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Chapter 15 : 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

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On his first day, Daedo felt smashed by 1030. He was not used to this type of hectic schedule. He used to ladder matches, work on spacebuild, everything to his leisure and while he may have kept busy for twelve hours straight, it never included a mix of physical and mental activities.

He was hoping his obstacle course times would continue to improve, just his course he was able to knock off five minutes from his abysmal time of seventy-six minutes. What was worse his abysmal time caused him to run over on his schedule. He had the course into a forty-five minute slot, as all his slots were. This only left him with thirty minutes in the gym and a shortened breakfast before hitting the gunnery range at 0830.

He was not allowed to use the light exo suit at the range, as he had not done his initial piloting course. He also was forced to use an AR gun because he had not done his first gunnery lesson either. Daedo used the time to sample each and every gun in AR. From to launchers. From pistols to the largest railgun. Even a minigun and a bolt thrower. And lastly a variety of vibro swords on a dummy, from what was a large knife to a massive two-handed

After the range Daedo had Thoth piloting from 0900 to 1030. This was conducted topside in one of the two large arenas. These were the arenas used for inter-academy and the major inter-house battles. The arenas were impressive in themselves with a seated stadium, retractable roof, and beneath the floor itself, mechs or exos could be elevated through tiles which would open and close. This was aside from the fact they could be totally transformed from a jungle environ to an urban landscape. There was even a spaceship where exos would fight as if they were aboard a dreadnought.

For the piloting course itself, Daedo was finally allowed to use the light exo. His squadmates and all of Thoth were decked out in an exo of their choosing whether it was mesh, light, medium or heavy.

In his team, both Barran and Gaumont were in heavy, while everyone else was in the light. In Thoth, all squads from one to thirty watched how squad zero performed. Word had spread to every member about their bold, or stupid, bet against Horus. Hardly anyone spoke to them, but there was reserved awe for squad zero, which would last until they were smashed by Horus, in most cadets minds.

Daedo had great difficulty maneuvering the light exo to his liking. VR was one thing, reality, even augmented reality was another. His responses were extremely slow, he was used to thinking something, and it happened almost immediately. Now, he had to move it himself, and his body could not keep up with his mind, which was coupled with the physical of the suit itself. No wonder most cadets for a heavy, light exos were almost as slow when it came to the initial step from Or when changing

Daedo: this is not good, its way too slow

Myrmidon: the suit itself moves sluggishly, something which we can improve even with tuning, but there is another lag factor I cannot determine.

Daedo: it's me. My arms and legs are slow to react.

Myrmidon: I don't understand. You control them. Order them to move faster.

Daedo: unfortunately I am ordering them as fast as I can, they need more training.

Myrmidon: we may need to adjust the schedule.

Daedo: this was always going to happen after the first week. The schedule was based on theoretical Once we collided with reality, it would change.

By the end of the -minute , Daedo was totally frustrated. The only glimmer of hope was the jump jets. on his upper back, left and right, they could be and separately fired. Within minutes he was able to use them to turn or skew sideways, at speed. But in a match, there would only be thirty of runtime every five minutes. Unless he could tweak the power supply and increase Or adjust the draw to eek out some more time from the same amount of power.

They wore their light exos back to their rooms for storage, each of them booking one specific model out.

"What's wrong?" Vannier asked Daedo after he vented when boarding the

"I am too sluggish, I am way too slow to react," he said scathingly. His voice travelling across their comms. The squad had all been on comms since the lesson had begun and while in the exo armoured frames layered on top of their suits.

"You looked great, I thought," Vannier tried to mollify him.

"Ugh," he said not buying into it.

"You're not going to be able to dodge railgun shots like you do in CyberMech, that's why I go heavy," Gaumont said.

It was true, most cadets went for heavy exo armours. The armour had four times as much weight as a light, and the AR tables showed as much. It did have a movement penalty, but if you were in a firefight with railguns or rifles, it did not matter much. Given both pilots were equal shots, equal strategy and no other factors, the heavy would always win.

Daedo was his initial strategy, right now it seemed He was wondering why they bothered having mesh, light and medium exos. But they did. And it was only his first He recalled his initial foray into CyberMech, he had his ass handed to him back then.

There were also strategies that could work in reality that could not work in CyberMech due to the programming. Tactics he had tried and failed. At the time he had been very upset that the developers had not coded for such events.

Strategies like using to turn, dropping to make other mechs slip and then firing it up. He was not going to give up on the light exo just yet, the fact that everyone else used heavy, and there were three types not being utilized, made him feel that something was being missed.

The next subject was tech, it was not a formal , he had scheduled to complete an interactive VR tute. After that was one slot of free time before lunch. Daedo used the time to research traps and auxiliary weapons.

Traps were a subgroup of auxiliary weapons which were separate to covert ops except for the crossover of electronic warfare.

The academy did not allow electronic warfare for the simple fact that if an alien enemy invaded, we would not know what type of technology they used and they did not want pilots dependant on strategies which utilized weapons such as an EMP. Which may be useless against an alien mech. This ruled out all types of devices which interfered with sensors, targeting and control through electronic means. It also ruled out hacking devices.

That left more direct devices such as smoke and other obscuring substances. Direct damage mines, static laser lines, static shields, grapplers, trackers, terrain modifiers and obscuring devices were also permitted. Daedo instantly began to think of several tactics using obscuring, such as a mirror image working in synergy with static laser lines. The grappler could be used in a multitude of ways, as a trap holding an opponent in for a of time or as a way to propel an exo or mech forward, backwards, down or up.

One of the advantages that mesh exos had was the ability to wall run for short of time, due to the weight light, medium and heavy could not. But a grappler could propel a light exo from one object to another given line of sight and strength of the structure.

Ideas and began to form in Daedo's mind. In a VR game like CyberMech, you were limited to weapon sets. In real life, if you could imagine it and build it, you could use it. Assuming it wasn't against the rules of course. There would be some as the combat was conducted in Augmented Reality. For instance, all weapons fired AR , not real rounds, or Anything that could cause damage was AR. Melee weapons, grenades, mines and they had for weight.

For example, the mines were real, just without ordnance, even the trigger was real. The AR would the and resultant damage. The AR would then affect anyone exo damaged, either eliminating them from the round or reducing the effectiveness due to the damage dealt.

Daedo began to see how these subjects would fit together, he was using his time allocated for tech studies to study what he needed to beat Horus. The test was still a long way away, and it was a project, which was probably the one subject he was on. This came from the subject due to academic reasons, it came from the necessity to win.

With this in mind, Daedo sent documents to his father on the light exo. With notes stating what they were trying to achieve as far as increased mobility and capability. The first thing Daedo imagined was a way to combine a Vibro sword with a trap launcher.

He researched the necessary and sent another document to his Father and Mace. He knew that his father was not experienced with combat mechs or light combat exos. But his father was a legend when it came to repairing and rigging robots. He would most likely come up with ideas that Daedo had not thought of and would certainly know his way around a workshop better than any cadet.

Mace, had expressed a desire to assist and had shown how smart she was. He would keep her involved with all their Especially since she had launching traps in the first It was possible that Picard and Vannier or who were using Railguns could work on improving it. Everyone needed to complete a project for tech studies, why shouldn't they work on something that would asset their squad in the Arena.

It was lunchtime, and Daedo joined the other cadets in his squad in the main cafeteria for M1. His squadmates thought it was a good to eat during the day because they could check out the other cadets and it was getting in their quarters.

Daedo didn't care he could spend three years cooped up in a room CyberMech and their quarters were fairly as far as he was concerned.

Myrmidon: I have been reading all the military history documents and watching vids as you asked. I have noticed one named Sun Tzu from ancient China. You should study his treatise, it isn't very long and while I can see the importance some of the concepts are beyond my understanding.

Daedo: I think I have heard of this philosopher before. It's strange he isn't part of the philosophy curriculum.

Myrmidon: he is in both. Although there is conjecture whether this is one person who a of wisdom from many generals.

Daedo: if its good advice then it doesn't matter the source or sources.

During lunch, Daedo read the art of war while his squadmates chatted and probed rival cadets. He was an amongst the waves. At first they did not notice, but eventually, Vannier and Axelzero exchanged

"What are you studying Daedo?" Axelzero asked tapping him on the shoulder gently, so he knew she was talking to him.

"Art of War by Sun Tzu," he answered.

"Any good?" Vannier asked.

"It has given me a few ideas already. It is definitely worth a read," he answered. "All warfare is based on Doesn't that make you think?"

"So all warfare isn't about overpowering the enemy?" Barran asked.

"Perhaps, but if you deceive the enemy, your losses will be lower," Daedo answered.

Barran patted him on the back, "you work it out and just point me in the right ," he then got up and wandered over to chat with someone he knew from Amun-Ra.

Mace: can't believe they have never heard of the Art of War.

Daedo: I hadn't before today.

Mace: haha, true. But you did cyber school.

It was one of the few times any of his squadmates texted him directly, and it was interesting it was Mace since she was the quiet one in the group.

Daedo: and is tutoring better?

Mace: we are usually pushed harder, perhaps not in Barran's case. My tutor drove me to ridiculously lengths so I would qualify highly. It is hard to do well here if you are not in a good squad. So normally private tutor is much better than cyber school, but you are rank 1, not me.

Daedo: I hope we get the mech bay in Nanterre.

Mace: me too, my parents already agreed to pay my 10% or 15% if needed. They said it would come out of my trust fund.

Daedo: I don't even know what that is.

Mace: it's like cred savings that I can't without their Nothing special.

Lunch passed and Daedo sort of had to agree it was nice for a change of scenery to take it in the main M1 cafeteria. Although most people ignored him, he could observe others, and that did help his and Myrmidons social skills to a small degree.

After lunch, Daedo flew through his scheduled of Philosophy, and Mathematics. The advised number of hours per week of Maths was eight, but he was squeezing it into three as he could breeze through it.

Philosophy and were quite different for him, and he was sticking to the advised hours set out by the respective Chiefs. Even if he worked at a faster pace, with Myrmidon assistance, it would allow him to reach a deeper understanding. The delivery of and Philosophy was a mixture of vids with data, text or multimedia slides, but mostly it was an interactive VR tute with a specialised AI.

The AI of the robot was nurtured by their respective Chiefs they were very specific and excelled in their chosen subject. They also probably learnt from students over the years, gain insights and creating or adjusting teaching methods. The best part about them is they would speed up or slow down to a cadet's specific needs.

At 1545 he went back to the gym for his round of punishment for the day. He was feeling tired before the workout but he felt invigorated after. He would have to adjust his schedule from now on to have the nap before the workout, not after, he had no chance of falling asleep.

The prescribed amount of Physical Training per week was nine hours. Daedo knowing this was his greatest weakness had sixteen including five hours on the weekend. He was completing the workout assigned by Picard, his Chief would assess it and give feedback when he had time. Picard would adjust his workout as he improved or she saw a need to focus on a specific weakness.

After his aborted nap and meal, it was time for the Gauntlet. The Gauntlet was at 1800 followed by a strategy and analysis meeting then two slots of exo Arena combat. The first practice match versus Shu squad zero and the versus Thoth squad two.

The Gauntlet was round one and much different to the obstacle course. There were five identical gauntlets for M1, one for each House. The Gauntlet was forty-five minutes allocated per squad. Squad zero were fortunate to have a booking at 1800, if they had been slower they may have been stuck with 0300 as it would run twenty-four hours a day.

There were thirty-two 45 minute in a day. There were thirty-one squads in a House when you included squad zero. There were no lights out or rule that you had to sleep from 2300 to 0600 other than the set of interactive with a Chief present you could run any schedule you desired.

There would be cadets who attended the Arena, Gauntlet and obstacle course in the middle of the night. The facilities were probably expensive because the Academy was designed to get the most use out of them as possible. The only detail which was contrary to this was the facilities were closed on the weekend. But that was probably due to needing repairs and the fact that every weekend there was a reset for a new design.

Each round there would be a new design for the Arena, Gauntlet and the obstacle course. And in the ten-week term, there were five two week rounds. This meant a cadet had ten attempts to set a time in the obstacle course or a in the Gauntlet before it was reset.

Myrmidon was ready to book the next term and as soon as booking opened. Squad zero would take the most opportune time slots as Daedo was sure no one would beat Myrmidon's booking speed. That's assuming that the top squad did not get preferential treatment, quite possible given how these people operated.

The first round design for the Gauntlet consisted of a constructed urban landscape. Within this landscape were points that needed to be captured. The cadet could use any method they wanted to capture the points, stealth, speed or force. Any path across the grid, direct and , indirect with less or a mixture.

The were marked on the cadet's minimap, but they did not know where all the enemies were located or their travel paths. There were traps as well. The Gauntlet would stay in for two weeks before changing. Daedo decided not to worry about time for his first run and just gather intel in order to strategize a run. He was not sure if the enemy was random, but they most likely utilised AI augmented reality robots, which roamed and operated to a specific set of to keep an even field for all cadets.

Barran was the yardstick, as usual, completing the run and just over two hundred points. He was ranked ninth on the overall M1 leaderboard and quite unhappy with that Given that he had a heavy exo, he took the most direct route and pounded his way through as fast as he could run.

Daedo took the entire forty-five minute allotment to study the Gauntlet in detail. He never got in anyone's way as they all shared the same forty-five minute , but all the AR enemies, traps and were individual. The Gauntlet did not have to be a straightforward as Barran had completed it. There was plenty of for individuality and advanced tactics.

At the end of the forty-five minutes, Daedo received an and was kicked from the He was ranked last, or equal last with a handful of other , on all leaderboards. People who had not yet attempted were not shown.

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