78 A Bodyguard
"We all start somewhere Mr. Wong. All the experienced bodyguards out there were inexperienced once. I may not have any real-life experience, but I have received extensive training in being an executive protection professional. You already know of my skills as a battlesuit operator, but I had also been trained in the fields of firearms, martial arts, driving, and even virtual security. I assured you the training in Tiger Force Academy is very through."
"You were trained as a bodyguard in Tiger Force? I thought it is a military training facility."
"It is, but cadets must choose some different supplementary courses and female cadets were encouraged to take the bodyguard course."
"You were? Why?"
"Female bodyguards looked better. Surrounding a high-profile leader with beautiful women looks a lot better than surrounding him with big beefy guys."
My eyebrow raised at that, and Salma just smiled. I guessed this was just the world we lived in. I continued.
"Your competence is not in question. I am sure you have been well-trained, but it's one thing to do well in training, and quite another in real-life."
Salma ticked a lot of boxes, but the one big one that she didn't tick was experience. She had none, and that worries me. She was perceptive enough to notice that this was a problem for me.
"Mr. Wong, you are right in saying I have no real experience in the field, but you will not regret hiring me. I am a quick study and I am well-versed in detecting potential vulnerabilities. For example, I can see that the security of your workshop has just been recently upgraded, and whoever did it done a good job, but there are still some vulnerabilities."
"Oh?" I was surprised, and a little amused. Howard was the one who did the security upgrade. She probably didn't know that. "What stands out to you?"
"Your defense turrets are standard market products." Salma pointed out. "They are solid products and offers good security for their price range, but do you know that good hackers can intrude in their systems?"
"Yes. The problem is that the systems are too widespread. They are very bang-for-the-buck, so a lot of mid-range companies uses them. Hackers knows this and the good ones studied them extensively. With some effort, they could even forcibly change the turrets' setting and turn them against their owner."
A few seconds passed in silence as the horror of what Salma said dawned on me. Salma was just getting started.
"Your cybernetics are also possible vulnerabilities. They appear to be very expensive, high-tech products but chances are, they were mass-produced. Most of the time, products that are mass-produced have weaker software protection than custom made products."
"Cybernetics are almost impossible to shut down from the outside." I countered.
"They don't have to." Salma said. "Hackers don't need to shut it down to hurt you. They could do something simpler like place a tracking bug in your system, or an extra program that keep a record of your daily activities. As a businessman, I don't think I need to tell you how disruptive information warfare is. My suggestion is to get someone to regularly update and change the software protection of your cybernetics."
I numbly nodded, and Salma went on.
"There is also the issue of your car. Howard told me you had your aircar for years and love it dearly. Sentiment is good, but your car is a massive security risk."
"Ah yes. Howard had told me that before. I just never got around to changing it."
"Well, you should listen to the man," Salma replied. "From the look of it, your car is a solid civilian vehicle but unless it has some extra security features I can't see, a hacker can easily disengage the anti-gravity system on it, and the next time you fly it, it will plunge into the ground."
My human eye widened at that. "Is that even possible? The safeguards on these vehicles are-���
"Are more than adequate for most civilians. Most civilians don't design suits of war that kill people. If a relative or friend of someone who was killed by one of your battlesuit decide to take revenge, your car is nothing short of an open invitation for them to take their shot."
I was reeling from what she said. I never knew I was so vulnerable. I couldn't help but turned to Howard.
"Dude, you are my security consultant. I thought you are supposed to be handling all this shit."
Howard was nonplussed by my accusation. "I am a police officer turned private investigator turned security consultant. I am not a bodyguard. I was never trained for it and this is exactly the reason why you need a specialist. A well-trained bodyguard can spot danger most people can't."
I rubbed the ridge of my forehead. I could feel a headache coming.
"Anything else Ms. Salma?"
"There is also a problem with what you are wearing. I got no problem with causal wear, but a man of your stature needs protection even in your everyday life. You should-"
"I have stature?" I blurred out. Seeing the dirty looks both were giving me, I decided this was not the time to ask about my social status. "Please continue."
"You should be wearing clothes with some sort of protection. I heard from Howard your cyberneticss are from Ganon Corporation. Grade Four cybernetics, right? It is a good product. Is it bulletproof?"
"No, but they are armored, especially my torso. My arms come with enhanced strength, and I am hardly defenseless." I raised my hand to show her my Heat Palm. Salma nodded her head in agreement.
"Good, that just leave your lower body. As they are still human, I would suggest your wear pants or jeans with an underlying protection weave. Something along the line of what I am wearing. It won't stop bullets or lasers, but knives and needles would have a much harder time of getting through."
"Laced with poison. I am assuming you are still human enough for poison to work on you."
Would poison work on me? Although a good percentage of my body are now cybernetics, most of it is still human. In theory, poison would work on me. I guess Salam's suggestion of … I realized what I was musing. I was wondering how to avoid being poisoned! What was my world coming to?
I raised my hand to stop Salam from continuing. I'm not sure my cybernetic heart can take much more of this thrashing.
"Enough! You are hired!" My decision was greeted with smiles from both Howard and Salma. It was time to wipe those smiles off their faces. "Don't be too happy about it. There's a reason why I need a bodyguard."
I began to tell them of the warning from William and my potential trouble with the Cancer Rats. Howard recovered first.
"Sheesh, I should have known you were in trouble when you suddenly agree to my suggestion."
"To be fair, I didn't know about the Cancer Rats when I agree to having a bodyguard. This information is new."
"Is the information reliable?" Salma asked. "What kind of trouble can we expect?"
I appreciate Salma's willingness to get down to work, but some things can't be rushed.
"Ms. Salma, I am also hiring you to be my in-house battlesuit consultant. I assumed that's not a problem for you?"
"No. I am looking forward to it."
"Good. Let's sign the contact first. Then we can go into the details of my problem."