164 – Extermination Battle Start
Editor: Thor’s Stone
After resupplying and a quick maintenance check, we immediately launched from Black Lotus and made way for the other mercenary ships that came for maintenance and repairs.
“Lieutenant Commander Serena said the damage they received was minor, but it looks like there are still a lot of damaged ships.”
Krishna’s main monitor showed the mercenary ships, whose hulls have been scraped and partially crystallized in places.
“They probably ate a full-body ramming attack or two from the small-type crystal lifeforms. They don’t have much when it comes to ranged firepower, but their ramming attacks are nothing to sneeze at. Those are quite dangerous since they would be able to bring down the average shields with just two or three well-placed hits.”
Normally, the energy shields of starships that had been originally developed to protect ship hulls from debris collisions while out in space were quite resistant to physical impacts. However, the ramming attacks from crystal lifeforms can easily break through them. I observed that the tips of their bodies release a particular glow whenever they launch themselves out on an attack, so I wonder if there’s some kind of unknown mechanism to it. I wouldn’t really know since there wasn’t any detailed explanation for it in SOL too. I wonder if they use the same principle as the submunitions released by the shotgun cannons to penetrate shields.
By the way, the shield-piercing capability of shotgun cannon shells will decrease sharply when fired from a distance other than close range. If you fired shotgun cannon shells in the game from long range, the other players will just jeer at you while saying stuff like ‘You on crack mate? Those are shot cannon shells!’ and proceed to happily shrug the attacks off.
“You always manage to dodge them though, Hiro-sama.”
“Their charging speed is decent, but they suck at making quick turns. I’ll be fine as long as I pay attention.”
It would be dangerous if they attacked from multiple directions all at once though, even for me. Well, at that point, there would be no choice but to forcibly break out of the siege. If the shields go down in that situation, there’s no way the hull will last. By the way, armor corrosion in SOL was implemented through continuous DOT and a penalty in physical defense. It was set so that the crystalized parts will turn extremely brittle and weak.
As we talked about the characteristics of crystal lifeforms, a call came through.
『This is the Commander of the Special Crystal Lifeform Extermination Fleet, Gil Folks.』
The wide-area transmission was from the Commander of the entire Fleet. It’s probably a final briefing before the start of the main operation.
『The resupplying of ships and minimum maintenance procedures will be completed in another 15 minutes. Upon completion, we will immediately head out to subjugate a super-large type crystal lifeform tentatively named the Mother Crystal nesting at the Alpha sector of the Jerom system.』
A wide-area 3D map simulating the entire battlefield got displayed on the main monitor.
『The Mother Crystal subjugation operation will be primarily conducted via long-range bombardment. Although there are many enemies, they do not possess abilities equivalent to energy shielding so their defenses are basically weak. In addition, their shooting range is short, and it would be impossible for them to put up any meaningful response to a long-range bombardment from Imperial cruisers and battleships.』
A simulated image of the Imperial Fleet grinding down the enemy numbers through multiple long-range bombardments was shown on the 3D map.
『However, it remains a fact that the enemies are very numerous, so the possibility of them managing to close in on our ships is still relatively high. The small ships along with the Imperial destroyers will be responsible for intercepting the enemy forces that manage to escape the bombardment.』
“What do you think of that?”
“Well, isn’t it quite reasonable? At the very least, it’s a strategy that was devised with a proper understanding of the enemy’s characteristics. The total number of enemies should have already been determined to a certain extent, so this plan was drafted based on that info.”
I really don’t think the military will engage in a haphazard battle. They are pros when it comes to large scale engagements after all. Their usual modus operandi is to gather enough intel, analyze it, and then devise a plan that has a high chance of success. If they think we would be able to win this engagement, we probably would. Unless there are some unexpected factors, our chance of victory is basically unwavering. Someone setting off a Singing Crystal in the middle of a fleet is a good example of an unexpected factor. But there’s no way that would happen here.
“If Hiro says so, then I guess it would be fine. Will we be charging in the middle of the fray again later?”
“That depends on the situation. If charging in would result in us blocking our allies’ line of fire, it would be better for us to stay back and concentrate on defending the rest of the Fleet instead. Against a Mother Crystal, even Krishna’s firepower would be lacking.”
There’s still a chance of bringing it down if I manage to get close and slam some anti-ship reactive torpedoes on its core, but instead of performing such a dangerous stunt, it would be better to obediently hang back and rely on the long-range bombardment of our allies. We probably won’t get a chance to strut our stuff this time around.
“In the next battle, we’ll be free to take an advantageous position unlike when we first came out of the hyperlane. Won’t it be a one-sided battle then?’
In SOL, the battlefields in raid events were always adjusted to offer a good sense of tension and challenge to the players, but this is the real world. There’s no need to purposefully choose a disadvantageous position for some cheap thrills. It would be best to crush the enemies in a one-sided beating from long range.
“So does that mean the next battle will end with us just watching from a distance, Hiro-sama?”
Approximately 30 minutes later. The Fleet deactivated their FTL Drives and got into firing position.
“Uwaa…… It’s gigantic.”
“It sure is.”
“I think it’s actually as big as a minor planet.”
We finally saw the Mother Crystal from a distance and gave our impressions. I was monitoring the movements of the rest of the crystal lifeforms through Black Lotus’s sensors, and the small-types and Guardian Crystals were actually starting to head for the direction of the Fleet. They must have detected us even from this distance.
『All ships, commence bombardment!』
With the Fleet Commander’s orders, the Imperial ships began their long-range bombardment. Tens of dozens of large-caliber laser cannons fired and drowned the incoming crystal lifeforms with a hail of destructive beams. We witnessed a large number of the crystal lifeform swarm releasing intense glows before exploding in the distance. Black Lotus also deployed its large-caliber EML and fired– Eh?
“Hey, Mei¹? Can you really hit them at this distance?”
『Yes. The enemies are quite numerous after all.』
Accompanied by a droning sound, the Black Lotus fired a super-accelerated shell from the large-caliber EML on its bow. I’m not sure how many seconds it would take for the round to hit a target, but since Mei was the one who fired it, I’m sure that round wouldn’t be wasted.
“That’s really amazing, Mei-san. You can really hit the enemies from this distance.”
“Yeah, it sure is. Lasers are one thing, but hitting stuff with an EML at this distance is normally impossible y’know.”
Although the projectile speed of an EML is many times faster than your typical multi-cannon or ballistic cannon, it still wouldn’t compare to laser projectiles that basically launch out at lightspeed. Since we’re in outer space where there’s no atmosphere or the influence of planetary gravity, you don’t need to worry about laser shots being attenuated and losing power, but there’s still a chance of them changing trajectories. You don’t really need to care about this factor much in close-range battles where small ships usually engage in frantic dogfights. But during long-range bombardments, you’d have to really pay attention, since a slight deviation will greatly influence the laser projectile’s, uh, impact point, or something. Anyway, it’s the spot where the projectile will hit.
“I wonder if it’s thanks to the combination of an advanced independent AI and a high-performance positron brain? Man. I’m surprised the old Empire didn’t get decimated when they took on opponents like Mei.”
“Ah, yeah. You have a point.”
Mimi obediently nodded her head in agreement while Elma seemed a bit reluctant for some reason. So, am I correct in thinking that they really didn’t manage to prevent their destruction, but were allowed to survive instead? I think there’s a good chance I’m right.
While I mulled over such things, the Imperial ships along with some mercenary ships continued their heavy barrage, and the number of Guardian Crystals was steadily decreasing. However, it seems that the small-types were gradually managing to get past the bombardment.
“Instead of the Guardian Crystals, it looks like the small-types are the ones that would pose a problem later.”
“Are we heading out now?”
“Yeah. They would probably engage the corvettes and destroyers soon, so we better head out there as well.”
“I’ll contact Mei-san.”
As Mimi contacted Mei to inform her of our decision, I fired up the thrusters and headed up to join the interception team composed of corvettes, small mercenary ships, and destroyers.
『Oh, if it ain’t the top Ace with the Silver Sword Wings Assault medal.』
『You’ve already earned enough achievements, right? Can’t you just leave some for us, man?』
“C’mon guys. Ain’t it a mercenary’s style to earn as much as you can, whenever you can? It ain’t like me to stay nice and cozy in the back.”
『Uh, yeah, you certainly don’t like to stay in the back, alright.』
『Or rather, doesn’t he keep charging in every damn time? Even going crazy has its limits, bro.』
『I feel bad for the nice girls with him. Poor things.』
『Hey girls, how about you ditch that crazy guy and come with me instead?』
『Hey, don’t steal a march on the rest of us. And besides, I earn more than–』
“Hey, you idiots. Did your mother not teach you never to talk about stealing a guy’s women right in front of him? I’m gonna murder you, y’know.”
I don’t mind if it’s just ordinary fooling around, but joking about something like that is an absolute no-go. They’d look down on me if I didn’t say anything after hearing all that.
“A guy’s women, huh?”
When I heard the two’s reactions, I realized that I actually blurted out something pretty bold, but it was too late to take it back.
“Alright, don’t get all embarrassed because of something you said.”
“You’re really cute, Hiro-sama.”
“Be quiet. You’re distracting me. A moment of carelessness can be fatal.”
“The enemies are still a good distance away though.”
It was a counterargument I couldn’t retort to.
There’s still some time before the interception battle commences.
TL Notes – As you’ve probably noticed, the spelling of the name of one of the major characters has changed. Our lovely kuudere maidroid May has been renamed Mei. This is due to the recent release of LN Vol. 4. It turns out they went with Mei for the official romanization.
Now let me briefly explain why I went with May instead of Mei when I TLd the previous chapters. The names of the characters in both the WN and LN are spelled in Katakana. Katakana characters are often used to spell out foreign loan words in Japanese (and completely made-up fictional words and names as well). That’s why I went with May. It was a Western name that I felt suited the overall theme of the WN. But alas, the Japanese hath spoken, and they want to call her Mei. And so it shall be.
This isn’t the only change though. Earl Daleinwald has become Earl Dareinwald now. I’mma use this spelling from now on as well, so take note guys. It sounds pretty awkward, but oh well.
If you guys wanna see the latest novel illustrations, head on over to the ToC page. I’ve uploaded the colored illustrations there, so you can finally ogle Mei’s assets to your heart’s content, you pervs XD