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Chapter 54 : 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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<break>

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The debriefing at 1830 went as expected. The tutes and Vanniers experience advised Daedo to begin with positives, what the squad did well and finish with areas that they needed to work on in practice and their next match.

A short on loadouts and opponent analysis took The for meeting the M3 Shu squad who had purchased their exos were outlined. The speed advantage that M1TS0 usually had would be nullified for the first time. The nature of exos enhancing a cadet's own speed and strength would mean M3SS0 probably had the advantage due to their ability and age.

"Next item," Vannier continued. She had a meeting agenda set, mimicking the practice Barran

"There will be some changes to personnel next Term," Vannier continued. Gaumont shifted nervously in his seat, he was dreading this announcement and had kept the news to himself. Vannier looked at Gaumont and nodded.

He cleared his throat, "next term I will be going to Squad one." Gaumont said submissively.

"And," Vannier added.

"Gaumont will be taking over as squad leader of M1TS1 and implementing our practices," Daedo stated. "Master Nader informed us she had this from the start."

"So who is him?" Barran asked, ignoring Gaumont totally.

"We will be worse off without you," Axelzero said consoling Gaumont. While Vannier at Barran.

"This isn't as a for Gaumont. It is a challenge and a Imagine if squad one makes the semis next term? They would have no chance without him," Vannier added.

"Woah," Barran finally gave Gaumont some , "that is a tall order. If you can pull that off."

"We don't know who is him or who is leaving squad one to make space. What we do know is that the is not coming from squad one," Vannier stated. "Gaumont will go there as an elite. A leader to improve them. That cannot happen if Xavier or someone else was promoted."

"Master Nader asked me to provide a list," Daedo , "of the key skills needed to design and manufacture Mecha and its armaments. Who is assigned to which area and what specialty we are missing. Which leads us to believe she probably already knows and has someone to fill the gap."

"If not," Vannier continued, "she will find someone capable. All we know at this time is we don't know, and they are not in Thoth squad one."

"Last item," Vannier announced. "End of the first week of the break, Daedo, Mace and Axelzero are attending the Amateur Mecha League tournament in Munich. Everyone is invited to attend, Daedalus is paying for travel and ;

"We are going to the expo too," Mace added.

"And no, Barran," Vannier said before he could ask, "since Daedalus is paying Axelzero will pick the and mode of travel. If you don't like them, you can upgrade yourself."

"We may be able to stay at my Aunt's ," Axelzero offered.

"Most will be booked by now," Barran said, "you better contact her and find out."

"Everyone find out if you can attend and message Axelzero by Friday afternoon," Vannier instructed. She then looked at Daedo who shook his head. "Ok, we're done," she finished.

<break>

Mace: okay you have a lot of to do.

As the cadets of Thoth squad zero rested, showered, ran off steam or caught up on last-minute assignments, Mace messaged Daedo. She had been patient on a few things she wanted to drill him on.

Daedo: let's go topside for a run.

They donned their helmets and went for a long run through the parks and trails above the Academy.

With a multitude of military sensors active and AIs assisting they could run in pitch darkness. With their helmets on, they could also use voice comms to eliminate the chance of being overhead through proximity.

"Where to start," Daedo breathed.

"We should slow down," Mace said, "you probably have a lot of talking to do."

"Ok," Daedo replied. "How about you ask to get us started."

"I watched the capture you sent me of the with Horus. And then the capture of the with Master Nader. What's missing is what you were thinking," Mace began.

"That we are going to be invaded, by something, I don't know what yet. I guess it's been kept a secret to stop everyone panicking. But its some of the Chief's know and Master Nader knows. Probably that Colonel as well. And higher-ups in , because they have Militaries and are building the spiral. The governments know, that's why they have these large standing forces and are funding the spiral as well. That's what I know as far as evidence and who is in on the conspiracy." Daedo said.

"I know my Father has no idea, and I very much doubt Cisse does either. The reason I said those things to Fortescue was to see if she knew. And it was that she and her friends have no idea," Daedo said.

"Okay," Mace said, and they ran while she thought.

"Let's move aside what we know and stop worrying about. There is nothing we can do. We aren't going to prevent an Alien or tell the world about it," Mace stated, "no one would believe us. Hell, Horus did not take you at all. Imagine what adults would think."

"So," Mace breathed as they turned a corner and began to run past the of Versaille.

Myrmidon: we could spread the story on the net. There is a lot of that meatheads think is true.

"That's brilliant," Daedo said suddenly.

"What?" Mace asked. Myrmidon had not sent her the message although he had to her hud.

"Myrmidon said we could spread rumours on the net. And we could do it anonymously. If no one believed them, so be it," Daedo said excitedly.

"He could probably make thousands of posts under different names," Mace said thinking out loud.

"Hmm, we'd have to be careful. The anti-bot laws are severe," Daedo said.

"People still do it all the time," Mace replied, "ok next. Other than telling the world about the impending doom. What else are we doing? Because there is no point moping and worrying," Mace said sternly.

Daedo laughed, "my thoughts exactly. We are going to do three things." He said before running up the stairs and putting himself out of breath. At the top, he stopped he created his alien todo list.

*Daedo: One. Develop our exo, mecha and armaments.*

*Daedo: Two. Make tonnes of creds and spend them. Funding our RnD, manufacturing and *

*Daedo: Three. Develop our combat skills and tactics.*

"So in other words, what we were already doing," Mace said.

"Yes," he laughed, "but with a different perspective."

"Are we going to recruit others?" Mace asked.

"Slowly," Daedo answered, "and I think some will come to us."

"How does Master Nader fit into everything?" Mace asked.

"She…," Daedo thought about their Master and finally concluded, "I think we can rely on her."

<break>

It was their fourth time standing at in the corral of the topside exo arena. Except for today, they were facing M3 Shu zero. They had barely beaten M3SS1 who did not possess the Thoth exo.

*Daedo: what is the best strategy when you want to keep all your squad alive, and the enemy has you outgunned and outmaneuvered?*

*Myrmidon: run away?*

*Daedo: yes. But that might be worse than death.*

Daedo had prepared a strategy ready, the with Myrmidon was just to his nerves. The only way to make up the difference was to outthink Siderus. It was true, Shu had better weapons. Their Military grade railguns were better. They used photon , which suited their style. While the damage was not out of this world, they more than made up for it with speed and skill. They had drones that could explode. And ion on their hips. Daedo was thankful they didn't have grapplers. But with the reactor he had delivered to them, their jumpjets could run for forty-five every five minutes.

Thoth had shields and grapplers. There was a mixture of and grenade launchers. Five of the squad had the one-handed railgun, which would be used to a shotgun at medium to close range. Two had the long barrel, which was for long range sniping and cover fire.

Daedo, Mace, Axelzero; shield, grappler, grenade launcher, 1h railgun

Vannier; shield, grappler, grenade launcher, LR railgun

Picard; shield, grappler, , LR railgun

Barran, Gaumont; shield, grappler, , 1h railgun

In Barran terms, Daedo would give his left nut for an enhanced and shield right now. But that would have to wait for next term. And Drones. Shu had drones.

The Drones were basically mobile traps, but with sensors. They were not fast, nor mobile, but if he had the ability to move traps around and have them spy it would be ten times more effective than the traps they currently carried.

The terrain was a mystery and would be until the match began. M1tso prayed for something that was grappler friendly. A city or mountains would serve nicely.

With a quick wave wishing Thoth luck, Shu moved to the Northern end.

*Barran: why can't the other houses be like Shu?*

Everyone laughed. It was true, Shu always sportsmanship and were friendly. Where Osiris, Horus and Amun-Ra had more than their fair share of twats. There were , and M3 cadets seemed to be much more level-headed than M1.

*Daedo: no one dies.*

*Axelzero: Because this afternoon we fight again.*

Laughter ensued. The squad was in high spirits.

Five, Four, Three, Amber, Green.

The shimmering wall disappeared, and the map was revealed. It was a desert.

"Fuck!" Barran shouted what Daedo felt.

It was , but nothing the grapplers could hook onto. Unless there was a single palm tree at an oasis and it counted.

Daedo walked out onto the sand. The real sky was the scene, there was not a cloud in sight.

*Daedo: Run to the first hill and dig the base of our shields into the sand.*

The squad followed his lead.

*Daedo: close the gaps, the shield by ten mills. Form a semi-circle.*

He loosed a smoke grenade and then another to cover their work. It would not be long before Shu was in sight.

*Daedo: pile sand up at the front. Vannier, Picard draw your railguns and keep watch.*

Axelzero, Gaumont and Barran piled up sand using their hands. Daedo jumped in the air straight up using his jumpjets. The enemy were on the move, he could see four of them, and they spied him immediately.

*Daedo: Vannier, Picard run to the east fifty paces then Jump and shoot. Just the once, do not hold in the air.*

*Vannier: I got a hit. Leg I think.*

The pair ran back to take up behind the shields.

*Daedo: stop with the sand, they will be here soon.*

Daedo was prepared for , the shields curved on the hill. Shu may have grenades but had no launchers. And if they split their forces, he would be able to focus fire them down.

*Picard: Drones!*

The longe range snipers began to fire. There was four, now six drones zigzagging toward them. Shu knew where they were now.

*Daedo: Mace set traps to the east and west at the bottom of the hill. Come back if they engage.*

Picard and Vannier fired upon the Drones and every shot was able to take one down. But while they were doing this the drones got closer, and so did the Shu cadets. Daedo cursed that the Drones were drawing all the fire, but they weren't close enough for the one-handed Railguns.

*Daedo: leave the drones. Fire on the red dot.*

Myrmidon would the red dot on cadets, there were the primary targets for Vannier and Picard. Once the drones were in range, the rest would have to take them down with the medium range railguns.

*Myrmidon: more drones. Twelve now.*

They had taken down two, Shu must be at their limit, could they possibly carry more than two each? He would soon know. They were rushing. Using drones for cover. Another reason they used Photon They were extremely small, especially when compared to a , allowing more weight and space for the drones.

The Shu cadets began to use jumpjets to increase their speed. Their experience was showing as they started to time Vannier, and Picard's shots by the reload speed. When one was due, they moved erratically left and right and once the shot was fired they headed directly towards Thoth.

The other five Thoth members had their hands full trying to take down all the drones before they exploded on top of them. The drones could cover the fifty metres in five which gave them barely enough time to take down two each. Which could still leave two depending on the spacing and last reload.

What was certain, if they missed, that drone would certainly get through and explode.

Shu laid down four smoke grenades for cover. They were going to or lie prone, using the grenades to hide their movements.

The shield wall was forcing Shu's hand. They could not stay at range and exchange fire without being at a severe disadvantage.

Daedo had no time to assess and give orders, he had to take down his two or three drones. By the time those Drones were dealt with, in one way or another, Shu would be on top of them. The drones had effectively nullified five cadets during the charge.

Daedo shot his railgun at his first drone and immediately switched to launcher while it reloaded. With his left hand, he launched a frag grenade at the Shu and then switched back to his railgun for his shot on a drone.

Myrmidon was red and orange dots for each individual cadet. It prevented two of them from shooting at the same drone.

Ten more drones were downed, and there were two misses, but the distance between the lead drone and the last allowed for two extra shots.

Two drones made it through and exploded on the Thoth cadets. Everyone took some damage, Mace and Picard more than anyone else. There was no time for assessment. Shu was upon them with photon drawn. All seven of them.

It was going to be a short match.

There were only three amongst Daedo's squad. Barran, Gaumont and Picard.

Normally Daedo would hide in cover and deliver But there was nowhere to hide. Each cadet had to think for themselves. The only thing Daedo could do was think an image to Myrmidon who sent one-word on the HUD.

*Daedo: shield – launcher - jumpjets and drop grenades.*

The message was sent to the four cadets without a

*Daedo: shield – – jumpjets forward.*

Was sent to Picard, Barran and Gaumont.

As mayhem ensued Daedo wondered why the hell they had to get a Desert. It totally stuffed them. But there was a lesson in that. Be prepared for anything.

Spectators would have to rewind and several times to see what happened in the next ten

Thoth was in their coordinated move. Shu lept into melee, and they would have known Thoth only had three melee weapons. Thoth moved in two Up and Forward through the Shu.

Grenades started to pop off on the ground catching several Shu who were fending off and attempting their own blows against the three Thoth cadets flying into their path.

Bodies were twisting, tumbling, being damaged. Chaotic was the only way to describe the

Barran was talented, Picard had trained with weapons all her life, but they could not stand up to the M3 cadets who had trained with for the last two years. Who were stronger and quicker, they were fifteen, and their opponents were thirteen. These were squad zero cadets. And as talented as the Thoth pair were, so were their opponents.

Gaumont went down first. Then a Shu cadet.

*Daedo: stay in the air. We have forty Bombard them with grenades.*

Daedo's group flew backwards, away from Picard and Barran. Firing grenades into the melee. Five cadets launching frag and incendiary grenades into a small area is a sight to behold, even if it was AR.

One more Shu went down, although Barran and Picard had shields were almost down as well.

*Daedo: hold. Grapple their opponents.*

He ordered his group.

*Daedo: retreat to the zone. Drag Gaumont and use all your jumpjets but get to the zone alive.*

He ordered Barran and Picard.

The grapplers pulled on the Shu cadets, barely damaging them but dragging them across the sand for five metres before they could dislodge themselves. It gave Barran and Picard enough time to pickup Gaumont and run. The pair leapt into the air firing their jumpets with all of the remaining Shu hot on their heels.

Daedo's group switched to one handed railguns and skipped backwards as they fired.

Barran had dropped his shield and to grab Gaumont. Which confused the hell out of Shu and spectators alike.

Before Shu caught Barran Daedo began to use launchers again. They aimed the frag grenades at Barrans feet. By the time the grenades landed and exploded he was well past the radius. However, it kept Shu off him for long enough for the entire squad to reach the entrance.

It was one of the rules of the arena that if you left the zone, you forfeited. Shu had lost two cadets and Thoth one. But Thoth was down to one melee weapon in a map with no cover other than their shields.

Picard was almost down, as was Axelzero.

Shu began to maneuver into an encirclement while Daedo struggled with a

Daedo: step through.

All five cadets: what?

Daedo: if we stay we are certain to lose a few if not all of the squad.

Shu began to fire railguns with Thoth cadets returning fire. Shu would be upon them in to continue the melee battle which they had a significant advantage. Most of Thoths jumpjets were consumed, and their backs were against a wall. The only reason Shu wasn't amongst them already was the Thoth's had caused. Siderus must have been looking for traps.

*Daedo: step through. That's an order.*

Cadet Daedo forfeit

Cadet Mace forfeit

Cadet Picard forfeit

Cadet Vannier forfeit

Cadet Axelzero forfeit

Cadet Barran forfeit

Daedo inspected the logs and breathed a sigh of relief. Gaumont had been incapacitated and not killed outright.

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<break>

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Commander Mallet was in the Fortescue Military Academy box watching the match with the extremely talented yet troublesome M1 Thoth squad against the M3 Shu squad zero.

The match was highly unpredictable and the two squads engaged in tactic and counter tactic. It was comforting to see such skilled commanders amongst cadets in the Middle Academy.

As the match wore on Shu were pushing Thoth back, despite losing more cadets it was the momentum was with the older squad.

Then he witnessed something he had never seen in all his days. In an arena match, a squad was rescuing one of their incapacitated members. The entire box was in laughter at the ludicrousness of the move.

"Is it because they are M1?" one Master said.

"Surely they understand. They haven't done this in any other matches." Another Master replied.

Finally, the Thoth squad were pushed back to the entrance. They had nowhere to go. It was a strategic blunder from their squad leader who had only shown creativity, boldness and before today.

"He dropped his and shield to carry the other cadet," Master Leon cried.

Thoth squad zero stood at the entrance, and then dramatically one by one stepped through and forfeited.

Commander Mallet would have been outraged at the sheer stupidity and cowardice in forfeiting a match in such a To not fight to the end and lose with dignity.

He would have been if he hadn't been in shock.

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