77 Gathering Protection
I stayed at home the next day. It's was a Sunday and after William's warning, I decided going out on my own was not such a good idea. William said that the Cancer Rats were just asking around, but it won't take long for them to go from talking to taking action. I needed protection. I turned to the System.
"System, you're there?"
[Yes, User Tobias Wong. How may I assist you?]
"My life may be in danger. Is there anything you can do about that?"
[I do not understand. Please explain.]
"I need to protect myself. You gave me the Heat Palm as a reward. Do you have any other weapon system that you can give me?"
[Rewards are only to be given upon completion of tasks. You have not completed the task you currently have. No rewards are available at this current time.]
"Can I have an advance? You can deduct it from my future rewards."
[No. However the Mad Triple realized a question like this may occur and had left a message to his descendants on the matter. Do you wish to hear what the creator has to say?]
"Might as well. Like me hear what pearls of wisdom my old man left me."
[Playing message … Don't be greedy! … Message end.]
Silence filled the house before I managed to recover. "That's it?"
I shook my head in disbelief. Don't be greedy? Three words? My life is in danger and my father, the most famous villain in the past century, just left me these three words.
I quickly went into my 'Cyborg' mode and calm myself. The System was useless, but I knew it a long shot anyway. The council was my main play. Once I get my variant ready, the council would protect me. They weren't going to let their golden goose get hurt. That just leave my new bodyguard. Suddenly, Howard's insistence on me having a bodyguard wasn't such a bad idea. I reread Salma's files and begin to have second thoughts.
I had picked her mainly for her battlesuit operating experience, but with the Rats hovering around, that suddenly became secondary. Can she keep me safe? Her record looks great, but her lack of actual bodyguard experience was a problem. I called Howard and asked if he had contacted Salma already. He said that he had, and I asked him to arrange a meet. I wasn't going to put my life in the hands of someone I had never really met, and I wanted to take a measure of the woman. Just a few days ago, I was adamant in not having a bodyguard. Now I am wondering if she is good enough. The irony was not lost on me.
After reading over Salma's files, I spent the rest of the day lazing around the house. It was my first real day off since returning from Thailand, so I got some much-needed rest. I also caught up on the news. Most of the news on the Solar Net were on the Gravity World Cup. Despite having the best player in the solar system in Josiah Weatherman, the North Americans team was thrashed in the finals. The score of 29 to 11 was unexpectedly lopsided and many fans, even those in North America, were criticizing the North American team for not putting up more of a fight.
I thought the criticism was a little unfair.
A version of handball, Gravity Ball was played over four quarters in an enclosed court. The gravity in the court was adjusted every quarter with the first quarter of the game being played with Earth gravity. The second quarter was played under Moon gravity, and the third in Zero-G. Everything in the court would be affected by the gravity, including the goalposts which were programmed to float up and down at both ends of the court.
In the fourth quarter, the gravity was set to random and in the finals, the Spacer team got lucky. The fourth quarter of the finals was played in Zero-G and I wasn't that surprised by the Spacer's victory as they got to pay half the game in the gravity setting they were most comfortable in.
I spend the rest of the day watching movies and sleeping. When Monday came around, I was well-rested and rearing to go. I cleaned myself up, wore one of my best suits, and drove to my workshop. Howard and Salma were waiting for me in my office. We greeted each other and I took my first good look at my future bodyguard.
Salma binti Salleh was tall for a Malay woman and had a fit lean body. She was dressed in a business suit that looked like it was made with some sort of reinforced fiber and wore a security communication module on her wrist. I wouldn't be surprised if that business suit was armored. At first glance, Salma looked no different from other female bodyguards I had seen before, but she had a military bearing that impressed me. We sat in my embarrassingly bare office and I began by asking the one question that had been on my mind.
"Ms. Salma, I'll be direct. Why do you want to work for me? I have read your file and with your record, you would have no problem getting a job in any security agency in the SEAL. Why me?"
"Because I am willing to bet that you have a bright future in front of you, Mr. Wong. You are an up-and-coming battlesuit designer who has already changed the industry in a small way. I am willing to bet you are only just beginning. I want to get in on the ground floor before you shoot up."
To her credit, Salma didn't even pause at my question and answered my question immediately. She probably thought I was trying to rattle her. To gauge how she would do under pressure, and she would not be wrong. However, the interview had only just began.
"From your file, I see you don't have any bodyguard experience. Tell me, why should I put my life in your hands if that's the case?"