On Koume’s words, Tarou and Maar lost their voices.
“Can’t connect to the network… was it because of that crash?”
Koume shook her mechanical head.
“No, Mister Teirow. There were symptoms before we entered this star system. Therefore, it is hard to conclude solar winds as the cause. I thought it was a rare connection error, but that does not seem to be the case.”
“I’ll try another network,” Maar said.
“I can connect to the solar system’s network. The station’s local is still live. What does that mean? Only the neuralnet is down?”
Maar made a baffled face, “Hello, this is DD-4649 Plum, DD-4649 Plum,” she started calling the control tower.
“Koume, conduct a wide-range scan. Little Teirow-chan over here has a reeaall bad feeling about this.”
Receiving Tarou’s words, Koume quickly initiated a scan. The optical scanner could only analyze the light it picked up, so it was generally helpful when in immediate danger. But as it couldn’t look through obstacles like the electromagnetic scanner, it had little use in environments filled with numerous. The information you could get from it was limited.
“Mister Teirow, I detect no other ships in the area. But there is a point of interest.”
Koume’s overinflated tone. Determining there was an important answer coming, the two turned towards her.
“The amount of debris in the area is 440 times over the estimate obtained from the population mean value. It was either some large-scale accident or something worse.”
On those calmly spoken words, Tarou instantly prepared for battle. At present, there weren’t any enemies around, but there was no harm in keeping on guard.
“Teirow, I connected to the station’s control tower… aah, how could this be… Teirow. Let’s get out of here at once. This station’s unmanned.”
Tarou turned a blank face to Maar.
“… What? Eh? By unmanned, you mean it’s empty?”
“Right… I just accessed the solar system to confirm it, and I got an audio clip about everyone escaping and evacuating. I’ll send it over to you, but you’d better brace yourself.”
Without waiting for an answer, she instantly sent it to his BISHOP. That voice mixed in with terrible noise he thought to be the influence of the solar winds reached his ears.
“… s Adela Station on… Management committee. I repeat. This is Adela Station One Management committee. We… ceived an attack from numerous WIND, and our self-defense force was eliminated. Now… before they… decided to… abandon Station. We are still unable to… to the ne… network. Evacuating to SG… argate. The station was… en over. I rep… the station was taken over. The station has been put on a trajectory straight towards the star and………… over.”
Tarou silently listened to the recording. After playing it a second and third time to remove the noise, he raised his pale face.
“Taken over… a station was? By the WIND?”
“That’s what they said. Koume, can you calculate the station’s trajectory?”
“Yes, Miss Maar. Please wait a… finished. It does seem the station is on a path towards the star Adela. Is this the WIND’s doing?”
Koume tilted his face as he spoke. “No idea,” said Tarou.
“I don’t know what’s what. But since they had their homes taken, isn’t this their last bit of resistance? I heard the army never comes out to the sticks, after all.”
Tarou’s words sunk the ship into silence. After a while, Maar opened her mouth.
“Anyways, we should get out of here while we can. There’s a possibility there are WIND in that station, right? It’ll mean we’re canceling the job, but with how things are, there’s no helping it.”
“Yeah, you’re right… this is Plum. Alan, is your drive equipment fine? Can you jump?”
“This is Stardust. Yeah, we’re fine, admiral. Which stargate should we jump towards?”
“Yeah, honestly, I don’t really want to get involved, but I’m curious, so how about we go towards their evacuation point?”
“Understood. But I don’t recommend it. There’s a possibility they may still be in battle.”
“You’re right about that,” said Tarou to Allan. He changed the display to view the Plum, letting out a sigh as he gazed at the flashily banged up portions.
“But whatever circumstance they have, I’ve got to go bitch at someone, right? If they ran away, they could have at least turned off their beacon. If we were just a few seconds off, we’d have been in pieces, you know?”
Maar nodded at those words.
“You have a point… Even if we can’t legally demand reparations, we can have them take responsibility. Let’s drag them to court and knock ‘em dead.”
“Ah, it’s been a while since I’ve heard someone say knock ‘em dead.”
“If Miss Maar hears that from an iceman like you, that will only worsen her standing, Mister Teirow. Whatever the case, if we are going, we had best make it quick. I cannot think there will be any benefit from loitering around here.”
“Well you’re right,” said Tarou as he started up the overdrive device. With a sidelong glance to Maar’s, “And what’s that supposed to mean!?” he played back the recording from the station again.
“Staticky as always… hmm?”
Within the noise, he felt a faint sense of unease.
“Teirow, we’re all ready. I’ll start up the overdrive.”
“Ah, no. Give me a minute. I think I’m hearing something.”
With his unease at the base, Tarou concentrated his nerves on his ears. There, Maar said, “Why not use our analysis device?” sending a function across BISHOP.
“As expected of the future. We don’t need sonarmen or anythin’ anymore.”
As Tarou raised a voice of admiration, Maar informed him, “That isn’t the case.”
“The analysis results will just be a list of information, so if you want to analyze it in the truest sense, you still need people after all. Not unlike your info analysis capabilities, there are humans out there able to draw more accurate information than any sound analyzer apparatus.”
The info from the sound analysis spread across Tarou’s BISHOP, with countless entries of organized data displayed. Tarou noticed there were two, ‘Voice track’ categories, and cried out, “Bingo!”
“It really was there… you have some good ears. So our ancestors really did have high physical capabilities?”
In regards to Maar’s surprise, “Lay off, future girl,” Tarou returned. Pushing his ear against a small hearing aid, he started up the extracted sound track.
“… gency, Emergency. This is… ela Station One. If anyone can hear me, please res… d. Emergency, emergency…”
The sound mixed in with noise. What seemed to come from a young woman made Tarou feel a sense of compassion. He didn’t know if people developed much attachment to their home stations, but being chased from a place one had become accustomed to was definitely not a good feeling.
“That’s enough, let’s go. They were just making an emergency call… I hope they got out alright.”
Tarou spoke with a bit of a sullen face. There, Maar called over, “Wait.”
“Emergency call? I don’t hear anything like that. They’ve just been answering the station number… let me connect to the ship speaker.”
By Maar’s hand, the sound output was sent to the room. The sound gradually growing in volume streamed through the speaker alongside the noise.
“Please. Someone… me. This is Block KH-3352. The WIND is… ng. The other districts have already…… receiver is breaking do… someone…”
Once the sound went past its recorded time, the room returned to silence. “That’s strange,” Maar raised her voice.
“That was a different one from the one I heard as well. Was that what you got, Teirow?”
“Mnh. It’s not. When I analyzed, she was going emergency, emergency.”
“It’s not? Then what could… wait, no!!”
Maar opened her eyes wide as she stood. A moment late, Tarou realized as well, “Oy, oy, oy, oy!!” he raised a flustered voice.
“You mean that’s not part of the recording!? There’s someone still out there!?”
“Koume!! Calculate the origin of the signal!!”
“Understood, Miss Maar… I digress in this confirmation, but there is a high likelihood of WIND threat in that station. Do you still intent to rush to their rescue?”
The two turned their faces to Koume.
“Isn’t it obvious!!?”
Two voices resounded through the room simultaneously, followed by a space of silence.
“… Yes, understood. Miss Maar. Mister Teirow. Block KH-3352 is joined to the bridge on the port side of the station. I sent a signal point.”
As Koume said it, the corresponding part of the station flashed blue on the display.
“Thank you, Koume. Engines full throttle. Set course straight ahead. Maar, I know it’ll probably be hopeless, but try getting in touch from our side. And calling Stardust. Do you have a grasp of the situation?”
“This is Stardust. Yeah, heard you loud and clear. I’ve also received the signal coordinates. If it’s speed, then I’ve got you beat. Should I go ahead?”
“This is Plum. It’d be a big help if you could. If you find any enemies, avoid them and send the information over to us.”
“This is Stardust. Understood. Then let’s do this.”
Spitting a long tail of light, the Stardust steadily accelerated away. Its engine output relative to its mass was incomparable to the Plum, letting it achieve acceleration several times over.
“Now then, se should prepare for battle ourselves.”
Tarou readied himself for his first battle in a while as he began mobilizing the combat information in his head.