After I said my goodbyes to Anja, the three of us left the café and entered our vehicle. As usual, Salma was our driver and Howard was riding shotgun. I waited till we were well away from the café before asking.
"You got anything."
"Yes. I ran her face through the Swedish database and got a hit. I will need more time for a detailed check, but I got her public records."
"Show it to me."
Salma did as I asked and transferred the information. I accessed my cybernetics and a 3D image showed up. It was Anja Karlsson. The records showed that she was the only child of Alexi and Justine Karlsson. Alexi was a marketing executive who died in a plane crash, and Justine raised Anja on her own. The records showed that Alexi had a hefty insurance policy and left behind a good sum of money for mother and daughter.
It was so similar to my mother and me, I immediately wondered if my father was the one who left them the money. I just hoped Alexi really did died in an accident. I don't know how jealous of a man my father was, but having his daughter calling another man 'father' couldn't have felt great. I wondered if Alexi ever knew who Anja's real father was?
Anja's education and working records were as bland as it could be. After she graduated from university, she worked for a few years as a human resources executive before getting married. She had kids and then became a stay-at-home mother. She had five children, eleven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. That made me a great granduncle.
I don't know if I should laugh or cry at that.
I looked through the rest of the record, but it didn't tell me anything interesting. Once Anja Karlsson became a stay-at-home mother, the record might as well be blank. However, I knew she was a magician and she said she received her system five years ago. That was a good place to start.
"Keep looking," I told Salma. "Pay special attention to her activities in the past five years."
"What am I looking for? She seems like a pretty harmless old lady."
Indeed, she does. Anja Karlsson looked harmless and I personally hoped she was, but I had been wrong before.
"Look for something unusual. Had her life changed in the past five years? Did she take a trip to some out-of-the-way location during this period? Was there ever a period when she went off the grid and no one could contact her? Things of that nature."
"That doesn't tell me anything." Salma said. "I need to know what I am looking for or I could totally miss it."
I knew that Salma's question made sense, but I wasn't sure how much I could trust her with. Could I trust Salma with my heritage? She knew about the councils and the existence of magic, but not about my connections with The Mad Triple. Howard had no such problem.
"Trust her Toby." I raised my eyebrow at that, but Howard was firm in his stance. "If you want her to be just your bodyguard, then fine. Keep your secrets, but if you want her to be your consultant and fixer, then you need to trust her. What is this about, Toby?"
Since Howard was willing to vouch for Salma. "I am going to take it that this vehicle is secured. Anja Karlsson said that we are related. She is my half-sister. She is the daughter of the Mad Triple."
There was a slight jerk of the vehicle and I smiled at the sight of Salma's open mouth. She always had this cool, calm, and collective air about her. It felt good to crack the facade.
Howard already knew about my parentage and took the news in stride. "So, she is your half-sister. What does she want?"
"I'm not sure," I lied. Only Anja knew about the systems, and I intend to keep it that way. "She wanted to get in touch, and that was nice. I think this meeting might be a way for her to gauge me."
"Gauge you for that?"
"I am just guessing here, but I think it may be my strength. Our father has a lot of enemies, and from what I just read, Anja has a big family."
"She thinks your father's enemies may come calling?"
"Who knows? But I can understand why she is worried. Find me everything about her and her family."
"Understood." Salma answered. The car was flying as smooth as ever. She is a professional.
The second day of the Conference of New Energy and Technology was met with protests. Word had spread about Professor Wang's research, and it's reception was mixed. Some raved about his Forever Life research, as it is now called, while others feared it.
When I arrived at the conference early in the morning, there was already a big crowd protesting at the front of the University of Higher Science and Technology. As we flew over the crowd, I couldn't help but shake my head at the protesters. Looking to live longer was one of the fundamental aims of mankind. I mean who don't want to live forever? If it is not Professor Wang, then it will be someone else. To me, the protesters were fools.
I spent the rest of the day at the conference. I attended several presentations and was happy to see more media folks. Professor Wang's research had upped the profile of the conference and several media agencies had sent their people to cover the event. At first, I thought this was good news. More media coverage means more exposure, and that could mean more investments. If Liam Haraldsson's presentation holds up, it could mean more money for me. Unfortunately, Professor Wang's presentation also meant that the bar had been set higher.