The first encounter between humanity and the intelligent lifeforms known as Bugs occurred in the year 1254 of the Imperial Calendar, on the planet Vesta within the Arturo star system.
Vesta was a sleepy backwater colonial planet with agriculture as its main industry. It had a population not exceeding 200,000 citizens, no stationed military force, and only had minimal defense facilities installed.
When the Bugs warped out into the system with a fleet of sixteen warships, they bombarded major cities from satellite orbit, crippled all their infrastructure and begun their descent with scores of landing craft.
The colonists who did not have weapons to defend themselves were easily routed, and all 200,000 of them were killed without exception; be it man, woman or child. What made things worse was that the Bugs had a penchant for cruelty and enjoyed feasting on human flesh.
Ten days later, the 2nd Fleet of the Imperial Galactic Navy rushed toward the Arturo star system in response to the FTL communications transmitting distress calls from Vesta, destroyed the Bugs fleet there and wiped out all Bugs which landed on the planet. Unfortunately, however, there were no survivors.
The soldiers of the Imperial Army who landed on planet Vesta were horrified by the images which were recorded by various security cameras installed on facilities throughout the planet. Those images were truly visions of hell.
Ever since then, humanity and Bugs have been locked in a never-ending war for thousands of years.
It was now the year 2258 IC, and the Human Imperial Galactic Navy warship named Iris Conrad has been engaged in a long term exploration and reconnaissance mission for more than two years ever since its departure from port.
Its sole mission was the fulfillment of the dearest wish of the human race; finding the mother planet of humanity’s enemy – the Bugs.
They were now currently engaged in traveling through hyperspace; only warping out at set intervals in order to search and map the surrounding space – it was a simple yet seemingly endless mission.
Imperial Galactic Navy Lieutenant Alan Corinth was currently in the middle of replacing processor modules within the mainframe cleanroom; the heart of the Iris Conrad battleship.
It was maintenance work that stemmed from an FTL communication a few days ago, stating that the processor modules aboard the ship may possibly be malfunctioning.
Iris, the ship’s AI, was monitoring the Lieutenant’s maintenance work.
During hyperspace navigation, most of the crew were placed in cryo-sleep as there were few tasks to be worked on. If Iris was human, she would probably complain about having too much time on her hands.
Under these circumstances, Iris’ main programming dictates that she devote the time to observe humanity and understand human psychology.
Imperial Galactic Navy First Lieutenant
Assigned to the Battleship Iris Conrad as an Intelligence Officer of the First Platoon.
Hails from the Treda Star System, Planet Lancel.
After compulsory education, he graduated from the Imperial Space Academy as part of the 1032nd Class.
Served for three years aboard the Star-Class Heavy Cruiser [Theo II]
Transferred to the recently commissioned Galaxy-Class Battleship [Iris Conrad] as part of a newly formed unit.
In service for two years.
He has a height of 175 cm and a weight of 70 kgs. Has a slim but firm build that befits a soldier of the Imperial Army. Of Caucasian descent which makes up 50% of the human race, with blonde hair and gray eyes. Sports a refreshing face.
The “refreshing face” judgment was the result of a face evaluation application developed by Iris, and a [B++] evaluation ranks him above average.
The Face Evaluation application was secretly developed by Iris for the purpose of researching human behavior, and when it was anonymously released to the public, it spread quickly and received universal acclaim due to its accurate results.
The system’s evaluation rated the Lieutenant’s work as mindful and reliable. Absolutely no wasted actions. The system’s comprehensive evaluation was [A-], which was one of the highest ratings on board the ship. It was a shame that someone like him remains a mere Lieutenant.
“Is this really okay, Miss Conrad? To assign someone like me to a place like this. I think that in the case of a battleship, it isn’t proper for an Officer who isn’t at least a Major to be here.”
I asked the ship’s AI, who was monitoring the work I was doing.
Her name was the same as this ship’s, Iris Conrad. In accordance with convention, the AI of a battleship is given the honorary rank of Captain, and a mere Lieutenant like me had to watch how I speak around her.
I’m not a regular Navy staff officer but am instead a member of the Galactic Army Unit assigned to this ship as an Intelligence Officer, so it’s kind of hard to believe that I was allowed to be in this room.[It can’t be helped right? There is only six qualified personnel for this job. Among those, four are currently in cryo-sleep. And the remaining one who’s awake is hardly suited for this job, as I’m sure you’re aware.]
I guess Major Amart was certainly qualified to do this job. But he’s a hulking man standing nearly 2 meters tall and would’ve had trouble fitting himself and working in the cramped space of the cleanroom.
After all, the work involved crawling inside spaces barely one meter wide and replacing the designated processor modules within.
The female officer on the virtual display was of course not a real human, but the ship’s AI which was imitating the officer who the ship was named after.
The female officer was a celebrated hero in the Tau Vegas 2 Star System ten years prior.
In order to buy time for 20,000 colonists to escape under the attack of multiple Bug fleets, she helmed a single heavy cruiser to engage them. In the end, she fought them in close quarters combat, doggedly stalled them and managed to blow herself up in the end even in the midst of being wantonly devoured by the brutal creatures, and became the Empire’s hero as a result.
In the Imperial Galactic Navy, there is a custom of naming ships after officers who achieved heroic feats, and that was how the battleship Iris Conrad got its name, as well as the AI Iris Conrad which imitated the late Brigadier General.
“I see, understood. I’ll be done after replacing one more. By the way, what’re we gonna do with all the defective processor modules after replacing them?”[There are no further instructions so I have no idea. Either we dispose of them or send them over for further examination. …What are you thinking Lieutenant?]
“Well, I was thinking it would be better if we found some other use for them instead of just disposing of them.”[How exactly do you plan on making use of those? I don’t think they can be used for things other than the mainframe.]
“No, no. There’s definitely some use for them. To be honest, it’s for my own research theme.”
During long periods of hyperspace navigation, technical and intelligence officers not in cryo-sleep were required to do some research. They weren’t expected to go at it like real researchers but were instead tasked as such in order to train their skills further and keep them sharp.
The value of one processor module was greater than my annual income. There’s no way I can’t find any other use for it.
My research theme is titled “Virtual Reality in a Stand-alone Environment”. The contents are literally technical considerations regarding realizing VR in a stand-alone environment not connected to any network.
In system simulations, it’s already reached a stage where it could be put to practical use. The research paper also assumes the use of a processor module like this one.[I read through your research topic but I don’t quite understand its meaning. Why are you so fixated on a stand-alone environment and not just simply use the mainframe? I will be blunt with you; I can’t think of any reason other than using virtual reality for some shameful purpose.]
“That’s a misunderstanding! That’s not it, Captain! It’s only humanity’s arrogance which allows them to believe that they can always access the mainframe at any time. We have to develop a means to utilize VR even in emergency situations where access to the mainframe is cut off.”
I became flustered because she managed to guess the main purpose of my research straight away. Iris is sharp as always.[Well, if an order to destroy them is given, I’ll think about it at that time.]
“Thank you very much, Captain. The outcome of my research depends on one of those processors. …Okay! That wraps up the module replacement.”
I’ve managed to replace all 64 modules.
The instant I tried to exit the maintenance shaft of the cleanroom, the walls suddenly collapsed on me.[…Lieutenant! …an …th First Lieutenant Alan Corinth!]
I responded to these loud calls and came to.
“No, I’m awake!”
I let out a confused reply while still unsure about the situation.[Thank goodness, Lieutenant. I don’t know what I’d have done if you didn’t wake up.]
It was then that I noticed that I was covered in blood. It’s already dried onto my skin. Furthermore, I was floating in zero-gravity.
“Wha—?! What is this?! Just what the heck happened?!”
It seems my head injuries have already been taken care of by Nanom.
Nanom is the term used for military use nanomachines, and all Imperial Galactic Navy soldiers have these symbiotic nanomachines within their bodies.
These extremely tiny machines cannot be seen with the naked eye and require an electron microscope to view. It’s a machine formed by at least 100 billion individual units.
It has multiple features including AI, vital sign monitoring, medical and repair functions, sense enhancement, short-range communication capability and more.
These nanomachines can’t be replenished by a normal human diet, so special rare metals have to be ingested instead.