251 – Did I Say this was Gonna be Easy? Sorry, I Lied.
Editor: Thor’s Stone
We kept the smoke signals burning for several hours. The sun was already starting to set.
“It’s already about 6 P.M. huh. I guess this is it for today’s smoke signals.”
“We ain’t gonna keep em burnin’ throughout the night?”
Since the shelter was already built, everyone was now gathered around the bonfire I made separate from the ones used to send up smoke signals. Tina, who heard my words, cocked her head to the side and inquired.
“Smoke is almost invisible at night after all. On the flip side, lights on the ground stand out more when seen from above, so it’s better to use a normal bonfire at night.”
I picked up the shovel, or rather, the spade I made by combining a sturdy-looking wooden pole, some tough vines, and a nicely shaped stone, broke up the ground around the holes where we kindled bonfires to raise smoke signals, and dumped the soil inside the holes to extinguish the flames. If you talk about putting out fires, a common image would be dousing it in water, but depending on the situation, burying it with soil was also viable.
However, it was stupid to use charcoal for some barbecue on the beach and then burying the charcoal in the sand afterward. It’s not gonna be funny if someone accidentally stepped on them after all. It’s better to extinguish them with seawater and bring the dregs away to dispose of them properly.
If we had a large amount of water available, I’d use that to extinguish the fires, but our only water source right now is a high-tech water bottle that automatically collects moisture in the atmosphere to generate potable water. Its water production function wasn’t that high. According to its catalog specs, it seems it can produce 2 liters of drinking water per day. But just in case the rescue takes a while, 2 liters just won’t be enough for all of us.
“If my estimate is right, they should be coming for us soon.”
“Right. If nothing else happens anyway.”
“Hey, stop that, stupid. What are we gonna do if something does happen, huh?”
“Um, I think us ending up crashing is the worst of it this time… Or, I hope it is.”
“If we were even a little bit more unlucky, we would have kicked the bucket the moment we hit the ground after all.”
“How high is the probability of an aircraft crashin’ anyway?”
I dunno. I think it was a really low percentage I think, but I’m not sure. In the first place, there’s a high possibility that the probability of an aircraft crashing on Earth was way different from the percentage numbers in this dimension. I think the instances of ships crashing due to pirates were pretty high though.
“Well, that said, they would probably not choose to leave us alone in this situation for long after all. A passenger vehicle with people inside crashed, and only the guide and the pilot managed to avoid disaster. All the tourists crashed into the forest and it’s unknown whether they’re dead or alive. If they neglected this situation, and it leads to deaths among the tourists, the reputation of the elves would take a big hit.”
“But seriously though, you were in a pretty bad spot, Boss.”
“It would have been bad if we didn’t have the medical nanomachine unit on hand. You could have seriously died, Big Brother.”
“It looks like your careful preparations really paid off, Hiro-sama…… I better learn from this experience myself.”
“I don’t think we’d encounter situations like this all that often, but it really pays to be prepared.”
It looks like everyone’s learned something from this experience huh? Your big brother is happy that your awareness regarding disaster preparation and prevention has begun to sprout, everyone. But if it’s possible, I wanna live a peaceful life where I won’t have to worry about things like this! What? That’s gonna be boring as heck? This was perfect timing? Do you guys wanna experience an aircraft crash yourselves huh? Anyway, a more peaceful and uneventful life is the way to go after all. Yep.
As I mulled over those thoughts, Whisker suddenly looked up at the sky.
“Huh? What’s wrong?”
“I think I saw some streaks of light up in the sky just now……”
Caught by Whisker’s words, I pointed my gaze up toward the sky as well. The twilight sky gradually turned darker and darker, and I managed to spot some streaks of light flit here and there as day transitioned to nighttime.
What are those? Shooting stars? No, that’s not it. Huh?
As I continued to look up, some light streaks flashed once again, and after I blinked, another round of light streaks flashed from the opposite direction. They kinda looked like lots of shooting stars, but those are probably–
“Is there a battle going on up in this planet’s orbit……?”
“Looks like it. Pirates, maybe?”
“Judging from Refill system’s position, it’s probably not an invasion from a foreign force. But is there really a pirate group strong enough to be able to mount planetary raids repeatedly in this sector……?”
“The pirate group that has the most presence in this sector should be… the Red Flags, I think?”
Basically, pirates usually form small groups composed of a little less than a dozen ships, but some groups were pretty large-scale, with several hundred pirate ships at their disposal. They are the big-name pirates who’ve managed to create a base for themselves and brought others of their ilk from several different systems under their wings.
The one Elma mentioned, the Red Flags, was one such group that had a wide range of influence, including the Refill system. They were always giving the imperial military a hard time. Usually, they operate by distributing their forces over a wide area of activity, so it was really difficult to round them up in one fell swoop. Space was pretty large after all.
“Um, isn’t this bad?”
“Yeah, pretty much. But we can’t do anything about it right now.”
“Our ships are far away from us after all.”
“If I knew this was going to happen, I would have insisted on flying to our destination on Krishna no matter what the locals say……”
“No use havin’ hindsight now, Boss.”
“That’s rude, Sis……”
Yeah, don’t be rude! But would I really go so far as insisting on flying to the destination via Krishna even if our elven hosts graciously prepared a flying aircraft for us? Uh, it’s not like I can’t, but would I really? If I said I had a very bad feeling and wanted to fly Krishna instead, I’m sure they’d just give me weird looks. It’s not like I care about the opinions of other people that much, but would I really insist on having my way like an entitled prick? It would have been bad either way.
“Hahaha, actually, they look kinda pretty, don’t you think?”
“Is this the time to laugh like an idiot?”
“I have no choice but to laugh in this situation.”
When misfortune was piled on top of misfortune, there was nothing I could do but laugh. I wonder if a rescue party will really come for us in this situation? As I mulled over the chances, a shooting star– No, it was far too large to be likened to a shooting star. Anyway, a huge pillar of flames erupted and pierced the sky.
It ran from east to west. The direction it streaked toward was the same as the location of Theta’s integrated port facility.
And then, we witnessed several crimson streaks of light flying from west to east. Those are probably anti-air laser fire from Black Lotus’s twelve laser cannons.
After that, several more fireballs erupted from the east and headed to the west, but they were all intercepted by Black Lotus’ laser cannons.
“D-Don’t tell me she just fired the EML inside the atmosphere!?”
The integrated port facility was pretty far from our current position, but we were still inundated by a loud boom.
Perhaps the round didn’t pass over us, so I wasn’t able to confirm personally, but the only thing that would produce such a powerful booming sound when fired should be the EML equipped on the Lotus.
The EML equipped on the Lotus can seriously damage even a genuine military combat starship as long as it lands a direct hit. So what’ll happen if it was fired inside a planet’s atmosphere?
If it were fired carelessly, there was a good chance the surrounding buildings near the EML would get pulverized by the resulting shockwaves. This is just my conjecture, but the power of the shockwaves produced by its firing should be greater within an atmosphere compared to when it’s fired in outer space. A typical pirate ship with thin armor plating could be shot down all at once by the shockwaves alone.
“M-Mei-han’s really lettin’ it rip.”
“But is that really okay? What about the damage to the surroundings……?”
“Let’s believe in Mei. Yeah. I wanna believe in her.”
If the surrounding facilities really were damaged badly by the EML, I wonder how much I’d have to pay as compensation? Ugh. My stomach hurts.
“I’m sure Mei knows what she’s doing. She should be able to adjust the EML’s power accordingly.”
“T-That’s right, isn’t it!?”
It looks like only Elma had complete trust in Mei. Mimi agreed with her, but her face was twitching slightly. How should I put it? Mei was excellent in whatever she does, but sometimes, she tends to go overboard.
“We can do nothing but pray right now. Anyway, it would be bad if the pirates spotted us from the sky, so let’s put out the bonfire and retreat inside the shelter for the time being.”
I extinguished the bonfire using my DIY spade and entered the shelter with everyone. We built a fence around the camp during the day, so wild animals from Theta’s forest shouldn’t be able to attack us.
Will a rescue party really manage to come for us in this situation? Water was one thing, but our food stocks were limited. Depending on how things develop, it might be necessary to consider securing food via harvesting wild vegetables and hunting.