228 – The Usual Pattern
Editor: Thor’s Stone
We finally exited the multicolored hyperspace tunnel that was bad for the eyes. Black Lotus transitioned into normal space. I wonder when it was that I began to feel an inexplicable sense of security whenever I saw the twinkling sea of stars from beyond the ship’s canopy. It looks like I’ve gradually adapted myself to this dimension already.
“Yosh, let’s go.”
“Opening the hangar hatch. Go ahead.”
After a short round of charging, Krishna was launched out of the Black Lotus’ hangar by the electromagnetic catapult into outer space. The sense of release and freedom you get the instant you jump out into the sea of stars was, for me, incomparable.
“Just like what we discussed, our next destination is the Refill Prime colony.”
『Roger. I will now set the course to Refill Prime colony.』
“Requesting FTL Drive synchronization.”
『Synchronization accepted. FTL Drive, charging start.』
“Set the radar’s range to the maximum. If you spot something suspicious, notify me immediately.”
『「Aye, aye, sir!」』
Mimi and Mei replied simultaneously. Meanwhile, Elma seems to be calmly performing a subsystems check next. As for me, I didn’t have anything to do at the moment. That’s because it’s my crew members who handle the ship’s navigation, communication, and control of the subsystems. My role is to take command during emergencies and pilot the ship in order to deal with said emergencies.
『Countdown. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…… FTL Drive, activate.』
A roaring sound echoed throughout the cockpit, and Black Lotus and Krishna broke off into the void while leaving behind light trails.
“I sure hope nothing bad happens this time.”
“That’s right…… But–”
“Our bad luck levels are seriously just too hardcore after all. I’d find it weirder if we didn’t find ourselves neck-deep in trouble, honestly.”
Mimi, who smiled bitterly, suddenly noticed something. She operated her console and put up the image she was looking at on the main screen. It looks like she picked up a ship signature on the subspace radar while we were using FTL navigation…… But that signature is–
“They use that to tag criminals, right……?”
“Wasn’t there some news about a ship that went at it with the Imperial Military recently?”
“Yeah, there was.”
While listening to Mimi and Elma’s exchange, I quickly operated my console and canceled the FTL synchronization with the Black Lotus. I then nudged the flight stick to change course in order to follow after the ship with the criminal tag.
“Make sure to catch up with us later, Black Lotus.”
『Understood. Good luck, Master.』
While navigating via FTL, a ship would be more difficult to handle, but even so, a small combat ship like Krishna was still far more agile and responsive than Black Lotus. If we’re gonna tail a ship using FTL, it would be better for Krishna to act solo.
“The other party’s movements are quite sluggish. A medium-class, maybe? Or perhaps a large-class?”
“Anyway, let’s stick to them. Have the interdictor on stand-by.”
“This is gonna be our first time to interdict another ship ourselves huh.”
Interdiction is the act of forcibly stopping a ship while it’s using FTL navigation. I’m not clear about the detailed processes behind it, but interdiction is performed by grabbing the behind of a target ship via the use of a jamming device called an interdictor which makes use of gravity control technology.
In other words, it’s like performing a dogfight at faster than light speeds.
“Hahaha, and where do you think you’re going, buddy?”
Of course, the side on the receiving end of interdiction would try their hardest to escape being interdicted.
In order to throw my aim off, they started speeding up and zigzagging around, but I’m not the kind of pilot those kinds of tricks will work on. By the way, we’d be able to interdict them successfully the moment they reduce speed to a certain level, so if they get careless using those erratic maneuvers, it’ll be an instant game over.
“It looks like we were right on the money.”
“No need to hold back against a ship with a criminal tag. We’re engaging them in combat as soon as we catch them.”
“”Aye, aye, sir!”
Shortly after Elma and Mimi’s reply, we finally interdicted the opponent, and both Krishna and the enemy ship were thrown back into normal space. And right after a successful interdiction, the target would then be put into a terrible situation.
“Ah, what a tragedy.”
I activated our weapon systems as I watched the large-class starship that looked decidedly like a pirate ship spin around in space uncontrollably.
A ship forcibly yanked out from subspace while navigating via FTL would usually experience violent multi-axis rotations just like what’s happening here. They say it’s caused by the leftover kinetic energy after an interrupted FTL navigation, but I’m not sure about the detailed theory.
And of course, when a ship is like that, they’d be wide open to attacks by their opponents. So if there wasn’t a chance of getting away or if you didn’t intend to run in the first place, it would be better to just purposely drop your speed and accept the interdiction to avoid such a situation.
Since I came to this dimension, there have been a couple of times where I was on the receiving end of interdiction, and I slowed down to accept the interdiction every time. And this is the reason why.
“I’m gonna punch right through their shields straight away.”
“That would be best.”
There’s no need to grant mercy onto a ship with a criminal tag. I fired a volley from all four heavy-caliber laser cannons at the pirate ship that was still spinning about wildly. In that situation, other than the cockpit that’s protected by an inertial control system, the other sections of the ship should be in an absolute mess.
“Enemy ship’s shields are down.”
“Let’s aim for the thrusters next.”
After peeling off their shields, I’m gonna crush their thrusters next. Once that’s done, the large-class ship will be stripped of its mobility. Afterward, I’ll just have to destroy their defensive turrets from a blind spot and they’ll be completely naked.
『S-Stop! We have hostages here you know!?』
“And? No matter how many of the hostages die, the bounties on your heads wouldn’t decrease, right?”
In the first place, we didn’t know if they really had hostages or not, and there was no guarantee of a successful rescue in this situation.
Whether it’s a good Samaritan filled with a philanthropic spirit, an innocent child, or an Imperial aristocrat with a lofty title, all will be treated as good as dead once captured by pirates.
In fact, even if an innocent party loses his or her life after a pirate ship gets shot down, the attacking party will not be charged under galactic law. Otherwise, we would not be able to hunt pirates down if they knew using human shields would be effective.
“The only ones who would fall for such a trick are absolute amateurs.”
“We can’t really care about every little thing after all.”
Elma gets me, but Mimi just gasped silently. I couldn’t see Mimi’s face right now since we’re in the middle of active combat, but I imagine her face should have already turned blue. Well, it’ll take some time to get used to things like this anyway…… Or rather, I actually had it in me to honestly ignore the lives of the hostages huh? Perhaps I was just insensitive to the life and death of others.
“We’ve crushed their arms and legs. What now?”
I mulled over those thoughts as I took out all of the enemy’s thrusters, missile launchers, and other secondary weapon systems. And then, Elma called my attention. Well, it’s no use dwelling on stuff like that anyway. I guess that just goes to show how much I’ve acclimatized to this dimension and my role as a mercenary. I better not think too deeply about it.
“Let’s see…… Since they’re a ship with a criminal tag, it would be best to hand them over to the Imperial Military if a patrol arrives, but–”
Before I could finish my words, a large, dark silhouette appeared within the sector after a booming roar. It was the Black Lotus.
“Since the Black Lotus is already here, we should just subjugate them ourselves. I need to engage in melee fights from time to time or my skills will become rusty.”
“It’ll be dangerous though?”
“Since the enemies are pirates, I wouldn’t be at a disadvantage. We have combat bots too. Also, this would be a great opportunity to train Mimi for melee combat operations.”
I gave her a glance and found Mimi’s expression all tensed up. Yep. She’s done it more than a few times already using the simulator, but there’s nothing like live practice after all. I’ll have her do her best here.
“Man, what a blunder.”
I planned to have Krishna come alongside the pirate ship and board it first, then have the combat bots use Black Lotus’ drop pods to follow afterward, but I realized later that I actually left my power armor inside Black Lotus.
And so, I was going to engage in melee combat without wearing a power armor this time. Well, I do have a portable shield generator with me anyway. I even had a pressurized combat suit that would allow me to survive getting thrown into outer space for approximately three hours, so I think I’ll be fine.
『Are you really going to be okay? There’s no need to push yourself, Hiro-sama.』
“I’ll be fine. If it gets really dangerous, I’ll just hide in a corner somewhere and leave all the work to the combat bots.”
I replied to the worried Mimi as I checked my equipment. This time, I’ll be bringing my long and short swords as well as my trusty laser gun. I also brought three shock grenades, two plasma grenades, and a spare energy pack. I also wore my chameleon stealth cloak.
I was contemplating whether or not to bring a laser rifle along as well but decided against it since longer weapons might prove difficult to handle while performing melee combat in tight spaces. Ship interiors are generally tight spaces after all. A laser gun would be more convenient.
『Approach complete. Breaching hull.』
『The drop pods are ready too. We can charge inside at any time.』
“Please have the combat bots infiltrate first. I’ll take control of the cockpit while they’re busy.”
『Aye, aye, sir. Good luck, Master.』
As we had our exchange, we finally completed opening a breach on the enemy ship’s hull in order to allow us to charge inside.
『Breaching complete. Please be careful.』
“Gotcha. Commence boarding.”
Krishna’s hatch opened, and I made my way to the breach on the hull of the enemy pirate ship to rush inside it. The place we opened was apparently the outer hatch of the enemy ship’s cargo hold. I faced no enthusiastic welcoming committee. They were probably busy dealing with all the combat bots.
“This is Snake¹. I’ve successfully infiltrated the enemy pirate ship.”
『Shouldn’t an infiltrator’s codename be Mouse?』
“So it’s Mouse in this dimension huh……”
It looks like it was standard for a mouse to infiltrate stuff in this dimension instead of a snake. How unfortunate.
“This looks like a cargo hold. Can we get a map of the ship somehow?”
『Um…… There’s a console on the wall to your left. Please connect your comm terminal there, Hiro-sama.』
I followed Mimi’s guidance and found the console. I then connected my portable comm terminal to it via a data cord. Mimi then proceeded to crack the database of the pirate ship in order to get detailed info on it.
『Um…… I’ve finished getting the info. I’ll put up the info on the HUD of your helmet, Hiro-sama.』
Immediately afterward, a 3D map of the ship interior was projected on the HUD of the airtight combat suit helmet I was wearing. It was definitely a large-class ship. It was pretty huge.
“Please indicate a route to the cockpit. I’ll begin the suppression operation.”
『A-Aye, aye, sir.』
“Calm down, Mimi. Take three deep breaths and focus.”
I headed for the cargo hold’s exit while listening to Mimi take deep breaths three times over the comms. I was curious about what they’re carrying, but I’ll have to take control of the cockpit first.
“I’m leaving the cargo hold.”
『Yes. Leave the support to me.』
『Be careful Hiro.』
As I listened to the replies of the two ladies, I pulled out my laser gun from its holster and released the safety.
 TL Notes: A reference to Solid Snake from the Metal Gear Solid franchise.