34 The New Normal
For several seconds no words were exchanged. The death of the cop was unfortunate but I wasn't so naïve that I didn't expect it. I am a battlesuit designer; a weapon maker. For all the talk about protection and security, some of my suits are going to be used to kill people. It is to be expected. At least that's what I keep telling myself. Now I just have to believe it.
\"Toby, you're there?\"
\"Yeah, sorry about that. Just thinking about how much pushback are we going to get for this?\"
\"Don't worry about that. The police at the Gulf Coalition send me the video as they want our help tracing the suits. As long as we play nice and release our sale record, it should be enough to satisfy them.\"
\"The record won't help. As long as the customer has credits, we will sell the suits to them. It's not as if we did any background checks on anyone. Also, the suits are handmade. There's no serial number on them so even if we give them the record, there's no way for them to tell which suit was used by this crew.\"
\"I know that and so do they. This request is just for show. The police need to show they are covering all the bases and we need to show that we have nothing to hide. Works for both of us.\"
\"Okay…is there any way for us to know who bought them?\"
\"No and even if there is, we are not going to release them.\"
\"No! This is none of our business. We are in the business of selling Battlesuits that conform to all legal and safety requirements. What our customer do with them after the sale is none of our business.\" What Jaya said rang true and my head tell me that he is right. My heart however says something else. My silence prompt Jaya to go further. \"Toby, this is the first time you seen one of your designs kill someone so I understand if it's hard to take in, but you need to know this happen all the time. This was always going to happen. It's normal.\"
\"For you, yes! You are a Battlesuit designer, a surprisingly inventive one at that. You are a weapon designer. This is your new normal.\"
\"Jaya, you are not telling me anything I don't know.\"
\"I know but the first time is always the hardest.\"
\"So you're saying I should ignore the punch in my gut?\"
\"I'm saying you need to get used to it. If you want to be a successful battlesuit designer, you have to be used to it!\"
I couldn't help but sigh. \"I know. You're not telling me anything I haven't told myself. How do we play this?\"
\"We use it.\"
\"I don't think you understand how amazing you are Toby. That police suit is an ABS-4.\"
\"What?\" I couldn't help but grasp.
\"An ABS-4, and your Trackbot-P just beat it!\"
The fourth edition of the Advanced Battle Suit series, the AMS-4 is more famous nowadays for being the forerunner of the ABS-5 but the suit was considered a revelation in it's own right. While never the most popular Battlesuit of it's generation, the ABS-4 was arguably the most powerful. The suit had a flight system, solid armor and had several weapons. The main reason it wasn't more popular was due to it's cost and the fact that it came equip with several systems that were widely considered to be redundant. However there are many people who argue that the ABS-4 wasn't a bad Battlesuit, it was just ahead of its time. More importantly for me though was it's grade.
\"Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the ABS-4 a Grade 4 Battlesuit?\"
\"Yes! And once again; your Trackbot-P just beat it!\"
\"Well, don't be so happy about it. A man just died after all.\"
\"Oh but isn't that pride I hear in your voice? Not that it's unreasonable. It's not every day that a Grade 2 Battlesuit takes down a Grade 4.\"
\"Technically, two of my Trackbot-P combined to beat a Grade 4 suit. There's a difference. Also that cop performed poorly in that fight. If he had been more careful, he would have won.\"
\"Keep that last part to yourself please. Also having two Grade 2 take down a Grade 4 is still bloody impressive. I expect a surge in sales once we release this video to the public.\"
\"Can you do that? I mean it looks like this video was taken from the onboard camera of the Trackbot-P. Shouldn't that means it's police property right now?\"
\"That's…possible but it's not like I signed a NDA.\"
\"Jaya, since when does the police care if you have a non-disclosure agreement or not? Did they say you can share this video?\"
\"No but it still doesn't matter. This heist happened in a mega-city. If those guys in the Gulf Coalition are half as paranoid about security as our government is, there will be cameras everywhere. Hell, I may even get a better angle of the whole fight.\"
\"Okay but what about pushback? I mean using a robbery to promote our suits seems to be in bad taste.\"
\"We will just have to wash everything down with all the credits we are going to make once people realized how good your big baby is.\"
\"You're that confident uh?\"
\"Oh yes. That final blast by the cop was at point blank range and it sent the Trackbot-P flying. It was damaged so badly that it has to be abandoned, but the operator still manage to climb out of the suit unharmed. Dude, do you know what an advertisement that was for the safety of your suit? Even l want a Trackbot now.\"
I had to laugh at that. \"Try not to give yourself too much of a discount when you do.\"
\"Discount? You cheapskate, don't I get one it for free?\"
\"Nope! It cost credits to build them you know. This is Singapore; nothing is free!\"
\"Cheapskate! What are you working on now?\"
\"Nothing much. It's only been three weeks since the Trackbots passed certification. I'm just doing some experiments.\"
\"Try not to burn down your workshop okay.\"
\"What? Where did that come from?\"
\"I got reports that there had been several explosions in your workshop for the past two weeks. Now I understand the need to try new things but don't go overboard you hear.\"
\"You're spying on me Jaya? You do know I am technically your employer right?\"
\"Just keeping an eye on my golden goose. I know how crazy you mad scientist type can get.\"
\"I'm not a mad scientist?\"
\"So say the man who combine Steam and Clockwork technology to invent a variant of the Steambot that beat an ABS. Sorry fatman but even saying that makes you sound crazy.\"
\"I agree. Sometimes I amazed myself but I am not a mad scientist. I'm a mad engineer. Please get your science right.\"
We shared a good laugh which may have been a bit louder than necessary. For all his tough heartless talk, I guess we both needed that.
\"Okay Toby, glad to see you still has a sense of humor. Go back to sleep. I'll contact you once I get more information.\"
\"Thanks. You get some rest too.\"