Editor: Thor’s Stone
We were on guard about the possibility of crystal lifeforms warping out in pursuit of the battered 3rd and 4th Recon Fleet, but nothing of the sort happened in the end. If that happened, the 1st and 2nd Recon Fleet would have had to stall for time in order to let the battered 3rd and 4th Fleets escape successfully. They would have possibly engaged in a tough battle depending on the situation.
In any case, Krishna couldn’t park inside Black Lotus for the time being because some highly damaged ships from the 3rd and 4th Fleets were occupying both hangars. They had to undergo emergency repairs. If not, they would have broken down midway through the return journey.
Black Lotus only had two hangars, so if Krishna occupied one, only one damaged ship could undergo repairs.
“Calm down, you.”
“I am though?”
“You look like you’re very worried, Hiro-sama.”
I was just a bit worried that the mercenaries who were worked up from the experience of crystal lifeforms trying to kill would do something to Tina and Whisker. I already told May to watch over them, so I think it should be okay. But…… there’s always a possibility of something going wrong.
If they really do something to those two and May (May would probably be fine though.), I’m gonna turn them all to space debris the moment we warp out from sub-space. Absolutely.
“You don’t have to worry so much…… Those mercenaries are more afraid of you than you think, Hiro.”
I can’t think of any reason why they would be afraid.
“Right now, the mercenaries participating in this operation see you as an absolute lunatic who willingly plunges straight into a swarm of crystal lifeforms and lives to tell the tale. You didn’t seem particularly happy when you received the Silver Sword Wings Assault medal, right?”
“Yeah…… I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy.”
I just thought it was really troublesome. The only thing interesting was that birds-eye simulation of the entire battlefield.
“Because of that, further rumors of you enjoying thrills and danger instead of money and fame have spread around the mercenaries and soldiers a lot.”
“What the heck? That’s a joke, right?”
That’s pretty funny, man. I’d take money and fame over thrills and danger any day of the week. Sorry, but I’m not really a battle junkie, guys.
“Where’d you hear about that kind of stuff anyway?”
“That’s a secret.”
Elma smiled and refused to reveal her information source. Was there an underground information network reserved for mercenaries or something?
“Both of them are pretty strong, and they have their maintenance bots with them too, so I think it’s okay. May-san is also with them.”
“I sure hope so.”
I spent the whole time worrying inside Krishna until the mercenary ships finished undergoing emergency repairs.
The mechanic sisters and May never got into trouble in the end. Rather, May reported that the mercenaries were looking at the mechanic sisters, who were hard at work repairing their ships even though they were small and cute, with warm smiles on their faces.
Did they react like that because they normally lived a rough life? Anyway, I tried to picture it in my head and could only imagine scenes that were suggestively criminal in nature…
“What? So you were worried about us, Boss? You really are kind, aren’t ya?”
Once all the emergency repairs were completed, it was decided that we would retreat back to the Izrooks system. We docked back inside Black Lotus and were now taking a break with the mechanic sisters.
“It’s not really like that…… Well, maybe a little.”
When I saw Tina’s teasing grin, I tried to deny it at first, but she and Whisker seemed pretty happy about it, so I couldn’t bring myself to do so in the end.
“I didn’t think you would worry about me as well, Master.”
May, who joined us in the dining room, had a calm expression on her face. She was as deadpan as usual, but somehow, I felt that she had a gentle atmosphere around her as she looked at me.
By the way, Black Lotus was operating normally and navigating sub-space toward Izrooks with the other ships even if she was serving us inside the break room. I don’t know how exactly that works, but it looks like she was operating the ship via some form of remote control. Was this really okay, security-wise? I don’t think May will ever do a poor job though. I guess it’s fine.
“I’m glad nothing really happened though. All’s well that ends well. Yup.”
“Don’t wrap things up forcefully like that.”
“You don’t really have anything to be shy about it, Hiro-sama.”
“Aaah. I can’t hear anything. Anyway, we should talk about our future plans first.”
I ignored Tina and Elma’s teasing grins and diverted the topic. I won’t stand for being teased any more than this.
“Well, we’ll have to go back to Izrooks and wait for the decision of the military higher-ups first, right?”
Whisker tilted her head and Mimi nodded in agreement. Kuh, that’s right, isn’t it? I wanted to divert the issue but chose a poor topic. Damn. Nah, it’s fine. I can still do this.
“That’s not what I’m talking about. I was thinking of the arrangements for Whisker and Tina’s protection. No matter how physically powerful dwarves are, there’s always a limit. We can’t discount the possibility of pirates successfully boarding our ship. I think it would be good if both of you had combat bots for escorts and self-defense.”
“Is there any need to go that far, Boss?”
“But it’s true that there’s still a risk.”
Tina and Whisker started thinking seriously about their safety.
“What type of combat bots would be suitable, Hiro-sama?”
“I’d prefer them to be well-balanced and capable of both high mobility and enemy suppression. I’d also like them to have the function of disabling enemies without killing them.”
“If that’s the case, you want security bots instead of specialized combat bots. Since it’s you, Master, I think you’d prefer them to be as high-performance as possible, right?”
I don’t plan to be stingy when it comes to ensuring May, Tina, and Whisker’s safety. There were lots of models being sold at the Brad system, but the product lineup wasn’t all that good. The other equipment shops were alright, but the android and combat bot shops weren’t anything special. Were they not compatible with dwarves? But Tina and Whisker were both pretty used to maintenance bots though. I don’t get it.
“Then, after all this is over and we’ve finished selling off all the loot and crystal lifeform materials, it would be better to head to a star system specializing in such products. I will check possible destination candidates with Mimi-sama later.”
“Yes! Leave it to us!”
Mimi clenched her fists in front of her in a guts pose. I guess it would really be better to leave our next destination up to them.
“The preliminary diagnostics check on Krishna should be completed by now. We’ll start maintenance then, Boss.”
“We’ll be going, big brother. We’ll be sure to do a good job.”
The mechanic sisters waved goodbye and left the break room. Mimi and May already started brainstorming for our next destination. I could join in on the discussion, but I guess it would be better if I just wait for them to finish. In other words, I had nothing to do right now.
“Are you going back to the ship?”
“Let’s see. There’s probably a low chance of it happening, but there’s still a possibility of scramble orders being given out……”
I guess I should think of something I could do during downtimes like this as well. That said, I left the job of collecting information and trading goods to Mimi. Maintenance and repair-work are left to Tina and Whisker. Even Elma had something to do by collecting other supplementary information through her mysterious sources.
“You don’t have to force yourself to think of something to work on like that, you know. It’s also important to get a good rest so you’ll be at your best whenever we encounter an emergency. Besides, you’re the captain, so leave the other jobs to your crew and just hold the fort, alright?”
“That’s right! Don’t always think about work, Hiro-sama!”
“I also think so as well. Instead of trying to lighten my workload, I would like you to entrust more things to me, Master.”
Elma, Mimi, and even May were nagging at me now. I’m not really all that tired though. I also don’t think I’m that much of a workaholic. I guess it’s an ingrained habit from back when I was just a poor salaryman. It just feels off if I spend time casually without doing anything productive.
“Understood. I’ll just chill in the break room then.”
“Go right ahead. It’s important for pilots to maintain their concentration, so make sure to rest up, okay?”
There’s nothing left for me to do in particular, so I guess it would be good to just plop myself on top of the sofa inside the break room. I then started heading for the break room.
Fortunately, after the emergency repairs were completed, the withdrawal to the Izrooks system proceeded smoothly. We were able to return without encountering crystal lifeforms.
However, there was still a lot of work to do. Full-scale repairs and reorganization of the battered 3rd and 4th fleets commenced. It took about a week to completely analyze the information they brought back in order to determine if there was enough merit to launch a counterattack against the crystal lifeform swarm that defeated the 3rd and 4th fleet.
Meanwhile, we mercenaries were ordered by the military to stand by and lend our forces to bolster the defense of the Izrooks base. There’s still quite some time remaining in the contract period, so we really couldn’t go against these orders unless the military rescinds them.
Of course, you could try breaching the contract, but there was a steep penalty. A huge amount of money would be incurred as a penalty for breaching the contract, and your evaluation and standing in the mercenary circles would take a hit as well. I can’t afford to pay the compensation. I don’t really care about my reputation as a mercenary, but it would be stupid to breach the contract here and take the penalty when we don’t even know if we’re gonna launch an attack or not. The attack is canceled! You’re free to go! If they end up deciding that after we breached the contract, it would be a huge loss.
That’s why we decided to wait around in the Izrooks system for a while.