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Chapter 67 : M1 - Term: 2, Round: 1

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: 2, Round: 1

Daedalus Operating Capital: 130,000 bitcreds

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Vannier left with Picard, Barran and Axelzero. It would buy Daedo more time to chat, if he needed it, as the Gauntlet start times were staggered over the forty-five minute Although the AR enemies would appear respectively to the user engaged it was best if the cadets weren't running into each other physically.

"Sounds ," Stanley said when the three of them were alone.

"No. Not in the scheme of things," Daedo responded.

"So what is the problem, issue, whatever?" Cillian asked he was not trying to be pushy he was

Daedo took a deep breath. Vannier had informed him of Mace's and fondness for chem eng, and it added to the dilemma in his -making process.

"It starts with our needs. Master Nader wisely had us create a specialist field list to be filled by the squad and Daedalus members. The was a team to design and build mechs including weapons. So we created this list," Daedo began.

He shared the extended which contained the roles.

"Hmm," Stanley hummed when reading and studying the list and assignments.

"I see," Cillian said after a minute, "Go on."

"I had initially assigned chem eng to Mace, but when we got back for term two Master Nader had found and brought in a cadet from Cambridge who has gone a long way down the chem eng path. He is talented, experienced with the chem eng as well as being grounded in ," Daedo began.

"Modern has more to do with physics than chem eng Daedo," Cillian stated, "But go on."

"The new cadet, Jensen, there is nothing really wrong with him. He lacks in piloting, gunnery and physical, but that can be with effort. He has the and a good attitude, so I don't see this as a long-term issue."

"We also need a seventh, someone who can fill one of the roles. Mace is smart, she can switch to Metallurgy. The negatives are that Mace will have wasted time spent on chem eng and that Jensen has not committed to the squad. He will make a tomorrow."

"So what's the issue?" Cillian asked.

"Your head is telling you one thing, and your gut is telling you another. Isn't it Daedo?" Stanley observed.

Daedo considered what Stanley just said, he hadn't narrowed it down to that level. He was just feeling uneasy with the Like something was wrong.

"You're not used to following your gut are you," Stanley added.

Daedo nodded slowly.

"There is more, but let me tell you something cadet," Stanley wore his Colonel demeanour.

"There is no such thing as gut instincts. Don't misinterpret that statement. You must listen to your , it is often sharper than an analysis of data. Your instincts are shaped by your experience and processing of all Not everything has a one or zero attached. There is you have consumed which is giving you this gut feeling of wrongness. It's only that you are unable to quantify it at this stage."

"Now tell us the rest of the story. We have time," Stanley asked. He did, and Cillian could always leave if he was pressed for time.

"Mace likes chem eng. She is working herself into the ground on the assignment I gave her and Jensen on Monday. I only gave her the same assignment to act as a baseline and check on Jensen. It was possible that he didn't work out at all and we could still use the work that Mace is completing. In each , it is not a wasted effort."

Cillian nodded, "She is a valuable, proven member who likes the But that alone should not the new recruit. He should be given a chance, it's not his fault that he came in term two and not term one."

"Is there more Daedo?" Stanley asked. He would be disappointed if that was the only issue.

"It's hard to quantify," Daedo said. "There is something about Jensen that isn't…." Daedo stopped and thought for a minute.

"We met someone on break. A girl, So-Ra Kang, and she built this astounding pro league mech. Her structure and armour were lightyears better than the competitors. She had attitude, and all her Father seemed to care about was creds. But it was understandable given their circumstance." Daedo put his finger down onto the bench, pushing and then curling his hand into a fist. "She was special. Just as Vannier and Mace are special in their own ways."

"Barran, Picard and Axelzero are talented, but not special as you deem it," Cillian observed.

Daedo nodded sadly.

"Just as Jensen is talented, but he is not special," Stanley deducted.

"Let me be devil's advocate," Cillian said, "Why does Jensen need to be special? Isn't talented good enough?"

"It's something Master Nader said," Daedo answered, "She said it's up to us. We are the ones who will protect the ;

"She didn't literally mean your squad alone Daedo," Stanley said softly. "It's up to all of us." Unlike the adults in Munich Col. Martin took the threat But that was part of his job.

Daedo shook his head, "No. I am fairly certain she meant us."

Stanley pushed it aside, "That's a problem for another day. Just focus on what's in front of you right now."

"I have a ," Cillian said, "Why aren't you having this with Master Nader?"

Stanley moved his hand back and forth indicating, no its ok. "Cillian I offered to be a sounding board for any issues on my last visit."

Cillian nodded, "Yes. But that still doesn't answer my ;

Daedo looked , "You met Master Nader Mr Marais." To which he received a nod, "I wanted outside advice before confronting her on this issue. If that's what is needed."

Cillian to Stanley, "She can be quite intimidating."

"And she is the one who found and recruited Jensen," Stanley said understanding. "Let's move back to Is it just So-Ra Kang who is stopping you choose Jensen?"

Daedo had to think about the He eliminated Kang from his mind and just considered Jensen, Mace and the with her

After a few minutes, he answered "No."

"You would rather and find someone special, or is there something else about Jensen?" Stanley asked narrowing down the core issue that was holding Daedo back.

"I would rather someone special. But," Daedo paused a , "There is something I can't put my finger on."

"Something which makes you uncertain or ; Stanley asked.

"," Daedo answered. Without knowing the fact, he knew how it made him feel.

"I know how I would approach your problem," Stanley said. "But I think you should just leave it at this and work it out yourself."

"He asked for advice!" Cillian protested, "Stanley don't be such a stickler for self-development."

"No. It's ok," Daedo said, "Just discussing it with you two has been enough. Thank you."

"Good. And Daedo," Stanley said standing. "Keep backing yourself."

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Daedo got back in time to complete the Gauntlet where M1TS0 continued to dominate M1 and Daedo was working out a strategy to beat the M3 cadets as well. The six veterans of term one were still able to achieve that would have ranked them in the top fifty of M3.

"Where's Jensen?" Daedo asked Vannier.

"He decided to miss tonight's Gauntlet, he wanted to focus on the project as it's the last day," Vannier replied.

Daedo nodded and then asked, "Check on him. Make sure he's still in our quarters."

After a minute Vannier reported back, "Yes. He is." She paused a moment and then asked, "Did you think he left the Academy while we were out?"

Daedo shrugged, "Just wanted to make sure," they walked for a moment before he added, "I want to see Master Nader." Daedo proceeded to discuss with Vannier his , and she approved.

"We'll go together?" Vannier asked.

"It might be better if I go alone for this one," Daedo said.

At first, Vannier was hurt for not being wanted, but she quickly got over and thought about Daedo's reasons. What he to do was probably best without a witness that would influence Master Nader's, chain of command, sense of propriety. Finally, she nodded sadly and said, "Okay. I understand."

After requesting a meeting, Master Nader made Daedo wait until 0030 before admitting him. Usually, he would be asleep by this time, but the Academy ran twenty-four hours a day from Monday to Friday. Sleep was when you took it.

"Squad Leader," Master Nader addressed him formally.

"Master," Daedo said with a salute.

"You called this meeting. Please begin," Master Nader stated.

Daedo did not doubt she knew why he was here, she didn't have spies at the workshop, none that he could detect. But she was always well aware of what was happening in the Academy. Unnervingly so.

"I would like to discuss the seventh cadet ," Daedo opened.

"Cadet Jensen, you mean?" Master Nader "I am sure you have done enough to impress the new recruit that he will decide to stay."

Daedo peered at the face mask. And decided that a straightforward approach would be best. There was no point games with Master Nader, her title of Master was well appointed when it came to

"I will not be approving Cadet Jensen's recruitment," Daedo informed Master Nader.

She stood quickly, the act itself was intimidating based on its speed and unexpectedness. She closed slowly and loomed over Daedo. She was over 1800mm tall more than a head and shoulders above him.

"And what makes you think you have a say in the matter?" Master Nader said softly with a hint of threat level nuclear.

"Technically I don't," Daedo replied and waited. He had emphasis on the word technically, and that was more than enough when it came to dealing with Master Nader.

Master Nader supplied the remainder of his reply, "But there is nothing stopping you from leaving this Academy and applying to another?" She did not want to leave the threat unsaid.

"If I am going to be a leader, I need to be able to make which matter," Daedo angled for another strategy. And it was not about this It was about taking control of his squad and life as a whole. Wresting it from Master Nader who had assumed that control.

"Cadet I your initiative, but there are things at beyond your experience and ," Master Nader said with significantly less venom.

"Master. You you had assessed all potential cadets on the to join our squad. It is difficult to understand how you this impressive feat," Vannier had taught him the benefits of using praise. He did not expect it to move Master Nader, but the truth was the truth. "But data alone cannot compare with peer to peer We have spent the past four days with Jensen, and given all the I have at hand he is not the optimum for the seventh ;

"Please present the which informs your Take as much time as you need. This will be decided, one way or another before you leave this office," Master Nader dictated a compromise with an allowance for Daedo to have input.

Daedo collected his thoughts and engaged Myrmidon to present vids of certain events. He began with the of Dead Beat taking a pounding from Smack Ninja and continuing to fight. The impressiveness of his durability that the Mech attacking him almost broke itself upon him. He then showed the small amounts of data he had collected on So-Ra Kang and the fact she had developed the compounds that made Dead Beat what he was.

Daedo moved to his with Jensen. The ones which contributed to his feeling of unease and finally to the results of Mace's efforts in chem eng. Before finishing the , he showed his with Col. Martin regarding gut feel and the which contributed to this.

"Master Nader," Daedo continued with words, "While Jensen may be talented I do not believe he is special. And if you allowed me the choice I would take special. I believe So-Ra Kang to be a genius in her field." He stopped for a moment and then summarised with his key point.

"But even if she didn't exist, there is an element in Jensen's psychological profile which I would prefer was kept out of squad zero and Daedalus," Daedo concluded.

"Are you able to describe this element?" Master Nader asked evenly.

"It's my that there is an increased chance of betrayal from Jensen. I do not think his lack of commitment is a purely -making process," Daedo said. With his current level of studies, experience and with guidance from Col. Martin that was the extent at which he could define his primary concern.

"Your is that it is likely he is untrustworthy and that you have a better ," Master Nader summarised.

"Affirmative, Master Nader," Daedo replied slightly disgusted with his own performance. She had summarised, in one simple sentence, his entire in a way he could not.

Master Nader had walked back behind her desk and sat down during the She now leaned forward, hands on the desk with her arms straight albeit spread.

"Cadet Daedo," Master Nader said slowly. "You expect me to believe that in one trip to Munich, by pure chance, you stumble across the best candidate on the Better than any I can find with the data on every M1 cadet across one hundred and twenty Academies?"

"Master Nader, I cannot confirm So-Ra Kang is the best candidate on the What I can attest to is she is a better than Jensen. And I would like to point out she does not attend any Academy, so she did not exist in your data set."

Master Nader continued to push Daedo's resolve, "How is she going to pay for Academy Has she agreed to join your squad or Daedalus? Other than her 'special' talent with metallurgy, if she isn't currently at an Academy how will she perform across the other subject areas? Can she pilot? The pilot of that Mech you showed was significantly below par." Master Nader continued to pepper Daedo with obstacles and queries.

"So we are in agreement," Daedo said cheekily.

"Cadet nothing has been decided," Master Nader said sternly.

"Master Nader, you would not be raising all these regarding Kang unless you have moved past Jensen," Daedo observed.

"Cadet," Master Nader said, "Your assessment may not be one hundred percent But you are correct with your initial point. You are the leader. My role is to guide, support and protect you."

Daedo was stunned.

After a full minute, he asked Myrmidon to back her words. Although what she said was satisfying, but it made no sense. She was a Master at a military academy. In every way, his officer with all that entailed. She was technically his guardian during the term.

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