128 – About the Abandoned
Editor: Thor’s Stone
And so came the next day after we enjoyed organic chicken meat yakitori.
When we received word that the loading of the luggage inside Krishna was finished, we finally checked out of the hotel and headed for the workshop where the Krishna underwent an overhaul.
“We’re finally coming home.”
“Krishna is our ship, but it’s also kind of our home huh.”
“It’s pretty comfy inside after all.”
“I personally think it’s no good if a ship’s interior is unsuitable for comfortable habitation after all.”
In Elma’s case, her image of a normal mercenary ship is pretty spartan and no-nonsense. I and Mimi don’t share that opinion, and so we changed the proposal for the interior of the mothership to be clean, functional, and highly livable. It was a good use of our hard-earned money in my opinion.
By the way, the hatchet guns, which were the new power armor-use weapons designed by Tina and supervised by May, should have already been loaded along with the other luggage as well. It might be good to try the guns out once we finish overhauling the power armor. I guess I’ll look for jobs that require the use of power armor later.
That’s only if there actually were jobs requiring the use of power armor and swinging weapons around. I don’t think this colony has those types of jobs available… Wait, maybe it does? Hmm. This colony is quite big after all. And it looked fairly old too. There’s a lot of ship traffic, so ‘those guys’ might be lurking somewhere as well. Yeah, I’m sure they are…… Mm, if there’s a job involving ‘them’, I’ll be more than happy to take it.
“Why are you making a difficult face all of a sudden, Hiro-sama?”
“Well, since I got the power armor overhauled and received new weapons, I was thinking of taking jobs that will allow me to use them to test them out in the field.”
“Oh, so that’s it. Yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if those kinds of jobs were available in this colony after all.”
Elma looked convinced as she nodded.
“What are you two talking about?”
Mimi tilted her head in bewilderment since she couldn’t get what I and Elma were referring to. It looks like she has totally no idea.
“Termaine Prime was a relatively new colony, so I guess ‘they’ haven’t cropped up over there yet. But this Brad Prime colony looks like it’s been here a good while, so perhaps the countermeasures for dealing with ‘them’ are no longer as effective, or maybe they’ve just given up altogether.”
Mimi still couldn’t get what Elma was referring to and kept tilting her head in confusion.
“I’m talking about the Abandoned. Or would calling them illegal residents ring more bells for you?”
Mimi finally understood what Elma was referring to and her expression clouded over. The Abandoned is a term used to call people who have been literally abandoned by the government to fend on their own. In other words, it’s much like how Mimi was before I ended up rescuing her.
In Termaine Prime, in exchange for the government basically not caring one whit about them, they were allowed to live inside the colony as long as they stayed in one specific block and never stepped beyond it. The colony only provided breathable air. Any other things necessary for a living would have to be secured by their own hands. Frankly, the colony higher-ups wouldn’t really care if they starved to death.
And there definitely were lots of them who up and died just like that. In exchange for not cracking down hard on them, the colony higher-ups wouldn’t care for them at all either. They were people who were not treated as legitimate residents, and to a large extent, weren’t even treated like people in the first place. That’s what the Abandoned are.
They may have been a former regular resident who fell from grace due to some reason or other, a person who was left behind by the ship he or she was staying on, a stowaway who secretly disembarked and settled in… Their origins greatly vary. A fairly old colony like Brad Prime should have lots of these Abandoned staying inside it.
“But what does that have to do with mercenary work?”
“Sometimes, we’re hired to deal with the Abandoned. Dead or alive.”
Mimi displayed an appalled expression. Well, I guess she would. That’s cause we’re basically talking about taking out power armor and using its weapons to kill the Abandoned en masse.
“It’s not like we’re hired to get rid of people like those staying on Termaine Prime’s third block. The ones we’re hired to capture or kill are those on the shadier side of the spectrum. In other words, it’s those associated with gangs, mafia, and other organized crime groups.”
“……What kind of people are they?”
“Oh, lots of kinds. Some people arm themselves, occupy a section of the colony, and mess around with the piping in order to obtain oxygen and various chemical substances. Some deal with pirates and provide them with useful intel in exchange for cash and benefits. Some even go as far as kidnapping regular residents and literally preying on them.”
Mimi turned blue in the face. I was also surprised. I did know about those armed mafia groups, but to think there were actually those who actively engaged in cannibalism as well…… What a shock.
“……Err, how about I rent a training facility for the test instead? I kinda don’t want to get involved in that sort of stuff after all.”
“That would be good. There are those among us mercenaries who specialize in those kinds of jobs after all. Better just leave it to them. It doesn’t suit you, Hiro.”
“Yeah. You’re right.”
And so, we got a glimpse of the dark underbelly of colony life.
“We’ve been waiting for you all.”
When we arrived at the workshop, we found Tina and Whisker already waiting for us there. I couldn’t spot the chief engineer anywhere. Oh, right. He was undergoing re-training, I believe. He must be in the middle of that right now.
“What’s up, you two?”
“Since we’re finally handing it over, we were wondering if we could try riding on the Krishna as well. So we came here and waited for you all.”
After saying that, Tina made puppy dog eyes filled with expectation at me. I don’t really mind taking them for a spin though.
“We’re just going to be flying it to the public docks y’know?”
“It’s fine. We just want to personally experience how Krishna flies with our own bodies. Is it okay, boss?”
“Yeah, I don’t mind.”
Tina displayed an overjoyed smile. Whisker sighed in relief. I don’t think it’s something to get all worked up about though.
“Anyway, let’s go ahead and prep the ship first. Do we need to do any other procedures in order to take it out?”
After completing the necessary procedures with the deputy workshop manager, everyone, including the two sisters, finally boarded Krishna.
“May, go check if they’ve done anything weird.”
“Yes, leave it to me, Master.”
As soon as we entered the ship and closed the hatch, I had May check the interior in order to see if there was anything amiss. May proceeded to thoroughly check each section, starting with the cargo hold. After witnessing that, Tina made an awkward grin.
“You’re really careful boss……”
“I don’t want to get hit with any surprises after all.”
“We’ll do our best to gain your trust.”
“……I hope so.”
That said, it would be difficult to place our complete trust in them as long as they were still Space Dwerg employees. Personally, I find them amusing, but from their point of view, they may prioritize the interests of Space Dwerg over their own.
“Well, once we fly out to space, it’s sayonara to stuffy corporate life.”
“It’s liberating not to have our superiors breathing down our necks all the time, isn’t it, big sis?”
“We can drink all the booze we want too!”
“I’m looking forward to it.”
Hey Space Dwerg, is this really okay? Are you really okay sending out these two?
Well, I do understand that it would be really difficult. What I mean is that it would be difficult to board a mercenary ship, especially ours, and act like corporate spies.
In the first place, even if they somehow managed to slip past May’s surveillance, they would have a really hard time sending out their collected data back to Space Dwerg. It would be easier if we operated just one or two systems away from Brad, but mercs like us normally hop around dozens of star systems in search of work and profit. It would be really difficult to send any info back in that situation.
Space Dwerg is a company that owns several industrial colonies within the empire, so they might not need to send info directly to the Brad branch, but it would still be fairly difficult.
If they did a poor job of it and were discovered, they’d be thrown out of the ship and marooned on an uninhabited planet or abandoned space colony, or maybe even directly thrown out into open space… At least I’ve heard of those instances happen. There’s no doubt that conducting espionage was a very risky affair for the sisters. And we don’t exactly know what sort of instructions they received from Space Dwerg either.
But perhaps Space Dwerg will consider receiving updates on how we make names for ourselves while using the latest mothership model from their company as a more profitable affair compared to engaging in shady stuff. With that factored in, I don’t think they’d do things behind my back that will ruin our working relationship. But I still wouldn’t know for sure.
“In any case, we didn’t really receive any weird instructions from the company. They only told us to do our job as best we could in order to earn your trust, boss.”
“It’s as big sis said. Rather, I’d totally not participate even if they were to order us to spy or something. May-san is scary after all.”
“It really is.”
The sisters nodded to each other in mutual understanding. Hm. Yeah, I get you both. It would be an absolute scary affair to go behind my back and do something shady on May’s watch after all. If I were in their shoes, I’d also not do anything of the sort. I wouldn’t dare even if the company insisted. I don’t want to die after all.
“Okay, guys. Let’s end all that tedious talk for now. We’ll be comrades in arms from now on, so let’s try and get along.”
“That’s right. First, let’s have our head chef brew us some relaxing tea.”
“Oh, so you guys have the latest model of the Tetsujin series installed huh. I’m definitely interested.”
Whisker gazed at me with upturned eyes. Yeah, yeah, my bad.
“……The dessert menu is also delicious. I recommend pudding.”
“I’m looking forward to it.”
Whisker made a relieved smile. I’m curious how much of that was actually on purpose, but I guess I’ll leave it at that for now. I left the sisters to Mimi and proceeded with checking the ship. The cargo should have increased by a fair amount, so I’ll have to organize them.