah, so you launch most of your traps?" Daedo asked.

"Some are off the shelf usable with the launcher, all the grenade types, EMP, Smoke. And we could try and modify a trip, mimic and cloggers for the launcher, otherwise they are thrown," she answered.

"Do you know how much you can carry in combat?" Daedo asked Mace.

"Last time we in the AR arena, with a bodysuit, I could carry a twenty-kilo loadout," she answered.

He was genuinely impressed, for a girl of her size, fighting with twenty kilos, even if some was strapped to her body, was a feat.

"So I would need to get it from one point five to a strength factor of two?" he surmised, "I really can't say until I spend a weekend on it. We are assuming that I can tweak it a little, but that is a massive increase," he said.

"If you can it would be ideal, the mobility of the light will enhance the launchers hit and run style," she said, "I can assist you with the as well. It is something I can do."

Daedo nodded. He was not surprised, Mace was rank three behind Vannier and always spoke intelligently.

"It looks like we will be a light brigade," Vannier stated.

"What about Gaumont?" Axelzero asked.

Daedo shrugged, "he can do his own thing."

"We should do something to bring him into the team," Vannier suggested.

"That's your speciality," Picard Vannier.

"I know, but, we have nothing in common," Vannier said.

"Just praise him," Picard said, "he seems like the type who needs an ego boost."

Vannier nodded in of her role of team binder.

"If we book out the lights, store them in our rooms, where do we work with them on the weekend if not here in the bay using the tools provided?" Daedo asked.

"Can we take them offsite?" Picard asked.

"We will have to check the rules," Axelzero answered.

Daedo: Myrmidon can you check the rules regarding exo handling and if there are any to modifying.

Myrmidon: we should work on them at home on the weekend. Your Fathers workshop has all these tools and more, and he has a high amount of experience.

Daedo: we would need , and we will need to purchase more tools and instruments.

Myrmidon: the rules preclude taking any mech or exo off campus. With two , repair bays in the Paris district, they must be logged in and out and in approved

Daedo: what are the that surround repair bays?

Myrmidon: there is a of a repair bay. It also needs to be registered, which is not in the rules, but in the procedure for shipping equipment to a repair bay. I will investigate further.

"We may have to tweak them here," Daedo said.

"It's not a bad thing, it will just be crowded on the weekend," Axelzero stated.

"I like the sound of our own workshop if we can make it work," Mace said.

"I will ask Master Nader," Vannier said, "she may be able to help and let us know if there is a precedent."

"If we do get an offsite workshop, a few of us are going to have to purchase tools, instruments and equipment," Daedo informed them.

"It will not be a problem, my company, Vannier's and Barran's can supply most of the gear," Axelzero said.

Master Nader: Daedo, Vannier, Axelzero, Mace and Picard report to my office immediately.

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