091 – Assault
Editor: Thor’s Stone
It’s been three days ever since we got assigned to guard the civilian cargo ships affiliated with the independent anti-pirate fleet led by Lieutenant Commander Serena.
『Maybe the pirates aren’t taking the bait because you’re with us?』
“It’s not my fault! They probably found out that this ship is actually being used as a decoy by you all.”
『I’m sorry, but that’s impossible. We’ve changed the ship ID and registered name just recently.』
“You’re talking like it was nothing.”
“It’s thanks to the special rights granted by the state……”
A ship ID is used to register and identify every ship in active service and is unique for every ship. There’s no case of ships with matching IDs, and since it’s so important, you can’t change your ship ID once it’s assigned. Normally, that is.
Well, it’s not like there aren’t any loopholes. In fact, the ships pirates use have IDs that correspond to the ships they’ve supposedly shot down or ships that have been reported missing. That’s because they normally retrofit usable ships stolen from their victims and turn them into pirate ships.
Going back to the earlier discussion, an ID is used to make every ship easily identifiable even though there may be lots of active ships of the same model. It makes every ship have a unique identity. So saying that they’ve managed to easily change the ship ID is not normal in the least. I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear it.
I turned toward Chris to warn her, but she already had her hands blocking her ears while sporting a knowing look. It looks like she’s aware this convo was off the record as well. If this were a manga, she would have her mouth drawn like an X mark.
If you’re wondering what we were all up to, we’re all just standing by in the cockpit. Maybe it was because things have been quite peaceful for the past few days. Lieutenant Commander Serena seemed to have enough free time to exchange some lighthearted banter with us via the comms. It seems that she deals with paperwork whenever there’s a lull in pirate activity, and had just finished sorting out all the documents sent to her. Seeing that her only outlet for stress relief was talking with us via the comms, I got a bit worried about our good Lieutenant Commander’s interpersonal relationships. Was she really feeling that lonely?
By the way, May was currently going around the ship and cleaning it. We told her we did periodically clean up, but according to May, there was still some accumulated dust and grime in certain sections of the ship interior, so she set out to clean said sections since she was relatively free.
“Let’s leave your conjecture about me warding off the pirates aside first. What’s the current rate of pirate activity in the entire Sierra system, major?”
『You always try to change the subject whenever a conversation doesn’t go in your favor huh… Anyway, due to the large-scale attack a few days ago—』
As the Lieutenant Commander started explaining, Krishna’s alarm suddenly rang out. It looks like the cargo ship got targeted by an interdictor.
“……Speak of the devil.”
『We’ll head to your coordinates immediately. We’re slightly behind in order to avoid their detection, so it’ll take five minutes for us to arrive. Please hold them off until then.』
“Aye, aye ma’am. Mimi, switch the radar to active combat mode and connect me to the Pelican IV. We’ll be engaging the enemies as soon as we deactivate the drive, so I’ll leave the defense systems to you as always.”
I started synchronizing the ship’s FTL drive to match the interdictor’s timing. The Pelican IV is attempting to shake the effects of the interdictor off, but it’s probably no use.
I believe interdictors work by creating an artificial gravity well in order to forcefully stop a ship traveling via FTL drive. The game flavor text described the artificial gravity generators installed into such devices as exceptionally powerful.
A ship hit by an interdictor would be trapped by the powerful artificial gravity and would be at the mercy of the attacker. It was a different story for sufficiently powerful and highly mobile ships like Krishna, but a civilian cargo transport ship shaking off an interdictor is next to impossible. In other words, there was no use escaping.
“This is Krishna. Please respond, Pelican IV.”
『This is Pelican IV. We’ve been targeted by an interdictor fired from an unidentified ship. We’re trying evasive maneuvers, but it looks like it’s useless.』
“This is Krishna’s Captain Hiro speaking. Stop trying to resist and just allow the interdictor to pull you out to regular space. We’ll be able to mount a more effective counterattack and prevent any more strain on the ship’s generator that way. Once you get back to normal space, please deploy your shields at the maximum output and prepare your defenses. The cavalry’s coming soon.”
『Roger. Good luck. We’ll prepare for close quarters combat as well.』
The transmission was cut. The supposedly civilian cargo ship, Pelican IV, was actually filled with highly trained Imperial soldiers wearing the latest cutting edge military issue power armors. If the pirates ever manage to board the ship, they’d be greeted by armed to the teeth macho onii-sans sporting scary-looking smiles. Just imagining it was giving me the chills.
“We’ll probably get attacked soon. Be sure to check your seatbelts, ladies. May.”
I hailed May, who was still busy cleaning, via the intercom, and she promptly replied.
“We’ll be entering combat soon. Please make sure to evacuate to a safe spot on the ship.”
『Yes. Understood. Good luck, Master.』
After the short exchange, I proceeded with confirming the state of the ship’s weapon systems and made sure there were no problems. We were able to acquire ammo for the ballistic shot cannons via the military, so we’re good to go. We won’t be losing to those damn pirates.
“The Pelican IV has started dropping their propulsion output. The number of enemy ships is…… Eh!?”
“Uh, um, the number of enemy ships is eleven.”
“There are large ships among the enemies… To be specific, there’s one battleship and three heavy cruisers……”
So the large ships aren’t your run-of-the mill retrofitted pirate ships, but military heavy cruisers, and at least one military battleship. By the way, destroyers are classified as medium-class ships while corvettes are small to medium-class depending on the model.
“I have a really bad feeling about this.”
“Hahaha. Me too. Once we get out there, fire off all the chaff and flares, and turn the ECM on full blast.”
After my exchange with Elma, we fully synched with the interdictor and went back to normal space. As soon as we got out, I fired up Krishna’s generator to maximum output and punched the afterburners to accelerate.
“Oh boy! They just fired at us without even a shred of mercy! How scary!”
“Is this the time to be cracking jokes!?”
The spot Krishna was at earlier was instantly smothered with crimson-colored laser fire. If I didn’t accelerate immediately, we would have taken a direct hit.
I turned off the flight assist mode, adjusted the velocity and vectors, and used the attitude control thrusters to change the ship’s heading. Krishna’s bow pointed toward the enemy battleship and we finally got a full view of it.
“They’re older models, but those are obviously an Imperial military battleship and heavy cruisers. The military’s a bit too lax with their weapons and equipment, aren’t they?”
“Aren’t they just too brazen!?”
After Elma’s cry, I fired the thrusters to maximum output and charged straight toward the battleship. It would be foolish to attempt a long range shoot out with a bona fide military battleship after all. The more you take distance from them, the higher the chance of falling prey to their powerful laser cannons.
The Krishna’s inertial control system mitigated the Gs resulting from high-speed maneuvers somewhat, but I still couldn’t help but grit my teeth. I and Elma should be fine, but I imagine it’s a bit hard for Mimi and Chris to bear. Especially Chris.
I heard Chris’s mournful cry from the back, but unfortunately, I can’t do anything about it right now. Facing the military grade high-output laser cannons of an honest-to-goodness battleship, even Krishna wouldn’t be able to last long if it took a direct hit. It’d saturate the shields in no time.
“What are we gonna do?”
“We don’t have any choice but to face them head-on!”
While facing a battleship, the fastest way to beat it was to swiftly close in, hit it with an anti-ship reactive torpedo, and blow it to kingdom come. It’s one of the basics of battling a squadron of ships of a higher size class. But I’m not planning to waste one on these guys. And so…
I maneuvered Krishna straight towards the battleship’s blind spot while being pelted by a torrential rain of defensive fire. The enemy ship attempted to use their sub-thrusters to change the ship’s heading to prevent that from happening. The enemy heavy cruisers and assault ships moved in to provide some cover as well… but it’s too late.
“There we go!”
We passed by the battleship’s bridge and I used the sub-thrusters to change the heading of the ship once more. We managed to get completely behind the ship. Now that we’re in position, I’ve practically prevented the enemy ships from firing off their more powerful laser artillery since there’s a good chance of friendly fire.
In other words, I’ve used the enemy’s huge battleship as a shield. If I went at them completely head-on, we’d probably be shot down in less than ten seconds. In other words, this is using my enemies against their own.
『The small-sized combat ship has stuck to our backside!』
They have no choice but to use their own small craft to attempt to shoot us down.
But there’s little chance Krishna would lose to those aforementioned small combat ships. I maneuvered Krishna to continue sticking closely to the battleship while exchanging fire with the incoming small craft. I brought down each one with volleys from Krishna’s four large caliber laser cannons and ballistic shot cannons. The enemy ships just keep coming only to be shot down, so it’s akin to a turkey shootout.
“This is such a weird maneuver. Just how did you come up with something this freaky…?”
“Eh? W-What’s actually happening? What do you mean, Elma-san?”
“We’re sticking closely to the rear of the enemy battleship by using the reverse and attitude control thrusters while fighting off the other enemy ships coming for us. I honestly don’t know how he can pull off something this freaky though.”
C’mon. Don’t keep calling it freaky. I’m just keeping an eye on the radar and the HUD while predicting the movement of the enemy ships and repeatedly adjusting the position of Krishna by using the reverse and attitude control thrusters. Well, it’s true that it takes quite a bit of concentration to pull something like this off.
『T-This guy isn’t budging!? Hey, hurry up and shoot it down!』
『What’s with those creepy maneuvers…… Just how the hell is he maintaining that position while constantly on the move?』
『Dammit! Fighter III got shot down! It has more firepower than we thought!』
I listened in to the enemy comm exchanges. They’re using the common frequency used by the Imperial military. So are these guys really soldiers?
Oi, oi, oi. This isn’t in the league of being lax with weapons and equipment anymore. These guys are actually bona fide soldiers, man. Did Chris’s uncle manage to buy their services? Just who are these guys?
I kept exchanging fire with the enemies for several minutes.
After a few more moments, the flagship of the Imperial independent anti-pirate fleet, Restalias, finally came into view.
Following the Restalias were five heavy cruisers, three destroyers, and two corvettes, with each letting out intimidating thunderous roars. They just came out from subspace via FTL drives, so the load roars may be a result of that.
『To all the unidentified Imperial military warships engaged in battle! We are the Imperial independent mobile anti-pirate fleet. This is the commander of this fleet, Lieutenant Commander Serena Holz speaking! You are heavily suspected of a gross breach of Imperial military regulations! Stop fighting immediately and depower your engines!』
The cavalry’s finally here. I hope this settles it.