22 Chapter 22 Exam Results

Nico circles wide around the intersection so she's not detected and slings her weapons to climb up the back wall of the parkade. The Line Mecha are heavy, but no worse than a light cargo transport, so the floors will certainly hold the weight.

[I'm up top with a good line to the Intersection.]

Max steps from the alley and ducks behind his shield, placing three shots into the defenders, killing one and damaging two others. That turns all their attention to him and a hail of fire slams into his shield.

They've all turned towards Max, so Nico opens fire, leaning forward to shoot down from the parkade. Four more Mecha drop in an instant, leaving just one damaged Mecha. It turns to fire up at Nico, who retreats behind the concrete barrier at the edge of the parkade, while Max unleashes his Ion Cannon into its back.

[Too Easy.] Max Begins, but Nico cuts him off.

[Patrols coming from your right and behind you. The group at the intersection must have got a message off. Cross the street to your left and keep running in 3,2,1. Go.] Max runs across to the next alley and keeps going until he reaches the next intersection, turning right to get closer to the Parkade.

[Stay behind the corner of that building until the shooting starts.] Nico directs, her height giving her a better view of the battlefield.

She fires both hands at once into the same Mecha, both hitting the torso and destroying the power plant. That makes both patrols target her, and Max rounds the corner, seeing that her timing left two Mecha with their backs to him.

His shots drop them in an instant, and Max retreats around the back out of sight before he's noticed.

More Ion Cannon shots join the sound of the enemy Auto Rifles, and Nico sends Max more navigation points.

[Back to your first point, the second patrol is using the barricade for cover, but they had to move the transport on that side to get in.]

Max laughs as he sees the two Mecha posed up against the transporters to get away from Nico's Ion Cannons. They're clearly in the open fun his vantage point, their Mecha side on to him, so he simply blasts through their cockpits.

Line Mecha aren't heavily Armored, there's a half dozen spots in the torso that the extreme firepower of the Ion Cannon can punch through the layers of composite armor. But since it takes an entire second before the Ion Cannon can shoot again, and the Line Mecha only has its primary weapon, any missed shots put you in danger.

They've cleared the defense point and both patrols now, so Nico comes down from the roof and Max leads the way through the alleys towards the exit point. They've got more than enough kills already, so he's just plotting the most efficient course that he can remember while trying to get behind likely defense points.

"Zero damage taken through a dozen kills, smooth operation through the alleys, no running into walls or getting tripped up by debris. Plus they're halfway across the course now, only thirty minutes in. Impressive." The observer notes.

"That's why they're up for Special Forces nomination." Colonel Black agrees, watching them pick off another group of the entrenched defenders.

This course has more Mecha than usual on it for an exam, with the tradeoff being that they're fairly predictable, defending main streets from invasion. Some of the other courses, like the woodlands course, have every enemy Mecha on patrol.

The Instructors watch in awe as the duo makes their way through the city, with Max swapping his damaged shield out for a fresh one from a downed enemy Mecha.

The final trick to this mission is that the landing point is overrun. Five additional Mecha are in the open area, and the drop ship that ends the mission hasn't landed yet when the Cadets arrive. Neither Cadet expected a simple and straightforward mission though, and they simply run in shooting.

Max runs forward to get behind a cargo container, while Nico lays down on top of another and keeps up a steady stream of covering fire, every shot glancing an enemy Mecha, but unable to reach a vital spit for a kill.

Once Max is in position she climbs down the back of the container and circles, while the defenders try to get a firing line to her previous location. Max drops the first he catches in the open, then another before Nico is in place again.

The three survivors go for Max, leaving them open from Nico's side and the mission completes as scorching Ionized plasma from her Cannons burns through their power cores and cockpits. Two perfect accuracy scores, no damage taken, only 47 minutes elapsed.

"They've graduated for sure. With flying colors. Should we clear the General to give them Line Mecha certification and move on, or will we be holding to the 'Line Mecha only until College' policy for Cadets?" One of the examiners asks Colonel Black.

"I'm sure that old war dog wants them cleared on everything, so they'll be moving on to Corvette Class Training whenever he deems them ready. Major Payne informed me that they're also nearly to one hundred bonus stats already, so they'll be going through the second stage of physical development, which will delay new piloting techniques for a while, but we should expect that within the next Semester they will begin training on the Corvette Class."

Soon, turns out to be now. They both received gains from the Exam mission have put them over the threshold. Unlike fifty points, which causes puberty in young Cadets, one hundred points refines the body to be more durable and faster healing.

If the two advancement are this close together, it might affect their eventual physical growth, but neither Cadet knows that, nor do most of the Instructors. General Tennant does though, and gets them both to a cot in the restricted training center to rest off the change while he gets food and new clothes, in case they grow out of what they're in.

For Max that bit of foresight is again a blessing, as he's grown to 170cm tall by the time he wakes up, and is gaining muscle by the second. Nico, on the other hand, only made it from 125 to 140 cm tall. Despite her body developing as expected through the accelerated puberty process, she has remained exceedingly short.

General Tennant finds the whole thing a bit amusing. One Cadet is the image of a strapping young man, the sort of chiseled blonde and handsome you would expect to see in an actor or a propaganda video model. The other is a tiny dark haired and black eyed creature with a maturity that defies her stature.

She reminds him of the Forest Folk from one of the planets he was stationed at. Even their men never got taller than 150cm. The size makes him wonder if it's from the System's interference, or if her family was originally from another planet, where the gravity is a bit different and the citizens are shorter.

That answer will have to wait though, General Tennant has paperwork to fill out, badges to requisition and the next step in their training to implement.

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