I couldn't help but wondered. Clockwork technology combined with transforming technology, and then add in modern materials. It's basically what I did but on a simpler, smaller, and everyday level. Instead of expensive battlesuits, Solo Movement Inc. did it on small everyday items. It was a wonderful idea with huge potential. I laughed out loud. It may have been unintended, but it seems that I really did make a big impact in the business world! I couldn't help but feel a little proud of myself.
Unfortunately for Solo Movement Inc., I wasn't the only one who thought they had a great idea. After their success, a spade of copycats sprung up. Most were smart enough to change a few things, but the basic idea was the same. Use old technology with modern material to create simple everyday items for consumers. I saw a backpack rotor that transformed into a wheelchair; a suitcase that transformed into a self-propelling skateboard; and there was even one called Fist Surfboard; a backpack that transformed into a self-propelling surfboard. Amazingly, the last design was extremely popular among teenagers for some reason.
I didn't get it. Why surf when you can just fly over the waves with the rotor backpack? I narrowed the search and concentrated on recently designed battlesuits that used old technologies. I wanted to see my direct competition. A quick check told me I had nothing to worry about. Over the past six months, five battlesuits had been released that used old technologies like Steam, Clockwork, and Rocket, and none of them were in my league.
Although these companies had designed the battlesuits with old tech, all of them were certified as either Grade 0 or Grade One. There wasn't a single Grade Two among them, much less a Grade Three like my Jumpbot-S or Trackbot-P. Still, I was curious, so I decided to take a closer look at the new battlesuits.
After checking out the competition, I discovered that most of them were variants of more obscure models like the San Paolo Scorpion and the Kyoto Springer. There was one guy who created a variant of the Steambot but sales of that design were bad. Looking at the comments, I saw that most of the buyers compared that battlesuit to my Jumpbot and Trackbot models, and found it wanting. I wondered if the presence of my battlesuits was the reason these designers decided to concentrate on the lower end of the market?
It would make some marketing sense. The chances of a battlesuit that used old technology reaching the high-end battlesuit market was low, and since my models already dominated the mid-range market, that left only the low-end battlesuit market up for grabs. I wondered if I should enter the lower end market as well.
Right now, I had the Decimator and the Sealion at the lower end of the battlesuit market, but neither of them could dominate the field. The Decimator was widely considered a failure, and the Sealion was designed more for reconnaissance than combat. To gain market share at the lower end of the market, I would need to design a new battlesuit. The question was whether if it was worth it?
As I was pondering the question, a chime rang in my cybernetics. Howard had sent me a message, and I realized how late it was. Times flies when you are having fun. I opened the message from Howard and saw the list of candidates. I quickly saw a name I recognized.
"Salma binti Salleh?"
The next day turned out to be a busy one. I went to the workshop as usual, and the moment I got there, I received a message from Howard. I had selected Salma from his list and informed him of the decision last night. He sent me a reply stating he would negotiate with her on the contract.
Singapore was a small nation, so small that most Singaporeans were bloody insecure about it, but one good thing about being small was the fact that you often come across people you had met before. Salma binti Salleh was one such person.
If you wish to be accurate, I had never personally met Salma binti Salleh before, but I had dealings with her in the past. A graduate of the prestigious Tiger Force Academy, Salma had forgone a promising career in the SEAL military to be a test operator at the local branch of the SOFS. It was a big climbdown, but Salma wanted to operate combat battlesuits, and she knew she was never going to do that in the military.
Most Asian countries don't allow women on the frontlines, and Singapore was no exception. I was surprised to see her name on Howard's list, but I guessed being a mere test operator was no longer enough for her. She wanted more, and that suited me just fine.
I had seen Salma in action before as she was the test operator for the Jumpbot-S and Trackbot-P, and on both occasions she had been excellent. From what Howard told me, she didn't have any bodyguard experience, but that was fine as I had no intention of getting into any scrapes in the future. It was her experience as a battlesuit test operator that I was truly interested in.
Howard also sent a copy of the contract to me and wanted to know if I want to add anything to it before he spoke to Salma. I looked it over and found nothing wrong with it. It was a standard contract stating Salam's duties and responsibilities, with a strong non-disclosure clause. That's an industry standard as corporate espionage was commonplace. I wondered if I should ask Howard to strengthen the NDA but decided against it. I didn't want to tip my hand. I just need to be careful and not access the System in her presence. With that out of the way, I went back to Dive and search for the next battlesuit on my list.
Although the Steambot was unquestionably the most famous battlesuit of the Age of Steam, it was by no means invincible. As the Steambot gained prominence, several battlesuits were designed to counter it. One of the most famous of these counters was the Streambandit.