Editor: Thor’s Stone
It’s been three days since we handed Chris over to the custody of her grandfather. We were finally departing from the Sierra Prime colony today.
It looks like there have been a series of shocking incidents that took place inside the Sierra Prime colony these past three days, like the appearance of unidentified corpses that were hung on top of street lights, or sounds of gunfire echoing through the more secluded areas of the colony, where public security was bad. Oh, dear. It all sounds sooo scary. I wonder just who the perpetrators were?
While those things were going on, we just holed up inside the Krishna without a care in the world. We installed May’s newly purchased maintenance pod inside the cargo bay, and afterward, I just spent my time happily flirting with Mimi and Elma. We had to hold ourselves back when Chris was here after all.
Anyway, I noticed the two of them were becoming more and more assertive lately. Was it May’s influence, perhaps? …Somehow, I got the feeling that the two of them were actually competing with her in terms of feminine charm or something. Well, apart from that, Mimi and Elma got along quite well with May. The two of them talked a lot with her, and even took baths together.
But, somehow, I felt like the three of them were up to something. Am I just overthinking it? Oh well. It’s good that the three of them got along with each other.
“Mm? Oh, uh… I was just thinking about some stuff.”
“You okay? We’ll be departing soon, you know?”
“It’s nothing. I was just reminiscing about what happened last night– Ow, ow, ow!”
Elma’s face turned bright red and forcefully pulled my ear. Hahaha, I’ll never get tired of Elma’s cute reactions.
We didn’t really need to arrange anything for this time’s departure. Krishna was temporarily registered as part of Earl Daleinwald’s retinue after all. The Daleinwald House took care of all the necessary work, so we only needed to follow after them once they departed from the colony.
“It would be great if there were no more incidents.”
“That’s right. And it’s amazing that they’re willing to pay us 250,000 Enels per day… Nobles are really rich.”
“Asserting their status is also part of it. If some of the other nobles heard that they hired a Gold rank mercenary for cheap, there’d be all sorts of bad rumors after all. They’d even claim the noble house’s fortunes were waning or something. It’s mostly the same for businessmen. The military usually hires Gold rankers for the standard price, which is 80,000. But bigtime traders and businessmen usually pay up to 160,000 Enels, and nobles pay at least 180,000.”
“Hee… So that’s how the world of the rich works. It’s far removed from the everyday reality of commoners like me.”
“Well, I guess. But you know Mimi, your sense of wealth has already started to deviate from your typical civilian. Or haven’t you noticed?”
“A-Ahaha…… I’m actually a bit afraid of checking out my current account balance.”
I don’t exactly remember how much Mimi’s earnings amounted to so far, but I think it’s about 100,000 Enels or something. In other words, she’s earned at least ten million Yen in just a few months. Mimi’s just reached the legal age for this part of the galaxy, but earning more than ten million Yen after her societal debut does set her apart from your average citizen.
Elma should have earned 1.2 million already. Well, she does purchase liquors that cost up to 100,000 Enels quite often, so I don’t know how much she’s really saved up. And she still needed to repay me 3 million too. It’ll be ages before she saves up enough at this rate.
“Um, Hiro-sama, it looks like the departure clearance has been issued. We’re going to be departing last.”
“Roger. Give me a holler once it’s our turn.”
“Yes. The rest of the ships have started launching…… Large battleships are quite slow, aren’t they?”
“They’re also being extra careful because we’re still inside the port. Since the ship is quite large, it would be a huge disaster if it ran into the colony walls or something.”
“Yeah. That would be catastrophic.”
Back when I played SOL (Stella Online), there were lots of players who got into huge accidents and greatly damaged their newly bought ships because they weren’t used to the sensation of piloting large ships compared to small and medium ones after switching over.
After a short while, it was finally our turn, so I uncoupled Krishna from the dock and moved it forward. Sierra Prime colony was bustling with activity today as well. It looks like the attack of pirates on planet Sierra III a few days ago actually resulted in increased confidence in the security measures implemented on the resort planets. That’s because the defense systems of Sierra III ultimately managed to repel the pirate attack, in the end, making way for a wave of positive publicity. It’s obvious to us that some measure of information control and manipulation had occurred, but, as promised, we’ll keep our thoughts to ourselves.
“Man, flying a starship is the best. This sense of freedom and excitement is just so addictive. It’s a lot like plunging straight into the sea for a swim.”
“Swimming in the sea, huh……”
Mimi let out a sigh from the operator seat behind me. It sounded like she didn’t quite understand what I was getting at. Oh well. It’s just how I personally felt, and I don’t expect others to understand me anyway.
“Well, I kind of get what you’re feeling a bit. For me, it’s like walking inside a lush forest instead of the sea though.”
It looks like Elma somehow gets it huh. Maybe it’s because she’s got more experience flying around on a starship than Mimi.
“Will I also get to feel that sense of freedom in the future as well?”
“Maybe. You might even feel something a little bit different than Elma’s or my impression.”
Everyone’s interpretation of what freedom and excitement mean depends on themselves after all.
“In my case, I feel that it’s something I wouldn’t be able to understand easily.”
May gave her opinion from the sub-operator seat. Since Chris wasn’t here anymore, May took her place on the sub-operator seat. She’s basically acting as Mimi’s support. She’ll be able to help Mimi in improving her skills as a ship operator. With her specs, she would have no problem perfectly performing operator duties after all. That’s why she’s also the perfect trainer for her.
We finally passed the special barrier gate and got out of the Sierra Prime colony.
“They’re signaling for us to move to the bottom left position. The fleet is going into formation.”
“We’re tasked with bringing up the rear, right?”
It’s a position from where we could immediately swoop in to assist any section of the formation if the fleet were to get attacked. If we were positioned out front and the fleet was to get attacked from the rear, it would take more time to turn the ship around and intercept. It would only be an instant, however, that instant could prove to be fatal for the rest of the fleet. Well, conversely, it was also a position that had a higher chance of receiving an attack first.
We promptly went to the back of the formation as instructed.
“Set both the FTL drive and Hyperdrive on standby, get clearance from the flagship, and commence synchronization.”
“FTL drive and Hyperdrive, standby. Sending synchro request. Synchronization has been approved. Synchro complete.”
“Okay. Now we can just sit back and relax.”
Because we were synchronized with the entire fleet, there was no need for us to manually activate our FTL drive and Hyperdrive ourselves. We’re set into auto-pilot and will navigate in accordance with the flagship’s commands.
Shortly after, Krishna activated its FTL drive, and after a short while more, it disengaged from FTL navigation and activated the Hyperdrive.
“No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I still feel it’s a marvelous sight.”
Mimi let out a sigh as she watched the colorful scenery outside the ship as we were traveled via hyperlane.
“Yeah, you’re right. But don’t look at it for too long, or you’ll start to feel sick.”
“Really? I feel like I can stare at it forever though.”
“You’re tough in the weirdest aspects, Mimi……”
“Eh…? Why does it feel like you just casually made fun of me?”
Mimi puffed up her cheeks in annoyance as Elma teased her. I think Elma’s right though. But I better just keep that to myself.
Well, y’see, the scenery inside the hyperlane is like an eclectic mix of shining rainbow-colored lights. It looks pretty at first glance, but if you look at it long enough, you’ll start feeling nauseous because it messes with your sense of distance and balance.
The journey’s been smooth sailing so far. There was basically nothing one can do to a ship traveling via hyperlane, and we weren’t hit with an interdictor when we exited to normal space and switched back to FTL drive propulsion either.
We used the hyperlane to travel outside the Sierra star system, and finally reached the Myuure system, which was four systems away from Sierra. We could have used Hyperdrive navigation to travel straight to the Dexer star system, but there’s a reason we stopped over here.
“Fuuah… So that’s a gateway huh.”
“It’s so big.”
After seeing the gigantic structure floating in space, Mimi gushed excitedly with sparkling eyes while I gave an expression akin to that of an elementary school student out on a field trip.
It can’t be helped, guys. It really is gigantic y’see. This superstructure was many times bigger than the colonies we’ve visited and was shaped like a gigantic iron triangle. Within the center of the giant metallic triangle was a swirling mass of distorted space, and you could spot countless ships coming and going through it. So that’s a gateway. It’s a symbol of this era’s hyper-advanced technology.
It looks a little bit different from the gateways I’m familiar with from the game, but it’s not like everything in this dimension is exactly the same as what I encountered in SOL (Stella Online). Maybe it’s just designed in the style of this particular galactic empire.
“Oh, right. It’s your first time seeing a gateway huh, you two.”
“I’m familiar with them, but it’s my first time seeing one for real.”
“That’s right. I’m the same as you, Hiro-sama.”
There really is a world of difference between knowing something and seeing it with your own eyes. But man, it really is huge. It’s insanely huge. Is the scanner displaying the correct values? Really? It’s more than a few times bigger than Sierra Prime. Scratch that, this thing looks like it’s even bigger than Earth. It’s an utterly crazy superstructure, that’s for sure.
“But with this, we can finally breathe easy, right? Each gateway has several Imperial military fleets patrolling them as guards, so there’s next to no chance of an attack happening.”
“Yeah. The ones who’d attack this place would have to be really screwed in the head. They’re gonna turn into space dust in an instant with this much firepower.”
This gateway allows instantaneous travel between space sectors several thousand, or even millions of lightyears away from each other in practically an instant. It was a really important structure that made it possible for the Empire to continuously expand and acquire its utterly vast territory. And as a result, the forces assigned to guard it are several times more powerful and numerous than what we encountered in all the places we’ve visited thus far. Even a special ship like the Krishna would be reduced to mere space dust in an instant by this overwhelming force.
If one really insisted on attacking this place, he’d have to bring the entire armed forces of an average galactic empire in order to stand a chance. Why? ‘Cause the Graccan Empire would most likely use the other gateways they control to continuously send in a great number of reinforcements, that’s why.
And, just like what I said earlier, the forces assigned here are pretty powerful too. Unless you had enough forces to attack the gateways simultaneously, you’d just be done in by a concentrated assault of the Empire’s military might. And it would start with elite special forces specifically assigned to guard the gateway. One would have to be really crazy to take on that kind of force.
“You’re right. We’ll get done straight away. That’s why the danger will probably come after this.”
“Yeah. There’s that, huh. Uh, how many more star systems do we have to pass by after leaving the gateway in order to reach the Dexer system?”
“Five systems. The system we’ll arrive at after we pass through the gateway is the Neeparc system, and following that would be the Melkitt system, Zieger system, Uerick system, Comatt system, and finally, the Dexer system.”
Mimi displayed the galaxy map on the cockpit screen as she explained. She also indicated the hyperlane routes we’ll be taking on the map, as well as the approximate travel time from system to system.
“If an incident occurs too far away from the gateway, the guard fleets would probably not come to our aid, but if it’s within their jurisdiction, they’d sortie right away.”
“So that means we’ll have to watch out for possible attacks once we pass by the Zieger system and the Uerick system huh. I’m sure the Earl and his men have also prepared countermeasures for that possibility though.”
“The Emperor also bestowed the Earl with the system directly neighboring Dexer as part of his domain, so we would probably be fine once we reach the Comatt system. Melkitt system is directly under the Emperor due to its proximity to the gateway, so the earl’s influence probably isn’t that strong there. But if his relations with the ruling noble houses of the Zieger system and Uerick system is cordial, he can probably request the assistance of some of their forces at least.”
Elma fiddled with the galaxy map and set it to display the territories of the various noble houses in the sector, which were separated via different colors. Just like Elma said, Melkitt star system was directly managed by Imperial authority. The Zieger system and Uerick system were managed by different noble houses, and the Comatt system was part of Earl Daleinwald’s territory.
“From what I know, nobles generally aren’t that friendly with each other.”
“I also have that image of them.”
“It’s not like everyone’s like that you know. Well, it’s a different story when there’s jostling for resources and competition between industries involved.”
It’s not like the galaxy map has info on the relationships between different noble houses, so we can’t really find out anything of that nature from it. And it’s not like info of that nature is important for our line of work, so we didn’t bother with it in the first place. Yep. That means we have absolutely no clue regarding that aspect.
“In any case, we just need to keep our guards up. Don’t slack off and always be alert for possible threats.”
We gradually approached the center of the gateway, which was a swirling mass of distorted space. Okay, okay. I get it. I’ll keep my guard up, so stop pinching my thigh already.
“By the way, what’s your opinion on all of this, May?”
I turned back toward May, who kept her silence during the entire conversation, and asked what she thought. She won’t express her opinion at all unless you ask her directly for it after all. She will instead prioritize her master’s, meaning my thoughts, over her own. I would honestly prefer it if she were more assertive though.
“Yes, well, I think what poses the highest danger of an attack is the moment immediately after we warp out to the Comatt system.”
She posed a conjecture that ran contrary to everything we’ve surmised earlier.
“What’s your basis?”
“The territory of Earl Daleinwald is basically his home ground. Judging from his previous actions, Balthazar Daleinwald’s preferred method is to manipulate a third party in order to further his designs using currently unknown means – including those from the military. From this pattern, we can surmise that the forces assigned to the Comatt system have the highest chance of being coerced or manipulated.”
That’s right. Chris’ uncle, Balthazar Daleinwald, had enough capability to send hundreds of pirates after us on Sierra III, procure cutting edge military stealth dropships, as well as manipulate an Imperial military squadron to attack us with total abandon.
If he really could somehow extend his claws toward the Comatt system’s forces… Just thinking about it is giving me goosebumps. Earl Daleinwald’s fleet can probably stand their ground against the Comatt system’s forces, but they could stage a surprise attack the moment we warp out, which is the moment when our fleet is the most defenseless. It sounds like something he would likely do as well.
“……Should we inform the Earl about this?”
“I’m sure the Earl has also thought of that possibility already. He looks pretty competent after all. Or rather, this conjecture implies that the Earl doesn’t have a handle on his own territory you know. Doesn’t that sound kinda rude?”
After saying so, Elma displayed a wry smile. Yeah. She’s right. If I went ahead and told him something like ‘Hey, I think your own forces back home will be manipulated and sent to deal against you, man. You better watch out, kay?’ out of the blue, I’m sure the Earl would flip out. But if he can’t even settle a dispute within his own household, then we probably won’t be able to expect much out of him in the end.
“Looks like our hands are tied.”
“Yep. Definitely. So let’s just work hard and survive guys.”
“It looks like that’s the only thing we can do……”
Elma shrugged her shoulders and Mimi let out a resigned sigh. I also sighed quietly. Oh boy. Now I suddenly feel really uneasy.
Rofl, he like to be inconsistent xD
Each time he’s nearly “Nah, nothing bad will happen…Probably”
Now it’s the contrary. Same for May’s first time, he said that she prioritize his thought but if didn’t say yes then is it her duty to directly drag him to the bedroom? ^^
Finally fixed wordpress (well, I think). Anyway, many thanks for this novel, I enjoyed reading it’s translation! May God bless you!
Thanks for the treat.
I really need to find my copy of Freelancer. It’s like getting hunger pangs, reading through this. I could reinstall Darkstar One… but it didn’t really have the same feel so I never got into it.
Nah the gramps is def dying. He is in the way of obtaining the lo- chris for the crew after all
Ok so that’s a worm hole and the size of earth to boot… RIP Stephen Hawking