279 – An Ambush following an Ambush
Editor: Thor’s Stone
『I’m gonna smash ya’ll to biiiiiits!』
The pirates sounded like they were high on illegal substances as they screamed crazily and rushed straight toward the Fleet. They came out of the asteroid field in great numbers— Err, well, not exactly. But there were still quite a few of them.
“Since our sensors didn’t catch them, were they waiting with their power generators down the entire time?”
“I suppose. They sound like a crazy mob right now, but that was still a pretty calculating move.”
“Maybe they’re just barely holding on to reason, and only got high enough to forget their fear? That’s pretty nasty.”
Even for pirates, isn’t it too much of a waste to throw away their lives like this? I’m sure there are various circumstances on the side of the pirates as well, but an attack like this was practically suicide. I wonder what kind of standing these guys held in the organization for them to be treated as sacrificial pawns like this.
『Attention all ships. Immediately intercept the enemy ships coming in from Sector 3. Small-class ships, be careful not to enter the line of fire of the medium and large-class ships.』
The moment Commander Serena’s transmission was over, the secondary guns of Restalias spat out fire, or rather, highly destructive beams, and started intercepting the pirate ships that came out of the asteroid field. The other large-class ships also began firing interception barrages.
“No matter how many times I see this stuff, it’s still damn amazing.”
“I definitely don’t want to try plunging headfirst into a barrage like this.”
The secondary guns of a large-class ship were basically the same caliber as the main guns of medium-class ships. In other words, even Krishna’s shield would be completely saturated after taking just a few hits. So what about pirate ships with abysmal defenses? It’s not that hard to imagine what would become of them.
“Nn, so unless it’s a perfect surprise attack, it really is no good.”
It seems like the pirates were trying to throw off the aims of the large-class ships by scattering chaff and flares, but this was simply trying to put out a raging inferno with a single bucket of water. I mean, sure, chaff and flares can be used to throw off the automatic aiming systems of starships by disrupting their sensors to some extent, but they can always aim manually. Chaff and flares are convenient, but not universally effective in each and every scenario.
“Yeah. Mimi, direct the active sensors opposite of where the large-class ships are firing at. Set it to maximum range.”
“Eh? U-Understood…… Huh?”
“So something’s really coming from over there huh. Prepare for combat, and send the observation data to Restalias to warn them.”
“A-Aye, aye, sir!”
It’s a common tactic. Basically, it’s like making a big swing with your right fist to attract the attention of your opponent and landing the critical blow with your left fist, a weapon, or a kick. In this case, both the minefield and the earlier ambush from the asteroid field were merely used as decoys.
While listening to Mimi communicating with Restalias, I pointed Krishna in the direction of the suspicious readings and set the active sensors to maximum output.
“There’s something there alright.”
An extremely cold object was steadily approaching the fleet. Probably, after accelerating at maximum speed, they activated the emergency cooling system to drastically lower the temperature of their starship, and let it approach the fleet exclusively through the use of inertia. It’s similar to the stunt I pulled off during the battle with the Vereverem Federation a while back. Yep. It was thermal stealth.
“I’ll leave the adjustment of the FCS to you.”
Of course, Krishna also sported a thermal sensor among its equipped modules. It’s not impossible to lock onto a starship using thermal stealth by simply tweaking the fire control system settings a bit.
“Settings are A-OK. Target locked. Twelve bogeys approaching. No reaction on the IFF.”
“OK. Those are enemies then.”
The opponents were still approaching us with their power generators under minimum output. Of course, that meant they don’t have any shields up and they were practically blind. They probably haven’t even noticed we already got a lock on them.
“Hiro-sama, Commander Serena says we are permitted to freely engage.”
“Roger that. Let’s do this.”
I pulled back the control stick, squeezed the firing trigger, and launched a salvo from the four large-caliber laser cannons as I rapidly closed in on them. And, of course, once they directly hit a ship without energy shields deployed–
“That’s one down.”
The suspicious ship of unknown affiliation that got bathed by the laser cannon salvo exploded without any suspense. Eleven ships left.
“Unknown ships have reactivated their generators.”
“Let’s reduce their numbers as much as we can before they get their shields up.”
Even if their energy shields get turned on immediately after powering up their generators, there’s still a bit of a time lag before the shields get fully deployed. I’m gonna shoot as many of them down before that happens.
“They’re tougher than your average pirate ships. Their maneuverability is good too.”
“Maybe these guys are the Red Flag pirates’ elite squadron.”
Most pirate ships are basically civilian models forcibly modified into combat ships, but when it comes to the core strength of large pirate organizations like the Red Flags, the story is different. Sometimes they made use of second-hand military ships, even though those are mostly old models, as well as the ships of mercenaries they managed to defeat.
I fired at another ship. It attempted to make a hasty evasive maneuver, but it was still torn up by the shot cannons and exploded to pieces.
“I don’t recognize the ship model these guys are using.”
“They probably aren’t ships produced within the Empire. Maybe they’re Federation models.”
“Maybe Tina-san and Whisker-san can recognize them.”
“Keep a record of them in our database.”
The unknown ships had a streamlined form that was unfamiliar to me. They were using ship models I haven’t encountered in SOL. All their starships were painted a vivid shade of red. There’s a notion that red stuff is stronger and faster compared to regular stuff where I’m from, but were these guys going to be up to snuff?
One ship endured our barrage. I fired two more salvos. I only grazed it, but the shield’s finally down. Let’s finish it with the shot cannons… There we go.
“In situations like this, having the initiative really helps a ton huh.”
When you’re up against an unknown enemy, scoping them out first was a bad idea. It would be better if you attacked relentlessly to drag the enemies into your own pace. Instead of risking being blindsided by something unexpected, it’s better for you to simply crush them from the get-go.
“Those guys probably have weapons that can be used to bring down large-class ships. Be careful.”
Well, they were all small-class ships. There are only a limited number of ways small-class ships can deal considerable damage to large-class ships such as battleships and heavy cruisers. And most of those methods aren’t very effective when going up against a similar small-class ship. Hitting a small-class ship with an anti-ship reactive torpedo was difficult even for me after all.
But I’m not saying I can’t though.
“Let’s finish them all off before ally reinforcements come.”
These are very nice prey. Since they’ve come to us, I’m just gonna bag ’em all for ourselves.