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The first thing I did was to transfer my design from the Dive console to the Holographic Projector in the workshop. From experience, I know it’s one thing to see something in a game or on a blueprint but you can only understand the scale of what you are doing in real-life. And seeing a full scale Jumpbot in real-life is something else.

Using the control of the projector, I spun the full scale holographic image slowly around. Even though the design was over a century old, the Steambot had lost none of its majesty. Standing at three meter tall and twice my width, the Steambot was always a machine that projected power. Now with the added feature of the X-S Cable Punch and IK Battle-axe, it was even more imposing and intimidating. I knew few people would be interested to buy it but so what? Maybe it was my fatherly pride speaking but I truly believe my Jumpbot was a better Battlesuit than the normal Steambot. It was too bad that only one would probably ever be made…I decided right there and then to make the best Jumpbot I could. If I’m just going to make just one in my life, it’s going to be the best.

“How could I improve on the Jumpbot?”

I went to the Dive console and pull up the Jumpbot. The first thing that caught my eye was the sales figure. I had sold two Jumpbot! I half-wondered if Steamstorm bought both of them or if someone else was just as impressed with my Jumpbot as he was. With a wide smile on my face, I went into the Dive Design interface and look through the design. After thinking about it, I decided that I wasn’t going to mess with the internals. After all the work I had put in, I didn’t want to mess with it again so I concentrated on the outer shell of the Battlesuit.

Victor Sage used carbon steel to make his Steambot and the highly impact resistant metal made the Steambot one of the toughest Battlesuit of its time. It was the right decision back then but a century of progress meant that carbon steel was third rated now. I looked through the materials that I could go with and decided to go with Perfected Steel.

About four decades ago when the age of space travel began in earnest, scientists began inventing different types of composite metals to facilitate the construction of various space transports. According to the history books, new types of spaceships, shuttles, and drones were invented almost daily and new types of composite metals had to be created almost just as fast to meet the need and demands of the booming space industry.

Perfected Steel was part of this new wave of metal. At least five times tougher than carbon steel and lighter in weight, it was relatively cheap and more importantly for me, it also has excellent tensile strength. I could build the whole Jumpbot with it, even the SH-3 Legs. It was a more than adequate replacement for carbon steel.

Using the Dive console, I started to make changes to the Jumpbot. I began by taking out the outer shell of the Jumpbot. Replacing it with another material turn out to be a relatively simple process. Unlike modern Battlesuits, the Steambot didn’t have any interconnecting system tagged to the armor so changing the armor was an upgrade that didn’t change anything within the Jumpbot. However I decided to be a little kaisu on the matter. I am a Singaporean and being afraid to lose is a national trait.

As this was my first actual project, I rather be extra safe than sorry. I paid the DP to save my new modified Jumpbot as Jumpbot-S and took the hour long simulation program to test my Perfected Steel Jumpbot. As the program ran, I set an alarm with my cybernetics and I log back into LoW. I still have a month subscription and don’t intend to waste it.

I log back at the town center of Peaceriver Lodge and began walking towards the river. I was still wavering on whether to set up a shop in LoW to sell the Jumpbot but no matter what, Peaceriver Lodge was a poor place to setup the shop. Peaceriver Lodge was a town and like most games, players in LoW mostly grouped in the cities. Luckily for me, the game designers situated Peaceriver Lodge beside the Crocodile River. A huge river that runs through several zones, the Crocodile River was one of the main means of transport in LoW. I went to the ticket counter and bought a ticket to The Fairbanks. One of the larger cities in LoW, The Fairbanks would be a good location for my shop. The ticket counter NPC gave me an option of either a direct passage to the city or taking the scenic route via a riverboat.

As a game based on the Old World, travel by riverboat was a popular option and if a player chose this option, he would have to wait for the riverboat to arrive and board it to enjoy a scenic trip down the Crocodile River. There would be riverboat robbers and animal attacks to contend with but the player could also enjoy the facilities of the riverboat like the gambling hall, bar, and dance hall.

It’s not for nothing that no minor was allow to purchase the scenic route. If I wasn’t tied for time, I would have seriously considered it. As it is, I took a direct trip and my avatar disappeared in a flash of light. I reappeared at another ticket counter; this one located at The Fairbanks.

The scene that greeted me was surprisingly peaceful. The sky was clear and the moon was bright in the night sky. On my left, a couple wearing British Colonial attire were riding two clockwork horses slowly along the river. They rode passed several couples that were either walking along the river or lying on the grass. On my right was a restaurant and all the tables were occupied by diners enjoying dinner by the riverside.

Leaving the peaceful scene, I walked towards the city center. Much like Peaceriver Lodge, the city center would be the main hub for the players but there was a big difference; numbers! On my way to the city center, I saw numerous shops set up by the players and quickly concluded that setting up a shop in LoW wasn’t a viable option for me.

The reason for my decision was the shops. Large stalls selling weapons, gears, and so on were all over the place and all of them were decked to the nines with banners, posters, and gimmicks. There was even a stall that had a device that produce a small steam figure of a clockwork airplane. Whenever the steam dissipated, the device would whistled and a new image would appeared. The whole street had stalls just like this and the players obviously spent a lot of time and effort to promote their products and stalls. As a potential stall owner, it was all very intimidating. It was all very lively but I knew I would not have the time to do all that.

With the decision made, I spend the rest of the hour touring The Fairbanks. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the virtual city till my alarm rang. The hour was up. I logout of the LoW and went to the Dive Design page. The simulation test was done and the results was even better than I had hoped. There was an increase in performance all across the board and the Dive even graded the Jumpbot-S as a Grade 3 Battlesuit. I knew immediately that this could be a potential problem.

The mission given by the System was to build a real-life working prototype of my Grade 0 Battlesuit. Would the mission be considered complete if the Battlesuit was no longer a Grade 0 Battlesuit? Would I still receive a reward from the System if I build a Grade 3 Battlesuit? I could ask the System but the stupid AI would probably just say it can’t tell me the answer because it was just a guide and can’t unduly influence my decision.

“If that’s the case…”

If that’s the case, then why should I care? If the System really was just a guide, then there’s nothing to say that I have to follow it religiously. I am the one who wanted to be a Battlesuit Designer. I’m the one who intend to build the best Jumpbot I could. Why should I care if the System rewarded me? This is my life!

I made an estimate of how much I need and placed an order with the local Singapore wholesaler for the Perfected Steel. I made sure I ordered more than enough for two Jumpbots as I wasn’t sure I could successfully build one on the first try. I then began placing orders for various industrial tools I would need for the construction like the Cyberdrill, Sonic-adaptable Chisel, and the Bionic Wrench. With the orders placed, there was nothing to do but to wait.

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Ghostman

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