Editor: Thor’s Stone
And so, I spent the entire day happily flirting with Elma. The next day, I went out together with Mimi on a food trip all over the colony.
We began with grilled skewer stalls, then went on to takoyaki-looking stuff filled with mysterious ingredients, live seafood restaurants, meat restaurants serving artificial, cultured, and even natural meat, and so on. We thoroughly enjoyed the local dwarven cuisine. In any case, we resolved to stop visiting live seafood restaurants after trying it once.
Cuz it was plainly unappetizing, y’see. They served things that looked like those parasitic alien creatures in games and movies y’see. And to think we were supposed to eat something that looked like a huge alien spiny lobster fresh. It was still twitching y’know. I had Mimi take a video, but it turned out to be something right out of an SF horror flick. Well, if you ask me whether or not it was tasty… Uh, I guess it was… Yeah…
And afterward, I sent my proposal for the refurbishment of the mothership’s interior to Space Dwerg. We planned to spend most of our time inside Krishna, but there might be times when we need to entertain guests and the like, and we also needed a place to stay if Krishna is sent for an overhaul again.
And so, I made several upgrade requests to the facilities that will be installed inside the mothership. It turned out quite expensive, but Space Dwerg suggested something to cover the costs.
“Test pilot huh.”
『Yes. We are in great need for test pilots who’ll fly our latest prototypes, obtain data, and give us first-hand impressions regarding our products.』
We received a notice from the Mercenary Guild that Space Dwerg applied for a request addressed specifically to us in the morning, so we went and contacted Sara for the specifics. We were, of course, still inside the hotel room. Since we were renting a high-class suite room, it came equipped with a large holo-display with a telecommunications function for video calls.
“I’m aware that it’s a rare opportunity, but… what’s up with the 1,500,000 Enel reward just for serving as a test pilot?”
“I also think it’s a bit too much. A Gold ranker’s hiring price is usually 80,000 Enels per day, so this is quite a large sum in comparison. Why is that?”
Under the contract, we were supposed to serve as test pilots for five days, and in doing so, the 1,500,000 Enel price for refurbishing the interior of the mothership will be waived entirely. It was a great offer, but it seemed just a bit too generous, so we suspected a catch.
『I hope you can think of this as part of our sincere apology for all the trouble we’ve caused this far. And of course, that price includes the hush money in order to compel you from talking about our latest technological advances to unrelated parties. It’s really not such an absurd amount.』
“I see. So it includes a hush fee. That makes sense, right?”
Mimi, who was beside me, nodded her head and was seemingly convinced. So this much is appropriate for hush money huh. Well, I’m sure the apology for their blunders factored in a lot as well.
“I’m more or less okay with the reward. Then, can you give me some detailed specifics regarding the job?”
『Yes, of course. Then–』
To sum up Sara’s explanation, we were going to serve as test pilots for one of Space Dwerg’s experimental prototype ships, gather data, and provide our objective impressions. Several safety measures have been implemented beforehand, but in the off chance that something did happen, she told us what to watch out for and what to do in case of emergencies.
“It won’t suddenly explode on our faces or something, I hope.”
『We pride ourselves on the reliability and safety of our products, so please rest assured.』
Sara’s image on the other side of the screen displayed a confident smile. Even if you say that, I can’t say I can muster the same level of confidence given what I saw the other day with those swarming dwarven mechanics with crazy looks in their eyes. I remember hearing about Whisker developing some problematic thruster systems as well.
“I’ll just pray that’s the case then. So, how should we prepare for it and where do we report for the job?”
After about an hour, I found myself wearing a skin-tight pilot suit inside a hangar where several of Space Dwerg’s prototype ships were parked. I was currently receiving a lecture about the ship we were supposed to test.
“This ship is Space Dwerg’s attempt at developing a next-gen high-speed combat starship. We incorporated our expertise in making tough, reliable ships into the design and made sure it had the best mobility as well. …Uh, that’s what we’re aiming for anyway.”
“That’s a roundabout way of describing it.”
“Well, it’s because our in-house test pilots can’t even make use of this baby’s full potential…… At best, they can bring out 50% of the theoretical specs.”
That’s interesting. If they could only bring out half of what the ship was capable of based on its specs, it’s either the pilots just plain suck, the ship’s setting are problematic in the first place, or there was a mistake in the overall design. Or maybe it was just that hard to pilot.
“Well… just try riding it first.”
I received a helmet with a built-in HUD from an engineer and started heading for the prototype ship we’ll be piloting for today. When I got in front of the ship, I found Mimi and Elma, who had also finished their preparations, standing nearby. They were also wearing skin-tight pilot suits.
“Mm. Now that’s amazing.”
“It is, isn’t it?”
“S-Stop it, you two. It’s a bit embarrassing if you stare at me like that.”
Elma nodded at my words while Mimi’s face reddened as she attempted to cover her bountiful chest with her arms. The skin-tight pilot suit enhanced Mimi’s bombshell figure even further and emphasized her amazing chest assets. It looks like a lot of the dwarven engineers (mainly the men) were also attracted to the overwhelming sight presented by the pilot-suit wearing Mimi. Hey, guys, she’s my girl, so don’t stare too much, okay.
“L-Let’s hurry up and board already!”
We got pushed by Mimi and boarded the ship. Since it was a prototype, the interior looked pretty bare. There’s practically nothing that enhances the livability installed. Well, I expected as much anyway.
“It would be bad if we get into some sort of accident and get stranded huh.”
“It seems the cargo hold was loaded with at least a week’s worth of water and food. Since this ship is a prototype, it’s also loaded with powerful beacons, so don’t worry too much.”
Well, we were conducting the test on a site near the colony, so I guess we would be rescued immediately if an accident occurred.
“Let’s start with the set-up then. There’s a lot that’s different from Krishna, so pay attention, alright.”
We wore our helmets and started prepping the aircraft for launch. I mainly focused on the OS, while Elma checked the control systems, and Mimi checked the radar and comm equipment.
“It looks like the power loses out to Krishna, as expected.”
Elma, who was checking the propulsion systems, sighed.
“Krishna’s generator is special after all. It seems even Space Dwerg’s engineers couldn’t analyze it.”
Krishna’s extreme maneuverability and its powerful shields, as well as the four large-caliber pulse laser cannons that gave it heavy-cruiser class firepower all relied on the said generator. In other words, Krishna’s special generator served as its heart and allowed full use of its other superb features. It was an extremely peculiar ship that was comparable to a heavy-cruiser despite being a small craft. When I first got a load of the generator output back when I was playing SOL, I thought it was a bug, and checked it three times just to be sure.
In any case, I told them strongly not to fiddle with it since they couldn’t analyze it, so there should be no problem. I was honestly still worried, but if I can’t leave it to the professionals, then I’d have no choice but to maintain Krishna myself. I don’t think I’d do a good job if it came to that, so in the end, I still have to leave it in other’s hands.
If we can build enough rapport with Tina and Whisker and earn mutual trust, I would be able to rest easier.
“There’s no problems with the radar and communication systems.”
“Yosh. We’re taking out the prototype. I’ll leave it to you, Mimi.”
Mimi contacted the control room of the prototype ship hangar and informed them we were ready to set off. Afterward, we’ll just need to follow the port control’s instructions and fly the ship out of the colony.
“How is it?”
“It’s a bit slow. The reaction speed is one tempo slower.”
“That’s because the frames of Space Dwerg ships are basically on the heavier side and sport thick armoring. Hence, it’s quite sturdy, but it kinda doesn’t fit with my or your style because we favor speed and mobility more.”
Fortunately, I was able to adjust to the ship’s handling pretty quickly, but the moment we left the hangar, we experienced some turbulence. This was because of the reaction speed being fairly slow like I said earlier.
If you manage to understeer or oversteer the ship, you could fire up the auxiliary thrusters in order to correct your position, but if you don’t have enough grasp of the thruster’s output, the ship will end up shaking just like earlier.
“Man. The auto-balancer and the gyro of this thing sucks. Normally, the ship will correct itself via auto-pilot and wouldn’t shake like this.”
“So it’s a software problem rather than a hardware one huh. If we knew it’ll turn out like this, we could have brought May as well.”
May headed to Brad colony’s Orient Corporation branch today to undergo scheduled maintenance. May would have no problems identifying this kind of software trouble because of her nature as an AI, so we could have found the root cause if she were here.
“Space Dwerg normally focuses on larger ships, so they shouldn’t have much experience developing a small, mobile ship like this one. Maybe that’s why their software isn’t up to par.”
Yeah. Those dwarves really looked like they were hardware nuts after all. But it’s because they’re hardware nuts that maybe the problem isn’t the software after all. Maybe they just designed a crazy ship without considering ease of use and focused on specs. Man, I sure hope not. They wouldn’t, right? Ugh.
“The gate is open.”
“Yosh. We’re moving out.”
We launched the ship out into space from the gate leading out onto the test site. First, I’ll have to get used to the ship’s handling.
“Mm… It really is one tempo slower.”
Elma let out an exasperated sigh after hearing me complain again.
This prototype, which relied on high-powered thrusters in order to forcefully shove mobility and speed into such a heavy frame, completely adhered to the ‘power is all you need’ philosophy. Due to the ship’s weight, the resulting inertia was quite strong, and that led to difficulties in making sharp maneuvers.
However, because the output of the auxiliary attitude control thrusters was high as well, you could attempt some fairly interesting maneuvers if you manage to make full use of them. Even if the resulting inertia is stronger than usual, hence making the ship prone to oversteering, if you manage the directional thrusters well, you should be able to compensate for it to an extent. So if the reaction is one tempo slow, I’ll just have to pilot it one tempo faster than usual.
Also, because the main thrusters sport a considerably high output, its speed when going straight was quite amazing. However, due to the high inertia, one mistake could lead to an unfortunate accident if you weren’t careful. So flying this thing in a place with lots of obstacles like an asteroid belt wasn’t advisable. In other words, this thing isn’t able to make sharp, sudden turns and brake well.
Conversely, it would be phenomenal if it fought in a place with few obstacles. It will be able to catch up to prey quite easily with its overwhelming speed and bring it down. It might not do well in a chaotic melee, but it would be great for hit-and-run tactics. Its speed was great and had thick armor, so if you load it with high-powered weapon systems, it would be perfect for hit-and-run.
“It’s handling really is quite a bit different from Krishna.”
“It being a heavy and well-armored ship trying to be a high-speed fighter does lend quite a bit of character to it after all.”
“But you’re still able to pilot it with no problems, Hiro-sama.”
“Well, just this much isn’t that hard. This girl is still way easier to pilot than Elma’s Galactic Swan.”
“……Hey. The Swan is a great ship, y’know.”
“Uhuh. It sure is great for a flying space casket with an unpredictable tendency to self-destruct.”
That ship had an even more powerful thruster system than this prototype despite its looks after all. That made it an absurdly difficult unit to fly – a veritable wild horse. Compared to it, this thing, whose only problem was being one tempo slow due to being too heavy, was a lot easier to handle.
『This is Control. Can you hear me, Hammer Seven?』
After we got used to handling the ship, the control room of the test facility finally contacted us. Hammer Seven was this prototype ship’s name.
“Yes, this is Hammer Seven. We hear you loud and clear.”
『We’re starting the test. Please take your position at the designated coordinates.』
“Hammer Seven, roger. I will mark the coordinates on the nav, Hiro-sama.”
“Yeah, roger that.”
I started flying Hammer Seven and followed the directions displayed on my helmet’s HUD. Now then, it’s been a while since I piloted a ship other than Krishna. Better enjoy this to the fullest then.