147- Award for Distinguished Service and Briefing
Editor: Thor’s Stone
It’s now the next day after Mimi confirmed my acceptance of the award. A formal invitation by the Imperial military came just this morning. It seems they will hold a simple acceptance ceremony, so I was told to go to the B-3 block of the Imperial Forward Base.
“If I knew there would be something this troublesome as an acceptance ceremony, I wouldn’t have said yes……”
We were in the dining room of Black Lotus.
We gathered here and held a celebration of sorts for the successful completion of our first transport and trading job among other things. May didn’t join in the revelry though since she preferred not to eat. She told me she had some other business to take care of, but I wonder what she’s up to.
“You really don’t like the idea all that much, do you?”
Elma addressed me with furrowed brows and a slightly puzzled look. She held a metallic drinking mug in one hand. It seems it was a sort of high-tech mug that always maintained the optimum temperature for enjoying different drinks. I’m not even gonna ask how much that item costs, but why don’t you pay at least a portion of your debt to me before buying stuff like that first, you troublesome elf.
“It’s really unusual. It sure makes me wonder why you hate it that much, Hiro-sama.”
“Yeah. And Boss seems to be the type to get really hyped and carried away whenever he gets praised too.”
Mimi and Elma tilted their heads as Tina said something rather rude. Just what type of person do you think I am!? And you don’t have to follow up on your sister’s claim, Whisker.
“I don’t have a definite reason, but I really just don’t feel like going through things like that…… And it has Lieutenant Commander Serena involved y’know. That’s nothing but trouble.”
“Then it can’t be helped, I guess.”
“Yes, I now understand why you feel that way, Hiro-sama.”
Elma and Mimi nodded at my words in understanding.
“Oh boy. Based on Boss and everyone’s reactions, I’m now super curious about that Lieutenant Commander Serena person.”
“I think it would be better if you don’t get involved with someone like that, big sis. That’s what I feel anyway.”
You sure are perceptive, Whisker. There’s this saying: ‘A wise man keeps away from danger.’ I’m not sure if this dimension has something similar, but it sure is apt in this situation.
“In any case, you’ve already agreed to accept the award, so you have to go.”
“Yeah…… Haaah, oh well. I better just get it over with.”
The sliding door of the dining room opened and May entered.
“……? Why are you carrying something like those along?”
May had the noble swords I received from Earl Daleinwald with her. She had them with her, but she hadn’t equipped them. She was holding them in her hands as normal. She also brought some sort of belt with her.
The swords May was carrying were part of our spoils after putting down a villainous nobleman. Or rather, they were semi-forcibly given to us by a grumpy old guy who was actually the father of the said villainous nobleman…
“I hope you’ll wear these when you attend the award ceremony, Master. I shall be accompanying you as well.”
I don’t get it. I don’t get what May’s thinking at all……! These types of swords are basically the symbols of Imperial Nobility. Though there’s no law that specifically prohibits non-nobles from having them, most ordinary folks don’t wear such swords on their person anyway. That’s because some nobles may get offended if they saw a commoner freely flaunting them around. They might even challenge you to a life and death duel over it. Scary.
“I don’t have any intention of getting into a life and death duel with a scary aristocrat though?”
“There’s no problem if it’s you, Master. You are already considered an Honorary Knight due to the Silver Sword Wings Assault medal, so it would be better if you brought these swords with you.”
“Are you serious?”
“That’s right…… Well, isn’t it fine?”
I tried to ask Elma for confirmation, and she didn’t find any issue with it as well.
“I really don’t get where you’re coming from, guys. Can somebody just please explain this to me in detail?”
“It’s not like I’m all familiar with it myself you know. But if you carry those swords with you, it would indirectly imply your relationship with Earl Daleinwald, right? There’s May too. She’s an Imperial independent AI. The nobles in this country can’t really put their hands on Imperial independent AIs like her. Well, at least not openly. In other words, this is in order to reign in Lieutenant Commander Serena and her schemes.”
“So they’re like charms to ward off bad luck or something?”
“Yeah, I guess. That’s your intention, right?”
May silently nodded at Elma’s question. I see. So it’s to avoid troublesome stuff huh. Guess I gotta bring them then. I took the two swords and the belt from May and strapped them on. Un, this is actually kinda cool.
“Would it be better to carry these around with me often from now on?”
“Yes, I believe so. You’ll be fine walking around with them since you’ll receive the Silver Sword Wings Assault medal, Master. From now on, you will effectively be treated as an Honorary Knight of the Graccan Empire and part of Imperial Nobility.”
“But isn’t there a chance of attracting trouble as well?”
“There will be no problems for people who received a Silver Sword Wings Assault medal. On the contrary, it would allow you to ward off trouble, so you had better wear the medal on your person as well.”
“Whoah. That medal’s a bigger deal than I thought……”
“Yes. A living person receiving such a medal is exceedingly rare after all.”
“The recipients of the Silver Sword Wings Assault medal are those who have rendered exceedingly remarkable service in battles. Those who receive such a medal usually render such service by charging headfirst into the middle of enemy forces. Normally, such actions often lead to their deaths.”
“In other words, it’s highly unusual for a living person to receive such a medal, right?”
“Yes. And most likely, others will be wary of antagonizing such an individual.”
“So you’ll be treated like a really sharp knife or something?”
“What kind of weird analogy is that, boss?”
Oh, thank you very much for that equally sharp retort, Tina. I’ll treat you to some juice next time. Or maybe you prefer booze?
“In other words, people who have a Silver Sword Wings Assault medal are treated as really amazing individuals who shouldn’t be provoked cuz they might not be able to handle the consequences.”
“That’s a crude way to put it, but that’s how it is, basically.”
“As I expected, should I actually decline receiving that thing after all?”
“That’s no good.”
“Yeah, I thought so.”
I tried to bring Mimi and Elma along with me, but they said they’ll refrain this time, and the mechanic sisters declined as well because they weren’t really involved in the battle and their status as personnel dispatched by a private company. So in the end, the only one who came along with me was May. We both headed to the B-3 block of the base.
I felt lots of gazes focus upon me due to my bearing noble swords on my waist and May following me around. No, maybe they were just stunned by May’s beauty or something. Yeah, that’s it. That has to be it. In any case, I’ll just treat it that way.
“Should I actually train in swordsmanship after this?”
“If that’s what you wish, Master. Leave the training plan to me.”
“Please start with the basics then……”
It feels really awkward to wear swords around without any idea how to use them after all. Swords aren’t weapons that you can use just by randomly swinging them around…… I remember reading in a book that if one doesn’t know proper swordsmanship, swords would be nothing but useless sticks. Uh, but maybe I could get away with it after all. These swords were way too sharp anyway.
“Please leave it to me, Master.”
May seemed really pumped up about it for some reason. It’s nice that she’s filled with enthusiasm, but since her specs are off the charts, she might accidentally turn me into a stain on the wall if she doesn’t control her strength. So please go easy on me, okay.
I kept imploring the pumped up May to go easy on me during training until we finally reached our destination. It looks like there were other people aside from me who would also receive some form of award. They were lined up in front of the entrance. I approached the crowd and tried to observe them.
There were lots of military officers present among them, but there were also folks who looked like mercenaries. But there was no one else who had a maidroid tagging along with them like me. I guess that’s to be expected. Or maybe maidroids aren’t actually that popular?
A young-looking mercenary male who was last in line noticed me and gave me a once-over. It was as if he was ascertaining my caliber. I also gave the guy a once-over myself.
He looked relatively young. He had finely chiseled features, so I couldn’t get an estimate of his actual age, but he didn’t seem older than me, at least. He had a laser gun on him, plus another weapon I couldn’t quite place on a scabbard-like pouch. He was wearing a rugged-looking pair of pants, a plain shirt, and a thick jacket. The design was different, but he wore an ensemble that was quite similar to mine. It looks like he really was a mercenary.
“What are you looking at?”
“I just thought I spotted a comrade. I also have some business here, you see.”
The young mercenary replied to me in a belligerent tone and turned his gaze to the door beyond the crowd. He then eyed me with a gaze filled with suspicion. It was probably because of my swords and May. Here was a guy sporting two swords and a maidroid following behind him.
‘Is this guy really a mercenary? If he was, why the heck is he sporting swords? What the heck is up with that expensive-looking maidroid following after him?’ This was probably what the guy was thinking regarding me. I would have reacted the same way If I were him, so I wasn’t really offended by his gaze.
“Well, there are all sorts of circumstances behind this. It would be a pain to explain, so it would be great if you can just ignore it for me.”
“……Hmph. So you’re a noble young master playing mercenary or something?”
I’m not really a noble young master or anything y’know. Well, I would probably ruffle his feathers more if I tried to explain further, so I guess I’ll just ignore it. It looks like this line was for registering the guests for tonight’s award ceremony.
Before long, it was finally my turn to register. I went over along with May.
“Please hand me your ID, sir.”
“Here you go.”
The soldier lady who served as the receptionist picked up a tablet terminal and held it over my ID. When she looked at the info on the tablet, her face suddenly turned pale as she gave me a nervous stare. She repeatedly turned her gaze back and forth between me and the screen of her tablet terminal. What was she so shocked about anyway? Did you see a ghost without feet or something? Or rather, do the ghosts in this dimension float without feet?
“……Hah!? I-I’m sorry, sir! I shall guide you inside!”
The soldier handed me my ID back, gave me a crisp salute, and led the way inside the function hall.
I gathered quite a bit of attention once I entered the venue. Most of the gazes were from the soldiers who were running the award ceremony. The other recipients were already seated out front and had their backs turned to me. But the hall wasn’t all that large. In addition to the tense gazes of the soldiers focused upon me, I stood out like a sore thumb due to my swords and May. And Lieutenant Commander Serena displayed an indescribable expression when she noticed the swords strapped to my waist and May following behind me.
Come to think of it, Lieutenant Commander Serena hasn’t had the chance to meet May yet, has she……? There’s a chance they might have made contact without my knowledge when we arrived at the base, but I don’t remember them meeting before this.
“……This seat over here?”
“Yes, please go ahead and make yourself comfortable, sir.”
And for some reason, my seat was isolated from everybody else. It was placed on the left front-most position of the guest seats. If anything, it seemed reserved for an official or VIP instead of a regular guest seat. And wasn’t the seat facing a strange direction? Why did they place it so I’ll be staring down on all the other guests in attendance? Were they pulling a prank on me or something? By the way, the soldiers who were officiating the program were all on the side directly opposite mine. Lieutenant Commander Serena was also among them.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we will now commence the award ceremony.”
A large holo-display was activated, and a 3D map was projected in front of all the guests. It looked like a birds-eye view of the last battle…… Kind of like the overhead map of RTS games. The 3D map accurately reproduced the last battle, and all the various participants were marked clearly on it. With this, we would be able to tell the position of everyone here easily as well as what they did during the battle. This event was an award ceremony, but maybe it also doubled as a debriefing.
The first half up to the middle stage of the battle didn’t look favorable for the defending forces. They managed to barely hold on, but they were gradually being pushed back by the overwhelming number of crystal lifeforms. I looked at the position of Lieutenant Commander Serena’s Restalias and the independent anti-pirate mobile fleet under her command. They were covering their allies by putting themselves in a precarious position. Man. That looks quite dangerous.
And finally, the Black Lotus appeared to provide reinforcement. I was also able to find Krishna’s position on the map. Wow. We really were quite fast. Mm? The icon for Krishna got highlighted. When the icon plunged right into the formation of crystal lifeforms, a commotion went up inside the hall.
A part of the 3D map zoomed in to display Krishna’s movements at close range. It showed us weaving through the small and medium-type crystal lifeforms until we finally brought down a large-type with an anti-ship reactive torpedo.
The movements of the enemies displayed on the rest of the 3D map also began to change significantly. The number of crystal lifeforms deployed to the battlefield decreased sharply due to us bringing down multiple large-types in quick succession. A large part of the crystal lifeform swarm also started to veer away from the defending ships and began targeting Krishna.
Since the pressure from the crystal lifeforms was reduced, it created an opening for the Imperial Allied Fleet to push back, and the heavy bombardment caused the number of enemies to decrease further. Our act of leading the enemies to the Fleet’s line of fire was also clearly displayed.
Before long, the last large-type crystal lifeform fell by way of heavy laser cannon bombardment, and that clinched victory for the allied fleet.
“You’re telling me that guy managed to live through all that?”
“So that’s what happened. I thought it was weird that the pressure suddenly lessened back there……”
“Kuh. Even I could do something like tha–”
“No, that’s definitely impossible, so stop dreaming, man.”
“It won’t be enough no matter how many lives you have on stock. It’s really strange, man. Just how did he do it?”
“He’s one utterly crazy bastard, that’s for sure.”
You guys are really saying whatever you want huh! Any SOL player worth his or her salt can do at least that much!