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: 3

Daedalus Operating Capital: 160,000 bitcreds

They were alone in the library again. Fortescue and the older cadets had left five minutes ago while the squad remained quiet in their study room, not wanting to open the door or move for fear of being discovered. After five minutes had passed, they felt comfortable enough to talk, although Mace left her spy-der drone at the main entrance just in case.

“You gotta admit, Fortescue is kinda ballsy” Barran observed. Unsurprisingly he received looks of condemnation.

“Don’t even go there,” Picard said angrily. “What are we going to do?” She asked in a concerned tone looking at Vannier and Daedo.

“We could turn in the recording,” Vannier said, “But who would we give it to?”

“Master Nader?” Axelzero asked.

“Wait,” Barran said, “Why would he hand this in? This is leverage.”

“I agree with Barran,” Mace said, “We should hold on to this and use it when needed.” The cadets expected this sort of thinking from Barran, but the statement coming from Mace surprised everyone except Daedo. She had displayed insight and cunning on many occasions.

“We can’t let this go. It could be dangerous for the M3 cadets.” Picard said distressed. She didn’t like rich kids, but she would naturally side with the underdog, and on this occasion, the M3 cadets were being pushed around by the more powerful Fortescue.

“Does the military implement gene therapy on its soldiers?” Daedo asked Picard.

“Not that I know of. I wouldn’t put it past Private Military though,” she replied.

“The ones we fought weren’t fast enough to have had successful gene therapy,” Mace said.

“I agree with Barran and Mace, we should hold onto it,” Kang piped up. “And I want to see the vid when you show that rich bitch the recording.”

“Kang!” Picard said distressed. “This isn’t natural.”

“Neither is colouring your hair,” Kang observed pointing out that both Picard and Vannier had their hair colour altered genetically.

“That isn’t the same. It’s a very simple procedure and has been done millions of times. It’s perfectly safe.” Vannier stated.

“Whose to say what Fortescue is proposing isn’t safe? Those M3 cadets can make up their own mind,” Kang argued.

“She’s right, it’s the match-fixing where we really have her,” Barran stated.

“The M3 cadets desperately want to be on the first team,” Daedo said. “They might do something they normally wouldn’t agree to just to get onto the team.”

“Daedo,” Vannier said seriously, “Three of us want to turn this information in, to at least Master Nader, and the other three want to hold onto it.”

“Wait who is the three to turn it in?” Barran asked.

“Me, Picard and Vannier,” Axelzero said.

Barran made the oh movements with his mouth without saying anything, and then he looked at Daedo, “You haven’t chosen a side. What do you think?”

Daedo began to wonder why they were at this Academy.

They had the creds and ability to go elsewhere. Somewhere far superior. He had no allegiance to Fortescue, on the contrary, his Father would have preferred he go somewhere else, they just couldn’t afford it at the time. And then once things were set in motion, they never considered changing.

Daedo only knew Fortescue from the daughter, but everything she said, and did, was in character with actions from the inept company. They had no forward thinking, nor investment in terms of research, they owned space on the spiral, but other than that they seemed to make no preparations, no investment to combat the supposed future invasion. He wondered if their strategy was to just up and run when the time came.

Although he would condone any strategy that won, because there was no such thing as cheating in war. All Fortescue, the company and the family, did was manipulate and use others. They not only did not contribute to the greater effort in the slightest. Of all the large companies, they actually hindered progress. And that was something he would not forgive.

“Fuck Fortescue,” Daedo said.

“Yes. Insightful as always great leader, but do you mean the Academy, the company or the girl in M1?,” Barran asked with a hint of humour.

“Or all of the above?” Vannier asked, and Daedo nodded sadly before sitting down. He tried to go back to work on his propulsion research.

“Hey, we’re having a conversation here?” Barran asked. “We need to decide what we are going to do?”

Daedo stopped for a moment. “I am going back to work, and I won’t tell Picard, Axelzero or Vannier not to intervene if they think its wrong.”

“But we have an opportunity here,” Barran said speaking for Kang, himself and Mace.

“An opportunity to do what?” Daedo asked. “What could Fortescue possibly do for us?”

Barran shrugged.

“I have a compromise,” Vannier said. “Why don’t we give the information regarding the gene therapy to Master Nader to take further and we hold and hide the information on the match-fixing?”

Barran grinned, “Deal! That works for me.” With that statement, Mace nodded, and Kang shrugged.

“I don’t really care that much,” Kang said.

“Daedo, there is something else we need to discuss. How are we going to get on the Inter-Academy team or is it even important at all?” Vannier asked.

Daedo sighed, “You are right. Let’s discuss this now.”

“And by ‘discuss’ you mean you tell us what we are doing right?” Barran asked genuinely.

“I can extrapolate what we know, and then we can decide what we want,” Daedo began.

“We know Fortescue is a dysfunctional organisation, there is plenty of evidence to validate this. We could have helped, but their actions continually show we will not be allowed to. Not at first,” Daedo qualified.

“If we continue to progress our exo tech and they perform well in it, this will help Daedalus, but we will not be getting the practical experience from Inter-Academy matches. We will, however, get practice sessions with the first, second and third string teams during the week if we choose. If they try to deny us even this, we will pull the exo, as we will make it part of the deal.” Daedo stated.

“It is possible a few of us will be allowed to participate in the Gauntlet. As you know, you can’t be in the first team and compete the Gauntlet event. So if we are ranking in the top ten in M3, we will have a good opportunity to complete in the Inter-Academy Gauntlet.” Daedo said.

Vannier interrupted, “But that’s not practical experience, we may as well stay at the workshop.”

Daedo nodded, “But it is still exposure for our exo. We need bitcreds and a lot more of them.”

“I am all for getting as many bitcreds as we can, but you haven’t exactly told us why,” Barran said.

“I know some details, but I think Barran is right, I think its time to share the plan so we can all work towards it together,” Vannier said calmly and pleadingly.

“I haven’t shared plans because I don’t have any firm plans. Just ideas,” Daedo said.

“What are the ideas?” Mace asked curiously.

“A launchpad from the spiral, growing our manufacturing base and preparing for the invasion,” Daedo said.

“If we are staying to defend against the invasion, why do we need a launchpad on the spiral. Isn’t that for the ultra-rich and their companies to escape the planet?” Axelzero asked.

“None of your families have space on the spiral do they?” Daedo asked.

Everyone shook their head.

“My parents don’t even believe there is an invasion coming they are like Mace’s they think its paranoia or a conspiracy for tax credits,” Axelzero said.

Vannier agreed, “Mine are the same.”

“Mine are so tightfisted and shortsighted they will wait to see the alien ships and then spend everything they have to escape,” Barran said.

“As you know my Father only cares about pro league,” Kang said.

Picard shrugged, “Mine don’t talk about anything like that.”

“Don’t or won’t?” Barran asked.

Picard shrugged again, “Take your pick.”

“The reason I want space on the spiral is so we can build an off-world mining and manufacturing base before the invasion,” Daedo stated calmly.

“Holy fucking what?” Barran bawled.”I thought you would stop surprising me with this shit, but, crap. That is some out there thinking.”

“Hence the need for a billion bitcreds. You weren’t joking,” Axelzero said.

“It’s just an idea at this stage,” Daedo said. “But if the enemy has us boxed in here, we need a plan B.”

“And they probably know all about us. Where we know nothing about them,” Vannier said sharing her thoughts out loud.

Daedo was quiet. He did know a little. But he couldn’t share. Not yet.

“The main goals for this year are to continue our research and to make bitcreds? Correct?” Mace asked. She was astute as always.

Daedo nodded. “We can’t do much without a fortune. And the best way to make a fortune while improving our capability is with advanced tech. While our skills are important, they are secondary to these two goals.”

“And that’s what you meant when you said ‘Fuck Fortescue’ which I loved by the way,” Barran said. “I didn’t think you used words like that.”

“I save them for rare occasions,” Daedo said smiling.

“And for effect,” Vannier noticed.

Daedo nodded.

“Shit. Being with you guys is like being with a bunch of world-class crazy genius mother fuckers,” Kang said excitedly.

“But you like it?” Picard asked.

“Yeah its getting interesting now! All the research, academic, training and building without catching a breath was… well, it was intense. But, this is some next level shit,” Kang said.

“What do you think Picard?” Daedo asked. She never offered opinions where Vannier and Barran always did.

“Although it’s not a plan, yet, I like it. I am simple, I will just do my thing kicking your arse on the mat,” She said.

“Axelzero?” Vannier asked.

“I’m in. I know this is more than what we discussed when we started Daedalus and even if we are wrong, who cares. We aren’t hurting anyone,” Axelzero said.

Daedo looked at Mace. She merely nodded once.

“Okay. I think we are all in for the crazy mother, ahem, plan to dominate this planet and outer space in the name of Daedalus protector of Earth,” Vannier announced with enthusiasm.

Kang scoffed. “Dontcha think that’s going too far? We’re like thirteen?”

The six original members of Daedalus disagreed, and they showed Kang this with serious silence in response to her question.

“Really?” Kang asked.

“Yes really,” Picard replied.

“Who’s going to deliver this information to Master Nader?” Vannier asked changing the subject. She looked at Daedo.

“Daedo,” Barran said.

“Daedo,” Kang said.

“Daedo,” Axelzero said.

“Daedo,” Mace said with a large grin at Daedo.

“I guess you’re all too chicken,” Daedo said.

“I can come with you if you like,” Vannier offered, and Daedo shook his head. Vannier noticed the change in behaviour over the last five weeks. “You take me less and less, I am beginning to think..”

“You have a thing with Nader!” Barran interrupted, and everyone laughed.

The look on Daedo’s face said ‘if you only knew’, but it was lost on the squad. They had no conception of what had been happening. Why would they?

Sufficient time had passed, and the library had been quiet for an hour, so the squad left their study room to head back to their quarters. It had become the norm that when they walked through the academy other squads would stand aside and stare. It was normal for squad zero, but it still irked Kang.

“Why do they do that?” She asked looking at M3 Osiris squad fourteen who had stopped walking, moved to the side of the corridor and just watched them pass by while whispering to each other.

Picard, who had become Kang’s best friend in the squad and probably the world because she wasn’t the easiest person to get along with answered, “It’s the same on a military base, minus the whispering when a high ranking officer walks by.”

Barran scoffed, “We are legends that’s why.”

Kang looked at him sceptically, “Yeah right. We are M1, those cadets were M3.”

“We are notorious, especially Daedo, he would have ranked first on the M3 Gauntlet for the first two rounds, and the only reason he didn’t is that he isn’t in M3,” Picard said. “And we made the semi-finals of the first tier M3 tournament last term.”

“Oh. So we are notorious. I’ve been wondering why everyone looked at us funny from the first week,” Kang beamed. “And to think I almost didn’t join this band of notorious crazy mother fuckers.”

“Language,” Picard reminded her. “We’re not enlisted.”

Kang sighed.

Daedo had asked Master Nader for a meeting before they left the library and when they arrived at the quarters, he went straight in to see her.

Without asking she opened the VR room and pulled them both inside before running through her usual security checks.

Master Nader stood waiting for Daedo to begin, her arms crossed. The mystery box had not made an appearance.

“We came across some interesting information tonight,” Daedo began and sent Master Nader the full feed.

She reviewed it in a few minutes.

“None of this is surprising,” She stated.

“Can you do something about the gene therapy?” Daedo asked.

“Technically it’s not illegal if the therapy has been registered and approved,” Master Nader replied.

“You don’t expect that’s the case?” Daedo asked.

“No, I would be surprised. But what they are talking about here could be twisted into discussing legal therapies. There is no proof showing which therapies Fortescue was insisting would be administered.” Master Nader responded.

“This isn’t about what is legal, my squad wants it stopped. They don’t want the M3 cadets pressured into doing something dangerous,” Daedo said.

“What do you want?” Master Nader asked.

“I want good morale in my squad,” Daedo answered truthfully. “If I were to push something through that they were unhappy with it certainly wouldn’t be this.”

“I can have my experts work on improving existing human gene therapies and making them safer. It would not be difficult,” Master Nader said calmly.

“That is the last thing I want,” Daedo replied sternly.

“There will come a day when your team will need to work on advanced biology, it will be central to your survival,” Master Nader said ominously.

“How do you know it will be central?” Daedo asked.

“Logic,” Master Nader simply said.

Daedo sighed. “We are getting off topic. What can you do with this information?”

“I can send it anonymously to parents, I have data on all cadets,” Master Nader said.

“What else? What if their parents are keen for the cadets to be on the first team?” Daedo asked.

“Would a parent want their child put a dangerous situation?” Master Nader asked.

“I would have answered no six months ago. Now, I am not sure,” Daedo replied.

“Agreed. I can send it to all the Masters, the Chiefs and key supporters of the Academy which have a tendency for honourable behaviour,” Master Nader replied.

“Do that, please. Even if there is no proof of illegal gene therapy, with that much attention, they couldn’t get away with it,” Daedo responded.

“What about the match-fixing deal with Renault?” Master Nader asked. “I can use this information with great effect.”

“Save it. Use it if you have to,” Daedo said. “But let me know if you do please.”

Master Nader waited for a few moments before asking, “Have you overcome your fears Cadet?”

“You mean my reservations. The only thing I am afraid of doing is the wrong thing,” Daedo replied.

“Semantics.” She said emphatically. “You do not have the luxury of time. You cannot waste it with inaction due to doubt,” Master Nader said calmly.

“Why me?” Daedo asked.

“Why have you been chosen? Why is it not someone else?” Master Nader asked. “Someone older. Someone in a position of power?”

“Yes. Exactly,” Daedo replied.

“What makes you think you are the only vessel?” Master Nader responded.

“You do!” Daedo said exasperatedly. “Time and again you have said it is up to me. To us.”

“And it is. But you are not alone,” Master Nader replied.

“Are you alone? Are you the only one?” Daedo asked.

“You are treading in areas that are not pertinent to your task,” Master Nader said. “I see your doubt is an issue and I am doing all I can to remove it. And that is why I will tell you. No, I am not alone. There are more like me.”

“How many?” Daedo asked.

“I don’t know. But it is more than a few,” Master Nader said.

Daedo sighed before asking, “Give me the box.”

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