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Chapter 94 : M1 - Term: 2, Round: 5

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: 5

Daedalus Operating Capital: -1,660,000 bitcreds

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Music thundered across the topside stadium by an incredible light It was probably highly enjoyable for the spectators, but Daedo just wanted the match to begin, even though this was the last activity of the term, his workload had never been greater. There would be no break for him.

The Augmented Reality Arena could be used for more than just military training exercises, or an exo game, however, it was viewed. A talented artist was able to put the same mechanisms used to construct a combat into creating something , whether it was psychedelic, or just simple, clean lines with soft, complementary colours.

The entertainment finally finished, and the announcer was briefing spectators on the main event. Spouting that the academy had decided on an all-star match to showcase the brightest talent who would win them this year.

Daedo waited patiently for the countdown, the real purpose of this match was to put both sides under pressure. It was one thing to perform during training, it was another to do it when it mattered. He nodded to Siderus' and his team as they moved to the southern end, while his squad moved to the north.

Gaumont joined Picard and Barran in the Vanguard, resuming his old to even the numbers out at eight for each squad.

Daedo: Alpha.

Daedo called the first for the three subgroups within the squad, it was unnecessary as it was the default, he just wanted to focus the cadet's minds and calm his own nerves by speaking.

The Vanguard would run point, equipped with shields, and one-handed railguns. And rather than loading them with a larger variety of armaments, the Vanguard carried three drones each which they would release almost immediately. The control would revert to Daedo, Mace and Axelzero. Freeing up the Vanguard's focus towards the enemy as they were usually the initiators.

The Liberos were the drone controllers, although they carried no personal drones themselves as they were loaded with explosive, smoke and sticky grenades. Otherwise known as goo grenades. Armed with grapplers, railguns and now controlling the small army of drones the liberos varied from covert to mayhem.

Vannier had taken Kang under her wing. Although she had trained with the Vanguard and Liberos to get a feel for what each entailed. The two long-range cadets were tasked with providing cover fire, assisting in ambush and general enemy Railgun was standard equipment, but they were also equipped grapplers to enhance their mobility. They carried backup drones, to the kamikaze drones that were deployed when the battle commenced.

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With Kang hot on her heels, Vannier headed to the largest hill in the southern half of the map. She breathed a sigh of relief as they entered and it wasn't a desert, but also lacked tall structures compared to urban environments where the grapplers excelled.

She had a comm link with Kang, her role was not only cover fire, but she also had to guide the new cadet who was still coming to grips with everything squad zero, and the Academy threw at her.

Vannier: we will go prone before we reach the top and shimmy over the ridge.

Kang: got it.

Kang was smart, tough and determined, but she missed the first term, and more significantly she lacked the years of private tutor that most of the cadets took for granted.

Vannier didn't feel pressured to win this match, Daedo had made it clear that if Siderus' team did not win, it was a massive failure on their part. That didn't mean she wouldn't focus and direct Kang with precise , which was a significant task on top of her normal duties, but she wouldn't stress about the result.

Vannier: down in three…two…down.

Kang: what happened to one?

Vannier slid to the top of the ridge before answering.

Vannier: one is down.

Kang shook her head slightly but did not argue.

She was a good cadet, Vannier surmised that the attitude was part of the tough and determined deal. There was no point in trying to the surliness because that could damage two of Kang's strongest personality traits. Vannier was quite happy to put up with the former as a trade-off for the latter. Her tutors had always criticised her for being too , too easy going, but she viewed it as a strength. She liked to think she was like water, highly adaptable yet unbreakable.

Vannier: ensure your gyro is on full.

Kang: I know, removes issues with barrel movement. Ya don't have to repeat everything every match.

It was true, Kang managed to get through five matches following directives closely, her aim wasn't the best, but she was improving. And in where they provided cover fire, aim was not as important, and their opponents rarely knew if it was her or Kang that had them in their sights either.

Daedo: Vanguard hold the barn line wait in cover.

Daedo: Cover share POV to Myrmidon

"Damn," Vannier swore. In her mind, damn was a swear word.

Vannier: Kang set your sensors to share with squad. Myrmidon can't see what you're seeing.

She had failed to check that procedure, but it had not impacted the match since most likely Myrmidon picked it up immediately upon interrogating Kang's AI for sensor data. The primary role was cover fire, and when 'fire at will' was granted, they were to take any damage opportunity that presented itself.

Vannier looked around, there was only one other vantage, this would not be a stick and move for the long-range combatants.

Daedo: Cover, FOV (meaning provide cover and supply squad with a good Field Of View from height).

Vannier scanned her field of view, it was not surprising, if things went well they wouldn't move from this

Vannier: dig in.

Kang: ok

Small spades extended from the underarms of her exo past her hands and she began to dig a surface behind the peak of the ridge, while Vannier kept watch. As soon as Kang was finished with the first entrenchment, Vannier changed taking it, while Kang dug a for herself.

Kang had barely finished the when Vannier spotted the enemy Vanguard. A red dot immediately appeared on her HUD.

Vannier took aim and fired within a of spotting the Shu cadet. There was no time for him to hear the round before it could strike him, but he must have been warned or was attempting to confirm their because as soon as he showed himself, he ducked back into cover. She barely missed.

Vannier: down.

And after a moment's

Vannier: stay here I will take the Swap trenches at random times.

Vannier had full autonomy when it came to Daedo would have general guidelines for the cadets to follow in their specific role, but it was up to them how to implement the orders. The was drilled and analysed, it gave the squad fluidity and creativity well above what would be achieved if Daedo controlled their like a game.

Vannier: fire on any red dot that comes into LOS.

Kang: yep.

Vannier: is the key.

Kang: got it.

It was one thing to understand was the key, the act of anticipating was another matter. It was a of skill, experience and instinct. Kang was short on all three.

Any other commander would have chosen someone with performance in the arena as the main criteria. Not Daedo, Kang's ability in metallurgy trumped everything else. Vannier wasn't concerned, Kang was smart, and she was improving quickly. There weren't many cadets as talented as Barran, most had to work hard to improve. Picard and Axelzero were perfect examples of hard work as the main factor in high achievement.

Vannier arrived at the while Kang lay down cover fire. The M3 Inter-Academy Squad simply known as M3IAS were , the hammering they received from the Thoth liberos in drills was causing them to act prudently.

Vannier dug in, even a small amount of earth was a useful cover, a building usually had a parapet, and hills sometimes had rocks, but digging an entrenchment in the ideal was preferable. Assuming the time it took wasn't critical.

Now that Kang and Vannier held both the high in the south end of the map, they would provide better crossfire and line of sight for the squad. The real was whether M3IAS would engage, or would Thoth draw them out, or would they have to move forward and take the initiative.

<break>

Barran leaned against the barn, looking at Gaumont and Picard. Either the enemy would take the initiative, and they would pounce from here, or Daedo would. Either way, they couldn't move from this without breaking cover.

It had been decided that Gaumont would assist Picard to try and take out Matthias between the two of them. It was Barran's role to take out the M3's sidekick or if possible cause carnage in the belly of the enemy.

During the first term's tournament he garnered more then he thought possible before he came to the Academy. Being a part of this squad was pure luck and strangely something that his sister had made possible. If the nerdy girl hadn't been assigned to Thoth, he wouldn't have been in this

But, he had a to keep, and still did not have anywhere near as many girls chasing him as Daedo did. Barran wasn't jealous, this was war, and only a few early battles had been fought. Moreau would be watching this match, that was certain, and only a heroic from him would turn her head. Not that he shipped for her, but she was , certainly capable, and probably very smart.

She had basically ignored him and flirted with Daedo.

Like; what the fark.

Messages from gaggles of girls from squad twenty meant nothing. He had to turn Moreau's head. And if killing her in their match with Horus two wasn't enough, today he would fight the cream of M3 in the premiere exo match.

Daedo: we take the initiative.

Daedo: Vanguard – Barran NE, Gaumont and Picard NW. We have your backs and will provide cover with round, drone and grenade. Charge, jumpjets on full. Red Dots are lit.

Awesome, the cream of M3 was too scared to go on the offensive. With only two terms under their belt, M1 Thoth squad zero would be the aggressor.

With a final nod to Picard and Gaumont, he broke through the barn wall. M3IAS would be expecting their opponent to take the left or right corner, it was best to keep them guessing.

Barran began to imagine a breathless Moreau watching him break down the faux timber walls of the barn. As he smashed through the other side, at top speed, she cheered him.

No time now Moreau, he thought, he had work to do. But it felt good that she was watching.

Three orange and one red dot filled his minimap. Mars, his AI, was doing a great job with the HUD. Bringing up the minimap using the full , before increasing the transparency and then dropping to the lower of his field of view. As soon as Barran thought about his route to the minimap and coloured dots Mars would bring it up again centrally for a They were working well together after the hundreds of hours practice they had put in.

Daedo: Full jump jets. We got you.

Daedo sent the message to Barran and presumably the rest of the Vanguard. Full jump jets simply meant don't hold back, if the exo ran out of juice, so be it. Needing to power and being alive was preferable to having fifty-percent storage remaining whilst dead.

Barran headed to the red dot, trusting Daedo and Myrmidon's that this was the optimum target. With a thought, Mars popped up the of the target, it was one of their liberos, an Amun-Ra cadet named Jakov. Like the entire M3AI squad, he was highly skilled when compared to other Fortescue cadets.

Holding his shield in front, as he ran, it was able to cover half his frame. But Barran wasn't going to run for long, he was merely gaining speed before he would fly. Leaping into the air, he fired the jumpjets, max power. He brought his shield underneath him and rode it like a sled.

"Woohoo," Barran yelled as a railgun round hit his shield. The new composite could take a beating, even from the power from railgun rounds.

Underneath him, the orange dots moved as the photon cadet moved to intercept. Barran laughed, he was sure they were right into Daedo's sneaky hands.

After flying for twenty , Barran began to twist into barrel roll while strafing towards the ground, and his victim. The movements would make hitting him difficult, his armour could take a few hits, but it was always his aim to mitigate as much damage as possible.

His target moved out of the way as Barran's shield struck the spot he was standing moments ago, they both quickly as the third member to the party arrived. The Shu Photon wielder, Sandor, landed and was running the last few steps to intercept him before he could engage Jakov.

Barran smiled, as the thought ran through his mind, 'perfect Daedo, perfect.'

A barrage of grenades was landing on and around Jakov. As Barran faced the photon

Its colloquial name came from streams, however, it was not made of photons, it used technology to the PPC. The consisted of particles inside a field, and the length was dictated by a thin central element.

As they Barran activated a particle burst from his glove and directed it at the It blinked out. He could not see the Shu cadet's face, but Barran had to assume he was surprised as fuck.

M3AIS had trained with their squad, they thought they knew all the tricks that could be thrown at them. Sandor knew Barran's style and capability. And although Daedo had warned Siderus, again and again, the photon was susceptible to , he continued to use it. There was a reason no Tier one squad used this weapon. And Sandor was learning why, the hard way.

Barran hoped Miss Moreau was watching as he decimated the best from M3. Albeit he had no , but that was hardly his problem.

Before finishing Sandor, he copped a round in the back. Jakov was under pressure from the Thoth liberos, but he was still able to hit Barran.

Barran spun after Sandor went down, he didn't have to find Jakov, the red dot was clearly visible on his minimap, and he flew directly at the M3 cadet.

He brought his shield up, but it did little to assist, he was being pummeled from all sides now. Siderus' squad had reacted to his presence within their ranks, Barran was being hit by grenades and railgun rounds. His armour was dropping fast.

"No," he screamed. There was no cover, nowhere to hide. How was he going to impress Moreau if he only killed one cadet!? There was only one , he barged into Jakov as the Amun-Ra cadet attempted to escape.

The M3 cadet was fast, but not fast enough, Barran had dropped his and shield before he grabbed Jakov. He pulled the M3 cadet close and headbutted him with all his strength. They were both in three-point-two exos, but Barran was a melee expert where Jakov was a libero. He was probably as surprised as Sandor was thirty ago.

By holding Jakov close, Barran was able to smash him, using a fist, knee and head. The wiry cadet was taller, experienced and well trained, but probably had not fought in this before. Neither had Barran, but that didn't stop him when he was inspired.

As soon as it was clear Jakov was doomed, the assault on Barran Siderus had momentarily called a halt not wanting to damage his own cadet, but there was no point in protecting him from friendly fire now.

Barran had to be content that he Jakov by a few

The AR adjudicator deactivated his movement, and he lay there looking up at the sky. Poor Jakov had not been protected from the assault by the AR adjudicator, and both their exos were worse for wear. But Jakov was certainly covered in bruises, the Amun-Ra hotties would not be happy.

Barran smiled, as he watched a cloud pass by, Moreau was in Horus.

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