I had to frown at that. I didn’t make the Trackbot to be a novelty suit, and I told Van just that. “It’s a great vehicle with the specs to match. Speed, maneuverability, safety, comfort, even fuel efficiency; it runs on water for god sake. You still don’t think it will sell?”
“Oh, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great suit and a great vehicle. You did very well Toby but there is just no market.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s just simple economics. The vast majority of suits made in this world are for the security, military and protection industries. The military, security agencies, mercenary corps and such takes up about eighty to eighty-five percentage of the market. The rest of the market is taken up by miscellaneous stuff. These are your collectors of old vintage suits, experimental prototypes, speculators of collector items and such. These guys will want your suit but right now there is currently just no market for a mass market suit that acts as a mobile vehicle. It just hasn’t been done.”
“Oh…” Van’s answer deflate me slightly. He was right. I only concentrated on the design aspect of the Trackbot and never really took into consideration the market validity of the suit. However it wasn’t all bad.
“So I just need to make one.”
“We make one. You are right Van. There is no market but so what? We’ll just need to create one. A market for suits that could also serve as a mobile vehicle. A vehicle that is both safer and cheaper in the long run that a flying vehicle. Just because no one had done it yet doesn’t mean it can’ be done.”
Both Van and Jaya looked at me like I had grown an extra head. Jaya recovered first. “All these years and I never thought you are an optimist Toby.”
“Of course I am. After all I started my own workshop right? Besides, don’t I have the best broker in Singapore backing me?”
Yes, I was laying it on thick and Jaya knows it but it worked. He couldn’t help but chuckled at that. “You are right. You have good reason to be optimistic, especially if the second Trackbot do as well as your first.”
“The Trackbot-P is the one I have confidence in.”
Van smile at my lie and spoke. “Salma, you’re up.”
We looked back at the warehouse and right on cue, the second Trackbot came into view. I strongly suspect that this operator named Salma was the same operator who tested the Jumpbot and hoped this was a good omen. Unlike the operator of the Trackbot, the operator of the Trackbot-P had already transformed the suit into it’s track mode and rolled into the testing site at speed.
Also unlike the Trackbot, the Trackbot-P held weapons as I designed it to be a mobile protection vehicle. In place of it’s right hand was the trusty IK Battle-axe while the left hand was replaced with a Minoru Minigun. Designed by a Japanese inventor named Haruto Minoru in the Age of Steam, the Minoru Minigun was famed as one of the best minigun of the era. A ten-barrel rotary machine gun with a rate of fire of around three hundred rounds, it runs on a small steam-powered motor and was noted for it’s reliability and a self-reloading mechanism that was revolutionary for it’s time. It was also small enough to be install on the Trackbot-P.
The operator sped to another area of the testing site where a series of targets were placed in a row. I was too far to see what material the targets were made of but as the Trackbot-P rolled along the targets from about thirty meters away, it unloaded on them. As the rounds peppered the targets, I heard a low whistle from Van and smile.
Unlike the Trackbot which is for the general public, the Trackbot-P was for the security industry and I do know something about that target market. Originally the Minoru Minigun fired musketballs but I knew modern security agencies and mercenary corps would never accept a weapon that uses ammunition from over a hundred years ago so I had to make some changes to the minigun. Surprisingly, no great overhaul was needed. I just needed my tinkering ability and the weapons knowledge I gained from the System.
From the weapons knowledge I gained from the knowledge manual, I knew what I had to do. Steam-powered weaponries depends on pressure so I shortened the Minoru Minigun to increase the pressure on the bullets. I also changed the cartridge to hold modern bullets instead of musketballs and tinkered with it so that it could hold more ammo before having to reload. Tests I ran using the Dive simulation program told me the barrels of the minigun could handle the new ammo so I left them alone and as I used Perfected Steel to make the weapon, the minigun was also able to handle more stress. Using my tinkering ability, I made some further subtle changes to the minigun so that it could be more stable. This last part was especially important as I envisioned the operator firing while on the move. The end result was a minigun that was more powerful and accurate than before. It was so different from Minoru’s original design, I thought I may have a decent chance if I wanted to trademark it myself.
By the time the Trackbot-P reached the end of the row, the targets had all been blown into smithereens and the operator raised the Minoru Minigun high in the air. Maybe this is just my pride speaking but I thought it was quite a sight. As they say, pride comes before a fall.
The cartridge released and flew out of the minigun. We were too far from the suit but Van’s tablet informed us that the replacement cartridge went into the ammo slot without incident. The Trackbot-P did not stop during the reloading but instead rolled on towards another target. It roll past at speed and sliced through it with the IK Battle-axe.
Then it did something totally unexpected; it transform…while on the move!
I never designed the Trackbot to transform while moving, it was hard enough just to get it to transform, and the result was predictably bad. The Trackbot-P fell face first into the gavel.