87 Anja Karlsson
My mind went blank. I sat there stunned. Minutes went by. Then something clicked in my mind.
The old lady smiled. "It seems that our father was a bit of a rolling stone when he was alive."
A nervous laugh escaped me. I couldn't help it. After all the time I thought about meeting my brothers and sisters, one of them decided to take the initiative and beat me to it. At the back of my mind, I wondered if this woman was for real. What if she was lying to me? Is she really my half-sister? I quickly dismissed the thought. She knew about the System and had openly admitted being a child of the greatest villain of our time. Those were proof enough.
I remembered the warning from the System and realized that I didn't care. My mother was the only family I had ever known and when she died, family became a foreign word to me. Not anymore. The lady in front of me was family.
"Do you mind if I called you Big Sister Anja?" I asked. "Never had a sister before."
My response caught Anja by surprise. A pleasant surprise if her smile was any indication. "Only if I am allowed to call you little brother."
"Maybe not. No one had called me little since I was a baby. For obvious reasons."
I slapped my stomach for emphasis. It wasn't as big as before, but my protruding belly could still be seen. Anja Karlsson gave a little girl giggle. It was totally out of sync with her dignified looks, but I thought it was cute. At least it proved that she had a sense of humor.
"You are taking this a lot better than I thought you would. I had imagined you to be more wary."
"You mean the warnings from the system? Yes, I remembered them, but I am hardly unprotected." I raised my hand to show her the Heat Palm and indicated to Howard and Salma at the entrance. "You are the one who looks undefended."
"I'm from Gothenburg actually." Anja replied. "This is the safest place in the Solar System for me. All my family, friends, and colleagues are here. If something happens to me, I am sure you would never leave the city alive."
The warning was clear, but I didn't really mind. It was better for us to make our position clear, and since she was the one who reached out, I doubt Anja would do anything to me. If this was Singapore, I would probably say the same thing to her.
"How is it?"
"The System?" Anja asked. "From your reaction, I take it our father left you one too."
"Oh yes. It's called itself a Technology System and claimed to be some invention our father made in order to guide his children on their endeavor."
"A Technology System?"
"You sound surprised."
Anja stayed silent. I leaned back, and the silence stretched. I didn't know anything about Anja, so I was gathering my thoughts about how to proceed. Although I was glad to meet her, it was obvious that Anja arranged this meeting for a purpose. She wasn't one to beat around the bush. She wanted to know more about the system. It was something I could relate to. I also had my questions of my own about it.
"Fair trade?" I asked.
"You obviously want to know more about the systems, and I do too. Now that we had both said our threats and warnings; how about a trade?"
"What do you have in mind?" My sister was wary, which was understandable under the circumstances.
"A fair trade. I tell you mine; and you tell me yours."
Anja looked at me and I could almost see her mind working. She was wondering if she could trust me. It was something that couldn't be rushed. I waited patiently for her to make her decision. After a minute, Anja made it.
"You are really not afraid? My system had warned me several times never to meet up with the others. If you had never came to Gothenburg, I would have never sought you out."
"Won't be the first time I ignored good advice. If it is even good advice to begin with. Now, what do you say?"
They say actions speak louder than words. Anja shook her head in disbelief, as if she couldn't believe she was doing this, and began.
"My system gives me tasks to complete. After I complete them, it gives me a 'reward'. New spells, books on magic, access to resources; things of that nature. What about you?"
"Mine work a lot like that." I admitted. "It gives me tasks and rewards me with knowledge about engineering. It also gives me items, equipment, but those are iffier. Oh, our father also left me with a second-hand workshop to start my business."
"Wow. All I got was a book. An important book I grant you, but an actual workshop! So, your sudden rise as a battlesuit designer was due to our father."
"I like to think he gave me the resources to begin my career, but the rest was up to me." I saw Anja's look, and amended. "With a little help from the system of course. What about you?"
"I was already a magician when I received the system. I was … middling. I had decades of experience, but not much talent. Then I received the system five years ago and just shot up the ranks. Came as a shock. I never knew-"
"Wait!" I interrupted. "Five years ago? You received your system five years ago?"