Sweeten Ch2 bit – Precautions


Kurusu closed his ears and hurried toward the bunks, side-stepping a few of his fellow bushi by inches. Kami, no wonder everyone wanted the Kongokaku mob off their Hayajiro. The sooner they were gone, the sooner there would be room to breathe again-

And he was not thinking about whatever mad plan had made their best bargainer yelp like that. It was Kibito’s plan, and he trusted Kibito.

As Ikoma and Kajika trusted Takumi. Kurusu hid his grimace, approaching the pair of wary Kabaneri. If I lost Kibito, I’d be adrift as well. “I need your assistance.”

Get him thinking. Get him moving. Make him realize there’s something he can do.

“What is it?” Mumei’s stare wasn’t distrustful, but it was definitely wary. “Kajika was being silly-”

Kurusu saw Ikoma huddle in on himself, and cut her off. “Kajika is tired and grieving. Even the best of samurai might overreact, after the week we’ve been through.”

Ikoma uncurled a hair, indignant. “Overreact-!”

“You are Kabaneri. Truth cannot be changed.” Kurusu sat on the edge of Ikoma’s bunk, watching both sets of eyes widen in disbelief. As well they might. Bushi did not make a habit of coming so close to others.

We’ll be training together. We’ll have to be closer than that. “You are Kabaneri,” Kurusu repeated, more calmly. “And Lady Ayame needs your help. Though I doubt she has fully realized it yet.”

Maybe. His lady had a keen mind, behind that gentle, deadly smile. He wouldn’t be surprised if Ayame had anticipated exactly what he was about to ask of them.

“We cleared the Kabane.” Ikoma frowned. “Is something wrong with the Koutetsujou?”

“In a sense.” Kurusu kept his voice just above the rattle of tracks, though there should be no one but Aragane bushi and steamsmiths anywhere close enough to overhear. “Counting Lady Ayame and her attendant, we have twenty Aragane bushi on the Koutetsujou.” Though technically Ayame was a noble, not just a bushi… he’d have to teach them about that later. In detail. “Twenty are not enough to keep her safe.”

Mumei clicked her tongue. “That’s why you’re training people with rifles.” Duh, her rolled eyes added.

“The rifles are to keep the Koutetsujou safe,” Kurusu said bluntly. “We need to keep Lady Ayame safe. Or it’s over. For all of us.”


8 thoughts on “Sweeten Ch2 bit – Precautions

  1. Ah, Kurusu… safe from *what*? Because, as Mumei pointed out, if it was just Kabane you’re already teaching “spear carriers” to spam steam-rifle fire from defensive positions.
    Which implies that Kurusu is deliberately looking for fighters who can, and will, do *whatever is necessary*, to *whomever they must,* in order to keep Ayame safe. Like, for example, certain powerful parties that see an undefended noble girl holding a very valuable key.
    Of course, Kurusu understands that having people *willing and able* to “do the necessary” is the best way to *avoid* that necessity.
    Question is… given the rigid caste-like system that most Stationers adhere to, and he can’t openly call them Kabaneri, is he planning to “promote” them to bushi (“Papers? What papers?”) and teach them to act the part, or take the riskier route of openly blurring caste boundaries and telling the Stationers they meet “yeah, we arm steamsmiths and treat them like bushi, deal with it”?
    The former is less risky, but more limiting long-term. The latter option (a sort of “refuge in audacity”) entails more up-front risk, but holds out more ROI over the long term.
    …I wonder how far ahead Kurusu (or Ayame) has thought this out? The Kotetsujou crew is rapidly evolving into a society better fit for living “on the road,” without walls, and isn’t likely to find a Station willing to take them in (or that they’d be willing to assimilate into) anyway. But living on the road (or tracks) is going to require a much more flexible society than the Stations have demonstrated.
    For that matter, there’s an argument to be made that the rigid class/caste structure has been a detriment, overall, to humanity’s survival against the Kabane — certainly it hasn’t been holding the line very well, given how we saw at least two Stations fall even *before* Biba showed up. If the humans want to survive, and even start taking the offensive (Ikoma’s dream of growing rice for Mumei), they’re going to have to get more flexible… more Kotetsujou-like. Given it’s only been a couple weeks, I doubt anyone aboard the train has reached that conclusion yet, but a few show signs of starting to think in that direction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They’re working on thinking this out. Sometimes by fits and starts, and a lot of experimentation. The two solutions you mentioned are both going to get some airtime, with pros and cons on each side.

      As for the class structure… they may be in the middle of breaking that down a bit, but it’ll take longer to admit that’s what they’re doing. After all, they all grew up in this system!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm, even factoring out the Kongokaku crowd, this is a good idea. Thinking back to earlier episodes, the Aragne elders and some disgruntled shmucks already tried a takeover. I wouldn’t call it a coup because Ayame voluntarily relinquished the master key, but it was a disaster for the group long-term due to the dissenter’s decision to reroute the train through the mountains. Without sane leadership, the Koutetsujo will fall, and I haven’t seen anyone else nearly as qualified as her

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yep, modifications to the caste system or not they NEED Ayame safe and secure in order to serve as their face. Because her title and rank are the only reasons stations are going to be giving this motley crew the time of day.

    Liked by 2 people

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