A prominent salvager, even on Alba Station, Maar was licking lips at a haul much greater than usual.
“Looks like I’m in luck today. I’m sure there are loads of live circuits left behind.”
She annoying swept her long red hair out of her face as she approached the space ship she had found on a wide area scan. Getting to a distance close enough to touch, she started up her BISHOP and sent the sunken ship a signal.
“No response. Since they don’t have any ship registration, is it a smuggling ship?”
From the experience she had earned in her five years as a salvager, Maar had learned that ships without registration were rarely used for any decent means. On top of making it difficult to prove their ownership, it was impossible to get them insured. If someone overlooked all those risks to avoid ship registration, it meant there had to be some form of profit that exceeded them. What’s more, the sort that people didn’t talk about.
“I hope it wasn’t smuggling people, but… huh?”
She observed the circumference of the sunken ship. Feeling something was off, she brought her own ship- the Rockboy- to a steady stop. What could it be, she thought for a while, before realizing what was generally equipped on a ship was nowhere to be found.
“It’s not armed? Could it be someone got here before me…”
If another salvager had already pulled out, then there probably wasn’t anything of value left behind. From what she could see, the sunken ship was preserved in a pretty state, but that didn’t say much about its contents.
“The area around the engine’s perfectly intact… was it a weapons salvager? I didn’t hear of such a report.”
She started up BISHOP again, reading over the salvage permit she had saved. Issued by the management of the space station, it contained information on the discovered ship. Its ownership rights, the taxes it had to pay, the document covered a lot of ground.
“Yeah, doesn’t say a thing. An unarmed ship in this day and age…”
Maar sent an amazed expression towards the ship equipped without taking common sense into account, before reaching a conclusion it was probably a transport ship for some fleet.
“They left it behind after an accident. Poor ship… but don’t worry. I’ll reuse you for something meaningful.”
As she muttered that to herself, Maar moved the arms all over her own ship. She fixed her arm onto the sunken wreck, and protruded a large radar device from the hull.
The parabolic antenna-shaped radar let off blue sparks, wrapping the sunken ship. Information about the ship flowing in a steady stream to the depths of Maar’s eyes, as the figures organized themselves on her BISHOP interface.
“… What’s… this…”
Maar read through the information in an instant, and frowned at their irregularity.
“It’s empty… no, that’s wrong! This ship’s just a model!!”
The information told her this craft’s bulk wasn’t actually functional as a ship, it was absurd and unequal information. Maar had a bad premonition as she hurriedly stowed away her radar arm.
“Wide area scan!! Hurry!”
As Maar shouted it out, a scan low in accuracy, but high in speed was carried out. At the three points displayed on her radar screen, she inferred something terrible was going on.
“No response from the identification signal. So it’s WIND? … No! They baited me!?”
Hurriedly starting up her engine, Maar set into preparations for battle. As she deftly handled her BISHOP, she was unable to conceal her unrest at this baffling situation.
“I’ve never heard of the WIND taking such action before… could it be a new strain? Should I report this to the imperial government…”
In an instant, her hand reached out to open a communication channel with the station, but she stopped herself. She didn’t have the leisure for a chat right now, and even if she told them, she determined they wouldn’t believe her.
“No matter how I look at it, an overdrive isn’t going to make it in time… Startup turrets, deploy shield. Target the approaching threat.”
Two turrets exposed themselves from the hull, rotating towards their target. The turrets loaded onto a salvage ship weren’t powerful by any means, but against a small opponent, they would be effective enough. From the acceleration of the radar signal, Maar determined the enemy was probably a small vessel.
At that moment, a large warning notice appeared at the top of Maar’s BISHOP interface.
“A reservation for an Overdrive endpoint!! Enemy reinforcements!?”
Maar instantly sent a signal to deny the reservation, and activated her warp jamming equipment. But before she could do anything, the space reservation was already fixed, and a strong repulsive force was building in the area.
“What is this, really!!”
Maar’s eyes went teary as she began her attack on the WIND that had entered her range. Whether a spot of fortune or not, the repulsing force that broke out acted as a wall, letting her avoid the battle becoming three on one.
“Jamming off!! Direct all battery power to shield!!”
Around a few dozen seconds since she started her bombardment. The enemy finally began their attack, a blue blaster beam illuminating countless points. Maar’s ship managed to avoid the first volley hitting, but as the distance between them close, the enemy attacks increased in accuracy.
“Erk! You’ve sure done it!”
The vibrations rocking the ship, and the dispersing lights of blasters.
As the beam-spitting Rockboy’s turrets finally caught the enemy, they sent out direct hits one after the next.
“I’m begging you! Hold a bit longer!!”
She could see the shield battery draining, as warning signals twinkled over her BISHOP. The Rockboy’s shield running dry coincided right with the destruction of one of the enemy ships.
Maar raised a scream at the following explosion. She contained her urge to cry as she hurriedly inspected her ship.
… Space reservation terminating, initiator has completed drive…
On the alert that came up in her inspection, she hurriedly raised her face. In the monitor, she confirmed a massive ship that had emerged by warp drive coming towards her at a tremendous speed.
“W-what? A freighter? Could it be help has arrived.”
What entered her eyes was a ship of boorish, angular construction. She had been certain WIND reinforcements were coming, so she had expected a ship of their characteristic chaotic design. She felt her expectations had been betrayed, but it wasn’t a bad feeling at all.
“I can leave it to them… right? Change objective, take distance from target!”
Seeing what seemed to be a freighter press forward without changing course, Maar thought it would take charge of the WIND in the way of its planned route. She remained mindful of the Rockboy’s armor that had been damaged from frequent fire as she concentrated her fire on the other remaining enemy.
“Keep it together, Rocky!! If it’s you, anything is possible!! … hey, w-wait. What are they thinking!!”
As Maar took a quick glance at the freighter’s propulsion, she ended up opening her eyes wide. Without lowering its speed, it was continuing straight on, positioning itself on a strahght collision course with the enemy.
“If they hit at that speed, they’re not getting out unscathed!”
Unlike with blaster attacks, energy shields were practically useless when it came to physical impact. By their difference in weight, the WIND would definitely be pulverized, but the freighter wouldn’t get off lightly.
The ship closed the distance in no time. Maar closed her eyes at the impending destruction.
“… The hell?”
What Maar saw as she timidly opened her eyes was the form of the freighter continuing its advance as if nothing had happened at all. Letting out a voice of amazement at just how sturdy its armor had been build, she concentrated her attention on the remaining WIND vessel.
“Looks like I’ll live another day… hah… I’m saved…”
Confirming the last WIND go up in flames, she let her limbs hang limp. Danger was all part of a salvager’s trade, but she had a strong wish never to go through anything like that again.
“O-ow… damn, I hope we didn’t break anythin’.”
Tarou carried his aching body, as he began pushing his way through the items that had been thrown around just like him.
“Koume! Where are you! Found… no, that’s not it. I might use it later, so I’ll put that aside… ah, there you are. Koume, you alright?”
Tarou spotted Koume in the wreckage and went to wipe off the half-eaten spaghetti that she had gotten herself stuck in.
“Yes, I am fine, Mister Teirow. But saying our shape looks similar, and mistaking a self-pleasurement product for me is exceedingly insulting. I demand an apology and reparations.”
“Yeah, you can have all of that later. So how’s the ship? We didn’t open up a hole, did we?”
Tarou brought Koume over to the display again, and plugged her cable into the jack. After a while, the moniter came on, and he got a close-up view of the point of impact.
“… No, just a minor dent. Just what is this ship made out of? We must have been clocking a hundred kilometers there.”
Tarou raised a fed-up voice at the wreckage stuck to the hull, and the minor dent in the exterior. Koume flickered her lights atop Tarou’s hand.
“That was not in a league of hundreds, Mister Teirow. Our relative velocity was 2324kmph. Good thing this is such a sturdy ship. If possible, I ask you discuss these sorts of things with me beforehand.”
“Sorry,” Tarou waved his hand in response to Koume’s order. He changed the display window to show the shoddy ship that was still in combat.
“Oh, looks like they’re finishing up over there. And wait, are they really alright? They’re really burning up over there.”
The ship’s body was gradually scorched red from the WIND’s attacks. In some places, some gas had likely ignited. He could see flames streaming out violently.
“I do not know, but Mister Teirow. A communication line has been opened. Will you answer it?”
Unable to comprehend Koume’s words, Tarou froze up for a moment. After letting the meaning soak into his head, “Uwwaaahh!!” he raised a strange voice.
“Communication line! Y-you mean a phone!? Patch us through. I’m beggin’ you!!”
Koume silently flashed her lights. After a while, a woman’s voice that clearly didn’t belong to her came from the body of the sphere.
“This is space craft Rockboy. Registration Number IB-4980. I’m grateful for your ship’s assistan–”
“P-please save me!! I don’t have an engine! At this rate, I’m going to become a scrap of space refuse!!”
“… What? I just confirmed your warp drive. What are you talking about?”
Tarou sensed the woman’s voice turn doubtful, but he felt some relief as he saw her set course towards the ship.
“Thank you… no, I’ll tell you the specifics. But for now, I’d really like some help…”
After managing those words out, Tarou powerlessly fell down on the spot.
In all his joy, his hands were shaking.