Editor: Thor’s Stone
“Above at 2 o’clock, three bogeys incoming!”
“Let’s do this.”
“Aye, aye sir. Weapon systems, standby.”
I aimed at the lead ship out of the three we encountered that was in the middle of running away. They haven’t managed to notice us yet. However, the four laser projectiles from the heavy-caliber laser cannons actually didn’t manage to pierce through the fragile guts of the pirate ship. The lasers ended up being blocked by its energy shield.
“He’s got some good equipment.”
“Well, he’s got a decent energy shield at least.”
『Geh!? A-An enemy–!』
Let’s give em another volley. This time, the laser cannon fire managed to penetrate the energy shield and tore straight through the armor and hull, causing it to explode.
“Y-You just killed them?”
I gave Wamdo, whose voice sounded frightened, a perfunctory reply and fired another round of shots at one of the remaining two pirate ships. They blocked them again huh. But they seem quite rattled so their maneuvers were monotonous and easy to predict. No matter how fast your ships are, it’s no good if you only run away in a straight line y’know.
『N-No, please don’t–!』
Another dirty firework went off in space.
『S-Stop! W-We surrender!』
The last one pleaded for dear life and ejected its cockpit block. When that happens, the cockpit block won’t be able to reconnect with the rest of the ship unless it’s done by a well-equipped shipyard, so by doing so, they’ve practically lost all combat ability, at least in this particular battle.
“Mimi, tag them.”
Mimi operated her console and tagged both the cockpit block and the rest of the pirate ship that was virtually undamaged. It’s a function we don’t usually use, but it comes in handy during large-scale battles like this one in order to mark our kills and spoils.
“Let’s go for the next one.”
“Yes! There are a lot of responses nine o’clock below us. There are also allied ships mixed in. They’re currently in combat.”
I steered the ship following Mimi’s navigation, and after a short while, we managed to arrive at the next battlefield.
“They’re getting pushed back huh.”
“The pirates are quite numerous, but more than that, their equipment seems to be better than average. I think I just managed to spot an enemy ship firing off an ion blaster.”
“This is gonna be troublesome.”
Ion blasters are support weapons that sport high shield saturation capability but really suck at damaging ship armors and hulls directly in exchange. They’re generally more expensive than high-diffusion laser cannons and multi-cannons, and their projectiles were also slower than multi-cannon projectiles. As a result, it’s relatively hard to hit things with them. However, when it comes to their specialization, they were truly quite effective. In a chaotic group battle, having ships with ion blasters equipped mixed in among your enemies would mean there’s a danger of you suddenly finding yourself stripped of your energy shield and suffering great damage as a result. It can be said that they were particularly nasty in certain situations.
“This is Krishna. I’m gonna jump right in and join the party.”
『Welcome! These guys are strangely well-equipped! Be careful!』
I dove straight into the battlefield as I replied via the wide-range comms. First, I’ll need to take care of those ships equipped with ion blasters. Those adept at using ion blasters would opt to dive in the middle of a melee and fire their ion blaster at point-blank range coupled with their multi-cannons. But those who aren’t accustomed to them would blast away from long-range like idiots despite the low hit rate. Yeah. Just like that guy.
『Uoooh!? Keep awa–』
I fired the two large-caliber shot-cannons the moment before I went past the pirate ship equipped with an ion blaster and totally demolished it. Shot-cannons were quirky weapons, but they had the ability to trivialize energy shields and cause great damage to the armors and hulls of enemy ships when fired from practically point-blank range. It was the perfect weapon for these kinds of chaotic melees.
I heard the frightened whimpers of Mr. Wamdo from behind me, but I can’t afford to be distracted by him right now. Oh, the enemies are actually trying to close in huh. Sure. Go right ahead. Eat some shot-cannon sub-munitions as souvenirs.
『The four-armed guy is troublesome! Get him!』
『We’re gonna crush him!』
“Hahaha, that’s a nice joke guys.”
Well, since they were coming for it themselves, I say let them. I focus-fired straight ahead and blew a hole out of their sloppy encirclement formation. After rushing out, I reversed the ship’s heading and exchanged fire with the chasing enemies head-on while cruising backward at high speed. Even if they have some decent gear on them, pirates are still pirates. There’s no pressure as long as I make sure to look out for their ion blasters and seeker missiles.
『T-This guy–! Why ain’t our attacks having any effect?』
『It’s not like we can’t hit him! Keep firing!』
Well, they’re right. It’s not like I can completely avoid all of their attacks. Laser attacks are basically really tough to avoid, and multi-cannons firing in a barrage can pose problems as well. However, as long as I pay attention to ion blaster and seeker missile attacks, Krishna’s triple-layered energy shield would be able to tank all their other attacks with no problems.
And once I’ve baited this many enemy ships–
『Oraaa! Your guts are wide open!』
『You’re really taking us lightly!』
The other mercenaries who’ve been pushed back earlier regained their momentum and broke through the flanks of the pirates who’ve been concentrating on me. Needless to say, they also aimed at the ion blaster and seeker missile-equipped enemies. They ferociously tore through the pirate ranks.
『D-Dammit! Why’d it turned out like this!?』
『Ah– Hey!? Don’t you dare run away, damn you!』
Some of the pirates saw that the situation was turning for the worse for them got scared and attempted to escape. Of course, there are no mercenaries who would just watch them as they fled. The remaining pirates will all be crushed. The escaping pirates will be taken down as well. That’s just how we mercs roll.
“Hyahaaa! Now, this is what I call a fun chase! Whoever’s the fastest wins!”
『Oraoraora! Don’t think you can actually escape, you idiots!』
『Wahahaha! Yer shaking yer behind an invitin me aren’t ya!? Stop runnin! My next paycheck depends on yer bounties!』
For use mercs, pirates who’ve lost their will to fight and expose their defenseless backsides to us are nothing more than easy prey.
“……I really can’t tell which of us are the pirates here.”
Mimi laughed bitterly in response to Wamdo’s mutterings. Hey, that’s rude. We’re just behaving as any exemplary mercenary should you know.
The quality of the pirate’s equipment was higher than we expected and caused the mercenaries to suffer some damage, but other than that, the operation to capture the pirate base went relatively smoothly. At least, the space battle did.
Currently, the imperial space forces along with the infantry unit of Earl Dareinwald’s private forces were storming the interior of the pirate base in order to conduct a sweeping operation.
As for us, we were currently busy picking up our battle spoils. In other words, we were searching for valuable loot on the wreckage of destroyed pirate ships. Pirate ships downed during a base subjugation operation usually have plenty of valuable loot stashed within them.
“Why is that?”
“It’s simple. It’s because they’ve already taken everything valuable they can stuff inside their ships before they fled from the base. No matter how ‘secret’ a secret operation is, the information will still be inevitably leaked from somewhere. Once it does, the pirates would prepare themselves for a hasty exit.”
I answered Wamdo’s questions as we hunted for loot. There were food cartridges, drinking water, liquor, medical supplies, drugs, rare metals, as well as other sellable materials and tech products. There were also people under cryo-freezing within sleep pods – probably illegal slaves.
“Now this is quite a haul…… Man.”
In the Comatt system, there were actually quite a number of pirates who prowled around for the sake of acquiring illegal slaves. It was within my expectations, but it still pisses me off. Well, I believe the empire and Earl Dareinwald will take good care of the illegal slaves and abductees we managed to save this time so I guess that’s something to be thankful for.
By the way, the pirates who bailed out and surrendered during the battle were handed to the imperial military along with their cockpit block. I don’t know what their ultimate end will be, but I hope they will be reborn into proper human beings in their next lives.
“Basically, the main income source for us mercenaries are the bounties placed on the heads of the pirates we hunt down. But you can’t dismiss the earnings we get from selling off battlefield loot either. Or rather, ever since we’ve gotten ourselves a mothership, we actually earn money on par with the total pirate bounties after selling off all the loot, or even more at times.”
“By the way, what are your results in today’s battle?”
“We managed to shoot down 42 small-class ships and 8 medium-class ships this time. That makes our total kill score exactly fifty.”
“Since the equipment of the pirates was better than average, we didn’t manage to hit our previous numbers huh.”
“We’ll just earn more by selling off the loot.”
“Fifty ships…… How impressive.”
Wamdo let out a surprised gasp when he heard Krishna’s combat results. By the way, the prize money for shooting down pirate ships this time is 5,000 Enels for small-class and 20,000 Enels for medium-class. All in all, we managed to earn 370,000 Enels from the total prize money alone. There would be separate bounties put on the heads of the pirates in addition to the prize money as well. In addition to those, we’ll earn even more by selling off the loot and captured pirate ships after we repair and modify them a bit. I’m not sure exactly how much we’ll earn this time, but we’ve undoubtedly made a killing! I can’t help but laugh in glee again.
“I’m happy that you seem to be enjoying yourself, Hiro-sama.”
“Not to sound like a cheapskate, but you really love money don’t you Hiro?”
“Doesn’t it feel nice when all your sweat and effort gets rewarded in a concrete way?”
“The mercenary occupation is a really rewarding job, isn’t it?”
“A rewarding job? Well, that’s certainly true.”
“That’s right. But unlike Hiro, we’re just hired crew members so we only get a share of the total earnings.”
“Um, and how much would your shares be……?”
“I get 1% of the total earnings while Elma-san gets 3%.”
“That’s…… Isn’t that a little too low?”
Wamdo shook his head. But 1% and 3% cuts do certainly seem quite low, don’t they? It’s not like they didn’t risk their lives either.
“I can’t say for sure because we still don’t know how much our total earnings will be, but I’ll probably get nothing less than 100,000 Enels for my cut this time.”
“I think my cut will break 30,000 Enels as well. And I just earned that number in a day you know?”
“Well, in any case, I understand that you live in a world far out of the reach of ordinary citizens such as myself…… By the way, just how do you all spend that money?”
“I’d just buy tasty alcohol and stuff.”
“I’d buy tasty food, I guess?”
“How about things like clothes and accessories……?”
“Nn, well, if Hiro is interested in that stuff, then it’s not like I won’t consider buying some……”
“Or rather, if Hiro-sama gets interested in something, he just buys it straight away himself……”
Well, they’re right. If I see clothes and think they’d look good on Mimi and Elma, I’d probably buy them in a heartbeat. Yep. And if accessories catch my eye as well, I’d buy them too. Yep. Well, it’s not like you can wear fancy clothes and accessories during combat though. If something flies off and floats around inside the cockpit during combat, it would just get in the way and can be pretty dangerous.
“……As expected of a man in a relationship with two women. He sounds quite dependable indeed.”
“It’s Hiro-sama after all.”
Elma smiled gently while Mimi displayed a proud expression for some reason. Ugh. If you say those things to me straight, I’d get embarrassed, you know. Or rather, you guys stopped searching for loot already. C’mon guys. We still have work to do.