Chapter 64 – Side Story: Commander Iris Conrad Part 1

 


Translator: SFBaka

Editor: Thor’s Stone


『It’s the Bugs, Commander.』

I was jolted awake by the loud volume of the emergency alarm.

Bugs! Ah, just how unlucky was I…?

A week ago, I was just appointed as the commander of the Tau Vegas 2 star system defense fleet, but I’m really down on my luck to encounter Bugs just after a week of service here.

(Teo, give me their numbers and current distance.)

『One fleet. BG-I cruisers. Ten ships. Distance, approximately 30,000 light-seconds.』

It wasn’t the worst-case scenario yet.

(Attention, all ships. We’re entering Alert Level 1. I repeat, we’re entering Alert Level 1.)

If it’s just against that many, our fleet here might be able to manage.

Although we’re called a defense fleet, we only had three Satellite-class destroyers and a single Star-class heavy cruiser「Teo」under my direct command. In other words, we were more like a single squadron than a proper fleet.

(Call the colony planet governor-general, um, His Excellency Cheetos. Slap him awake if you have to.)

I hurriedly changed into my commander’s uniform and impatiently waited for the governor-general. A sleepy-looking male finally called me through the comms. He looked quite irritated. He’s the so-called governor-general here, but he’s most likely nothing more than a washed-out politician who lost in the nasty political battles in the central capital of the Adele government and got thrown out here. This was an extremely out of the way place with a population of a mere 20,000 imperial citizens. It was an out and out demotion.

『Just who in blazes are you, woman!? Just what time do you think it is!?』

“I’m the commander of the Tau Vegas 2 garrison fleet, Lieutenant Colonel Iris Conrad. The Bugs have appeared here.”

『W-What did you say!? ……Why! They haven’t shown up here for the longest time! Are you sure about your info?』

“There’s no mistake. Please start evacuating the citizens immediately. In this case Evacuation Plan C would be the most appropriate.”

『C, you say!? But isn’t that issued only once the colony planet is judged to be unable to avoid being destroyed!? No, absolutely not. I have finally managed to begin standing up again. If we abandon this place, I really will have nothing left! It would take years and years for me to recoup my losses once again!』

“But once the Bugs appear, it would be your life that would be at stake.”

This planet was just a small colony with scarce resources. They will never be able to afford the loss of an imperial garrison here. The colonial program might even be halted for years after this incident.

『Lt. Col. Conrad, I order your fleet to do something about it straight away!』

Is this guy crazy? Does he not understand the current situation? It’s already a race against time. If he cannot even tell the difference between a regular fleet and a small squadron of three destroyers and one heavy cruiser, it would be a waste of time to explain further.

“Your Excellency, as the commander-in-chief of this star system, I request that you implement Emergency Evacuation Plan C under Article 8, Paragraph 3-A of the Imperial Military Codex.”

『Did you not hear me? I’m telling you to do something about those damned Bugs with your fleet!』

“Then may I take this as a rejection of my earlier appeal?”

『Enough! Hurry up and do something already!』

Either this man was confused by the sudden emergency situation, or he’s just plain idiotic. Just how did such a dimwitted man become a governor-general? …This may be a sign that the empire’s glory is already starting to fade.

“Well then, I move to implement martial law on the entire Tau Vegas star system, effective immediately.”

『W-What did you say!? You can’t be serious!?』

(Teo, what is the name of the star system Colony Planet Athena is part of?)

『Vegas, ma’am.』

“Vegas. Did you manage to hear that clearly, soldier?”

『Yes, ma’am.』

“As of now, you are hereby placed under my direct command.”

『Yes. Acknowledged.』

“I will temporarily relieve Governor-general Cheetos of his authority henceforth. Execute Evacuation Plan C and start gathering the citizens immediately.”

『Understood!』

“Once the evacuation is complete, destroy all the important facilities as per standard protocol.”

『Yes, ma’am.』

I ignored Cheetos who was kicking up a fuss and cut off communications. I wrapped my VR terminal around my neck.

(Teo, are the captains ready?)

『They are already on stand-by.』

In the next moment, I found myself sitting in the virtual meeting room of my fleet.

“I take it that you’ve already been briefed about the situation, gentlemen?”

The three ship captains under me nodded their heads.

“For now, we need to intercept the Bug fleet.”

“But can our four ships actually handle them?”

“We don’t have a choice but to engage them anyway. Get ready to sortie!”

“”Roger!””

I found myself back in the real world after a short instant.

I hurried out of the captain’s quarters and proceeded to my ship’s bridge. When I arrived, the bridge crew were already seated. I promptly sat on the captain’s seat and gave my orders.

“Immediately advance to intercept the Bug fleet. Starship Formation 1. Maximum combat speed.”

“Aye, ma’am. Starship Formation 1. Maximum combat speed. We will engage the enemy in approximately 50 minutes.”

(Teo, do you have any good strategies to propose?”

『Tactic Sigma 1 that Captain is currently studying might be a good option, considering the relative firepower and speed of our opponents.』

Sigma 1 was a fleet maneuver that involves encircling the enemies and kiting them from a medium distance while orbiting them at high speed. The firepower of this Star-class heavy cruiser『Teo』does trump the enemy BG-I cruisers, and the Satellite-class destroyers aren’t far off either. However, our advantage in overall firepower is offset by the Bug’s speed. Thus, this tactic might be the most appropriate.

We are now about to engage with the Bug fleet.

“By my authority, I order that the tactical systems of all ships be connected to Teo immediately.”

“Connection complete.”

“Begin Tactic Sigma 1.”

“Executing now.”

In fleet battles, human intervention was quite minimal. The FCS of all weapon systems was handled by the ship AIs, so there’s very little room for human intervention. Thus, fleet battles are more of a head to head between our ship’s AIs and the Bug ship’s AIs.

Of course, the overall performance of our AIs is superior, so we hold an advantage in a sense, but the Bug fleet had three times our number. We can’t make even the tiniest mistake, or it’ll cost our lives.

Our squad started to circle around the Bug fleet at maximum speed.

“First ship, down.”

“Oh!”

“Second ship, down.”

“Yes!”

It looks like Tactic Sigma 1 really was effective. We started bringing down Bug ships one after another.

“Bug fleet, only three ships remaining. …Bug fleet, all ships down.”

“Oooh!”

“We did it!”

“Immediately head back to Colonial Planet Athena’s orbit to assist in the evacuation efforts. Cruising Speed 1”

“Aye, aye, ma’am.”

The bridge crew looked at me with gazes filled with respect, but I really didn’t do anything. I did indeed study the tactic we used, but it was Teo that implemented it perfectly.


The colony ship that people rode when they first came to this system was repurposed as a space station orbiting the colonial planet. However, since it hasn’t been that long after this planet’s colonization, both cold sleep and hyperspace navigation functions were still available, so it can be used as an evacuation vessel in case of an emergency.

But since the population has increased, it may be necessary to split the citizens between it and our three Satellite-class destroyers.

Three shuttles were used to send up people via piston drive, and more and more citizens were brought into space.

A week later, the evacuation process was proceeding smoothly, and almost all of the 20,000 citizens were already sent up to orbit. The ones sent up have already boarded the colonial ship, and there was a little bit more room for some people from the last returning shuttle to squeeze in. However, the colonial ship will not be able to accommodate everyone in the end, so it was necessary to send the remaining citizens to the destroyer.

『It’s the Bugs, Commander.』

(Yes…… Number and position?)

『BG-III-class cruisers, 16 ships. Distance, approximately 40,000 light-seconds.』

What rotten timing. Just a little bit more and the evacuation would be complete…… My Star-class heavy cruiser won’t be able to compete with 16 BG-III ships that were far larger and sported more firepower than BG-Is. The BG-IIIs completely outstripped the Satellite-class destroyers in terms of firepower and speed as well. We won’t be able to handle them even if we fought with all we had. If we just had another Star-class, then maybe…

Just what should we do? We will be able to complete the evacuation with just one more return trip from the three shuttles.

(Teo, how long would it take to complete the evacuation process and escape to hyperspace?)

『Approximately one hour and thirty-two minutes.』

That long!?

There are still more than six hundred people scheduled to board the shuttles. More than six hundred people…

I watched the monitor and saw the people hurrying to board the shuttles on the surface. I zoomed in on the image feed. I saw many children among those who were evacuating.

First, let’s have the colonial ship depart immediately. There’s no merit in keeping it here. I promptly gave the order.

The people boarding the shuttles on the surface of the planet had no choice but to take the destroyers now.

(Teo, can the three destroyers accommodate all the people from the three shuttles?)

『It’s possible.』

(What about the crew of this ship? Will they be able to squeeze in as well?)

『There will be no problems.』

(Please contact the captains for a meeting.)

After a short while of waiting in the virtual meeting room, the ship captains under me appeared one after the other.

“I shall try to buy some time with Teo. Wait for the shuttles to return to orbit, and once they’ve all boarded, immediately head for the Daks imperial base. Oh, and I’ll have the rest of my crew board each of your ships as well.”

“You can’t be serious, ma’am!? Please allow us to fight with you!”

The other captains were of the same opinion.

“Adding three Satellite-class destroyers to intercept them won’t make much difference anyway. And I am the commander of this fleet. So obey my orders. If I fail to stall them, leave immediately without waiting for the shuttles. Captain Kurz, make sure to lead them well. As the next highest-ranking officer after me, you will now be in charge. Is that understood?”

“……Understood.”

“Alright then. It has only been for a short while, but I am truly glad to have served with you all. Good luck.”

“”Good luck as well, Commander!””

I returned to my captain’s seat in reality.

Of course, I knew that the most rational decision I could make as a military officer was to abandon the shuttles and leave immediately.

However, I, personally, cannot bring myself to do that. I’m a failure of a military officer. At the very least, let me make up for this lapse in judgment with my utmost effort.


 


7 Comments

  1. Erm, wasn’t this side story already mentioned before? Is it just me?
    Thanks for the update! Awesome translation! God bless you!

  2. Oh, I think I’ve read the Manga ver of this but this has more feeling.

    TY TL samas !

  3. Quote, “A week later, the evacuation process was proceeding smoothly, and almost all of the 20,000 citizens were already sent up to orbit.”

    What?

    Their feared and dreaded enemy just attacked and, while they barely managed to drive of the invaders, they realized that they would be back.

    Martial law was declared and an evacuation order was given… And, yet, everyone dragged their feet so much that it takes them a whole week to evacuate?! Were they taking inventory of everything, crating up everything, even un-installing computers and other fixed equipment during this time? Were they trying to bring everything, including the kitchen sink?

    Quote, “What rotten timing. Just a little bit more and the evacuation would be complete…”

    Instead of blaming coincidence or fate, I think it’s more appropriate to blame greed, procrastination and, arguably, poor leadership. It should not take a week.

    Quote, “I saw many children among those who were evacuating.”

    And why weren’t children – or at least families with children – given priority in the evacuation? Why weren’t they among those on the first shuttle trips? Sounds like poor leadership decisions…

    • Well… The priorities of the empire, maybe, are different.

      “This planet was just a small colony with scarce resources. They will never be able to afford the loss of an imperial garrison here. The colonial program might even be halted for years after this incident.”

      That strikes me more as a ‘flee and leave them to die if u can’t win’ and those could actually be her orders …

      I can picture some high ranking military telling her that: “we won’t afford the loss of a garrison in a gods forsaken place like that, keep your fleet intact.”

      Then she disobeyed and saved not only her crew but the citizens. And so became the hero.

  4. So this part was very early in the manga but not in the novel before this? I don’t really remember.

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