Kabaneri Fluffbit – Hunting Them Back

Hand on the first rungs up the locomotive’s ladder, Dogen Makino tried not to sputter. He was a hardened samurai, an Elder of Kongokaku who’d survived years of war before the Kabane appeared, and all the long bloody years after. He’d kept his head in artillery barrages, horde swarms, and Biba Amatori’s own insane assassination of his father and shogun. He did not flinch at mere words.

But what little he knew of Kibito had shown him a very steady, plain-spoken young samurai, not prone to wild flights of fancy. If Kibito had said that – had suggested deliberately hunting Kabane – and no one was laughing….

Loudly clearing his throat, Dogen climbed the rest of the way, exiting into the sunlight to face wary and worried gazes. “As the surviving Elder of Kongokaku, I would prefer not to bring my people near any more Kabane. Even if you are confident in these jet bullets.”

“Don’t worry.” The young brunette wrapped in tattered red hemp looked at him as if she were deciding how fast she could take him down. “The Kabane will find us.”

Cold-blooded youngster. How had his niece picked this girl up?

Though for the moment, there were more important things to discuss.

“Elder of Kongokaku?”

And Ayame had hit on one of them straight off. Good. “This is a good spot to talk,” Dogen mused. “Everyone below can see us, but not hear us… Ayame. I know as well as you do that the Koutetsujou follows your command. But we both know my people look at your age, and your lack of rank as heir to a fallen station, and wonder why I haven’t taken the master key yet.”

Not that he had any intention of trying. Even if it hadn’t already been a bad idea, the amount of lethal intent currently staring at him might have rocked a Kabane back on its heels. Child to bushi, those atop this locomotive meant to protect Ayame with their lives.

Which was incredibly odd. Bushi were trained to be that fierce. But the look he was getting from the pale young man with a blue sling, an odd green ribbon at his neck, and what had to be a townsman’s borrowed shirt… where had a steamsmith learned to project lethal intent?

A/N: Poor, poor Dogen. I feel for Ayame’s uncle, I really do. He’s had a bad couple of days, and it’s about to get worse.


12 thoughts on “Kabaneri Fluffbit – Hunting Them Back

  1. Trying to remain sympathetic toward someone is warring with my usual enjoyment of watching someone get their preconceived notion that someone cannot be a threat because they aren’t X get smashed flat.

    Also some internal grumbling about hide-bound idiots . . . Dogen might be older and male . . . but the fallen station seems like the pot calling the kettle black for people from a city that got invaded – and who are only not monster chow because Ayame and her people saved their behinds . . .

    Maybe I’m just being grumpy because the attitude Dogen described smacks of someone(s) in his people being an ungrateful wrench about having their life saved because it came from a quote “unusual” source. (Through judging from stuff said in other pieces, even the people who are expected to save them from monsters are still subjected to a lot of ungratefulness . . .) Not saying you can never complain about rescue because you might have a good point but still . . . when someone risked their neck to save yours especially when they did it because it was the right thing to do . . . maybe try a thank you instead of demanding to know why they didn’t do X or aren’t what you expected . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Remaining sympathetic is overrated. Popcorn?

      Also, my first thought on seeing the title was that hunting them back did not sound like a particularly fluffy thing to do.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Our original constitutional succession rules were made by a society with one set of religions, one set of values that would shape and constrain any internal conflict. With the new religions, this changed. It was after a possible decapitation test run by our enemies that we refined our rules of presidential succession. We did this so that we could continue to fight or make peace despite a true successful decapitation strike. There are something like a hundred and fifty in line of presidential succession, and many of these are positions, not specific people. Many of these positions also have lines of succession. Anyway, we have a plan, and if that situation occurs, people will expect that the plan be carried out. If it is not, there will be disorder.

      This situation here. Regardless of the original plan, as an Elder, he is acting as an official in Ayame’s government. The original plan, what the people were briefed on, can and must be adjusted in the face of Ayame holding command authority and executing it competently. He is not an NCO or an executive officer to her, but consider what these do for their junior officer or commanding officer. I think he is acting properly to solidify her base of power. She has overwhelming coercive power (he is not ambitious, but if he were, he says he would be deterred), he is working to increase the effects of her persuasive power. Note that her supporters are apparently anticipating a flowery words coup attempt, and are not entirely confident of her ability to come out entirely victorious solely based on her ability with words. They don’t know whether he is enemy or ally, but the internal speech makes ally clear, he will help guide Ayame’s growth in the future. No large group is ever so unified that more persuasive power can’t help a competent leader, and that is not disloyalty on the part of the led.

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      1. Yes, having a clear line of succession toward a position is a good idea – reducing confusion, making sure there is always someone to do X thing, etc but then there is the problem that while the people next in line are supposed to be competent at their job . . . they might not be for various and sundry reasons.

        Especially when your qualification for being next in line is based on your blood relation to the last person to hold the spot – just their parent or grandparent, etc could do the job well doesn’t mean that their descendant can. Not saying that some people in hereditary systems of power don’t do a good job – just that they are capable can sometimes be a matter of luck – you lucked out that they happened to be competent in this, were born into the preferred gender and/or birth order . . .

        It’s a little less open to chance that the person next in line for a said position might be decent at it when their position in the line is due to their merits, etc rather than their blood. Not that this isn’t subject to its own problems – every system can be corrupted – and plain bad luck (someone who had the education and training to be perfect but for some reason cannot handle the job once given it.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If you can’t ensure competence, you might prefer a system where competence isn’t going to be truly important, and where the incompetent leadership is switched out regularly. Different incompetents would do different types of damage to the system, potentially even canceling out. (Insert excessively contemporary case study of a situation where I hoped that the successor would be different in one specific aspect from the predecessor, and apparently is not.)

        In defense of hereditary leadership, if you know who the next officeholder will be from childhood, you can watch them from childhood and perhaps learn more about them than you would about an adult. If you know that they will be mad or incompetent, you can adjust the duties of the office to compensate. (I studied some bloody situations. Imagine how surprised I was to notice that the systems in question actually made normal aristocracy look good.) Or if the job needs a specialized education which is not affordable for the general population.

        On fitness: sometimes the measurable things aren’t important, and the important things aren’t measurable.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. If you know that they will be mad or incompetent, you can adjust the duties of the office to compensate.

        Provided that is something you can actually do. And it depends on what, exactly, is the job. Even crazy and stupid kings for example usually didn’t tolerate being told they couldn’t do something their predecessors had done. Especially in places where the monarch’s word was the law.

        Said mad or incompetent person might not see themselves as either mad or incompetent and cause you no end of bother about taking away what they consider to be their rightful position by not allowing them the duties they know that office is supposed to have. People, even mad or stupid ones, seldom seem like having what they see as their authority or power uncut or their territory infringed upon – and many of them would see the person you shifted those duties too as infringing on their power, territory, and authority.

        People would also probably use accusations of madness or incompetence, real or feigned, to increase their own power and influence. After all, if X cannot do their job, someone else has got to and that someone might as well be them.

        Or just to be petty. Because sometimes people do that.

        Familiarity from childhood can also blind people to someone’s faults or shortcomings . . . or at least enough of them that you can’t get most of the other people involved to go along with changing what the duties of that office entail.

        People can also be lazy or disgruntled about making changes to “the way it has always been.”

        Not saying that hereditary systems don’t have their good points. They do. But they also have their own set of weakness and flaws. Just like any other system. No set up is perfect. All of them can go horribly wrong or be misused.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah that ending line… why do I get the feeling that Dogen’s question is going to end up being answered by the application of Ikoma’s rivet-gun being applied to a swarm of Kabane?

    Liked by 2 people

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