Editor: Thor’s Stone
A few minutes after we docked the Krishna back inside Black Lotus, the drop ship from the Brad System Defense Forces Third Fleet finally arrived.
A dropship was a small craft that allowed landing on a planet, colony, or other space vessels after launching out from a mothership. The one that arrived was your standard military model. For ships out in space with a hangar bay like ours, they can normally dock this way, but if the situation requires it, they may use the dropship to forcibly tear open the hull and rush in. In short, this tiny ship is unexpectedly good at close range engagements.
It’s like the high-tech sci-fi version of military landing crafts. In addition to being able to carry small vehicles and a good number of soldiers, it also has anti-personnel laser weapons, so when they use it to charge inside enemy ships, it doubles as a front line base.
As I reminisced about the missions I participated in back in SOL involving storming enemy ships alongside allied soldiers, the imperial soldiers sporting laser rifles and power armor finally got down from the dropship. There were about thirty of them. The number of soldiers wearing power armor was countable with my fingers, but it would still be reckless to try taking them all on with just me, May, and Elma.
“Welcome. I’m Captain Hiro, the captain of these ships.”
I waved to the soldiers in greeting, and one of the soldiers stepped out front.
“I’m Ensign Paul Dry, the commander of the 6th Platoon of the Brad System Defense Forces Third Fleet. We will now conduct a spot inspection of your ships in accordance with Article 3 Paragraph 7 of the Imperial Space Navigation Charter.”
Ensign Paul was a youthful-looking soldier who very much seemed to be a freshly promoted young officer. He was your typical handsome, blue-eyed, blonde ikemen with a moderately well-built frame.
“Yes, welcome. We just got this today, so forgive the cargo hold for being a mess.”
“……It does seem that way.”
Ensign Paul looked at the place I pointed to and made a wry grin. The cargo hold was visible from the hangar after all.
The stuff inside the cargo hold were the groceries and daily necessities that were originally loaded inside Krishna. I left only a minimum amount of supplies inside Krishna and moved the rest of the stuff here. We still didn’t have a lot of supplies stocked up because we weren’t really planning on departing from this system just yet, and we didn’t stock up on trade goods to peddle on other systems yet as well, so the cargo hold felt a little empty.
“Um, well then, we will check the cargo and inspect the rest of the ship.”
“Go ahead. Would you like me to accompany you all?”
“We will be glad to have your assistance. We will ask you about the cargo as we go along as well. And we will need to inspect that combat ship as well.”
“Sure. Can I ask you guys to go with them, Mimi, Elma?”
The imperial military had a reputation for being strict and thorough as well as being sticklers for regulations, so I’m sure they won’t be harassed or anything of the sort.
“Sergeant Betty, inspect that combat ship with your squad.”
“Aye aye, sir!”
The female NCO led her squad members toward Krishna with Elma and Mimi following along. The officer being a female one might be some form of consideration on Ensign Paul’s part.
Ensign Paul asked me several questions as his men busily inspected the stuff inside the cargo hold. The questions were the usual ones like our reason for leaving port, the reason for us being in this particular sector of space, and the source of the cargo we were carrying.
“Anyway, this truly is a newly minted ship huh…… It looks great. Everything looks brand new. I can’t believe you were able to personally purchase such a grand-looking ship.”
“We did get the price cut down by a lot, but even so, this girl still cost us 20,000,000 Enels.”
Ensign Paul’s eyes widened.
“Um, if I remember correctly, a first-class warrant officer’s salary is 4000 Enels a month, right? With that monthly salary, you’d only be able to afford one yourself in about 416 or 417 years. Based on that, I get why you’re so shaken.”
“Yeah…… Wait, why do you know the monthly salary of a first-class warrant officer anyway?”
“I was offered a position as a first-class warrant officer a while back. I refused because the salary seemed too low.”
“……Yeah, I bet you would.”
Ensign Paul’s gaze turned distant. I’m sure an Ensign’s salary was higher than a first-class warrant officer, but even that Major Serena was surprised after hearing our regular income as mercenaries… Okay, let’s not dwell on the salary of military officers too much. I might have hit a nerve there.
“It looks like they’ve finished checking the cargo. Let’s continue with inspecting the rest of the ship.”
“I’ll accompany you. Well, this ship just got handed over to us today, so forgive me if I don’t serve as a satisfactory guide.”
I joined with Ensign Paul and his men as they inspected the rest of the ship. First, we exited the cargo hold and the hangar and went toward the central section of the ship.
“You’re telling me this is a mercenary ship…?”
“What the heck is with this overwhelming sense of luxury?”
“It’s way too big…… And the interior design makes full use of all available space.”
“I want to live here dammit!”
Ensign Paul and his subordinates were mentally dying after getting a load of the luxurious and large break room, dining room, and training room.
A soldier wearing power armor glanced at the dining area and froze up. And he then promptly fell on all fours after letting go of his laser rifle.
“What!? What’s wrong!?”
The other soldier wearing power armor beside him got surprised and rushed over. No, really, what’s up man? Did you really see something so shocking?
“……Take a look at the auto-cooker over there guys.”
“What are you…?”
“T-That’s… Tetsujin V…!”
“What…… did you… just say!?”
The gazes of Ensign Paul and his men simultaneously focused inside the dining room. Well, yeah, that’s a Tetsujin V, alright.
“Tetsujin…? And what’s that?”
“Unlike our damned Chef back at the ship that only ever whips up stuff that tastes like unprocessed food cartridge paste even though it’s already supposed to have processed them, that is an ultra-luxury auto-cooker that processes all sorts of high-class and absurdly tasty food……”
The soldier who was on his knees answered Ensign Paul’s question in a gloomy tone. Ah, it seems the performance of the auto-cooker back in their ship was quite terrible… It would certainly make morale drop if they only ever had bland-tasting food usually.
“……But the tea it makes is tasty, right?”
“That and tea snacks are the only things it can make decently though……”
“It’s the captain’s decision…… Just give up, soldier.”
After hearing his subordinate’s words, Ensign Paul’s gaze became distant once more. I see. So I guess the auto-cooker on their ship was extremely inclined towards tea and tea-related items. So, was it, like, a British-inspired auto-cooker or something?
“Hey there, soldier guys. You sure are working hard.”
“Good day, everyone.”
Tina and Whisker passed by Ensign Paul and his men, whose tensions fell to critical levels.
“……Um, those were–?”
“They were engineers who were sent to us from Space Dwerg. As you saw, they’re twin dwarf sisters. They are both already mature ladies, so you guys better not treat them as children.”
“Engineers…… Then who’s the one piloting this ship?”
“I left pilot duty to my high-performance android.”
I didn’t specifically need to tell them she was a maidroid though. But one of the soldiers still ended up noticing a kinda awkward thing.
“……So let me get this straight. You’re the only guy here and the rest are females?”
“……Uh, well, yeah. Haha.”
Hey, stop that. Don’t start priming your laser rifle, you! And you! Stop gnashing your teeth and shaking your first, man. If you hit me with it while wearing power armor, I’ll seriously die y’know.
By the way, all the soldiers with me were probably men. I’m not too sure about the three who were wearing power armor, but judging from their gestures and voices, they were probably men too.
“Damn… Damn, damn, dammit all……! Even I could get a great girl if given the chance……!”
“Even if you did, it’d be meaningless y’know. Once we get on the ship for duty, we won’t be able to see them for months, or even a year or two.”
“Wahaha! I bet she’ll be all over another guy once you come home……”
“Stop it. Don’t give me that, guys… If I were at least stationed in the colony, it would probably work out. Damn.”
I continued guiding the soldiers, whose morale dropped to an all-time low, around the rest of the ship. We also checked out the cockpit along the way.
“Thank you for your hard work, everyone.”
“This girl is the android pilot……?”
“……But ain’t she a maidroid?”
“Indeed I am. Is there something wrong?”
May tilted her head after hearing the soldier’s words.
“No, she’s certainly a maidroid… but her specs seem quite crazy.”
“Yes, that is correct. I can even serve as Master’s bodyguard if need be.”
After the power armor-equipped soldier’s remarks, May nodded briskly in agreement. There were three soldiers equipped with power armor here, but May should be able to win against them within this confined space. May’s close combat specs are extraordinary after all.
“With this, we’ve gone around the entire ship. Do you still want to continue looking around though?”
“Yes. We still need to check out the engine room and such. Those sections are often used to hide illegal contraband after all.”
“Illegal contraband huh…… Are they really that common over here?”
“Yes. Some villains who have colluded with pirates secretly exchange stolen and illegal goods in inconspicuous sectors of space and smuggle them inside the Brad Prime colony, or do the opposite and smuggle goods out from here to other systems. They’ve also partnered with the Abandoned outlaws staying inside the Brad Prime colony as well……”
Ensign Paul let out a sigh. So there are pirates and there’s Abandoned outlaws huh. It looks like the public order of Brad Prime was actually in a bad spot. I’m sure keeping an eye on those criminal elements takes a lot of work. The only way to curb it was to eliminate all of the Abandoned who have turned to crime, but that would be difficult as well. It also seems that the large criminal groups were preventing large mopping-operations by occupying certain areas with important infrastructure and equipment within the colony.
It’s not like they can’t get rid of them, but it was difficult and tricky to do so because of the potential losses and danger to the colony as a whole. They could still attempt it if they didn’t mind taking a loss in my opinion, but I’m sure there’s a lot of other unspoken reasons behind the current circumstances.
We continued discussing the topic on pirates and criminal elements, and before long, the inspection finally wrapped up. Ensign Paul and his men boarded their dropship and went back to their fleet. The result of the inspection was a favorable one. Well, of course, it was.
We’ve managed to avoid undergoing inspections in the past since we were traveling around via a small ship. But from now on, we will probably undergo such a thing more often since we got Black Lotus and a lot more cargo space to store stuff. This incident was timely, in a sense. At least, we finally got some experience regarding on-the-spot inspections like this one.
“It’s already late, so I guess we should head back to Brad Prime now. We’ll start with the full-scale operations by tomorrow.”
I grabbed my portable terminal and told Mimi and the others we were going back, and I had May set a course back to Brad Prime. We’ll start hunting pirates in earnest by tomorrow.