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Chapter 71 : 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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The hardest Gauntlet they had faced so far was proving difficult to crack. Daedo was not happy that he was unable to weave his way through and avoid most of the enemy. After much research, it was all the groups searched for him from the beginning of the There was no proximity agro, or more , the insectoids were always agroed, and the only was whether they were searching or knew your and were chasing you down.

It was the last Gauntlet of the round, and it was time for a attempt by Daedo. There were no points for kills in this The lowest time to capture all three bases gave the best

For Thoth Squad Zero, the M1 ranking wasn't a challenge, outside of their squad that is. With the of Kang who had a lot to learn, but she was showing promise and improving rapidly. Daedo had no concerns that she would be granted Master Nader's approval at the end of the week. No one was aware, except for him, that it was even an issue. He had assigned different squad members, to Kang, with a weekly goal, in different subjects which suited their strengths.

Picard had the hardest assignment. Fortunately, Kang was a better athlete than him when he started. Vannier and Axelzero handled most of the Academic subjects. He handled AI nurturing and Mace was her coach for the Gauntlet. Barran wasn't a natural tutor, he liked to talk but barely listened. And he was busy selling exo contracts to any squad who would pay the fifteen kay price tag for the two-point-six model. The term one tournament model.

Daedo had refined his Gauntlet loadout to the grappler, explosive traps and railgun. The lack of variety and melee weapon allowed him to carry a dozen explosive traps and grapple hooks.

The current M3 leaderboard was the real challenge. Although he wouldn't appear on their leaderboard, the points total he achieved could be directly compared to the M3 At the moment his best wasn't in the top one hundred for M3.

This Gauntlet suited Barran's strengths thus he was ranked one in M1, and when compared to M3 he slotted in at eleven. It was a fantastic achievement, and it was thanks to how quickly Barran took down insectoids with the at close quarters. Barran carried a shield and railgun as well.

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The Gauntlet Term 2, Round 1

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, Ranks in M1 and the equivalent rank if the cadets were in M3

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Barran, 255, M1: 1, M3: 11

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Picard, 249, M1: 2, M3: 32

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Daedo, 222, M1: 3, M3: 109

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Mace, 221, M1: 4, M3: 111

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Vannier, 215, M1: 5, M3: 120

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Axelzero, 210, M1: 6, M3: 125

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Kang, 171, M1: 198, M3: didn't scroll down that far

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The reason Master Nader and was in having the same Gauntlet for M3 down to M1 was the inter-Academy league which began in term three. The league consisted of a number of events. And the main events were the weekend home and away season of arena matches and gauntlets.

By reaching the semi-finals and therefore finishing in the top four M3 squads, M1 Thoth Squad Zero (M1TS0) had proven they were contenders to participate in the inter-academy , and if they didn't, at least their equipment should be utilised. Despite their misgivings with Master Nader and M1TS0, the Fortescue Military Academy hierarchy the performance in the Inter-Academy league above all.

Due to the advantage of their exos and railguns, M1TS0 dominated the M1 table, only Kang who was still learning the ropes struggled, yet she still managed to land in the top two hundred with guidance from Mace and her own sheer

"Are you going to knock off top spot today?" Mace asked with a small smile. Daedo usually left his runs to the last minute.

"I don't think so. I can't kill them in melee anywhere near as fast as Barran and Picard. And kiting them is less efficient. Even if I didn't get overrun and pummelled. Today I will set more traps, let's see how that works," Daedo replied.

Mace nodded, "I am doing much the same," she showed him the twelve proximity explosives she carried. They laughed and discussed their Kang stood by like a third wheel listening in. During the Gauntlet she was Mace's protégé and by design stayed close.

Barran walked in on the , "We need to get a couple into the top M3 ; He directed his announced at Daedo and Mace.

"For your sales?" Daedo asked, and Barran nodded.

"Aren't M3 Shu holding down half of the top ten?" Mace asked pointing out that M3SS0 was using their exo.

"Yeah, but they were already awesome. It would mean much more if we were pushing up. They would assume it had nothing to do with our skill and everything to do with the exo," Barran replied.

"I think you could make that argument with the current ranks," Daedo teased, "Although Picard is thirty-two, she is most likely to make the top ten. I will talk to her."

Barran, "Hey didn't you see my !"

There was no way on earth that Daedo wasn't aware of Barran's , considering he never shut up about it. "No, I never look at Gauntlet ranks, Myrmidon just summarises for me," Daedo said deadpan.

"Oh, you .." Barran laughed, "you had me for a ;

" though, with this Gauntlet, you and Picard are the ones to get into the top three if you can. Two sixty should do it." Daedo said.

"Okay," Barran said giving his trademark confident smile, "Watch this space." He was up, he entered the Gauntlet eyes with

Picard was practising a lance thrust waiting for her turn.

"Did you hear that Picard?" Axelzero asked, "You need to get two hundred and sixty."

Picard just shook her head, as if to say don't talk to me, she was a picture of

"So you are ranked one, two, three, four, five and six. And you are still so about getting better ; Kang asked Mace.

Mace nodded, "We want the chance to compete in the Inter-Academy league. And to do that we have to beat M3 cadets."

"Okay, but if you sell them all your exos won't that make it harder?" Kang asked.

Mace nodded, "Yeah."

Kang her armoured forehead with her armoured hand. It made a loud clunk. "Then why?"

"Many reasons, but most of all, we need to be skilled, we can't rely on our equipment advantage," Daedo replied.

"You need to go on the next green," Mace told Kang. Vannier had entered the Gauntlet three minutes before Barran.

Kang nodded, they usually made her go first. But she had been improving.

As Kang took off, Daedo, Mace and Axelzero called after her. "Go Kang!" and of "Smash those bugs!" She looked back and rolled her eyes, although no one could see through her helmet, at the squad's corniness before fixing her steely gaze into the Gauntlet.

Picard readied to go next. She turned to Daedo and Mace and said, "She's doing really well," nodding in Kang's

"Have you seen the and shield compound yet?" Daedo asked Picard.

She nodded, "We can test them this weekend." Picard bent her knees slightly, and as the beep sounded, she launched herself into the Gauntlet.

"Thanks for all your work last week," Daedo said to Mace quietly. They hadn't had much of a chance to review and catch-up since last week's events. And for a change, it was Mace who was busy all the time. "We will have the test results from your UHVI fluid tomorrow."

Mace replied in short sentences with a short pause between each, "Looking forward to it. I'd almost Have had my head in polymers since Saturday."

"You're only one point behind me," Daedo changed the subject back to the task at hand. "If you beat me I'll buy you a thick shake."

Mace laughed, "One; they are free, and two; Picard would kill you. She has me on a strict protein, vitamin, mineral and fibre diet."

"I know," Daedo bawled. He was on the same diet. The thick shakes were a delicacy they picked up from Axelzero's Aunt. They consisted of cream, cacao with a tiny amount of and cinnamon. It was delivered almost frozen. Once the recipe was known it was something the cafeteria could make in almost infinite amounts.

The beep sounded, and Mace entered the Gauntlet, she had the identical loadout to Daedo. Railgun, grappler and traps.

"Good luck," Daedo and Axelzero called to her departing form.

"Just me and you," Axelzero said cheerfully.

"Yeah until Barran finishes," Daedo said with a shiver.

Axelzero tapped a compartment on Daedo's exo which contained some traps. "We'll have drones in a couple of weeks," she said.

"Really? How?" Daedo asked.

"I cheated," Axelzero said with a little chuckle.

Daedo had a firm stance on cheating. It was permitted. There were no cheats in war only innovative winners and dead losers.

"I'm listening," Daedo said, Axelzero to

"I've been searching the IPO database for two weeks, testing and trying every design in the modelling tool. After narrowing it down to thirty we are ready for live testing," Axelzero stated.

Daedo laughed. He had never considered just farming the IPO. It was so simple, he felt stupid. "I have to commend your resourcefulness Axelzero," Daedo said happily.

"Don't get me wrong, I will be working on improving those designs and coming up with completely new ones. But at least we will have some good ones to use right now," Axelzero stated.

"You better get ready," Daedo said. The light was about to turn green. "And great work."

Axelzero beamed as she flew into the Gauntlet.

Daedo stood alone, however, Barran or Vannier would most likely exit before his green came up. After doing a quick equipment check, he did just that.

"Woot, done and dusted," Barran Daedo checked his quickly, it was 259, an improvement, but not the magical 260 which was top three. There was a cluster of twenty-five cadets between 250 and 260.

"If you were in M3, you'd be fifth," Daedo said

"Daedo, I'm expecting a two seventy from you," Barran said

Daedo laughed, "I don't think so, but I'll do my best."

The entry light turned green, although it wouldn't start timing until he crossed the line. He gave a quick wave to Barran before running past the line into the Gauntlet.

Daedo had thought of a moments before while talking to Mace. An idea hit him out of the blue, and his loadout was perfect. This was the last run, so even if it went pear-shaped, he had one more attempt.

He headed towards for the central crossroads, he estimated he would be able to get there without running into any insectoids if he took a certain path. It was south of the centre base. Putting all his mobility to use he arrived in less than a minute.

Daedo proceeded to lay all his dozen explosive traps in the central crossroads forming a dodecahedron of death, using the posts and structures as well as the ground. Spending two minutes laying the traps could be the downfall of this strategy.

A group of six insectoids had found him and began to chase. Daedo ran as fast as he could to the west base, using his grapple each block in an attempt to outpace the pursuers. He angled northwest and then southwest, Myrmidon that was enough to miss the west-central roamers.

He arrived at the west base, lay prone on top of the overlooking building, and began to fire down onto the insectoids within the base. They reacted and immediately made a beeline for his , all he could do was hit with consecutive headshots, keeping his aiming time to a minimum.

Clearing the bases wasn't the most difficult part of this Gauntlet, it wasn't easy either, but he had worked out this was ideal for the west base. He had to jump off the building as the last two insectoids closed into melee, rolling, kneeling and turning he was able to complete two more headshots as they charged him down for the time.

There was no time to rest or celebrate. Daedo turned to the base before the roamers caught up.

As he stood in the centre, he waited impatiently for the timer to tick down from ten. What was only ten seemed like an eternity because if one insectoid entered the base while it was counting down he would have to kill them, clear the base and the timer would reset.

Four, three, the roamers were closing in, two, "Come on!" Daedo yelled. One. Green. Base Cleared. Daedo sighed with relief. As six roamers closed on him.

It was time for Daedo to run. He shot a grappling hook past and above the roamers. As he flew past the group, Daedo kicked out at the closest insectoid, there was no doubt it would attempt to grab him and pull him down. The best way to prevent this was to strike first, although a kick would do it little harm he was able to push it out of harm's way.

"Bye," Daedo called as he left the group in his wake. Now instead of trying to avoid the roamers. He wove his way to the north base, firing sporadically, trying to give away his to every possible roamer on the map.

A trip which should have taken less than two minutes took over four, Daedo covered as much ground as possible. He now had all six, west and north roaming groups chasing him. Normally he would have to kill four of these groups before completing the gauntlet, as the bases were captured they closed the search net tighter and tighter.

The west groups would venture east or north to the last base, depending on the capture order.

Daedo closed on the north base, it would be impossible to capture with his current train of bugs. He shot one of the resident insectoids before heading south-east. The rest followed.

Daedo had to use a burst of speed from his jumpjets, up until this point he had been using them sparingly, allowing his energy storage to remain full. The train would surround and him if he wasn't able to cover twice their distance in a slightly shorter timeframe.

Myrmidon the speed and trajectory for Daedo, who followed his AI's markers. Myrmidon would ensure he used just the right amount of power for the jumpjets, it was certain he would need more later.

Pulling off one of Barran's favourite maneuvers Daedo ran across the face of a building. Using one jet, angled down, to keep him from falling he skitted above the eight and ninth group of insectoids.

*Daedo: time for an old- zapping!*

Daedo informed the slightly confused AI. He was unaware the saying was barbecue, not zapping, in his defence the was over a hundred years old and was defunct well before Daedo's time.

*Daedo: yeehaw!*

Daedo yelled into his internal comms. Only Myrmidon could hear.

*Myrmidon: you're having fun. I am looking forward to seeing the of this gamble. You know if you die, I die.*

*Daedo: stop You're backed up.*

Daedo was heading west again, and the insectoids were not clumped enough. He circled the dodecahedron of death waiting for the last moment when all were at the perimeter.

Daedo was now directly south of the central crossroads, with insectoids lined up from his to the east of the crossroads.

*Myrmidon: now!*

Daedo changed sharply to the north, activating both jumpjets to power through the trap zone. As soon as he cleared it on the north side, he set off all twelve traps. The entire area of the central crossroads exploded in all its AR glory.

There was no smell in AR or Daedo would have been treated to burnt insectoid. Now it was down to speed. The north base was clear, all he had to do was capture it. He had four grappling hooks left, he used one on the tallest building to swing forward, and it was only moments before he was standing in the north base waiting for the countdown timer.

There was one roaming group left, they would be closing him now that he was on the last base. Daedo had used a lot of time setting up and springing the trap. He headed directly for the last base.

Myrmidon: they are here.

Myrmidon pinged the of the last roaming group. Daedo gained height using his grapple and lay prone on top of the closest building. He began to fire upon the group as they charged him down. As he had done many times, he lept off the building as the last couple finished climbing the building. There was never enough time to take out a whole group. There were too many, and the moved too quickly. Bugs climbed ten times faster than humans. They barely slowed.

Daedo turned, knelt and took down the last two. Before they could close the gap on him again.

He had cleared these bases twenty-five times and had worked out the most method which he now repeated. Building, prone, snipe, jump, run, turn, kneel and finish off.

Daedo stood in the centre of the last base, and waited for his as the timer counted down. Myrmidon could estimate his , based on the time, but was quiet with his friend.

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Three, two, one, Green. 270 - Cleared

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There were no extra points for killing insectoids, but when all were dead, the Cleared status was shown.

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Daedo, 270 – Cleared, M1: 1, M3: 1

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Barran, 259, M1: 2, M3: 5

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Picard, 255, M1: 3, M3: 12

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Mace, 229, M1: 4, M3: 105

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Vannier, 219, M1: 5, M3: 110

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Axelzero, 212, M1: 6, M3: 124

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Kang, 191, M1: 175, M3: K-pop doesn't care.

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[[i love k-pop]]

[[no app can defeat the undead disembodied floating skull]]

[[the next line has the answer to the universe and everything]]

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