“Whoah… it’s huge…”
Pulled in by four towing ships, the new model cruiser’s 720 meter bulk gently settled on the large-scale dock.
Named the Plum II, it was installed with the ghost ship’s core just like the Destroyer Plum before it, the additional armoring around the engine recycling its Black Metal IN. But that was the only common point they shared, with its appearance and contents incomparable to before. When a ship’s span doubled, a simple calculation would give it 8 times the capacity.
“The last Plum was a good ship, but this is amazin’. With this bad boy, we might even be able to do some digging.”
In the gravity room of the dock, Tarou pushed his face up against the window glass. To his side, “You’re exaggerating,” Maar said as like Tarou- and like Allan who was further back in the room- she peered out onto the dock.
While the old Plum had a shape like that of a box with the corners smoothed down, this one had no such shred of soft smoothness: it boasted a complete straight-line design. Its shape was as if the Tokyo metropolitan governmental building was made to taper off and flipped on its side, with four turret bays lining each face, up, down, left, and right. The individual gun turrets didn’t differ much from those of the old Plum, but the four fold increase in firepower was a large one.
“I think they called it a complete coverage model. If you stick out all the turrets, it seems you’ll look like a hedgehog. Looks aside, it does look reliable.”
Maar quietly muttered. To that, “Naïve,” Tarou went on.
“Of our 16 bays, 8 are beam weapons. 6 are railguns, and the remaining two are torpedo tubes!!”
How about that? Tarou’s face seemed to say. Maar and Allan sent him blank looks.
“By railgun, you mean that? Projectile ballistic weaponry?”
In regards to Allan’s question, “You betcha!!” Tarou replied in high spirits. Allan held his temple in his hands as, “What are you even…” he said.
“Flying projectiles went out of date more than a thousand years ago. Of course, we learn about them in military academy as a part of history, but what exactly do you plan to do, loading up with those antiques?”
“Huh? Ballistic weaponry isn’t used anymore?”
“I’m an amateur in warfare, and even I can declare they’re not… hah. And what’s this ‘torpedo’ thing? I haven’t even heard of it. Is it an earth weapon?”
The two of them displayed fed-up faces. Tarou answered them, somewhat awkwardly.
“No, look. All ships out there, WIND included, see. Even if they have shields, they’re all beam shields these days. I’ve never even heard of a ship that put much effort into its physical shields, so I just thought it might be a good idea. By the way, torpedoes are these huge missile things. Since we’re not at sea, I’m not sure if I should be callin’ them torpedoes in the first place, though.”
Tarou threw in all sorts of gestures as he explained torpedoes. Perhaps he was able to convey some form of understanding, as the two of them breathed out sighs.
“I was wondering what you used tens of millions of credits to order, but it was something like that? How should I say it, to this point, we’ve been able to make it without issue, but come this far, I’m really starting to feel the difference in our times is taking a bad turn.”
To Maar’s words, “Agreed,” said Allan.
“I’m sure you have your own thoughts on the matter, admiral, so I’ll withhold my comments. But, well. Using company money on your personal hobbies is a bit hard to swallow.”
Receiving two rejections, “Urggh,” Tarou was lost for words.
“I-it’ll be fine, I tells ‘ya. It’s not as if we just searched up some old blueprints and used them as is. I’m sure they’ll be useful… somewhere… right…”
As his words faded away, the two sent eyes of pity.
“Well, let’s just put that aside for now. It’s not like fighting’s our main business, and 8 lasers is more than enough.”
A dubious air still lingering between the three, they set out to board the Plum II.
“Wow, incredible. These joing shock absorbers are the latest model. How bouncy.”
Maar made merry in her command room seat. In structure, the central command room hadn’t changed from before. But the equipment had been remodeled, Tarou had even done some personal modifications based on his lessons in combat.
“I had all the displays made of a soft material. They may warp a bit on impact, but you won’t hurt your forehead bangin’ up against them.”
The displays extending from the arms of the seat. Tarou spoke as he played with its rubber-like material.
“So you got the warp stabilizer package under additional options. About how much power can it put out?”
“Hmm, I don’t know the specifics, but accordin’ to Koume’s calculations, with the jammers those small WIND were using, we’d be fine even if ten of them tried jamming us at once.”
“Ten? Now that’s amazing. It’s not like all our enemies will have jammers, so it doesn’t look like we’ll be tied down so easily. What other appliances do we have?”
“I’m sure you could tell from looking at the outside, but we’ve got a humongous scanner on board. I prioritized resolution over distance, so that baby can project a beauty’s bust from 300km away.”
The footage on the display of the ship’s exterior showed the diamond-shaped scanner in all its glory. Extending left and right almost like a pair of wings, from the point of view of an earthling like Tarou, it looked like a giant solar panel.
“Our medical facilities to the residential area are worlds away from what we ‘ad before. More than 100 medical capsules, and 10 blocks of module living quarters. Even if we ‘ad 2000 people, they’d be able to live with ease, don’t you think?”
“When you get to cruiser size, you really do get some freedoms. At this size, will those up top treat it as an official battleship?”
“Sure they will. Everything destroyer and bellow’s treated as a, ‘small-scale military craft’. With this ship, we’re finally bein’ counted as part of the empire’s fighting power. On top of bein’ nothin’ but conspicuous, the amount of paperwork I had to fill out was no joke. No wonder there are people who hate registering with the empire.”
Tarou gave a bitter smiled as he recalled the numerous days of grasping regulations and signing forms under the guidance of experts. He had written ‘transport and trade’ as the purpose of his purchase, and there was a bit of a quarrel over whether to pass it or not. In the peaceful empire, there weren’t any people who used warships in their general business, and registering something besides a cargo ship was unprecedented.
“I shoulda just bought a dummy cargo ship. Then I could’ve called this one a guard ship and been done with it… aah, I also equipped a beam jammer and scan scrambler. But since I don’t plan on chasing a fleeing enemy, I didn’t go for the warp jammer.”
On Tarou’s words, Maar showed a satisfied nod. “Just leave that sort of thing to the security companies,” she said, as she began fiddling around with the scanner and engine that would become her primary charges.
“So there are two nuclear fusion chambers… with independent circuits… is it a safety measure? If I merged them somewhere… can I just get them both under this control program…”
As if playing with a new world, she mumbled herself off into her own world. Tarou knew she was beyond reach when she got like this, she he decided to leave her alone for a while.
“This is the central control room. Allan, how are things on your side?”
Tarou touched the downsized listening device to his ear. The word ‘Allan’ floated up on his BISHOP, the shape of the soundwave displayed as his voice came across.
“Ain’t just great, it’s the best. It feels strange to be able to park a ship in another ship. I see two other ships apart from the stardust, but are they for recon?”
“Right, right. Those are recon ships equipped with an assisted scan, and while they’re unsuited to battle, they have some nice reviews. Apparently they can also move unmanned, but if you do that, you have to look out for jamming, they say. Apparently there was a court case where one was taken over.”
“The 4428 incident? That wasn’t an actual takeover, but… well, it should be fine. I don’t mind if you leave this area to me. Even if I look like this, I’m a former imperial soldier.”
After returning an, “Okay!” to Allan’s satisfied voice, Tarou checked the clock on his BISHOP. It was almost time, he lifted his face. Just as he did, the door to the command room slid open.
The one who entered the open doorway was a black-haired woman of blooming age. While her body would certainly be mistaken as human at first glance, there were some connection inputs running down her organic skin coating clearly indicating she was a cyborg.
“Sorry to keep you waiting, Mister Teirow. I am unaccustomed to dealing with organic material, but do you think it suits me?”
Dropping her gaze to her own arm, Koume showed a curious expression.
“Y-yeah… you look great. When you’re like that, you’re practically human… more importantly…”
Tarou took a step forwards, and then another. The body he had once presented her had a face covered in outer skin, and by it, she should have attained the feature he wanted most.
“Hey, Koume, could you smile for me?”
Koume tilted her head with a blank expression. As if suddenly struck by something, she raised her gaze, and presented Tarou the most splendid of smiles.