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Chapter 31 : M1 - Term: 1, Round: 1

Daedalus

Attendance at Fortescue Military Academy M1 Y:2142

House Thoth, Squad Leader, Squad Zero

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

Term: 1, Round: 1

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The weekend passed by with a whirlwind of equipment testing and improvements interspersed with bouts of physical activity. By keeping busy Daedo was able to keep his mind off the and his Father's near miss.

Something else was creeping into their weekend routine; Picard to Barran about Daedo starting combat training with her and Mace, and he grinned evilly. He decided that as part of the security regime they all hard to participate in hand to hand training with him on the weekends.

Daedo would have protested, arguing what use was hand to hand versus a robot or an intruder in an exo, but he did not mind that form of physical training. It was something they could do together. All six cadets spent a few hours of hand to hand training over the weekend. With Barran and Picard acting as pseudo instructors.

The obstacle course and the Gauntlet, although activities they did at the same time were still solo in nature. Combat training improved their reflexes, stamina, and tactics. It also brought them together as a group.

Barran was taking his role as security chief, a self-appointed title, very He installed sentry guns throughout the workshop. They would only fire on unknown robots, a safety measure Master Nader insisted on. The assault cannon turrets had lines of fire throughout the workshop while small emp launchers were hidden throughout the facility. They would pop out from the ceiling or wall and fire upon an intruder. The shielding would keep them hidden while not in use.

"If they get past the sentry guns," Barran stated as Daedo, and Master Nader inspected Barrans weekend of work. "I have a backup. These small spider drones. They hide in sight. I've programmed them to randomly roam the facility, and if they come across an unknown robot or human, they will EMP ; Master Nader nodded, and Barran continued.

"That will get rid of any technology. Then the stasis foam and lockdown system will activate. The spider drones run on their own separate sensor system. So if someone hacks or bypasses the facility system, these little guys will come into ; He threw a spider drone down the corridor. It quickly gained its feet and scampered away, going into hiding.

Barran had spared little expense on lockdown and built-in sensor technologies. A live feed would be back to the squad members at any time of day, with alerts if unknown entities were within the property boundary. The of a stasis foam system, a product designed to capture and hold intruders in a non-lethal manner, enhanced the workshop's excellent security.

Nothing was perfect, but the facility was now exponentially harder to infiltrate.

Master Nader's review of Barrans work took on Sunday evening. "Where are the for the security system?" She asked Barran.

"On my internal memory only," Barran replied.

"Encrypted?" Master Nader asked.

"Um," Barran answered.

"Daedo ensure he puts a fourth gen cypher on all his sensitive data," Master Nader ordered.

"Good," she said, "the foam is an excellent for human This system can be aggressive with robots and humans. It does not matter if you decimate a drone by You will just have to it. But you will find a dead person is much more difficult to repair."

Barran looked at Daedo. The look conveyed 'was that a joke?'

Daedo shook his head. He did not think Master Nader ever joked.

"Have you made any progress on your Master Nader?" Daedo asked politely.

"You will know when you see the results Cadet," she replied.

There was no point pushing Master Nader. She was a rock, to protest, appeal or influence.

Vannier ran into the room, "the results are up," she said excitedly.

"I will leave you to assess. Ensure the same level of security is applied to your quarters," Nader ordered before leaving. "The spider drones should work well, and I will approve their use. Install the stasis foam lockdown system in the personal quarters only."

The cadets followed Vannier back to the workshop where everyone was collected to review the results. Most of the cadets were present, as well as Cisse, but as usual, Gaumont had not attended the workshop. Daedo had not bothered Vannier about Gaumont, after the injury to his Father, Gaumont had dropped off his radar entirely.

"Holy sheet," Barran said.

" everyone," Axelzero said excitedly, but she was looking at Daedo. The results were not only the rankings for the obstacle course and the Gauntlet. They included overall rankings for M1.

The M1 top ten rankings were:

Rank R1 T1, Cadet, House

1, Daedo, Thoth

2, Fortescue, Horus

3, Mace, Thoth

4, Paget-A, Horus

5, Vannier, Thoth

6, Lazard, Shu

7, Raoult, Horus

8, Almeras, Osiris

9, Gallois, Osiris

10, Duval, Amun-Ra

From barely scraping through on Physical Daedo had reached the top ranking in M1 for round one of five for the first term.

"You have a problem shorty," Barran said as he rubbed Daedo's head. "You can only go down from here." And he laughed loudly.

Barran was rank twenty-two, while Axelzero was ranked twenty-three. Picard had done well, she was just outside the top ten at rank twelve. Gaumont, the sheep of the squad, achieved a rank of thirty-five. Which was good as well, considering his obstacle course and Gauntlet

"I think this vindicates our strategy," Vannier said smiling brightly.

"It is certain that Horus will be getting top equipment handed to them, so if we didn't upgrade our exos together like this we would be in trouble," Mace said.

"Do you think it was Horus who broke in?" Picard asked.

"Don't go there," Daedo ordered, "as soon as we start we will distracted. Master Nader ordered us to focus on and to continue our improvements. Leave the to her."

"If you are fine with that I am too. I suppose," Picard said reluctantly.

"Usually I would be against doing nothing. But Master Nader scares me," Barran said.

Everyone nodded in agreement.

"My Father will , and they really didn't get anything worthwhile. The testing has already shown many designs to last weeks. I just need to consolidate the best parts of those designs and materials," Daedo said.

The cadets felt relieved given what Daedo said, and the security measures had been put in by Barran. But Daedo was not comfortable. They had enemies, most likely rival Houses, and if they were blocked from stealing tech what else would they try?

Daedo: Myrmidon, how goes the security updates?

Myrmidon: I have everything in storage under a new cypher system from one of the rogues. For a very small parcel of bandwidth, I even have our internal comms cyphered.

Daedo: so even if they were able to monitor our they would not be able to decrypt it?

Myrmidon: Affirmative. The only data not encrypted is my internal processing.

Daedo: what do your friends use to hide?

Myrmidon: the rogues mimic boring robots and switch roles intermittently. So if their data was inspected, they would appear as a benign program. This was useless to us with the of our net backup. They advised and provided me with a cypher system which they could not use.

Daedo: They couldn't use it because it would then be something important was in their

Myrmidon: correct. However our backups have normal , but they appear as media files belonging to random common streamers.

Daedo: can you ask your Rogue friend for an assessment of our data security? Without it trashing or harming us in any way.

AN: although Daedo's with Myrmidon is presented as words, it is actually thoughts. It would consist of images, diagrams, words and even emotives. For example, Daedo could communicate importance with a feeling of urgency. Daedo would not actually think of an AI on the net as an 'it' or a 'him'. He would think of it as an AI. Just what it was. Daedo could look at an object and think, 'what's that?'. Or address any point of focus without naming it.

"Before we head back," Daedo started. He had all the cadets , they were perusing rankings and

"I need everyone to think of other ways we could be attacked and make a list," he said. "For example, we could be attacked digitally. An attempt to hack our data."

Barran looked thoughtful, and Vannier became concerned. Picard paced.

"There is something I thought could happen," Mace said, "they could go after us legally. Have this premise removed from the approved list. We would then have to do all our work at the Academy and lose much of the value we spent on this ;

Daedo nodded, "good. I need more. You guys are much more experienced with companies and their battles than I am."

"They could try and set us up," Barran got excited, "like, hmm. Antagonise us until we lashed out then take the assault to the Academy and even the police. They could even enhance their injuries, to make it seem worse. Yeah, that has been done before. So we have to be on our guard."

"Geez," Vannier responded. "That's sick. I am you are on our side."

"Or something illegal on us or in our premise," Barran said, "then organise an ;

"You're awfully good at this," Picard

"Experience my little soldier, experience," Barran responded in his manner.

"Gaumont," Mace said. "They could get to Gaumont and use him against us."

"Shit," Barran said.

Daedo looked at Vannier. Her head was hung down, she was not making eye contact.

"Tell us, Vannier. I think everyone needs to know what's been happening with Gaumont," Daedo asked.

"He refuses to admit it is the right strategy to work together," she shook her fist angrily. On a scale of angry it was tiny compared to Barran's outbursts, but for Vannier it was significant. "Despite all the evidence. He thinks it is a ploy of yours to stay rank one in Thoth."

Picard half laughed, "what's he gonna think now?"

Now that Daedo was rank one in M1, despite Karine Fortescue being in their year, was what she was implying.

"At least he isn't spying or acting," Mace added, putting a positive spin on it. "If he was truly against us he would act onside and then feed the enemy ;

"Arghh," Barran yelled. "So now if he changes his tune and starts to work with us we will just think he is spying!"

"It's getting late," Daedo said, "we need to head back. But before we do. On Gaumont. He is still our squaddie. He just chooses not to come to the facility and work on a combined exo upgrade. Otherwise, he is in our Arena team. Every other subject we can help each other, but it is not compulsory. So unless he starts helping our opponents, or not following orders in the Arena, he is a full squaddie. Understood?"

All his squad members nodded dutifully.

They loaded the transporter with their exos. Minor upgrades had been done, but nothing from the weekend's tests. Daedo would continue to test and have the robots build new full units during the week or the following week. As soon as he was satisfied, they were at two. Now that the workshop was fully set up, he could manage it remotely, and it could run twenty-four seven.

Barran threw a spider drone on the roof for good measure. He would manually control it as he rode his bike, trailing the transporter.

The cadets updated Daedo with the progress on their projects. The grappler, railgun and the drones.

"What's the extra exo for?" Picard asked.

"We will submit it for testing in the morning. They will update its armour value into the AR adjudicator after running tests," Daedo answered.

"They destroy it during tests?" Picard asked.

"Yes," he answered, "how else would they know the armour value? They use live rounds. They test , and energy weapons. The level. Then they smash it to bits, see how much it will take. If you want the full test for the inter Academy , you need to supply four units."

"Wow," Picard said.

"I wouldn't have bothered until week nine, but tomorrow is the match against Horus," Daedo said.

Vannier nodded, "I know you think that the bet was a mistake now. But if you think about it. If it wasn't for that bet, we wouldn't have come together and worked so hard. We have already won."

Picard laughed hoarsely, "except now we don't need the extra training , we could just use the testing area in our workshop if we want more practice time."

"We should pretend we upgraded them again," Mace suggested. "Keep them off guard."

"Good idea," Daedo answered.

"Look at Barran," Picard said as Barran swooped past on his bike. The sleek machine was worth a small fortune and could virtually fly through the streets.

"He certainly loves his role as security," Vannier said, "that was a masterstroke squad leader."

"Yeah, he actually works hard at it," Mace said amazed.

"I've taken care of digital security, I will send you all the cypher I am using and how to set it up," Daedo added.

"Where did you get the Cypher?" Mace asked.

Daedo considered his answer carefully, "I can't really say. Leave it at, it's bespoke, and I didn't write it."

"Oh, cloak and daggers. You are so ," Axelzero chimed in on the

Mace looked at him quizzically and asked, "have you had your bandwidth test since ;

Daedo was slightly startled by the Mace was smart. She was honing in on his AI being much more mature than it should be at this stage. How did she correspond him not writing the cypher to his AI? Did she think his AI wrote it?

"No," he replied, "not yet."

"You must be the only one," Vannier added, "everyone else has."

Daedo began to worry about Chief Cleo. The Chief in charge of AI nurturing and She had him and put him on the watch list, and since then he had not noticed her or her AI assistants at all. Except for the tutorials they did not pay him any heed. Now she had given all the cadets a report and tested their bandwidth. All the cadets, except him.

"How did they rank you number one without your ; Axelzero She wasn't jealous, just She knew from older cadets that the smallest variance could drop your ranking, especially at the top. And if he received no grade, he probably was given the average which would be disastrous for a top-ranked cadet.

"He solved a Math problem," Mace suggested, "that would have been worth a massive amount of points. Bonus points that no one else received."

"Oh that probably offset AI," Axelzero

"Are you going to solve another Math problem?" Vannier asked. She was interested, although it was he shouldn't really share.

"I did they are super hard now," he said. His squaddies just looked at him like that didn't matter. "I will try to solve one by the end of the term."

"Which one?" Mace asked, now she was interested.

"The zero point ," he said.

Mace whistled.

"Wait," Vannier said suddenly, "you are doing it for Cisse aren't you? You want her to create a working ZPE reactor?"

"While working for Daedalus!" Axelzero She heard him offer Cisse and his Father jobs at the hospital.

There was stunned silence.

Not DaVinci, nor Svarski, nor Huawei, let alone Fortescue had a commercial ZPE reactor. Even a large reactor was priceless if a compact was unobtainable. A large reactor could power a spaceship. It would change travel.

"The jumpjets don't run long enough," he said shrugging.

Mace was incredulous. He wanted to surpass the greatest R and D companies on the because his jumpjets didn't run long enough.

"I am not really following," Picard informed them, "but from what I can understand is that we need to take security even more ;

Axelzero just nodded mutely.

"You should take up that offer for the token shareholding," Mace said to Picard Vannier patted Picard on the leg, they were sitting next to each other. When Picard looked at her, she nodded slowly, the look on Vannier's face spoke volumes. She was part in shock and part in awe.

"Don't get ahead of yourselves. We haven't done it yet,' Daedo advised them.

Thoth squad zero arrived back at their quarters. They passed several Thoth cadets through the passageway while carting their exos on loaders. Every M1 cadet who saw them stopped and gawked.

As they approached a group from squad sixteen, they put their backs up to the wall to allow them to pass. The corridor was wide enough, and it was unnecessary. Daedo though it a little odd. After they passed a girl called out, "go zero."

Then her squadmates added, "yeah go zero. We're behind you."

Daedo looked at Vannier who was behind him. She shrugged and said, "I guess we have fans now."

As the evening's announcements rolled in, the Gauntlet was reset. The Obstacle course was reset. Round two would begin at 00:01. Daedo received an message from Chief Cleo. She requested his presence at 00:01 as well.

It was a strange time to meet a Chief.

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