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Chapter 98 : M1 - Term: 2 to 3, Break

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 to 3, Break

Daedalus Operating Capital: <1,660,000> bitcreds

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The jets of the VTOL were loud.

Barran covered his ears and yelled, "Is this the ;

Daedo pointed to his helmet and then at Barran's head.

Daedo: put your helmet back on. It has noise cancelling.

Picard: It's damn hot. Forty-two degrees C. I'm the Daedalus bodysuit is Axel's top model.

Daedo: when we land you and Barran will be in the Mechs. They have climate control. You won't notice a thing.

Barran: Yeah that's much better. I how loud these things were.

The VTOL landed and as the jets powered down the ambient noise reduced. Daedo and Mace got into exos, while Picard and Barran were jumping into their assigned the two mechs. The exos were not the same as the arena , they had been fitted with full life-support capability to the mechs.

Daedo: Barran; zone one is marked on your HUD reactor to go down first. I'll come and start it up.

The zones and assignments were pre- it was simple enough to use the same systems they used for combat in what was ostensibly a mobile refinery and manufacturing The machines were small compared to industrial scale, but they could use these machines to build more. All they needed were raw materials, most of which surrounded them.

Mace was herding the robots from the VTOL as Jeram looked on. He was not part of the merely the taxi driver.

Jeram: when you guys told me that colony builder is what you did for fun; I thought you were crazy. But, I admit it now, this is pretty awesome. And damn its hot. It just hit forty-three!

Daedo wasn't sure if Jeram bought the story, but there wasn't much they could do, and they would simply not tell him anything else. If he was able to work something out, so be it. Even then it was three steps from the truth Daedo wanted to hide. The land and rights were all in Daedalus hands now. The Mauritania government was to say the least. Daedalus was an EU company and Mauritania, like all African countries, was an EU treaty state.

The setup was to the northwest of the Richat Structure, otherwise known as the Eye of the Sahara. Buried deep below the earth was the arkernite Daedo was after. The prospecting drones had found a sample next to a kernite deposit, but only at this There was no sign of it anywhere else.

Barran: the eye is cool. Can I walk on it later?

Daedo: no, it's and unique in the world. We promised not to harm it in any way, and it's not part of our land. We are on the boundary of our property here.

Daedo was going to mine the arkernite beneath it and had the rights to do so. It could easily be done without eroding or the anomaly.

The two fifteen-tonne mechs easily lifted and walked a two-tonne reactor into Then the foundry, and after that the modified recycler which would be used initially to refine before they could build a proper refinery in situ. The machinery was still heavily wrapped to stop sand getting into

Barran dragged out the mobile constructofoam They had enough material to build a shed big enough to the base for the first month. Ikaros had prepared four heavy bots to assist, ensuring he added all the heat and sand measures he knew about from his years spent in the Fortescue facility.

Daedo was fortunate to be able to draw on his Father's experience. Ikaros had repaired machines and bots for Fortescue customers for years. Machines which operated in harsh , such as the Sahara, were , but would show up in the main Fortescue repair facility

At this stage, the work was not highly skilled. It had been and programmed to the nth degree. Picard and Barran had the entire design appear virtually on their HUDs and Mace monitored to ensure everything went to Daedo was nervous without his Father here to oversee everything, but it was a necessary part of the This supposedly was a cadet exercise.

After an hour of setting up the base was almost complete.

Picard: Um. Daedo. We have visitors.

Daedo looked to the west, Picard had pinged and shared her HUD. An ancient vehicle approached, and it was open air with four Interestingly, other than the driver they all had guns. The one at the back was operating a vehicle mounted gun.

As they pulled up, one of the fired a warning shot. He had much darker skin than Daedo, which was normal for the locals, he wore a scarf around his face but was surprisingly on the shoulders.

Barran: they're firing on us. Should I take care of them?

Picard: he fired into the air, and I am certain they could shoot you all day and run out of ammo before you noticed.

Barran: look at their autotruck, its… Is it powered with fossil fuel?

Daedo wished Vannier was here, the locals didn't look happy. Confident in his exo he made his way over to the visitors. The entire squad was unarmed, ranged-weapon-wise, except for the VTOL which had two sentry guns. Those guns would be massive overkill if something went wrong. Daedo knew that his squad would have to separate the men from their weapons by armoured hand if it came to that.

Not wanting to remove his helmet Daedo spoke to them using the external comm system.

"Hi, can I help you?" Daedo asked politely.

They spoke in an language.

"Do you speak universal?" Daedo asked.

Their body language indicated they did not. And they were not happy; pointing at the work and the VTOL in an animated with their assault rifles.

Picard: try French.

Daedo spoke French which he had learned as part of cyberschool, "Do you speak French?" He asked.

It seemed they understood French as they looked at one another and one spoke, "You should not be here."

Mace: show them the government documents.

Picard: you really think that will help?

Mace: its worth a try.

Barran: Pfft. point the big guns at them and tell them to fark off.

Daedo ignored Barran although his method was more likely to But they were going to be neighbours, and he didn't want to have to set up security which would have to deal with antagonised locals. The security itself was not an issue, it was what came after.

"We have And we own this land," Daedo said simply. He brought up the local government documents showing title, and mining rights.

The documents did not make the locals angry, but the words certainly did. "You do not own this land it belongs to our people. The Wadan."

"Unfortunately for you, the sovereign government of this area disagrees with your Your argument is not with me but with them," Daedo said.

"No. You are here. You must leave. You do not have our to build here," the local said angrily.

Daedo looked around. Other than the Eye of the Sahara, there was nothing to be seen except sand.

"You aren't using it," he stated simply.

"It is sacred land," the local replied. "Not for you. You are not ;

"Why is it sacred?" Daedo asked.

"I cannot teach you!" The local said angrily. "You would not understand."

"We to be here for a long time because we have the right. We can talk and work something out so you will be happy. But in the end, if you are not happy, we will not leave. We are not weak, and we will not be pushed around," Daedo said emphatically.

One aimed his assault rifle at Daedo, while another presumably for the driver and another passenger. The driver pushed the assault rifle barrel down towards the ground and said something in their native tongue.

The yelled, in French, as the vehicle turned around and took off, "Come to and talk if you not afraid."

Daedo: Mace can you track them?

Mace: already done.

Jeram: that was hairy. How do you manage to come to the most remote and inhospitable on earth and still be treading on other people's toes?

Barran: it's a talent. Angry people find us wherever we go.

Picard: no one was angry at us in Nanterre or Munich.

Barran: just seems that way to me.

Daedo: or Zurich.

Barran: ok!

Picard: or Loire Valley.

Barran: that's enough. Ok just here and the Academy. Happy now?!

Daedo: we need to finish up and then head around to their

Picard: I know why they have an ancient vehicle. There are no mag roads within a hundred kays of here.

Barran: yeah. Hovercars wouldn't work.

Daedo: it was a hybrid electric with fossil fuel. Maybe they just use the fossil fuel as a backup.

Mace: that's probably correct. But I never thought I'd see one in actual use.

Jeram: remote tribes often use centuries-old technology.

Picard: what do they spend their UBI on?

Daedo: if you don't pass P7 of cyberschool you don't get UBI in Africa.

Mace: And they couldn't speak universal.

It was a logical that if the men couldn't speak universal they probably never completed P7 of cyberschool and therefore didn't qualify to receive Universal Basic unlike most citizens of the world.

Daedo: Let's finish getting all this together so we can start mining. We will probably have to get some security in before we leave. Are you good for a round trip Jeram?

Jeram: yeah. With this light of a load, the drives don't use much.

Daedo: Barran; leave your Mech here, go back with Jeram and bring back sentries, foam and drones. Enough to protect our assets.

Barran: can do.

Jeram: We need to unload all the supplies into the base and then we can take off. It will take a few hours for the roundtrip.

Barran: I will talk to Ikaros, hopefully, we can have the gear at the hub waiting for us. Or on its way at least.

The base was coming together with constructafoam floors, walls and ceiling it was built well enough to keep the sand and sun out. The initial was to mine enough iron ore, silica, amber, kernite, copper and hydrocarbon liquids. With small amounts of these base materials, the base would move into stage two. And at the same time, a mining drone would retrieve some arkernite.

Aemo would run the entire mining and refining , while Daedo was overseeing the manufacturing and remotely.

Once a small amount of arkernite was in hand, Daedo would examine and announce the organically. Hopefully without close scrutiny due to the tremendous luck involved.

Mace: I have their

Picard: did they just expect us to follow? Or that we knew where their was?

Daedo: it's not hidden, I can see it on the live public satellite map.

Mace: are we hidden?

Daedo: no. Can we be?

Mace: anything is possible. You just have to know who to ask.

Daedo: I'm not concerned. We own everything here that we need.

Daedo, Mace and Picard ran to the in exos, leaving the two mechs behind.

"Are you keeping an eye on the base?" Daedo asked through voice comms shared between the three remaining Daedalus members.

"Yes. I left one of my friends there, I can see everything for a few kilometres," Mace replied.

"Who wants to take point at the ; Daedo asked.

"I think it has to be you. We will provide backup," Mace said supportively.

"Sorry, Daedo. Without Vannier, you have no one to pass the buck to," Picard observed.

"Barran would have volunteered," Daedo sadly.

"Yeah, and you'd let him?" Picard asked with a laugh.

With jumpjets, the exos were almost as fast as the ancient truck. Daedo checked the systems, the amount of sand and heat had him concerned, they weren't used to operating in this type of environment. He was happy that the arkernite prompted him to establish a base here. All his invented reasons were built on sound logic.

Testing of equipment in harsh environments. Experience with building a remote base, from scratch, in an inhospitable environment. And even establishing the remote base as insurance for an alien made sense.

The halted at the outskirts of the The housing was sparse, they could not have been more than a few thousand people living here. Their base was on the northeast of the Eye of Sahara, and this was on the southwest. Which was probably the reason the government allowed the Daedalus in that area as opposed to closer to this

The homes were either square or rectangle, and it was immediately they were not made from constructafoam. They were constructed with some sort of earthen brick.

"I guess they don't have many issues with snow on their roof. They're all ," Picard observed.

"Or water," Mace added.

There was a central well in the , it was probably tapping the aquifer that Aemo's drones had found. So much for It just wasn't mapped or

Daedo removed his helmet, despite the heat he was sure locals would respond better to a face. The exo was covering most of his body and would keep him cool.

"I hope they take us inside. I don't want to get burnt," Mace said.

Picard adjusted her helmet to sit on top of her head and showed Mace how to do it.

"Thanks," she said.

Daedo walked slowly into the , followed by his two squadmates. They were all unarmed, and now their heads were unprotected.

The streets cleared before them. Women and children who were busy working or had disappeared in moments.

"I don't think they get many visitors here," Picard said.

"They probably don't get many that come in a carrier half the size of their ," Mace observed. It was an , but not by much.

Before they reached the centre, a cadre of men approached them headed by the leader presumably. It was a blessing when he spoke in fluent universal.

"Hello. to our ," the man said. He looked haggard, but there was no grey in his hair. It was likely his skin was weathered by the which made him look older than his natural age. His skin tone was darker than Daedo's, as was his hair.

"Thank you," Daedo replied. "We are pleased to receive a kinder this time. I am Daedo, this is Mace, and this is Picard. May I ask your name?" He said while introducing his two friends.

"I am Berko," he replied. "You surprised some of our men with the large vehicle. What was it?"

"It was a carrier. It has to be large to carry our equipment. As you can see we have no weapons and we meant no harm," Daedo said.

"I understand," Berko replied. "The men said you had documents. Can you show me?"

Daedo pulled up the documents regarding the land titles, mining rights and licenses that Axelzero had procured from the Mauritanian Government and the EU.

"I see," he said Daedo was sure he had no idea what he was looking at.

"Berko," Daedo announced. "We wish to be good neighbours. We wish to be friends with the Wadan."

"This is good to hear, but your creds are not We cannot be bought young man," Berko said looking at Daedo

Daedo smiled. They had not judged him a child, they assumed he was a young man by looking at his

"We will never give you creds," Daedo said smiling. "Not unless we owed them to you for a good or service that you provided."

"We are concerned with noise, with and most of all we are concerned about young Daedo," Berko said sternly.

"I am concerned with security. With protecting our assets. I do not wish your people to break the law by sneaking into our base and damaging equipment," Daedo replied.

"You us?" Berko asked.

"You us?" Daedo retorted.

Berko was confused for a moment before he realised the point Daedo was making. And he smiled broadly.

"If you meet our concerns. We will meet yours," Berko said.

Daedo nodded. "We can meet yours, Sir," he said respectfully.

Berko held out a hand to shake which Daedo took.

"I have a Berko," Daedo asked, and the man tilted his head indicating he was listening.

"Do your children attend cyberschool?" Daedo asked.

"No our machines keep breaking, and the government does not send new ones. We cannot afford to keep them," Berko said.

"Would you be offended if I built a cyberschool venue. I could design it to reach the net and keep the machines from breaking. We could also power it and the entire ," Daedo offered.

"It is possible this would be offensive to some. We will have a vote whether we will your gift and I will it has nothing to do with our bargain," Berko said.

Cyberschool was free to all children. However, there was an issue if you could not it.

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