144 – The Military’s Assessment
Editor: Thor’s Stone
“Welcome back, big brother.”
We safely returned to Black Lotus and found the mechanic sisters waiting for us when we stepped out to the hangar. They were sporting their work overalls and led a bunch of maintenance bots. It looks like they were going to service the Krishna straight away.
“What about Big Sis Elma and Mimi?”
“Both of them are resting up inside their rooms on Krishna. Today’s battle was hard on them mentally.”
“Well, of course, it was……”
Whisker displayed a pitying expression as she looked up at Krishna.
“I don’t think it was that bad…… It was fairly safe actually.”
“You really do have a few screws loose, don’t you, boss?”
“You do…… We watched the whole thing via Black Lotus’s monitor y’know. One small misstep and you guys were done for.”
“Well, don’t you think avoiding crystal lifeforms is way easier than avoiding laser cannon fire?”
You can’t technically avoid a laser after all. Instead of avoiding laser fire directly, you had to predict the trajectory in advance and get out of the way. If you couldn’t, then you would just have to pray your shields and armor will hold out.
“I think it’s wrong to compare it to laser bombardment in the first place though… Anyway, that’s not the problem. Are you really not afraid of getting into a situation where one mistake will cost your life, boss?”
“Hm…… If you put it that way, maybe it was a bit scary after all. But it’s just a matter of getting used to it.”
“Yep. It is. You’ll be fine once you get used to the feeling.”
I could only justify it like this. I would certainly be lying if I said that I feel absolutely no fear when placed in situations where one mistake can cause me to die, but in my opinion, it’s much the same as driving cars back on Earth. If you made a mistake in handling while you’re traversing the mountain roads, you’d crash against the guardrail and possibly fall to your untimely death.
“I see…… Anyway, we’ll get right to servicing Krishna now boss.”
“Yeah, go ahead. We didn’t get hit much, so just pay attention to the undercarriage, generator, and shield emitters, okay?”
“I get it, boss. Okay then. We’ll get to work now.”
“Ou. Safety first.”
I want to stress the idea of ‘safety first’. But maybe it wasn’t necessary after all. The maintenance bots would do most of the work anyway. But it sure is handy to have Krishna get maintenance anytime without having to go to port. Of course, there’s a limit too, since we’ll need to procure replacement parts and supplies from time to time.
After observing the work of the mechanic sisters and maintenance bots for a short while, I headed for the cockpit of Black Lotus.
“Welcome back, Master.”
“Yeah. I’m back. What’s the situation?”
“The Imperial garrison was very thorough in wiping out the remaining crystal lifeforms. They are currently in the phase of collecting and disposing of the remains.”
“There’s quite a lot out there huh.”
“Yes. But they can’t be careless.”
“Yeah, that’s true.”
The remains of crystal lifeforms were fairly valuable. For example, they were used as materials for making the lens components inside laser cannons, alternative energy sources, among other utilities. However, it was very dangerous to get in contact with ‘live’ crystal remains. If you carelessly touch one barehanded, chances are you’d end up getting your whole arm crystalized instead of just your fingers.
There’s also a danger of ‘live’ crystal remains gathering and reforming into a full crystal lifeform if you store enough numbers of them in close proximity. And so, the Imperial military would comb through the remains and retrieve only the useable ones while disposing of the unusable and live ones by incinerating them with laser fire.
But I wonder what happens to the loot retrieved by Imperial forces though? Will they become part of the soldier’s salaries? Or maybe they’ll go straight to the military’s coffers. ……Well, not that it matters to me anyway.
“This would probably take quite a bit of time huh.”
“According to my estimate, it would take approximately 2 hours.”
“Sure is rough for the military folk. I’d rather unload the delivery goods as soon as possible and get out of here quicker though……”
“I have already informed Commander Serena about the goods. She will probably contact us soon.”
『This is crazy.』
I included Krishna’s battle data as well as Restalias’ and Black Lotus’s observation data in my report and handed them over to my superiors for evaluation. And when I mentioned giving Krishna and Black Lotus special rewards for their contributions in today’s battle, my superiors reacted thusly.
The commanding officers for each of the fleets stationed in the Izrooks system were now participating in the meeting as well, and their reactions were much the same. But I do understand where they’re coming from. But that’s just how crazy an individual that man was.
『I did wonder why there was a major change in the movement and attack patterns of the crystal lifeforms in the middle of today’s battle, but to think something like this happened.』
『Can we make use of this battle data somehow?』
『You mean analyzing this data and implementing it in our tactics? That would be possible if we would be allowed to put independent AIs into practical use but…… it probably won’t push through. Being consumed by the crystal lifeforms is fatal for the AIs as well. They also have a strong sense of self-preservation you know.』
『In the first place, it’s impossible for us to mass produce a specialized ship such as this…… And even if we did, it would probably just turn out to be a kamikaze torpedo boat or something anyway.』
『Even that would be more useful than those silly suppression ships though.』
『Okay, please stop saying words of criticism against that particular model. You’ll be challenged by the Drawn Sword faction members to a life and death duel if they ever got wind of it y’know.』
Discussions regarding the suppression ship certainly was a dangerous topic right now. I’m not part of the Drawn Sword faction, but there were quite a lot of particularly fanatical members in the military after all.
“In my opinion, we should recognize the fact that they contributed greatly to tipping the balance of the battle, so we should give them the appropriate compensation for their efforts.”
There were quite a lot of assenting opinions after I stated my piece.
『I agree that merits should be properly rewarded as well. That’s especially true for them since they played an essential part in our victory today.』
『Judging from the battle data alone, this mercenary group really pulled out all the stops and didn’t hold anything back. What should we do?』
『We’ll just have to recognize their contributions. Their achievements are obvious to everyone. We’ll need to inform the accounting department.』
“Thank you very much.”
I was able to fulfill my promise to him at least. In any case, this can be considered a success.
『Will he be staying on the base for a while?』
“I wonder. I did hear they were planning to depart once they unload the supplies we hired them to deliver.”
『If possible, I want you to get him to stay for a while more. We want as many exceptional personnel as we can right now.』
“I will try my best……”
It would probably be no use, but I didn’t say my thoughts aloud. I’ve already tried to entice him lots of times, but he just wouldn’t budge. But when push comes to shove, there’s only one way to insure he’ll stay here for the time being.
“I shall need your cooperation if we want him to stay.”
『The rest of the commanding officers have acknowledged your merits, so you should be able to expect a satisfactory reward.』
It’s been an hour since I started watching the Imperial military work earnestly to clean up the battlefield. A call from Lieutenant Commander Serena’s Restalias came in, so I was again talking to her in front of the holo-display.
“That’s good to hear. I’ll be very disappointed if I worked that hard for nothing after all. Oh, right. Can I get my ammo resupplied as well? I used up four reactive torpedoes in the battle earlier as well.”
『I believe we still have some torpedoes on stock, so that should be no problem. We will give them to you free of charge, of course, so don’t worry.』
“That would be great, but……”
I wonder. Aren’t they being way too accommodating? Uh, but maybe they’re just feeling really thankful for my timely assistance or something…? My trouble sensor was giving off an alarm right now.
『We have verified the details of the delivery as well, so please land inside the outpost for the time being. The accounting department will get in contact with your regarding your payment for the delivery as well as your rewards for today’s battle later on.』
“Good…… But I wonder if you’re planning something shady again, Miss Commander?”
『My. Of course not. What made you say so?』
I couldn’t glean anything from Lieutenant Commander Serena’s expression. She’ll act like a no-good onee-san when she’s drunk, but when she’s in her element, she’s an exemplary military officer. If it was May, she would probably be able to notice something by observing the subtle changes in her reactions, but unfortunately, I can’t do the same.
“……Oh well. I guess I’ll just express my thanks then. We’ll land the Black Lotus on the outpost then.”
『Yes. The warning alarm for crystal lifeform attacks has deactivated, so it’s probably safe now, but do still be careful.』
“Roger. Oh yeah. I have some dwarven liquor on stock right now actually. Can I sell them to some of the soldiers in the base later?”
『We are a little short on leisure items like that, so it’s good timing, I think. You’ll be able to sell them at a good price. Of course, I’ll be purchasing some as well.』
“Don’t overdrink like before, okay.”
Lieutenant Commander Serena’s perfect smile twitched after hearing my warning. I guess she just remembered the mess she caused in the Alein system. Lieutenant Commander Serena still owes us for that as well. Well, I guess we can count her help this time as a form of repayment.
“See you then. Be careful out there.”
『Yes. If you’ll excuse me.』
Lieutenant Commander Serena nodded back and cut the call.
“What do you think?”
“I believe they want Master to stay here and help out as part of the fighting force.”
“I thought so too.”
Well, I guess I could accept if they offer me appropriate compensation. It’s the military, so they probably would not neglect to pay up. But it’s possible that they’ll overestimate my ability and have me do something ridiculous as well though. There are things I can and can’t do…… If they ever tell me something like dealing with a crystal lifeform swarm by myself, that would be absolutely impossible. But I’m sure they’re aware of that as well, so they probably won’t ask something that unreasonable.
“Well, it’s fine as long as they don’t request something too ridiculous.”
“We will be able to take advantage of this opportunity to make further connections with the Imperial military as well.”
“Yeah, there’s that too. Let’s just do our best then.”
In SOL, this would be classified as a faction quest. Basically, you’d be able to increase affinity points with a certain faction by taking up various jobs for them. That would net you various useful benefits. When playing as a mercenary, you’d find it much easier to increase your affinity with the military. The one that offers and pays the bounties for pirates is the military after all.
As your affinity points with the military gradually increase, you’d be able to take on lots more subjugation quests, get ammo and supply discounts when purchasing them from the military, and in some cases, will be offered military-grade equipment that’s normally not available to the general public. Sometimes, you get them for free as quest rewards. It’s a very good faction to raise affinity for mercenary players. Of course, if you get all chummy with a certain country’s military forces, you’d be viewed with hostility by pacifist organizations and the forces of enemy nations, so it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
“And I probably shouldn’t expect the benefits to be just how it was in the game……”
This world was similar to SOL, but the conditions for getting along with the military aren’t as clear cut as in the game. This wasn’t a game after all. There’s a good chance we’ll be dragged into something troublesome.
“I hope it’s nothing too troublesome though.”
“It’s as you say, Master. But I do not know if that sentiment of yours will be realized though.”
So you’re saying it’s almost certain I was going to be caught up in something troublesome?
Well, I was actually thinking the same thing. There have been lots of flags popping up after all. We got caught up in a crystal lifeform raid the moment we arrived and met the Imperial officer we formed a certain connection with. There’s no way this would end without any incident…… Yeah, that’s right. Let’s just keep our wits about then.