Editor: Thor’s Stone
Kou took Voy and the others to the above-ground level of the arsenal fortress and entered the base located within the mountains.
「This factory complex is an off-limits sector. The products made in the arsenal fortress are all brought here. The factory itself can be freely operated at any time.」
Voy gave the rest details about the factory complex as they traveled along via a five-seater car. Voy served as the driver. Kou was sitting in the front passenger seat. At the back were the three ladies.
「So that’s the new ship huh. Cimon-class mobile assault base, right?」
Kou had heard from the others that Cimon was an ancient Greek name.
The huge ship that was currently on top of a space catapult was apparently a type of ship called a trimaran.
It was comprised of the main hull and two smaller outrigger hulls on its left and right.
「It’s not as tall or as wide as Astraea, but it’s definitely longer. It’s a ship that can head to the frontlines and serve as a mobile forward operating base.」
「It’s an honest-to-goodness combat ship, right? Astraea’s packed full with manufacturing factories after all.」
「The material storage facility alone takes up quite a bit of space after all.」
「I can also see two more unfamiliar ships over there.」
Kou pointed to two unfamiliar ships parked on each side of the Cimon-class.
They were also mounted on the space catapult.
「Oh, those huh. Asia had recovered enough authority to deploy them, so she brought over two small-class amphibious assault ships as well.」
「I wasn’t told about them though. Are those really considered small-class ships? They still look huge to me.」
「They’re about 400 meters long. I suppose they can be called small if you consider the size of Silhouettes…… I don’t really get how Asia thinks too man.」
「They’re more than big enough already!」
The car went up the lowered rampway and headed inside the Cimon-class. After a short while, the group finally reached their destination – the combat command center.
『I’ve been waiting for you, Kou. I am Dike. I am a management AI that works together with Astraea.』
「Are you a completely different AI from Astraea?」
『That is incorrect. As an AI, I indeed am self-reliant. In case the ship finds itself in a place where communication is impossible for some reason or on a different planet, there are situations where self-judgment might be required. Our performance parameters and capabilities, however, are more or less similar. Just think of us as effective backup copies of one another.』
Except for Kou, all the others gasped in surprise. They didn’t expect Asia to bring such an ultra-high performance ship. It was capable enough to completely reproduce the main AI of the arsenal system, Astraea.
「Understood. Best regards, Dike.」
『Yes. I will be mainly in charge of this ship and the entire mountain base. First, please make your way to the pilothouse.』
The pilothouse was the ship’s steering house. This facility was usually housed inside the bridge of regular seafaring ships, but since the Cimon-class was a spaceship, its pilot house was built inside the hull.
The pilot house was a fairly large room equipped with a 360-degree panoramic monitor that provided an unrestricted view of the surroundings of the ship. And, of course, there was a helm and a control console within.
『Please go ahead and take the captain’s seat, Kou.』
Dike led Kou to something resembling a small box, very similar in make to an MCS. It looked only large enough to accommodate just two people.
Kou headed inside and sat down on the front seat.
There were large control sticks on his left and right, and right in front of him was a touch panel-type screen.
『You can operate the ship by yourself using this place. Please do so using those joysticks. The ship is currently unarmed, but all of the weapon systems can be controlled from here as well.』
「Joysticks? Can I really control the ship with these?」
Kou found the joysticks quite unexpected.
『Joystick maneuvering was already employed on container and passenger ships in the 21st century.』
「Really? I didn’t know that……」
Kou’s only image of steering ships was through the use of a steering wheel.
『You can try operating it as you would in a video game if you want.』
「Are you actually serious?」
It was your usual AI joke, apparently. But considering Dike’s straight-laced personality, Kou wondered if she actually was serious.
『The only ones allowed access to this place is you Kou, the captain, and the first mate. I believe you would not choose to serve as the captain Kou, so I extended the clearance levels.』
「That’s fine. Thanks.」
Kou didn’t think he could handle being a spaceship captain anyway. He felt more comfortable piloting a Silhouette.
『Similar to Astraea, this ship can operate in space, in the air, on the sea surface, and underwater. The basic field of operations will be out at sea.』
The screen of the control console then displayed diagrams of various operating environments and situations.
『This ship is registered in the Okeanos network, but it is yet to be registered with the Mercenary Association. Its registration is scheduled on the same day as Metal Iris officially joining us.』
『If a new Force in possession of a powerful ship such as this appears suddenly, there is a risk of causing confusion and unease on the human side. Hence, we shall register it under the management of Asia first, then, after getting the consent of Metal Iris, affiliate it with them.』
「How many Underground Forces have ships of this size anyway?」
『Twenty such ships have been confirmed active in the Nemesis system. Of that number, twelve are active in Planet Asia.』
「There are quite a few of them huh.」
『A particular Underground Force owns multiple ships of this size. As for amphibious assault ships like the ones we have, there are currently 80 registered. Fifty of them are active in Asia.』
「Aren’t the numbers in Asia quite high?」
『That’s because this planet serves as the current main battlefield theater of the Nemesis warfront. Planet Europa serves as the main defense line. Planet Libya is currently under full control of the enemy. So there are a lot more opportunities for combat achievements and jobs to be found on Planet Asia.』
Kou was reminded once more of how precarious Planet Asia’s situation was. He resolved to retrieve the remaining data of the planetary management AI Asia as soon as possible.
『We can utilize the space catapult to launch the ships out of the atmosphere. It can also be used to launch them into the air. However, the Stones currently enjoy air superiority over most of Planet Asia, so I recommend operating underwater for the time being.』
「Roger that. Since this base is built within a mountain range, it’s fine to keep the gates closed most of the time, right?」
『That is correct. This place has no outdoor nature area unlike Defense Domes, but it does specialize in defense. This base was also originally meant to protect the underground arsenal facilities.』
「So it’s a part of a two-stage defense system huh.」
『It’s also built on anticipation of a long-term siege. Although they are currently not in operation, the mountain base also has a proper residential area, an equipment maintenance facility, and a food plant. It can operate completely independently of the underground facilities.』
「In other words, that’s just how crucial the underground facilities are.」
『There is no problem with that interpretation.』
It seemed the arsenal complex under the jurisdiction of Astraea was a lot more important than Kou first thought.
Indeed, the facilities underground were all still active while those aboveground were all dormant. If necessary, they would be able to fight it out with enemies using the underground facilities alone. Both the mountain base and the underground complex housed their own A-Carbuncles.
「Alright then, Dike. Please tell me the overall capacity of the Cimon class. Let’s start with the size of the hangar. I would like it as a reference when developing weapons.」
『Understood. Please return to the pilothouse. I shall explain everything there.』
Kou went back out to the pilothouse, where he received a thorough briefing about the Cimon-class ship.