The rising inferno. The ignited oxygen tank detached from the Plum, and after drifting a while, it offered a flashy explosion.
(We’ve already don plenty. The Plum’s at its limits.)
He took a glance at the blue, glowing block of the overdrive activation function.
(What good it is to me, savin’ some brats I don’t even know.)
Tarou thought. Even making off with just the people loaded right now was an action worth plenty of praise. Even if he ran away here, just who in the cosmos had the right to judge him?
“Aah, dammit!! It hurts, and I’m scared!! Screwin’ around ‘ere!!”
Blood flowed from his forehead as Tarou howled out. The impact from the second turret being blown off smacked him into the display with more than enough force to tear up his brow.
… Ship damage: 60% Red Alert…
The last warning rung out, the room enveloped in the yellow emergency lights. Barely managing to contain his urge to hild his head, Tarou cried out at the display.
“Teirow, jump!! Boarding complete!! Boarding complete!!”
The report he had waited for. The BISHOP screen that was supposed to exist directly in his brain was shaking from the tension. The screen that was supposed to be blue was wrapped up in a tasteless world of monochrome. As a man falling down a cliff reaches a hand up to the sky, he reached an unseen hand towards the function block displayed as, ‘hyperspace_Cruising’.
“Take that!! It’s our win!!”
The space around the plum was cut off and wrapped in silence. The enlarging packet of space connected to their reserved destination point, the form of the ship changing to a long arrow of light several kilometers across.
… Overdrive activated…
As if to pierce through, almost to steal away all of one’s senses, a high-pitched noise.
Within the silence, Tarou’s rough breath resounded through the command room. With bloodshot eyes, Maar slowly turned her face, directing her eyes towards the walls and ceiling.
A dry laugh escaped outside of his awareness. Tarou casually stripped off his belt, laying himself down against the hard floor.
“Ahaha… ah ha ha ha!!!!”
Tarou raised a maddened laugh. Before long, Maar and eventually even Koume joined in, the three of them laughing to tears.
“Uhehe!! We’re alive. We’re alive, goddammit!! We did it!! Uheha! Why did I push myself so hard, I wonder!!”
“Ahaha, we really are alive. Really. I feel like an idiot. I wonder why.”
“Fufu, precisely. Did you have a fellow iceman on that station or something?”
“Gehaha!! No way in ‘ell. I’ve got no one in the cosmos, and Koume, you should know that best.”
“Ehehe, right. But the same goes to me. I’ve got no family either!!”
“What a coincidence. The truth is, Koume does not have a family as well. Looks like we have found some nice companions to be alone with.”
Looked on from the side, it seemed as if the three had gone mad. The masses of adrenaline secreted in battle circulated through their bodies, and eventually it went out.
“… Allan. Hey, Allan. Are the children safe?”
Touching his ear to the bloodstained communication device, Tarou quietly muttered.
“Yeah, all 112 of them are fine. A few of them re malnourished, but a good meal, some rest, and they’ll be right as rain. When the jump is over, I’ll send the video feed over.”
“I see… that’s… good… tell them to make good use of Rising Sun’s services when they grow up.”
Falling back onto the reinforced titanium floor, Tarou lay face up. “What’s with that,” Maar held her knees as she gave a small laugh.
“I never should’ve went and played hero on the fly like that. Honestly, I’m in tatters over here.”
“True… but I feel real good right now.”
“You too, Miss Maar? Koume feels so as well. This means there was some worth to exerting ourselves.”
On Koume’s voice, the two showed a grin.
“Now we’re almost about to land. Teirow, You better get back in your seat, or your wounds’ll open up.”
… Overdrive terminating, arriving at destination…
Receiving a notice from BISHOP, Tarou looked at the ship’s exterior through the cameras that still functioned. A large, cylindrical stargate was projected on the display, and he was able to confirm a number of vessels floating around it.
“Mn… They’re acting a bit strange.”
In the depths of the ships casually floating around the gate, a perfect lattice of countless vessels entered his eyes, and Tarou had a hunch.
“That’s… a defensive grid formation… is it the empire?”
The memories overwritten into his brain notified him of the identity of the fleet before him.
“Mister Teirow. An exceedingly strong warp jamming signal is being exuded by the fleet in front. All systems red.”
Tarou immediately confirmed it. The warnings flowing across BISHOP left him at a loss for words.
… Overdrive system jammed: RED…
… Lock-on system jammed: RED…
… Engine propulsion system jammed: RED…
… Scan system jammed: RED…
… Shield augmentation system jammed: RED…
… Direction control system jammed: RED…
The minute vibrating sounds of the engine quietly faded from the control room, plunging it even further into silence.
… Overdrive system HACKED…
… Lock-on system HACKED…
… Engine propulsion system HACKED…
… Scan system HACKED…
… Shield augmentation system HACKED…
… Direction control system HACKED…
It took a mere two seconds for the notices to switch over. The ship’s engine started up once more, moving them in a direction outside of Tarou’s control. While Tarou opened his mouth blankly, the control of the ship had been completely robbed from him.
“This is imperial navy detachment CC-110. We have completely seized control of your ship. Imperial citizen registration ID 25314312326869 Teirow Ichijoh, representative of Rising Sun Corp. On board ship Alba DD-4649 Plum. Is there any discrepancy?”
The low voice of a man came across the line. Tarou had no memory of turning the communication device on to begin with, and he inferred the central systems of the ship had already been seized.
“Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly right. What might you need from us? Pure, noble and indecent. That’s the motto our company runs on. I haven’t done anything to get myself encircled by the military.”
Tarou murmured at the device. “What do you mean by indecent,” Maar glared at him, but he decided to ignore it.
“Teirow. I have not requested any report from you. I’ll be looking into your ship’s records.”
On those cold words, “Oh, that so? Then that makes things easier,” Tarou slouched into his chair. He felt strong approval towards Maar’s words of, “This guy doesn’t sound like good news.” After that, including Koume, who’d remained silent to that point, the three of them waited in silence for a response.
“… Hurry it up. The hell are they doin’?”
Tarou cut his numbness with a complaint. By the ship’s timepiece, close to 10 minutes had passed, and it was right time his stomach began to hurt from the tension.
“Since our communication system was seized, we can’t make a call from out side… ah, no wait, is it the opposite? Are we still patched through?”
“Erk, in that case, did he hear my slander…”
“Of course I heard it, but let’s just pretend I didn’t. I’m sorry to keep you waiting. A provisional ruling has just been handed down regarding your treatment. Teirow-dono, Maar-dono, Koume-dono. I apologize for my initial treatment. You are a crew of heroes.”
On the completely changed voice that came across the line, the three exchanged a glance.
“The army’s demands and information regarding its further treatment of you has been sent to your BISHOP. Based on your answer, an unfortunate end may be in store, but I expect good news.”
“Now that’s quite a threat,” Tarou muttered as he scanned through the army report.
“Hmhmm… first, hand over the rescued children. Well that one’s obvious. Next is… duty of confidentiality. Yeah, that’s simple. Wait, all of it? We can’t say a single word about this incident?”
Rather than asking, Tarou sought confirmation. “Right,” Maar continued on.
“That’s what the contract says. Hey, officer. I’ve no intent to go around bragging about our heroics, but it will be painful if we can’t at least use this publicity to make up our losses. I would be quite delighted if you could take that into consideration.”
Maar addressed it to no one in particular. “Give me a minute,” an answer immediately came from the communication device.
“I had them increase your cash reward. I’m sending over an updated contract.”
On the voice that came in once more, Maar silently stuck up her thumb. The new contract contents that showed up over their BISHOP displayd the revised portions in red.
“As expected of our minister of finance. With this we’ve gotten a bit of a prof… ones, tens, hundreds, thousands…”
Tarou began counting the monetary reward on his fingers.
By the point he reached the hundred million column, the sheer shock halted his thought process.