“What’s the status of the operation?”
“Yes, Captain!! Apart from a little accident earlier, everything is proceeding as planned.”
“Ah, that huh…? Well, it’s fine to not pin her with a crime, but be sure to charge her for the repair fees.”
“How are the mercenaries faring, I wonder? Let’s see…”
Serena switched tabs on her info terminal and looked at the current accumulated rewards earned by each mercenary. Her eyes widened when she saw the data displayed on-screen.
There was one particular individual who had already defeated four medium-sized pirate combat ships. The number of small ships shot down was also quite impressive. It seems that this mercenary was still fighting, and the prize money earned was rapidly increasing.
“Was there such a skilled mercenary in our system?”
“Eh? Whoah! Judging from his performance, he seems to be a Gold rank… no, Platinum rank mercenary. But I’ve never heard of his name before.”
The Operator hasn’t heard the mercenary’s name, but it was a different case for Serena. It was a name she was quite familiar with.
“Display his data on-screen.”
After checking his data, Serena confirmed his identity. He was a self-proclaimed mercenary who piloted an unidentified ship. It looks like he’s formally registered as a mercenary now.
“That isn’t a result a Bronze rank can attain. He’s just been registered as a Bronze rank mercenary recently – a week to be exact. He’s just registered but has already displayed such an impressive performance… Is he perhaps a former military pilot? He’s undoubtedly an Ace-class.”
“Most likely ma’am…”
She looked back on her impressions of the self-proclaimed merc. He seemed to be just a little older than her. He didn’t seem to be a retired military pilot. He should be a little older in age for that assumption to stick.
And he didn’t have an air of someone from the military at all either. Instead of a soldier, he sort of… felt more like an ordinary civilian. He didn’t seem like a mercenary either.
It certainly was unusual. Judging from the battle results, his ship should be a first-class military-grade combat ship. However, no matter how high-performance one’s ship is, one can’t fully take advantage of its specs if one didn’t have the appropriate skills. In addition, skillfully piloting such a combat ship requires an impressive amount of concentration.
It’s quite difficult to maintain one’s concentration in an environment where one is constantly exposed to danger. Some people may even resort to measures such as drugs or hypnotic suggestion.
In other words, he seemed to be an ordinary civilian with no connection to the military, but he has the skills and abilities to pilot such a high-performance military-grade combat ship. It was highly abnormal.
Just who is he…? Serena was getting more and more interested in him.
“His score is rapidly increasing… At the rate he’s going, he’ll achieve triple digits pretty soon.”
“Will it really end with him achieving a triple digit score? Judging from his pace, it truly doesn’t seem to be his limit” Serena thought.
“Keep monitoring the situation carefully. Record all the data you can get.”
After hearing her subordinate’s response, Serena turned her gaze back to the battlefield map. It looks like the battle would be ending soon.
The operation finally ended. The pirate forces have been totally wiped out, and now we were in the middle of searching for survivors from both sides, as well as securing loot and re-useable debris scattered across the former battlefield. That said, our ship isn’t equipped with sensors suitable for searching out survivors, so I’ll leave that up to the military and concentrate on securing some sweet loot.
“Um, Hiro-sama, isn’t there a chance we’ll get into a conflict with others for the spoils?”
“When it comes to cargo thrown out into space, it’s first come, first served after all. And the enemy ships a merc shoots down gets automatically tagged to them, so we don’t really need to worry about something like that anyway.”
It’s just that we’ve been moving all over the place earlier, so my kills were scattered all over the battlefield as well. It was a bit of a pain, to be honest.
But even so, I won’t dare skip this part. There’s no doubt the subjugation rewards from the military would be considerable. But the amount we’d be making from selling off the salvaged parts and cargo from the destroyed ships would also be nothing to sneeze at.
This is especially the case for base raids. In these situations, the pirates usually try to escape while bringing along as many supplies and rare metals they could afford to carry.
“That said, let’s get to work!”
“You look like you’re having fun, Hiro-sama.”
“Course it’s fun. It’s more fun than killing people with a combat ship anyway. We might even find some unexpected treasures or something. Don’t you think this is fun, Mimi?”
“B– But, I’m worried about Elma’san.”
“You’re a really kind girl, Mimi… Well, her ship did crash, but it’s kinda fortunate that she rammed a military warship. I bet she’s safe now.”
“Yup. Military ships are equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities after all. They also have really skilled doctors on-board. So don’t worry.”
“I see… That’s great.”
Mimi made a relieved expression.
Well, there really was no danger to her life, but I can’t say the same for her finances. After all, in addition to the hefty repair costs for her ship, she’ll also have to shoulder the expenses for the military warship she managed to wreck… Just thinking about it is kinda scary.
It may seem cold of me to ignore her plight, but I don’t really have any obligation to help her out. She did help in my and Mimi’s registration procedures, but I’ve already paid her with a large amount of brewed liquor as compensation, so that sort of evens the score already.
It’s not that I don’t feel any gratitude towards her. However, considering the huge amount of debt she’s about to be slapped with following that accident, gratitude’s a bit of a weak reason for me to shoulder that with her.
In the first place, she’s called herself a veteran mercenary. I bet she won’t appreciate me butting in on her problems anyway. But, well, I’d consider helping her out within allowable limits if she did ask for help though.
“Alrighty then, let’s get ourselves some treasure! Watch me work and try to remember the procedures Mimi. It’s not that difficult anyway.”
I ordered the drones to collect the wreckages and scanned their contents. Mmhm. Supplies, liquor, and ammunition huh? Basic stuff. There are also some industrial use metals. These should sell for quite a bit. The rest are… air purifier spare parts, water purifier filters, and other colony maintenance supplies. These should also sell well. These items are used for maintaining colonies and space stations, so they should fetch reasonable prices just about anywhere. However, the real treasures are the rare metals. I didn’t manage to collect a lot of the stuff, but what I got would still sell for a considerable sum.
“There sure are a lot of stuff, Hiro-sama.”
“Yep, you’re right. I’m glad we managed to secure some rare metals.”
“Yes. Huh? What’s this?”
There was an unusual item among the things the drones salvaged, so I began a detailed scan. A jewel? It was sealed tight inside a tough-looking container too. This is… To think they had something like this…
“Oh boy… It’s that thing huh?”
“What is it?”
“This thing’s called a Singing Crystal… It’s quite a dangerous item.”
“Is that so? Should we really bring it with us then?”
“Y– Yeah. We’ll take it.”
My policy is not to miss any item which would amount to lots of dough. Anyway, this Singing Crystal is a special item that could call out a lot of space-dwelling monsters if you destroy it in outer space. It’s a very dangerous item which would summon a swarm of dangerous monsters from out of nowhere.
The monsters aren’t all that tough, but they were pretty numerous. Thousands of them would come at you all at once, so it’s impossible to manage with just a single ship. In Stella Online, at least ten squads were needed in order to attempt a challenge. It’s something which could generate raid bosses; or rather, a raid mission.
Actually, there’s a trick to using this thing… Well, considering our current situation, it may be a good idea to keep this thing as a form of insurance. The situation with the neighbouring Federation kinda smells fishy after all.
“Yep, let’s take this thing. Secretly, that is.”
It’s not exactly an illegal item, but it’ll be messy if we were found holding on to it. The ship has a compartment that can block out external scanning, so let’s store it there.
Eh? What am I planning to do with it, you ask? Hahaha, well I just thought something like this would come handy, that’s all. Besides, collecting all sorts of illegal stuff is kinda a mercenary thing, so it can’t be helped y’know. We salvaged items until the cargo hold was filled to bursting and returned with the other mercenary and military ships to Termaine Prime. Elma’s white Fe***ri was also being towed back… but can that thing still be repaired? It looked pretty busted up. More like, even if their size classes were worlds apart, it still managed to wreck a military warship to an amazing degree. Just how fast did this thing go anyway…? Even I’m getting worried about Elma’s safety.
While I was thinking such things, the ship’s comms received a message. It seems to have been sent to all ships, including the mercenaries.[With this, we declare this operation over. Good work everyone. The pirate main base was completely destroyed and most of their ships were shot down. This will make this Star System safe for a while at least.]
Just for a while huh? Well, this star sector is rich in mineral resources and raw materials after all. It’s pretty close to the border to boot. After a while, new pirate groups would eventually spring out again. It’s not like they’re cockroaches, but pirates are really troublesome because of this nature of theirs. No matter how many you eliminate, others would eventually take their place.[The rewards will be deposited to each of your accounts once we’ve finished tabulating the results. It will be sent after at least two days.]
Two days huh? In the game, the rewards were sent immediately after returning to base, but this is reality after all. Well, two days seem fast enough for a government organization like the military to consolidate the results and give out the rewards.
It looks like the designated time frame was normal since none of the other mercs raised any complaints. I don’t really mind it taking a few days since I’m not worried they’ll do something shady with the reward money. It’s the military after all. They’ll surely keep their word so as to not lose face and trust. I don’t have any complaints either. It’s not like we can’t afford the delay anyway. We have enough finances to last us for quite some time.
“Alright, Mimi. Please send out a docking request.”
“Yes, right away!”
Mimi worked on the Operator console and sent out a formal docking request to Termaine Prime’s hangar bay. Permission was issued out a few moments later. It was her first time to handle a docking request procedure, but Mimi seems to be doing just fine.
In order to avoid accidents, I docked the ship carefully according to the guide markers. The ship was finally fixed to the hangar bay with a *gashan sound, and the airlock gate was closed.
Whew. I let out a sigh of relief. The sense of security you feel when you successfully dock inside a hangar bay was the same in real life as it was in the game.
“What are you going to do after this, Hiro-sama?”
“Hm? Well, I was thinking of having a nice, long rest after we get paid with the reward money. I’m quite tired actually; both mentally and physically.”
I unlatched my seat belt, got up from the cockpit seat and stretched my limbs. I was feeling surprisingly exhausted. I got hit with a lot of Gs while I was performing combat maneuvers earlier, so it felt like I worked out a ton even if I was just sitting on the pilot seat the whole time.
While I stood next to the main console, I operated it and ran the ship’s self-diagnostic routines. It was a fairly rough battle, and I’m sure there would be some areas in need of maintenance. I’ll also have to restock ammo and fuel.
“Um, that’s not what I meant. Um, I was asking where you plan to go after this and your goal, Hiro-sama.”
Oh. Those are quite the philosophical questions, my dear Mimi. Where do we come from, where are we going, what is our goal and what would we leave behind huh…? Uh, I guess not. I doubt she meant something that complicated and heavy anyway.
“Well, first, I’ll tell you about the reason for my journey – my ultimate goal so to speak.”
“My goal… is to live on a residential planet somewhere after purchasing a detached house with a garden on a prime location in the said planet!”
“That’s… quite a grand goal, Hiro-sama.”
“Really? I wonder…”
I want to eat whatever food I like as much as I want, sleep as much as I want and have fun as much as I like. Something like that, I guess. I didn’t say it out loud because it seemed I’d be looked down on if I ever voiced these kinds of goals out y’see. They did seem kinda half-assed.
“It would be good if you could also think a goal for yourself Mimi. Just living for the sake of living seems pretty depressing after all.”
“Yes, you’re right… I honestly haven’t thought of things like that all that much.”
“Anything’s good. Things, like tasting all the gourmet foods in the galaxy or seeing all the magnificent and mysterious sights space has to offer, are pretty fine goals too.”
Hmm. A gourmet food tasting trip cum sightseeing tour huh? You know what? That actually sounds pretty good. Yosh! I’ll save it as one of my sub-goals then.
“A gourmet food tasting trip across the galaxy. It sure does sounds nice. Let’s do it then.”
“Yeah, sounds great. Guess I’ll tag along with you too.”
“Okay. Let’s do it. My goal is to taste gourmet food all throughout the galaxy together with Hiro-sama!”
Mimi and I clasped hands while getting all excited. At this moment, two gluttonous monsters intending to devour all gourmet food in the galaxy were born!
“I don’t really want to get fat, but I’ll do my best!”
“I actually think you need to fill out a little more Mimi.”
Mimi touched her stomach to check her figure, but paused all of a sudden. She was slightly shaking. What? What happened?
“Um, uh, I think I sweated a lot, so I’m going to take a shower, okay?”
“Uh, okay. Go right ahead.”
Mimi walked out of the cockpit awkwardly; it was as if she was trying to cover her lower body. Just what happened to her?
“…Don’t tell me she actually took a leak here?”
Even if the ship wasn’t particularly damaged, we did take a few direct hits. Although the shields held up, it might have been a bit too much of a shock for Mimi, who had just experienced her first live combat sortie. I scrunched my nose and tried to pick up a particular kind of scent inside the cockpit, but came up empty. Did it get absorbed by her pad or something?
“…Geez man! I sound like a damn pervert, so let’s stop thinking about this stuff.”
I decided not to let my thoughts stray away any further and headed to the kitchen. I suppose I’ll also take a quick shower after taking in much-needed water and calories.