342 – Can’t Exactly Say it Was All According to Plan
Editor: Thor’s Stone
The next day. We were finally launching out from the Dauntless. I woke up, dressed, had my breakfast, and worked out for a bit. It was a comfy sortie preparation after performing my usual routine.
“It looks like there’s no longer any alcohol in your system huh. That’s good.”
“I’m sorry for troubling you……”
Kugi looked pretty listless while sitting on the sub-pilot seat. As a result of getting caught up in the pace of the three heavy drinkers, she got drunk fairly early on and was knocked out. She slept until morning, but it looks like she got stricken with a hangover.
When morning came, Mimi noticed that Kugi didn’t wake up early like usual, and when we went to check up on her, we found Kugi groaning in bed. I managed to bring her to the med bay with Mimi’s help, and she rested inside the med pod until it was time to sortie.
“I no longer wish to drink alcohol like that.”
“Actually, I’m happy we have another lightweight here aside from me.”
Mimi wasn’t really a good drinker, but she at least had average alcohol tolerance. But Kugi was the same as me and seemed to be really weak to alcohol. I always felt kinda inferior due to me being a terrible drinker, so I’m glad I found a comrade who can share my woes. I’ll drag her down the rabbit hole of carbonated drinks instead.
『So, what’s the plan today?』
Elma asked through the main screen. I already decided on a plan together with Mimi yesterday.
“There’s a point where the asteroid belt covers the route between the hyperspace entrance leading to the Tescarope system and the Dauntless. We’ll conduct our usual ambush operations there. The Antlion will power down and hide behind an asteroid, and once space pirates get baited, the Krishna will sortie from the Black Lotus, so please keep an eye on their movements and deploy the anti-gravity jammer when necessary.”
Elma nodded in response.
The Tescarope system was one of the two unexplored star systems adjacent to the Kensan system. Although it was still being surveyed, it’s already confirmed at this point that it was possible to collect useful gas resources from its gas giants. They’ve also named the system beyond it, but it was still in the early phases of getting surveyed.
『Master, we’ve gotten clearance to sortie. We will launch soon.』
“Understood. Please navigate the ship safely.”
It looks like the other mercenaries were also launching out one after another. We have to be careful since some of them might be reckless pilots, so there was a risk of a crash. Well, they’d probably be the ones suffering if they collided with the Lotus. After all, Black Lotus was highly armored and tough.
“I’ll send the coordinates of our destination to you now, Mei-san.”
『Certainly, Mimi-sama. Thank you very much.』
I checked out Krishna’s condition while listening to the exchange between Mimi and Mei. I trusted in Whisker and Tina’s work, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check anyway. After all, we might get tripped up if we were careless and took everything for granted.
“Kugi, let’s check the status of the ship together.”
“Yes, My Lord.”
Information about the ship’s condition was displayed on the main screen. I ran the self-diagnostic program and checked the results together with Kugi. This was also part of her training as a sub-pilot. There was a good number of things to check out, but what the sub-pilot needed to pay particular attention to was whether or not the sub-systems such as the chaff, flares, emergency cooling, and shield cells were operating normally, as well as the generator’s power output and distribution.
The ammo of each weapon also needed to be checked in order to maximize efficiency. This was especially important for live projectile weapons. The operation of the ship’s various thrusters also needed to be checked.
“I’ve already performed a check prior to this, of course. Tina and Whisker also performed a check even earlier. Even so, we still have to perform another one prior to launch. That’s because it would lead to possibly fatal circumstances if there was actually something wrong with the sub-systems, power generator, or thrusters.”
“Yes, My Lord.”
Even if the weapons ended up malfunctioning, there was still a good chance of making it out of a battle alive as long as the subsystems and frame were still working properly. However, things would be difficult if it was the opposite. You basically used sub-systems such as chaff and shield cells whenever you got cornered to some extent, or during defensive maneuvers. If you ended up being unable to use them in such emergencies, it might lead to your demise.
I explained as much to Kugi and she nodded honestly in response. Mimi, who was sitting beside her, also nodded her head. Those were the basics for an operator after all. In other words, all three of us who were present inside the cockpit checked out every detail of the diagnostic results. Since it’s related to our survival, it was worth being extra meticulous even if you had to sacrifice some efficiency.
As we were doing so, Black Lotus finally launched from the Dauntless. Soon after, the Antlion that was being piloted by Elma docked with the Lotus.
『Master, I shall now proceed to head to the target coordinates.』
“Roger. Max out the passive radar sensitivity as always, and if a reinforcement request or SOS signal gets picked up, please prioritize those.”
『Aye, aye, sir.』
The usual method we use to hunt pirates is『fishing』for them, but if we encounter a pirate attack incident along the way while moving around, intervening and hunting them down is more efficient. Fishing can be performed whenever, but sudden and unexpected encounters with pirates only happen occasionally. That’s why we can’t afford to miss such delicious opportunities whenever they come around.
We were about to arrive at the target coordinates when we happened upon an incident.
『Master, I’ve picked up an SOS signal. It’s from the Screech Owls – an explorer fleet.』
“Just when we’re about to arrive huh. Alright, let’s head on over.”
『Understood. Approximately 120 seconds until contact.』
“That’s how it is. You guys ready?”
『Aye, aye, sir. I’m gonna make sure the Antlion has a glorious debut battle.』
“Just make sure it ain’t glorious in a different sense, okay?”
I cautioned Elma who rushed ahead and turned my attention to Mimi and Kugi. Kugi seemed to be quite nervous since this was her first battle, but Mimi was calm as a cucumber.
“Set generator output to combat mode. Activate weapon systems.”
“Yes. Generator output set to combat mode. Weapon systems online.”
Kugi carefully started to operate the subsystems according to my instructions. Mm, she wasn’t exactly fast, but her operations were pretty precise. While it’s not the most stellar performance, it’s good that she’s meticulous in her work. I’m sure she can improve her speed through constant practice.
“Mimi, designate threat levels according to firepower.”
Since we now had the Antlion at our disposal, we didn’t need to worry so much about relatively fast pirate ships making their escape compared to before. It was easier and simpler to designate enemy threat levels using firepower as a metric.
『We will be making contact soon. I shall eject Krishna out immediately after contact. That will be fine, correct?』
A loud boom echoed out while I was in the middle of responding to Mei, and the Black Lotus warped out to normal space.
『Opening the rear hatch. Activating catapult. Launching ship.』
“Okay. Here we go, guys!”
After Mimi and Kugi’s energetic replies, the electromagnetic catapult activated and Krishna was ejected from the hangar of the Lotus into outer space. Now then, it’s been a while since our last scrap. Let’s do this with a bang.