Editor: Thor’s Stone
“These guys ain’t even trying to disguise themselves as pirates anymore.”
I let out a sigh as I got a good look at the ships that attacked us. The twelve small ships were all middle class warships, and the four medium-sized ones were clearly old model military cruisers.
“Both the ships and equipment are too high-quality for mere pirates.”
I returned fire while dodging the crimson beams fired by the enemy ships.
“And they’re all tough bastards to boot.”
When your average pirate ship gets hit by Krishna’s large-caliber laser cannons, their shields and armor would be completely useless and they would be easily shot down, but these guys were different. Our return fire didn’t manage to fully saturate their shields, and even if the shots managed to go through, their armor withstood them even if some took some serious-looking damage.
In other words, their energy shields, armor, and equipment are all a step up from regular pirates.
“What about their overall firepower?”
“They’re all sporting weapon systems one or two ranks above your typical pirate. And their shield outputs are also quite high.”
“I see. Mimi, what about alerting the imperial garrison?”
“It’s no good! We’re being jammed!”
“Well, that’s no surprise.”
“Yep. Just as expected.”
If we stalled for enough time, there’s a good chance the local garrison will notice the unusual jamming signals, but it would still be faster for us to eliminate the enemies ourselves. They won’t be able to get on our case later if we just handed over the flight recorder.
“Well, I think I’ve gotten a good read of their abilities. We’re going in guys.”
“Aye, aye sir!”
“A-Aye, aye sir!”
I plunged into the enemy formation after hearing Elma’s composed reply and Mimi’s slightly shaken one.
The enemy ships seemed to have been surprised at my sudden change in maneuvers. I aimed for that gap and got past the encirclement of the small ships. I then headed straight for the medium-sized cruisers.
“Let’s get the big ones first!”
I avoided the interception fire of the medium-sized cruisers with well-timed barrel rolls and fired concentrated bursts of all four heavy laser cannons on one of them.
They really are tough. I scored direct hits with all four cannons, but the shield still ain’t down. They must be using shield cells as well. But…
“How about this!?”
I fired the two shot-cannons on either side of Krishna’s cockpit and countless destructive submunitions pelted the enemy ship. The enemy ship’s shield may have taken more damage from the concentrated laser fire earlier since the submunitions easily penetrated it and opened countless holes on the ship’s hull.
It may have been hit in a critical area since the ship’s movement completely stopped.
“Well get the other medium-sized cruisers just like this.”
We’ll see what they’ve got then.
I used the silenced medium-sized ship as a shield to ward off the enemy fire from the pursuing small ships and headed for the next target. If I stick close to the medium ones, I would be able to prevent the small ones from firing at us to some extent, since they’ll probably hesitate due to the danger of friendly fire. Well, I would still be able to cope with them even if they didn’t mind friendly fire and continued to shoot at us.
I concentrated on bringing down the medium ones while being wary of support fire from the small ships.
“You sure use some nasty tactics.”
“This is just standard for one-to-many engagements y’know.”
If I didn’t do this, we would probably have tuned into a beehive already. Krishna’s shield still had a limit, no matter how tough it was.
“How’s the damage?”
“We’ve taken some hits, but they weren’t enough to saturate the shield. They seem to be wary of hitting their allies, so they don’t fire as often.”
Elma was operating her console with blinding speed. I did my best to avoid enemy fire using evasive maneuvers, but it was obviously impossible to avoid everything.
And so, Elma controlled the damage by temporarily raising the output of the shield at the impact points with unerring accuracy and using the shield cells in a timely manner. She also used chaff and ECM to throw the enemy ship’s targeting systems into disarray.
Because I kept sticking to the medium-sized ships while fighting, some small ships finally lost patience and closed in at full speed. They may be planning to drive me away from the medium-sized ships even if they had to ram me.
“Not a chance.”
I used the attitude control sub-thrusters to quickly turn around and aimed the shot cannons at the fast-approaching small ships. And so, I fired without hesitation.
The innumerable submunitions saturated the shields of the incoming three ships instantly and filled their hulls full of holes. Three more servings of swiss cheese have been made.
“Great. I’m already familiar with most of their maneuvers. Let’s pick up the pace.”
I stuck to the escaping medium-sized ship with Krishna’s back facing toward it by using the sub-thrusters while firing heavy laser cannon salvos at the pursuing small ships. If I can’t bring them down in one salvo, then I’ll just have to hit them with two or three more.
“This is just so weird…… Just how are you sticking to them perfectly with our back facing against them?”
“I’m just basing it off the radar response and the enemy’s movement patterns.”
What? This is just like using your smartphone to shoot videos while walking backwards. Easy peasy. Anyone can do this once they get used to it. Well, we’re in outer space, so the place we need to maneuver in is a bit wider than usual, but it’s plenty doable with practice.
I spent countless hours of blood-boiling special training with a friend in order to master this unorthodox maneuver.
“It’s about time to end this.”
Since the number of enemies have decreased, I finally put the medium-sized ship I stuck with out of its misery by firing the shot cannons at its exposed backside. I then moved to sweep up the remaining small ships. What about the remaining medium ones? They’re pretty slow anyway, so once I’m done wiping out all the small ones, they’re just big old targets. Well, they still have high firepower so I still had to be wary of them though.
I charged straight toward the formation of small ships and fired the shot cannons every time I passed one. The ones that attempted to escape by showing me their exposed backsides were brought down by heavy laser cannon fire. I made use of the seeker missiles the two medium-sized ships fired in frustration to get rid of the remaining small ships by setting off flares whenever I passed one by, making the seeker missiles detonate right in front of their faces.
I continuously thinned their numbers like so. Before long, all enemy ships have been successfully brought down.
“Well, that was fairly challenging. Their equipment and skills certainly were a cut above your average pirate.”
“Yeah, that’s right……”
Elma was scowling for some reason.
“T-That was scary……”
Mimi was blue in the face. It’s been some time since she got like this. The only time I had this much trouble was… the fight against the Federation fleet at the Termaine system. Well, I still had an easier time here compared to that battle though. There was no need to fire an anti-ship reactive torpedo this time either.
“Let’s hurry up and recover the loot. Keep a lookout for data caches that may serve as incriminating evidence against Chris’s uncle. Since we can’t expect much from the small ships, let’s go ahead and search the medium ones.”
“Aye, aye sir.”
I then moved the Krishna in order to recover the loot and data caches from the destroyed ships. I would have liked to strip off all the equipment from these guys if we had the time… but we might be discovered by the military if we hung around too long. We may even get sniffed out by these guys’ allies.
We divided the drones in order to recover supplies, food, water, and data caches from the four medium-sized cruisers. Since we divided the control of the drones between the three of us, it shouldn’t take long for us to loot all four ships.
“The data caches are one thing, but I guess we can’t expect a lot of other loot huh. I’m sure these guys didn’t plan to stay long anyway.”
“That might not be the case. Ships this size usually have four to eight crew members manning them, right? They should have stocked up one or two weeks’ worth of supplies in the off chance that their propulsion drives encounter some sort of trouble or something.”
“Is that so?”
In the end, it did turn out as Elma said. We managed to recover quite the amount of supplies and water. These should easily last us a month.
“We managed to get a lot huh. We might be able to pull off that plan with the hyperlanes with this amount of supplies on hand.”
“If hiding out on the resort planet doesn’t work out in the end, let’s go ahead and do that.”
After recovering as much loot as we can, we immediately activated the FTL Drive and pulled out of the area.
“We should be able to relax now… You alright back there, Chris?”
I turned toward Chris to check her condition. She looked at me with a pale face and nodded softly. She also covered her mouth with both hands. I guess that’s in order not to violate my earlier instruction of not crying out.
I then turned toward Elma and saw her take out her personal Gravity Sphere. It had a cool name, but basically, it was just a high-tech tumbler that floats and doesn’t spill its contents even during high intensity ship maneuvers. She took out the straw from inside it and sipped her drink. Elma’s as composed as always huh.
Mimi has also calmed down and was currently busy checking out the loot we managed to recover. Mm. She’s become really reliable. She could already be said as a qualified ship operator.
“I’ll reconfigure the navigation route to our real destination. Please watch for the descent angle when entering the atmosphere.”
“Leave it to me.”
You really have to pay attention to the descent angle whenever you attempt to land on a planet with an atmosphere to avoid any accidents. Well, this ship has both safety devices and the energy shield, so there’s a fairly low chance of charging into a planet with the FTL Drive still active and turning into a shooting star or something like that.
That said, the handling of starships will change greatly when inside a planet’s atmosphere due to the effects of gravity as well as air resistance. It would be fairly stupid if you piloted a ship just the way you did in a zero-G environment and ended up crashing as a result.
I followed the navigation prompts for a while until an azure planet came into view. It was the third planet of the Sierra star system that was mostly covered in oceans, Sierra III.
“Yosh, we’ll start entering the atmosphere now.”
“Aye, aye sir. Leave the support work to me. Take a good look at what I’m doing, okay Mimi? This is also part of operator training.”
I left the still-trembling Chris alone for the meantime.
And so, we were finally entering the resort planet after eliminating all our current pursuers.
069 - You Thought it Would be Fine? Don't Give Me That!