I woke up with a ringing in my head and drool on my face. I sat up, swiping the wet saliva off my cheeks. I had fell asleep at my desk but what had woke me? Disorientated, it took me a few seconds to realize that someone was calling me.
“Jesus Christ, where are you?”
“At the workshop. I slept there last night. You’re looking for me?”
“I’ve been calling for you the whole morning. Open the door.”
I was still sleepy and it took me a while to switch my cybernetics to the camera located at the door of the workshop. Howard was standing there, looking less than impressed. I immediately open the door. Yesterday after Howard and Nor Avante left, I ordered the workshop doors to close and turn the settings of the security drones to high. Between them and the white noise filter, it was as secure as I could make it and I began working on the puzzle Nor Avante gave me. Falling asleep while working was not part of the plan.
I rub my human eye and look around the office. It wasn’t really a big office but there is a lot of room as it is quite bare. If I’m going to fall asleep at the workshop, I need to start thinking about buying a bed and cupboard. If you consider the time I fell asleep on the drive back home, this is already the second time I fell asleep at work. Howard walked in and I immediately apologized.
“Sorry about that. It was lights out for me.”
Howard was upset but one look at the green hologram on my desk and he changed his tune. “You’re already working on a Battlesuit?”
“Hell, no.” I laughed at his blind optimism. People always think it’s easy for designers to come up with a working Battlesuit design. It was as if I could just snap my finger and out comes the design. “This is not even a prototype. It’s just a model for me to test some ideas.”
“You do this often?”
“No, but we are talking about something brand new here so I need this to begin a template.”
“Doesn’t that mean you already have a plan on how to do it?”
“No, I have an inkling of an idea. It’s a long from that to a plan. Let’s not talk about this now. I’m hungry, you had breakfast yet?”
“Let’s go then. The nearby food centre isn’t bad.” I began walking to the door and Howard look at me like I am some sort of alien.
“Now? You look like you just woke up. Have you even brush your teeth yet?”
“Cyborgs don’t brush. Come on!”
I ignored Howard’s look of indignation and head towards the door. What can I say but that I was in a bad mood? I’m not a morning person and sleeping at the workshop did nothing to help. Besides, it wasn’t a total lie. It’s a bit of an exaggeration I admit as I usually do brush but it is mostly true that cyborgs care a lot less about personal hygiene about normal people. Some cyborgs has a mentality of wondering why they should bother when they can just replace their biological body with hardware. Like I suspected, Howard joined me to the Alexandra Food Centre. We walk in silence for a distance before I had to ask.
“Why are you looking for me?”
“To talk about yesterday of course. You believe the info-dump Nor gave us?”
“Why not? Oh, I know you are skeptical and I’m sure she kept some things from us but it doesn’t serve her interest to lie.”
“Still seems incredible though. Invisible energy that can’t be seen or measured but can be shaped by belief? That just makes no sense. If it’s energy, why can’t it be measured?”
“That comes later. You need to discover something first, understand it, only then you can measure it. That’s the way it is throughout the history of science. Magic may not be so different. We’re here. What do you want?”
“The roti prata any good?”
“Yes. The uncle knows what he is doing.”
“Un…oh, you mean the stall owner. What is it with you Singaporeans? You shouldn’t call every old person on the street ‘uncle’ and ‘auntie’ when you are not related!”
“Get over your culture shock already man. It’s how it’s done here. What do you want to add on?”
A grumbling Howard replied and I gave our orders to the stall owner who immediately got to work. Served with a small bowl of curry, roti prata is a fried flatbread cooked over a flat grill. The cook first flatten the dough into a large thin layer before folding the outside edges inwards. The cook can add on various ingredients like onions, bananas, or eggs to the dough before folding and I ordered three pratas with onions and eggs while Howard ordered a plain prata along with another with eggs.
After folding the dough inwards, the stall owner then placed the prata on a hot flat round iron pan before flipping it over several times to ensure that both sides of the prata were cooked. Within ten minutes, two plate of roti prata were placed in front of us. We dig in and Howard began talking.
“So tell me. What do you think of our first class in magic?”
“We’re in public here.”
“Privacy cone.” Howards points to a device on waist. “Think of it as a portable white noise filter. As long as no one is near enough to overhead us, it’s fine.”
I took a good look at the device. It looks like a bracelets and I make a note to look up on it. If it’s anywhere as good as the filter in my workshop, it may be useful for me to get one. “Well, I think she was trying to ease us in to their world. All the talk of Mana and how you need to have belief and creativity to shape it into something. It was the basic course and that’s what I need.”
“You know how to fix the problem after just one lesson?”
“Of course not. Didn’t you heard her say many people had tried to make technology and magic work together and failed? It will be years before I manage to crack the problem, if ever.”
“Then the model I saw in the workshop…”
“It’s just that. A model to put in my ideas and I shall probably fail a thousand times before I get anywhere.”
I didn’t miss the look of disappointment on Howard but I could only shrug. Howard is a security guy and don’t really understand why it was so difficult to get technology and magic to work together. As someone on the technical side of thing, I got the problem after one lesson.
Different kinds of technology runs on different forms of energy. Steam technology uses the heat created by steam to power it’s machines. Clockwork technology uses intricate gears. Fossil fuels technology requires the burning of hydrocarbons like coal and petroleum. According to Nor Avante, magic runs on a form of energy called Mana and like my experience with the Jumpbot-P showed, getting different types of technology to work together is difficult to pull off. The magicians may not like it but the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that it would be better for me to just treat magic as a type of unknown or undiscovered technology.
It would basically means introducing a new type of technology to the public but getting people to accept something called Mana Technology might be easier than ‘Magic’. Getting it to work with another form of technology is a bit more tricky but if I can get two different kinds of technology like Steam and Clockwork to work together, why not Mana and something else? It’s something that’s easier said than done as my knowledge of magic is poor but like I told Howard; it’s an inkling of an idea.