Rival (in love?)

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“We’ve lost communication with the Nessia! We’ve also lost over 50 percent of our strikers, ma’am!”

“The Referson reported their engine failure! They are dropping out from the formation, ma’am!”

“Fools! Just how long do you plan to let a single striker humiliate us like this! Concentrate fire now!”

The inside of the bridge of the [Prussia], the flagship of the 7th Fleet of the Nored empire, was like a pandemonium.
Blue veins popped on the Navigation Officer’s head as the communication officers loudly yelled out their reports.

In the middle of that pandemonium, Valentina Tous Argarine, Commanding Officer of the 7th Fleet as well as the 13th Princess of the Nored empire, quietly stood up from her seat.

“So this is the [Wicked Star] huh.
I see.
The rumors were not exaggerated after all.”

Despite this strange situation where a lone striker is taking on the entire fleet, she seemed to be enjoying herself.

“Your Highness……?”

The glasses-wearing Navigating Officer puzzledly called out to her commander.

“I came up with a good idea to get us out of this.”

When Valentina declared so while fluttering her curled rich blond hair, the Officer’s expression completely changed.

“No way……You can’t! Your Highness!”

“I’m going for a duel! Prepare my steed!”

“You can’t! Your Highness! We can’t let you do that! Your Highness! Your Highness!”

A few minutes later.

Inside the cockpit of the [Gradius-kai] which had been engaging in a fierce space battle with the enemy strikers, Schleer raised her voice.

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“They are……retreating?”

The enemy striker unit which had launched a fierce attack on them earlier is now falling back in waves.
The enemy anti-aircraft guns also ceased their activity, leaving the [Gradius-kai] completely alone.

“This is a chance but……it’s too unnatural.
I think that it would be better if we disengage for now.”

“No…..It seems something is coming you know.”

Saying so, Kisei points at the giant crimson battleship floating in the dark empty space.
When Schleer directed her eyes at the monitor, a striker was launched out from its catapult deck.
That lone striker is now approaching them using its thrusters.
However, there is no system warning indicating that they have been locked on either.

“I came to see the famous [Wicked Star]! I have a proposition for you as well, do you mind sheathing your weapons?”

Communication came through the Open Channel.
However, faster than she could digest those words, Schleer received a powerful shock from the appearance of the striker.

“Black and gold striker……..a Royalcraft!?”

The striker that approached them was a luxurious one painted in black with elegant gold engraving.
In its hand is something that looks like a jousting lance, creating the image that this is no ordinary striker.

“A Royalcraft? Meaning…..there’s a bigshot from Nored on that?”

Only the relatives of the Emperor are allowed to have that engraving on their strikers.
I never thought that one of their royal family would be here.”

Schleer frowned at the unexpected appearance of such a VIP.
She is also a part of a royal family herself but the power of their empires are just too different.

“I see.
She said that she has a proposition but……what do you want to do?”

“Even if you ask me that……”

Schleer thought for a moment and glance at Kisei.

“……for the time being, let’s hear her out.”

“Roger that.”

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After giving a nod to his employer, Kisei operates the communication console.

“This is the [Wicked Star], Hokuto Kisei.
Let’s hear it.”

Saying so, he put away the photon saber and the grenade launcher and raised both hands up.

“You have my gratitude.
I want to have a face-to-face conversation with you.
Open the cockpit hatch for me.”


After giving Schleer a glance, Kisei opened the cockpit hatch.
Neither of them is wearing helmets but the pilot suits they are wearing also come with life-support functions that deploy an air-field around them so there’s no need to worry about suffocation due to oxygen leakage.

The black-gold striker approached the [Gradius-kai] from the front and linked both of its hands with the [Gradius-kai]’s.
Then its cockpit hatch finally opened.

“Valentina Tous Argarine, 13th Princess of the Nored empire, pleased to meet you.”

Coming out of the cockpit was a mysterious beauty with curly blond hair.
Kisei himself also stood up from his pilot seat and leaned out of his striker, using the opened hatch as a ramp.

“Hi, I’m Hokuto Kisei.”

“Oh, your skills is one thing but it seems that your appearance exceeded even the rumors huh.
I never thought that a man was really piloting this.”

“My skills aside, you won’t get anything even if you praise my look, you know.”

Kisei shrugs while looking up at Valentina who is a head or two taller than him.
There was no shyness on her face.
After all, the sexual desire of Vuld women is even stronger than that of the men on earth.
Since I have heard this kind of pick-up line countless times already, I’m completely numb to it.

In the first place, Vuld women all have overwhelming physical strength.
If I let them have their way with a fragile Terran guy like me, they would tear me to pieces.
Kisei is also a healthy young man but, truth is, if he has to subject himself to a fate worse than death by committing to this kind of——–relationship(?), he would rather just remain single.

“Hahaha, playing hard to get huh.
I’m attracted to you more and more now.”

After giving Kisei a broad smile, Valentina’s eyes shifted to the person emerging from the cockpit behind Kisei.
The glint in her eyes gave him the feeling that she can unholster her gun and shoot Schleer down right at that moment.

“By the way, what is ‘that’?”

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“…..! Schleer Henrietta.
I’m the princess of the country you launched your cowardice invasion against!”

“Hmm? Ah, come to think of it, I think someone already told me about you.
I completely forgot your existence until now though.”

Schleer grit her teeth at that humiliating statement.
She pulls Kisei’s shoulder back and steps in front of him as if she’s trying to protect him from Valentina.

“Uhh, I don’t think an employer should step in front of their own mercenary.”

“I’d not be a woman if I kept hiding behind a man’s back!”

“Is that really what someone who just sat back and let said man fought the entire battle for her says? On my world, they call a woman like you a pimp, you know.”

After Valentina casually insulted her, Schleer instinctively pulls out her revolver from her waist holster.


Almost at the same time, Valentina also pulled out her automatic pistol at a blinding speed.
They pointed their guns at each other and it felt like they could open fire at each other at any moment.

“Please stop! Did you not come here to talk.”

“KuKu, Certainly, a lady should not allow blood to spill in front of a man.
I will apologize for that.”

Valentina swiftly returns her gun to the holster while Schleer reluctantly does the same.

“Well, our self-introduction was a tad bit prolonged.
Let’s get down to business.”

“……it appeared so.
This proposition you mentioned.
Let’s hear that for the time being.”

Schleer said with a blue vein still popping on her head.

“Yeah, to put it simply, I want to have a one-on-one duel.
Between me and Kisei that is.”

“It’s that after all? The Nored empire sure has a lot of guts.”


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Schleer shouted in protest.
Seeing that, Valentina giggled at her.

“Guts, huh.
As I thought, you really are interesting.”

“I mean, it’s true right.
Normally, the person on top needs a lot of guts to come to a place where she may or may not die after all.”

For the Vuldes who place great importance on their leaders’ ability, it’s common for commanders of two opposing forces to fight each other on the front line.
However, Valentina must have seen Kisei’s ability with her own eyes already.
Even so, she came out here with no hesitation at all.
She wouldn’t be able to do that without having a lot of guts.

“What, if I can’t even fulfill my Noblesse oblige, no one would want to follow me after all.

With a grin, Valentina continued.

“Kisei, you have been fighting while trying to kill the least amount of enemy possible.
Am I wrong?”

“Ah, you can tell?”

Kisei bluntly answered Valentina’s question.
Hearing that, Schleer also went ‘Come to think of it now….’ in a small voice.

“Against strikers, you aimed at their engines and left the cockpit completely unharmed.
Even when you attacked the cruisers, you did not target the bridge which is their weak point, and focused on neutralizing their propulsion engines instead right? It’s so obvious that anyone would be able to tell.”

“Even in this line of work, I still hate seeing people die after all.”

“That’s elegant.
Seriously, don’t make me fall for you any more than this.
You are the complete opposite of my older sister…….”

She said the last part in a small voice and it felt like she was talking to herself rather than Kisei.

“And that’s why I’m not so worried about dying here.
Rather, I’m more concerned about how to take you down without harming you instead.”

“Minimizing the casualty is just a handicap I placed on myself.
You can come at me with your full power you know.”

“No, it’s not like that.
After all……”

Valentina’s mouth curved into a sweet smile.

“After I win, I’m going to have you join my family…….”

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