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Chapter 68 : 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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"What happened?" Vannier asked with concern across her features and emanating from her tone.

"Something," Daedo said with a surprised tone, "Unexpected."

"You look shocked, do you want to go for a walk topside?" Vannier asked with concern.

"No," he said looking at her suddenly, "It's not what you think. We need to contact Mr Kang and So-Ra and get another meeting."

"So it's done?" Vannier asked, now she was in shock.

Daedo nodded. "We have some "admin" work to do. This time I will help since it was by my making." Daedo described delivering news and severing ties with Jensen as admin work. And where tasks fell to Vannier, he felt obliged to at least assist since he felt responsible for the

Vannier shook her head, "It's nothing I didn't agree to. But still, you have to attend even if you don't say anything." She proceeded to call Jensen using squad comms. She hadn't seen him since returning from the workshop. Presumably, he was in his room working on the hydraulic fluid project.

"He's topside and will be back down soon," Vannier informed Daedo. The pair sat at the large communal table. Where all their meetings, tactic reviews and tutoring took Mace was nowhere to be seen while Barran, Axelzero and Picard had their helmets on in the lounge area.

"Mace is in her room?" Daedo asked.

Vannier nodded, "She finished the Gauntlet first and came back to work on the project."

"I'm going to work on the mech wireframes while we wait," Daedo said. Vannier nodded and began to work on some of her coursework.

Daedo, with Myrmidons help, was converting all of Picard's movements into wireframes. He could adjust the wireframes by adding or subtracting joints and adding or subtracting struts. At this stage, he wasn't tweaking the overall which included arm length, torso height amongst the variables.

The first thing he did was remove the head and widen the torso to systems.

It was surprising that the human head was not just used for headbutts, but it was integral in overall It was a fact that all body parts were, especially when they were attached to joints. The neck acted as a joint, which allowed Picard and every other human to tilt their head in different affecting and assisting their

Daedo thought about the problems this caused, they were not insurmountable, but a head would make the process simpler. However, it was to easy a target and would affect height detrimentally. Height was a key parameter in the academy and pro leagues. So the head had to go. The net stories had mecha with heads, it made them look more human, but man had dispensed with the unnecessary appendage. Not to it would be sacrilege to put all the key control systems in the least armoured and the most exposed like they did in the stories.

Picard was flexible, much more than a metal monolith would be able to achieve. There was one to this which most mechs used, and that was a disc underneath the torso. The thicknesses varied, but it allowed the mech to fully torso twist independent of the legs. This feature would form the first design fork. The disc itself had advantages and disadvantages, he would compare and contrast the two to see which won out. At least in the modelling tool, but something this important he would want to test the real thing.

Daedo had been in the design tool for an hour, past his usual bedtime before Vannier tapped him. It was a comms message designed to interrupt work done in VR, Daedo had all people filtered from doing this with the of Daedalus members and Master Nader.

"He's back finally," Vannier said, "I spoke with Master Nader and we are to move to her office."

Jensen nodded to Vannier, Daedo and the squad and went straight into Master Nader's office.

"Be seated cadets," Master Nader ordered.

Daedo received a private message from Master Nader.

Nader: do not repeat the last thing I said to you from our meeting today at 2330. Ensure your AI destroys the meeting from its I noticed you informed Vannier of the only. That was good. From now on when we discuss sensitive topics, it will be done in a controlled VR environment.

Master Nader sent this message while talking at the same time. Daedo was impressed with her multitasking skills.

"It is now Friday, albeit only minutes past midnight, it seems you all have come to a ," Master Nader began.

"Jensen, what have you decided?" Master Nader asked. It made Daedo nervous because unless she knew the answer was negative, there was a strong possibility he would say 'yes, I want in.' In that case, it was going to get decidedly awkward. Something which could have been easily avoided.

"Yes, I have," he said evenly. "I will be returning to Cambridge."

Daedo looked at Vannier who shrugged.

"And when do you on returning the exo and railgun?" Master Nader enquired.

Jensen shrugged, "They were checked out legally from the academy, and the equipment was gifted to me by the squad. There was no terms or contract."

Daedo was aghast, he began to wonder when Jensen had done this, and why he was not stopped by Master Nader. He looked at Vannier who nodded grimly. It must have been just before the Gauntlet. Master Nader would have assumed he was taking his gear there, but instead, he took it off campus. And the Academy wouldn't blink an eye, they did it all the time. They wouldn't even chase him, none of it was booked from the Academy Mech bay. Within a few moments, Daedo had pieced together what had happened, probably just as Master Nader he would.

"It's all patented," Daedo said calmly. The railgun wasn't, but there was much better tech The IP was worthless at this stage.

"You do not on returning squad property?" Master Nader asked ominously. She stood and walked towards Jensen menacingly.

Daedo was still for a moment, while Jensen might think he was safe because of laws and stuff. He knew otherwise. Although the act of stealing the exo was spiteful, it made no difference other than the fact they couldn't recycle the materials which were fifty creds worth. The most expensive parts being the reactor, the lithium and the materials in the armour making up the rest.

If another Academy wanted their exo, it was on the IPO, they could probably even make a prototype without having to pay royalty. This was a weakness of putting your tech on the IPO, which is why the top gear from the lead academies was not registered. Daedo was more concerned with Daedalus earning credits to build and invest in equipment than he was in hoarding tech.

Daedo stood in front of Jensen, facing Master Nader, "You're dismissed, Jensen." He said loudly.

Vannier followed his lead and led Jensen out by pulling hard on his arm. Thankfully the slid open when she arrived.

"What do you think you are doing?" Master Nader asked calmly.

"I evaluated all possibilities and decided it was best if Jensen left now," Daedo responded.

Master Nader loomed over Daedo for a few more He had no idea what she was going to do to Jensen, and even if the probability of was less than one per cent, he deemed there was no reason to chance even that level of risk.

"Cadet," Master Nader used this title, without his name, whenever she was lecturing Daedo on a weakness or poor performance. When she used the squad leader title, it was usually positive. And lastly, Myrmidon's statistic analysis showed when she referred to him as Cadet Daedo it was a neutral comment or directive.

"Do not undermine my authority in front of others again," she paused and added, "We need to enter the VR room I have prepared."

Daedo was pulled into a VR room with Master Nader. It looked to all rooms except for the sinister presence of ultrahigh-level security.

*Master Nader: Cadet Daedo deactivate of your AI whenever we meet in the VR safe room.*

Master Nader waited while Daedo informed Myrmidon about the sensitivity of this environment and there were to be no of what was communicated.

*Master Nader: I need to inform you that will be required in order to restore correct if you overrule me in front of others.*

*Daedo: this makes no sense. Can you what you are talking about? You are House Master, and I am merely a cadet in M1. Where is this reversal of chain of command coming from?*

*Master Nader: you caused it when you leadership. The requirements have been met*

*Daedo: you sound insane. What requirements?*

*Master Nader: Cadet my here is not as it seems. I have not been here to be a House Master.*

Daedo thought carefully about her words and thought of a shortcut to get to the root

*Daedo: please state your then Master Nader*

*Master Nader: Cadet is your memory faulty? My is to guide, support and protect you.*

*Daedo: who gave you this *

*Master Nader: Cadet, you are smarter than this. Where in my does it state that I must give you level three or higher The answer to your query is undisclosed until the requirements are met.*

*Daedo: what are the requirements?*

*Master Nader: you need to improve your skills Cadet. The requirements are undisclosed also.*

Daedo found the line of enquiry frustrating. Master Nader acted like a program, not a person. He thought about everything she had said and done since the beginning of term one. She had basically handpicked his squad the system. She went to ridiculous lengths to protect them from harm presumably coming from Master Ustinov.

*Daedo: what were you going to do to Jensen?*

*Master Nader: Cadet Daedo, I was implementing techniques. And would have been if I was allowed to proceed. I will not make the mistake of inviting you to the next time. I thought it would be a good lesson for you. You will have to settle with watching the in future.*

*Daedo: after what you did to Master Ustinov? I didn't want to take the chance no matter how small.*

*Master Nader: Cadet Daedo it is important that only necessary force is used in any diplomatic the amount of force is a skill which needs developing and is one that I have mastered.*

Daedo felt it was time to move the in other Master Nader was starting to weird him out, and he wanted to get back to some of normalcy.

*Daedo: If we can convince So-Ra Kang, to join squad zero, attend the academy and fund it, can you manage her *

*Master Nader: by your own you have not tested her combat potential. It is possible she has some disability which will increase the difficulty to reach an performance level. That fact being stated. I can manage entry for any candidate. The of , in this case, is one which passes both your and my requirements.*

*Master Nader: there is something I need to attend to. But before I dismiss you I want you to deliver me all the material on your current reactor project for review.*

*Daedo: sure, but, we haven't had any breakthroughs. The devil is in the shielding technology, not the concept.*

Master Nader closed the VR secure room, "Dismissed cadet," she said emphatically.

Daedo walked out of her office, more confused by her multifaceted directives than ever before. What made it worse this time was he couldn't talk to anyone about it. Master Nader had made it clear that the intermittent role reversal was between them only.

It was late.

Daedo messaged Vannier good night, to avoid her worrying, and laid in his bed unable to sleep. He stared at the ceiling. Myrmidon was quiet, he would not disturb Daedo when he was trying to go to sleep unless it was an emergency.

The only thought that ran through his mind as he dozed off was, 'Who did Master Nader really work for?'

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"He did what?" Barran yelled as they made their way to the obstacle course.

Vannier sighed, again, "We had decided to drop him. Either he picked up on that or had decided not to join, or had this all along. We don't know. But he pretended to go to the Gauntlet but instead took his exo and railgun topside and loaded them into an auto."

"Okay, so when did we find this out?" Barran asked. He was overly concerned because he saw it as a failure on his part as head of security. No matter how much Vannier pointed out his role was to protect the squad and betrayal wasn't part of his it was hers.

Daedo put a hand on Barran's arm, he had to start the obstacle course in a matter of "It's ok, we lost nothing because of the patent, and we will have a better exo by the end of the term."

Barran grimaced as Daedo ran off, "Yeah but it still pissess me off!" He called out to the departing figure.

It was the fifth day of the obstacle course, and unlike the Gauntlet, there was no need to waste time working out tactics. The only element slowing Daedo down were the ten-kilo weights. They made certain obstacles extremely difficult, anything that involved pulling himself up, such as an ad-hoc ladder or wall climbing. This course involved many obstacles which had little to do with upper torso strength and stamina.

Over half the course consisted of , many of which moved in random or lateral , reflexes and core strength were the attributes which were worked the hardest.

Daedo found the course challenging, his M1 times sat just outside the top ten per cent, but outside ranking , he thought it was excellent training. He looked forward to taking his weights off and getting in the top one hundred cadets. Something he had never achieved.

As he improved gaining ranks became harder and harder. At first, he gained one hundred a week, but he worked a hell of a lot harder than those cadets. The top one hundred worked almost if not just as hard as he did. He mentally thanked Picard for her torturous weights and then immediately discarded the thought and cursed her again as he began a climb.

"I might keep my wrist weights when I am going for a time," Picard said after they had all finished, "They are useful when it comes to on the random ;

Daedo nodded. Throwing out a hand was the best way to correct when an unexpected change of hit. It was much better than hitting the deck.

"What do you do Barran?" Picard asked. Barran didn't use any weights.

"I spend most of my time in the air. I reckon if I keep leaping and there is a change of I can adjust, and it doesn't affect me while I am flying," he laughed.

"That's not a bad strategy until you twist an ankle like you did yesterday," Picard replied poking Barran in the shin with her foot.

"After gym can you contact the Kangs?" Daedo asked Vannier suddenly changing the subject.

"Them again?" Picard asked.

Daedo nodded. "Yes, I would rather her than Jensen any day."

"Aww, I really wanted to win M1 with six cadets," Barran objected.

"Ok, I am on it," Vannier replied, "What's the offer?"

"I am not good at , I would rather make an offer that is everything we can afford and make it final," Daedo said.

"That's not a bad tactic," Barran commented.

"And what does this offer look like? What's our maximum?" Vannier asked.

"Full academy package plus 50k total for sponsorship and signing bonus with 50 shares in Daedalus," Daedo said off the top of his head.

"That's almost all of our creds!" Vannier

"They will need a with two percent as minimum equity as well," Barran added. "But that's a good , Mr Kang seemed more interested in upfront than ongoing revenue. And we want her with some equity. Make sure all her intellectual property goes to Daedalus for six years."

"Make it ten," Daedo added.

"Vannier make it clear it's our final offer, and that we have someone else," Barran said.

"No I won't make the offer, I will just allude to it. We will press in person, but I needed to know the extent in order to lure them here," Vannier replied. "I'll try and contact them now." She said before donning her helmet.

The cadets completed their circuits. Partly a warm down after the obstacle course, and working on areas that need improvement.

During the morning meal Vannier broke the news, "Okay, they are coming. They are between rounds. We will see them on Saturday at the workshop."

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