Editor: Thor’s Stone
“I ended up showing you all something unsightly.”
“There’s no use trying to gloss things over now you know.”
“Ow, oow! I’m sorry, okay.”
The red-faced Chris started hitting me repeatedly with her cute balled fists. Okay, okay. It’s my fault for saying something insensitive. So calm down, milady.
“Well, what can I say, Boss? Since that’s how it is, why don’t you just spoil her all the way?”
“But you can’t take him home, okay?”
The two drunkards started teasing Chris with big grins on their faces. Could you stop that? Chris is still a minor, so that’s a no-go. So stop teasing her.
“Mumu, the chef’s control of the fire is also quite exquisite……”
Since Chris was back to her normal self, Mimi and Whisker started helping themselves to the food. The dish both of them were sampling was some kind of meat steak. The meat used resembled beef, and it seems the animal it’s from was imported by Comatt III from another planet. Plans for raising them as livestock are already underway. I see. So instead of constantly importing from that other planet, they plan on raising the animals locally instead. Natural meat is considered a pretty high-class good after all. At the end of the day, it’s all about the money, huh.
“It seems you’ve been driven to a corner earlier. Are you sure you’re okay now?”
“Yes. Once we manage to get past the initial stages of the colonization project, I’m sure my work will gradually become easier to manage. And this will serve as good training to raise my and my staff’s skills as well.”
“But isn’t that just you guys getting used to all the work being dumped at you……?”
Light began disappearing from Chris’s pupils once more. Ok, ok. I’m sorry for saying something insensitive again. Here you go. I’m not sure what kind of egg they used, but this tamagoyaki looks tasty enough.
“It’s not like we can directly help out with your work, Chris…… But, well, you can always come to us to complain afterward and get yourself spoiled.”
Or rather, I think there are no other people who would fawn on her like this except for us. Yeah, there are none. Her parents have already passed away, and her grandfather, Earl Dareinwald, needs to govern the rest of their territory and is staying at the neighboring star system. I think she has maids who’ve been serving her since she was young, but it’s not like they’re in a position to spoil her. They are more like her subordinates after all.
“That’s more than enough for me.”
Chris then leaned back against my chest and relaxed. Even if they got along pretty well, since she’s doing something like this without minding Mimi and the other’s reactions, she really must have tired herself out huh.
“By the way, what are your plans for the following days, Hiro-sama?”
“Oh, just the usual stuff. We’ll be ambushing, cornering, and crushing pirates like we always do. We’ve actually crushed about fifty or so pirates these past few days.”
“That’s an amazing result! Actually, the number of pirate subjugations has been steadily increasing lately.”
“Hee? So it’s on an upward trend?”
“Right now, it seems that’s the case.”
“I see. If that’s the case, then I suppose they really are flocking in from the outside.”
Pirates are a big nuisance for civilian ships anywhere, but this isn’t a game, so it’s not like pirates will keep spawning automatically. If we keep hunting them down, their numbers are bound to decrease. If it keeps increasing instead, then that just means the influx of pirates from outside of the system trumps the current subjugation rate, at least for now.
“Maybe a pretty big pirate organization managed to slip themselves inside this system. I think it would be better if you guys paid closer attention to this matter.”
“Pay more attention to it, huh. Practically speaking, what kind of actions can we take?”
Chris peered up at me and asked. Fumu. What kind of actions huh.
“First, I think it’s better to make preparations so you can mobilize a large force on short notice. Large pirate groups tend to collect their loot and kidnapped slaves inside a well-hidden base. As soon as a base is found, you should immediately organize a large-scale raid to get rid of it.”
“I see. In other words, it would be better to always have a portion of the mercenaries and imperial navy ready for mass deployment in short notice in anticipation of a large-scale operation, correct?”
“That’s basically it. It won’t do if the planet’s defense gets overly thinned out as a result of a mass deployment though, so you’ll also have to take the distribution of available forces into account before authorizing a large-scale raid.”
“It would be best if you talked about this with the earl as well. I gave out advice from a mercenary’s standpoint, but a lord like him might have some differing opinions as well.”
“Consult with Grandfather…… Yes, you’re right. I will talk to him tomorrow.”
Chris seemed to pause and think for a few moments, but she nodded in agreement soon afterward. Although her being put in charge of the planetary colonization project might be a test for her so she can become a more qualified lord and heir to the earl, there’s no reason for her to insist on accomplishing everything all on her own. After all, Earl Dareinwald and Chris are shouldering the lives of all of the citizens under them.
“I think it isn’t good to keep talking about work at a time like this, you know?”
“But I can’t really talk to Chris about stuff other than this.”
Chris will become a countess in the future after all. Even though I’m a Gold Star awardee and a Platinum-rank mercenary, it’s not like I can talk to her in a brazen manner, especially when we’re out in public.
“Hm? Well, perhaps you’re right. But at least try to talk about topics other than work-related things, okay.”
“What kind of topics? It’s not like we’ve done anything worth talking about lately.”
Basically, we just patrolled around the star system and hunted pirates as usual.
“Come to think of it, how are you getting along with the media staff on board your ship, Hiro-sama?”
“Oh, those guys. They–”
Afterward, we talked to Chris about the media people as we ate our fill and laughed at her stories about weird petitions she’s been getting for the past few days. The most interesting one was from a single guy who got assigned to a residential area for dating and married couples by mistake…… The contents of his petition were ‘It’s too painful seeing all these couples around me… Please help. I beg you.’ or something like that.
–The next day. When we finished having dinner, Chris was taken home by her private guards from House Dareinwald who came to pick her up. When we got back to the Black Lotus ourselves, she messaged me saying she made it back home safely as well and thanked all of us for the wonderful dinner, which made us feel relieved.
And so, we spent our days mostly doing mercenary work.
We sortied with Krishna to patrol and scour the Comatt system and called Black Lotus over whenever we finished hunting to take care of recovering the loot.
Why did we make such an arrangement? C’mon guys. We can’t use the Black Lotus as pirate bait like we usually do since we had the media personnel onboard y’know…… The introduction of the newly purchased combat bots did greatly improve the Lotus’s internal defenses, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
“Hiro-sama! I picked up an SOS signal!”
“Well, that was sudden.”
Shortly after leaving the Comatt Prime colony on one of our sorties, we suddenly picked up an SOS signal. Apparently, it’s from a civilian passenger ship that’s being attacked by pirates.
“We’re heading over straight away. Tell them we’re coming to their rescue as fast as we can. And have Black Lotus rush over as well.”
After giving a sideward glance at Mimi as she operated her console to start sending messages, I had Krishna head straight to the source of the rescue signal. It was a bit far from our position, and it would take about five minutes before we arrive.
“It looks like there are no other ships nearby that can head over to assist on short notice. I’ll send the data and signal coordinates over to Comatt Prime colony just in case.”
“Sure. Go ahead and do that.”
It’s likely that we’ll be able to settle the situation before any other ships come to the rescue, but we might need some help regarding towing back the downed civilian ship or taking care of the injured. It would be better to request for support.
“Are we really heading over to rescue a civilian passenger ship? It looks like this would make for some good material.”
“You really are……”
The one riding shotgun inside Krishna’s cockpit today was Nyaatoflix’s Nia. She was excitedly preparing her filming equipment. Well, it’s her job after all, so I really can’t say anything too critical.
“We’ll be arriving at the scene shortly. It might get rough later, so make sure to fasten your seatbelt.”
“Aye, aye, sir!”
I deactivated the FTL drive after hearing Nia’s spirited reply and the streaming lights from the stars outside became stationary points once more. And the moment we arrived, we were immediately greeted by the scene of a large passenger ship with its main thrusters destroyed flanked by two medium-class pirate ships from both sides. More than ten small-class pirate ships quickly headed over to intercept us.
“Let’s give these guys a warm welcome!”
I immediately activated the weapon systems and started performing combat maneuvers.
“Two medium-class and fourteen small-class pirate ships confirmed! It seems they’ve already boarded the passenger ship.”
“Let’s crush the small fry first! But be sure to keep an eye on the medium-class ship’s movements!”
I took the small-class pirates head-on and plunged straight into their formation. I immediately brought down one ship with the shot-cannons. We got targeted by the other ship’s laser cannons and multi-cannons, but they didn’t even manage to leave a dent on Krishna’s shield. It would take a miracle for the firepower of small-class pirate ships to take down Krishna’s shields.
The moment I passed the pirate ships by, I turned the flight assist off and used the attitude control thrusters to reverse Krishna’s direction. I then turned flight assist on again and accelerated Krishna to hit the pirates from behind.
『This bastard……!? Spread out!』
One of the pirates realized I locked on to them from behind and gave out a decisive order to scatter.
I see? So they have a decent commander huh.
『Waaah!? My shield!? Noooooo!?』
But it’s not that easy to overcome an overwhelming difference in power and performance. In front of the firepower of our four heavy-caliber pulse laser cannons, the shields and armor plating of the pirate ships were akin to paper and were easily pierced. One clean shot is all it takes to saturate their energy shields and a second shot would pierce their armor and critically damage their hulls. It seems they still had some form of good luck going for them. None of the ships I targeted exploded to bits so far. We did manage to down them all though.
『Take some distance and surround it! Avoid fighting it up close!』
“His analysis is spot on.”
“Even if it’s spot on, something like that won’t be able to decide victory.”
If they’re going for an encirclement strategy, then all I had to do was to tear a hole in their formation and take them down individually. Even if the commander’s decent, it doesn’t mean that all his subordinates would be able to properly execute his orders. So, in a sense, his efforts are useless.
『I-It’s no good! This guy’s too strong!』
『We can’t even make it flinch!』
『You idiots! We can’t just escape and leave the others behind!』
Oh. So they aren’t willing to run away and leave behind their comrades who were currently staging an attack on the passenger ship huh? And if they did escape from here and meet their former comrades later, they would probably go for each other’s throats after forming a grudge here.
However, that just means you guys signed your death warrants.
I brought the small-class pirate ships down one after another and cleaned them up easily.
『S-Stop! We’re gonna murder all of the passengers if you come any closer!』
“Hah! C’mon now, guys. And hey, if you drop your weapons and surrender, I might consider letting you guys live, you know?”
I thumbed my nose at the threat of the remaining two medium-class pirate ships. One basically does not negotiate with pirates. And after all, these guys wouldn’t really dare kill the passengers. Their goal is to kidnap them after all. Since they want to kidnap and sell them off later, they aren’t gonna do something that would decrease the number of ‘goods’.
Well, people can do some pretty crazy stuff when pushed into a corner though.
“What’s our next step?”
“Well, since they’re kind enough to play sitting ducks for us… I might as well take their limbs out.”
After saying so, I aimed Krishna’s weapons at the main thrusters of the medium-class pirate ships. After taking down their main thrusters, I destroyed their weapons next. Why’d I destroy their weapons? That’s because Black Lotus is coming over soon. It’s not like boarding actions are exclusive to pirates you know.