“Man, that was tiring.”
Even though I frantically scrambled to employ countermeasures against the mysterious assailant, it turned out that the assailant in question was actually Mimi’s grandma. And she was only venting her anger on me to boot.
I sank into that sofa as I watched Mimi, Elma, and the mechanic sisters have an enjoyable talk with the damn old hag. Since the discussion was practically over, Dr. Shouko retreated to one corner and was apparently looking something up using her tablet terminal. She really does move at her own pace.
“My Lord, please go ahead and enjoy my tail.”
“Aah〜…… I’m getting healed–”
I caressed one of Kugi’s fluffy tails. Their fluffiness was certainly wonderful, but Kugi’s tails sure smelled nice too. It felt like I can get absorbed in them forever.
Oh, we already contacted the bunch from Igasek and Koga and asked them to return for now, leaving only a minimum number of personnel. We’ve already reconciled with Granny and her crew after all, and it looked like she won’t continue going after me.
“Master, allow me to massage your shoulders.”
“Thanks, Mei…… Ah, yeah, right there. That hits the spot.”
“……I’m definitely gonna make it big like you.”
“I don’t think you’ll be able to go as far as this guy though?”
The young man and woman who accompanied Granny were looking at me curiously. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard their names yet.
“Uh, sorry about this. I just felt so relieved because of being released from all that stress. By the way, I don’t think I’ve heard your names yet.”
“Oh, I’m Nicholas. I was picked up by Seles-san to be her mechanic and gofer.”
“My name’s Lattice. I was also picked up by Seles-san, and I serve as her ship operator.”
Nicholas and Lattice huh? They both looked to be normal humans. Nicholas was a somewhat gangly guy sporting a soft Mohican haircut, and Lattice was a young woman who had a gentle atmosphere about her. Her chest size was average. Her face was somewhat on the plainer side, but her overall features were attractive enough. It didn’t feel like they’d been training their bodies in particular, and they didn’t seem to have high hand-to-hand combat skills either.
“Wow. It looks like we’re getting really evaluated.”
“Your gaze is quite blatant, sir.”
“Sorry. It’s like an occupational disease for me. But I do admit I’m not able to get a good measure of your skills as a mechanic and operator.”
“Oh, uh, I’m probably pretty good on average. Lattice is the one who’s pretty amazing at her job.”
“I’m not that good, you know? At least, I’m not a match for that maidroid-san.”
“I think people who can beat Mei with their own abilities have basically surpassed the limits of humanity though…… I don’t think I’ll be able to beat her in anything except starship space combat.”
In fact, I’ve played several matches in the simulator with Mei, with both of us using the same craft. She definitely controlled her ship like a precise machine, but that’s also why her actions were relatively easy to read. She always performs the most efficient maneuvers for each situation, so, as long as I kept that in mind, it wasn’t so hard for me to win against her by predicting her moves.
“Eh……? Mei-san is a full-featured machine intelligence equipped with a high-performance miniature positron brain, right?”
“Yeah. What about it?”
For some reason, Lattice seemed to be taken aback.
“Are you really able to win against her? In simulated space combat……?”
“So far, I’ve won all twelve matches I’ve had with her.”
“Indeed. I lost twelve consecutive times against Master.”
“You gotta be kidding me……?”
Lattice was completely shocked silly. What wrong, you guys?
“Is something like that really all that impressive?”
“Uh, you know, winning against machine intelligence without resorting to overwhelming them with numbers and instead engaging them in a one-on-one mirror match is considered extremely perverted…… I mean, it’s like clearing a game on Hell difficulty where your enemy continuously changes attack patterns and makes no mistakes. Winning against that is crazy.”
“Eeh…… I can’t even imagine something like that. By the way, which is more difficult between facing Mei-san and the Gold Star test program?”
“Oh, Mei’s definitely a lot trickier to deal with. That test program’s just way too easy.”
I was told to take the test in order to have my abilities checked when I first registered as a mercenary at the guild. I remember that test being so dull and boring that it made me wanna yawn.
“Wow. Now I got it. You’re an extreme pervert.”
“Yes, he’s indeed extremely perverted.”
“Putting getting called that by a girl aside, hearing that from a guy like you is pretty annoying.”
I mean, you guys do get a bit excited if a pretty girl calls you a pervert, right? You don’t? Oh…… No, wait. Kugi! Mei! It’s not like that, okay? I don’t really wanna engage in that sort of humiliation play.
“Hey bro, how do I get to flirt with lots of girls like you?”
“Who the heck is your bro? But how does one get to flirt with lots of girls, huh? Mm…… Luck and timing, I guess?”
“That’s not helpful at all!”
I replied to Nicholas, but he didn’t seem to like my answer much.
“I honestly don’t know myself because it’s not like I particularly aimed for this sort of situation. But, if I have to say anything, then I suppose having the courage to make a move when an opportunity presents itself is important. I told you guys about how I first met with Mimi earlier, right?”
“An innocent girl was rescued by a passing mercenary when she was in a pinch, and then she got taken into his ship and was forced to…… but they eventually ended up falling for each other. It’s like a typical plotline from a holo-novel.”
“Hey, I definitely didn’t force her, okay? Or rather, I was the one who got surprised when I took her in. Well, anyway, what I did in Mimi’s case is a good example of taking action once an opportunity comes. And as for Elma…… Well, she was in deep trouble, so I just felt like I had to help her out.”
“But how exactly can you encounter cute girls or beautiful women in a pinch, bro?”
“Err, it depends on luck, I guess?”
“That’s not helpful at all!”
I felt that my luck with women was related to my fate-manipulation abilities that Kugi mentioned, but it’s not like I’m doing anything consciously. So I could only chalk it up to luck.
“Well, in Elma’s case, I had to basically shell out almost all the money I earned at that time in order to save her. It was a pretty huge amount at that.”
“So, financial ability is important, is it?”
“It all boils down to money after all.”
“Well, it’s true that you can do a lot of things if you have enough money.”
It’s not like money can solve everything though. If the other party isn’t interested in money or other forms of wealth, then that’s that.
“I’m aware that my luck is different from most people, but that’s not always a good thing y’know? In fact, it’s really easy for me to get into some sort of trouble…… Yeah. Real easy.”
“Your eyes went all dark for a moment, bro.”
“A military officer keeps tabs on me and often pesters me to become her subordinate. After destroying a pirate base, I returned to a colony only to find it overrun with strange monsters and its interior got turned into a hellscape. I also got into a mess between imperial nobles and was slashed at with swords, and on top of getting dragged by that officer who keeps pestering me into a planet in the middle of getting terraformed, I also had to fight a mutated monster that was over ten meters tall. ……You’re envious of me, right? How about we switch places?”
“No way. Even if I got multiple lives, I don’t think they’ll be enough to survive all that.”
Nicholas refused with a straight face. Yeah, I get him. I would’ve answered the same if I was in his shoes.
“I believe there was also a time when you plunged into a crystal lifeform swarm with just one ship.”
“Oh, that. I don’t think that was particularly dangerous, to be honest.”
“This guy definitely has more than a few screws loose.”
“It looks like he really deserves his ‘Crazy Hiro’ moniker.”
“It’s been a long time since I heard someone mention that. Don’t you think they gave me that moniker just to make fun of me?”
I cuddled Kugi’s tail as I reproached Lattice. Hey, don’t you look away, lady. Doesn’t that mean you agree with what I said about that moniker?
“Err, umm, what about Kugi-san over there? How did you end up together……?”
“Well, that topic change sure sounded forced…… Anyway, Kugi huh……? Uh, how should I put it?”
“It was fate.”
“That’s what she said.”
“Once again, that doesn’t help at all. Err, what about those dwarves over there?”
“When I went to have my ship checked and maintained, one sister threw the other sister straight at me.”
“Huh? Can you say that again?”
“When I went to have my ship checked and undergo maintenance, the older sister threw her younger sister straight at me. One thing led to another, and they were eventually assigned to our ship by the shipbuilding company they were working for as an apology and became our mechanics.”
“One thing led to another?”
“I can’t go into details for the sake of their honor, but let’s just say some stuff happened…… And another factor was money.”
“Skilled starship mechanics make quite a lot, right?”
“Really? Well, it certainly beats working for a company. I heard that you won’t even make 5000 a month.”
Because he himself was a mechanic working as a mercenary, it looked like Nicholas was pretty familiar with stuff related to that sort of thing.
I’m not sure about what sort of equipment these guys had on their ship, but even if theirs wasn’t as well-equipped as Black Lotus’s hangars, as long as they had the bare minimum of the right tools, they’d be able to tear off equipment modules from pirate ships, repair them, and sell them afterward. You could make quite a bit of money doing that. A mercenary group’s income varied a lot depending on whether or not they had competent mechanics onboard their ships.
“Of course, it wasn’t just about money. In the end, it’s still mostly luck and compatibility with one another.”
Sorry, man. I don’t really have any particularly useful advice to give you. But, in any case, I think it’s better to start by taking good care of the people close to you. At least, that’s how I went about it. I didn’t voice those thoughts because it might sound a bit inconsiderate.
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