411 – Temporary Boarding
“And so, Linda here will be temporarily boarding the ship.”
Linda, the girl I mistook for a boy, bowed toward the rest of our crew while acting as meek as a cat in the break space of the Lotus.
Elma and I, together with Dr. Shouko through the comms, explained the situation in detail to the people at the orphanage facility, then temporarily returned to the Black Lotus with Linda in tow.
“It’s great that you guys brought her over quickly. The sooner we perform tests on her, the better.”
Dr. Shouko seemed particularly excited. It looks like she was looking forward to playing an active role and showing her stuff.
“Hey Doc, why don’t we show her around the ship first?”
“That’s right. Though we don’t know for exactly how long, we’ll be living together with her inside the ship after all.”
“You should be feeling anxious about suddenly coming to a place filled with people you’re not familiar with, right? If you have any concerns, feel free to ask any of us, okay?”
Tina, Mimi, and Wiska immediately crowded around Linda. Wiska was strangely a lot more welcoming than usual…… Was she especially fond of the kid? Maybe it was just her maternal instincts kicking in? Or perhaps she just wanted to act like the older sister(?) for once.
“But as expected, it’s really troublesome to go in and out of the colony interior.”
“Good work out there, My Lord.”
When I plopped myself down on the sofa while watching the rest of the crew members trying hard to get along with Linda, Kugi sat down next to me in quite a natural fashion. She then placed her fluffy tails on top of my knees. I suppose she was simply trying to care for me. Ah, my stress was melting away simply from touching these fluffy tails.
“……Hey, is everyone in this ship female apart from that guy?”
“Right. We’re kinda like Boss’s harem.”
“You too……? You look like you’re the same age as me though?”
“Ahaha. We’re dwarves after all. We’re much older than you think, Linda.”
“We’re actually as old as Airia. ’bout the same age as Boss.”
“I’m actually the closest in age to you among all of us, Linda-chan!”
“Uh…… Well, that may be the case, but……”
Linda was making a complicated expression as she looked at Mimi who was proudly puffing her chest out. Did she feel a sense of despair due to the overwhelming difference in armor thickness? Well, I suppose it’s something to that effect. Mimi was only about 5 centimeters taller than her after all.
“In conclusion, he’s an outrageously lewd guy.”
Linda looked at me as if she was looking at absolute filth. Oh, c’mon. You didn’t have to praise me that much, y’know?
“And he’s acting all smug about it too.”
“It’s alright. Don’t worry. I have absolutely no intention of laying my hands on you.”
“If you even dare, I’m gonna kick your balls so hard, they’re gonna shoot straight to your brain.”
“Count me in. I’ll flatten them.”
“Me too. I’m gonna smash ’em in, Boss.”
Aside from Linda, hearing that kind of threat from Elma and Tina was seriously scary. But I really don’t have any compulsion to lay my hands on Linda, so there’s nothing to worry about.
Linda’s looks were…… well, pretty decent, I guess. I can say that now that I’ve gotten a better look at her.
However, she was hopelessly flat as a board, and coupled with her boyish getup, she could definitely be mistaken for a boy. That’s why I think they really can’t blame me for not realizing that she was a girl at first.
I mean, I could have eventually realized it on my own if I got a better look at her back then, but my attention was taken by the laser gun she was wielding, so I ultimately failed to do so. That’s why me failing to recognize Linda was a girl was an honest mistake.
“Anyway, you’re gonna be staying on this ship for a while and participating in Dr. Shouko’s research. If everything goes well, this colony and the orphanage will be saved, and everyone will be happy in the end.”
“That’s fine and all, but why are you going out of your way to help us? What will you gain from doing this?”
“I personally won’t have anything much to gain from all of this. But it looks like Tina’s owes the orphanage a lot. Since Tina wants to help you guys, it’s only natural for me to help you as well as her partner.”
“Thank you fer doin’ this, Boss. Really.”
“I’ll have you repay all my hard work with your body later. Hehehe.”
“Are you really okay with this guy?”
“Whenever Big Brother jokes around like that, he usually does it to hide his embarrassment.”
“Uh, can you stop outing me like that, Wiska?”
Wiska’s words were really on point, so I hope she’d stop doing that. Even if that really was the case, please just turn a blind eye to it. I’m begging you.
“Uh, I’m sorry for cutting this chat short, but we really should start the tests soon. It’s not like we have much time to spare.”
Dr. Shouko, who was watching the rest of the crew members gradually start to get along with Linda, suddenly cut into the conversation. Right. We really were getting a bit too relaxed despite the situation.
“You’re right. Let’s go ahead with that then. Tina, don’t do anything rash, okay?”
“I gotcha, Boss. I ain’t gonna get outta the ship without permission. I promise.”
“That’s good then. Mimi, how are the preparations?”
“We’ve finished loading everything!”
“Great. Then let’s get going…… Mei.”
“Please leave it to me.”
Thirty minutes later. Having prepared ourselves for another foray within the colony, we entered Reemay Prime once more.
“Hmm. There are only trace amounts, but there are definitely spores in the air. Oh, aside from getting samples from patients, we also need to get our hands on pure pathogen samples somewhere……”
Wearing her full-body protective equipment, Dr. Shouko walked around the colony interior and scanned the surroundings with some kind of device. Right next to her was Mei, dressed in her usual maid uniform, who was acting as her escort. They were being followed by four military-grade combat bots with cargo pods on their backs. It was a strange combination of a researcher, a maid, and combat robots. And then there was me – a guy with swords strapped to his waist.
“We’re really standing out like this.”
“Standing out is part of the plan.”
“Well, that’s true.”
Just what were we up to? Well, to put it simply, we were going back to the orphanage facility. When I and Elma first came there earlier, the symptoms of the people inside were particularly serious, and five of them were even at the risk of death. They were injected with medical nanomachine units, but that was nothing but a stopgap measure. Also, the symptoms shown by the children were severe as well, even if their lives weren’t in immediate danger for the time being.
Therefore, we’re heading back to the facility to deal with the situation. Their supplies, including food, medicine, and water, were taken away by looters, so they were in need of support in that regard as well.
And so, in order to avoid the situation of them getting looted again, we brought combat bots with us as well.
Eh? What about cracking countermeasures? That’s actually why I brought Mei with us this time. The military-grade combat bots also had pretty strong electronic warfare security measures, so their systems won’t get cracked that easily.
Even so, their defenses might still get breached by hackers when given enough time, but we can probably manage for a week or two as long as Mei checks up on them regularly. It’ll be hard to say if they were stationed there indefinitely though.
“By the way, Dr. Shouko. You administered universal vaccines to me, Elma, and Mimi before, right?”
“Yeah, I did. I’ve also gotten shot with it, of course. Tina and Wiska already got administered with the vaccine before as well, and even if it’s of a different type, Kugi has been given a vaccine with similar effects before as well.”
“Then doesn’t that mean none of us are gonna get infected with the disease here?”
“Well, yes and no. We’re technically still gonna get infected. It’s just that the symptoms won’t be that serious, or they would be so weak that you wouldn’t even notice them.”
“Then we actually don’t need to wear these protective suits, right?”
“Even if the symptoms won’t be noticeable, we’re still gonna get infected. In other words, we’d end up contaminating the ship. That’s definitely gonna lead to a lot of trouble down the line, right?”
“I see. You’re right.”
Even if we didn’t get sick ourselves, if the ship gets contaminated, we wouldn’t be able to leave this colony. That’s because we will end up becoming carriers of the disease and eventually spread it around to other systems. That’s why we can’t allow ourselves to get infected.
“So, what good is that vaccine then?”
“To be precise, it isn’t a vaccine but a nanomachine colony that strengthens the immune system…… Well, I suppose calling it a vaccine is fine. That vaccine isn’t meant for environments where a pandemic has already occurred like in this colony. It’s to prevent potentially deadly diseases from spreading so a pandemic wouldn’t occur in the first place. It’s useful for preventing contagious diseases from affecting you, and situations like coming into contact with a ship that’s contaminated with an unknown pathogen or crash landing on a planet that may be infested with unknown pathogens.”
“In other words, it’s meant for situations where you might not have a chance to wear a protective suit and other sorts of emergencies. Prevention is better than cure, after all.”
“That’s right. That’s basically the purpose of vaccination in the first place.”
The universal vaccine wouldn’t make you invincible against all illnesses. I’ve learned something new again.