82 A Step Towards Immortality
The council had booked three connected hotel rooms for us and Salma swept all three rooms before we unpack our bags. With my approval, Salma had gone on a shopping spree before our departure from Singapore. Salma had liaised with conference security before deciding on her purchase. Seeing that this was a conference of scientists and industrialists, and that the university had their own security, Salma decided to go for subtle upgrades that enhanced her speed and damage output.
As she was both ex-military and a battlesuit operator, I wasn't that surprised to discover that Salma was a cyborg. It wasn't something she actively hide, but like most female cyborgs, Salma's cybernetics were much more concealed than mine. Both of Salma's forearms and legs had been replaced by cybernetics and she had a neural interface in her brain that helps her connect to external devices faster. Her neural interface couldn't be seen on her face, and her physical cybernetics were concealed under her usual dressing. Like most Muslim women, Salma wore long-sleeved clothing and her hands were usually gloved so it was easy not to notice. Aesthetically, most men still prefer a fully human woman but as they say; out of sight, out of mind. It was this reason why cybernetics were so popular among women in the Middle East.
Aesthetics aside, female cyborgs were every bit as deadly as males. Salma was deadlier than most. The first item she bought with my money was a pair of retractable blades made of Bromium. First discovered by a space miner called Bron Barrington, Bromium was one of the strongest lightweight metals known to man. The metal was currently only found in the asteroid field, so the blades Salma bought were very expensive. However, I can't complain. You get what you paid for, and the blades were excellent. With them, Salma could cut through even compound armour. They could also be concealed within her forearms, giving her a surprised factor. I had no idea how the designers managed to retract a metre-long blade into her forearm, but I intend to find out. Something like that would be great on a battlesuit.
Outside the blades, Salma also purchased a pair of add-ons unimaginatively called Speedy Boosts. Installed in her legs, the new piece of cybernetics boosted the energy output of her legs, increasing her running speed. Running a hundred metres in ten seconds was nothing to her now. She also bought and added several new software for her neural interface. A face recognition software that allowed her to cross-reference faces she seen with a set list of dangerous people Interpol had. A new piece of communication software and an electronic scanner that allows her to see tiny electronics. They costed a pretty penny but Salma told me most bodyguards with neural interfaces had similar programs. I had no choice but to hold my nose and make the payment.
Salma also bought some stuff for me. I was wearing an ordinary looking business suit that had some sort of armour fibre weaved into them. Salma assured me that the deceptively looking suit would offer reasonable protection against blades and small weapons fire.
Outside my new suit, I had also installed a new piece of equipment in my cybernetics. Called the Energy Multiplier, it was a good piece of equipment that I slotted into one of my spare cybernetic torso slots. The Energy Multiplier worked similarly to Salma's Speedy Boost. It was an add-on that increased the energy output of any cybernetics connected to my torso. Not only could it increase the power of the Heat Palm, it also increased the power of my GX-Arms. Despite not having exercised a single day of my life, I could now hit like a truck.
Howard also bought some stuff for himself. As he already had a set of gear for personal protection, his expenses were lower than mine, but he picked quality. Since this was an academic conference, Howard won't be walking around in a battlesuit like he did in Thailand. Instead he bought a set of gene boosters.
Basically, they were syringes that contains chemicals. Once injected, the chemicals would boost the physical qualities of a person beyond their normal limit. For example, a man who injected a low-grade strength booster could easily lift over a hundred kilograms for an hour. I was kind of surprised when Howard picked the gene boosters. Genetics and chemists had long tried to popularize them, but gene boosters had never really caught on. There were various reasons for this. They weren't cheap. They only offered a short one-time boost to your body, so most people would rather spend the money on something more permanent like cybernetics. And only pure humans like Howard could make full use of it. Cyborgs like me and Salma had little use for the stuff.
Once the preparations were done, we set off for the conference.
Salma drove us to the university, and we had to show our credentials before we were allowed onto the campus. Technically, there was no need for me to arrive at the conference on the first day as Liam Haraldsson was doing only his presentation on the last but the knowledge on offer was an opportunity not to be missed.
Academic conferences are more than just a place for scholars to present their research, they were also a place for people to exchange knowledge. It was an opportunity to communicate with people at the forefront of their fields, and to make their acquaintances. I was too unknown to get a one-on-one meeting with anyone but sitting in on their presentation was not a problem. As they say; geniuses bragged, and the dumb learned. I was here to learn.
I had gone onto the conference website days earlier and downloaded the presentation times and locations. The conference will last three days, and I had marked the presentations with the highest value. The first presentation I was interested in was to be held by a professor named Wang Wei Dong. A professor with tenure at Guangzhou Cybertech University, Professor Wang was almost two hundred years old and had been in robotic research for most of his life. He was the leading researcher in the field for the past eighty years and rarely gave public presentations nowadays. Robotics wasn't my field, but this was not a chance to be missed.
The three of us got out of the car and head for the presentation. We were early, but not by much. A crowd had gathered outside the auditorium where the presentation was to be held. As I look at the crowd, I noticed that everyone was wearing a suit. Universities has a reputation of being laid-back but that obviously wasn't the case for this conference. My eyes then noticed the poster outside the conference room.
'Robotics: A Step Towards Immortality'