154 – Encounter
Editor: Thor’s Stone
The 2nd Recon Fleet, composed of Lieutenant Commander Serena’s Independent Anti-Pirate Mobile Fleet and a mercenary mixed fleet, left the Izrooks system along with the other recon fleets and plunged into the frontier region.
The first place we scouted was the Pax system, which was directly adjacent to the Izrooks system. The four recon fleets split up to investigate the entire Pax system, and before long, we managed to confirm that there were no crystal lifeforms in it.
There were a total of three hyperlane nodes in the Pax system, including the one leading to the Izrooks system. The recon fleets then split into two pairs and headed for each of the two other nodes to further investigate.
“It’s more convenient to have two fleets working in concert in order to deal with unexpected situations.”
“I think so too. It would be ideal to have one fleet act as a vanguard and scout in order to confirm the situation on the other side before the other fleet exits the hyperlane.”
“That’s right. The other fleet can secure a path of retreat just in case things go south. The two fleets can take turns acting as the vanguard.”
“Let’s go with that arrangement then.”
The discussion between the commander of the 1st Recon Fleet and the 2nd Recon Fleet helmed by Lieutenant Commander Serena went as such, and the two fleets proceeded with the investigation of the frontier while exercising maximum caution.
And so, it’s been a total of 36 hours since we departed from the Izrooks system.
“Our forces in Sector C are losing ground! They’re requesting reinforcements!”
“Tell May to provide cover fire from here. And tell our friendlies to hold out as best they can for the meantime.”
We closed in on the crystal lifeform swarm and destroyed the ones blocking our way with shotgun cannon volleys. The fragments of the destroyed crystal lifeforms kept hitting Krishna’s shield and got repelled away by it.
“See! I told you guys it would turn out like this in the end!”
“It’s been more than 24 hours since you said it. It’s a total coincidence, okay!”
It’s been 36 hours since we left the Izrooks system. We were already four systems away from Izrooks, in the Gagaol system, and there the 2nd Recon fleet encountered a swarm of crystal lifeforms and immediately engaged them in battle. It seems they set up an ambush near the exit point of the hyperlane node.
The vanguard fleet immediately sent out a reinforcement request via hyperspace comms to us, who were standing by on the Riximus system adjacent to Gagaul. Fortunately, it would only take a span of approximately 15 minutes in order to reach the Gagaul system from Riximus, so the vanguard fleet should be fine as long as they held their ground for a short while.
As for what I and my crew were doing at this point, we were currently serving as bait to pull the crystal lifeforms away from the large ships composed of the cruisers, battleship, and Black Lotus, and plunged directly into the swarm.
The crystal lifeforms instinctively attacked whichever prey was closest to them after all. It’s fairly easy to lead them on by destroying a number of them with shot cannon and laser cannon fire while constantly moving around the battlefield. We’ve already destroyed quite a number of them while passing by even more crystal lifeforms to pull them away as well.
“Hey, the number of crystal lifeforms chasing after us has already turned really crazy you know!?”
“It’s okay. This much is no problem at all.”
The number of crystal lifeforms currently chasing after us was far fewer than what we faced when we first arrived at the Izrooks system, however, our current forces were also far fewer than what we had back then as well. There’s a danger of our cruisers and battleships taking quite some damage if the battle devolves into a melee. And so, we needed to do all we could in order to prevent that situation from happening.
I switched the attitude controls from auto to manual and reversed the ship to face the chasing crystal lifeforms while preserving our momentum.
“Ora ora ora ora!”
I then let loose with Krishna’s two shotgun cannons and four heavy laser cannons to destroy the chasing enemies. Since the chasing enemies were packed so closely together, there wasn’t even a need to aim precisely. You’d be able to hit something even if you just fired your weapons haphazardly.
“H-Hiro-sama! I-In front! No, behind us!? The crystal lifeforms are–!?”
“It’s fine, it’s fine.”
I used the attitude control thrusters to maneuver the ship in order to dodge the crystal lifeforms charging after us from multiple angles while continuing to bombard the ones we led away. I could easily tell the positions of the enemies by paying attention to the radar, so it’s a piece of cake for me to avoid their attacks as long as I concentrate.
Eh? Don’t I also need to pay attention to the front at the same time, you ask? I’m bombarding the enemies out front to oblivion anyway, so I didn’t need to especially pay attention to them. It’ll be fine as long as I have them in the corner of my eye.
“……Uh, captain. What the heck is that?”
“……What do you mean, Lieutenant?”
Robbitson and I were stunned speechless as we witnessed ‘that’ ship’s crazy maneuvers.
I was already floored when his ship plunged straight into the swarm of crystal lifeforms and drew them away, but he did something even more absurd by actively counterattacking the swarm chasing after him while on the run. He was right in the middle of the swarm too.
His ship was running at a terribly high speed when he suddenly made it turn around to face the chasing enemies and bombarded them with firepower rivaling that of a heavy cruiser. He even evaded all the other crystal lifeforms trying to ram his ship from all directions by using weird-looking maneuvers. He then successfully broke through the encirclement of the crystal lifeform swarm and ended up leading even more of them away.
“It looks like the Silver Sword Wings Assault medal isn’t just for show huh.”
“You can say that again…… Honestly. I wonder what goes through that man’s head whenever he pulls stunts like this.”
No matter how you look at it, plunging headfirst into a swarm of crystal lifeforms with just one ship is already utterly insane, but to think that he even had the guts to reverse his ship in the middle of that situation to mount a counterattack…… No, this isn’t the time to act all stunned by his actions.
“We can’t afford to waste the opening he made for us. Focus fire on Sector A. Push the enemies back. Have the other mercenaries rush over to Sector C to provide reinforcements.”
A flash of bright suddenly went off on Sector B, and a large part of the swarm chasing after that ship was shaved off. It looks like he fired an anti-ship reactive torpedo at them.
“He’s about to reach the vanguard recon fleet…… It looks like they managed to hold on.”
The numbers of the swarm chasing after that ship has been greatly reduced thanks to his earlier attacks, but they were still continuing their pursuit. We still can’t let our guards down, but it looks like they’ll be able to manage if it’s just that much.
“That was pretty thrilling huh?”
Elma and Mimi’s replies sounded really drained of energy. It looks like they still aren’t used to fighting the crystal lifeforms. The small-type crystal lifeforms don’t have much when it comes to projectile attacks, so you’d be fine as long as you pay attention to their ramming attacks. It isn’t like I would allow us to get surrounded and cut off anyway. Well, I guess it was still plenty dangerous since one mistake under the threat of such a swarm would probably result in us getting shot down.
Afterward, we were able to provide reinforcements to the vanguard recon fleet in time and managed to fight off the crystal lifeform ambush. The number of prey would decrease once the other reinforcements arrive, so I made sure to fire off another anti-ship reactive torpedo to earn more kills. Since the Imperial Military will replenish the ammo later, it would be a waste not to take advantage of such a set-up. Black Lotus also has a sizeable amount of spare ammunition stored in it, so I’d like to use them up gradually during the mission in order to get as many kills as I could and earn more.
There actually wasn’t any arrangement such as a kill bonus, but I believe they’d still offer me a sizeable reward as long as I continued to stack up great results. Probably anyway. It might be a good idea to talk with the Lieutenant Commander about this later.
With those thoughts in mind, I maneuvered Krishna to the lower rear part of the Black Lotus and started the auto-docking sequence.
“I’ll leave the docking to you, May.”
『Yes. Opening the hatch now.』
The hatch behind Black Lotus opened, and Krishna went inside the hangar via automated guidance. Mm. Auto-docking really is hassle-free. Just look at how smooth and stable it was. With this, the probability of getting into an accident… probably wasn’t zero, honestly. But only in extremely rare cases. Well, with Krishna’s size, it would probably be okay, barring any strange external factors.
“Hey, guys. We’ve landed already.”
The two ladies with me audibly sighed. Have they managed to shake off their nerves already?
“We’re probably alright for the time being since we’ve successfully eliminated the enemies here, but there might be other swarms lurking in this star system. In any case, reinforcements from the adjacent systems are probably coming over, so you guys should rest up while you can.”
“Why the heck are you not one bit bothered after all that though……?”
“I’m already used to those kinds of chaotic battles. It was nothing more than a warm-up. Fuhahahaha!”
I’m a bit tired, sure, but the battle only lasted for about twenty minutes or so. I still had plenty of fight left.
“You’ll get used to it too. Small-types are similar to slow-moving seeker missiles anyway. They’re not such a big deal.”
“Is that really the case……?”
“Yep. You basically can’t dodge laser fire, but small-type crystal lifeforms are far, far slower than lasers, and they don’t even turn as fast as seeker missiles. You’d be fine once you conquered your initial fear.”
It seems that Mimi was still not completely convinced though.
“Anyway, make sure to get a good rest, you two. I’ll have Tina and Whisker do a quick maintenance check and replenish our ammo.”
“We’ll leave that to you then……”
I headed for Black Lotus’s hangar and left the two ladies behind inside Krishna’s cockpit. It’s probably fine since I managed to not take any hits during the battle earlier, but it’s still convenient to have easy access to proper maintenance and ammo replenishment after such things. It was quite expensive, but Black Lotus really was a great purchase regardless.
I mulled over such thoughts as I continued to head for the hangar.