412 – Providing Aid
We encountered no particular problems (since no one dared to try and attack our group) and arrived safely at the orphanage facility. We immediately unpacked and started treating Airia and the others.
Dr. Shouko and Mei were the ones mainly performing the treatment, and the combat bots controlled by Mei served as their assistants. I decided to watch out for any potential raids, so I leaned against the wall and simply observed the situation.
As I was doing so, Airia, who was the first to be treated, approached me.
“Thank you so much for all your help.”
“You’re welcome. This is all because of Tina, so you should save your thanks for her.”
After hearing Tina’s name, Airia displayed a gentle smile as her gaze wandered for a short while. She seemed to be acting hesitant……
“Um…… That girl is doing well…… is she?”
“You mean Tina? Of course. Well, when we first decided to come to this colony by coincidence, her mental and emotional state became a bit unstable though. Aside from that, she’s full of energy and tinkering with machines every day. Together with her younger sister, that is.”
After hearing my response, Airia showed a genuinely relieved expression. I’m not sure about what exactly Tina and Airia’s relationship was, or what exactly happened before she decided to leave this colony. Tina hasn’t said anything much about it after all. However, it was clear that Tina and Airia cared for each other. Knowing that is enough for me to do my best in helping her and the others living at the orphanage.
“By the way, who are the two adult men who collapsed together with you? Are they employees of this place?”
“No, it’s not like that…… Um, how should I put it? They are people who always help us out.”
“That doesn’t actually explain much though……?”
As I tilted my head in puzzlement, one of the men in question approached us.
“Hey, you. What’re you doing to Airia-san– Oww!?”
“Stop, you idiot. Bro, thanks for helping the children at the facility, Airia-san, and even us. We owe you one.”
The first guy, who had the top of his blonde hair dyed a shocking purple, was hit strongly on the back of his head and forced to bow by the other guy who sported a blonde crew cut.
“I don’t remember becoming your bro, but…… I’ll accept the thanks. This guy seems unconvinced though.”
“Sorry. This punk has promise, but he’s still wet behind the ears and doesn’t understand how the world works yet. Please just let him off this once.”
“I may be a mercenary, but I’m not gonna cut this guy in two just because of something like that. It’s a different story if you attempt to lay your hands on my crew though.”
From what I’ve seen, neither of them seemed to have undergone any special physical enhancements or gotten implanted with cybernetic upgrades. If that’s the case, then even if these guys were armed with laser guns, five seconds would be enough to take both of them down.
The purple pudding-head and the blonde crew-cut guy stiffened in place and gulped nervously after seeing my steely gaze. Did I scare them a bit too much? I’m not planning on killing you guys so don’t worry.
“So, who are you guys anyway?”
“I’m Heintz, and this guy’s Sieg. We’re, uh…… uninvited bodyguards, I guess.”
That sure was a vague self-introduction. It didn’t tell me anything concrete. Well, I suppose these guys weren’t your typical law-abiding citizens. Yep. They definitely weren’t. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they smelled of blood, but they did appear to be used to violence. It’s just the feeling they gave off.
“It’s obvious that you aren’t walking the straight and narrow. I already know which kinds of organizations were supporting this facility. I take it that you guys are part of such a group?”
“That’s right. But the organization that I and this guy belonged to is already in shambles…… That’s why we’re now practically in limbo. But we feel like we still have to protect this place, so yeah.”
“I kinda get it but kinda don’t as well…… But, well, even if your higher-ups are already in a mess, I suppose it’s admirable that you still stood up for what you felt was right.”
It was hard for a mercenary like me to understand stuff like that. Oh, but I suppose what I’m doing right now was similar in a sense, right? I mean, I just couldn’t refuse Tina after all. So, in a sense, these guys and I were kinda similar huh? They were probably doing this mostly for Airia’s sake.
“For the time being, we’re planning to station combat bots here, but we don’t plan on staying in this colony indefinitely. That’s why having guys like you here is a fortunate miscalculation.”
Even if Hartmut agrees to take this facility under his wing, as long as they didn’t change location, a certain level of force was still necessary. After all, violence was basically something that can only be stopped by violence most of the time. If there were decent food, beds, and other supplies in a place where there were only women and children, some people might not be able to resist.
“By the way, do you guys have proper equipment?”
I lightly tapped the holster containing my laser gun. The blonde crew-cut-sporting Heintz responded by taking out a ragged-looking laser gun that didn’t seem to have undergone proper maintenance for years, and the purple pudding-head Sieg took out some sort of modified iron pipe. Yep. Crude as heck!
“……Now, what do I do about this? I can give you guys some spares we have on the ship, but future maintenance will be a problem.”
“Maybe you have some sort of special attachment to that, but to put it bluntly, it looks like nothing more than a worn-out weapon that’s on the verge of turning into scrap. It’s my belief that you need suitable equipment in order to do a good job. So, are there any decent sources of these sorts of equipment in this place? And are any of them still open?”
“There’s one, but the prices should have been jacked up cuz of the current situation.”
“I don’t care about the price. Can you use Enels for transactions at that place?”
“Take out your terminal.”
Heintz took out his portable info terminal in a state of bewilderment. I also took out my own terminal and quickly transferred 50,000 Enels to Heintz.
“Use that to get what you guys need. Not just weapons. Buy armor as well. No matter how jacked up the prices are, I’m sure that amount’s more than enough to fully kit two people.”
“I actually think this is enough to cover ten……”
“You’ll need a lot of stuff in this sort of situation. Use whatever’s left as you please. C’mon. Get moving while our combat bots are guarding this place.”
I pointed to the room’s door. Heintz hesitated for a short while, then bowed his head silently and left the room with Sieg. Even if it was only for the sake of showing force, I don’t think they’ve ever gotten themselves fully equipped with weapons and combat armor like me…… Well, those two are most likely pros when it comes to dealing with that sort of stuff in this colony. They’ll probably be fine.
“It looks like you’re done huh? Airia-kun was getting quite antsy you know?”
“I have a principle of not picking fights without being fully equipped after all. You done with the treatment, Doc?”
“Of course. It will take some time for them to fully recover though. I told you already, right? It’s a disease that can be cured as long as you receive the proper treatment. The problem is that there’s still a risk of getting re-infected, but it should be fine as long as they make sure to stay inside this facility and take proper precautions against infection.”
Dr. Shouko turned her gaze toward the machine installed at the center of the room. It was a small space purification device, and it seemed to have the function of constantly purifying the air within the space it was installed in. Simply put, it was a machine that turned an enclosed space safe and sterile. The power of science was truly amazing.
“This facility looks a bit old, but it seems the airtightness of each room is fine for the most part. Since we’ve treated everyone and made sure the air in this place is clean, they should be fine for now. The problem is that this isn’t a permanent solution.”
“We’re counting on you to make a permanent solution, Doc.”
“I’ve secured some samples. I actually wanted to get my hands on a strain of the pathogen that hasn’t infected people yet as well, but I suppose this will do.”
Dr. Shouko turned her attention to a tightly sealed box that was the size of an armful. It contained samples of the airborne pathogens and samples taken from the adults and children in the orphanage facility.
“Alright then. Let’s get back to the–”
When I turned toward Mei, I found her surrounded by a crowd. The children had gathered around Mei who was currently sitting on the floor.
“What a pretty dress.”
“Yes. The maid uniform is the most beautiful clothing article in the universe.”
“Your hair’s so pretty as well, lady.”
“Yes. My hair is the most beautiful black hair in the universe and was designed by my master.”
“Yes. Maidroids are–……”
Mei answered the children perfunctorily, but she also seemed to be enjoying their company in her own way. The mecha-like parts she had in place of ears did look quite cool, and the eyes of both the little girls and boys were sparkling in awe. I was in full combat armor though, so why didn’t the boys find me cool as well?
“It’s because you have those swords on your waist.”
Has the concept of ‘swords = noble’ already ingrained itself in the subconscious of the children here? I don’t think there would be a lot of nobles who’d act unreasonably against children, but I can’t say there wouldn’t be anyone at all. So, considering the children’s safety, I suppose teaching them not to bother any nobles in the first place was pretty reasonable. Offending nobles might lead to a lot of trouble after all.
“……Let’s wait a bit longer.”
“……Just a bit, alright?”
Dr. Shouko and I watched Mei getting surrounded by the children for a while longer.