『I am truly grateful. Truly. However…… why go so far just for this?』
I made an appointment with Hartmut, and this time around, I contacted him via transmission instead of meeting him face to face. And this was Hartmut’s reaction after hearing my proposal.
Well, it’s not like I don’t get why he’s so perplexed. All Hartmut had to do was issue a special tag slash ID so that we can expedite the entry and exit of our ships at the colony’s spaceport so we didn’t need to go through so many hoops, just like the merchants under his employ. It was to facilitate the quick and safe interchange of goods and supplies while the pandemic was still going on.
It was simply applying a system that was already in place for us as well, and Hartmut only needed to instruct his subordinates accordingly. It wasn’t much of a hassle at all.
On the other hand, we didn’t ask for any special compensation, and we even offered to hunt pirates and sell the loot we’ll get to the colony, so for Hartmut, it was far too convenient a proposal. That’s why he probably can’t guess my motives. If I were in Hartmut’s shoes, I’d probably find one whose motives and goals I couldn’t read to be quite unsettling.
“To be honest, one of my crew members actually knows someone in this colony…… Well, rather than an acquaintance, she regards that person as a good friend and benefactor. I’m doing this partly because my crew member asked me to help that person. And also, I’m someone who was awarded the Gold Star by His Imperial Majesty himself, so it would reflect badly on me if I simply ignored the suffering of his subjects, right?”
When Hartmut heard my words, he momentarily displayed a blank expression on his face. But after a few moments, his lips curved to form a smile. Mm, a pretty boy’s smile really held a lot of destructive power. If I were a woman, I might already be fangirling in my heart right about now.
『It appears I belittled you far too much. Allow me to apologize.』
“I also have an ulterior motive as well y’know? I still plan on demanding proper compensation for my work.”
“I did tell you earlier, right? One of my goals is to help my crew member’s benefactor who’s a citizen of this colony. I want you to cooperate with that as well.”
It would be a problem if he ends up labeling me as a selfless and honorable man later, so I’ll put a stop to that possible misconception right now. I don’t want to be seen as a handy pawn who’d gladly work for free after all.
『Could you elaborate more on that matter for me? There are things I cannot do even with my authority.』
“There’s a facility in the lower district that takes in orphans and cares for them. The folks who were sponsoring that place suffered a major blow due to the pandemic, and they’ve practically stopped guarding and backing the facility. I want you to look after it. I’m handling that now, but there’s no way I can do that indefinitely…… And this is your territory, to begin with, right?”
Hartmut’s expression turned bitter. That whatever baronet…… Raydias, was it? As a result of his policy to practically ignore the lower district, the gangs and underworld mafia were able to steadily develop and manage the facility without any interference. You can say this was one of the failings of this colony’s government, or rather, the nobility.
“Also, our ship doctor may be able to find a permanent solution to this ongoing pandemic. We found a person who may serve as the key, and are now conducting tests on said person, so just sit tight and wait for our findings.”
『Is that true? Just who in the world is your ship doctor?』
“She previously worked for a company specializing in medical and genetic technology that’s based in a high-tech star system. When she joined our crew as our ship doctor, I didn’t scrimp on the necessary equipment and installed a state-of-the-art laboratory within our mothership for her use.”
『You seem blessed with such excellent personnel…… This colony is mainly a trading colony, and there are almost no personnel working in research-related jobs here. Truly enviable.』
“I won’t hand her over to you, okay? Anyway, that’s about it…… For the time being, please give us that special pass so we can freely enter and exit the colony without any hassle.”
『Understood. I’ll speak with the ones in charge of that immediately.』
“So, even if we have the pass, it did not mean we do not need to undergo inspection anymore.”
“Uh-huh. We’d just be given priority.”
Elma and Kugi saw off the epidemic prevention team in the Reemay Prime port area under Hartmut’s arrangements.
They were discussing the priority rights that were recently granted to us.
The inspection itself was completed in a relatively short period of time. They checked the state of the airlocks, measured the amount of the epidemic-causing spores in the air circulating around the ship, and tested me and my crew members to see if we still haven’t gotten ourselves infected. Of course, Linda didn’t pass the test. But she was overlooked because she was being supervised by Dr. Shouko, who was a licensed medical professional. She was also only registered as a temporary crew member and wasn’t arranged to leave the system.
“They must have been instructed to ignore certain things while inspecting us……”
“All thanks to our dear nobleman.”
Normally, even if they were under the supervision of an excellent doctor, it would be impossible to let infected people out of the colony in order to prevent the risk of the pandemic spreading to the rest of the system. However, we were let off. All thanks to the power of the nobility.
“That was rough……”
Linda, who underwent extensive tests due to previously being infected, displayed a dead-tired expression. After all, she had gotten infected, but she didn’t show any symptoms, and she also didn’t spread spores around when coughing or sneezing.
Dr. Shouko was currently investigating why she was in such a state, but will we really get results only after a few days? Well, it’s not like I’m an expert anyway. I have no choice but to believe in Dr. Shouko and wait for the results.
“That was more troublesome than expected, but we’re finally on the clear now…… So, shall we get going?”
That being said, those were already some pretty thorough inspections. Just how strict were they being with the ships that didn’t have a special pass? Well, perhaps they were subject to the same level of checks since all the pass did was grant us priority for inspection……
“Let’s do our best!”
“Ya sure are lively, Mimi……”
“Right…… Shall we go ahead and make preparations for launch?”
Mimi was the only one who still seemed pretty energetic among us. Just why was she so energetic even after all that? It’s such a mystery. It seems the mechanic sisters were going to prepare for stripping the equipment off captured pirate ships. I actually felt like taking a rest for half a day before heading out, but we can’t afford to be too lazy after all. Since we’ve already decided to head out, then we better get going as soon as possible.
There were several ways to hunt space pirates.
Among them, the relatively standard method was to wander around sectors where space pirates were likely to appear, then rush to the site whenever a merchant ship that was getting attacked by pirates sent out SOS signals.
“This is Krishna from the Mercenary Guild. We’ll be intervening in this battle.”
『Mercenary!? I’m willing to pay! Please help us!』
『A merc!? Dammit! What do we do now!?』
『They have a pretty big ship, but only two combat ships. Go get ’em!』
The merchant ship convoy that was being attacked kept crying out for help. From what I could see, the convoy’s escorts have already been wiped out, and there were only two merchant ships remaining. It seemed that the ships were at least armed with laser turrets, but their firepower was really weak, and the best they could do was to keep the pirate ships temporarily at bay.
『I’m going to deploy the jammer.』
“Please do. Keep your distance and respond accordingly. The Black Lotus will continue to slowly approach the merchant ships, and when enough enemies are within range, immediately engage in anti-ship combat.”
『Aye, aye, sir.』
There were about 14 pirate ships. We can take care of this much without any problems.
“I’m heading in. This goes without saying, but please make sure the shield cells are ready.”
“Yes, My Lord. Please leave the chaff and flares to me.”
“Enemy ships, incoming!”
After hearing Kugi’s response and Mimi’s warning, I fully opened the throttle and headed straight for the incoming pirate ships. When you held the advantage when it comes to shield strength and firepower, the most efficient method to take down enemy ships was a head-on shootout. Since the other party was looking for a fight, I’ll just take them on.
While firing Krishna’s four heavy caliber laser cannons, I maneuvered the ship deftly using its attitude control thrusters to keep the enemy ships from getting a solid lock on us. The enemy pirate ships tried to intercept us, but since their fire control systems sucked, the small but constant movements of our ship were enough to throw off their aims. This is why cheap stuff was just no good.
『Argh! Dammit! I can’t hit the bastard!』
『This is bad! This guy’s strong as heck! He’s definitely higher than Silver!』
『Scatter! All ships scatter!』
Unfortunately guys, instead of Silver, I’m actually Platinum rank. I took down a pirate ship that was trying to escape with the shot-cannons, and routed the rest with the laser cannons.
『The FTL Drive won’t activate!? M-Missiles! Nooo–!』
『Stooop! I’m burning! I’m burn–』
As planned, Elma’s Antlion was using its gravity jammers to prevent the pirate ships from activating their FTL Drives, then finished them off with missiles and its laser beam emitter.
Eventually, the Black Lotus also entered the battle and deployed its various concealed weapons to exterminate the fleeing pirate ships. I guess this was checkmate. Unless they brought out stuff like anti-ship reactive torpedoes, there’s no longer anything they can do to turn things around.
『A-Are we saved……?』
“You guys are pretty lucky. So, about the payment–”
The pirate’s bounties and the loot we’ll be getting should be more than enough, but I won’t refuse any additional rewards either! My policy is to take whatever comes my way after all.