Editor: Thor’s Stone
“Eh? We’re really bringing that thing with us?”
The moment she saw me back with the constantly flashing special-grade cursed item, Elma instantly displayed an annoyed expression.
“It just turned out this way. In the worst-case scenario, the Rose clan is willing to take all the blame, so rather than leaving it with them, they want us to bring it away instead.”
“Eh…… Is that really okay?”
“No idea. Well, it’s not like this guy did anything wrong by itself, so I think it’s fine. If it turns out that this thing actually affects causality and all that metaphysical BS to pull even more bad luck toward us, we can always destroy it using Krishna’s laser cannons.”
The special-grade cursed item pulsed two times as if to deny my assumption. Oh, come to think of it, I instructed this guy to shine once if it wants to say ‘yes’ and shine twice if it wants to say ‘no’ just recently huh. Surprisingly, this guy properly remembered my instructions. It’s quite the earnest drill-spear-seed thingy.
“Ah, Hiro-sama. We’ve already finished resupplying. We can sortie any time.”
“Nice work, Mimi. Were we able to stock up on enough anti-ship reactive torpedoes?”
“Yes. In addition to the four we already have on Krishna, we got a dozen spares as well.”
“Ok. It really is convenient to have a mothership huh.”
“A dozen? Just what do you plan on fighting against with that much firepower?”
It’s not like there’s anything bad about having plenty of spare rounds y’know. Now that we had 16 shots, including the ones already loaded onto Krishna, we can even singlehandedly turn an entire pirate base into space debris.
“The sortie schedule still isn’t finalized yet, so take this chance to get a nice break. You can stretch your wings in the colony if you want, guys.”
“Hm. I’m fine staying here, I suppose. I feel calmer staying inside the ship.”
“I’m also gonna stay on the ship. What about you, Hiro-sama?”
“I’m gonna check up on the mechanic sisters. After that, I’m gonna check up on Mei next. If there are no problems, I guess I’ll take it easy myself.”
The elves were very welcoming, but I can rest better inside my own ship. There’s a certain sense of security. It’s like I’m staying inside my home. Nah. Maybe it’s simply because the security measures were tight, and when push comes to shove, we can high-tail outta here immediately with the ship, so that leads to peace of mind.
“Okay. I’ll tag along too. I’m free anyway.”
“I’ll come too.”
“Is that so? Well, I suppose it’s fine.”
When the three of us arrived at the hangar section, we found the maintenance bots hard at work. Whisker was sitting in a spot apart from the maintenance bots so she wouldn’t get in their way while her hands were swiftly operating her tablet terminal.
“Ah, Big Brother– Oh, and everyone as well. What is it?”
“Ara? Did you only have eyes for Hiro, Whisker?”
“T-That’s not it.”
Whisker denied Elma’s words in a fluster while her face turned a bright shade of red as the other grinned and teased her, but wouldn’t her reaction cause Elma to tease her more? Mimi also had an amused smile on her face.
“We ran out of things to do since we’ve completed all our tasks before the sortie, so we decided to go around the ship to check things out. How are you guys doing?”
“Um, there’s currently no problem for now. Krishna’s maintenance is already complete. We’re conducting a full check right now, just in case.”
After saying so, Whisker turned her gaze toward Krishna, which was parked inside the hangar. Some maintenance bots and drones were floating all over Krishna and executing scans. I had no idea how it worked, but I suppose that’s how they scanned Krishna’s status.
“What about Tina?”
“Big Sis is checking up on Black Lotus. She’s probably working together with Mei-san right now.”
“I see. You guys can take a break after finishing your tasks, okay? We’ll need you sisters to work real hard later when the operation goes underway after all.”
“So that’s really going to be the case?”
“Probably. Oh, but it’s impossible to salvage every ship that comes our way, so it shouldn’t be that harsh. We’re probably gonna be salvaging a lot of equipment though.”
The number of ships we can salvage would be four at most. We can shove two ships inside the hangars and then tow the two others with Krishna and Black Lotus respectively. We’d probably be limited to three small-class ships and one medium-class. Furthermore, in order to tow the ships, we’d have to use both the FTL Drive and Hyperdrive. If the output drops, chances are we’d lose the ships we’re towing. That’s why we can only do it after the battle with the pirates.
Furthermore, we can’t delay the rest of the fleet’s work just for our own profit, so we need to be quick about it. That’s why the mechanic sister’s true battle would only start after the operation is concluded.
“Oh, what’s up, you guys? Why’re y’all here?”
Mei and Tina finally appeared inside the hangar area while we were in the middle of chatting. Judging from their current looks, I suppose the maintenance work on Black Lotus is already complete as well.
“We already finished our tasks. That’s why we’re going around the ship to check things out instead.”
“I see? We’re all done too.”
When I turned my gaze from Tina to Mei, she nodded in affirmation. I see. So they were done with their tasks as well.
“Hey! Now, wait just a darn minute! What’s with that earlier reaction, Boss?”
“I confirmed it with Mei, just in case.”
“Hey, hey, hey, I’m also a pro y’know? Don’t you think that reaction’s rude?”
“I’m sorry, okay.”
I honestly apologized to Tina, who was giving me an annoyed glare. It’s because of your usual devil-may-care attitude, okay? I didn’t mean anything bad by it. And I do trust your skills.
“Oh? So you’re apologizing huh? If that’s the case, then please turn your words into actions properly, Boss.”
“Eh? What are you on about now?”
Was being crafty in fashion among women nowadays? Oh well. I guess I’ll hear her out anyway.
“Gimme a hug.”
After saying so, Tina approached me and outstretched her arms.
“Gimme a hug. I’ll forgive you if you lift me up and gimme a nice tight squeeze.”
She then gave me a sunny smile. As she smiled, Tina continued outstretching her arms, as if to urge me to hurry up and hug her already. Eh? Well, I didn’t really mind. A hug’s nothing. If carrying her up and hugging her would fix her mood, then it’s fine.
I hugged her from the front just as she wished, and Tina immediately latched on to me tightly by wrapping her arms around my neck. I supported her behind with my left hand and wound my right arm around her back.
“Man, this sure is one big kitty……”
When I looked down as Tina made herself comfy by resting her cheek on the side of my neck, I found Whisker staring up at me without blinking. What’s with that greedy look on your face, young lady? Do you want to be carried up and hugged as well, Whisker-san?
When I turned toward the others, I found Elma, Mimi, and Mei giving me similar looks.
“I’ll be fine with a normal hug you know?”
“I’m fine with that too.”
“I do as well.”
“What’s with this situation?”
Eventually, I ended up carrying and hugging Whisker as well after placing Tina back down. Afterward, I moved to hug Elma, Mimi, and Mei in that order. This is fine, y’know. It’s refreshing to see them actively express their desires. Was this what they mean by equal treatment or something? Well, I guess equal treatment is important in a relationship like ours after all.
It’s been a few days since we’ve stationed ourselves within the Refill Prime colony. I suppose they were still in the middle of soliciting the help of other nearby star system garrisons since we’re gonna be conducting a large-scale pirate subjugation operation this time around. Right now, we’re waiting for all forces to arrive.
And since we’ve already finished resupplying and maintenance, we ended up with nothing, in particular, to do anymore. But even so, we had our regular daily routine, so it’s not like we were completely idle. We could still do things like physical workouts, training, and studying.
“……Do you really undergo this kind of training routine regularly?”
Today, Lt. Col. Serena and some of her subordinate officers who had noble backgrounds were paying us a visit. They apparently heard that I would be training in swordsmanship with Mei, and that’s why they came over. It looks like they were also relatively free until all the participants were gathered up.
“Master, here I come.”
“We have spectators right now, so please go easy on me.”
“Understood. I shall go hard on you then.”
“Listen to what I’m saying please. I’m begging you.”
My desperate appeal was ignored, and Mei, who turned into a black gale, swiftly closed in on me while brandishing her metal practice sword. I was also holding a similar metal practice sword.
Why weren’t we using a safer training sword? Well, it’s because Mei can’t display her swordsmanship properly unless she’s using these kinds of swords. In fact, I already lost count of just how many ‘safer’ practice swords she’s ended up breaking.
A silver flash shot out of Mei’s body. If I ate a hit like this directly, I’d probably end up getting some broken bones, and if I got really unlucky, my internal organs might take some damage as well. Of course, if that happened, I’d end up vomiting blood again, so I really couldn’t afford to get hit.
I shuffled my feet and slid out of the trajectory of Mei’s attack by a hair’s breadth. At the same time, I aimed a counter at the wrist of the hand Mei was using to hold her weapon with the sword in my left hand. However, my counter hit nothing but air since she managed to pull her arm back at a speed faster than the slash I performed. The moment that happened, I already knew she’d follow up with attacking my now-exposed left flank, so I immediately moved back to take some distance away from Mei.
After that, we proceeded with an exchange of sword attacks. All the slashes I unleashed with my two swords were parried by Mei using a single sword, and conversely, I endeavored to evade and parry her sword slashes as well. I really couldn’t afford to eat even one of those. I couldn’t take them with my body, but I also couldn’t directly cross swords with her either. If I forcefully received it with my swords, they’d probably get broken. And even if that doesn’t happen, they’d probably get blown away from my hand, or I’d lose my footing due to the force of the clash. All of those outcomes were pretty unfavorable for me.
In the end, Mei won the match. I failed to properly parry one of Mei’s slashes and the sword in my right hand ended up getting broken. With that, it was practically checkmate. I gradually got cornered, ate a kick to my gut, and was blown all the way to the training room’s wall. Since I ate a blow to my stomach and had my back crash directly against a wall, I couldn’t help but writhe in pain. Once I managed to finally catch my breath, the training sword icon at the top of my head crumbled, signaling my loss.
“This is impossible man……”
“That’s not true, Master. Your reaction speed is now 8% faster compared to before. You still have a lot of room to go, Master.”
“You didn’t have to go so hard on Boss, Mei-han……”
I rubbed the spot on my belly that got kicked by Mei and got up. It was hella painful man! I’m definitely bleeding internally.
“Oh, if you want, you guys can also undergo Mei-san’s perfectly safe training program free of charge.”
“It totally doesn’t seem safe though?”
“What are you talking about? It’s totally, perfectly safe. I mean, look, I ain’t dead, right?”
After saying so, I puffed out my che– Goddamit, it hurts like hell! It looks like sticking my chest out is currently impossible.
“Sorry, but I think I need to get inside the med-pod for a bit. I’ll leave entertaining our guests to you.”
“Yes, please leave it to me, Master.”
Mei bowed toward me and turned her gaze toward Lt. Col. Serena and company. It kinda seemed like they were all shaking in their boots, but I suppose it was just my imagination. It’s alright. It’s totally safe, I tell you. You guys aren’t gonna die, at least!