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Chapter 32 : M1 - Term: 1, Round: 2

Daedalus

Attendance at Fortescue Military Academy M1 Y:2142

House Thoth, Squad Leader, Squad Zero

M1 Rank: 1/1275, Tier 3 M-Rank: Null

Term: 1, Round: 2

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It was a strange time to meet a Chief. It was 2355, and Daedo was following academy guidance holo to Chief Cleo's office. It was topside and in the middle of the night. Trying to avoid feeling paranoid Daedo ensured he was on high alert while Myrmidon was monitoring sensors for any activity.

The Academy was not dead quiet, there were certain squads who booked out the Gauntlet and obstacle course at these times. Those activities and the Arena basically ran twenty-four seven, and there were six-year levels from M1 to U3.

Daedo arrived at the Middle Academy Chief building, he had been here once before when Chief Albert the Mathematics Chief summoned him. Following his guidance system, he turned left and went up a level. Chief Cleo's offices were when he saw the sign for AI and above two large double doors. Most of the architecture and furniture on topside was ancient. He stood in front of wooden doors with what looked like brass handles.

The floor was decked with red and dark red carpet. Daedo could see why the Chief's liked it, the ancient décor was stylish. But he would never trade it for the fully programmable rooms. They were so much more practical, and he could always adorn the walls with imagery if he wanted.

A screen appeared on top of a desk in what looked like a foyer or waiting area. An arrow lit up with , "Cadet Daedo, make your way into the office directly. Chief Cleo awaits." It was 2359.

Normally Daedo would not be nervous in a like this, he wasn't when he met Chief Albert. But Chief Cleo was in charge of AI.

If Myrmidon's development was that would not be disastrous, however, if they realised he had no safety controls, then Daedo and Myrmidon would be in a world of pain. He was certain if this happened the powers that be would do their best to purge Myrmidon. But he and his friend had taken measures to back him up fully and hide a backup.

Daedo entered the office, unlike the foyer and other common areas of the building the office was modern. It was not unlike Master Nader's office, it had a fully programmable control room. Chief Cleo was standing with her helmet slung on her back. She stood legs slightly apart waiting for Daedo. Her dark hair was in a neat bob, which contrasted her pale skin. Chief Cleo looked to be in her thirties, she was one of the younger Chiefs.

Advanced had evolved recently and loading AIs into them was new, which her young age. There were no old veterans that had been using this technology for decades. AIs themselves had been around, in some form, for over a century fulfilling many purposes including the personal assistant role. But the of Military grade with an embedded AI was new altogether.

Some crazy people actually allowed their AI to and utilise their brain. It may be hypocritical, but Daedo has no issues removing safety for efficiency, while he considered allowing your AI to utilise your brain as reckless.

"Thank you for turning up at the appointed time Cadet," Chief Cleo said politely. Daedo didn't wonder why the chief thanked him for something that was compulsory, she was trying to make him feel

Considering the lack of report, testing and the middle of the night meeting Daedo was apprehensive. Politeness or no.

Daedo: Myrmidon, I don't need to tell you to stay on high alert while attempting to look small do I?

Myrmidon: no friend you do not. I am a baby. Waa.

Chief Cleo took Daedo's silence in her stride, he merely nodded at her "While we wait for your Master to arrive we can begin your test," she said.

Daedo was surprised by both facts. That the Chief would conduct his test personally, he was sure she could not do this every fortnight for nearly four thousand M level cadets. And the fact she was waiting for Master Nader. He was now anticipating highly what was going to He took in his that Master Nader was on his side.

Daedo nodded again, outwardly calm, "how do we do this? Same as the Academy entrance test?"

", my testing instruments are much more sophisticated. A typical bandwidth test merely measures the data size in bytes from your to your brain. This is an easy way to measure someone's capacity. However, I also measure the types of sent. Or how much is required to communicate a concept," the Chief Informed him while hooking him up to some sensors and a plugin to his

Daedo had an inkling of what she was saying. Chief Cleo seemed to pause for him to ask her to He sighed inwardly. She liked to chat.

"So you are testing the efficiency of the as well as the peak bandwidth," he paraphrased her.

"Very good cadet, yes. With some people, they may have a bandwidth of 150 Tbs, but they are sending grossly inefficient data to their AI and , the AI, which learns from them, communicates the same way. A concept communicated utilising as a graph or diagram can be much more efficient than sending words and pictures. This is something you will learn and improve over the next three years," she "By following the natural in the tutes hopefully."

"Ok, we are ready to begin," she informed him. She began to run several exercises and gave him a trajectory problem and a story task to communicate and complete with his AI.

Other than the Chief Cleo did not talk during the testing. She did, however, make noises in the form of chirps as she reviewed the data which Daedo found distracting.

After five minutes there were done. The tests themselves did not take long, and a common bandwidth test could be done in ten

Master Nader arrived during the testing process and stood quietly waiting for the Chief to finish.

"I need to a few things to you Cadet," Chief Cleo began ominously. Master Nader stood like a rock, witnessing the without her presence being acknowledged or intruding in any manner.

"Master Nader requested that I do not test you until the round. We used your entrance bandwidth for your first round result. This did not affect your ranking as it was still the highest bandwidth by a large margin," Chief Cleo began.

"Now, the most likely for your extremely high bandwidth, for your age and development, are twofold. One is that you a just a genius and will be extremely adept at utilising your AI for your entire career, whether it is in the Military or Corporate or whatever it is you do. The other is that you are not actually at the beginning of your development, that you have been using an AI extensively for a number of years.

"To illustrate I will give you your assessment. Your in Tbs is 482. You officially have the highest bandwidth of any cadet in the Academy. Including U1 to U3. Not only that, my early read on your efficiency is that it is equally as impressive. So other than instructors like your Master Nader here, who have many years of experience, I do not know anyone with and efficiency like this."

Silence reigned while that statement sunk in. Daedo did not dare speak, the less he said, the less he could incriminate himself. Also, he did not know what they knew. He was certainly far from celebrating. Chief Cleo's assessment was not praising him, it sounded more like it was damning him.

Chief Cleo seemed to be waiting for someone else to talk. Master Nader stood standing mute. Daedo was silent as well.

She sighed. "I would really appreciate some input from one of you. What is going on?"

Master Nader moved imperceptibly and then spoke, "I hate that you force me to say this in front of him," she paused for effect. "Cadet Daedo is a multi-discipline genius like this Academy has never seen," she said

Daedo couldn't help but smile. Was Master Nader games with the Chief? He thought, for a split , that she was going to condemn him. He tried really hard to remove his smile and turned back to face Chief Cleo. He still assessed speaking for himself was an unwise tactic.

Chief Cleo paced for a moment, it was only a few steps back and forth before speaking. "Master Nader," she said emphatically, "then why did you request that we did not test in the first round? That is highly unusual."

Master Nader answered concisely, "my assessment was Cadet Daedo was under considerable pressure. One less test and was achievable by the exam. If you require evidence, then look to Chief Albert and an indirect attack on Cadet Daedo via his Nanterre facility. I can provide on both and more examples if required."

Chief Cleo nodded. She seemed to the at least outwardly. "I want to work with you Master Nader, not against you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do. I have the Cadet's best interests at heart," she paused for a moment before continuing. "But there are many with Cadet Daedo's testing that I cannot ignore. With his best interests at heart, I need to be concerned for his safety as well."

"Cadet," Chief Cleo asked him directly, "have you experimented with AI brain ;

Daedo was surprised by the and answered honestly, "no. Why would you think that?"

Chief Cleo looked at him , taking in all his body language cues and

"What I do know is your AI is advanced, far too advance for a launch two weeks ago. What I want to know is what other shortcuts have you taken?" She asked.

Master Nader answered, "it is not against the rules for a Cadet to launch their AI before entering the Academy. As I understand it, Cadet Fortescue has had an active AI for two years." She said.

"Ah yes. That is a good point," Chief Cleo responded. "However, we were alerted to this fact. Reports from her tutors were provided to us detailing the she had received and that all correct safety were followed. Whereas Cadet Daedo pretended to launch his AI in the first week. I must admit it was quite an showing a lot of and skill."

"Cadet Daedo, two personal demerit points for attempting to deceive Chief Cleo and failing," Master Nader said.

It did not go unnoticed to Daedo and the Chief that she had added 'and failing'. She made it sound like he received the demerits for being caught.

Chief Cleo sighed for the time.

"Cadet," she said, "AIs are a wonderful thing. They can enhance your life in many ways. They can improve nearly every aspect of your performance at the Academy and out in the real world. But they can also be useless and worse, dangerous, if not handled properly. Do not experiment with your AI, follow the guides, follow the proven measures. And please, please, even if you are confronted with astronomical challenges, do not experiment with AI-;

Daedo stood. He nodded in agreement, "Chief Cleo, I understand the risks with , and it is my it is extremely dangerous. When completing my research, I saw the cases of the brain dead scientists. Modern medicine could not help these people. It was incredibly sad, especially given their to and AI coding. A which was truncated after self- Rest assured I am not tempted to go down this path."

"Satisfied?" Master Nader asked the Chief.

The Chief did not look happy, but she was satisfied for now. "Dismissed Cadet. Get some sleep."

Daedo realised finally why the Chief had requested a meeting at 0001 on the Monday morning of round two. Master Nader had requested no testing in round one, and she had complied. So she had organised a test in the first minute of round two. He shook his head. The games adults were as bad, if not worse, than the Cadets.

Daedo: we dodged a bullet, Myrmidon.

Myrmidon: thanks to Master Nader. If she wasn't intervening on our behalf, the would have been much worse.

Daedo: we still need to be careful. But at least we do not need to hide your capability anymore.

Daedo woke in time for his first obstacle course run in round two. The squad made their way to the newly designed course at the usual time of 0550. Their slot began at 0600.

The rankings were up, and Thoth Squad zero had performed The consensus was, for Thoth, they were rockstars. Thoth always did well in the academic subjects, but rarely ranked in the top twenty, let alone ten, in the Gauntlet or the obstacle course. It was not unheard of a Thoth cadet being in the overall top ten rank, as there were many subjects such as Math, Physics, Reference, Tech Studies and AI. Which when you considered that Strategy held no , was over half the subjects.

Considering they should be on a high because of the rankings, rankings which put Thoth squad zero in It was the first squad which concerned them. Tonight at 20:15 was their exo Arena match versus Horus. The first squad. Although Daedo was rank one Cadet, the overall rankings of the Horus squad zero were lower than Thoth. By an overall margin of twelve.

Which meant, if Gaumont ranked twenty-one instead of thirty-five, Thoth would have been the first squad.

After they ran the obstacle course most of the squad collect at the gym before breakfast.

"That was brutal," Axelzero said.

"Try it with ten kilos of weights," Daedo replied.

"Oh no, I am not that keen to kill myself," Axelzero responded.

"They did say each round the obstacle course will get harder," Picard added.

"I am not looking forward to round five," Vannier said.

"Guys, guys," Barran interrupted, "I just got some news on the M1 feed."

"You listen to that while you're on the bike?" Axelzero asked.

"Yeah, keeps me updated with what others are doing and saying," Barran replied, "but listen to this. Master Ustinov has suddenly come down with a rare disease, she was rushed to hospital last night and died this morning!"

The news received a response from all the cadets. They were astounded.

"I know she was old, but…, she looked fit," Picard said finally.

"Old has nothing to do with a disease like that, but it was sudden. She was diagnosed, rushed to the hospital and died all in one night? That's crazy," Axelzero

Daedo was quiet. Master Nader had said on two he would know when she dealt with the one responsible for breaking in. And he didn't believe in coincidences. While they other cadets chatted animatedly, what happened with the latest piece of gossip. Daedo was deathly quiet. He just stuck to his training regime.

Daedo: Myrmidon, can you find out and research the disease Master Ustinov died from?

Myrmidon: while human health is not something I have researched much about I will see what knowledge exists on the net and consume it.

Daedo: thanks.

Mace found Daedo at the end of the The Cadets took sonic showers in separate rooms and then collected together before heading to breakfast. Their bodysuits were self-cleaning, but that did not stop them stinking after the obstacle course and a gym

"You were quieter than normal during the workout," Mace stated.

"And you were just as quiet as usual," Daedo retorted.

She shrugged, "you're not thinking what I am thinking are you?"

"If you are thinking what I am thinking it is probably best not to talk about it," Daedo said.

She nodded slowly, "agreed."

Mace was amazing. Master Nader had it to him twice, where Mace was only present one of those But she came to the same as he did, with less indirect clues.

"What should we do?" she asked. They had separated from the squad during their walk to breakfast. The others were chatting so much they lost track of them easily.

Daedo looked at Mace and while he was looking her bodysuit changed. White epaulettes were added to the bodysuit, and a number three appeared on her right upper chest. It corresponded to the zero on her left shoulder.

"You're ranking," Daedo said nodding at her right side.

Mace looked at Daedo, "yours too, and you have an S as well." An S had appeared next to his zero, which denoted squad zero.

Every M1 cadet now had a number from 1 to 1275 on their chest. There was no way Daedo could hide in obscurity now. If the S and the zero were not bad enough, the one on his right side was a for trouble.

"Shit," Daedo said. He had totally the when Commander Malet said this would happen.

"You'd think you'd be happy," Mace said. As she thought about it she realised and said, "I kinda feel inadequate next to you." And she laughed.

Daedo laughed too. Mace was rank three, only him and Fortescue outranked her.

"If you need an ego boost, go hang out with Gaumont," Daedo teased.

"No thanks," she said, "I am happy right here."

For the moment they had about Master Ustinov's demise and its

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