Sweeten Ch4 bit – Apprentices

Suzuki’s little contraption couldn’t make that much ice yet; what there was had gone to keeping some of the more perishable meat and greens fresh, and cool drinks for the elderly and very young in the summer heat. Right now Hozumi was probably hovering over the steamsmith’s shoulder to get her own chilled water. Good for her.

“So!” A brunette townswoman Ikoma had seen go bargaining with Kajika raised her ladle, purple cord tying back the sleeves of her short brown robe. “Are your young apprentices ready for seconds?”

The orphans grinned at apprentices. Ikoma tried not to quail in terror at the thought. If anyone ever figured out a way to bargain Kabane dead, Kajika would clear the whole of Hi-no-moto in a month. A year, tops.

“Are you sure, Aguri?” From across the way, Ayame looked up hopefully. “Rationing-”

“Won’t do a bit of good with this, my lady.” Aguri patted one handle of the pot. “I know steamsmiths live on black tea and jerky, and bushi love fish as much as cats. But this is innards, and they don’t keep. Better for everyone to eat all they can stuff down.”

The kids didn’t need any more of an invitation, bouncing off the bunk to get their bowls filled again. Kibito wasn’t too far behind, steadying little Ikko when the toddler did his best to hold his mug up straight.

Ikoma breathed out a sigh of relief, watching some of the shadows ease around people’s eyes. Though Kajika wasn’t the only one squinting at the reddish, lemony-smelling tea Aguri offered along with it. “No, you need to drink that,” Ikoma put in, when Kajika hesitated. “I was talking to Suzuki about traveling on a Hayajiro. He says it’s like being on a ship; you can come down with scurvy if you’re not careful. So… he can’t get limes, but this works just as well.”

“What’s scurvy?” One of the kids wondered.

“You get sick and lose all your teeth,” Aguri said with evil relish. “And you don’t even get to say Hozumi beat you up. Eww.”


16 thoughts on “Sweeten Ch4 bit – Apprentices

    1. It was something I and a bunch of other fans bounced quite a bit, given 1) Biba and 2) Mumei might not think much about it, but Ikoma has to be wincing at the fact that every time someone on the Koutetsujou feeds them, it both weakens that person and leaves an open wound vulnerable to infection. Put that together with the fact that, based on how inspections are done, any wound has a risk of being an infection route for the Kabane….

      Very much not good.


      1. *suddenly remembers* What about Satsuma oranges? How hard would it be to grow a couple of trees on a Hayajiro?

        Heck, put them in the same car as the new beehive! More honey AND pollenated flowers, thus leading to more fruit, all at once!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Actually, I had thought on that one already, after typing my last response.

        It would obviously require a dedicated effort to create – they’d most likely have to build it while at a station, where they can put in the time and effort without having to worry about being ambushed in the wild. But, I believe, the rewards would be worth it (honey and oranges).

        Basically, replace out most of the roof of that car (and possibly the tops of the side-walls) with skylights, thick panes of clear glass to let in sunlight. Then to protect that glass from shattering, install a walkway several inches above it, of heavy duty steel mesh grating, strong enough that you could fight a pitched battle on top of, and not have to worry about damaging any of the glass.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s not a perfect solution, not even remotely. (And I had indeed forgotten about that scene.) However, two things to consider:

        One, I’m not suggesting replace out every last bit of armor plate on that car with glass – only most of the roof, for the purpose of letting as much light into the car as is feasible. The mesh grating covering it isn’t meant to stop a dedicated assault – if a Kabane can punch through armor plate, then nothing would be able to do that, anyway – but is merely there to protect the glass from most “accidents”.

        And two… Realistically, if no one was actually inside of that car during an attack – and why WOULD they be, when glass shatters into razor-sharp shards so easily? – would the Kabane bother to target it?

        Liked by 1 person

    2. But do the people of this era have a method to make a glass window of this quality? They have glass but from look of it, it’s usually small and slim. Thick glass that would stretch over whole wagon would be expensive as hell.
      That to say, wouldn’t a summer sun burn leaves? Not to mention a hive of angry overheated bees…

      It might be easier to make a short wagon with metal walls and metal net over it. Then they could plant some usable green in it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not one single glass sheet for the whole wagon, mind, but rather multiple windows arranged in a grid lattice. The several inches’ gap between the windows and the metal grating would allow people to open those windows slightly for fresh air, without compromising the armor protection.

        Basically, think “greenhouse on train wheels, sheathed in chainmail armor”.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Is anyone else seeing shipping flags around Kibito and Kajika? A bushi comfortable wrangling her toddler for her, heh. 🙂

    I wonder what dietary requirements the Kabaneri have, other than just “human blood.” Because to heal wounds, or regen severed limbs, will take a lot of building material, and in canon Ikoma only seemed to need a tiny amount of blood (from Ayame, during the Wazatori Incident) to regain fighting trim. And if the Kabaneri *only* ingest blood (implying that Ikoma would have needed a major recharge after Ayame’s quick-fix let him deal with the Wazatori), getting *that much* protein, fats, carbs, etc, from blood could turn the entire train anemic pretty quickly.

    And leaving the blood donors vulnerable… yeah, someone needs to invent transfusion kits, stat! One thing that might help with (non-Kabane) infection risks is honey, as it’s a natural antiseptic and promotes healing (if you can keep the flies and ants away), but that’s more of a stopgap.

    Aaaaand, the bragging rights from getting beat up by a tiny (but supernaturally badass) gurrrl is worth losing your teeth, but losing them to sickness is “eeww!” Yeah, somebody knows how to get kids to eat their Vitamin C, all right. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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