274 – Realization and Dining Together
Editor: Thor’s Stone
When I arrived at the dining room where I left the Sacred Tree seed, I met up with Mimi and Elma who were in the middle of taking a break– or so I thought. It turns out that the two of them were scrutinizing the Sacred Tree seed that was now placed on top of the dining table.
“I was about to check that thing out too. So, how is it?”
“Well, something did happen alright……”
“You can tell from one glance.”
When I looked over Mimi’s shoulder to check out the Sacred Tree seed sitting on top of the table, I found that something certainly was different. Its shape didn’t change much, but the ‘drill’ tips have changed to look more crystalline and had a bluish hue. Are you sure you’re really a plant?
“What the heck is this?”
“The moment we arrived, it already looked like this.”
“There are many things we don’t know about it after all.”
“So you don’t know what happened to it too, Elma. Yeah, I suppose you don’t.”
Elma might be an elf, but she was born and raised in the Imperial Capital. She already said that she wasn’t that familiar with Refill IV’s history or legends before.
But now I was almost a hundred percent sure that this thing was the cause of that laser beam bending phenomenon. Gah, you’re too bright. Stop shining dammit. Both tips, which now looked like blue crystals, shone even brighter than before.
“OK, OK, calm down already. Were you the one that caused those laser beams to bend away from us in the earlier battle?”
Mimi and Elma both got gobsmacked, but I ignored them for the time being and looked straight at the Sacred Tree seed. After a short while, the seed flashed once in reply. If I remember correctly, two flashes mean ‘yes’ and one flash means ‘no’. So it’s a ‘no’ huh.
“Really? You’re not lying, are you?”
The seed shone twice. It replied immediately this time.
“I’m gonna change the question then. Were you involved in some form with those laser beams bending away?”
It replied with two flashes immediately after my question. So it’s saying it wasn’t the main cause but it was definitely related huh. So that means…
“I was the one who bent the laser beams and you just assisted me?”
The Sacred Tree seed shone twice even faster than before as if to say ‘Yeah, that’s it!’ or something like that. I see, I see. I’m not sure how exactly everything happened, but basically, at that point, I was praying from the bottom of my heart for the ship to withstand the laser volley. I guess this guy was saying my feelings caused a miracle or something to that effect.
“It may sound unbelievable, but apparently, this thing amplified the mysterious power sleeping inside me to bend the laser cannon fire during the battle.”
“Eh…… Doesn’t that sound like the psionic shields the Vuelzarus Holy Empire employs on their starships?”
“I’m not sure, but yeah, it’s probably similar.”
I wasn’t really sure because I haven’t actually seen the real thing, but I think the psionic technology employed in that empire’s energy shields roughly have a similar effect.
“Um, what should we do then?”
“Even if you ask me that…… I don’t even know how exactly I activated that ability, and I’m also not sure I can use it without this thing assisting me. We just got lucky this time. We shouldn’t rely on such an ability in the future. That’s about all we can do, right?”
“Yeah. If you want to master it, I believe you have to take special training or something, and if you can’t use it unassisted, then there’s no point in training in the first place.”
“That’s how it is. But still, I gotta give my thanks where it’s due. Really, thank you. We survived that ordeal because of you.”
Seemingly accepting my gratitude, the Sacred Tree seed shone twice as if saying ‘It was nothing.’ or something like that. It looks like my gratitude was appreciated huh.
For the time being, it will still take a bit more time until the next sortie order is issued. Now that reinforcements were rushing to join up with us, various adjustments would need to be done to keep the fleet in line such as re-organization according to roles and overall skills, so they should be pretty busy right about now.
『Master, Commander Serena has invited you to dinner.』
Mei’s notice completely broke my earlier assumption.
Did she really have that much free time? Or maybe she’s just intentionally slacking off? I don’t really care either way, and I don’t feel like joining her for dinner right now either. However, an invitation from the daughter of an Imperial Marquis was akin to an order. Unless you had a very good reason, you couldn’t afford to decline it.
“If there isn’t any particular dress code, then tell her we’ll attend. If she agrees to that, then just notify me about the time and venue later.”
Mei cut the call.
“There you have it. Go ahead and prepare yourselves.”
“Yes. But are you gonna be okay, Hiro-sama?”
“Not sure. I’ve already calmed down a bit at least.”
“It’s no good to flare up at a client, so please control yourself later, okay? It’s not worth it.”
“Yeah, I know. Even if I complained and argued with her regarding whether or not she was in the wrong, it’s not like anything would change.”
It didn’t feel too good, but what Elma’s saying is true. There was no point in complaining after the fact. Since the other party already invited us to have dinner together, that at least shows that she has no intention of sweeping her actions under the rug and wants to make up for it in some way. Since she already made a move to reconcile, it would be a bit too childish of me to push her away simply because I was miffed.
“Thank you for your invitation tonight, Commander.”
“This is just a small show of appreciation to you for accomplishing to reduce the damage to your allies in this subjugation operation so far. Please do not mind it too much.”
I was told to take a seat, so I did so obediently.
We were having our dinner inside the exclusive dining room of the Independent Anti-Pirate Mobile Fleet’s flagship, Restalias. To be exact, this was a dining room reserved for the captain and other high-ranking officers onboard like the XO, chief gunnery officer, and chief communications officer. I remember hearing these details from Commander Serena herself a while back.
“These are dishes that make use of fresh meat and vegetables from Refill IV. They were still prepared by our automatic cooker though.”
Commander Serena began introducing tonight’s menu as the soldiers brought out one dish after another.
“These may not be enough for you all since you’ve already tasted Refill IV’s authentic cuisine, but these dishes are the best ones we can prepare for tonight.”
“We appreciate all your effort, Commander.”
When I bowed my head toward her, Commander Serena’s expression turned awkward.
“You’re really angry, aren’t you?”
“I’m afraid I cannot afford to get upset at you, ma’am. After all, I’m just a mere mercenary. And furthermore, I’m currently under the Commander’s employ. Hence, I can only obey your orders no matter what.”
“Alright, I get it. I get it already, so please stop being all formal with me. Only Robbitson and I are present tonight, so just talk to me like you usually do.”
I crossed my arms without picking up the knife and fork and shrugged my shoulders in response.
“Fine, as you wish then. Honestly, I really thought about giving you a good smack in the face at one point, but when I calmed down and thought things through, I really didn’t have to go that far, so don’t worry about it.”
“Since you said you didn’t have to go so far, I suppose you still feel indignant about it to some extent, right? I’m not sure about how you feel, but I personally think that you’re someone who’s truly hard to come by. That’s why I invited you over like this so we can speak frankly with each other without reserve.”
“I see. That’s nice and all. But frankly, there’s no need for you to care so much anyway, Commander Serena. You have full control over every aspect of combat as our commander, so it’s natural that we have to obey your commands. Even if your command might lead to my ship getting shot down and exploding, if you judged that it would reduce our overall losses, it’s my job to follow through.”
“Do you really think that way?”
“Of course. I perfectly understand in my head. My heart is another story.”
I leaned back on the surprisingly comfy backrest of the dining chair. If you think about it logically, it’s exactly as I said. Since Commander Serena was our combined fleet’s commander, we can’t really complain no matter how she’d like to make use of us. Of course, since her command placed us in danger of dying, you really can’t fault me for having ill feelings about her order as well.
“If you have something to say, I’d appreciate it if you just go ahead and say it without holding back.”
“It’ll just lead to us being uncomfortable with each other even more though.”
“I’d really hate it if you distance yourself from me because of this. I can’t do it officially, but I’m willing to bow my head and apologize in private.”
When I saw Commander Serena’s ambiguous expression, it really made me think she was one heck of a femme fatale. Being beautiful really is convenient huh.
“……Haa. You know, a small ship charging straight ahead while being showered in anti-spacecraft fire for five seconds is nothing but suicidal. A military corvette with military-grade hardware and armor plating might barely pull it off, but something like that is normally impossible. Any other ship would melt in just three seconds.”
“Yes…… It’s as you say.”
Commander Serena meekly replied and sighed. Judging from her reaction, her subordinates might have told her off regarding the matter huh. And that’s why she hastily organized this dinner.
“Well, it all turned out okay in the end, so I suppose your judgment wasn’t wrong after all. However, we can’t reliably use the method that allowed us to deflect the laser fire, so we really were just lucky this time. If you make us do the same stunt again, we’ll probably get shot down and explode, so please just keep that in mind while giving out orders.”
“I understand. However, you still obeyed my order despite the danger, right? I thought mercenaries valued their lives more than obeying orders.”
I looked straight at Commander Serena, who cocked her head to the side curiously, sighed, and explained why I still followed through with her order.
“If I made any other maneuver after you ordering us to maintain our course, there was a danger of getting hit by the allied ship’s laser cannon fire from behind…… That’s why I had no choice but to fly straight.”
At that time, if I flew in any other direction other than straight ahead, we were nearly guaranteed to get hit by friendly fire. In that particular situation, attempting evasive maneuvers against orders was highly dangerous.
“Ah, I see…… But even I didn’t think you’d really fly straight ahead in that situation.”
“You hired me as a mobile raider, right? In that situation, my job was to attract enemy fire and smoke out their firing lines, so– Ah, so that’s it.”
So that’s actually it huh. The standard tactics of players when attacking a pirate base in SOL aren’t that compatible with Commander Serena and the Imperial Space Navy’s standard tactics when they assault a pirate base. The largest ships the players can actually own in SOL are cruisers. And those who owned cruisers were just a few of the top players, so essentially, a destroyer was the largest ship an average player can use when attacking a pirate base.
However, the Imperial Space Navy can deploy a large number of cruisers and battleships that have much longer range and much more firepower compared to standard destroyers. They are absolutely capable of reducing large chunks of the enemy numbers from outside their range.
When Commander Serena was still a Lieutenant Commander, the force at her disposal was still relatively small, so I could still work alongside them using the tactics I employed in SOL. However, since her rank increased, Commander Serena’s ships also increased accordingly. So that’s why our tactics didn’t really mesh with each other at present.
“No, it looks like you really don’t have anything to apologize for, Commander. My tactics were simply not up to snuff. I’m sorry that things had to develop to this point.”
Commander Serena’s eyes darted around as she got flustered by my sudden apology. Yeah, I guess her reaction’s natural. It was just too sudden, so I suppose she doesn’t get why I actually apologized.
“It’s alright. While we were talking, I simply realized that I didn’t view things from the correct perspective. I’m really sorry about my earlier attitude. I’m so embarrassed that I even feel like crawling into a hole right about now.”
This dimension does resemble SOL a lot, but there are also plenty of things that aren’t similar at all. I should have realized it way earlier when I got dumped into this dimension, but I was simply too used to the standard tactics in SOL, even if those tactics might not be the best ones to use in certain situations. That’s why I haven’t noticed such a thing until now.
This won’t do at all. Being hung up on prior experiences and stereotypes is the same as drinking poison on an ever-changing battlefield. I have to reflect on this. I really dropped the ball this time.
“Um, so does that mean we’re good now……?”
“Yeah, of course. Or rather, there was no need to get upset with you in the first place. My stupidity just led to some pointless resentment on my part. Actually, I’m the one who needs to apologize here. Sorry.”
“Eh……? Well, if you yourself say so, I suppose……?”
Commander Serena still looks like she didn’t get what was going on, but she nodded in response anyway.
Yeah, she really doesn’t get it huh. But if I explained my reasoning in detail, I can’t avoid spilling the beans about how I possibly came to this dimension from a different one, so that’s not an option. Anyway, it looks like Commander Serena already agreed to put everything behind us, more or less, so what’s left is me reflecting on my mistaken view and update my tactics accordingly.
I won’t say it to her directly, but I’ll consider this as me owing Commander Serena one. She made me realize something crucial, so I can at least agree to one unreasonable request from her in exchange.
I’m not gonna do it if her request was something far too crazy though.