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Chapter 41 : M1 - Term: 1, Round: 5

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: 5

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"We should take a break from this problem and focus on the arena battles," Gaumont offered. Their first battles were in three days against Thoth M3 squad zero and one. The tournaments proper would begin next week. Week ten.

Daedo was focused on trying to make his latest idea work. It was promising at first, but the theory kept failing. It became less elegant the more he tried to the algorithm to force a positive

"And. Really. With the Tournament proper starting next week, this is our last chance to complete all our subject course material and assessments," Gaumont continued to prevaricate.

"Gaumont," Daedo said patiently, "surely all your coursework is done? We are working on this problem now because I have nothing else to do. Well, other than being beaten with bo staffs."

Gaumont shifted nervously and asked. " You have done everything?"

"Yeah," he paused. "What? You haven't?" Daedo responded.

"Um. There are quite a few things from reference, AI nurturing, and my tech project." Gaumont said.

Daedo sighed. "Very well, I will call Cisse and talk about our ideas and lack of progress. See if she can give me some You can go and do your coursework."

As Gaumont left the virtual room, Daedo pinged Cisse and invited her in. Daedo was wearing his helmet and was in a room he created with Gaumont which contained all the workings on the cosmological constant math problem (aka ZPE problem). Although this problem was given to him by the Math Chief, Chief Albert, he thought it should have really sat in physics.

"Ah this is where the magic happens," Cisse said as she appeared in the virtual lab. The lab had four walls covered with scribble and several boxes which contained the archived work stored under different headers. Although she said this is where the magic happens it was not her first visit. She had been in the virtual lab on a number of to chat with the two cadets.

"I have come to a that I have a problem with the ," Daedo said.

Cisse hummed a sound which indicated she was listening.

"Me too," Myrmidon said. He appeared as a miniature ancient Greek , one who would have followed Achilles. Excluding the fact he was fifteen centimetres tall.

Cisse laughed. "And the great and magnificent Myrmidon appears," she lathered Daedo's AI with praise. Cisse was now contracted to the squad's company, known simply as Daedalus, so she had received from Myrmidon, albeit , from Daedo, on a few

"Oh yes," he squeaked. "I love the Virtual Lab, there is nothing stopping me from interacting with everyone."

"But it's the first time I have seen you here," she observed.

"I can't help that I am shy," Mymidon said, and Daedo laughed.

"I don't recall any code which you to lie," Daedo teased.

"Then I'm not lying," Myrmidon riposted.

Daedo shook his virtual head and changed the topic. "Cisse, I invited you here for some advice. Something has been bugging me."

"Hmm?" Cisse responded.

"Well," Daedo began, "the cosmological constant problem may be based on theories. I do not believe that what was known as dark energy actually exists in its entirety in the vacuum as fluctuating fields. It doesn't add up, no matter how I attack the problem."

"These theories are supported by from more than a few sources. All of which are replicable. You can see for yourself," Cisse replied.

"Perhaps there are other variables which affect the that we are ignorant," Daedo said exasperatedly. "It's either the math doesn't add up, and the is , or the is correct, and I cannot find the cosmological constant. Or perhaps everything in quantum mechanics is wrong. I don't know."

"I would go with one of the first two," Cisse answered. "Daedo there is a reason no one has solved this problem yet." She paused and , "It's damn hard!"

After a of and another aborted working.

"I had another idea for a reactor," Daedo said quietly.

Cisse stood, virtual legs appearing under her. "I'm listening," she said attentively.

"Well. All the research I have done into quantum mechanics has me thinking about , and as a sequence," Daedo said. He had spent literally hundreds of hours researching quantum physics. And this was from material Myrmidon had spent the equivalent of of hours searching and

"If you weren't twelve I would think you were trying to seduce me. Tell me your theory Daedo," Cisse said excitedly.

He ignored the joke. Life was easier that way.

"We take a Hydrogen Atom isotope, deuterium, in the first field and split the nucleus into a proton and a neutron. Then we split the proton and neutrons into three up quarks and three down quarks in the field. We then allow the quarks to in the third field and half should form antimatter, while the other half forms matter. Antihydrogen and Hydrogen," he began.

"Ah, that's why you want to use Deuterium, for the extra neutron which has the extra down quark," Cisse said excitedly.

"Yes, well this is all in my I have no idea if half will into antimatter. It just seems logical to me." He paused a moment before continuing. "There have been some experiments, for other purposes, which led me to this though," Daedo

Cisse became over-excited, "I love how you will gain energy from the , the and the Its like three reactors in one." She pondered for a moment. "Where does this energy come from?"

"From the Zero Point," Daedo laughed at his answer. He meant the energy came from the hidden source of the vacuum, the source known as dark energy. Which in other words meant he did not know.

Cisse laughed with him. It was a physics joke they could both appreciate which not many others could. In reality, they would need to supply energy to begin the initial , and the mechanics behind was well understood. The unknown was where the energy of matter and antimatter each other came from.

"You know Daedo," Cisse said after their laughter died down. "I could build the and reactors and an to attempt to prove this idea."

"I am sure you are one of the few people who could," Daedo replied smiling at Cisse.

Cisse was very happy how their had blossomed after Daedo began attending the military academy. It was something she least expected. The Academy of all things being the catalyst was what amazed her the most. Daedo was so into his exos that he had finally needed her. It was not what she had imagined, but it would do.

The whole experience had changed her world so much she began to doing something about her legs finally. There were many to her from regrowth to artificial. She had always had the finances to take the plunge but had chosen not to for reasons. Most of them revolved around survivor guilt.

"Daedo," Cisse said quietly. "I am going to need some materials for these , and we may need to dig out the basement. Can I have a budget?"

"I think you can have five k without an issue, any more and we will have to wait for news on some of our ventures," Daedo answered.

"You can drop five k that easily?" Cisse was gobsmacked.

"We made that much last week," Myrmidon answered.

"In one week?" Cisse asked continuing her astonishment.

"Shu squad zero from M3 wanted to rush their order. That was the payment for early delivery," Daedo answered.

Cisse could have fainted if she wasn't sitting down already. It amazed her how a twelve-year-old could make so many bitcreds in such a short amount of time. In her mind, he was destined to build an amazing company out of The Fortescue Group was clueless about what was coming. And it existed in their own Academy. That irony alone made her very happy.

"Will five k do?" Daedo asked.

"Yes. Easily. We only need materials. We have the equipment to build the parts we need from the materials," she answered. "And thanks to your father we have plenty of robot labour to dig out the basement."

"Let's do it then," he said happily.

"If it works we will have to think up a cool name for it. Like," she sent the text into the virtual air. "r3actor."

"Argh, no. You are denied naming rights," Daedo loudly. "If we can't think of a cool enough name we will just call it the Daedalus Reactor."

"I actually like that," Cisse said sweetly.

"Let's keep this under wraps until you can get some data at least or a working prototype," Daedo suggested.

"Agreed," Cisse answered.

With that Daedo gave up on the Math problem revolving around the cosmological constant. In his mind the physics theories which relied upon this constant were Although mankind understood much about the universe, what they didn't know was possibly -five percent.

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Daedo faced off against Picard, Mace and Axelzero. For the first few weeks, their melee training group consisted of just the In fact, it was a duo before Daedo joined Mace and Picard. Axelzero, who was part of the versatile medium range combat team, recently given the term Libero and had joined them in the last couple of weeks.

Finally, someone who Daedo could beat with a kendo shinai or bo staff. Mace and Picard always pwnd him due to the immense gap in their experience and training.

"Tomorrow we have the two Thoth M3 squads," Picard said as she led the kata, "are we worried?" She directed the toward Daedo as she turned to face his

"No," he replied, "the fun won't begin until we meet with the M3 squads in Tier one. They will make M1 Horus Zero look like chumps in comparison."

"Surely Horus Zero would give a few of them a run for their creds," Axelzero added. "They are outfitted with Inter-Academy gear now and have the full power of Fortescue behind them."

M1 Horus Squad Zero had tried to close the gap with Daedo's squad by obtaining the best possible gear they could. The equipment which the Fortescue Military Academy took to the inter Academy Tournament. It was a horrendous abuse of privilege which had most of the cadets, from all houses, upset. Daedo was one of the few who did not care, simply repeating his mantra, there is no cheating in war.

He had taken Chief Albert's maxim to heart. Not because it was from a chief. Not because he respected the Chief. In contrast, he didn't do anything Chief Albert wanted. It was because, when he heard it, it made perfect sense.

"Well despite that gear, when they still couldn't beat our Gauntlet times, they did not request a rematch," Mace added.

"They were scared of losing practice slots," Axelzero said.

Daedo harrumphed. That wasn't it.

"They were scared of losing face," Picard said and she was correct in his He imagined that Horus could practice offsite, just as easily as his squad could. In the end, the rush for slots and the bets were moot. The squad gained more from the to win the bet than the of winning the bet.

Mace faced off against Daedo and Axelzero for sparring. She was good enough to hold them both off, and by fighting them both, it improved her reflexes, defence and spatial awareness.

"If you Liberos love to spar so much, why don't you take me on Daedo," Picard asked sweetly. She was the one left out.

"No thanks, you never pull your hits. I always come out bruised," he replied while trying to pierce Mace's defence.

"And you Axelzero?" Picard pleaded with her sweetest tone.

Mace attacked Picard and called, "follow me Liberos." The all attacked Picard. This was not This was the best training Picard could get. The ironic part was she was one of only two members of the squad unlikely to get into close combat. It really should have been Barran being barraged by the three Liberos.

Picard had been training in melee combat since she could walk. She had been trained by Soldiers and not by prissy tutors or expensive Mace usually could only land a blow on her when she was overwhelmed by the Otherwise, the gap in skill between Daedo and Mace was equalled by the gap between Mace and Picard.

Picard also had a natural height advantage being almost a head taller than Daedo with Mace and Axelzero only a one or two centimetres taller than him.

The ended with all combatants on the floor out of breath and slightly bruised. A typical ending.

Picard gripped Daedo's arm, "I swear your muscle tone has improved before my eyes youngling."

All the girls laughed at him. So much for being squad leader and M1 rank one. There was no respect from his squaddies. But Picard was joking about a truth. Over the past nine weeks, Daedo had worked his butt off physically. It was too easy to say he was in the best shape of his life, as he had never been in shape before. This was what shape felt like, he thought.

"I actually can't remember being ," Daedo said happily.

"It was only yesterday youngling that you were face," Picard roared.

All the girls laughed again. It was worth the to see Picard coming out of her shell and gelling with the squad. It wasn't that she had them as equals, she had herself as an equal to them. Which was an entirely different and bigger breakthrough. It did not hurt that she was routinely in the top ten cadets in M1. That, most of all, must have boosted her self-image.

"I liked you better when you didn't have a sense of humour," Daedo retorted after the laughter died down. His barb was received with boos at his lack of

He now protested, "what? It is ok to make fun of me, but I can't return fire?"

The nodded solemnly in And after Daedo's facial took on a horrified aspect the laughter began again.

"Got me," he said under his breath.

Myrmidon: oh. they're good.

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The outdoor arena was packed with cadets from Thoth M1 to M3. There were cadets from other houses, but these were dwarfed by numbers from House Thoth. Daedo's squads first battle in the topside arena was against M3 Thoth Squad One, and immediately after, they were to meet their counterpart from M3. Squad Zero.

It was an event every cadet from Thoth wanted to see. Could the upstarts who had been in the Academy nine weeks beat the comparative veterans from M3? The hype was in the positive. M1 rankings made everyone think it was possible and they wanted to see it.

Daedo did not know how these battles got assigned to the outdoor arena which was usually for Tier one and inter-academy matches only. Was it possibly Master Nader's doing or was it from sheer interest and

His squad of seven lined up against the eight from M3 squad one. Barran and Gaumont were in heavies and were the Vanguard. Mace, Axelzero and Daedo were in mediums and were liberos.

Libero described their varied tactics perfectly. The who carried a variety of traps, a launcher with grenades, a grappler and either a melee weapon or a short barrelled railgun were capable of running a gamut of styles from absolute mayhem to covert

And lastly the snipers. Vannier and Picard. The enemy was either suppressed through or due to their deadly aim from long range. The pair had refined their tag team tactics where one would stick while the other moved. The enemy rarely knew where the threat was located. Which made predicting their line of fire, with , nearly impossible.

Their new railguns were well above standard issue in terms of range, damage and It was possible to purchase top of the range military grade railguns which were better, but the squad would continue to improve their own. If they resorted to off the shelf, they would always be limited to the performance of the equipment. It was always to what the top tier Academies had to, and it also was exorbitantly priced.

Their opponents were all in heavy exos which were covered with a plethora of gadgets. It looked like all their R and D went into developing gadgets to put on their heavy exos.

Laser guided rocket launchers sitting on shoulders. A dish which looked like some form of ultrasonic sensor. A dynamically charged net consisting of blue arcs which most likely were designed to shock and incapacitate anyone who came into contact with it. Anyone other than the owner.

Those were the most and largest gadgets. Most of the gadgets had unknown and were small in size.

In a few minutes, the battle would begin. As with all Arena matches, it was survival. When a squad was eliminated the squad left standing was the winner. The terrain was unknown until they entered the arena proper when the battle started. Its size was the only known factor. To fit into the exo arena, it had to be six hundred by two hundred meters. A rather small space given some of the weapon ranges

The two squads were led to either end of the arena. Before they entered, they could hear the announcer. Once they entered, they could not, which was a godsend as far as all the combatants were concerned.

Most matches had announcers, whether they were official or unofficial. It was easy for a cadet to a stream and their own commentary if they were so inclined. And several of the three and a half thousand Thoth cadets were sure to be.

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Durand. Squad Twelve, M2. Rank 672 [commentary]

[And here we have it Thothites. The match we have all been waiting for! The is finally over, and the we all have can finally be answered.]

[Are they Or are the overrated upstarts?]

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