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Chapter 27 : 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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It was the Friday after the term's commencement. Each term was ten weeks which were broken into five two-week rounds. This Friday was the last day cadets could set times or in many subjects as it was the of round one. Specifically, the Gauntlet and Obstacle Course would close at midnight for over the weekend in for round two.

Up until this point if a cadet attempted the obstacle course or Gauntlet every day they would have a total of nine attempts. On the weekend these venues were closed for official attempts. Thoth squad zero with nine attempts of the obstacle course under their belt and their times were as follows.

Obstacle Course Time, R1 A9, M1 Rank (1275)

Daedo, 59.58, 842

Barran, 35.45, 3

Gaumont, 61.02, 855

Picard, 39.32, 37

Axelzero, 48.51, 292

Vannier, 41.14, 87

Mace, 39.01, 29

R1 means Round one

A9 equals attempt nine

M1 rank out of 1275 cadets in M1

During the week Daedo had worn the weights provided by Picard. They had slowed him down, but even with the added weight he almost beat his time of fifty-nine minutes on Thursday morning. Ten kilos was a massive burden for Daedo, he only weighed thirty-two kilos.

Today, he would run with no weights and aim for his best time possible. Looking at the curve of cadet results there was a major hump between forty minutes and sixty minutes, with Daedo near the ass end of the curve. For every minute he knocked off, he would jump numerous ranks. It was almost fifty ranks per minute, with the biggest glut of cadets around forty-nine minutes.

There was slightly more than forty cadets with times under forty minutes, which showed how good his squad were, with three members in this top echelon.

The beeps counted down his last ten , and Daedo became more nervous than a world match of CyberMech. This was his worst subject by far, at least of the easily measurable subjects. Who knew what he ranked in AI Nurturing or Reference and Philosophy didn't even grade cadets.

But his gut confirmed this was his weakest link, he had only taken Physical Training in the last six weeks and had years of sitting on his ass doing nothing to work off. Fortunately, he was young, and the sedentary lifestyle was still able to be remedied, or so Picard told him.

One by one Thoth squad zero ran the obstacle course, spacing out two minutes between start times with Barran leading off with Mace. Picard and Vannier went off so it would be nigh impossible for multiple passing to Not that it mattered, but when you were going for your best time the last thing you wanted was a The course could easily handle two cadets side by side but when a third came through they needed to pass in front of at least one.

Axelzero and Daedo lined up together. Picard and Vannier only needed the thirty- start, if that, but they waited the full two minutes.

"Good luck Daedo," Axelzero said as the last beeps sounded.

If Daedo could keep up with Axelzero, he would get under fifty minutes, assuming she ran her average pace. And at first, it was no problem at all.

"Don't hold back for me," he said between breaths, they were running up some large steps after a downhill sprint. Daedo had an inkling she was pacing him.

"If you don't run your best then how am I supposed to get under forty-eight?" Daedo asked, and Axelzero picked up her pace. She probably was taking it easy. Although it was a long course, almost eight kilometres of running, jumping, dodging and climbing. So a slow start would not affect her time as long as she pushed as hard as possible through the slowest

She hit the rock climb wall just ahead of him. They both scaled it quickly after connecting their carabiner to the ropes in situ. Even if they fell, a robot attendant would extract them into medical in mere The fall was not high enough to injure someone too badly, and with the medical facilities at the academy, most injuries were remedied in hours if not minutes.

They were halfway through, and Daedo felt good. Navigating the maze of moving blocks was an area where he could pick up time. Myrmidon was able to predict the path correctly every time from his analytic skill and the to him from the sensors onboard the bodysuit.

Myrmidon: you are on schedule for a time under forty-seven minutes Daedo.

Daedo: great. I feel good. No weights!

Now it was Daedo's turn to inspire Axelzero as he pushed harder and harder as the end drew closer.

In his mind, he knew the closer he got to the end the less he needed to keep in reserve. Which meant he could throw to the wind. He was not like the other cadets who knew what they were capable of and improved incrementally with each run. Daedo was in unknown territory.

"You are killing it," Axelzero said gasping for air, "don't wait for me." She said as they climbed thirty-meter ladders before the long down circuit. Although the ladder climb was thirty meter, the was barely a meter off the ground, but if you fell, you had to go back and repeat.

Daedo completed the and slid down the opposing ladder rather than use the rungs. In the style all the sub forty runners used. Hands and feet grasping the outside of the ladder rails and using to slow their descent. The crazier the cadet, the less they applied.

Daedo was not at Picards level, he still controlled his descent to a slow fall, almost stopping every ten meters. Picard almost fell the entire thirty before applying force in the last four meters then jumping the last meter once she had slowed to an level.

Daedo lost sight of Axelzero in the last part of the circuit. It was a five hundred meter run. Too long to sprint, too short to jog. The length itself drove a cadet crazy. When he reviewed Picard's tactic, she would power the first hundred meters before resting into a steady gait that was as fast as she could go without tiring. The only problem was her steady gait was faster than his sprint.

With so many talented cadets in his squad, he did not need to look further for And although Barran was the fastest, being rank three overall, he was naturally gifted. Picard was not, her time was earned through hard work and of techniques and strategy. She was his role model, there was little point of him trying to Barran as there was a noob trying to Daedalus CyberMech.

After the five hundred meter, almost sprint, there were the holes and trips. If you kept going at the same pace you would likely land on your face, this required and agility to ensure correct foot , especially if you tried to maintain a fast speed.

Before the finish was a forty degree spiral ramp. The was a killer, even if you felt good for ten meters after a hundred you were dying. And if you stopped and walked it was extremely difficult to start running again. The fact it was spiral killed your momentum. Whoever designed it was extremely sadistic Daedo thought.

Once at the top there was only a hundred meters to the finish, this is the where cadets could leave every ounce of strength on the course. Daedo felt like his lungs were bursting, his legs felt like rubber, and his was blurry from sweat and

Myrmidon was quiet, not making any sound in Daedo's head as he pushed himself past his limits. His heart rate was peaking above anything Myrmidon had ever monitored before, even without the ten-kilo weights.

Picard was right, as soon as he took the weights off he was able to fly through the course. It was not just physically better, but the missing weight gave him a massive mental boost. He would thank her for the torture, it had worked wonders. Daedo had all about Axelzero as his crossed the line and His squadmates came to his rescue with water and got him to sit and then stand.

"Up, up," Picard ordered, "you can't lying down," she pulled him under the shoulders, "and you have to arrive ready to fight. A prone Daedo would be cannon fodder."

"Not too much water," Vannier said, "just small sips."

"Wow, you really tried to kill yourself Daeds," Barran laughed with his new nickname for Daedo. Daedo was too tired to correct him, but there was no way he would allow Barran to call him Daeds.

"Good time," Picard said proudly. Axelzero had crossed when he was on the ground, and she knelt breathing heavily before Picard told her to stand as well.

"My … legs….are…jelly," Daedo said. He felt light-headed. He hadn't even looked at his time.

He had finally by the time Gaumont arrived.

Obstacle Course Time, R1 A10, M1 Rank (1275)

Daedo, 46.39, 235

Barran, 35.44, 3

Gaumont, 60.22, 855

Picard, 38.58, 30

Axelzero, 47.01, 244

Vannier, 40.52, 82

Mace, 38.56, 28

Their performance and overall rankings were outstanding for a House Thoth squad. There were thirty-five cadets across all squad zeros, and if they were equal to all of those houses, they would have all seven cadets in the top thirty-five. However, they were Thoth who excelled in and research. This result was by far the best from Thoth across all year levels M1 to U3. Which did for the fact that most of U3 Thoth completed PT under protest.

Picard bounced up and down, she was more excited with Daedo's result than her own rank of thirty-three. "You dropped from eight hundred and forty-two to two-thirty-five!" She

"Wow, if only you could help me do the same thing in Math," Barran said loudly.

"We still have the Gauntlet tonight, it is our last chance to protect our results," Vannier

"I have so much work to do on the weekend, if I am still rank one at 2100 I will probably give it a miss," Daedo informed them.

Barran laughed, "oh to be so talented. But you one thing Mister D. What if I achieve rank one at 2100? I have my new exo you know."

Daedo shook his head, "it is still a heavy, the grappler does not have enough strength to pull you up buildings, the reactor is way underpowered. I am sorry, but despite all your natural talent you have no chance." He did not that Barran also had not the Gauntlet tactically, he just ran through as fast as he could shooting anything in his path. It worked. But the few tactical maneuvers he and Myrmidon worked cut minutes off their time.

"What about me?" Mace asked.

"Well it is true, you could pass me, you aren't far behind," Daedo answered. "But really, rank one and rank two in our squad, who cares. I am more concerned with improving our exo. There is mountains of programming to be done even before we start testing and adjusting," he answered.

Mace smiled, "ok if you don't run I won't I have so much work to do also."

"Are there any groups that come after us that could pose a threat?" Vannier asked.

"No," Barran said who watched rankings of the obstacle course and the Gauntlet like a hawk, "Horus, Osiris and Shu squad zero all have theirs in the middle of the day. I guess they picked primetime."

Daedo skipped the gunnery range and spent time recuperating. He had knocked off an incredible amount of time on his obstacle run in two weeks dropping from seventy-six minutes to forty-six minutes. It was a of training focus, , practising the course and working out ways to complete certain efficiently. Especially the and climbing aspects. He had nothing left in his reactor after his last attempt and needed some rest before ploughing back into tech studies.

Daedo had been preparing for the weekend in the workshop. His involved setting up a system of remote design, automated manufacture, automated testing process and data with the results informing strengths, weaknesses and the next design.

Before for , their standard exosuit had over two thousand elements in the digital design which could be tweaked. Not only could they tweak the design, but they could also change the material used in the design. Or in the case of an system the part.

A major change would be testing different graphene compounds for the fibrous Daedo had a for testing over a hundred types, with different thicknesses and compounds where they would manufacture a sheet which resembled the chest structure closely, take it to the gunnery range in the testing bay and test it with different types of weapons. The weapons would have different impact effects from miniguns to railgun or and bolts.

The work was not only in setting up the design and manufacture but the testing process. How were the tests measured in terms of the test structure and measurement How were these results quantified? Anecdotally the armour which put up with ten railgun shots was much better than the type that caved after one or two.

Then there was the competing aspect of power delivery. At the moment the most innovative part of Daedo's design was the tubes which made up the armour, albeit tiny in size, acted as conduits for the hydraulics. He had to design a test for power delivery, efficiency and speed of

After both the amour value and power delivery aspects were measured he could closely to see if any of the design and material were a clear leader. At least that was a problem for when he had all the data. For now, he had to purchase the required , design the tests and manufacturing process. Not to he had to start filling the manufacturing queues with different design

His Father had been invaluable in setting up the robots during the week. Once Daedo had put the work into the coding and designing, it would all happen without him. Whether he was there or not. It could run all week, twenty-four seven. And thanks to Barran they now had three new machines which were increased the speed of manufacture by five hundred percent and allowed better materials to be made.

Other than his coding and designing workload the only other issue that remained was creds. All the raw materials and instruments he was purchasing cost bitcreds. Even his vast savings were being depleted from over twenty thousand bitcreds down to just over three thousand. He could sustain spending for a little while longer, and his spacebuild shop still brought in a thousand creds a month thanks to Myrmidon keeping it going.

But if spending continued at this rate with no , he would run out of creds before term one was finished. Daedo was concerned, as he expected spending to increase as he pushed the envelope further. What if he wanted to bring Cisse on board to develop and ZPE reactor? Hopefully, something would pan out soon where some of their schemes would start bringing in creds.

Daedo was sitting in the main M1 cafeteria as squad zero liked to do for lunch. It could get in their quarters if they ate all their meals there. And it was nice to have food prepared by the robots in the cafeteria, the AI of the chef was excelled when it came to feeding young cadets. Making their required nutrient intake tasty.

"Hey you cheater," a cadet rudely interrupted his Thankfully he was sitting with his entire squad, and they usually dissuaded aggressive intruders.

"Fark off," Barran replied just as aggressively.

"Everyone knows yura little cheating bastard," the M1 cadet from Osiris said loudly.

"If it wasn't against the rules I would smash your face in so hard you would have to take in your nutrients through your ass," Barran retorted. Barran was smart he was careful to not actually threaten the rude individual by qualifying his statement. Daedo could learn a lot from Barran by observing him. He may act stupid but was wise in his own way.

"I'd like to see you try, tough guy. But I am wondering why the short-ass needs your , is it because he is a cheater and can't actually defend himself," the Osiris squad three cadet said. He now had an Osiris entourage.

Vannier stood. "If you have an go and make it through the proper channels. Oh and be sure to provide proof," she said.

"I have a for you," Daedo said.

"Oh yeah, this will be good. But you need to answer mine first," Osiris squad three said. "Why was your with a legal light exo at the bottom of M1 if you are so good?"

"Oh geez you are dumb," Axelzero said. She couldn't stay quiet. "Only one for the fortnight matters you , he wasn't trying to get a in the light exo knowing we were working on our improved He was just exploring the Gauntlet and mapping it."

Osiris squad three just laughed at her answer like it was a lie, "yeah right. Don't expect me to buy that lame excuse."

"My is," Daedo paused waiting for quiet. By stating his and waiting the entire crowd shut up waiting for it in "Is there such a thing as cheating in war?"

"Of course you fucking ," the Osiris cadet answered without listening to the properly.

"Oh, move it, dog brain," said a voice used to being obeyed. Before their small dining table was crowded with twenty Osiris cadets, now there were ten Horus cadets who pushed their way through, all of whom were in squad zero, some of them in M2 and M3. They all followed Karine Fortescue who spoke.

An M3 stood in front of the Osiris troublemaker. "I suggest you move on boy before I get you written up for demerits. I have witnessed quite a few and have them , it is just a matter of sending it to your master and boom. Watch your ranking sink because of your stupid mouth."

The Osiris cadet turned and walked quickly away in a huff, the other Osiris cadets followed after a short bout of staredowns from the Horus entourage.

"I see you are going to make our wager more interesting than I first thought," Karine said looking at Daedo. "However, you have a long way to go before you challenge Horus. You can't even handle an Osiris brat who won't make the top one hundred."

"Why are you here?" Daedo asked.

Karine stared antagonistically at his impudence. She had a sphere drone hovering over her right shoulder, and it quivered in seeming distaste at his words.

"I came to see what the was. I wanted to break up any inter-house fights before they began. Only to see you at its centre. So you could say I am here because you lack leadership. Being good at Math is not everything, Thoth" Karine stated

Barran laughed. And Horus just stared at him. He was about to speak when Vannier stopped him by laying a hand on his shoulder and squeezing.

"See you Monday night Karine,' Vannier said formerly.

Karine gave an imperceptible nod, turned and made for an exit back towards the Horus of the Academy. Her entourage followed her like a crowd of

"I think you have her worried Daedo," Barran said chuckling. "Your Math ability scares the shit out of her!" He broke into laughter at his own joke.

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