341 – Staring at the Star System Map
Editor: Thor’s Stone
After parting with Colonel Serena and returning to the Black Lotus, we decided to split up and spend time as we wished. We were on break inside the Dauntless until 8 am tomorrow.
Mei, who participated in the earlier battle by throwing projectiles, returned to the cockpit which was practically her private room. She said she’d enter her maintenance pod just in case.
“What are you going to do after this, Hiro-sama?”
“Me? I was thinking of planning our activities tomorrow while looking up the star system map in the break space.”
“You’re as earnest as ever huh…… I’ll just go for a drink.”
“I’m drinkin’ too.”
“It’s still daytime, Big Sis.”
“It’s fine. We’ll get busy from tomorrow onward after all.”
“We should properly take a breather during our off-days. Let’s drink, alright, Whisker? I’ll bring out my special stash.”
The two drunkards enticed Whisker with sweet whispers. Whisker probably won’t be able to resist the two of them. It looks like we’re gonna have a drunk trio soon.
“What about you, Mimi?”
“Let’s see…… Can I stay with you, Hiro-sama?”
“Kugi’s right here.”
“Let’s drink together.”
“Oi, don’t force her to drink with you guys.”
Kugi was taken away by the three drunkards. Or rather, can Kugi actually hold her alcohol? Well, I guess they probably won’t make her overdo it. I hope.
“Mei, sorry for disturbing you during maintenance, but please look after them for me.”
Mei was still in full control of Black Lotus even while undergoing maintenance. And so, everything inside the ship can be monitored by her. If Mei was looking after her, I’m sure Kugi would be fine.
“Let’s get started then.”
I saw off the four who headed to the dining area and sat on a sofa inside the break space with Mimi. I then activated the holo-display.
“In a regular star system, the things you should be concerned about are the location of the colonies, which asteroids can serve as good hiding spots, and the routes used by trading and mining ships. But things are a bit simpler in the Edge World.”
First, I marked the location of the Dauntless on the system map.
“This is where the Dauntless is. So, the hyperspace entrances of the Kensan system are here, here, and here.”
One entrance connects the frontier to the Graccan Empire, and the other two led to unexplored star systems.
“So, these three make up the main route.”
I drew a line connecting the Dauntless with the three hyperspace entrances on the star system map. Merchant ships basically go back and forth between the Dauntless and the hyperspace entrance connecting the frontier to the empire. Loot such as artifacts brought back from the unexplored star systems by adventurers and explorers were all gathered inside the Dauntless, and since there were no other colonies present, the Dauntless served as the trade center.
The routes to the unexplored systems were used by the adventurers and explorers in order to head to work. They head to an unexplored system, bring back map data and resource info, and then sell it to the Graccan imperial government. In addition, they also explored the surface of planets in search of potentially valuable artifacts.
However, most of these artifacts were ores with slightly unusual forms. It wasn’t that easy to find relics left by unknown alien civilizations. But if they did manage to find some, the stuff would be worth a ton.
“Are adventurers and explorers also attacked by pirates?”
“Only if there are no other suitable prey or if the other targets are too tough to attack. However, their ships are typically more armored and armed compared to the transport ships used by merchants, so they are risky opponents for space pirates. Because they are active in places that are not under the management of the imperial navy or a star system garrison, they make sure they have ample means of self-defense.”
In some cases, they not only needed to contend with space pirates but space monsters as well. Adventurers and explorers typically had better equipment and combat skills compared to rookie mercenaries, so they were relatively tough.
“However, there are pirates who make it a point to specifically hunt guys like them in order to plunder their equipment in the frontier. That’s why the pirates active here are mostly higher in quality compared to those we’ve faced before.”
“I see. We also need to watch out for enemy reinforcements, right?”
“Oh, you remembered that huh? That’s right. If we get caught up in a prolonged battle in the frontier, its very unlikely to get reinforcements from the imperial navy or the system garrison. That’s why pirates active in the frontier are tough opponents for mercenaries. In some cases, they might call their comrades in order to crush their prey with overwhelming numbers.”
If this was a star system with a high security level, the imperial navy or system garrison will quickly rush in at the sign of trouble, but that’s not the case in the frontier.
“If that’s the case, then we’re facing a lot more danger compared to before, right?”
“That would be true if it’s just us. But we also have Col. Serena’s Mobile Independent Anti-Pirate Fleet with us, plus a good number of fellow mercenaries. So we don’t need to worry too much about being overwhelmed with numbers.”
“I see. Then, how should we proceed from tomorrow onward?”
“Usually, we just fish for prey in asteroid belts using the Black Lotus. This time, I think it would be better to put up a net near the hyperspace entrance.”
After saying so, I marked the areas around the hyperspace entrances leading to the unexplored star systems.
“We’ll pretend to suffer a hyperdrive malfunction, attract pirates, and then sortie out from Black Lotus after they get baited.”
“It’s like a peak-a-boo tactic, right?”
“Peak-a-boo tactic huh. Sounds good. And if they try to escape, the Antlion will get in their way.”
It might get dangerous if enemy reinforcements came before our allies did, but I think we can manage with the firepower of Krishna and Black Lotus. However, if the pirates are equipped with anti-ship reactive torpedoes, Black Lotus would be in danger, so I’ll have Mei exercise maximum caution. In any case, no matter how high-quality the pirates are, I still think it would be difficult for them to fire a torpedo head-on against the Black Lotus.
“Can you come up with a strategy of your own, Mimi?”
Mimi placed a hand on one cheek as she pondered about my question. Thinking about ways to effectively deal with pirates like this was an essential step toward becoming a first-rate mercenary ship operator. That’s why I’ll ask Mimi to come up with strategies like this from time to time.
While listening to the faint sounds of Elma and the rest drinking happily, I continued to stare at the star system map together with Mimi for a while.