Editor: Thor’s Stone
Lt. Col. Serena sent imperial marines to storm the now-defenseless pirate base.
“I thought we were going to destroy the base without any mercy?”
“They probably want to gather more data from the base in order to improve the accuracy of the information they have on hand. That’s if they don’t get baited with false info.”
While explaining, I continued to control the drones to check out the downed pirate ships that launched out to intercept us earlier to strip them of usable or valuable items.
“Yes, yes, simmer down already, will you? I know you’re still pissed about what happened, but try to focus for now.”
“……Yeah. I’ll try.”
Yep, I was still pissed about that earlier stunt. Well, of course, I was. After all, if things went wrong, we would have died. And not just me. Mimi and Elma would have died too. I admit that the colonel’s orders were effective. As a result, an extremely efficient bombardment was carried out, and the defense systems of the pirate base were almost completely wiped out in one fell swoop. Since Krishna drew most of the anti-spacecraft fire, their firing lines would have been entirely exposed to the allied ships in the rear.
And we only survived that ordeal mostly through luck. The shield wasn’t penetrated, and even if it was, we could still rely on Krishna’s armor for defense. Even if the laser fire did punch through our energy shield, we wouldn’t have gone down that easily due to our ship’s tough armor.
“In the first place, you’re going up against a bona fide imperial military lieutenant colonel as well as the main commander of this operation. She’s also our current client. Even if her orders were reckless, it’s not like you can hit or slash at her in retaliation, right? You really can’t do anything drastic, so just calm down already.”
“Oh, believe me, I know. That’s why I obeyed her order in the end, right? I only want to get at least one good hit in y’know.”
“Please don’t…… The other party’s an imperial noble and the daughter of a marquis you know.”
Elma sighed in exasperation. I know. I know, okay? Depending on how you look at the matter, one might not find any issue regarding Lt. Col. Serena’s order. But… yeah, that’s right. It depends on how you look at it.
“What I’m really pissed about is the fact that she willingly risked my life and the lives of my crew members by brazenly ordering us to keep our course to draw anti-spacecraft fire. And as a result, I ended up showing something unsightly to the other mercenaries, and I basically didn’t have any choice.”
If I get called a rookie because of that earlier fiasco, wouldn’t I be unable to refute the naysayers? There’s a lot of other mercenaries present after all. The fact that I took anti-spacecraft fire in the face like a stupid sitting duck would affect my reputation, okay?
“Well, yeah…… that’s true. I hope your reputation doesn’t take a hit because of that.”
“Is it really that serious?”
Mimi cocked her head to the side after seeing me acting all indignant and Elma smiling bitterly in response.
“Mimi, a Platinum ranker’s reputation isn’t something to be taken lightly. Platinum rankers are the pinnacle of elites among an already small group of extremely skilled mercenaries. They are at the very top of the pyramid. The best of the best. The absolute kings of the mercenary world. If a Platinum ranker performs miserably in an operation, it could smear the reputation of all Platinum rankers as a result.”
“I see…… We can’t afford to get underestimated, right?”
“I’m about 70% angry that both your lives were exposed to danger, and the remaining 30% is exactly due to being forced to display what can be viewed as an amateurish mistake. Just thought I had to make that clear.”
“Yes, yes, I know. You’re a captain who cares deeply for your crew members after all.”
Elma gently patted my thigh as she gave me a consoling look. Honestly, I’m still quite angry about the whole thing, but if I kept this up, it would trouble Mimi and Elma as well. Let’s just try and move on then.
Before long, the pirate base was completely suppressed, and the fleet was ordered to return to Refill Prime. For the time being, the ships that were captured were going to be towed and placed in a temporary shipyard (which was basically nothing but empty space) near the colony. The Refill star system garrison was assigned to guard the area in order to prevent scavengers from sneakily stripping off and stealing parts of the ships.
“Well, we already stripped off the most valuable parts though.”
“Yep. And there’s a danger of deterioration if ya just left those ships stranded in space without them bein’ airtight and all.”
Tina nodded while checking the ship parts she managed to salvage through her tablet terminal.
“Apart from the hull frame and armor, the other parts are basically precision instruments after all. If they degrade, it’s going to be troublesome to repair them.”
While saying so, Whisker also busied herself with operating her tablet terminal. Under the control of the two sisters, the maintenance bots and drones hastily moved about the warehouse, scanning, carrying, and repairing parts as needed.
“How is it? Can we use them to upgrade our ship?”
“Nn, it’s not really that promising. Well, they’re above average, sure. But that’s only compared to the parts of other typical pirate ships.”
“They aren’t on the level of parts used by mercenaries and the military.”
“I think it’s possible for them to get better parts if they really wanted to. I mean, can’t they target civilian ships transporting high-grade equipment or capture merchant escort ships for the parts?”
“That’s true. How strange.”
“Ah, yeah, about that. That kind of high-quality equipment is usually reserved for the big bosses and those close to them. Unless they were forced to by certain circumstances, those types of high-quality equipment usually don’t get passed down to the lower ranks.”
“I see…… By the way, I have another question, Boss.”
Tina stopped fiddling with her tablet and looked up at me.
“Why are there still a lot of space pirates even now? I mean, starships aren’t exactly cheap. And besides, mercenaries and the military keep hunting them down, right? So why haven’t they been eradicated yet?”
“That’s because lots of people from space colonies end up joining their ranks and replenishing their numbers constantly. There are those desperate folks from the slums and those so-called outlaws.”
The degree of political corruption in the Graccan empire isn’t that high mainly because of the secret maneuverings of the independent AIs in the background, but despite that, there are still quite a number of people who fail and drop out. Termaine Prime, where I first went when I got thrown into this world and met Mimi and Elma, was a hotbed for such incidents. The future of the people forced to live in those kinds of slums is simply far too hopeless. There aren’t that many who fell but managed to crawl their way back up. The people there would often form gangs and commit crimes to scrape a living. And the extension of that is turning to piracy.
“No matter how much they struggle, they just can’t get back up. If that’s the case, then they’d rather become the ones who take away from others as well. The pirates also capitalize on this as much as they can and throw around a lot of money in order to buy off crucial info circulating within colonies. And if the pirates deem someone useful, odds are they’d try to recruit him or her. If they’re not willing, they’d just kidnap them. After all, no one would give a damn if people from the slums or some outlaws go missing.”
“Ah…… I see. Yeah, I think stuff like that happened in my old stompin’ grounds too. I knew guys who built some connections with space pirates, and suddenly, we don’t see ’em anymore.”
“Yeah. They either get forced to join a pirate crew or just get scammed and sold off as slaves.”
“They still wouldn’t get a good end the moment they become pirates anyway. As you guys already know, pirate ships are almost always stolen modified civilian ships. Their equipment isn’t really of good quality by any stretch of the imagination. They’re technically all free though. That’s cause they’re all stolen.”
But they also had to consider manpower, energy for operating the ships, and ammo. Well, I suppose they get the parts and funds for repairs through plundering too. And also, I’ve heard that some pirate inmates in prison colonies get reported as deceased and released in secret as well. It seems there were several instances where such schemes got discovered and everyone who was involved got summarily purged.
“Well, that’s how it is. Unless all humans in the known galaxy get completely controlled and society gets turned into a utopia or dystopia, pirates probably won’t ever truly disappear. Even if a pirate organization or two gets eradicated, chances are, some other organization will just move in to take over after some time. And once that happens, everything just returns to square one.”
“It’s a deep-seated problem, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. Ah, I have another question, Boss.”
“What is it this time?”
“Does Krishna have some sort of special energy shield system or something? I don’t remember encountering one when we perform maintenance on it though.”
“Maybe it’s a hidden black box installed somewhere around the generator?”
The two of them cocked their heads to the side as they gave me questioning looks. As far as I knew, something like that doesn’t exist. Before I came to this dimension, I used to fly Krishna around a lot in SOL, but I never had a hidden system like that activate even once. Of course, that only applies to before I got shoved here.
“I don’t think it does, but why’d you ask anyway?”
“Huh? Oh, well, that’s cuz the anti-spacecraft fire from the pirate base got bent like crazy whenever they hit Krishna’s shield, Boss.”
“……? I’m sorry, come again?”
They bent away? The anti-spacecraft fire?
“I think it’s probably just limited to laser shots, but they did get bent and deflected like they were avoidin’ Krishna or somethin’. I haven’t heard or seen of a workin’ laser deflection shield system until now though.”
“Seriously. You didn’t notice, Boss?”
“Weren’t you flying the ship, Big Brother?”
“Uh, we did think the shield held up surprisingly well under all that fire, and Elma found it strange too…… So something like that actually happened?”
Just what the heck’s going on here? Did Krishna truly have a hidden laser deflection shield function, and I simply just wasn’t aware? Krishna’s pretty mysterious after all, and it was a unique ship without anything remotely similar to it in SOL. I’m not sure if a similar unit really didn’t exist though.
“It looks like you really had no idea huh, Boss. If that’s the case, then what the heck was that then? We’re really, really curious here.”
“It’s unknown tech after all. How about we check Krishna out again later, Sis?”
“Yeah. We can check it out after maintenance, right?”
“Sure, I don’t mind, but don’t mess around with it too much because we might have to sortie again soon.”
“Leave it to us, Boss.”
“Thank you very much.”
With that said, the two of them headed straight for the hangar where Krishna was currently parked.
An unknown function… A laser deflection shield huh…… If there really was such a thing, it’s strange that we haven’t noticed it until now. No matter how it actually worked, it would take a huge amount of energy to bend and deflect laser beams from cannons like the ones installed on the pirate base. If that laser deflection shield system activated, used up energy from the generator like crazy, and caused Krishna’s energy output to drop rapidly, Elma and Mimi should have noticed. Of course, I would have too.
“But since it actually did happen, just where did that amount of energy come from any– Ah…”
There really was something. There’s something that can probably provide the huge amount of energy required. I was even asked to bring it with me and ended up stashing it inside Krishna. I didn’t stuff it inside the cockpit, of course. I should have left it in a corner of the dining room.
“It can’t be…… But there’s no other possible cause.”
I’ve heard some distant galactic countries did make use of such tech to power their starships, so it’s not implausible. Anyway, let me check it out first.