Sweeten Ch2 bit – Delayed Reaction

Ikoma’s not gone, Kajika told herself. He’s right here! He hasn’t changed, he’s still the same crazy steamsmith….

A crazy steamsmith who now fought alongside bushi. Who’d charge into a horde of Kabane, because he could, just on the chance he could save someone else from that awful bite. Who’d killed – not just Kabane, but humans – to save the bright-eyed little fighting girl staring at her now.

Her best friend had a Kabane’s heart beating in his chest. And it had changed him.

“Kajika,” Ikoma whispered.

She could see her own fear reflected in Ikoma’s glasses. What do I do? What do I say? “I-”

“Your attention, everyone!” Ayame’s voice over the speaking tubes, excited and joyous. “We’ve cleared the water-tower with no casualties!”

Kajika’s breath caught. She almost didn’t dare to believe it. We didn’t lose anyone?

“I want to thank everyone who made a calm, orderly departure possible-”

Hozumi wasn’t the only one who gave the tubes a look askance. “Not Kongokaku.”

“-We will be offering rifle instruction to anyone physically capable as we travel. Our current best route is under discussion. We should be able to give you details tomorrow. Well done!”

Ikoma stared at Kajika in the ringing silence, curled in his bunk as if he expected a physical blow.

I hurt him. I didn’t mean to, it’s just – that heart – and Ikoma said he didn’t want Takumi to take that bullet

Hozumi straightened, reaching out to touch Ikoma’s hand. “Sahari was using a gunpowder gun.”

Kajika shook her head, confused. “I know, but-”

“They’re not like steam rifles,” the Kabaneri girl went on. “We need jet bullets to pierce the heart cage. A gunpowder gun doesn’t. Just Hunter bullets. Takumi moved Ikoma. If he’d just gotten between them… they both would have been shot.”

24 thoughts on “Sweeten Ch2 bit – Delayed Reaction

  1. MV^2 is a stone cold killer.
    Although now you have me thinking about relative muzzle velocities. The Girandoni air rifle seems like a fairly decent baseline for the steam rifles, but the muzzle velocity turns out to be listed anywhere between 500 and 900fps. Roughly comparable black-powder rifles range anywhere from 350-1200fps. So it’s hard to make a substantive comparison. But if we assume the Kabeneri-universe steam rifles bias towards the lower end, and BP weapons towards the upper end, this scenario is reasonably plausible.
    But if the steam rifles are so anemic, why do they rely on them so heavily? Hm… rate of fire comes to mind — the Giradoni, when loaded and charged, could deliver devastating ROF compared to the muzzle-loading muskets it was usually up against, and even moreso compared to contemporary rifles. The logistics of producing, storing, and shipping gunpowder, too. And, if you’re doing a LOT of shooting from prepared positions, against a “swarming” type enemy… ROF *matters.* So does avoiding the enormous masses of smoke generated by BP firearms that would obstruct sightlines and allow Kabane (who don’t seem affected by such issues) to approach under cover of the defenders’ own smoke.

    …I need to watch the series again. See what you made me do! 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. From what I understand, the reason they rely on the steam rifles is that the local gunpowder that the stations can get access to isn’t as powerful. So they need to use the steam guns in order to actually have hopes of piercing the heart cages.

      Apparently the mix/formulation that the Hunters have access to for pure gunpowder weapons is more potent.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Production methods can apparently vary properties quite widely. If you recall your physical chemistry, the size and shape of the grains, and how well the grains themselves are mixed should change the rate of the combustion reaction. Grains burn from the outside in, so when the outside has burned to gas, raising the pressure and forcing the mixture out behind the bullet, the insides have not yet fully burned. I’ve heard that if you don’t have good quality control, and the grains burn too slowly, it may not generate enough pressure fast enough to go very far. Too fast, and the gun can burst in your hands. Skill takes experience, which can be very costly in lives when handling hazardous materials.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Question: How do they supply steam to the rifles? Hoses or are they on pintle mounts with the steam line integrated into the joints? (Also, are these coal fired boilers?)

      Why steam rifles? Steam at a enough pressure through a narrow opening can slice you in half, or worse. (Lethal boiler accidents were one of the major reasons the American Society of Mechanical Engineers was founded. I don’t have the data on hand to compare steam engine lethal accidents with Diesel engine accidents. I guess Diesel has somewhat similar energy density to gas. IIRC, gas has ten times the energy density of modern gunpowders, which should be better than black powder. Of course, energy density alone doesn’t drive safety issues, rate also matters.) One of the major downsides of steam that steampunk overlooks is the high weight to power ratio. On a train, that would matter less, especially if you are already running steam and handling it. The trains already need a certain level of machining infrastructure and expertise, why not give them the valves to make steam rifles work?

      That said, I’m inclined to suspect the real answer is rule of cool. High temperature high pressure steam is dangerous, sure. It is also dangerous. The longer the length you distribute it, the more problems you will have with leaks, cost of pressure vessels, and heat loss. In particular, lines flexible enough to use with a rifle will likely cool the steam more. If you use less steam because you aren’t firing, the stuff in the line will be cooler, and have less pressure downstream of whatever valves maintain system pressure. Variations in pressure may tend to make the rifle’s mechanism unreliable. Outright liquification of the water vapor is probably bad for steam rifles if they aren’t well designed for it. Malfunctioning steam rifles should be prone to burning the user or even bursting. (I couldn’t tell you anything for sure without a working model, a set of drawings, an operating manual, a service manual, and a budget. Possibly also someone much braver than I am.) It would seem to be more defensible to assume good air pumps, and run the rifles off of compressed air. If I had to justify steam rifles as a narrator, I would probably do compressed air ones which are called ‘steam’ in common usage.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I actually think the “steam rifles” are more likely to run on air – but given engineers are called steamsmiths, I can see the name sticking to everything, steam or gas.

        We have exactly one mention of coal in the whole series, yet nothing seems dirty enough for them to be using it. Go figure.

        We see hoses attached to the backpack tanks people carry. Those tanks can be recharged from the lines on the train, on the inside or outside – Ikoma does exactly that in ep 2.

        All of that said, I’m no engineer – hope the canon details helped!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think compressed air tanks should be practical. Backpack is bigger than the tanks on air rifles and paintball markers. Problem is, the only ones I know of for sure are in air rifles and compressors, and I’m not sure how good those are. There are man portable CO2 and Propane/NG tanks that are quite practical, and can contain a fair amount, but I think those use the liquid form, and I’m not sure how that would work for air. Air is mostly nitrogen, and you can get that or CO2 liquid fairly easily if you have the right tech. It may be that air would work fine, it is just cheaper to pump it into your compressor’s temporary storage tank than it is to buy it in tanks. I don’t actually know, but I’ve only paid casual attention to the tech. Pneumatic tools are fairly powerful with enough pressure behind them.

        Steam probably cannot be stored well.

        If they aren’t generating the heat with coal, there are more options. I’d speculate that the engine itself might actually have a fission pile. If so, it might explain a lack of an official explanation. On the other hand, I’m not sure there is evidence of the right sorts of accidents and safeguards. (Or maybe the master key is part of such safeguards. Maybe the station masters normally use their key to generate a one time key to let an engine reach their next step, with the route largely coded into the one time key. But maybe the computer tech for that is not demonstrated.)

        Given zombies and steampunk, perhaps the heat source is an entirely imaginary one that may even violate thermodynamics. In which case, the tank could have a miniature one, and it’d be a matter of refilling the water.

        I’m not sure if bunker fuel would be practical on a steam train. I don’t think we see the other fuels in use that would be implied by the production of bunker fuel. Still, I’d be inclined to assume bunker fuel, because I don’t actually know it wouldn’t work, and I know the logistics on coal were potentially challenging. For Star Gate purposes, a lot could be handwaved under “that planet’s hydrocarbon reserves are different”. Right now I couldn’t give you an explanation for how that would work. There may be someone in town with the expertise and imagination to come up with such, but not only do I not know who they are, I’m pretty sure I don’t know them.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I don’t know enough about fission to know what designs would work with what factors of safety, and what knowledge of physics it would take to design them at what tech level.

        Star Gate would let us assume a different planet, which might suffice to explain why bunker fuel and no internal combustion with a slightly more conservative set of technical assumptions.

        But then another planet could also explain a different technical history with radioactives. Or the race that inhabits the place might have a greater tolerance for radioactivity, making it safer.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. >
        Steam probably cannot be stored well.
        Well if you go to the Kabaneri wiki’s article on the steam gun, the aperatus that powers the thing is specifically called a backpack engine.

        Link to page.

        Also we’ve seen the lower, larger canister of the backpack get removed at one point as if it needed refilling (can’t remember the episode, it was a pair of Bushi defending the doors of a train depot).

        My guess is that said backpack engine uses the same magic steampunk tech that the Hayajiro’s McRucky Engine is based off of. Difference is that it is a lot less powerful and fuel efficient in order to be made portable.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. I’d spent too much time looking up the Japanese from the wiki on Jisho and elsewhere. Calling it a backpack engine could be a mistranslation, but probably isn’t given the image of the backpack on the wiki. (The first three symbols are backpack, the last two can translate to engine.)

        The wiki drawing pretty clearly has sootmarks on a exhaust pipe, and the removable canister is obviously based on a propane/CNG canister.

        I’d also speculated about what the bits could be. Theory one was portable steam plant on top, with fuel or water reservoirs below. Theory two is that top is an air tank with a compressor mounted to it, the removable cylinder is CNG of some sort, and the small cylinder on bottom is a auxiliary manual air pump. I find theory two a bit more plausible, which would mean that backback engine, backpack machine, or backpack compressor would all be valid translations. Modern English idiom might fit backpack compressor, the least literal translation, best. However, as you know Bob, language choice is part of establishing setting, and backpack engine might well fit the look and feel of Kabaneri the best.

        Liked by 2 people

    3. Two main reasons in canon – rate of fire, and lousy gunpowder quality. Given they were supplied by Biba, who was the shogun’s son, the Hunters likely had some of the best gunpowder available. What the Koutetsujou and most stations carry? Not so good.

      I frankly think the smoke from black powder would be my biggest consideration. Shooting Kabane you can’t see… brrr.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Poor Ikoma needs hugs. Please make it happen! *Puppy-dog eyes* Kajika needs to deal with that shock she’s going through, maybe get drunk and/or have a good cry. I want to hug them all (except the Hunters and the Kongokaku)! :’)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Just watched a bunch of Kabaneri AMVs.

    Sometimes the heart seems to be on the right side. Those AMVs may have been composed from flipped footage. However, if they weren’t, and the heart of a Kabane comes from the heart of a Human, it may be the humans of that world have a greater tendency for ‘flipped’ organs than is common in our world. It seems like perhaps these humans find out which side their heart is on, and place that suicide charge appropriately.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well the placement of the heart in Kabane seems to be a bit varied but it’s on the left side of the body. Here’s a page with a screenshot of multiple Kabane with the glowing hearts clearly visable.

      Link to page

      Liked by 1 person

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