The Suit-Maker

by

Ghostman

Part 17- SOFS Testing Center

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Singapore is a small island. A small dot on the map that most people won’t notice. A small nation that had to join a coalition of nations to survive in an age ruled by mega corporations and giant alliances. However even on an island as small as Singapore, there is an area set aside for weapon testing. That area is called Pulau Tekong.

A small island off the main island of Singapore, Pulau Tekong is home to the local SEAL garrison and uniquely suited as a weapon testing area. If something goes wrong, it was far enough from the densely populated main island that most of the population would be safe and the garrison was there for any emergencies. Thus Pulau Tekong was uniquely suited to be the home of the local branch of the Solar Organization for Standardization.

The SOFS issued certification for almost anything you can think of, and weapons are no different. A certification from the SOFS would mean that my Jumpbot-S has been tested and verified to be of a good standard, and the cert would be needed before it could be sold in the pen market. I watched nervously as the crate carrying the Jumpbot-S was driven into the giant workshop that served as the weapon testing center of SOFS.

My nervousness was seem by Jaya. The broker gave a small laugh and tried to comfort me. “Hey, don’t worry. This is your first test. Success is wonderful but failure is expected. There’s no pressure here.”

“Easy for you to say.”

I grumbled and half-wondered how I got myself into this mess. I never wanted to be here in the first place. Frankly I had no intention of sending the Jumpbot-S for any certification as I only built it to complete the mission from the System and had no intention or expectation of ever selling it. However when Latiff Ibrahim made the offer to pay for the certification test in exchange for an exclusive, I couldn’t think of a good way to immediately reject the offer and it just snowballed from there.

Before I knew it, Jaya heard of the offer from The Chronicles and got involved. He insisted on being present during the testing and said he had arranged for a programmer to setup a virtual shop for my workshop that would go online the moment my Jumpbot-S passed certification. When I told him I already got a shop on Dive, he just scoff and said a shop on Dive does not mean anything if I wanted to be taken seriously as a Designer. Jaya say his programmer will link the two websites together but a Designer selling real-life goods need to have a separate virtual shop for his real-life goods. It was all very confusing and seem pretty unnecessary to me but Jaya insist that this was needed.

Passing the test was just my first problem. Another was the possibility that certification might not help me complete the mission given by the System. I had finished the Jumpbot-S two days ago but the mission was still incomplete. When I asked the System when I would receive the rewards, it just said that the mission was incomplete. I reread the mission several times and could only see one reason why it was still incomplete; my Jumpbot-S was not a Grade 0 Battlesuit!

The mission state that I had to build a real-life working prototype of my Grade 0 Battlesuit but the Jumpbot-S is currently a Grade 3 Battlesuit. When I asked the System if the mission would be completed once I passed the certification test, it was strangely silent on the matter. In a way, I kind of expected it. It was a risk I took when I made the Jumpbot with Perfected Steel. Unfortunately I had spent a good amount of the one million credit I was given to build the Jumpbot-S. If I fail to pass the test, I had to either waste more credits to rectify the problem or to build a Grade 0 Jumpbot from scratch. Neither option was very appealing.

“Nothing to do but to see if my suit pass muster.”

Standing a distance away, I saw several drones flying up to the crate and a technician stepping up to press in the password. A sound came from the crate as it was unlocked and the drones then flew up, lifting up the crate to reveal the Jumpbot-S. My smile only lasted a few seconds as a couple of technicians immediately surrounded the Battlesuit with a variety of instruments. It has begun.

Testing came in two phases; the inspection and the practical. The inspection came first and only after passing it do we go on to the practical testing. The testing center of the SOFS housed a dazzling amount of testing equipment, some of which were so advanced I had only heard of them before.

Testing equipment that are currently combing through my Jumpbot-S for flaws.

"Mister Wong?" Turning away from my Jumpbot-S, I saw Latiff Ibrahim and he was not alone. The reporter was with a man carrying a tablet and he quickly introduced the man. “This is Saravan Thammavong. He will be supervising the testing today.”

"Call me Van. Welcome to SOFS. I have to admit I’m kind of looking forward to this."

We shook hands and I couldn’t help but noticed that the supervisor has a firm hard grip. He obviously wasn’t the office type who look at holograms and blueprints all day, but a real technician who got his hand dirty. His name sounded either Thai or Laotian.

“Want to be here when I go down in flames right?” I put on a smile to take the edge off the words and Van chuckled along.

"Only if you fail. I'm more interested in your Jumpbot-S. It’s not everyday someone bring in a modified Steambot for certification.”

“You’re a fan of the Steambot?”

“Who isn’t? And a modern version of it that got a Grade 3 on Dive? This was something I just had to see.”

I quickly warmed to Van and the two of us engaged in small talk as Jaya and Latiff began talking about the article Latiff was going to write. As the technicians continued their scanning of the Jumpbot-S, I noticed that Van kept an eye over the process but was more than happy to let his men do their work without interference. He trusted his men.

I was fine with this as in truth, I wasn’t too worried about the inspection. The Dive Design is a robust program and if my Jumpbot-S got the okay from the program, the only possible way it would fail the inspection is if I screwed up big time during the construction. I believe I had too much experience for something like that to happen.

Van’s tablet received an alert and after the supervisor touched the screen, a small hologram of the Jumpbot-S was shown. A message was shown and after a quick scan, the supervisor nodded his approval.

“Congrats Mr. Wong, your Jumpbot-S passed inspection. Outside some small issues with the legs, everything looks great.”

“Oh…what’s the problem with the legs?”

“Some small flaws with the connection of the secondary technology but don’t worry, all of the flaws are within the tolerance limit.”

I took a look at his tablet and saw the results of the inspection. He was right about the readouts. The flaws were all well within the margin of error allowed under official guidelines but I still felt a sense of dissatisfaction at the numbers. The readings were fine but fine was not good enough. I need to do better. If this was the best I could do even with the help of the System, I have a long way to go. I need to improve.

"We’re moving on to the practical tests." Van announced as the technicians slowly moved away the Jumpbot-S. It might be my mind playing tricks on me but it did look to me as if some of them were more than a little reluctant to do so. As the technicians were moving away, I saw one person dressed in a sleek bodysuit walking towards the Jumpbot. It took a second for me to realize what was wrong. I immediately turned to Van.

“A woman?”

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Ghostman

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