Me, Her and the Ballistic Weaponry [Antique] 13

 

“You can’t find a buyer? Does that sort of thing really happen?”

Tarou dropped his spanner in surprise. “That’s dangerous,” Maar said as she picked it up.

“Well of course it can happen. Business is something that can only hold true when you have a buyer and a seller. In this station out in the sticks, there’s no way you’d find anyone wanting of a military-grade armored deck. When you think about it, it’s obvious… to be honest, that was an oversight on my part.”

Tarou took the spanner from Maar, returning to dismantling the scrap parts.

“I see… now that you mention it, you do ‘ave a point. Like ‘ow you won’t get any buyers sellin’ machine guns door-to-door in a peaceful village.”

“Your comparison’s a bit off, but something like that. You’ll have to go where there are more people, or where the need is higher to sell it. It’s probably the army that would want it most, but if it comes to that, they’ll definitely question its origin.”

On Maar’s voice, “I’d rather not answer that one,” said Tarou.He didn’t think he had anything to feel guilty about, but if possible, he wanted to avoid trouble.

“See, this is the cosmic powers telling you to stay here. In the end, if an iceman who doesn’t even know how to walk in zero gravity goes out on a journey, he’ll only face setback after setback from his lack of common sense.”

Maar’s face was all smiles. Tarou pouted as he averted his face, but he knew Maar’s words weren’t completely off the mark.

“Well, when you really boil it down, that’s where the problem is… I think Koume’ll do somethin’ about that, to an extent, but that girl has some strange points of her own.”

“That is quite an allegation, Mister Teirow. I am nothing more than an artificial intelligence, and not a human. As an AI, I consider myself exceedingly common sensical.”

“That’s a lie! Like ‘ell there are AI like you all over the place!!”

“That really is quite an allegation. Don’t you feel sorry for Koume?”

“No, no, just listen to this, Maar-tan. She’s terrible. Just the other day, she…”

The three seemed to have opened up to one another. At a glance, it looked to be nothing more than their hellishly peaceful everyday life, but Tarou felt some restlessness somewhere in his being. It was probably not his imagination, and he knew Maar surely felt it too.

“… And that’s what she said. Don’t you think she’s terrible?”

“Fufu, that was your fault. Now then, it’s about time.”

On Maar’s words, Tarou confirmed the time display on his BISHOP. It signified the time his work shift was over, and usually, it was even a time he would rejoice over.

“I see… then that’s the end. Three months went by in the blink of an eye, but it was fun. Was a real learnin’ experience, and I got paid for it properly.”

Giving a wink, Tarou removed his work gloves and held out his right hand. The new contract he had made with Maar specified daily support over a time period of three months, and today was the settled date.

“You really were a big help. I’m really thankful… um, if possible…”

Tarou made an unusually serious expression. To him, Maar raised her own hand a bit, but after a moment’ hesitation, she powerlessly lowered it.

“I can’t. I have no reason to help you.”

“Haha… well, that’s right…”

And awkward air and silence.
Eventually, Maar took her eyes off of Tarou, sending a sad glance towards the exit.

“I apologize for interrupting. Miss Maar, Mister Teirow. There is something I must apologize about.”

Could it be called timely salvation in that unbearable silence? With a slight smile, “What is it now?” said Maar.

“Yes, Miss Maar. It is about the three month support contract I had you draft up. I had completely forgotten to receive Mister Teirow’s approval for it. A so-called ‘Slip-up’ on my part.”

On Koume’s voice, the two made blank expressions. What are you saying so late in the game, spoke Maar’s face, but finally noticing something, she seemed taken aback.

“I-I see. So even an AI of your caliber makes mistakes… it’s fine, don’t mind it… um… thank you”

“No the thanks and apology should come from me, Miss Maar. So I do apology, but the compensation imposed on Miss Maar is not daily support over a period of three months, it would be, ‘assistance with pressing daily necessities’.”

Having come so far, Tarou finally realized the situation. After a surprised look at Koume, he changed his eyes to Maar.

“S-see, just as I told you. She’s a strange one in ‘er own way. So we’ll be too anxious on our own. Truth is, I’d like to free you at once, but the contract, you see…”

“Yes, that’s right. If that’s the contract between us, then there’s no helping it… fufu, isn’t that right, Koume?”

“Yes, that is right, Miss Maar. From the ship parts we were able to sell, the Rockboy’s repair fees have long-since been paid off. At the present point, ceasing your life support of Mister Teirow would be a breach of contract.”

“That so,” said Maar quite unnaturally.

“I’d be troubled if the imperial government took me in for breach of contract. I won’t be able to pay my rent to the station, so they’ll take my Rocky away… um… well… I-I’ll just say it, but this is all for Rocky!! It’s definitely not for your sake or anything!!”

“I-I know. I get it… but thank you for that by-the-books line. I’m a bit moved that I was able to hear it in my lifetime.”

“What are you mumbling about… now look, let’s go.”

Maar grabbed Tarou’s still-extended hand and ran off.

“We have to draft a plan. I’m sure you think things will work themselves out as long as you have a ship, and haven’t put any decent thought into it, right? As I thought, you won’t make it without me.”

Her words hitting the mark, Tarou gave a bitter smile as he was pulled by the hand.

“If we’re doing this, we’re definitely going to find it.”

Somewhat overpowered, Tarou gave a strong grip of her hand in place of an answer.

“First, we’ll have to start a company.”

In a narrow office of the junk yard, the two humans and one robot faced one another.

“No, I’m sorry. I don’t see where this is going. What is this? Is the galactic empire so overbearin’ they won’t allow a single trip if it isn’t business-related?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“No matter how you look at it… wait, for real!!?”

Maar covered her ears at Tarou’s cry.

“It’s not as if the trip itself is forbidden, Mister Teirow. The problem is the time it would take, right Miss Maar?”

“Yes. If we’re going to move between star systems to search for earth, then we have no choice but to use the stargate. But if you enter the queue normally, you’ll be waiting a few months, or even years.”

“Years!? That’s more than a reservation on the finest luxury cruise. You tellin’ me to go into cold sleep or something?”

“Right, there are some people who do that.”

On Maar’s casually concluded, Tarou raised both his hands.

“Whoah… I want to quit being surprised already. But, well, from where this talk is going, is it that? Businesses get a fast pass?”

“Correct, Mister Teirow. Businesses are organizations that build the core of the galactic empire, so not only the stargate, you will get various forms of preferential treatment. At the same time, you’ll be given some obligations, but as long as you do not plan on going to the center systems, it would not be a problem.”

“Right. We’re going to the outer reaches, so it’ll probably be fine. With the gate, you could also send a bribe, but if possible, I’d like to keep that a last resort.”

“Well yeah, that’ll give them somethin’ to hold over us, after all… by the way, what’re these obligations? Do I have ta pay corporate tax?”

“Tax is pretty much the same for companies and individuals. More than that, if you make a large sum, you’ll have to pay more as an individual than a company. The obligation is government missions. Meaning you’ll have to do government issued jobs at regular intervals. Their contents vary, but honestly, you can also just resolve them by throwing money at the problems.”

On Maar’s words, Tarou imagined the choice-based quests you could often find in video games. But if the government was issuing them, then the fact you could resolve them with money came alongside a dreamless reality.

“Hmm… don’t really ‘ave a picture of government work. What sort of things are there? I can’t imagine it at all.”

To Tarou’s words, Maar thought a bit.

“Umm, generally, you have to help out the public offices. Even if you ask me what sort, there are various things… I guess the standard would be police duty?”

“Police? No, no, leave that one to the guys who do it for a living.”

“For a living? You mean the security companies?”

Maar really didn’t seem to get it. Tarou himself seemed confused as he continued on.

“Security company? Eh? Wait. You don’t have a police force? One the government funds with our taxpayer dollars. No police?”

“Nothing. And wait, if they did that, the empire would crumble from civil war. With a police force to look over 60 trillion people, it’ll obviously swell bigger than the army. What do you plan to do if they raised a rebellion?”

“60 trillion… I won’t be surprised. I won’t be surprised anymore.”

“By the way, Mister Teirow, the 60 trillion figure only includes the humankind with an official registry. It is thought the actual population is twice to several times that.”

“Wheh, which means, at least 120 trillion? It’s already that. The scale’s too off, I can’t grasp it at all. What’s with 120 trillion? The number of cells in my body?”

Rolling his eyes back, Tarou collapsed limply into his chair.  Maar drew back as she watched over him.

“You are quite knowledgeable, Mister Teirow. But the number of cells in the human body is closer to 60 trillion.”

“Between me and Maar?”

“120 trillion. But that’s kinda gross, so stop it. Knowing there’s 60 trillion pieces of you is a bit…”

“A bit what, my dear? I’m real curious, but I’m also sure I don’t want to know… anyways, it’s just as Maar said. I’m way too oblivious.”

Experiencing his ignorance again, Tarou felt embarrassed over his own recklessness. “It’s a bit late for that,” said Maar, lightly poking him on the nose.

“A company, huh… what should we name it…”

On the words he quietly muttered, Maar began raising ideas.

The talk that followed carried on a while, and even after the station’s manmade night descended, there was no interruption to the office light.
They never ran out of topics and themes to talk about.

 

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Me, Her, and the Ballistic Weaponry [Antique] 12

 

A giant asteroid drifting through space, and a broken spaceship crashed into its tip. Tarou sat in the deputy seat of the Rockboy supporting up that ship as he gazed at his BISHOP display. The front of the Rockboy’s cockpit was airframe, with a glass dome… actually made of hardened resin… over the top. To Tarou’s side- meaning the driver’s seat- he could see Maar concentrating.

“Stand by… stand by…… now!!”

Timing himself to Maar’s voice, Tarou manipulated the functions of the Rockboy’s frame. Willing the Rockboy the yank the wire wrapped around it, the ship sunken into the asteroid misshapenly bent back and forth as it tried to come free.

“Airframe output and physical shield output are both stable. You can safely raise the output by 20%, Mister Teirow.”

Plugged into the Rockboy’s control panel, Koume flashed her lights as she spoke. Tarou hummed a tune as he increased the output, skillfully pulling the wires with a force that exceeded the specs listed in the ship’s catalogue.

“… Okay, stop!! Now we just have to sever it with the arms, and that’ll be the end of it. Good work, both of you. We’ve gotten our first big haul in a long while.”

Letting out a deep breath at Maar’s voice, Tarou leaned back into his chair.

“Let’s get out of here fast. Even if we have a shield, there’s still that million-to-one chance, right?”

“Yes, that’s right. Bomb disposal is something they really should have left to a professional, but… okay, it’s out.”

Maar turned her eyes to the outside. The front part of the wrecked ship slowly floated away with the asteroid.

“But how did the asteroid-destroyer ship crash into an asteroid itself? Some new-age kamikaze?”

Maar laughed as she answered Tarou’s complaints.

“I don’t know what this kamikaze is, but it is ironic. Whatever the case, isn’t it fine? The energy from its collision diverted the asteroid’s trajectory, after all. And more than anything, it put some food on an honest salvager’s table.”

“Miss Maar. I apologize for being so forward, but rejoicing over the misfortune of others is… Miss Maar, please accelerate the ship at once. The force of the detachment has begun to reactivate some of the explosive devices.”

On Koume’s words, time in the cockpit came to a momentary halt. In the next instant, “Recalculate!!” Maar cried, and “Leave it to me!!” a voice cried back.

“Oy, oy, oy, that’s no joke. We really should’ve given up on this job!!”

“Sss-shut it!! The pay was wonderful!!”

Taking the tension of the wires into account, Tarou quickly calculated the best position to be, and immediately sent the results of her calculations to Koume. Receiving them, Koume added in a factor of the ship’s remaining energy supply, and transferred it to Maar. Marr used her long years of experience, alongside the Rockboy’s tendencies, and the behavior of the scrap to steer the ship in the most appropriate way she saw possible.

“Adriaaan!!?”

The sudden strong acceleration slammed Tarou against his seat. The anti-g-force suit constricted against his body in a desperate attempt to keep blood flowing in his brain.

In the next instant, a flash erupted to burn his eyes out.
That grainy impact wave that expanded in a sphere.

“The… anti-de… bris…”
“Miss Maar, leave that to me.”

While Maar’s voice was strained by the same acceleration Tarou experienced, Koume gave a calm answer. She quickly activated the 8 anti-debris beams loaded onto the Rockboy, incinerating the asteroid fragments flying towards the ship.

“A big one’s… com…ing… goddammittt!!”

Tarou screamed as he used BISHOP. He regulated the Rockboy down a course to avoid a fragment likely too large for the lasers to burn through. Around when he thought he’d lose consciousness at the g-force on his body increasing even further from the curve, numerous large fragments passed right next to the ship.

“Erk… urgh… a-are we in the clear!?”

The ship stopped its acceleration, and Tarou was finally free from the clamping. As the blood came down from his head, he felt an intense sense of vertigo.

“Yes… somehow. The asteroid’s been successfully detonated, so the environmental sector of the station will pay us extra.”

“That’s good… hey, Maar. It’s going to be exposed soon enough, so I’ll be honest and say I wet myself a bit.”

“I see… don’t worry. So did I.”

“That so… hehe.”

“That’s right… fufu.”

The relief from their safety caused the two to raise voices of laughter.

“Should I have spilled some machine oil as well?”

On Koume’s voice, the two wrung out even more laughter. Kicking their feet in that narrow cockpit, carelessly throwing around their arms.

“Geez, I laughed so much my stomach hurts… hey, you. You really should give up on searching for earth after all. I’m sure we could make a good team.”

Maar suddenly changed to a serious tone. “Perhaps,” Tarou returned, but he folded his arms and turned away.

“Tell ‘ya the truth here, I don’t quite get it myself… even ‘f I find earth ‘n go home, there’s no way the place‘ll be the same earth I know.”

“Then all the more…”

Tarou gazed out at the stars outside the window. “But see,” he continued.

“I have to return, or ‘ow should I put it. I feel somethin’ like a sense of duty… it’s a bit difficult to explain. Should I call it the best place to bury my bones? When it really comes down to it, I’m an outsider here, and an iceman.”

On Tarou’s words, “I see…” said Maar. She folded her arms as he did, turning her eyes to the stars of the cosmos.

“The station doesn’t have a burial custom, so I don’t really understand… hey, what sort of place was the earth?”

“Even if you ask me what sort of place it was… first, it had an ocean. Around seventy percent of its surface was ocean. On the remaining thirty percent, the humans and animals lived cramped together, and at the very least, back when I was still there, there was a lot of nature remaining.”

“Seventy percent ocean… that’s way too inefficient. Wasn’t it ever terraformed?”

“By terraform, you mean that thing where they control the whole environment of a planet? Never. Humanity didn’t have that technology yet. Within that naturally-made environment, they were trying their best not to destroy it. Being eco-friendly and stuff.”

“Hmm,” Maar sounded doubtful. Tarou sent her a sidelong glance as he continued on.

“You could barely see the stars through the atmosphere, but in their place, we had a sky, and we could see the sunrise and sunset. I never went to them, but we had deserts and jungles too. Places covered in permafrost, and tropics where you could survive naked. Even where I lived, if you went a bit away, there were still mountains and rivers brimmin’ with nature.”

“Hmm… that’s quite different from the planets terraformed to a specific biosphere. It’s like they just stuffed a bunch of things together, a chaotic environment. Have you ever been to the rivers or mountains? They weren’t dangerous?”

“Dangerous? As long as you exercised adequate caution, you wouldn’t be in much danger. If you go to the mountains, you’ll lots of rivers, and when I was small, I’d play around them all the time. I don’t know how it is now, but they were clean enough you could just drink them like that.”

“Drink? You mean the river water? As is? Without any processing? What’s with that. You were living on a gold mine!”

“Gold… oh, I see. Water’s a valuable on the station… but if we get into that, I don’t see it endin’. We had hundreds, thousands of types of plants, and we had real livestock. Not that synthesized stuff where you can’t tell what it was originally made from. The real deal.”

Maar was desperately working her imagination to put together Tarou’s words. A wrinkle graced her brow as she looked into the distance.

“Then what about you place? What sort of house did you live in?”

“The houses really depended on where you lived, but they were generally stone or wood. I guess reinforced concrete counts as stone. Ours was a normal two-story wood house, though.”

“Wood!? What sort of estate was it!!?”

Maar cried out.

“Umm, then what’s this? You drank real mineral water, as you ate real meat and plants. And on top of all that, you lived in a dwelling made of wood? That’s absurd. No wonder you’d want to go home… what sort of paradise is that?”

“Ah, no. That’s not particularly why I want to go back…”

Tarou hurriedly said it, but Maar seemed to be immersed in her own thoughts, and she wasn’t listening.

“You think… you think it really exists?”

Maar muttered.

“As I was tellin’ you, I don’t just ‘Think’ it, it really exists. I don’t know where it is, and what’s become of it now. But at the very least, it undoubtedly exists. Because that’s where I came from.”

On Tarou’s words, Maar thought some more.

“… Hey, Koume. I’m just asking for reference, but what do you think?”

Koume, who had persisted in silence to that point, flickered her lights for the first time in a while.

“Yes, Miss Maar. I am unable to determine whether it exists or not, but I do think it is a highly credible story. All the knowledge and common sense Mister Teirow possesses match up with records of premodern times, and surprisingly enough, they all hold a sense of consistency. That would not be the case with a delusion or scam. And I do have something I can call sufficient evidence.”

At Koume’s words, the two showed expressions of shock. Koume spun her wheels as she continued.

“The first is the language Mister Teirow initially used. The ancient language called Japanese only exists within the studies of a small portion of language scholars, and it is not a standard language. No matter how vast the galactic empire may be, it would be nigh impossible to find anyone who spoke it fluently. And the other…”

The two swallowed their breath.

“… is DNA information. Mister Teirow’s DNA… if you will pardon my discourtesy, I had it examined, and it contained the base information for all humanity living within the present empire. All of them, from the winged, to those called subspecies. Do you understand what that would mean?”

On that unbelievable notion, time on the ship stopped.

“The common planet descent theory of humankind. Perhaps it wasn’t completely wrong.”

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Me, Her and the Ballistic Weaponry [Antique] 11

 

A room in the space station. With that room Tarou saw as around the size of a school gymnasium, the figures of men and women surrounded a mountainous pile of scrap metal.

“Hey, Teirow. I want to remove this part, can you do something about it?”

Maar raised her face from the pile of scraps. Tarou raised his own face from the children’s picture book he had been reading, walking over to Maar as he started up BISHOP.

“Another code, huh… yeah, yeah, I’ll do it, so don’t make such a scary face. By the way, this might be a stupid question, but why do is there an encryption set whenever a ship part is joined?”

Tarou looked through the numerous password programs in his BISHOP space, decrypting them as he asked.

“Why? I mean, it’s dangerous if you don’t do it, right? If a part falls off in the middle of a voyage, there’s a possibility it could lead to a major accident.”

“Ah, no, no. I know that. I’m trying to say, isn’t it strange for it to be made so you have to use software to dismantle the hardware? You sure it’s not a fault?”

“You think? It seems military ships and the like are made that way for secrecy, but generally, isn’t it because people prioritize ease of maintenance? If it’s joined through hardware, detaching things is quite some work, but if it’s through BISHOP, it takes no time at all.”

“Hmm… come to think of it, your Rockyboy got to mint condition in the blink of an eyes. Did ya’ just swap out the parts, and call it a day?”

“That’s right. I’m having the broken parts slowly repaired, and once they’re good as new, I’ll use them as spares. In space, the slightest accident spells life and death, so most ships generally have spare parts loaded onto them.”

“I see… right, voilà.”

Tarou snapped his fingers. And at the same time, the ship component in front of Maar detached and fell, exposing its internal parts.

“It’s as unfair as ever, your BISHOP… or rather your brain. If you put in a request to an unlocksmith, it usually takes around three days, you know? At this point, why not find a job as a thief?”

“Hmhmm, the only thing I’ll ever steal is a woman’s heart.”

“Yeah, yeah, keep it down, virgin.”

“I-! I-I ain’t no virgin!!”

“N-no. That was a joke… ah, this circuit’s still alive!!”

From the detached part, Maar pulled out a chip about the size of her fist, glowing like the light of a sun.

“It’s the auxiliary equipment of the drive for a large-scale freighter, so it’ll fetch quite a hefty sum. It’s enough to pay your salary for the week.”

Maar grinned as she looked at the stripped chip. Taken in by it, Tarou returned a smile.

“Oh, that’s good… but you salvagers sure have it hard. Having to do such plain work day after day, if it were me, I wouldn’t last a day.”

It had been around half a month since Tarou began living in at Maar’s workplace. Hearing her work was salvaging parts from scrap ships, at first his heart raced. But contrary to his expectations, the essence of the job largely consisted of monotonous dismantling.

“That goes without saying. Our assigned scraps are already determined, so we don’t have too many opportunities to go out into space. It’s mostly hit and miss, and more than anything, the large ships are all sent to Corp.”

“Corp? Who’s that?”

“The Corporation. She is referring to a company, Mister Teirow.”

The two turned towards the voice they heard from the hill of scrap iron. After a while, Koume’s form appeared, climbing over it.

“Good work, Koume. How are things on your side?”

At the top of the pile, Koume flashed her lights.

“Things are proceeding smoothly, Miss Maar. I have successfully made a catalogue of everything that looks to be sellable. Mister Teirow, I sill confirm it once more, but you really plan on selling everything but the ship’s core?”

“You betcha. Just selling the other portions’ll fetch quite some money, right?”

“Yes, though that depends on your definition of quite a sum, Mister Teirow. I think it will likely make for enough money that you could play around for the rest of your life.”

“… Yes? Eh? No way. That much?”

Ignoring Tarou’s surprise, Koume displayed a precise amount. As Tarou had only treated that ship as oversized garbage to that point, he felt complete shock as he compared the sum to the price of a meal. Looking over him, Maar breathed out a sigh.

“Now look here… let me ask it like this. In your ancient times, was everyone rich enough to have one cruiser-class ship per house?”

On Maar’s words, Tarou ended up nodding. The values here were too far off from earth, so it was difficult for him to get a sense for them, but he imagined it something like a large private cruise ship for the rich.

“How could this be. Before I e’en noticed it, I’ve gotten to a position where I c’n fulfill my lifelong dream of slapping someone with a wad of bills!!?”

“Looks like it… I don’t intend to get in the way of your hobbies, but do it to me and I’ll smack you.”

“With pleasure!”

“With a wrench.”

“I’m sorry!”

Tarou nimbly performed a dogeza. He himself didn’t understand why he had to dogeza at all, but for some reason, he ended up doing it by reflex.

“By the way, Mister Teirow. With so much money in your hands, what do you intend to do? Will you live your live without any clear goal, clinging onto your parent’s legs, while the neighbors whisper about you as the disgrace of the house? Koume will not particularly do anything to stop you.”

“At that point, just honestly say NEET!! And you totally intend to stop me, don’t you!!”

“I’m also a bit interested. Are you going to invest it or something?”

On Maar’s words, “Even if you ask me that, all of a sudden…” Tarou scratched his head.

“In the first place, I don’t have the basic knowledge to form any greed… ah, but I do have somethin’ I wanna do.”

The two sent eyes full of intrigue to Tarou’s words. After putting his hand on his chin in thought, he gave quite a natural response.

“I want to search for the earth. And I’ll need a ship.”

The words from his mouth left Maar dumbfounded. And Koume kept her silence.

“A real huge one at that.”

“When you said ship market, you know. How should I put this, I was imagining some super huge trade-fair sort of deal. Little Teirow-chan is a bit disappointed.”

“You’re kinda irritating me… more importantly. Are you sure you’re not going to reconsider it? No one knows whether the planet called earth really exists or not.”

The exhibition hall of the station’s ship market. Ships of all shapes and sizes were projected in holograph, and the two of them walked casually alongside a great number of customers.

“No, no, it exists. That’s comin’ from someone born and raise there, so there’s no doubt about it.”

“I’m sure that some sort of mistake. The galactic empire has existed for over five thousand years, but it still has yet to be confirmed, you know?”

“I mean, even if you tell me that… ah, but what about that thing? I heard it remained in folklore.”

“Yeah, what you’re talking about is probably the common planet descent theory of humankind, but rather than science, that’s practically in the domain of religion.”

Quite obstinate against him buying a ship, Maar was hanging on incessantly. Without paying it any mind, Tarou continued gazing at the ships on display. His eyes stopped on one of them. A large vessel with a streamlined body

“Ah, this one’s badass. And more ‘n anythin’, it’s huge. That’s how it is, so what says you, Koume-sensei?”

Tarou turned his eyes to the sphere hung at his belt. She flashed her lights as usual.

“That is a DD-E559, a model called a Thunderbolt. While it will not be a problem with your finances, what exactly do you plan to fight, boarding a destroyer like that?”

Tarou thought a bit over Koume’s words.

“Hey, Maar. About those WIND things we fought some time ago. Can you find them all o’er the place?”

On Tarou’s words, “Let’s see,” Maar replied.

“They’re generally dispersed all throughout the galaxy, but… if you really plan on searching for an unknown planet, then you’ll have to go out to the outer reaches of space. In that case, you’ll be up against more humans than WIND.”

“Humans? Is that where the criminals go?”

“Umm, it’s dubious whether you can call them criminals or not. The outer reaches are outside the galactic empire’s sphere of influence, so that place is generally a lawless zone. If there’s no law, it would be difficult to call anything a crime, right?”

“Wow, we really are at the fin-de-siècle… but I see. All the places humans can live on normally have long since been found.”

Tarou raised his face, looking at the window installed on the exhibition room wall. In that space where air didn’t exist, a number of stars you could call beyond count gave a dazzling twinkle.

“… Well, having more places to look just fires me up more.”

Even Tarou knew it was a rash flight of foolishness from his own ignorance, but it’s not like he didn’t have any prospects. He himself undoubtedly had memories of his life on earth, and at the very least, there was the fact he was able to come here. And more than anything…

“Koume, when we get back, access the neural network, and investigate a bit into earth-like exoplanets. There can’t be too many ‘f them, right?”

“Yes, understood. But I cannot give an affirmative, Mister Teirow. By earth-like, you likely mean planets capable of human inhabitation, but even in this galactic system alone…”

… He had a reassuring ally with him.

 

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Me, Her and the Ballistic Weaponry [Antique] 10

 

“Whaaaaaah, h-help, kersplat!?!”

Within that weightless space, Tarou spun forwards as e collided with the wall. Just like that, he bounced as he floated towards the ceiling. Perhaps in the same principle a billiards ball ricochets off a cushion.

“Mister Teirow. I do not care if you make merry, but at this rate, we will never reach the station.”

“E’en ‘f ‘ya tell me that, hey, stop, argh!!”

Even as his knees crumbled at the terrible impact, he somehow used his limbs to absorb the force and land on the ground. To make sure he didn’t spin away again, he crept along the station bridge. While he looked considerably creepy, safety was of a higher priority.

“Wait, Teirow. That lock is… eek! I feel sick.”

Beyond an automatic sliding door was a woman in a suit looking down on Tarou. Even if you called it a suit, it wasn’t the sort of thing he was used to seeing businessmen wearing, it was something made with orange as the base color. Through her smoke-tinted helmet that covered her head, it was difficult to confirm her expression, but she was likely making quite a fed-up face as she observed Tarou.

“… Hmm, humanity isn’t ready for this means of movement yet.”

“Yeah… right. Honestly, I’m shocked.”

“Don’t praise me so,” Tarou bashfully laughed as he stood with good momentum. That force sent him into the emptiness again. Remembering the pain he felt last time his head was hit, he braced himself, but Maar promptly grabbed him by the leg, letting him survive without issue.

“I was half in doubt, but you really are a planet dweller… no way any sensible station-raised man would do something so stupid. It’s a good thing that there’s a roof here, but if we were in the atrium, you’d be space refuse.”

Keeping her hold on Tarou’s foot, Maar pulled on a wire running town the wall to drag him back in the right direction. It seems there were various wires running at various speeds lining the wall, and Maar swiftly changed between wires to steadily accelerate.

“So instead of a moving walk, you have a moving handrail? Um, Maar-san? Aren’t we going a bit too fast!!? I still have a problem with my positioning, and I’m crazy scared over heeeerre!!”

As Maar grabbed the highest wire, Tarou experienced an acceleration so strong he thought his leg would rip off.

“Now look here, just how many kilometers do you think it is from the bridge to the station? If we dilly dally, there won’t be any day left.”

He was still face up towards the corridor. Pulled down it at a speed as if he was falling. He almost lost control of his bowels over the fear, but his chest was filled with a warm exhilaration. Before his eyes was a human who would respond if he let out words. And there were other people passing by in that endless corridor.

“…… You’re beautiful.”

Inside the station. His unsteady body finally reaching somewhere with active gravity, Tarou spoke out as he saw Maar’s face outside of its helmet. Green eyes, and red hair. An orderly nose line, and wide eyes. Her stature was low, but the body line he could see from the tight-fitting suit was a wonderful thing.

“You think? Thank you. But coming from an iceman, well…”

“Iceman?”

“People like you who’ve woken up from a long cold sleep. Wait there a bit. I’ll go register your ship, and get a census form for you. Pardon me.”

As Maar said that, she casually plucked one of Tarou’s hairs. Gazing at it dubiously, she started off towards some sort of computing terminal.

“Oww, say something first… but I see. So it’s DNA registration. And wait, you can get a registry that easily?”

He hadn’t directed those words to anyone in particular, but Koume suspended from his belt gave an answer.

“Affirmative, Mister Teirow. The galactic empire’s neural network preserves the DNA information of every resident registered to it. If the DNA in your hair does not match any other entry, it will automatically create a record for you without any issue.”

To Koume’s words, “Wow,” Tarou gave a thoughtful reply. He didn’t know much about the term Neural Network, but he imagined it as something like the internet.

“But this is a crazy amount of people… ‘s it that? Something like an airport gate?”

“Yes, I think that comparison is correct, Mister Teirow. Until you cross over that gate, you cannot strictly say you are inside the station.”

“I see. So it’s like that. On the other hand, as long as I don’t cross over it, they don’t care whether I have a registry or not?”

“Correct, Mister Teirow. It’s common that people who don’t have a registry due to various circumstance carry out their business and exchanges here. They are still charged a docking fee, so it is not a bad deal for the station. They do not cause any trouble, and they do not use up resources. They are exemplary customers.”

After letting out a sigh of admiration, Tarou observed the people restlessly moving about. He didn’t see any octopus-like lifeforms or little gray men. The only difference from earth he could see was a truly wide abundance of skin, eye and hair color.

“It’s a bit of a letdown… I was expecting some insectoid aliens ‘r somethin’.”

“Are you talking about arthropodians, Mister Teirow? In that case, it is not as if they do not exist in imperial territory, but they are not a common sight in this star system.”

“So they exist!! For real!?”

While he was just told they were not a common sight, Tarou looked around nervously with slight expectations. Of course, he didn’t find what he was looking for, but he was able to spot humans growing wings and horns.

“Really no joke… Whoah, Koume-san, Koume-san. Could that possibly be a robot?”

At the end of Tarou’s outstretched finger was a lustrous metallic body belonging to a supposed robot man. His face made of a real mold looked exceedingly human, but his elbow and knee joints consisted of exposed mechanisms, and every time he moved, they showed a smooth, steady operation.

“Yes, most likely, Mister Teirow. If it was made with organic materials, it would be properly classified as a cyborg, but that is probably a robot. From what I can see, itsbody is the latest model. I find myself envious.”

As Koume said that, she tried spinning the wheels Tarou had made for her.

“I… see… you’re right, that sort of body may be best for you. I’m sorry you’re so shoddy. Right, when I get money for selling the ship, I’ll buy you a body like that.”

“… Thank you, Mister Teirow. But I shall make do with the sentiment. That is an exceedingly expensive item. There are numerous other places you ought to be spending your money.”

“No, but you know… ah, she’s back.”

Tarou spotted Maar in the corner of his eye, lightly raising a hand.

“Alright, here’s a ship registration, and a family registration card. With this, you’re an imperial citizen like the rest of us. Also, I don’t want to keep up this complicit relationship, so I’ll have you sign this. A sales contract between you and me.”

Tarou received a black chip in his raised hand.

“What’s this? An SD?”

“Wrong. Wait, just what ancient era did you come from? That’s called a pulse chip… ah, whatever. Let me see it for a second.”

Maar painstakingly took the chip from Tarou, and pressed it flat against his forehead. He obediently followed her order to, “Startup BISHOP,” and he was able to confirm a Sales Contract function had been added on.

“Like that, the chip can send data directly as brainwaves. You might already know, but BISHOP functions aren’t all just programs. Databases are also treated as functions. They’re stored as temporary memory, so you can’t do something like load a dictionary, thought.”

“How convenient,” Tarou leisurely replied, as he scanned through the contents of the contract he had received. The contents were pretty much just the verbal promise they had already exchanged put into official terms, so they were neither advantageous nor disadvantageous to Tarou.

“How do I… ah, I see. Just link the signature function and sign. Ok, ok. Koume, I don’t really get contracts, but is this one alright? I won’t be charged for some exorbitant sum later? You’re the one who signed the document!! She’ll say?”

“You have watched too many movies, Mister Teirow. And you can only obtain pulse chip data through direct contact. Could you sent that data over to me?”

“Ah, that so? Oh, wait that sounds about right. Otherwise, info’d leak all over the place… here.”

Tarou peeled off the chip stuck to his forehead, and put it against Koume’s lights.

“… Yes, that is enough, Mister Teirow. There does not seem to be a problem with the contents of the contract. If I had to say, then the payment imposed on Miss Maar, ‘Assistance with pressing daily necessities’, is too vague for my liking. But taking Miss Maar’s character into account, it seems trustworthy enough. Right, Miss Maar?”

Koume’s tone was composed. As Maar returned it a bitter smile, Tarou offered Koume’s body- strapped to his waist- a few gentle pats.

“You’re much more proficient than you owner. Next time, I’ll write up a contract that properly spells out my duties. Is that alright?”

“Yes, of course, Miss Maar. You really are a person worthy of trust.”

As Maar made a smile, Koume’s voice was as expressionless as ever.
But Tarou felt from her voice that the sphere really was enjoying herself.

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Me, Her and the Ballistic Weaponry [Antique] 9

 

“Um, how should I put this… if everything you said is true, to be honest, it’s all way too suspicious. I don’t want to get involved.”

“I know, right? Can’t say I didn’t see it coming.”

Tarou hung his head at the voice coming in through the communication line, but his heart was filled with delight. He was talking to another human he’d never thought he’s be able to meet, and the first human he’d encountered in a year.

“Is there anything I can do about my lack of family register and ship registration?”

He had gone with the flor, and told her everything about his current circumstance, but now he regretted it. Perhaps he should have thought over it, and chosen what to say. Even if he didn’t lie, perhaps he should have avoided saying things that would put him at a disadvantage.

“Hah? You can do whatever you want to your register and registration as long as you have the credit. The problem here is your overdrive device, and the four thousand deaths. No matter how you look at it, this ship wasn’t conducting any honest trade.”

“No, the bodies were consigned to the abyss of space, you know? They were detached alongside the cargo hold, and there’s nothing left. By Koume’s calculations, they’ll run straight into a star in about twenty thousand years. Can’t we just pray for their happiness in their next life?”

“Well that’s just swell… it was an emergency, so I know there wasn’t any helping it, but you’re quite a piece of work.”

Maar let out a tired voice. “Anyways,” she continued on.

“As thanks for saving me, I’ll tow you to the station, but please do the rest on your own. For a ship of that size, the parking fee will be nothing to laugh at, and more than anything, I don’t want to be found by the inspectors. My selling point’s my honest business ethic.”

“EEeeeh… don’t be like that. Help a brother out here, Maar-tan. I’m penniless here, and I don’t know left from right.”

“What’s Maar-tan supposed to mean…”

“If you don’t help me, I might just say all sorts of things. Like Maar-tan the salvager might have been my accomplice.”

“H-hey! Don’t say that, even as a joke!!”

“It’s not like I have anything to lose. Hehehe, I’ll do it. I’ll do it all.”

“… That’s quite a personality you have there. But no. My principle is to not take on any jobs that won’t make me anything.”

Tarou raised a groan at Maar’s obstinate tone. There, the third party who’d remained a spectator to that point entered the fray.

“I have a proposal. Will you lend an ear, Miss Maar?”

“Um, I don’t mind, but who might you be? I heard there was only one crew member.”

“My apologies, Miss Maar. I am Mister Teirow’s personal possession. I go by Koume. Pleasure to be of your acquaintance.”

“Stop it!! No matter how you take it, that’ll cause a misunderstanding, so stop with that phrasing!!”

Tarou hurriedly knocked on Koume, but Koume ignored it and continued on.

“First off, the ownership rights to this ship definitely belong to Mister Teirow. I and the imperial government shall guarantee it. From the various records on-board the ship, I can assert we have enough positive proof to pass a trial.”

“Yeah, so I heard. Go on.”

“Yes, Miss Maar. By the way, Miss, did you happen to witness when this ship collided with the WIND craft? Regardless of that violent impact, this ship’s armoring only suffered a minor dent, and is still in good health.”

“Right, I saw it. Hey, so what’s this sh–”

“Black Metal Type IN.”

Koume interrupted Maar words. Tarou hadn’t the slightest idea what she was talking about, but he could hear Maar gulping on the other side of the line.

“Don’t leave me in the dark, Koume-chan. What is that Black Metal thing?”

“Yes, Mister Teirow. It is an alloy produced by mixing carbon fiber into a metal like titanium through a special process. Strong, pliable, with a high conductivity for energy shields. If you ignored the difficulty of manufacturing it, it is the ideal metal for armoring.”

“Hmm, I knew it was kinda hard. So that’s how it is. What about the IN part?”

Tarou’s answer came not from Koume, but from across the line.

“IN stands for Imperial Navy. It’s made for use by the fleet of the galactic empire. Honestly, I want to get involved with the matter even less.”

“Yes, that may be true. But Miss Maar.”

Unbefitting an AI, she spoke almost as if reading her opponent’s feelings.

“It is exceptionally valuable.”

She would say no more. The conversation between the three came to an end, and a while of silence went by.

“…… I’ve lost. How much?”

Maar let out a tired sigh. Tarou clenched his fist in victoy as he opened his mouth.

“Whatever price you want. You won’t get anywhere betting on my complete lack of sense for monetary value, after all!! Hehehe!!”

“Eeeh!? What are you so proud about? And wait, throwing it all to your negotiations partner, are you messed up in the head?”

“Affirmative, Miss Maar.”

“Hey, negative that one, Koume-chan!!”

“Hah… very well. Then I’ll take enough to shoulder the cost of Rocky’s repairs. How does that sound? It definitely won’t be cheap.”

“Sure, why not.”

“……… Dude. You’re deeeeefinitely going to be tricked by some bad guy down the line.”

The dumbfounded voice he could hear over the line ended with the noise of the call cutting off. Tarou held up his hands, standing to his full height as he let out a cry of delight.

 

… Begin Docking Approach…

A large warning was displayed at the top of his BISHOP interface. His heart taken in by the giant space station that grew closer by the second, he continued operating the delicate position functions he needed to dock the ship.

“It’s huge… a hundred times bigger than I had imagined…”

By Tarou’s memory, the cylindrical space station expanding before his eyes more closely resembled the concept called a space colony. It didn’t have any glass faces, but its main body was coated in solar panels, with docking bridges extending in all directions from it. On the wharfs, countless ships were parked, and here and there, various crafts off all sizes went in and out.

“Mister Teirow, we have just received information from the station. It seems this Alba Station is a mid-sized station that holds an approximate population of 6,000,000. There is a stargate nearby, so it’s used as a stopover point on journeys between major planets.”

“So this is mid-sized… wait, people live on the station?”

“… I do not understand the implications of the question, Mister Teirow. 98% of the population of the galactic empire live in the residential areas of stations. Is that not self-evident?”

“Eeeh!? So we’re all full-blown aliens. This goes beyond the level of a culture shock!”

… Warning, please use the designated automatic approach program…

“Ah, yes. Thanks for that. But this ship doesn’t have an engine, so I can’t use the program you gave me.”

Tarou gave a retort to the troublesome warning signal displayed in the back of his eyes. He was hectically using the constantly updated information he had on the ship to finely tune the direction control jets.

… Warning revoked, please normalize your route…

Calculating from its mass, Tarou put all the directional jets towards braking. From the start, he had been moving at a tortoise’s pace, and his speed now dropped even further.

… Warning, please use the designated automatic landing program…

“No, as I was saying, this ship ain’t got no engine, dammit!! And wait, we don’t even have any landing legs!!”

Half-way to snapping, Tarou shouted out. After running the final jet propulsion for a brief instant, he cut it right when the ship’s relative velocity to the station reached zero. Meaning he had come to a complete stop.

… Docking complete. Welcome to Alba Station…

“Thank you,” Tarou muttered as he watched a number of thin wires extend from the station bridge on his display. Eventually, a snake-like tube slithered out, joining to the exit door of his ship.

“Good work. Hey, what was that back there? That looked like quite an unsteady docking. Did you have it on manual control?”

Maar’s voice came from Koume.

“Yeah, that was probably manual. I don’t really get it, but I just updated the program along the way.”

“… I’m sorry, I don’t really get what you’re saying.”

“No, I mean I just made a landing program along the way. There was no helping it. I mean, it’s already dubious whether this hunk of metal can even be called a ship at this point.”

“… Um, you mean you coded it in real time? No way… could it be you’re a Gift holder?”

“Gift? Sorry baby. If you want a present, you’re going to have to do with my body.”

“… Whatever. I’ll go get you, so just wait. You probably don’t even know how to walk yet, right?”

“How to walk? I’ve been walkin’ for close to twenty years!!”

Finding Maar’s tone somewhat rude, Tarou threw in a retort, but in just a few minutes, he found himself in a situation where he could only agree.

He had completely forgotten the zero gravity space that expanded before him the moment he left the ship.

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Me, Her and the Ballistic Weaponry [Antique] 8

 

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.

“Run power_Scanning.”

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.

“Kyaaah!!”

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.

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