Editor: Thor’s Stone
We docked inside the hangar of the flagship of the imperial independent anti-pirate fleet, Restalias, got off from Krishna, and were promptly guided by imperial soldiers to the captain’s quarters.
Both Mimi and Elma were more or less familiar with the layout of the ship since they visited several times during our fleet instructor stint at the Alein system. As for me, this ship was more or less my temporary workplace, so I was more familiar with it than them. But since these soldiers were ordered to guide us anyway, I might as well just shut up and let them do their jobs.
On the other hand, it was a new experience for Chris since this was the first time she was able to board an imperial military ship, and her eyes were filled with curiosity. The walls and floors of the ship were all made of military-grade metal alloys, so I imagine it would hurt quite a bit if you tripped and fell down here. Or rather, you might actually get injured if you weren’t careful. And so, Mimi pulled Chris’s by the hand and supported her so she won’t get into any accidents. Seeing two cute girls walking side by side while holding each other’s hands was quite the relaxing sight.
By the way, May was staying inside Krishna. Well, I don’t really think anyone would pull anything funny inside the Restalias, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful.
“We’ve brought Captain Hiro and his crew ma’am.”
『Good work. Please return to your duties, soldier.』
We finally reached the captain’s quarters, and when one of the soldiers operated the panel beside the door, we heard Major Serena’s voice through the intercom speaker.
The soldiers who guided us gave a crisp salute and left. Yep. That’s a soldier alright. How uptight.
The door of the captain’s quarters then opened.
“Please come in, everyone.”
The voice of Major Serena rang out from within the room and invited us in, so we did as we were told and entered.
The interior of the room was unexpectedly pleasant to the eyes. There’s a single large work desk, some sofas and a coffee table for entertaining guests, and a cupboard that housed several fancy-looking medals, a shield, and a decorative sword. Man, that sword sure looks cool. I want one too. Not that I knew how to swing a sword.
“Thank you for responding to the request of humble mercenaries such as ourselves.”
“Please stop that. It’s giving me goosebumps.”
“Really? I’ll just talk to you like usual then.”
“Haa…… Well, fine. So what’s your business with me this time? I’m sure you didn’t come here just to brag about your lovely vacation experiences, right?”
“Oh, how scary. But nah, we’re here on proper business. It’s about the pirates that attacked Sierra III.”
Major Serena’s ruby pupils narrowed at my words. It looks like she actually knows something already.
“I’m sure you’ve noticed that the scale of the attack was too unusual for ordinary pirates. They even slapped FTL drives on asteroids and used them for orbital bombing. It’s reasonable to think that someone backed those pirates up and supplied the necessary finances and equipment, right? And we happen to know just who that mysterious backer is.”
“How interesting. I would like to know more, but… what’s your actual objective, Captain Hiro?”
“Oh, nothing much. I just want to tag along with your fleet for one to two weeks. If possible, I also want to procure supplies through imperial military channels.”
“So that’s your angle… You want to make use of this fleet as a shield, huh?”
“Don’t put it that way, major. We just want your cooperation in bringing down a villain to justice. Anyway, it’ll just be for a little while.”
“You’re still quite the smooth talker I see… So?”
Major Serena raised her brow as if to ask for the specific circumstances. Now then, where should I start?
“Should I tell everything from the beginning?”
“I think that would be best, Hiro-sama.”
“It’s better to tell her about Chris as well, Hiro.”
All three of our gazes turned toward Chris. Major Serena’s gaze also turned toward her, and Chris seemed uncomfortable due to the sudden attention. Okay then. I’ll start from the beginning.
“When we first came into this star system, we were attacked by pirates y’see. They hit us with an interdictor and forcefully stopped our FTL drive, but we managed to fight back and eventually destroyed their ships.”
“You’re a trouble magnet as always. And then?”
“We found a cold sleep pod among the wreckages of those pirate ships. And Chris here was the one inside it. Her full name is Christina Daleinwald. She’s a lady of House Daleinwald, and the granddaughter of the current Earl Daleinwald.”
“House Daleinwald…… I did hear that the first son of the earl lost his life a few months earlier due to a pirate raid. I see. So she survived the attack…… Hm? Wait a minute. In other words…?”
“It was a fight for succession disguised as a pirate attack. And when the culprit found out that Chris was still alive, he set out to finish what he started. The mastermind of today’s pirate attack on Sierra III was Chris’s very own uncle… Uh, what was his name again?”
“It’s Balthazar Daleinwald, Hiro-sama.”
It was Mimi who gave the name of Chris’s uncle.
“Oh, right. There’s a high chance the mastermind behind this pirate attack was that Balthazar Daleinwald. They even managed to attack the island we were staying at by sending in combat robots.”
“……Can you give me more details about this matter?”
We all moved to the sofas and started explaining the ins and outs of the incident in more detail. The descent and attack of the combat robots were recorded by Miro and sent to May. There was a copy saved in Mimi’s tablet terminal, so we handed over all the data and recordings regarding the combat robots and the military-use stealth dropship to Major Serena.
“……Well, this is certainly some detailed evidence. And it’s something we can’t just ignore.”
After looking over the data, Major Serena’s face contorted into a grimace.
“Is it about the stealth dropships?”
“Yes. They normally can’t be purchased by any private individual and are reserved strictly for military use. I wonder just what methods he used to procure them……?”
The combat robots, on the other hand, were not military models and were comparably easier to obtain, so a son of the Daleinwald House would be able to obtain a number of them as long as he had the Enels to spend. And that’s something to be thankful for. If we faced actual military models, we probably would have not come out of that attack unscathed.
“I now understand that this matter is something we, the imperial military, cannot ignore. In summary, that Balthazar person might try something desperate now that his plans are close to failing, so you’re aiming to use our fleet as a convenient refuge, right?”
“Well, that’s about right, I guess.”
“So you admit it……”
“Well, it’s not like denying it will do any good at this point. And I’m an honest gentleman after all. And it’s not like this matter won’t bring you any benefits either, right?”
“Haaa…… Well, alright. But hiring our services won’t be cheap, you know?”
“Oh c’mon. Think of this as a way of paying back all the favors you owe us, major. I’m sure you’re not the type to take advantage of honest folk like us, right?”
Major Serena’s body shook like that of a newborn fawn’s as her face displayed a mortified expression. Hahaha, how amusing.
“Think about it this way. If you help us out with this matter, I’ll consider us even, so ain’t it quite cheap?”
“Yes, yes, whatever you say… Honestly. Well then, Captain Hiro. I will officially hire you as guards for some civilian cargo transport ships affiliated with us. That arrangement should be fine, right?”
“You expect me to just agree with just that, major? Give me the details first.”
What the heck are you clicking your tongue for, lady?
“There are two civilian cargo ships affiliated with this fleet, and they’re privately owned by House Holz. One is a Pelican IV and the other is a Flying Tortoise. I plan to hire you to guard these two civilian ships.”
“Hey, wait a minute. These so-called civilian cargo ships of House Holz are the ones you use for luring pirates, right?”
“Ohohoho, oh come now. It’s just that those two ships attract pirates on a regular basis so we have no choice but to come to their rescue every time. But, considering your superb skills, you should have no trouble fighting those pirates off or annihilating them, correct?”
Maybe she’s had enough. Major Serena’s expression was filled with annoyance, and it was all directed towards me. Kuh. Well, it would be nice to lure the enemies out of their fox holes and take care of everything in one go, but…… Oh well. This is better than taking them all on by our lonesome anyway. After buying enough time, the independent anti-pirate fleet will take care of the rest.
“Okay then. We’ll go with that. So what about compensation?”
“The standard compensation for a Gold rank mercenary is 80,000 Enels per day.”
“……Ain’t that too cheap?”
“We’ll pay the rewards for every destroyed pirate ship separately after all.”
I moved my gaze toward Elma.
“Well, considering the situation, shouldn’t we be thankful we even get paid in the first place?”
“You have a point… Okay, I understand. We’ll take you up on that offer, major.”
“Alright. Well then, I’ll be arranging everything with the Mercenary Guild first, so just wait inside this ship for the meantime.”
“Would you like us to take custody of you, Christina-san?”
Major Serena looked towards Chris with a questioning gaze. I turned toward her as well, and saw her shake her head. It looks like she wants to stay on Krishna.
“Well, there you have it. Thank you for the offer though.”
“I see. Well, to a young girl, staying on a military ship filled with stuffy soldiers doesn’t seem too appealing, I guess.”
Major Serena nodded in agreement. But ain’t Major Serena also a girl? I turned a questioning gaze toward her.
“Aside from being a girl, I am a trained military officer and a full-fledged noble after all. I’m also skilled with a sword.”
Major Serena smiled boldly. So she’s skilled with a sword huh. Was she comparable to those knights wielding sabers of light and some sort of force who can deflect laser shots with said sabers? How curious.
“We’ll excuse ourselves then.”
“Alright. I’ll call for one of my men to act as your guide. It won’t do if you accidentally find yourself in a classified area after all.”
After saying so, Major Serena took out a portable communicator and relayed some orders.
Whew. We can finally rest easier now. With their assistance, the danger has lessened considerably. Man, it sure is nice to have connections.