54 Dreaded Festival
In hindsight, I should have expected it.
The SCR Festival is a designer exhibition and half the reason people go to such exhibitions is to see and mingle with the designers. If the designer released a new design, then it was widely expected that the designer would give a speech during the unveiling. In theory, the designer is supposed to detail the process and thinking behind the design but the content of the speech wasn't really that important. It hardly unusual for designers to just shamelessly plug their products while on stage. The audience just want to hear from the designers.
So with twenty-twenty hindsight, I should have known that I would be giving a speech. This was even my first public exhibition, so of course Jaya would want me to give a speech! I didn't.
That was on me. That was my mistake. Now I never consider myself a stereotypical reclusive designer who was more comfortable with machinery than people, but public speaking just isn't my forte. So faced with public speaking in front of hundreds of people, I did the only thing I could; I begged my good friend Jaya to cancel my speech.
My ruthless soon-to-be-former friend just laughed at my patheticness.
I fully admit that I was pathetic but I don't care. It's better to be pathetic than to lose face on stage. What can I say? I may only be half-Asian but as a man who grew up in Singapore, face is important.
With no way out of the speech, I set out to prepare for it as well as I could. Before I got to Thailand, I was thinking of spending the night walking around the night market and doing some shopping but instead of sight-seeing, I was stuck in my hotel night preparing for a speech I dread. I could only sighed deeply at my misfortune. Luckily with help from the Solar net, I managed to cobble together something that I believe wouldn't be too outright embarrassing and then I went to bed.
After a night of restless sleep, I got up early and after a quick breakfast with Howard, we headed to the festival. The Oriental Earth Group was going to have a grand opening of the SCR Festival and Jaya wanted me there for the photo op. I had no good reason to reject the suggestion so I put on my best suit and was at Nonthaburi Oriental Airport bright and early.
Even though I arrived well before the opening, I found that I was not alone. Despite the early hour, the airport terminal was packed but we avoided the crowd as we didn't have to register to enter the festival ground. Our registration yesterday was still good and my cybernetics just have to log our presence with the festival servers to gain entrance. Even with the registration, we couldn't just fly to the booth and had to park our vehicle before using one of the festival hoverbuggy to enter the grounds. Failure to do so would have activated the festival security and I had no wish to get shot out of the sky.
I and Howard headed straight to the booth of The Fat Tinkerer where Jaya was waiting. Howard immediately entered the Trackbot-P. The three of us had discussed this beforehand and decided to kill two birds with one stone by having Howard in one of my Battlesuits. Not only was this a good security measure, it also works as a walking advertisement for The Fat Tinkerer. As the most famous of my creations, picking the Trackbot-P was a no-brainer and as my security consultant, Howard had used all my Battlesuits on several occasions. He smoothly activated the track mode of the Trackbot-P and drove to the stage where the opening ceremony would be held. Jaya and I followed behind in hoverbuggy.
It was a smooth quick ride that ended at the controlled chaos of the festival stage. Located just after the airport terminal, the crowd near the stage was massive as everyone was awaiting the opening ceremony. The Oriental Earth Group had stationed two mechs and numerous guards to maintain order but we still had to go through the crowd to get to the stage. Howard and the Trackbot-P proved invaluable here.
Howard slowed down but he didn't stop and kept moving forward. This inevitably cleared a path for us. Howard didn't have to be rough with the crowd. People took a look at the Trackbot's weapons and got out of the way. The three of us got to the stage without trouble and Jaya signaled me to get up on stage. Leaving Howard and Jaya behind, I obediently did so and joined the twenty plus other designers already there.
Although there were more than thirty people on stage, I could easily tell who the designers were. They were the cyborgs who were looking uncomfortable in their jackets and trousers. Tradition dictate that designers need to look their best when they attend formal designing events like the SCR Festival so all of the designers were wearing suits. Not Battlesuit but men's wear comprising of a jacket and trousers. Needless to say, grease monkeys like us were less than comfortable in them but we were at least fortunate enough to escape the ties. The weather in South-East Asia make ties very uncomfortable.
Still, tradition need to be observed so I tried to be as comfortable as possible in my American-styled suit. With my girth, I could hardly choose British or Italian right? Although the ceremony haven't started, several visitors and industry reporters were already taking photos of the designers on stage. I gave them my best smile and silently pray to any god listening that I could survive the day. Luckily I didn't have to wait too long before the ceremony began.
The guards near the stage cleared a path from the airport terminal to the stage and stood at attention in two rows facing each other. Some catchy Thai song began playing through the loudspeakers and a group of people began walking to the stage. As if on cue, cheers rang out and camera flashes. I didn't need anyone to tell me these are the senior executives of the Oriental Earth Group. All of them were trying their best to look serious and important, and they even slow down to take in the cheers. It was so pretentious I wanted to puke.
"Step on it already."
I heard the murmuring of the designer beside me and couldn't help but smile at him. He was a man after my own heart. He noticed my smile and ruefully smile back.
A Korean name! I was slightly surprised that there were Koreans at the festival. I thought the SCR Festival was a regional event. One look at him though and I could see why he was invited. Like almost all the designers on stage, Nam was a cyborg but instead of the latest cybernetics, he was sporting a pair of clockwork legs. I knew I was shaking the hand of a true enthusiast.