Sweeten Ch2 bit – Whistling Past Graveyards

“If the Hunters had not provided us a route out of Kongokaku, we might not be here to argue about them,” Ayame went on. “Ask your people if they know anything about the routes beyond Kongokaku. We have to consider not only our supplies, but whether we might meet another Hayajiro thrown off of their own schedule.”

Kajika shivered. She hadn’t even thought of that. There weren’t that many Hayajiro traveling between stations, and everyone knew the schedule they were supposed to keep. More or less.

Hayatani Station fell, so the Koutetsujou reached us before the Fusojou. If they hadn’t….

She wasn’t going to think about it. The Koutetsujou had reached Aragane first, they were on it and moving, and they had enough disasters to deal with already.

“The signals should tell us if another Hayajiro enters our right of way,” Elder Dogen declared. “If so, whistle exchanges should-”

“If so, we will retreat to the nearest wye or pull-off at all speed, and let it go by,” Ayame declared. “The Fusojou used their whistle, too.”

Kajika saw Kongokaku nobles blanch, and felt sorry for them. From what the seamstresses and other women she talked with had overheard, the shogun had lied to them. Told them they weren’t in danger from the Kabane clawing at their walls. Told them their great city would never fall.

It wasn’t the Kabane that killed Kongokaku. It was Biba. How can anyone get that crazy? Bringing the Kabane in your own Hayajiro

Elder Dogen was staring at her.

No, anyone but him, I’m not that brave!

Kibito stepped between them, casual as if the burly bushi were just moving out of the way of departing Elders. “Did you have something for Lady Ayame?”

Throat dry, Kajika shook her head. “It’s for the bushi. It’s some… salvage….”

Kibito raised a brow at the size and bulk, and nodded once, easily plucking the bundle up one-handed. His free hand patted her shoulder, gently but firmly escorting her past the last of Dogen’s bushi toward their lady. “Well, let’s have a look together. It’s always good for a steamsmith to know what’s worth salvaging.”

Kajika kept moving, even when she wanted to squint at him and ask what he was thinking. Kurusu still fussed a little about propriety, at least when he and Ikoma hadn’t glared enough at each other lately, but Kibito knew her….

Kongokaku bushi wouldn’t know steamsmiths. Not the way we do.

It was a good thing the kids weren’t here, then. They’d be rolling their eyes at adults being too silly to be believed.


17 thoughts on “Sweeten Ch2 bit – Whistling Past Graveyards

      1. She does. As readers, the factor of safety we can reasonably infer if we stop and think about it is greater than any sane character would imagine. This train set up is a pretty good psychological pressure cooker. Even before them taking more passengers on board than they have soldiers to securely control.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Biggest hurdle will be keeping everyone calm until they find a station that they can unload the Kongokaku passengers. Becasue from the sounds of it, even if they suddenly all started getting along there just isn’t enough room and supplies for them plus the Kongokaku folks.

    At that point I imagine the heads of the Koutetsujou are going to be having a meeting to try and figure out ‘what now’. Because the short term goal (survival and find safe-haven) is done and now they need to start thinking longer term.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. >
        Let’s just say, the people from Aragane have a much higher panic threshold than they used to.
        Now where would you get a crazy notion like that? I mean it’s not like they’ve been through that much.

        Home station falling
        More Kabane
        Fused colony
        Artificial Fused colony created by Biba
        Station falling due to Biba
        Biba holding the Koutetsujou hostage and feeding their blood to Kabane
        Biba poisoning the Shogun and causing the fall of Kongokaku.
        Second artificial fused colony using someone they consider a comrade
        Almost getting burned to death by Kongokaku citizens
        Last second escape even as the station crumbles to rubble behind them

        Hmm on second thought, you might just be on to something. 😛

        Liked by 3 people

      2. *Snrrrrk* Just a little.

        Let’s just say, there’s a somewhat hairy point during the nightwatch in chapter 4, and after it’s over and Ayame makes her announcement that they’re okay… everyone from Aragane and Yashiro goes back to bed.

        Dogen and co. are laying awake. Staring.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. >
        Dogen and co. are laying awake. Staring.
        And at that moment he realizes, his dear sweet little Ayame is just as insane as the rest of her people.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. “Anything happen overnight?”
        “Nearly got overrun by Kabane.”
        “AGAIN? Must be Tuesday.”
        “You mean, a day ending in ‘Y’?”
        (foxhole laughter)

        Meanwhile, a nearby Kongokaku-ko is overhearing this and wondering if they’d be safer out in the countryside — at least you don’t have to worry about *Kabane* being insane….

        Liked by 3 people

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