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Chapter 50 : 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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Master Nader's AI, Zeus, consumed all the raw data streams from the group 2 matches. Although she took an interest in all Thoth M1 squads, only one was the spearhead.

Zeus presented the data in the format Nader preferred. A frontend dashboard consisting of tables with all the cadet's key stats. Backed up with a deeper focus on critical events and data. The dashboard tables were nothing like the killboard. They included stats on reflexes, adrenaline, speed, damage quality quotient, , bandwidth. Some of these stats Zeus could pull directly from the raw data, others he had to , for example, reflexes and damage quality.

Lastly, what Master Nader was most interested in could not be defined and by Zeus. Strategy. Or more specifically, tactical awareness, strategic making, risk-taking and creativity.

Most of the cadets in squad zero were handpicked by her and needed nurturing just as an elite AI did, but only one was the reason for her being in this at the Academy. With the others, she built a support team around him.

It did not take much to her as a Chief in the upper school, for AI, and once there little effort was needed to move to a House Master at the appropriate time.

Hacking the Academy's systems was child's She had altered the raw data to ensure the cadets she had assessed in the years were in her squad. Once the Academy system assessed the data it them predictably with a set of defined criteria, she didn't even need to hack the , she changed the input knowing the end result.

Although she thought she could now be used elsewhere; the tiny snowball at the top of the mountain was rolling in the right and would a force all on its own. Her wanted her to remain in to ensure the potential was maximised.

Assessing the data, she began to find weak points, areas for improvement and risk-taking which resulted in the loss of life to win a match in a faster manner. That was the problem with these matches. They weren't real battles. Loss of an important squad member or its leader was Where in reality it would have a massive impact on the next and all future battles.

She would need to rectify this logic path at some point. The sooner, the better. She did not want bad habits creeping in.

The last match was about to start, and another message made it through her filter.

*Commander Mallet: Fortescue request a meeting.*

Master Nader had blocked direct attempts of from irrelevant parties. So they went to the Commander. Why didn't they just go to the Lieutenant General, she wondered. The Fortescue military officer in command of the Academy.

*Master Nader: specifics sir?*

*Commander Mallet: you, me, LG and Yasmin Fortescue. Masters meeting room 1630.*

Which was in thirty minutes. Basically immediately after this match depending on how long it lasted.

*Master Nader: interference is not appreciated, sir.*

*Commander Mallet: noted.*

These men were weak. They would do nothing and allow the Fortescue woman to do as she pleased. Nader was not weak.

*Master Nader: Zeus.*

*Zeus: Master.*

*Master Nader: I am going to take a twenty-minute nap. Surveil the area, capture all the match data.*

*Zeus: Master: your vitals do not appear in need of a recharge. Anything I need to know?*

*Master Nader: No, there is not.*

Unlike Myrmidon, Daedo's AI, Zeus was not her friend. At most he was a Nader used him as her most important and essential tool. Her effectiveness was directly to his effectiveness.

Zeus began to capture the data from the match as it got underway and immediately started to sort, filter and assess.

Thoth and Horus captured. Two-D rendering. Cover analysis Line of sight

Reflex data and : Barran 2.34, Picard 2.39, Mace 2.29, Daedo 2.42, Vannier 2.43, Gaumont 3.15. Fortescue 2.44, Paget-A 2.72, Raoult 2.35, Paget-L 2.71, Brassuer 3.04, Girard 3.09, Niel 2.97.

Bandwidth mean: Barran 122, Picard 139, Mace 209, Daedo 504, Vannier 141, Gaumont 104, Fortescue 174, Paget-A 137, Raoult 89, Paget-L 77, Brasseur 80, Girard 81, Niel 69.

And so forth, Zeus' collected the data for Master Nader's The match proceeded along a predictable path. The two squads had equivalent equipment. Thoth's mobility was much higher, where Horus' armour values and burst damage were

The physical prowess tables covering speed, stamina, , strength and reflex were not disparate by a significant margin.

The main differential was the creative element that Zeus could not measure effectively. He could measure the , which were the match results. A simple four-line program could achieve that

The data streamed in as the match progressed and it was not long before Horus began losing squad members. Thoth had trapped them, and once there was a large difference in combatants the match wrapped up quickly.

M1 Thoth Squad zero (1) def M1 Horus zero.

Zeus concluded the of the energy shield which soaked most of the damage from the PPC weapon was a significant surprise factor to the Horus opponents and ruined their predetermined strategies. Master Nader would make her own based on the data.

After the of the M3 Tier one, group two, the points table was finalised.

M3 Shu Squad one 10.4

M1 Horus zero 0.0

M3 Osiris Squad zero 10.0

M3 Amun-Ra zero 3.6

M1 Thoth Squad 10.4

Master's squad was through to the semi-finals, only losing one match to Osiris who did not proceed due to losing a match to Shu and the higher number of deaths incurred during the matches they won.

The semi-finals were as follows. Shu Zero versus Thoth Zero. Shu One versus Osiris One.

Zeus woke Master Nader at the appointed time. She viewed the results and was not surprised.

Master Nader: very good Zeus. Forward the report to Squad zero Daedo and Vannier for all the group matches. I will speak to them later.

Master Nader made her way to the Middle Academy Office passing squad zero in the hall. The young cadets stared at her in Did they expect She wondered. If this group stage was a war, they would all be dead.

She arrived at the Commanders offices with her usual punctuality, 1628, allowing two minutes to prepare, be seated and begin the meeting on time.

She sat there alone at 1630, 1631 and then finally at 1632 the Commander entered with the Lieutenant General Berger (LG or Berger).

"You're late," Master Nader To her it was inexcusable. They were not assaulted by enemies, there were no obstacles to It was merely a deficiency on their part that caused them to be late. Fortescue was a different matter. She would be late to show , which was something that Nader understood.

Mallet stared at Nader, a look of warning crossing his features. Nader considered that he did not know what he was dealing with. It was the other parties which needed warning. Nader knew everything about them, and they knew very little about her.

The LG strode to the head of the table, paused, considered and then moved to the seat to the right of the head of the table. Commander Mallet sat to its left, leaving a vacant seat in between for Yasmin Fortescue.

A tiny urge in Nader, which she quickly quashed, the urge to tell them that she was not in the least intimidated by their authority nor the fact the meeting was three and one and not two and two.

At 1639 Yasmin Fortescue entered the meeting room. She was dressed in a bodysuit to Thoth's without the white insignia. Instead, it FORTESCUE in iridescent silver writing. She was trailed by what Nader presumed were lackeys and proceeded to apologise profusely for being late.

"Oh, my apologies gentlemen. I know you are all extremely busy and not only do I take up some of your time but I am late," Yasmin smiled as she swooped in shaking hands of the Commander and the LG.

Berger waved her words away, "it is nothing, Ma'am," he said stoically.

"Oh, Yasmin, please. I am not one of your Merely a concerned parent," Yasmin Fortescue said politely.

Nader waited patiently at her end of the table.

Yasmin made her way down, "Oh this must be your most talented Master. Nader isn't it?" She took Nader's hand and shook it, peering at her face mask which remained closed with a slightly confused look on her face.

As Yasmin turned to look down the table, Commander Mallet offered, "Ma'am, Master Nader always wears her helmet and uses a voice box to communicate." He wasn't being polite offering no reason. He did not know the reason.

"Oh. I am sorry, so sorry," Yasmin implored, "I said gentlemen on my way in. I should have known someone so adept at nurturing talent would be a woman." Her smile was , Mallet and Berger smiled in obedience.

Yasmin promptly sat down next to Master Nader, ignoring the seat at the head of the table. Nader was slightly impressed. This woman was no , unlike her However, while such tactics could work on a normal adversary, she was not normal.

Up until this time Nader had not spoken other than admonish the Commander for being late.

"Master Nader," Yasmin began, "I need your help."

Nader turned her head slightly to face Yasmin Fortescue, it was not physically necessary, it just gave the recipient the that she had her undivided

"No," Nader said in her robotic voice.

"But," Yasmin spluttered a small chink before herself, "you have not heard why I am need of your aid."

Mallet and Berger were restraining themselves. Nader could tell they wanted to yell at her, but the setting and timing was preventing them. They were to delivering a dressing down to cowering teachers and cadets with no impediments.

"I am aware," Master Nader replied.

"Master," Yasmin began taking on an ever so slightly more tone, "we would like to make some changes. I," she tapped herself on the chest, "would like everyone to be involved with the process. It is with a long-term view for the good of the Academy."

Yasmin stood and began to deliver a heartfelt speech, "I am not concerned with this year. I am looking to the future," she said with a dramatic arm pointing to nowhere in "We could gain within two more years and if the correct amount of resources, the correct people are in ," with those words she looked at Nader,

"we could even achieve Tier one within the next six years."

Mallet moved in his seat, "let's not…" he began. He apparently thought Yasmin Fortescue was getting ahead of herself over one squad and the makeup of the Houses. But, a hand on the table from Berger and a discreet text-to-hud message warned him to shut up.

Nader thought she should this game for a little while. Frustrating the children would only spur them into hasty

"What would you have me do?" Master Nader asked non-committedly.

"That's my point," Yasmin said pleadingly, "I am not telling you to do to anything. I want to lay out the issues, the goals and have you tell us what you think we should do."

Master Nader nodded. Yasmin was a good operator. She could work with this. Nader that Yasmin's was to give Nader the she was making the thus lowering her guard. The resulting would be biased by her wanting to please her commanders and the Fortescue family, her employers, and if necessary slight to those could be made at any time. Even if she yelled 'this is not what we agreed', they would be locked in, and she would have lost control.

If this was the best that Fortescue had, it was no wonder the Academy languished in tier three, Nader surmised.

Nader decided to toy with them some more. She let her head flop down slightly and said, "Very well," in a lower tone.

Mallet visibly. He was probably dreading the of this meeting. Nader thought it was a premature

"I have studied all the cadet's profiles from M1 in detail, and have completed my own ," Master Nader began.

"I too have a long-term view in regards to this squad. There is important work to be done, and humanity must be prepared," Master Nader continued her pause between sentences. The pauses were to allow her words to sink in. Other than Yasmin, who was moderate, the processing quotient in the room was quite low.

Master Nader had infiltrated all levels of the Academies database. She knew more about the cadets, the Chiefs, the Masters and the than anyone including the LG.

"The cadets in M1 Thoth squad zero have a special bond, there is only one member who I would even condone and breaking them up is out of the ," Master Nader continued leaving the audience small room for

Mallet again looked like he wanted to protest, but held still. Nader had not given him sufficient reason to. Yet.

"What this squad achieves for Fortescue is , any tournament is convenient only so far as providing obstacles for them to in order to maximise growth," Master Nader stated a fact for their , and now she would drive home the bargaining power which they had not considered.

Up until now, the Academy had been considerate of Master Nader and Thoth Squad zero. Knowing that working with them would provide a happier for all involved. And even if that was not their typical , Yasmin Fortescue, who instigated the prospective changes, insisted on working with the Master and the squad first. She had other people interceding on her behalf as well as the Academy

Master Nader was aware of all of these facts and

"As stated, my is long-term. It is past their time in the Academy. These games and studies are all in for what comes next," Master Nader knew when to pause for dramatic effect.

She would now give Commander Mallet a reason to protest and Yasmin Fortescue a reason to pause, 'this can be done at any Academy."

The torrent of swirling through the three humans was palpable. It concerned Nader greatly that they had not considered this. She pondered how they could be this inept. Perhaps Fortescue did not consider this because she was conceited or involved with her daughter's dramas. The other pair had no excuse.

Before they Master Nader deemed it necessary to dissect Cillian Marais from their She had allowed him for specific reasons and did not appreciate Fortescue sullying her

"Mercedes Military Academy would be interested. I met with one of their alumni today," Master Nader stated. The entire statement was true while being misleading. This would sever Cillian from Fortescue quite neatly without doing him harm.

Yasmin Fortescue had lost total control of the meeting, she had ceded it to Master Nader through gross The last was an outright threat. Yasmin was busy a to get back in control. Before she could begin or even stall Master Nader continued.

"Now the background is understood. I will answer your query and propose what, we, should do," Master Nader continued.

"We," she emphasised the 'we' heavily, "will do nothing."

"Whereas I, will be allowed to run M1 Thoth including squad zero as I see fit. If I propose a cadet change, then it will be permitted. Any other changes will be denied. Any departure from my proposal will result in squad zero and myself leaving this Academy and finding a new home."

Yasmin was stunned, where Mallet found his words.

"Are you sure all of your Squad zero will follow you?" Mallet asked the barbed

"Do you want to test it?" Master Nader threatened.

Commander Mallet did not. He was looking for a weakness which probably did not exist.

Lieutenant General Berger looked to Yasmin Fortescue. She was going through a range of from shocked to angry. The angry look was not directed at Master Nader but at him.

"Thank you Master Nader," Berger put on an authoritative manner, "You are dismissed."

Master Nader did not salute. She merely stood and left without a word or a backwards look.

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Yasmin Fortescue was ropable.

"I have never been so underprepared for a meeting in twenty years!" She raised her usual elegant voice and thumped the table. She wasn't as mad at the Lieutenant General and the Commander as she was at herself.

Her battles were fought in such meetings. But it was always the which dictated how the battle was out. Her side was found wanting, and by such a large margin it was embarrassing. It wasn't an experienced and talented operator from DaVinci who her. It was an Academy Master. An educator.

"What do we know about this Master?" Yasmin said hoarsely. "All I can see is she started here as an AI Chief with a from Svarski and Hitachi. She did this role for two years and applied for a change to Master for the new M1 intake and was given Thoth due to her background."

"What fucking background!!!" She screamed. "We know nothing." She stormed around the meeting room, venting. "No wonder we are stuck in Tier three if this is how you run the Academy!" She said pointing at Berger.

Berger was a career military man. He had spent the last twenty years in the Fortescue Military Defence Force. A few years after its when tax credits were created for who maintained standing defence forces which would be consigned to the Earth Defence Force per articles in the treaty of 2110.

His job had never been in danger. Military personnel were afforded contracts which were impossible to dissolve instantly. However, if Yasmin Fortescue marked you for eventual , there was nothing to be done. It would happen eventually.

He stood, straightened his back and , "we will fix this."

Yasmin shook her head. Her faith in the competency of this had evaporated, "no. You will do nothing."

She took a deep breath, "my daughter will soldier on as before, and I will investigate, evaluate and decide upon any ; She repeated, pointing "You two will do nothing."

With that , Yasmin Fortescue stormed out.

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