The biggest problem I faced entering the SCR Festival is ironically something that has nothing to do with the design or construction of the Battlesuits. It is instead the dread, confusing and maddening maze of paperwork you need to go through in order to export Battlesuits from Singapore to Thailand!
The SCR Festival takes place in the city of Bangkok which is the capital of Thailand. Although Singapore and Thailand are both part of the South East Asian League, they are still considered different countries. The SEAL is an alliance, not a federation so the movement of goods between member countries are still taxable and subject to duties. It is a stupid holdover from the time before the rise of the megacorporations that led to the demise of small independent countries but the system was in place and common logic dictates that anything that made the rich richer do not get repealed. The elite had little incentive to get rid of it and who cares about small businessmen like myself? And that is just for normal goods.
For the movement of weapons systems like Battlesuits, the paperwork was even worse. There are forms for shipping guarantees, duties, insurance, safety certifications, and a whole host of other certifications I know nothing of. Faced with the mountain of paper in front of me, I did what any Singaporean would do in my situation.
I used money to solve the problem.
I contacted Jaya and told him I was willing to pay him a little extra to handle all the logistics and paperwork. To his credit, Jaya admit he had never had a client that entered the SCR Festival before but I know he had experience taking part in various other conventions and exhibitions so this wasn’t totally new to him. For the sake of my money, Jaya was willing to handle all the paperwork. That freed me up to concentrate on building the new Battlesuit.
A good thing too as I barely finished crafting it in time. I don’t know if Van or Jaya pulled any strings but the certification process at SOFS was faster than usual and before I know it, I was on a plane heading to Nonthaburi Province for the festival.
To my slight surprise, the SCR Festival didn’t really take place in Bangkok but in what in an area the local government called Greater Bangkok. Medical progress let humans live longer and it isn’t unusual for people to live to the age of three hundred and above nowadays. This lead to a rapid rise in human population and even with space colonization, cities on Earth had to grow accordingly to keep up. This in turn leads to the rise of megacities like Abu Dubai and New York State City but for various reasons, Bangkok never grew big enough to achieve the status of a megacity.
The metropolis of Bangkok is easily one of the great cities in the SEAL but the centralized power structure of the kingdom means that the growth of the city has been curtailed as the power brokers in Thailand were loathed to see their power diluted. However the population in the city kept on increasing so some genius in the local government came up with the great idea of ‘Greater Bangkok’ over sixty years ago. It was nothing but a political move to definite the region surrounding the metropolis of Bangkok as being part of the city and was treated almost as a joke when it was introduced, but time does funny thing to people. People who grew up thinking they lived in an area known as Greater Bangkok will tell their kids they lived in Greater Bangkok and before you know it, the area really became Greater Bangkok. That’s what happened to Nonthaburi but who am I to complain? Telling people I took part in a festival that is being held in Bangkok sounds a lot more prestigious than saying it was held in Nonthaburi Province right?
Howard however was less than happy about the venue. As I was on the plane to Bangkok, I read the report he had prepare and it was not good reading. Not only was the venue situated far away from the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, the festival was being held at a private airport owned by the festival organizer, Oriental Earth Group. An international corporation based in Thailand, the company has been holding the SCR Festival for the past five years as a way to source for unpolished gems in the design industry. However this was the first time the festival was being held outside Bangkok proper.
According to Howard, the reason was due to the fact that the company has been having some domestic problems with a megacorporation. The Oriental Earth Group is the takeover target of a megacorporation and although international corporations are generally smaller and weaker than megacorporations, the directors of the Oriental Earth Group has been firm in their rejection of the takeover offer. This has not gone down well. Business at that level is a blood sport and already there has been a series of corporate espionage, hacking and social media attack between the two corporations. It is only a matter of time before thing escalate to the next level and that was why the festival is being held outside Bangkok this year.
Although the chances of a direct attack were low, the Oriental Earth Group is not taking any chances and they would be handling the security at the festival directly. Howard said we would be heading into a power keg and suggested once again that I skip the festival. That wasn’t an option for me. I had a mission to complete!