013 – Again at the Mercenary Guild and the Large-scale Subjugation Operation (Part 2)
Mercenary starships may be able to take on a military warship under certain conditions. But it’s not usually something that can be done using a single unit. In addition, the military has both the numbers and a superior level of training to their advantage.
In other words, if you were forced to go head to head with a proper military interstellar naval fleet, it wouldn’t even be a battle. You’d get your ass handed to you without a doubt.
“However, as you well know, our fleet’s bombardment is quite powerful but a little lacking in precision. If they come at us head-on, we would certainly be able to obliterate the lot of them. But if they decide to scatter and flee using their small and medium-sized ships, we would be hard pressed to stop quite a number of them from escaping. That’s where you all come in.”
Although it’s true that destroying their main base of operations and larger ships would do great damage to the pirates, their main forces are actually made up of highly mobile small and medium-sized craft. If a number of them ended up escaping, they would eventually gather together again to revive their organization. They wanted us mercs to prevent this from happening. In other words, we were tasked with remnant hunting.
No, that might not be the case at all. Since the pirate’s main forces are composed of these aforementioned small and medium-sized ships, aren’t we actually serving as this operation’s main attack force? Meh, it doesn’t really matter either way.
“How about compensation?”
“Yes, about that. There will be no advance payment. The participation reward will be 5,000 Enel, which will be given to each of you after the operation concludes.”
Man, how cheap. The fixed salary’s dirt cheap. I expect the confirmed kill rewards to be a different story though.
“As for kill rewards, small ships are worth 5,000 Enel per kill. Medium ones are 20,000 Enel per kill. The large ones are worth 100,000 each. The bounty rewards already placed on the pirate ships will also be paid separately. We’ll also give you free rein to plunder their ships for goods.”
‘We plan to eliminate all of the large-sized ships ourselves anyway.’ Serena probably thought to herself, judging from that confident smile on her lips.
There were varied reactions from the participating mercenaries, but the collective response seemed to be generally positive.
“The overall strategy is simple and straightforward. You mercenaries will be deployed in advance and hide within the outer areas of the Gamma Sector. We will directly attack the pirate’s main base and destroy all major facilities and as much of their forces as possible. You will stage an ambush and destroy the small and medium-sized craft which tries to escape from the battle. We shall then mop up any remaining ships who will manage to slip away from the ambush.”
It was a simple but efficient plan of attack. They will destroy all the high-priority targets with the first hit and prevent the enemies from escaping with a “net” of mercenaries. The military forces will take advantage of the enemy’s confusion due to the ambush to form an iron tight “cage”.
Afterward, all that’s left was to gradually tighten the cage until all the pirates are wiped out to the last ship. While I was mulling over the operation details, the hem of my clothes was suddenly pulled. I looked over to find Mimi who moved from the operator’s seat and stood beside me.
“Hiro-sama, what if the pirates forcefully activated their FTL Drives in order to escape?”
“Don’t worry about that. If there are ships incapable of FTL nearby, the safety devices would prevent the other ships from activating their own FTL Drives.”
“But if they took out the safety devices, wouldn’t they be able to forcefully activate their Drives?”
“They could, but I don’t think there would be anyone willing to try that kind of stunt. If they deactivated their safety devices, they wouldn’t be able to avoid space debris and asteroids large enough not to be repelled by their energy shields. If they do hit something under those conditions, they’d be turned to space dust in moments, or so I’ve heard. I’m not too sure about the particulars either.”
The game did mention that the safety devices were coupled with the obstacle evasion system, but didn’t go into much detail about the related theories. Or rather, the game was pretty vague regarding these sorts of sci-fi tech stuff. Well, it’s fine if we don’t know how these things exactly work as long as we can use them with no trouble. One didn’t have to know the exact details regarding how a microwave or cellphone works in order to use them right? It’s the same thing with starships.
While I and Mimi were discussing, the other mercenaries continued to ask Serena some questions. They were basically about the reward acquisition details, which didn’t interest me as much. For example, if multiple mercs ended up shooting down a single pirate ship, how would the rewards be distributed?
In case of a dispute, the military will determine the deserving party by going over the recorded battle logs. And in order to ensure transparency and fairness, the results will be publicly announced and handed over to the Mercenary Guild.
If there are mercs found to be deliberately stealing kills, they may be punished with rank demotion or, in the worst case, be expelled from the Guild. If one wants to continue being a merc, one should behave appropriately. I don’t feel like doing anything like that anyway, so it’s not my problem.
However, there was no one who asked about the thing I wanted to know the most. Is it because it’s considered common sense, or do they not care about this sort of stuff in the first place? Guess I’ll have to ask about it myself.
“Uh, I also have a question, ma’am.”
All attention gathered towards me from the windows on the cockpit screen. Elma looked over as well. She was giving me a ‘You’re going to ask something outrageous aren’t you?’ kind of glare. Haha. I’ll try to answer your expectations, ma’am.
“Yes, sir mercenary?”
“It’s my first time participating in this kind of large scale operation y’see. But if, by any circumstance, I judged further combat to be impossible due to factors like the ship’s energy shield failing due to malfunction or damage, is it alright to withdraw from the battle?”
The other mercenaries were dumbfounded after hearing my question. Elma facepalmed while Serena displayed a calm smile.
“You could choose to do so, yes. I understand that mercenaries value their lives as much as their reward money. It’s in your nature. However, it’ll be troublesome if one turns tail and flees even before the start of the battle. Our main objective is to completely annihilate the pirates after all.”
“Guess that’s reasonable. But I’m a rookie y’see. And it’s a rookie-like thing to think about securing a path of retreat. And it wouldn’t be a joke if I was suddenly told something like ‘Fight to the bitter end, or you will be treated as a deserter and shot down.’ y’know.”
“You can’t possibly think we would do such a thing?”
“It’s not about implementing or not implementing such a policy. It’s because our battle formation makes it possible for such a situation to be enforced. I have a crewmember on board my ship, so I have to be particular about this sort of thing.”
After all, we would be deploying in a two-layer formation during this operation. The mercs would handle close-range engagements, which the large-scale military warships aren’t suitable for. The military ships would take care of shooting down escaping pirates from long range instead.
In other words, mercs are the hunting dogs while the Termaine System Military forces are the hunters who peer through a scope in order to bring down prey. The hunter’s role is originally to shoot down prey being chased down by the hunting dogs out into the open. But the scope can also be turned toward the dogs who try to flee. It won’t be funny if we were suddenly told that retreating from the battle was not allowed and we would be treated as deserters who would be promptly shot down once the fighting starts after all.
“Fufu. I guess you’re right. Yes, the battle formation allows for it. But rest assured that we won’t do something of the sort.”
“Glad to hear it. That’ll be all for me, ma’am.”
The reactions from the other mercenaries were varied. About a third of them looked at me with disdain evident in their expressions. Twenty percent looked somewhat impressed or curious. The remaining half were all indifferent.
“Are there any other questions? If there are none, then we will proceed with the operation. We shall sortie after an hour. Once your preparations are complete, launch out from the hangar bay and stand by for further orders.”
The briefing’s finally finished. Now, it’s time for battle.