Editor: Thor’s Stone
After the day off, we continued with the pirate extermination…… is what I’d wanted to say.
“They aren’t biting.”
“Yeah, looks like it.”
After a week, we started being unable to attract any more pirates. Well, that just goes to show pirates aren’t that stupid after all. We always made sure to destroy all the ships we lured in the past, but it’s not like we can ensure that they wouldn’t be able to send out some form of emergency communication before being shot down. It’s likely that they’ve already heard about our hunting method through some sort of channel.
“Now then, what do we do about this? Shall we go ahead with ‘that’ plan?”
The plan I’m talking about was to change the ship’s I.D. and name. Normally, ship names and I.D.s aren’t so easily changed, but Major Serena was an imperial noble after all. We can just make use of her privileges to get our way. Afterward, we just had to refurbish the exterior and repaint it so it can function as pirate bait again.
The achievements of Major Serena had already started being heard of by the higher-ups, and it actually seems they’d agree to let the decoy ship become a part of the official military expenses. Depending on how it goes, we may even get approved to buy another decoy ship.
It seems they were thinking of using the ship as a supply vessel or military transport ship if ever it outlives its purpose as a decoy ship, so it wouldn’t completely go to waste.
“That would be a valid course of action, but wouldn’t this be a good time to stop our present activities and aim straight for the source?”
Major Serena shook her head at my proposal.
“Yeah. Based on the number of heads we’d shot down so far, I’m sure they’re already running out of manpower as well.”
The number of pirates shot down during our continuous pirate hunting operations has already reached more than 200 ships. If this were a game, those types of grunt enemies would keep spawning infinitely, but this is reality. The lost ships won’t get replaced by a game script, the pirates who’ve lost their lives wouldn’t get resurrected either. The number of pirate ships active in a certain star system is finite.
But if you look at the entire galaxy as a whole, their numbers remain overwhelming. Even if their numbers get reduced temporarily, if they had a main base of operations, they would be able to gather numbers again by recruiting rogue pirates from neighboring star systems. Then they would be able to resume operations once more.
It’s not like you can completely prevent them from gathering again once you destroy their base, but at least after the loss of a base that allows them to resupply and get regular repairs, they would be unable to operate as aggressively as before. Their numbers will definitely get reduced and they would find it hard to function as an organization again.
“Well then, let us proceed and crush the source.”
We’ve already managed enough valuable intel about their base after recovering the data caches of the ships we managed to shoot down. Major Serena chose to directly eradicate the pirate base.
“How should we arrange it? Would we be boxing them in like last time?”
“Destroying them in a siege would be the best bet after all. I’ll ask for cooperation from the Mercenary Guild again.”
I really think Major Serena was an excellent military officer for acknowledging the fact that we won’t be able to crush the pirate base on our own. She didn’t overly concern herself with raising her own achievements but chose a method that would raise the success rate of the operation instead.
“How about me?”
“I’d prefer it if you participate, of course. You’ll be granted the same conditions as the other mercenaries though.”
“Depends on those conditions then.”
I shrugged and didn’t give a straight answer.
“How levelheaded of you.”
Major Serena made a bitter smile. Well, if you’re told to do some work outside of the given contract, it’s only natural that you get paid separately for that work, right? Us mercs don’t work for charity after all.
“If, say, we want to destroy a pirate base by ourselves, how much force do we need to deploy?”
“If you want to completely destroy them, I’d say you’d have to add at least thirty corvettes to serve as an advance force apart from the ships we have right now. If you really want to make sure, then make it fifty.”
If we just wanted to destroy the pirate base itself, then the ships we had on hand were more than enough for the job. A pirate base is basically just a remodeled supply base or outpost, so the firepower of one battleship and five cruisers would make short work of it. We can just bombard the base from a distance well away from the range of their defense systems.
But it’s a different thing if you want to completely annihilate them. Once the bombardment starts, I bet the pirates would load as much stolen loot as they can on their ships and escape. In order to prevent that from happening, we’ll have to send in an advance force first. The independent anti-pirate mobile fleet led by Major Serena doesn’t have nearly enough hands for that. In order to make sure of the target’s annihilation, we’ll have to send in the number of corvettes I proposed at the very least.
Thirty to fifty corvettes would just be enough for the job. The military corvette is a pretty fast ship with decent firepower and is unmatched by other ships in its class when it comes to recon ability, responsiveness, and close-range dog fights.
Even in the upper levels of the military, there were factions that advocate the use of battleships and cruisers with longer range, heavy armor, and high firepower, as opposed to ones that promote the increase in deployment of corvettes and destroyers with high mobility, response times and suppression capabilities for use in starship-style blitzkrieg tactics.
“It would be quite difficult for this fleet to procure that much corvettes I’m afraid.”
“Thought so. You can just rely on outside help to compensate. Just like last time. That’s why the Mercenary Guild exists after all.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
Major Serena cupped her delicate chin with her fingers and seems to be thinking about something. I’m sure she’s thinking about ways to increase the number of ships and personnel assigned to the anti-pirate mobile fleet. That’s her job as a military officer. It’s not something I can offer advice on.
“We’ve gathered the necessary data. I will be getting permission for the operation from HQ.
On the second day after Major Serena’s report to the higher-ups, the operation was finally given a go. The local imperial garrison won’t be participating in the operation this time. The ships of the independent anti-pirate mobile fleet finished their regular maintenance yesterday and were now hiding within the Alein star system while pretending to have moved to a different system altogether.
This time’s operation was a surprise attack. We would swiftly destroy the pirates before they get news of our approach and have the chance to scatter and flee. The briefing will be performed via a pre-recorded holo-video, and the mercenaries of the Alein Tertius colony would immediately head out after said briefing.
The plan was for each ship to deactivate their FTL drives once the operation starts and launch a simultaneous blitz attack on the unsuspecting pirates.
“It’s almost time, Hiro.”
“Righto. Ready, Mimi?”
“Yes, I’m good to go!”
We were waiting for the start of the operation within Krishna’s cockpit. There were a lot of ships in the same trade around us. We will synch with them and simultaneously deactivate our FTL drives once we reach the target area. We will switch the generator from standby mode to cruise mode later on and will head to the target area via high-speed drive.
“We’ll finally be entering combat after so long. Your skills haven’t rusted, have they?”
“Probably. How about you?”
“Adjusting the power output and controlling the subsystems is a piece of cake for me. Who do you think I am?”
Elma flashed me a provocative grin. Looks like she’s fine. I also kept up with practicing my skills using the simulator, so I think I’ll be fine. Some of my piloting instincts may have dulled a bit, but I’m sure I’ll get into the groove again once the battle starts.
“FTL drive, charging start. Activating in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…… FTL drive, activate.”
The Krishna launched out almost at the speed of light after a booming sound akin to an explosion rang out. We’re practically in a vacuum out in space, so just how is that sound produced, I wonder? I did a little investigating a while back but came up empty.
Well, it’s not like there wasn’t any relevant info at all. It’s just that I couldn’t make sense of it. There was something written about the energy shields affecting the overall structure and mass of the ship’s hull resulting in some kind of effect. It all sounded like gibberish to me. I tried reading up on the principles behind the FTL drive and didn’t understand a thing as well.
Oh well. No skin off my back anyway. I could still use a smartphone, computer, microwave, and T.V. even without understanding how exactly they worked before anyway. And I can still pilot a ship even without understanding how it actually functions.
“I wonder how much we’ll be able to make this time?”
“Let’s see. The fixed pay is 50,000 Enels after the operation, and the performance rewards are 5,000 Enels for small ships, 20,000 for medium ones, and 100,000 Enels for large ones.”
“So it’s just like last time?”
“Well, it’s kind of like the standard reward amounts. Add the bounty rewards and loot to that as well. Any large scale pirate extermination operation spearheaded by the military is mostly like this. You could definitely make plenty of profits if your skills are up to par, so a lot of mercenaries participate in these sorts of operations. Once their nest is poked, the pirate ships that escape out would be absolutely loaded with loot after all.”
Well, since the base was set to be blown to kingdom come by the military warships, it made sense that the pirates would attempt to salvage as much loot as they could while attempting to escape. It would be better to have less cargo in order to gain more mobility during combat, but the pirates have next to no chance of winning against military ships anyway. So why not bet on a small possibility of escaping with all the loot they’ve managed to acquire instead? If they ever managed to successfully escape, they would be able to sell off all the loot in exchange for a great amount of cash and live easy for some time.
“Now then, let’s have a good one…… I wonder if Major Serena managed to do things properly on her end?”
“I’m sure she did. That person is at least excellent as a military officer, thankfully.”
Mimi made a bitter laugh at Elma’s statement. Yeah. That unfortunate incident with her was still fresh in our minds after all.
“We will be arriving at the target point soon. Deactivating FTL drive in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1……”
After another loud boom, the surrounding stars which were streaming behind us like streaks of light turned stationary again. We’re back to normal space.
Shortly afterward, the independent anti-pirate mobile fleet began their bombardment. The relentless barrage of large-caliber laser cannons, plasma cannons, and electromagnetically accelerated kinetic rounds from the main battleship and cruisers pierced the large asteroid that the pirates appeared to be using as their base of operations, destroying both its surface and internal structures.
“They sure are going at it.”
“There are few pirate ships that managed to sortie in time. The surprise attack was a success.”
“Are the prey coming out now?”
There’s a chance they were destroyed by the shelling before having the chance to flee as well. That’s bad though. This is a good chance to make money after all.
Krishna’s generator output was raised to battle mode. We then began to advance toward the pirate base. The other mercenary ships were also on the way.
“Multiple bogeys on the radar. The pirates have begun deploying!”
“That’s great news. Looks like we won’t be going back empty-handed after all.”
“I’ll turn the weapon systems online then.”
After Elma’s declaration, the front part of Krishna’s hull transformed, and four manipulator arms equipped with large-caliber pulse laser cannons came out of it. At the same time, two large-caliber cannon barrels popped out from both sides of the cockpit. They were shotgun cannons sporting immense firepower.
“Alright! Let’s go!”
With an excited shout, I raced through the battlefield with my trusty Krishna.