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Chapter 80 : M1 - Term: 2, Round: 2

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: 2

Daedalus Operating Capital: 140,000 bitcreds

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*Picard: It's Father! Run!*

To say Picard had never beaten her Father in a friendly spar was a misnomer, he could have beaten four of her at once, easily. Whilst under his she had learned and mastered the basics. He had refused to teach her advanced forms stating that real power came from combining the basics in and efficient ways. On base, he was known as the Master in melee combat, whether it was hand to hand or with a weapon such as a shinai or bo staff.

Picard lept back and turned to run before Daedo could speak.

*Daedo: No. We fight. That's an order.*

Picard thought it was a mistake, but she would never defy a direct lawful order, and it would be worse than a thousand deaths for her to defy one in combat. Even if it was a training exercise. She stopped in her tracks and did not Daedo.

"Oh, you are going to fight?" Specialist Picard said in an amused manner. "Can you wait a few minutes. I won fifty bitcreds when you lasted more than fifteen minutes, and if you last an hour, I get a hundred more."

*Mace: why are we staying? If he doesn't want to kill us for four minutes, we should run now.*

Daedo: if this was real there would be a chance that at least one of the three downed cadets was alive. We would this enemy and then carry them to the evac point. Not to I am fairly certain we would not outrun him, and he could call in to our

*Kang: your Father is almost forty. Let's kick his ass.*

Daedo: that old man took out Barran, Vannier and Axelzero and I only see paint on his boot. Picard distract him. Everyone else equip your railgun and shoot on command.

Picard walked nervously towards her Father. Sword and shield in hand.

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He sighed, there was still two minutes remaining. Wolf-soldier hero, aka Picards Father, uncrossed his arms, took a step forward and readied a side-on combat stance. Even in the military exo, he looked ready to fight unhindered by its bulk.

Before Picard could block their line of sight of the while wolf-soldier hero, Myrmidon popped 'FIRE' onto the squad's HUD. They had not drawn the Railguns this would have tipped him off before the fire command. They dropped their swords and shields and reached for their Railgun in a sweeping with all the speed they could muster.

Picard saw the command and braced waiting for the inevitable assault. She one foot behind, turned side on and bent her knees slightly as she held her shield out front.

As soon as the cadets first finger moved to drop their swords the wolf-soldier hero knew their intent. It was a smart tactical move because if they shot him three times, he would go down.

He immediately spun and kicked Odette's shield in the centre, but the angle was to fling her at the cadet on the right. It would at least ruin their view, and if it worked to , Odette would barrel into the cadet incapacitating them both for a short It was only a few moments he needed.

Wolf-soldier hero hit his daughter ten times harder than he ever had before, she was in a well-made exo, she would be fine. She flew towards the greatest threat, the squad leader. He didn't look like much, but he had won wolf-soldier hero fifty creds with his smarts. No one expected the cadets to avoid the envelope. No one ever did on their first attempt. The regs would hate these brats even more now that they had shamed them.

He laughed, as his daughter flew and he leapt high continuing his momentum while pumping his jumpjets, more thrust on the right to continue his turn and to bring his right leg around for the small cadet on the left. Much to wolf-soldiers surprise she fumbled her Railgun and dropped it. He missed his kick on purpose and gave her two quick to the torso. The cadet named Kang was out with a whimper. The odds were now in his favour, one of the remaining cadets would have to shoot him twice.

Just as he had that thought, the middle cadet, Mace, shot him in the shoulder. Wolf-soldier hero was moving quickly, changing , it was a good shot under pressure. He now had three to take her out before her weapon reloaded based on the experience from the well-executed ambush. The ambush probably would have been if he hadn't wormed his way into this exercise with the regs. But now he was here he could not lay down. That would be disrespectful to his opponent if not against his character.

Wolf-soldier hero continued with the momentum of his missed kick and brought himself around to face Cadet Mace. His head dipping down before firing jumpjets. He flew the few metres, almost parallel to the ground, she had skipped back as soon as her round of goo hit him. Smart, this cadet could think on her feet. He one foot on the ground and pushed himself forward at a greater velocity in order to catch her. He reached his long arm out and grabbed her railgun moments before she could fire and ripped it from her grasp. The power cord came free, from her exo, with a burst as he flung the railgun behind him.

The wily cadet stuck out her back leg and pushed off a tree. Her spatial awareness in the heat of battle was commendable. But it was in vain, he twisted and kicked off the same tree with twice the strength and speed of movement.

She was using all her jumpjets making him work to catch her, he knew the time she had gained would be invaluable to Odette and the squad leader. If he thought she would evade him any longer, he would have switched targets, but she was now within his reach.

Wolf-soldier hero grabbed onto Cadet Mace's leg and her into the earth. Within moments he had her torso twice before she could move.

Immediately he sensed Odette's approach, the pair had , but it was too late. He turned, as she picked up speed, she was attempting to shield barge him. A rather crude tactic for her. He thought he had taught her better.

As she closed to the last ten metres, she jumped, using her jumpjets to gain extra height. Her legs moved in a running , and too late the wolf-soldier hero saw a goo pellet pass between them as they moved. He had seen tonnes of excellent combat partnerships in his day but threading a pellet through your partner's legs as they moved at high speed was a first.

Wolf-soldier hero leapt to meet his daughter head on as the goo caught him in the leg, he could not sustain another hit. Perhaps he would win the hundred bitcreds. As Odette arced her sword down towards his head, he grabbed the base of her shield. He worried for a moment that Odette's squad may develop an to shields after he had used them so effectively against the cadets.

By pulling the shield down, he pulled Odette down and himself upwards, the arc of her swing was ruined as she fell beneath him. Wolf-soldier hero continued and sped his forward somersault by angling his jumpjets. While his daughter fought to stabilise herself before landing on her back, he was flying feet first at the squad leader who was jumping backwards, trying to buy more time for his railgun to reload.

Wolf-soldier hero immediately saw with Cadet Mace movements. Although the squad leader was too slow to escape as well.

After one foot on the ground, the wolf-soldier pushed forward closing on his prey. He knocked the railgun aside easily with one hand and swept with the other the squad leaders chest with his Before he could a time, the wolf-soldier hero was caught by surprise. A goo pellet hit him in the back. His daughter had switched to her railgun and fired on his unsuspecting back. He stopped his blow easily and smiled. He had outmatched them severely in skill and experience. They beat him with excellent tactics.

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Daedo wasted moments on his fellow cadets who were downed. There was no in this exercise between incapacitated or dead. And it would be impossible to try and carry someone eleven kilometres through enemy lines.

*Daedo: let's move.*

He and Picard were the lone survivors. Which meant they were severely outnumbered if they met any more roaming bands of wolf-soldiers, but it also meant they could run at his maximum speed.

Myrmidon the maximum jumpjet whilst maintaining percent energy storage in the lithium reserves. Even if Picard used seventy percent as much energy on jumpjets as Daedo, she could keep up with her natural speed.

*Picard: you're going fast. What's your jumpjet time *

*Daedo: Myrmidon is using the max while maintaining storage. Use enough to keep up.*

*Picard: your AI is a cheat.*

Even if Picard's AI could the , Alice would not be able to run her jumpjets in perfect sync with her movements without throwing her off. What she could do, was alert Picard when she fell below eighty-five percent reserves so she would hold off using her jumpjets until the lithium storage recharged.

Daedo still had four drones left. One was far to the north and had done its jobs sending forty wolf-soldiers on a goose chase. They were now wise to it and were headed south at a rapid speed. He kept two on watch ahead and behind and sent the last drone to the east and then up high. He wanted to know how many roaming bands of wolf-soldiers there were.

The probability that there was one roaming band, that they lucked upon was extremely low. It was more likely that at least ten existed roaming ten kilometres out from the objective.

*Picard: how are you holding up?*

*Daedo: good, but our lead is dwindling. The group of forty will catch us if we are again. And there is a chance they could catch us even if we aren't *

*Picard: do you know their pace?*

*Daedo: two forty-five per kay on open ground. Almost four through mountains.*

*Picard: shit*

*Daedo: my thoughts exactly.*

The two focused on running, eating up kilometre after kilometre. Daedo kept the south, they would have to swing east in order to make the objective, but Daedo knew that a direct heading to the objective was too predictable. There was no reason they could not run past the objective and come at it from the north. That was assuming the objective did not change with each exercise, he made a mental note to ask that next time.

*Daedo: seven kays.*

Before they reached the seven kay milestone, the sky-high drone had picked up four squads, and each passing minute it picked up another as it flew in a zigzag checking the southern area in a grid-like Daedo even had it check their grid in case someone was tracking it visually. If it skipped an area, it could lead a group of roamers to ask why.

After the drone covered most of the area between them and the objective Daedo there were twenty groups of roamers ranging between six and eight wolf-soldiers.

*Picard: they sent almost two hundred soldiers after us? Don't they have anything better to do?*

Daedo would have laughed if it was volunteer only and almost two hundred exo soldiers volunteered to beat the crap out of them.

*Daedo: from what your father said, they didn't think we would last this long.*

Picard laughed.

*Picard: I just had a thought. We should hide and waste their entire afternoon.*

*Daedo: I don't see how that's funny. You would be wasting our time too.*

*Picard: the others are probably picked up by now.*

She said changing the subject. A VTOL carrier would have come down and picked up the rest of the squad and returned them to the base wherever Col. Martin and the other military personnel were watching the exercise.

Myrmidon halt across their HUDs and Daedo immediately looked for cover. There was a small ditch behind them, and he ran back to it, while Myrmidon updated the minimap on the HUD with orange dots.

This group was not hunting them, it was moving at a sedate pace from east to west.

*Daedo: unless we give our away it looks like the roamers are to keep to a specific pattern.*

*Picard: lucky they don't have drones, or we'd be dead.*

*Daedo: as soon as we are found it's over. I am certain the advantage lies with them even without drones.*

The spread of roaming groups became thicker the closer they got to the objective. Daedo could only see one way to win, and that was to head south-west before circling back east and last of all north. If they didn't come at the objective from behind, there was no way they would be able to sneak past the seven groups of roaming wolf-soldiers near the objective.

There was also the group of forty who operated under different rules. They were hunting him and Picard. Daedo did not know if the rules would change for the roaming groups once they came into contact with the larger pursuit group. He suspected they might, if they were a certain type of alien creature, then news of prey would logically spread once contact was made.

*Picard: how are we going?*

*Daedo: we are able to keep a minimum distance of two kilometres from the nearest roamer group. Here. Myrmidon will share the minimap and sensor data with your AI.*

*Picard: I'm going to need it if you do down, but, all this info. I don't know how you manage it and stay focused on your surrounds.*

*Daedo: like anything its practice. You of all people know this.*

Picard laughed, it did not sound outside her helmet but went through their comms.

*Picard: I think its practice and talent. Neither excluded. You're just humble.*

*Daedo: I hate to say this, but we need to pick up the pace, or the pursuit group of forty will end us, before we head north for the objective.*

They were down to the last ten minutes of running, and Daedo pushed as hard as he could. They had to stay ahead of their pursuers and the only way to do it was with speed. If it was only the roamers that they had to deal with, they could have taken a break or waited patiently for patrols to pass. But the forty wolf-soldiers in pursuit were like a countdown timer, and this was probably one of the design aspects of the exercise.

Daedo took a risk and sent all four drones north of the objective and spread them in a grid covering five by two kilometres. His hope was the wolf-soldiers would interpret this as a detailed scan of this area with the view they were sneaking to avoid If the enemy made this , they would search the area thoroughly, and it would keep them while he and Picard closed on the objective from the opposite

He his strategy to Picard as they ran.

*Picard: that's a big gamble we are now blind.*

*Daedo: yes it is. But they would know that as well. They're probably aware we only had eight drones. If that is a consistent number with this exercise.*

*Picard: it's amazing how many we think of after the exercise starts.*

*Daedo: hindsight. One kilometre to go. Let's fly.*

The pair ran for the objective as fast as their little legs could carry them. They were blind now, gambling everything on tricking the wolf-soldiers. They breached a small ridge which was going to give them a view of the objective.

Looking down they could see a carrier with eight mechs guarding it. That was the evac zone, and beyond that, their drones reported almost two hundred wolf-soldiers out of the mechs range. A noise alerted the pair, and Daedo looked to the left, there were four wolf-soldiers, he looked right, and there were another four. They had already been spotted, and these eight wolf-soldiers were charging them down.

The Mechs were useless, they did not engage, which must have been part of the that they delivered the safe evac zone only. The edge of this zone was still five hundred metres away.

Picard ran behind Daedo.

*Myrmidon: three, two, one, PUSH*

And she pushed him with all her might before sprinting and leaping herself. The pair engaged jumpjets full throttle and flew.

The wolf-soldiers lept and engaged jumpjets as well. Because they were at an angle, they had more distance to cover. The ones in the lead began to close on Picard, they had a faster sprint speed than her which resulted in a faster flying speed. The jumpjets were on the Military exos, that was evident. Despite their extra weight, they were flying faster.

Picard had a forty metre headstart while Daedo had fifty, with his better launch speed due to Picards exo enhanced push timed with Myrmidons control of jumpjets.

The pair were two hundred metres from the safe zone when the two hundred wolf-soldiers to the north finally reacted to their presence. But they were too far, and it was too little too late. They ran towards the cadets and safe zone in vain.

There was, however, the eight who were in hot pursuit, and they had closed the gap on Picard to fifteen metres.

Daedo turned and lost speed. He had enough momentum and height to carry himself to the line, Myrmidon was angling the jumpjets with ten of runtime left to ensure he made it. The only problem now was sustaining strikes before he did.

Daedo fired his railgun at a wolf-soldier who was about to catch Picard.

*Daedo: turn and fire. We can make it.*

Picard attempted the same, she turned to her left and fired at the closest wolf-soldier which Daedo hit. After one more , a third goo hit the wolf-soldier who was about to grab her.

Picard turned to her right as she drifted down towards the safe zone. The next closest wolf-soldier was only five metres from her and closing fast.

After another she fired, and then Daedo again. But before she could get another goo pellet into the wolf-soldier, he grabbed her leg and began to pull. He had no purchase other than halting his jumpjets and as soon as he tried Picard hit his arm with the butt of her Railgun as hard as she could. She then used her jumpjets to rise up, trying to escape him.

The wolf-soldier barely hung on to Picard, his to pull her down by her And a third goo pellet struck him. This one also from Daedo who was safely in the evac zone and drifting down, the last of his power reserves dwindling.

*Daedo: I can't fire again and use the jumpjets.*

Picard pushed her legs out, both her feet into the dead wolf-soldier, thrusting herself towards the safe zone.

She made it and wondered how much her Father won if they made the objective.

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