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Chapter 72 : 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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<break>

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The last Friday of the round had crept up on the cadets before they knew it. At 0600 all of Thoth Squad Zero who used weights removed them and pushed for their best times. It was Picards last chance to improve her time, as she had been chaperoning Kang all week. Today she swapped with Vannier who pushed Kang while the rest of the squad ran their guts out. The results were as follows.

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Obstacle Course Results: Term 2, Round 1

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Cadet, Time, Rank in M1

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Barran, 34.44, M1: 2

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Picard, 34.52, M1: 3

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Mace, 35.49, M1: 9

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Vannier, 39.25, M1: 57

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Daedo, 41.15, M1: 90

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Axelzero, 43.10, M1: 122

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Kang, 53.31, M1: 694

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It was the very first time they had three cadets in the top ten. Barran had on a few but still was denied first. It frustrated him that it was either Rauoult or Lazard who achieved first as he was able to beat both of them on , just not in the same round. It was the best result of the year for Picard, Mace and Daedo.

It was also apparent that Picard was breathing down Barran's neck. She was only eight behind him on the highly technical course.

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<break>

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Later on the same day, 1330, and Vannier removed her helmet to quickly survey the common room. She then sent a quick message to Daedo and Barran.

*Vannier: Barran are you topside?*

Three minutes with no response.

*Barran: was in a meeting in the cafeteria. Need me?*

*Vannier: meet me and Daedo topside, the courtyard of heroes.*

The courtyard of heroes was an awkward name for a central, grassed area surrounded by buildings on the topside. There were busts of the outstanding cadets from years with Karine's Father, Xavier, featuring twice. The courtyard's perimeter was four hundred metres in length when all four sides were added together. Busts featured for one hundred and fifty metres, there weren't enough heroes to cover the entire length apparently.

*Barran: what's up?*

Vannier, Daedo and Barran continued the as they made their way to the courtyard.

*Vannier: I was just contacted by one of Fortescue's lackeys, Paget-A. They want a meeting and when I asked why she said it was a business type meeting, and Karine didn't state the reason.*

*Barran: then tell her to ask pompous face and get back to you. Don't let them push you around Vannier.*

*Daedo: Paget-A is the most reasonable person from that squad. Let's not yell at her.*

*Vannier: let me see what I can find out in the time we have left.*

*Daedo: let me try.*

*Vannier: really?*

*Daedo: yeah. I want to expand my horizons.*

*Vannier: go on then. We're running out of time.*

Daedo wanted to message Paget-A, not because he wanted to expand his horizons but because he thought that may evoke a response if he reached out to her. She had been the most friendly and open during their last meeting.

*Daedo: Hi. It's Daedo.*

*Paget-A: oh. Hi.*

*Daedo: I'd like to know what the meeting is about. That's a reasonable request don't you think?*

*Paget-A: I wasn't specifically informed. But, if I had to guess it might be about Barran selling exos to anyone with creds.*

*Daedo: Thanks. I appreciate your understanding.*

*Paget-A: For what? I didn't inform you of anything it is merely a guess.*

*Daedo: ok.*

Daedo sent the obligatory goodbye symbol and went back to the squad channel.

*Daedo: ok she told me that it's about the exo sales. She made it sound like Fortescue isn't happy about it. Or the unlikely she wants to purchase them. I would bet on the former.*

*Vannier: she just told you? What did you say?*

*Daedo: I just asked nicely.*

*Barran: you are a dark horse alright!*

*Daedo: a what?*

*Barran: in my experience, she would only give up info like that, that she wasn't supposed to, if she likes you.*

*Vannier: your vast experience?*

*Barran: hey. You can't deny I get things done.*

*Vannier: what has your skills and confidence got to do with experience?*

*Barran: you'll understand when you're more experienced.*

*Vannier: O.o. Are we even in the same argument? Argh. We are wasting time. Do you have any ideas for a Daedo?*

*Daedo: I don't think we need one. Just be yourselves.*

*Barran: oh this will be fun!*

*Vannier: um, that wasn't to go rogue.*

*Barran: oh? I will just be myself.*

*Daedo: we're here Barran.*

Daedo and Vannier waited in the outer courtyard for Barran. They could see the Horus Zero squad sitting on a couple of benches near the centre of the courtyard, but they didn't approach until Barran arrived.

Fortescue sat in the centre by the Paget twins. Raoult stood with her helmet on, engrossed in a VR activity. The rest of the squad sat on another bench.

As Daedo, Vannier and Barran approached Fortescue stood and took a few steps forward. The Pagets followed, their squad leader.

Barran chuckled and sent a message.

*Barran: an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.*

Daedo couldn't help but smile, it was quite an astute And funny because it held a large dollop of truth.

"I'm you find something amusing," Fortescue had a strange way of greeting people.

"You invited us here, you could at least thank us for coming before reverting to your self," Vannier replied aggressively.

Barran put a hand on Daedo' shoulder leaned close and whispered, "Holy shit. Vannier can be mean."

Daedo used his and Myrmidon to send Barran a message.

*Daedo: don't whisper. It looks bad. Use your and AI if you have to.*

"Thanks for coming," Paget-A said politely before anyone else could speak. There was between Vannier and Fortescue even without the fact that Thoth Squad Zero was the thorn in Horus' side.

Fortescue didn't bat an eyelid and ignored both Vannier and Paget-A. She looked directly at Daedo addressing a to him, "Why are you selling your exo to every squad with the creds to buy it? It makes no sense. But I suppose that is normal for you. Little you do makes sense."

"Well, looks like you answered your own ," Barran said cheekily. "Can we go now your highness?"

Most people would react to Barran's barbs. Fortescue ignored him and stared at Daedo. After Barran's words had melted away, silence began to reign. Daedo just stood there mute. The three members from Horus squad zero looked at him waiting for a reply.

Daedo folded his arms, staring back. His body language indicated he was not going to answer. Paget-L was about to say something, but Fortescue held her hand in front of her squad member, palm facing her as if she anticipated an outburst.

"You have nothing to say?" Fortescue

"I already said everything I had to say last term. Nothing has changed," Daedo replied. Which was not true, he had learned more about the topic, but his attitude had not changed.

The only evidence of an imminent alien came from humans. Therefore the evidence only proved that certain humans believed there was an imminent alien It did not actually prove to Daedo there was one.

There was the point that someone like Col. Martin operated that is was a fact. He was an intelligent Military Officer. This meant that it was not a mere rumour, the Military took it On the opposing view, Mace's parents pointed out that rumours had been about an imminent alien threat since they were at the Academy, almost twenty years ago.

Paget-L laughed, and this time Fortescue allowed her to speak. "So you are selling your exos because Aliens will invade soon? And people call me crazy."

"You know," Fortescue added with a much more polite tone, "I did some digging during the break. Just in case you weren't misguided. And it turns out there are rumours of an Alien But." She paused on the heavily emphasized word. " to my , there have been rumours since the in 2101. I concluded that it is due to human which spawns these fantasies and they spread because it feeds off peoples fears. Especially when they hear it from several sources."

"It's like the big bang theory. Just because believe it's a fact doesn't make it so." Fortescue concluded.

The big bang theory was a widely held model on the origin of the universe for over a century. And when leading physicists and mathematicians disagreed and disproved it, it took decades to change public

Daedo sighed and said, "So what."

"What do you mean so what? I looked into what you said and found there is no basis. I even talked to my Mother about it!" Fortescue as if that was a great sacrifice.

"Two things," Daedo said calmly. "One; the military takes it And two; my view is we have nothing to lose by taking it ;

Fortescue looked at him as if he was crazy. Again. "What are you talking about? Of course, you are losing. If you sell your exo to other squads, you are giving away your advantage!"

It was Daedo's turn to put his arm in front of Barran. Daedo knew how he would respond to that statement.

Daedo: yes I know. She isn't worried about our advantage. And she knows we know.

"Fortescue," Daedo said deadpan. "We don't need that advantage to win. In fact, it would only hurt our chances of being selected." Daedo turned slightly before adding. "We're going now. Paget-A will it to you."

"Unless of course, you would like to an order," Barran added.

The looks he received would have killed lesser men. Barran merely smiled showing his pearly white teeth.

"Come on," Vannier said pulling Barran away. They followed Daedo out of the courtyard.

When they were out of earshot, Barran said, "Damn Vannier. You let Fortescue have it right off the get-go. Do you have a thing with her? Daedo and I had to do all the talking."

Vannier merely sighed. She thought about his words for a minute before responding. "You know. You're right. I really need to get over her pompous, self important…grrrrr."

Barran laughed. He enjoyed seeing Vannier like this. He leaned towards Daedo and whispered loudly, "I will pay you if you let me come to every Horus meeting with Vannier from now on. This is gold." Barran did a little dance.

"I'm I entertain you," Vannier said through clenched teeth.

"He has a point," Daedo allowed a small criticism which hurt Vannier ten times more than anything Barran could say.

A single tear escaped her left eye. She wiped it away and said with , "Okay. I will do better."

"I have good news," Barran said changing the subject with enthusiasm. "We now have six sales of eight exos. That's -k!"

"That's truly amazing," Daedo said.

"One thing though. With M3 Shu zero keeping theirs from last term, it's effectively a one-off sale until we get a much better model," Barran said.

"So, there are nine squads now, including ours and Gaumont's with this exo," Vannier said adding up the numbers. "Any other M1 squads?" Vannier asked.

Barran nodded, "Horus squad two. That's the meeting I was in when you called." He burst out laughing and was joined by Daedo and Vannier.

Between bursts of laughter, Vannier spluttered, "No wonder she wanted the meeting."

Master Nader: Cadet; report to the Secure VR room at 1600.

It was 1400 Friday the last day of round one. Daedo informed Vannier and Barran, "I'm going for my powernap, then I have a meeting with Master Nader at 1600."

Vannier nodded, "See you at dinner."

Barran added, "We hope."

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<break>

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Master Nader sat in the VR room. There was a table with a box on it, but otherwise, the room was

"Cadet," Master Nader greeted Daedo, "This is sensitive Allow me to scan you."

Daedo nodded, as floating image of Master Nader's AI appeared and began to scan him. VR was a where AIs could appear the same as humans. Everyone was a hologram in VR. However, the theatrics were unnecessary. It was possible for the scan to take invisibly. It was likely Master Nader wanted to show the importance of security at these meetings.

"Cadet has your AI been ordered not to store any from this meeting. What is being said and shown?" Master Nader asked.

Daedo nodded, "He understands, he's asleep." Technically Myrmidon wasn't asleep it was a term applied to a temporary shutdown.

"Let us discuss cadet Kang as the first item," Master Nader stated.

"She has achieved adequate results in Math, Physics, Tech Studies, Piloting and Gunnery," Daedo began. He brought up the weeks results for all her subjects.

"Her AI nurturing progress is within , considering she only launched her AI on Sunday night. Bandwidth is excellent given five days of Her obstacle course times improved during the week. When ranks are compared to my first round, in term one, she has outperformed my results with only five attempts."

Daedo continued, "Reference and Strategy have been lower. She will begin those two subjects in round three. The only subject which is below is Human Studies."

"Are you satisfied with your choice Cadet Daedo? This is the time to change your mind, you can always me." Master Nader said.

"She is performing better than I expected to be honest and her genius in metallurgy is not in doubt," Daedo responded.

Master Nader nodded, "Very well. She will be registered as a Cadet in the Fortescue Military Academy."

"How? Can you just do that? I thought …" Daedo broke off the sentence leaving his unspoken.

"Cadet, do not concern yourself with my responsibilities. I am able to deliver the promised. How is not something you need to know," Master Nader stated firmly.

Daedo nodded slowly and said, "Okay." It only sounded slightly sceptical.

"Very good. Let's move on." Master Nader walked towards the box on the table. "This box contains which will grant significant progress in your research towards a new reactor. I have had a team of experts review your report and make regarding shielding, laser control and improving your field technology. They have also supplied after ascertaining issues which you did not know you had."

"I submitted this report last Sunday. It hasn't been a week!" Daedo His head was in a spin. "How do you know researchers in all these fields? How did you get them to respond so quickly? And," he almost yelled, "how did they know about issues we have not yet and supply for them?"

Daedo did not wait for an answer but began to rummage through the box. He pulled out over a dozen reports and hundreds of engineering drawings. Skimming through the drawings they were on field generators, stabilizers and control mechanisms. There was a report detailing the process and

"How?" Daedo asked bewildered.

"Do not ask how," Master Nader replied. "You need to memorize this and pass it off as your own ideas and You can come back to this room and study as much as you need. Do not allow your AI to copy this , you need to consume and comprehend yourself."

Master Nader tapped her head, indicating the only storage and delivery mechanism permitted was his brain.

Daedo was as intrigued by the where and why regarding the origin of the more than the itself. The work was far beyond anything he had studied from the net, far beyond Cisse's knowledge.

Daedo looked at Master Nader. The were enormous. He was about to speak when Master Nader cut him off.

"Cadet. If you cannot receive this without being distracted regarding its source. Not only will new never be provided, but I will also take this box away."

"There's more?" Daedo asked stunned.

Master Nader nodded slowly.

Daedo now knew what it felt like to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for special powers. There was no doubt in his mind that the level of the technology contained within the box was not on current day Earth.

[[oh no almost extra line]]

[[next line has my mobile number you can call me anytime]]

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