“Hey lazy bum, where are you?”
“At my workshop. What do you want Jaya?”
“Oh you know, same old same old. Just another call pestering you for something new to sell. It’s been three months since the Jumpbot-S was certified and your lazy ass of a brain still hasn’t come up with anything new.”
“You do know creating a new Battlesuit is not something you can rush right? Besides, it’s not as if I am idling. I completed every commission you gave me! Two Jumpbots and seven Jumpbot-S all made on time, and there’s another on the way.”
“Alamak! You know as well as I do that small designer workshops like yours depend on output to survive. Two versions of one model is just not enough. You need more models for your catalog, and you need them yesterday!”
“Toby, can you please not be so kaisu and go hire someone to help you. That will give you more time to design new suits. It’s not as if you can’t afford to. You’re making five digits profit per suit!”
“I’m not kaisu; I’m being cost conscious. There’s a difference.”
“Brother, you cross that line weeks ago. Give me something else to sell!”
“…Fine! I’ll concentrate on making something new. Give me a couple of weeks.”
“Days! You have days! Not weeks…”
“Goodbye Jaya, have a nice day.”
“Days! Days! Day…”
I cut the connection. Most Singaporeans would take some offence at the abrupt cut in connection but I know Jaya would not. Having a thick skin was part of the job requirement for a broker and the man wasn’t the best in our small island for no reason. Peace and quiet returned and I enjoyed it for a moment before going back to my project. Despite Jaya’s dismissals, I really have been busy for the past three months and the object of my interest was on a table in front of me; it was a card.
Twice the size of a normal poker card, the card in front of me was one of the twenty that was gifted to me by the System. When the System gifted me twenty protection talisman, I didn’t know what to expect but the System had never given me anything useless so I kept an open mind on these talismans. Even then, I didn’t expect a Postman!
In an era where everything on Earth was documented, anything and everything in the air, land and sea could be scanned, tracked or traced. Secrecy is a thing of the past and only in vastness of space could one have any privacy. Even then, only the truly idiotic believed that you can send something on the solar net without the government going through it. Heck, even hacking was widely considered to be a legitimate career choice nowadays.
So when people want to pass on something in secret, they need to do so in person. For that, they hired a Postman.
As sending messages and mail via government services is much faster and cheaper, Postmen were used only when people need to pass on something that you do not want to show up on official channels. Rumors had it that all the major corporations and crime cartels used them and most of their work actually come from the rich and powerful, but the general population still hold the Postmen in high regard. They were expensive but once they accept a delivery, the Postman will the delivery or die trying. Postmen are the couriers of the era; the romantic outlaws of modern times.
I never thought I would ever meet one but the woman who made the delivery was clearly a Postman. Dressed in a tight silver leather suit, she had an old school motorcycle helmet on that totally covered her face. Not that surprising as being a Postman was technically illegal but any doubts I had about her occupation was washed away by the vehicle she had; a wheel-based motorbike that was totally handmade.
Any vehicle with wheels was rare nowadays, much less one that was made by hand. However it made sense that a Postman would have one. For safety reasons, all flying vehicles require manufactured parts that are thoroughly checked before being approved. With the serial numbers of the parts, any government could easily trace the owner of any vehicle. With modern surveillance tech, the speed of the checks for government services was almost laughable easy. The only way to skirt around the surveillance was with a handmade vehicle that had handmade parts.
I believe this was one of the reason why my Jumpbots were so successful.
The Postman didn’t say anything to me and just show me a top of the line hand scanner. After putting my hand on it, the scanner confirmed my identity and she hands me a package. As she ride off on her motorbike, I opened the package and saw twenty cards within. Twenty cards that had caused me endless frustration for the past three months!
The card in front of me don’t look like much. It was just a flat piece of metal that had an image of an oval shield painted on it. I suspect the card was made by some strange form of metallurgy as it was as light as a cardboard but it was impossible to break. It was in fact quite tough to even harm one.
After initially discovering how tough the cards were, I began doing some experiments on them. As the cards were possibly illegal goods, I only did my experiments at night behind closed doors and with my white noise filter switch on at full blast. A good thing as the cards defied comprehension.
First, I took my Cyberdrill to one. Sparks appeared but the card ended up undamaged. The card had withstood an industrial drill that could go through Perfected Steel! That aroused my curiosity further and I tried damaging the card with my other tools. Same problem. The card survived attacks from my Sonic-adaptable Chisel and even my new Industrial Blowtorch couldn’t harm it.
I immediately realized what a treasure the cards were and ordered a mid-range Multi-Function Industrial Scanner for my workshop. The scanner was a rare machine that usually only the biggest workshops would have. It was used to test the product after repairs or manufacture to make sure everything was done properly. The last time I seen one was at the SOFS Testing Center where it was used to test the Jumpbot-S.
After the scanner’s arrived, I elected a new card and placed it in the scanner. I turned on the scanner and made it record everything as I launched my attack. I had to wait five hours before finally managing to destroy one.
The next day, I ran the recording of the scanner and found that the card was emitting a thin veil of energy that acted like a force field whenever something tried to harm it. The scanner also picked up that the energy on the card was finite. It lessened with time, showing less and less with each attack. I don’t know if the energy on the card could be recharged, but that pale compared to another problem.
The card made no sense. It works, but it shouldn’t. The scanner could not find any moving parts, circuity, or wiring in it. There’s not even a hint of a power source! So how did that force field appear? That’s what I had been trying to find out for the past three months with no success. The card was impossible!
It was basically just a piece of metal with an image on it yet it somehow managed to produce a force field that stop industrial tools. How? I have no idea and after exhausting all other revenues, I was left with no other choice than to change my focus to the image on the card. The only thing I got was even more questions.
The scanner found nothing of note outside that fact that the image was made by some sort of metallic alloy that it couldn’t identified. Arthur Conan Doyle once said that once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. I do not believe in magic and there is no such thing as cultivation but…I was seriously beginning to reconsider my view of the world.
Sighing in defeat, I took the card and placed it into the safe. I bought two small safes and placed one in my home and one in the workshop. Of the eighteen cards I had left, half was safely at home while the others were here in the office of the workshop. After locking the safe, I turned on the hologram. Anyone who look at it will think it is part of the wall. Out of sight, out of mind.
If only the same trick could work on me.
The cards were still on my mind but I knew that Jaya was right. The cards had taken up too much of my time and for my workshop to succeed, I needed more than just the Jumpbot-S. Orders were still coming in but sooner or later, the novelty factor would die down. I needed more designs for my workshop. It’s time to get back to work!
I went to the Dive console and for the first time in three months went into the Dive Designer Platform.