364 – To the Riche System
Editor: Thor’s Stone
After we launched, the fleet quickly transitioned to operation mode. As expected of the Independent Mobile Anti-pirate Fleet. Since pirates were quick to run away if they dilly-dallied, the entire fleet was accustomed to acting briskly in order to not miss their quarry. The pirates will escape if they took their sweet time after all.
“I had an image of the Edge World being really dangerous, but there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly noteworthy out here huh.”
“Of course, there’s none. Once you leave the vicinity surrounding the Dauntless, what would be waiting for you are vicious space pirates and space monsters, so even veteran explorers don’t really come out here if they can help it.”
I was currently lying on Mei’s lap as she stroked my head while Mimi and Elma were chatting leisurely in one corner within the break space of Black Lotus. Today was Mei Appreciation Day, so I made it a point to have Mei spoil me as much as she wanted. Or rather, I was really adored by Mei huh.
During joint fleet operations with the Independent Mobile Anti-pirate Fleet, the Lotus is switched to semi-automatic navigation with the Anti-pirate Fleet at the helm, so there’s no problem with Mei taking care of me like this.
Krishna was parked inside the hangar of the Lotus, and the Antlion was being towed, so there’s no need to pilot it. There’s basically no chance of pirates attacking the fleet, and even if space monsters came out, they would be easy pickings with the fleet’s firepower.
“My Lord, is it really fine to be so laid back?”
“There’s really not much we can do at this point in the operation, so it’s fine, Kugi.”
We’ve already performed maintenance on the ships and confirmed that the weapons and equipment were working properly, and in the first place, we’re not gonna be playing the leading role this time around. We’re basically here as additional insurance and special consultants regarding psionic abilities, so there wasn’t any plan of us going down to the target unexplored planet’s surface ourselves and fighting it out with those killer spheres. If we were ever called in to fight, it would be to provide close air support with Krishna at most.
“This current job doesn’t have anythin’ interestin’ goin’ on fer us huh.”
“We don’t have to go out there personally after all, Sis.”
“And even if we got some mysterious alien artifact from an alien civilization, it’s outside our expertise.”
Tina and Whisker specialize in starship-related technology, which has a well-established technological system, so even if they acquire an alien artifact of unknown origin, handling it would be a bit too much for the two to handle.
“Well, I do have high hopes for the new armor material based on the shells of those spheres though. I think it’s a pretty interestin’ material.”
“But the cost will be…… It would be nice if they can find a way to mass produce it.”
“Replacing armor materials is pretty expensive after all.”
The most expensive starship component is actually its armor. The lowest quality armor materials were ridiculously cheap, but conversely, the high-grade ones were ridiculously expensive. Even when used to armor small-class ships like Krishna, the difference in the cost when using high grade military standard armor material compared to regular armor material is pretty steep. Right now, I still can’t imagine just how much the price of the armor material manufactured using those sphere’s shells would be.
“Our target destination is one star system away, right, Boss?”
“It’s the Riche system. It’s two hyperlane nodes away from the Kensan system where the Dauntless is located.”
“Do we have information about the system?”
“I checked earlier, but there’s almost no information about it. It’s a system composed of four planets centered around a B-type star. There’s an asteroid belt composed of rocks and ice on the outer edge of the system, and all four planets are rocky ones.”
“An asteroid belt mixed with icy bodies huh…… Sounds like a perfect spot for space pirates.”
They can source water from the ice masses in the asteroid belt, and since they’re able to do that, it’s possible for them to supply themselves with food and water if they get their hands on a serviceable energy source. That would make it easier for pirates to build a base within such places. Well, it’s basically the same thing as what the Graccan Empire does with its colonies.
“So, the problem is whether or not they’ve already taken root huh? It seems there have been no reports of space monster sightings so far, so it’s possible that pirates have at least already built a relay station there.”
“Well, even if that’s the case, it won’t be a problem for us this time around. After all, the place is slated to be officially incorporated into the Empire as part of its territory due to those spheres. So, that kind of thing will cease to be a problem once colonization efforts begin in earnest.”
Even if the pirates really built a base in our current destination, the Riche system, it was highly unlikely that they would take the initiative to attack the Independent Mobile Anti-pirate Fleet during the course of the investigation. I’m sure they’d rather lay low and hide.
“Aren’t we going to look and hunt for pirates?”
“That depends on Captain Serena. The purpose of this investigation is those mysterious spheres, so I don’t think she’d want to spend resources on unnecessary stuff. We aren’t even sure if there really is a pirate base there.”
I answered Whisker’s question and waved it off.
An asteroid belt with ice bodies is conducive to self-sufficiency, so the possibility of pirates taking root in one is pretty high, but whether or not they have taken root is another matter.
“We are about to enter the final hyperlane node soon.”
“How long will it take to navigate this hyperlane?”
“It will take about an hour and a half.”
“Then I can still laze around for another hour.”
Mei continued to stroke my head and stomach while giving me a lap pillow. Even though Mei’s body was basically mechanical, she was still warm and soft. How mysterious. I gotta hand it to Orient Industries. How impressive.