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Chapter 18 : 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

.

As he walked Daedo reviewed his time at the Academy thus far.

He had not set a gauntlet time or , preferring to explore the further. He had gathered key intel regarding travel paths of the guards and how they reacted when an alert was sounded. It was much more complex than a simple game. The guards were not scripted as they had their own unique code with the capability of independent and They would not necessarily do the same twice given the same It was an excellent system which mimicked reality as best it could. There were still eight in which to set a time before this layout reset at the end of the two-week round.

During their two exo combat practice , Daedo used a launcher and carried other off the shelf traps. He would not use a lancesword again until his exo were made. A melee weapon was at a significant disadvantage while the movement was sluggish and top speeds were slow.

For the rest of the week, he would set himself drills and would practice with all the traps in different combat Baiting, escaping, destabilising and restricting or controlling enemy movement. Each trap was different, and he was working out the and possible improvements that could be made. It would take significant practice to lay a static laser line down at the right moment to damage or control an enemy. As they were easily avoided if used poorly.

He would begin to work with Vannier and Picard into forcing and keeping opponents into their line of sight. Where other cadets were concerned with their kill death , he was concerned with development.

Daedo had not been topside since entering the Academy. The area was lit, so there was no need to use sensors from his helmet to find his way around, but he did use the hud with the map in order to arrive on time.

Daedo entered Chief Albert's office. It was an ancient building with tapestries, bookshelves with old school books, carpets and wooden furniture. He was not one to get romantic about such things, but even Daedo could appreciate the atmosphere.

"Cadet," Chief Albert called as he entered from a side room.

"Sir," Daedo saluted as all cadets had been instructed.

"At ease Cadet," Chief Albert commanded, "follow me into my study."

They walked from an ancient library into a modern office, to Master Nader's. Modern tiles and a programmable grid was a stark contrast to the ancient library until the door slid shut and turned opaque.

"Please sit," Chief Albert ordered as a stool popped up for Daedo. The Chief continued to stand and pace. The wall lit up with Daedo's , and the Chief addressed it directly.

"This problem has only ever been solved once before by a cadet, it took him nine weeks, and with had a few errors mind you. So you could say they deduced the method but did not the with one hundred percent And the reasons are evident, they did not use vector shapes where you did. Therefore they did not reverse engineer to the same as your enabled. This is my summary, and it is impressive. I have a few for you Cadet," the Chief foreshadowed what was to come.

"Did you cheat? Wait, before you answer; know this. Cheating is not a bad thing, and you will not be punished for cheating. If you were in a battle against an enemy and cheated to win the battle that helped our , then why would we cheating? What is cheating? So really my to you is did you solve this problem using means or did you adeptly outsource the method and ; The Chief asked the most long-winded and unnecessarily complicated

"No I did not cheat, but I did use shortcuts," Daedo answered.

The Chief waved his hand, dismissing the last words, "shortcuts are commendable young Cadet. All the best mathematicians use shortcuts. Look at the abacus for example. A tool that is essentially a shortcut method. Now can you describe to me how you solved this problem?"

Daedo went through the process only Myrmidon's assistance by stating he had written or altered existing code to do some of the time-consuming

"I must say I am impressed, even your profiling, which indicated high competency, was not able to capture your potential correctly," the Chief praised Daedo. "Would you like extra problems to work on? Ones that would make a real difference. Not just tests?"

"No sir," Daedo answered and the Chief's face sunk.

"What do you mean no? You will be helping us prepare for the war," the Chief said.

"What war?" Daedo asked.

The Chief shifted nervously about for a moment before replied, "I mean the potential alien threat. We must prepare as if war is coming."

"Sir, I have so much to do right now. I cannot take on further work until I complete the exo upgrades we have ," Daedo answered.

The Chief looked thoughtful, "maybe it is for the best. This problem was difficult, it was given first so we could find ones such as you early."

The Chief paused in before mumbling, "Perhaps I will rearrange the next four problems, hmm." It was not a

"Sir are you proposing to add expert problems as our general coursework, so I will attempt it?" Daedo asked.

The Chief looked abashed and then smiled while nodding, "yes."

Daedo looked worried. He had inadvertently caused the entire M1 to receive problems which were probably impossible. He immediately stopped worrying, it was not his issue what the Chief did, and the performance of other cadets was not his concern except when it came to his squad. He would just advise them to do well on the coursework and ignore the problems. That would be enough and would save them time.

"I see you are worried," the Chief offered, "I will send through the problems now, so you have the almost the entire ten weeks to work on them. You are dismissed, Cadet. You have much work to do." The Chief ordered formally.

Daedo walked back slowly to the which would carry him to the M1 underground complex. He the in his mind. Between Chief Albert and Master Nader, there was more going on than the adults were letting on. They knew something that was not public knowledge regarding an alien threat. It was , they did not even try that hard to hide it. Perhaps it was common knowledge in their circles.

He wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery more than he cared about solving incredibly difficult mathematical conundrums.

Daedo arrived back at the squad quarters where Vannier and Axelzero greeted him.

"We were just about to go for Physical Training, do you want to come?" Vannier asked.

Daedo looked at the two girls, he wasn't tired, and his last few before bed were flexible, "I've already done my two for today," he responded.

Axelzero looked disappointed, "when did you go?"

Daedo flipped out a holopad, from his forearm projector, with his schedule. He had Physical Training down for 0645 and 1630 daily.

Vannier and Axelzero looked at it closely, "hang on," Axelzero , "you have the whole day broken into forty-five minute and have the entire week ; She asked rhetorically because she could see that he did.

"I am not surprised," Vannier opined and made ready to leave.

"Are you sure you don't want to come with us?" Axelzero said holding his hand which was in front of his projector.

"Ah," he began. And an important memo came through from the Chief of Math, Albert.

Cadets. The Four Problems from weeks two through to eight have been brought forward and released. These problems are significantly more difficult than the first. Therefore they have been released early to allow extra time for their to be derived. Chief Albert. Math Department.

"What!" Gaumont could be heard yelling from his room before his door slid to the side and he exited, "Daedo did you get this memo?"

"Yes," Axelzero said, she was still holding his hand, "everyone did." She suddenly realised how long she had been holding it and dropped his hand. Gaumont did not notice, but Vannier and Daedo did.

"Why would he do this?" Gaumont asked. "Wait. Do you think someone solved the first problem?" He asked looking directly at Daedo.

"Sorry," Daedo said, "we are running late for Physical Training." He grabbed hold of Axelzero's hand and made for the door. "Don't have time to discuss this now."

Axelzero blushed every so slightly and followed him out. The made their way to the Thoth Physical Training Gym. There was another benefit in belonging to Thoth the math and engineering fortress of the Academy. The Gym which was the same size as the other houses for M1 to M3 was almost empty.

"Was it you," Vannier asked, "because your schedule had you down for review time, but you left the arena and went somewhere."

"I was summoned by Chief Albert," Daedo answered.

"So it was you!" Axelzero , "did you solve the problem on the day? I thought you were not going to spend much time on Math and Physics?"

"Yes, and yes," he answered.

"Wait," Vannier stopped and turned to face him. "So you just popped up the problem that I do not even know how to begin to solve, and you solved it in an hour in your spare time?"

Daedo nodded innocently, "it was difficult, just not time-consuming."

"So you are the reason we have these problems early?" Axelzero asked.

"Yes, but don't bother with them, just get the core work done," he answered as they began to walk again.

"Why?" asked Axelzero in a higher tone.

"Because Chief Albert asked me to take on some harder problems, ones which no one can do apparently, and I refused saying I was too busy. So he switched out our scheduled problems for four that he wanted me to look at." Daedo answered.

Vannier stopped again and stared at him her mouth open. She closed it when she realised she was standing there open-mouthed. "I do not know where to begin," she said finally. "At least I can smash you in the obstacle course my puny genius." Before she began to run the last part to the gym.

"Who said he's yours?" retorted Axelzero running after her.

Daedo shrugged and ran after the girls. He did not even want to what they were discussing.

It was Friday during breakfast that the news of their workshop finally came through. Daedo had sent creds to Axelzero's lawyers in exchange for shares in a new company. This company was named Daedalus. As the major shareholder and the fact he had the rights to the name all the squad who were purchasing shares insisted on using it.

Barran said it was either "Daedalus" or "Ranky Turtles". It was a threat. Daedo and showed them what the name Daedalus meant; its origins. They all agreed it was perfect. Daedalus was the master builder from ancient Greek lore.

Only Picard and Gaumont were not shareholders, one by choice and one by circumstance. Even when a token share was offered to Picard she refused, her pride would not allow such a gift.

"The lawyers have said we need to put in funds for the company so it can pay its bills in to our shares until it can start earning its own funds. It doesn't have a lot of costs just tax on the land, utilities and the like. Since we purchased the building, we do not have to pay rent. But we should find a way for it to make a small about of creds for future costs and upgrades," she said.

"Why don't we register my AI code as a product of the company to sell?" Daedo asked.

"We would need a way of selling it," Axelzero said, "it needs to pass through controls and stuff. It is not something any of us know about."

"What if we just made money off its patent, like my parents do," Vannier said, "someone else does the , manufacturing, marketing and selling. They put their brand on it and pays you royalties. In this case, I doubt an AI needs much manufacturing, but the controls would need to be navigated by someone with that expertise. The only other I can think of is we hire a specialist to run the business for us. But who could we trust?"

"Trust no one," Barran answered, "and keep your railgun handy." He laughed and then added, "I like the patent idea. We don't have the time or patience to mess about with this stuff. And if little genius over here comes up with more ideas, we can continue to register patents until Vannier's family jealous." He beamed a smile at Vannier making her wish she never proffered the idea.

She shook her head, "it is a big world, there is plenty of room for fifty companies like my parents and there probably already are."

"I think your family would be ideal to assist with this," Axelzero directed at Vannier.

She nodded. "I will do my share and get their experts to help, they specialise in patent law and know who to send it to within Svarski, DaVinci and the like."

Barran , "problem solved!" He turned to Daedo again, "you did well on the obstacle course today, its only been a week, what did you get fifty-eight something?"

"No, it was fifty-nine minutes and fifty-eight I really wanted to crack the sixty," Daedo answered.

"And you began the week with seventy-seven?" Barran asked whistling.

"Yes," Daedo answered.

"I wish I improved that much, I slipped to fourth overall at thirty-six point four-nine. Hey, wait!" Barran suddenly, "did you beat Gaumont's best time?"

"He did," Axelzero said proudly, she and Vannier had been taking Daedo for a third gym every evening and working him like an robot until he dropped. "Gaumont's best time is still over sixty minutes, so Daedo progresses to stage two of his training." She looked at Picard.

"Well, if we keep the rabbit chase up, you would be next Axelzero, you come in fifth at forty-eight point five-one. That gap is wide, and although his first gap was wide, it gets progressively harder to improve as his time comes down." Picard said.

"We have one week left of this course, which goes until next Friday, it is closed on the weekends for course changes and repairs. That is seven more runs if he can knock-off slightly more than a minute per run he could get under fifty-minutes which gets him almost down into our territory. Most squad zero cadets run the course in under forty-one minutes, but we are Thoth." Picard added.

"I don't want to hear we are Thoth excuses," Daedo said. Not much got him angry, but that sort of talk did.

Picard held up a hand, "agreed, I was thinking about your ranking with-in Thoth, the course will be weighted much lower than Math and the like. Not that I care, I am with you, hell I don't even know why I am in Thoth!"

"Because you are smart Picard," Daedo answered. He knew all his squadmates had strengths and weaknesses. Only Barran did not excel in Math and Physics compared to other Cadets, and they all knew he was in Thoth because of his sister who did. All of squad zero excelled across multiple disciplines, some were in one or two.

Barran excelled physically, and he coped with stress very well. His attitude seemed carefree, but it was a strength, not a weakness. He did not worry, and he showed little fear. Other than when assessing calculus for three- vector shifts.

Vannier was superb in all disciplines, she was rank two in Thoth, while she seemed wiser and more mature than the rest of the squad, showing support and leadership where needed. She was able to charm her way through most social

Mace was the third rank in the squad behind Vannier. She was intelligent but hid her intelligence, which showed her to be cunning. She rarely spoke or offered advice, but when she did it would be wise to listen because what she had to offer was gold. The only person she seemed to connect with was Daedo himself, she kept her distance from the rest.

Axelzero was an allrounder, she neither excelled in anything nor lacked. She was always willing to help her squadmates. She was also organised, energetic and cheerful. Daedo liked having her for a friend, and it was a new for him.

Picard was probably the least gifted in squad zero. She made up for this with and experience. She had worked hard all her life and already excelled at gunnery before entering the Academy. If she had a weakness, it was also her strength. Her mental strength and stubbornness were both. Her was inspiring as was her work ethic. But on the same token, she was stubborn with something she thought she already knew.

She often the rich for circumstances and did not seek to them. Seeing it as the fact that she needed to work around rather than an obstacle she could

Lastly the problem of the squad, or was he just the voice of the past reminding them what others would be doing. Gaumont had shown a strong will and a drive to

The main issue was he did not act as part of the squad, but a cadet alone who had other cadets to do group exercises with. Daedo did not judge him too harshly, he did the exact same thing in CyberMech. He had disdained all teamwork and gone alone as a lone wolf. Even this could be utilized in a combat , Gaumont would be given a lone wolf role to

The Houses were not meant to be a way of putting cadets on career paths. When strictly reading the Academy's guidelines the Houses were just meant to group like-minded cadets to form bonds and together. That is why cadets who were different, like Barran, were not put in another House when their sibling was in Thoth. Each squad needed diversity, it was the diversity of skills which made them stronger when they came together as a team.

Picard shrugged, "well I am at forty-one twenty-five, and Mace is at thirty-nine fifty-five. Only Mace and Barran are under forty minutes. When I look at the squad zero times from the other four houses, we are well behind the other squad zeros."

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