004 – Time to Make Like a Shut-in and Gather Some Intel
The moment I got back to the ship, I immediately connected to the Colony’s network and gathered some useful intel. I went at it for a few days.
Naturally, it wasn’t through honest means, but an (il)legal one. I hacked into the network channel used by the Port Security Department to monitor the Colony and gather vital information. I particularly aimed for the access records of the Security Department’s network manager and gathered intel from that.
The first thing I looked up was info regarding the surrounding star systems and the interstellar empires which govern each of them. I prioritized getting myself familiar with my current location.
First, the star system I was staying at right now was apparently called the Termaine Star System. It was centered on the Type B star Termaine, and housed four planets. Termaine I, which was closest to this system’s parent star, sported extremely high surface temperatures and held practically no value. The next planet after it, Termaine II, was a gas planet whose atmosphere was mainly made up of hydrogen and helium. It seems that Helium-3 was harvested from this planet as an energy resource
An asteroid belt was situated near the three celestial bodies, and materials and resources such as rare metals were mined from it. Further out were two planets named Termaine III and Termaine IV respectively – a testament to the people of this system’s exquisite naming sense.
Termaine III was a planet with a toxic atmosphere frequented by deadly acidic downpours, but the rain in question seems to have value as a naturally occurring chemical compound and there were valuable metal alloy deposits either formed on its surface or buried under its crust. A mining station was located on the planet’s satellite orbit, which apparently doubles as a space prison where convicts were subjected to harsh labor in an unforgiving environment.
It seems Termaine IV was a gas planet like its sibling Termaine II. But its location was far from the Trading Colony, and Termaine II was closer to the asteroid belt and offered easier access, so Termaine IV remains largely untouched.
To sum things up, it appears that this was a very resource-rich star system. Due to this fact, a lot of commercial and mining starships of all shapes and sizes frequent the system on a regular basis. But there were also a lot of space pirates lurking about the system as a result. In other words, there’s no shortage of mercenary work.
There’s also another factor that contributes to the proliferation of the mercenary industry, but let’s talk about the interstellar empire in charge of this star system first.
The name of the empire governing a significant portion of this system was the Graccan Empire. All the vital functions of the state were completely controlled by the Emperor and the aristocratic families under him, so it was a place brimming with a domineering atmosphere.
They have been locked in conflict with the neighboring Vereverem Federation for years, and border skirmishes were a frequent occurrence. This is the other element that contributes to the proliferation of mercenary work which I mentioned earlier. The sector where the main star of the Termaine System was located actually serves as the said border between the Graccan Empire and the Vereverem Federation.
“The longer I stay in this particular star system, the higher the chances of me getting caught up in the conflict.”
Yeah. I’ll get caught up in it for sure. Even if it does present countless opportunities to make money as a merc-for-hire, getting involved in a war between two powers while remaining clueless about the overall situation was way too risky for my tastes.
Getting involved in a war means fighting against the regular troops of a proper Interstellar Army. It’s a whole different thing from fighting pirates sporting outdated, rickety ships.
“Should I try moving to another star system? But that lady…”
It really seems like that lady named Serena’s got her sights locked on to me after the earlier fiasco. They’ve never made contact directly, but I’ve noticed people who look like members of the Sector Guards keeping their eyes on my ship.
If I really went and left this star system, I have a strong gut feeling that I’ll get in deep trouble with these guys. Guess I’ll just go and destroy some pirates like a proper mercenary while waiting for things to cool down or something.
I moved my gaze to the Galaxy Map. I tried to input the names of several star systems I’m familiar with from playing Stella Online, but none of them appeared on the search results.
I tried investigating some more and found some things quite odd. For example, the starship models and specs published by various shipbuilding companies as well as the optional equipment inventories and item lists available on the market contain many parallels with the things available in Stella Online. The info I have on them from the game seems to be mostly applicable.
But on the other hand, there seems to be a lot of unfamiliar ships, items, and equipment present as well.
And the biggest problem was the various powers controlling each region. For example, the Graccan Empire ruling this system seems to be an interstellar empire boasting a considerable scale. But as far as I remember, there was no interstellar power named Graccan Empire in Stella Online. At least, there wasn’t within the areas the players have managed to reach.
The scale of the galaxy presented in Stella Online was quite grand, and players had yet to reach its central areas. Maybe this was an empire not yet discovered in Stella Online — in other words, an empire located on the other side of the galaxy. But still, the presence of shipbuilding companies and ship models I’m familiar with in this system poses a contradiction to this particular theory.
“Hmm… is this the same galaxy or not?”
The obvious advantages I held in these strange circumstances were Krishna and the experiences and knowledge I gained from playing Stella Online. But I don’t know just how far these advantages would be able to take me.
It’s quite possible for the knowledge I have to cause me to misread a situation, leading to me making a fatal mistake. From now on, I should make it a point not to trust in my gaming knowledge too much and constantly analyze if it would be effective or not in this world. Having mistaken impressions in these circumstances was dangerous.
“…I really should get to replenishing my supplies soon, huh.”
I’ve eaten up almost all the food stored on the ship over the last few days. There were various items like granola bars, jerky, canned food, and auto-cook food cartridges.
This food cartridge thing uses specially cultured algae for automatic food creation… Simply put, it’s a machine that produces food items akin to a 3D printer.
The recent models are capable of producing meat-like or fish-like food which I can’t, for the life of me, associate with the algae they’re made out of at all. They’re not exactly delicious, but you could definitely eat them. As expected of a sci-fi cooking gadget thingy.
Speaking of which, all the garbage and biological waste products get recycling treatments inside Krishna and get processed into compact blocks, which are later collected by colony laborers. Their service fees are included in the berthing costs.
I was actually wholly unfamiliar with such a system, so the guy assigned to collect the processed waste products made a strange expression when I asked about the details regarding how to go about it. He gave a ‘this dumb idiot doesn’t even know this kind of thing?’ sort of face. Sorry, man. I’m really sorry about that. It’s just that Stella Online didn’t have this particular detail, y’know.
As a result, I scoured the network for types of information this world regarded as common sense. My knowledge was still a bit shaky, but I think I’ll be mostly fine.
Also, I’ve only managed to find this out after spending some time inspecting Krishna from the inside out, but this ship’s living environment really was top of the line. Krishna was a small-scale craft that was capable of housing five passengers, but it had a Single room and two Double rooms inside. It also sported a shower room, laundry room, kitchen, and med bay.
Krishna was originally a military model.
These facilities may be installed for the purpose of allowing the crew to live inside the ship for extended periods during military missions. It’s because traveling throughout the vast reaches of outer space could take a fairly long amount of time.
I think the reason Krishna’s livability was really high was mainly due to this consideration.
Anyway, I’ll have to enter the central areas of the Colony in order to by some supplies. I fixed myself up a bit and got off the ship with a portable information terminal and laser gun in hand.
I placed the laser gun inside a conspicuous looking shoulder holster. It’ll serve to give others the impression that I’m not someone they could afford to easily mess with. It’s much like those bright warning colors and marks sported by wild animals and insects.
But honestly, I’m not sure how reliable this thing is because it’s practically my first time wielding it for real. But I’ve read its manual properly, so I should be fine. Probably. The manual didn’t include info about gun maintenance, so I had no clue how to go about it. Maybe I’ll need to visit a gun shop soon.
Stella Online also featured a Melee Mode where pilots directly engaged in firefights using laser guns and rifles. This particular model was something I got from winning a Melee Battle tournament in the game. I like both its performance and overall design.
There were also Melee Mode types where you could fight with weaponry which sported heavy defense and substantial offense such as tanks and power armors. My ship also has a power armor stationed inside. And of course, it was a thoroughly optimized custom model.
“Well then, shall we?”
I’ve never once lost in a firefight inside the game, but I don’t know if that would continue to be the case now that I’m in this strange world. I better watch out and try not to do anything too reckless.