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Chapter 70 : 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: 60,000 bitcreds

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So-Ra shimmied into her new bodysuit. One of the rich kids actually owned Axel who made the top of the line bodysuits. She was only permitted to wear her old one on weekends, but during the week, at the Academy, she had to wear this one. Apparently, hers didn't meet

, So-Ra didn't look forward to hearing that word over and over. She gulped, oh and that made her consider another one. She had thought Daedo, Vannier, Barran etc., were their names. And they were all just familiar with each other calling each other by their first names. But no, she would now go by Kang, which suited her fine. Until she got to know someone really well, she didn't like them using her given name.

The number of people who used her given name at the moment was one, her Father. She hadn't seen her mother in months, she was back in Korea refusing to follow her father on his mad escapades. Kang guessed her mother never followed any of her dreams coming from a family environment of It was one thing she had to hand her father, he wanted his daughter to be free to chase her dreams even if it meant abandoning him.

It was fortunate that it seemed this wouldn't be the case, as long as her Father stayed in the EU pro league. Russia was a possibility also it wasn't too far. Depending on how many creds he made. Travel wasn't a problem it was the cost of travel and paying for repairs which were.

All of Sunday was spent completing , Vannier even gave her tests on some of the important rules. Daedo ran with her, they jogged for five kays in the time it took the rest of the squad to run fifteen. She hadn't had to do much physical training, and she certainly didn't do it for fun. But she had always worked hard. The five kays weren't hard, she could have probably run another couple.

Sunday evening came upon her fast. Someone from the squad had booked a specialist robot to come and a gen-three, military-grade, module after pulling out her gen two.

"We're giving you our own AI," Daedo said.

"Okay," Kang replied, "Is it any good?" She hadn't had an AI before, she just used apps from the net to do certain

"Yes, its initial tests show it faster than any of the other on the market. But that's not the most important thing, it comes down to how you nurture it. You need to guide it in what tasks to do for you and how. Initially, it won't know anything other than how to listen to you. After a while, whatever you are an expert in, it will one also. It learns from you from whatever you spend your time doing. I think they do it this way so that when you are , your AI is fully developed and ready to assist you in your chosen field."

"So its not a preprogrammed PA?" Kang asked.

"It is a PA with the ability to learn. It will be tailored for you by you. You are the teacher and eventually a friend, and you won't know what you did without it after a while," Daedo said.

"And we're doing this at the Academy?" Kang asked.

"Yes, its one of those rules you love. It's easier if the staff here monitor your launch, it saves us lots of reporting later," Daedo replied.

"Something confuses me," Kang asked.

Daedo looked attentive waiting for the

"Ikaros is your father right?" Kang asked.

Daedo nodded.

"And you are the boss?" Kang asked.

"Not really. I am the squad leader, and the squad owns most of the shares. My Father works for Daedalus. When we make important everyone has a say," Daedo replied.

"Yeah. But. Oh nevermind," Kang thought there was little point in arguing with him.

Daedo shrugged.

This kid was weird. Normally someone would want to know what she had to say. He just shrugged. And that wasn't the first time she noticed he was different.

"Okay, last awkward ," Kang said.

Daedo nodded patiently.

She sighed inwardly. She wanted to ruffle his calm. Maybe if she choked him, he might lose control a little. Kang pushed the thought from her mind, "Why did you go to so much trouble to get me to join the squad and Daedalus? Seventy kay is an auto truck worth of creds. You barely know me."

Daedo looked thoughtful before responding, "Are you fishing for a compliment? You're smart enough work it out yourself."

That was it. Kang wanted to smash his smug little face into the construct foam wall. She schooled her letting none of that show. Her brain was in overdrive, she had to come back with a cutting remark and quick.

"Oh, I know," she said confidently. a gentle hand on his cheek before walking away she turned back and said, "I just wanted to see if you had the balls to say it."

Kang had no idea what he was going to say, but her response was ambiguous enough to cover most bases. And the look on his face was priceless. It was a pity she didn't have a handle on this bodysuit, or she could have captured the moment to later.

She had to work out where she was walking to. She decided upon and went to the foundry, that was a good She wanted to get a closer look at the machinery in there anyway.

After a few minutes checking the power rating and mixing capabilities of the foundry, she had worked out although it was one of the expensive Hitachi smaller models, it was worth it. Although it was as a micro-industrial foundry, it could smelt almost anything she could think of.

"Kang?" Vannier approached. "I didn't want to interrupt, I just wanted to go through next weeks schedule. There is going to be some adjustment for you. Especially since you are starting in term two. But I wanted you to know we're all here for you."

"Oh that's very kind," Kang replied trying not to sound sarcastic. That's all she needed spoilt rich kids worrying about her and fawning over her. "I know how to work hard," she added trying her hardest not to let her thoughts show about how she knew much more about hard work than they did.

"What's the obstacle course?" Kang asked after looking at the schedule, "And why is it at six a.m. every day?"

"Oh, it's the best start to the day. Although this round is quite hard, I can show you a of mine last attempt if you like? Or better yet, I can ask Picard for hers, she is the go-to for strategy in this event." Vannier answered.

After watching a short first-person vid, Kang began to wonder what she got herself into. "This is the worst event right?" She asked Vannier.

Vannier looked thoughtful and then responded, "It depends who you are. Barran loves it. Daedo struggled at first, but he's getting better. Don't tell him, but I think he will pass me soon, he's improving faster than I am."

Kang harumphed, "I can beat Daedo, he wasn't that fast in the run this morning."

"Ah," Vannier struggled with a response. "Look. This isn't going to be easy for you. In fact, I am worried. How about you stow the attitude and focus on getting up to par."

Kang felt like Vannier had her in the face. At first, she was angry, she wanted to strike back, but then she thought about it, Vannier hadn't said anything nasty. She was talking rather than pussyfooting. Which was something Kang appreciated.

"Okay," she replied sheepishly before getting more "Show me vids of the Gauntlet, arena and martial combat."

After taking in the about the Academy subjects, Kang thanked Vannier. "Okay, I sort of know what I'm in for now. Of all things, the Academic subjects will be the easiest I think. Although they look pretty advanced."

Kang had a schedule as the rest of the squad with her tutoring focusing on AI nurturing. Daedo was insistent that the entire squad's AI capability needed to improve and Kang was starting from zero.

"Don't worry about tech studies, you can work on the exo armour as your project. Picard will need your help with the and shield material compound, you could use them as well," Vannier stated.

"Okay, at least that is one subject down," Kang replied. She would be able to use compounds she had already designed for both projects, she was sure.

"We have new exos next week, I've given your measurements to Daedo, and he's making it now," Vannier said, "As soon as its ready we are heading back to the Academy."

Kang nodded and opened up the design app that Daedo had given her. She quickly filled in the for the three items Vannier asked for. A compound for the shields that lowered the weight slightly and increased its soaking potential. The was tweaked so it would be dense with keen edges and lastly the for the exo. Due to the mesh beneath, she exchanged the current ceramics with a metal alloy compound that would soak twice as much damage with the weight given to her.

She thought about the designs for a moment, these were off the top of her head. Her experience from the pro league and many months of tweaking. She could improve them, but that would require more thinking and many rounds of testing and tweaking. These at least would give the squad an immediate lift in quality and would buy her time to get on top of the schedule that was just handed to her.

A few hours later Kang gave birth to her AI,and she followed the squad's rather than the Academy tutes. Her room was tiny, but the common area for the squad was quite large. She was used to sleeping in small spaces, so none of it worried her. She was she could have some privacy, although small the room was for her alone. It had a sonic shower, room for her exo and equipment. Clothes weren't an cadets wore bodysuits unless showering. Fortunately, the Axel top of the range model had excellent self-cleaning properties.

For the rest of the night, she with her AI until she fell asleep.

At 0545 an sounded. Kang almost fell out of bed. She swore and began to wonder why she agreed to come to the Academy. If she had stayed on the pro league circuit, she could sleep in. She was a firm believer in sleep. Sleep was good for you.

It seemed like the squad were taking turns to babysit her. Picard was and pushing her all the way to the obstacle course.

"Remember to pace yourself. Remember to breathe. I will run with you today, we're allowed to go two at a time," Picard said happily.

"Do you wake up this chirpy?" Kang asked.

"Kang, I am never chirpy. I am Picard the grrr," Picard replied and laughed.

"Are you using the ; Kang asked before they had to start, they were going first apparently to give her enough time to finish.

"Last term I didn't, but this term I am in the Vanguard with Barran," Picard replied, "Alright, are you ready?"

"No," Kang said in a panicked voice.

Picard pushed her onto the course. "Let's go K-pop!"

Kang knew from the that nicknames were not allowed, cadets had to use the proper for each other. At the time she thought that was a silly rule. Now she was in total agreement.

She struggled for breath and composure, but Kang found the will to Picard, "No nicknames! That's a breach."

Picard just laughed. She was evil Kang was sure. She looked for the feature on her bodysuit, she would catch Picard if she called her K-pop again.

After fifty minutes of gruelling running, climbing, jumping, dodging and falling Kang lay on her back. Everyone had passed her. And much to her chagrin she found out that Picard was running with thirty kilos extra weight and still slowed down for her. Pushing her all the way.

"Stand," Picard ordered, "You can't breathe properly lying down. The fastest way to is to stand and walk around."

"But lying is so much easier," Kang argued breathlessly.

Picard proceeded to pull her to her feet like she weighed nothing. Kang thought about it for a moment. She weighed thirty kilos, Picard basically ran the obstacle course carrying her.

"Okay, okay. I can stand by myself," Kang protested as Picard held her up. It was embarrassing because the rest of the squad were waiting. She looked at Daedo to ensure he didn't have a smug look on his face and he was fortunate. He had his helmet on, probably doing some work because he was sick of waiting for her.

"Where to next?" Kang asked between breaths. She was too tired to remember the schedule and too sore to open it.

"For you, warm down then breakfast," Picard said, "We don't want you cramping, and we need to repair your micro muscle tears."

Kang watched as the other cadets did some sort of arcane stretching and , possibly yoga.

"Take off your bodysuit and jump in the cold pool," Picard ordered, and Kang did so. The bodysuits thermal properties would make the cold pool virtually useless. Kang was slightly embarrassed to be down to her underwear, but no one seemed to care.

"It's freezing!" Kang yelled as Picard pushed her all the way in.

"Okay, now the hot one," Picard ordered.

"Phew," Kang said before realising it was too hot. She swore.

"Okay cold again," Picard ordered.

"Are you a fucking sadist!?" Kang asked too loudly.

Picard shook her head, but she still smiled.

"I knew it!" Kang protested as Picard pushed her in again. "Okay do that once more, and I will floor you," Kang had lost her patience.

"Martial combat is at 1115. You are to try," Picard actually grinned evilly. "Over here! This robot will massage you," Picard stated, a little more gently this time. "It's all downhill from here. I promise."

Picard wasn't lying the robot was fairly gentle except for the calves. When she was done Kang put her bodysuit back on and followed Picard to breakfast.

"How was the obstacle course?" Daedo asked. He was pretending to be kind, but Kang saw through it.

"It was really hard, but nothing I wasn't warned about. I'm not used to this type of thing so you will have to be patient while I catch up," Kang replied doing her best to be diplomatic.

"Kang," Daedo said quietly although everyone could hear, for some reason all the cadets were quiet when Daedo spoke. They spoke over one another all the time, but when he spoke, they listened. It seemed they took the squad leader title very "Did you know that Picard won a to attend?"

"She isn't some rich kid," Vannier added smiling and poking Axelzero.

"Hey you are just as rich as me," Axelzero protested.

"Daedo isn't from a wealthy family either," Barran stated. "If it wasn't for CyberMech he would be dirt poor."

"Eh, that may be an and a little rude," Vannier corrected Barran.

Kang looked at Picard who nodded with a small smile and then to Daedo who shrugged. He might not be a rich kid, but he was still super smug.

Kang sighed and came to a , "Okay. Since I am family and will be living with you mob for the foreseeable future, it might be a good idea to get to know you."

"Perfect," Vannier said smiling. "Each meal we can tell you our life story."

"We pretty much know yours," Barran added.

"And the next person to call me K-pop will die horribly," Kang said staring at Picard who looked the picture of innocence.

.

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