51 The Day Before
Seeing that I wasn't going to be talked out of it, Howard then decided that he would accompany me to Thailand as my bodyguard. I wasn't given the option of saying no. I contacted Jaya who was already in Thailand to inform him of my tag along and he said he would arrange for a pick-up for both of us at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Unhappy security consultant aside, the trip to Thailand was uneventful and the flight from Changi Airport to Suvarnabhumi Airport was void of any drama. Better known as Bangkok International Airport, we arrived at Suvarnabhumi the day before the start of the festival and there was a man waiting for us. I was worried about the cost but Jaya assured me that the pick-up is free as the Oriental Earth Group had arranged transport for all participants of the festival. The official reason is that this is the first time the SCR Festival is being held outside of Bangkok but Howard suspect the free transport was due to security fears. Either way, it was just a short trip to from Bangkok to Nonthaburi Province so I didn't thought much of it. That is until I saw the big armored coach waiting for us.
If the aim of the Oriental Earth Group was to reassure me of the safety of the festival, then they failed miserably. The armored coach waiting for us a top of the line Series 5 Kings Flying Coach. I had worked on some of these coaches when I was just a mechanic so I was quite familiar with them. The coach was the kind football clubs in Europe used to ferry their multi-millionaire footballers from cities to cities; the kind that can get hit by a missile and keep on flying; the kind that cost millions of credits per vehicle.
Things must really be bad if the Oriental Earth Group is using a fleet of these coaches for all the participants. Despite my misgivings, I have to admit there is a huge difference between working on the vehicle and being a passenger in it. The coach was luxurious and I spent the trip enjoying the scenery below me. I even spend some time investigating the new rewards I received from the System.
I had been right on the money about the missions and rewards. After designing the new Battlesuit for the festival, I got the message that I had completed my mission to design a Grade 1 Battlesuit and the System immediately gave me a mission to build the Battlesuit. I gladly did so. More importantly, the rewards I got this time were actually good. Unlike the cool but useless CS Little Rascal, this time I got skills!
As a Battlesuit Designer, skills are far more valuable than equipment and the two I got were doozies. Dual engineering is a skill that makes it easier for me to combine different technologies in a Battlesuit, and Advance Electrical Engineering gives me more knowledge on electrical equipment, devices and systems. The former is useful as I use a lot of different technologies in my Battlesuits while the latter is great as I would need it in the future when I designed Battlesuits using Compound Electrical Technology. Unfortunately, no new missions were given by the System but I expect that to change once the SCR Festival is over.
Just like the flight to Thailand, the trip to Nonthaburi was uneventful and the flying coach arrived at Nonthaburi Oriental Airport without incident. At first glance, I was impressed. The coach had stopped outside the airport terminal and I could see numerous aircraft landing and taking off at the dual runways. The airport had two runways and from the looks of it, the festival was going to occupy both of them. Either the SCR Festival was bigger than the reports said or the Oriental Earth Group had stepped up their game this year.
I was leaning towards the latter as there were a lot of security. Turrets, security drones and numerous guards patrol the runways and I wouldn't be surprised if there were some extra security measure hidden from view.
Howard and I stepped into the terminal and my eyes was immediately taken by the massive twenty meters tall mech standing in the middle of the main hall. I know the mech by sight. It was the Rocketbolt.
Arguably the first mech in history, most people had considered the machine to be too big and bulky when it was first revealed by its inventor, Dumaka Jaja. They quickly changed their tune. Armed with numerous rockets and a heavy jet pack, the Rocketbolt turned The Great African War on it's head with overwhelming and speedy delivery of offensive power.
Although its battlefield dominance didn't last very long as many other designers quickly copy and improved on its design, the Rocketbolt did enough to help ushered in the age of Rocket Power. In fact, most historians considered the Rocketbolt to be the invention that heralded the end of the Clockwork Age. As the invention widely considered to be the machine that change the ages, its place in history is assured.
A practiced eye told me that the mech in front of me is no replicate; this Rocketbolt is the real deal. It is a vintage mech from the age of Rocket Power. I don't know what was stranger; the fact that the Oriental Earth Group managed to get their hands on one, or that they just placed it as a showcase for the festival.
"This machine deserved to be in a museum!"
Only when I saw Howard's nod did I realized I said that out loud. We went to the check-in counter which was now serving as the check-in area for all participants. It seems that whoever organized the festival for the Oriental Earth Group has a sense of humor.
A quick DNA scan proves our identity and we both got our festival pass. With the pass in hand, I had access to the SCR Festival network and connect my cybernetics to it. I call up the floorplan of the festival from the network and quickly found where my stall was located. Howard and I walked out of the terminal and stepped into the controlled chaos of the runways.
There was just a day before the opening of the festival and everyone was in the midst of getting ready. Robots and drones were carrying equipment, helicopters were flying overhead, and even the main stage was getting their finishing touches. Some foreigners may considered it unprofessional but in the SEAL, last minute rushed work is normal.
The stage was where most of the presentation would be done and it was situated near the airport terminal. While it looks great, what really impressed me was the ten meter water tank sitting beside it. I have no doubt the water tank was there for underwater demonstration and wondered if Jaya was going to make use of it.
The stall for The Fat Tinkerer was on the second runway and as we walked towards it, I enjoyed the sights. There were several and unusual models at the festival and not everything was ancient and vintage.
I saw a giant clockwork spider security drone called the Arachnid Guardian; a Steam-powered demolition derby truck called the Steam Dreadnought; and a clockwork Battlesuit called the Cavalry Walker. These were just some of the machines on show that had clearly been modified for modern use. I was especially interest in the Cavalry Walker and made a note on the location of the stall. I shall come back to take a closer look at my competition when the festival begin.
After a short walk, we finally saw the stall for The Fat Tinkerer. Jaya directing some workers who were fixing in some extra lights and placed within the area of the stall were the gleaming Jumpbot, Trackbot, and Decimator. I quickened my step and Jaya saw me approaching. I didn't waste time.
"What happened? Where's the Sealion?"