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Chapter 104 : Secret Base


Attendance at Fortescue Military Academy M1 Y:2142

House Thoth, Squad Leader, Squad Zero

M1 Rank: 1/1275, Tier 3 M-Rank: Null

Term: 3, Round: 1

Daedalus Overall Financial : -1,760,000 bitcreds


"We have a lot of interest for the melee mech. Some want to use it for sword and board as well," Barran said happily.

"We need to set pricing and give schedules. Daedo we need your input on this regarding costs and obsolescence. If this mech obsolete in a month, we could damage our by selling too many units at a high cost. Not without informing the customers that a new model is coming," Axelzero added.

Daedo looked at Axelzero her She was improving every day with the business side, and surprisingly she and Barran made an excellent team. One was risk-averse, and the other would jump off a cliff to test never before used jumpjets.

"Pricing has nothing to do with costs, but, I agree with obsolescence. At the moment everyone thinks we are geniuses if a little na?ve because of our age. But they are not expecting to get ripped off by us, their is that we are trustworthy because we are young and na?ve," Barran added.

"I need time to ramp up , and we can lock in the current model for a year. Let them know the new model won't be out for twelve months," Daedo said. "Even if we improve the Inter-Academy mech, we don't have to redesign the pro league variant."

"How many in the next month, you've had a week to get the inter-academy models out," Axelzero said. It was Sunday, the last day of break and Term three would begin tomorrow.

"We can build one per day, but that consumes the entire workshop capacity including the staggered of materials and parts,' Daedo stated. "We would want capacity for our other projects, and we should be getting closer to a military contract with the exos. The three point-two model is much better than their current."

"Can we increase capacity? Because if we land that contract either we build those exos or we will have to it out," Axelzero said. " would be a better as far as capital expense and capability."

"We need the manufacturing capability," Daedo said.

"Why?" Axelzero asked.

"Because a hundred thousand exo soldiers are not enough to defend the EU and Africa," Daedo said.

Axelzero looked concerned and asked, "Have you looked at the Spiral report?"

"Yes," Daedo said sadly. "It's the worst possible Nearly every company with a Private Military has shares or is in partnership with a shareholder. The evidence suggests they all have the capability to leave once the spiral is complete."

"Which is when?" Barran asked.

"The first stage will be completed next year," Axelzero said. "The entire project is four years. And that's excluding some of the biggest companies already have bases on Mars or Titan."

"Those bases lose tonnes of creds," Barran observed.

"Not if they all moved off-world. Those bases would then incredible investments in terms of experience and supply," Daedo responded.

"We're getting off-track," Axelzero said. "Let's start at manufacturing capacity and work up a timeline for We can commit to a certain number of units and begin to add capacity for the exo ;

"We already have," Daedo said confidently. "The Eye of the Sahara base will our main base of manufacturing."

"Because of space? Or the of materials?" Axelzero asked.

"All of the above and a few more reasons. You and Vannier will need to ensure we are rock solid with the local government and I will take care of the rest," Daedo said ambiguously.

"I'd like all the facts if I am to ensure from a small African government. Unless you are thinking we put them on the payroll?"

"The mining and refining is stage one. Manufacturing is stage two. At every stage, we will be building a defensive base to protect our assets. The is remote, and the locals use easily identifiable vehicles. Anything else will send off an alert."

"What's stage three?" Barran asked. The was killing him.

"A larger base. When I don't know. But it is a good for a base of to protect Africa and southern Europe," Daedo stated.

"Yes! Our own secret military base! I'm in," Barran said excitedly.

"It's not a secret. We just don't advertise it," Daedo said.

"Will this base be able to handle large-scale exo ; Axelzero asked.

"In a few months, yes," Daedo replied, and he brought up the for the base which showed stage one and two.

"Holy!" Barran

"That's amazing," Axelzero said. "When did you all this?"

"When we decided to set up a mine there," Daedo said.

"What's that above the groundwater?" Barran asked.

"Hydroponic farms," Daedo replied.

"So this will be self-sufficient?"

"It has to be," Daedo said.

"Those farms are massive. And no one will know they are there. How far underground are they?" Barran the trying to see depth.

"The groundwater starts at three kilometres at this point. We are well above that. The ceiling of the hydroponic and algae farms is one kilometre underground." Daedo said.

Axelzero sighed. She swept her hand through the "Ahem," she said. "So we will schedule a maximum of ten mechs per month for the next three months. This leaves the workshop plenty of capacity for other endeavours. And after this, I assume we can manufacture as much as we can sell?"

"I wouldn't. I will send you monthly updates with manufacturing capacity including specifying internal requirements for R and D, , etcetera. You can assess and make your own That will be a more efficient method than what we are currently doing."

"Except I wouldn't find out all this juicy on secret bases!" Barran

"You should keep us informed of these Daedo. Especially when there are costs involved," Axelzero lectured.

"Ok. I will," he said looking sheepish. He looked at Axelzero sincerely and added, "Sorry."

Axelzero grabbed his face gently. She smiled and responded, "We know you mean well."

After an awkward silence, Barran interrupted.

"We just need to determine the price," Barran said boisterously.

"You can see the material costs in the ," Daedo said.

"We will work out the prices based on the cost and capability. There's no need to worry Daedo with this stuff Barran," Axelzero said.

"But you were the one who wanted…," Barran began before Axelzero shushed him.

"We can work it out now. We have the we needed regarding capacity and new models."

Daedo nodded, "Ok. I'll be in VR if you need me." He put on his helmet and disappeared into his own world of designs, and research with Myrmidon.

Axelzero pulled Barran aside and looked at the taller cadet while speaking , "He has so much on his We need to be running this now."

"Okay," Barran stated simply looking dumbfounded by the statement. "I thought I was already running things?"

"I mean we need to be more independent. We only have to worry about working in with capacity and technology. Otherwise, we should just move forward and get things done. If anyone has an issue, they can pick it up in the weekly reports."

"Your reports are too long by the way," he lectured.

"And yours are too short!" Axelzero struck back before changing the subject. "What are our competitors charging and how does it compare with the Titan model?"

"A hundred thousand for a piece of shit. And no one buys the current Svarski and DaVinci models for the pro league. They are too expensive at five hundred thousand," Barran summed up the market simply.

"Hundred and fifty? Is that affordable?" Axelzero asked.

"Let's list at two hundred thousand, and if we don't sell ten a month we can lower the price," Barran suggested. "We can also advise there will only be ten per month for the first four months."

"What's the total market size? Do you know?" Axelzero asked.

"If we just stick to top-tier pro leagues its six hundred mechs," Barran said.

"Given that size, we could probably limit it to one hundred models only. First in best dressed," Axelzero said.

"That's only twenty bitcreds," Barran said.

Axelzero gaped at him.

"I have to make a remember!"

"Followup your pseudo mentor from Marais. Ensure he has everything he needs to make the exo sale to the EUDF," Axelzero directed. "And…" she said tongue in cheek, "That's a profit. Not revenue."


Vannier, Mace and Daedo were topside watching the U3 cadets practice in the new Daedalus mechs. It was the first week of Term three, and they would have their first Inter-Academy round this weekend.

Each round of the Inter-Academy lined up with their internal rounds. Which meant after the first weekend there would be matches every weekend. However to cut down travel and expedite home and away matches three Academies would meet each round at one venue.

This weekend Fortescue would host both Humboldt and Seoul Military academies and each team would have two matches.

FMA Twenty-week season schedule.

R1, Home, Humboldt MA, Term 3, Round 1

R1, Home, Seoul MA, Term 3, Round 1

R2, Away - H, MA, Term 3, Round 2

R2, Away, Tsinghua MA, Term 3, Round 2

R3, Home, ETH Zurich, Term 3, Round 3

R3, Home, Udon Thani MA, Term 3, Round 3

R4, Away - H, Tehran Mech, Term 3, Round 4

R4, Away, Mumbai MA, Term 3, Round 4

R5, Home, Heidelberg MA, Term 3, Round 5

R5, Home, KAIST, Term 3, Round 5

R5, Home, Lockhead Martin MA, Term 3, Round 5

R6, Away, Humboldt MA, Term 4, Round 1

R6, Away - H, Seoul MA, Term 4, Round 1

R7, Home, MA, Term 4, Round 2

R7, Home, Tsinghua MA, Term 4, Round 2

R8, Away - H, ETH Zurich, Term 4, Round 3

R8, Away, Udon Thani MA, Term 4, Round 3

R9, Home, Tehran Mech, Term 4, Round 4

R9, Home, Mumbai MA, Term 4, Round 4

R10, Away, Heidelberg MA, Term 4, Round 5

R10, Away - H, KAIST, Term 4, Round 5

R10, Away, Lockhead Martin MA, Term 4, Round 5

R11, Mass 12 v 12, All Academies, Term 4, After Round 5

No matches to be held during the break with the of the last twelve versus twelve mass combat as the penultimate match of the season; the points won could decide which Academy is demoted and promoted.

Round five and ten were super weekends with four Academies attending one venue. This system allowed equal home and away matches as well as meeting each opposing team twice during the home and away season.

"What do you think?" Daedo asked. They had been monitoring comms, HUDs and as well as performance.

"I'm not an expert, but I think that while their piloting is above average, their teamwork is abysmal. There is no synergy," Vannier replied.

"That will take time. What do you think of leadership?" Daedo asked.

"There is none. But I don't have enough to make an analysis. Krecke could be a quiet type who seeds. I wouldn't know," Vannier replied.

"Do you see any candidates other than Krecke? Supposing we put her in as tactician and another as leader."

"With Romulus in the squad no. Unless you make him the leader and Krecke calls the shots," Vannier "But I wouldn't make him the leader. He has no empathy."

Daedo sighed. Back to the stalemate with Krecke and Romulus.

He stood and stated, "As long as they finish mid table we are fine. It may be too big of an ask to gain ;

He turned to Mace.

"I have the data," she said, "I will forward it to Krecke."

"Witch, had no problem learning Myrmidon's system?" Daedo asked. Witch was Mace's AI and one of the best in the squad after Myrmidon.

"She's good," Mace replied.

"You have enough time to take this on? You have a lot on your ," Daedo asked.

"Witch is doing most of the work, and we would be watching the matches anyway. And I can always do other work when they are practising while Witch gathers the data."

"How is the IBA? Have you nailed them yet?" Daedo asked.

"I'm close," Mace said smiling mischievously.


The hook was in after a brief between Inspector Ichinose and the IBA executive. Charles.

Mace began to pull through the tunneler using the hook. She was watching for alerts, anything that was triggered by the hack. a tunneler was to finding a back door, except in this case you were creating your own back door. They were not foolproof, because once inside the system you could still be detected.

She had learned the basics from her parents, where her father was a , her mother was the hacker. It was her father who performed human hacks. Or mundane hacks as he called them. That was where he tricked someone into giving or otherwise gained to a system using the human as the weakest point of defence. While her mother would do everything else.

Both sides were equally difficult, and neither could operate alone. Mace was more like her mother; she wasn't able to secure leaks like her father could, but her skills were getting closer to her mother's every day.

The tunnel was in Mace checked all the measures she knew about and double checked to be sure she was hidden before uploading the rootkit. There would be no point uploading it if she were detected and it would mean a lot more legal trouble than merely snooping.

She hid the rootkit amongst the massive amounts of media files, slowly uploading it a few bytes at a time. No security system would be able to detect the minute amount of traffic when it came to media, as that data fluctuated massively from to

The rootkit was in hidden within the executive's media files. Charles, as he was known, wouldn't know what hit him. The last hurdle was executing the rootkit without Mace checked the security systems, and she was worried. She was unsure whether it would go untraced. The IBA had high-level bespoke systems she had never seen.

Mace: Mother. I need your help with something.

Adele: nice to hear from you dear. Oh, I am fine. How are you?

Mace: sorry mum. I know you're on assignment. I don't like to intrude unless it's important.

Adele: you mean, you're always busy, and you don't have time for your mother anymore. But I digress. I should be happy you contacted me. What do you need?

Mace: I have a tunnel in with an IBA executive. I landed the rootkit, I just need you to check if I can execute or if there is something that needs disabling first.

Adele: oh dear. The IBA? What are you kids into this time?

Mace: they stole from us mom. The assholes had us disqualified, so they didn't have to pay out on a bet. You didn't see the streams we put out?

Adele: They went to all that trouble for a bet?

Mace: it was over a 2mil cred payout. Potentially 4.

Adele: oh… I see…I will help on one

Mace: what mom?

Adele: tell me the truth. You like that boy don't you?

Mace: MOM!

Adele: just don't let it get in the way of your Ameline.


Adele: I'll take that as a yes. Send me the tunnel specs and address; I'll take a quick look and disable the security for you.

Mace: you need to show me what you do because I need to learn this.

Adele: very well. Follow me.

Mace's mother, Adele, went into the IBA system. She quickly identified the lurking security systems, but she did not disable them. She created a compartment that was hidden from the security and ran the rootkit within it. Once the rootkit was activated she removed the compartment.

Mace: wow.

Adele: is the key dear. If they can't see you, they can't detect you.

Mace: thanks, mom.

Adele: don't be a stranger. Even if we are separated by distance, we can always have a virtual get together every now and then. You can't be that busy. Surely.

Mace: you have no idea.

The rootkit was in on Charles from the IBA. Who was the Executive in charge of security ironically. Now all she had to do was wait and while incriminating flowed to them. A suitable opportunity would present itself sooner or later. She felt like a cat waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting rodent.

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