Sweeten Ch4 bit – So Crazy It Might Work

“The Hunters wish they didn’t need the stations,” Ayame mused. “I wish we didn’t, either. But even if we had enough food and supplies, there’s just not enough room-”

She stopped, eyes wide. Set the list carefully down, and rushed out the door.

Kibito followed hard on Kurusu’s heels. He didn’t think there was an emergency, their lady was responsible about warning them if she saw trouble they didn’t, but if not, why the hurry?

“Yukina!” Ayame stopped just at the top of the stairs, dodging a piece of shiny steel some enterprising steamsmith had angled to beam sunlight down into the locomotive’s darker nooks and crannies. “Yukina, how many cars could the Koutetsujou add?”

Going over a logbook with Nidai, their conductor looked up, bemused. “How many…?” The redhead cast a glance at her second-watch apprentice. “Based on the wyes we’ve seen… two?”

“Maybe a third, if we could find one of the half-length cars the nobles used to use years ago,” the dark-haired steamsmith agreed. “More than that and turning in an emergency would be,” he coughed into a fist, “difficult.”

Kibito watched Kurusu’s eye twitch, and tried not to smirk at that understatement. Yes, by now they all had a fairly good idea of how much space there was to turn at a wye, and what would and wouldn’t make the Koutetsujou derail if they had to push things to the limit. Difficult. Indeed.

“Two cars,” Ayame mused, one hand near her lips as if she wanted to shield unseemly excitement. “Even one would be cheaper than trying to rebuild part of Aragane. Yes?”

“Unless we come up with incredible salvage, or someone at the next station has cargo they have to have moved, we won’t be able to afford a new car.” Yukina put a fist on her hip. “Lady Ayame-”

“We do have a cargo.” Violet eyes were incredibly fierce. “It may not be a great deal, not yet. But we have salvage, and raw skins, and blueprints. And a fresh beehive; anyone cropping the fields inside a station will be glad to see that! We should be able to trade those for enough supplies for our people. And if we can deliver my uncle’s people and whoever wants to leave the Hayajiro to the safety of the next station, then….”

Ayame trailed off, as every eye in earshot turned toward her, wide with shock.

Kurusu broke the stunned silence. “Whoever wants to leave?


23 thoughts on “Sweeten Ch4 bit – So Crazy It Might Work

      1. >
        It’s the start of a plan. Tentative. But….
        As long as at no point does this plan involve them being set and/on fire or losing their hats (or whatever bows/ribbons etc they use).

        Because any plan that intentionally involves those items is a Bad Plan. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I suspect that any remaining tanners and any other particularly smelly professions would have their work (and possibly themselves) relegated to the last car on the train. Hopefully the breeze when the train is in motion would limit the forward stink-drift.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The stink, sure, though the waste produced by the people on the train would provide plenty of tanning chemicals.

        I’d think the greater problem would be the amount of water required – you’d have to place the tanks just right for it to not upset the balance of the train car when going around corners, especially at speed.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. But it’s true that it depends. Living on Hayajiro isn’t just moving. It’s enclosed space, no privacy, no greenery… No breathing space could easily mean a irritated people.
      Not sure I could live in all that steel, as I get twitchy after few hours without tree or grass.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. >
        Garden Car!

        Already suggested that, and it was unfortunately shot/argued down. Too vulnerable to Kabane attack, even if no one were actually inside of it during said attack.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Who would want to leave? Anyone who doesn’t fit in would probably jump at the chance, if just to journey to another station (and by the time they reach the next spot, Ayame would have converted them)(*cough*Hunters*cough*). Other folk who want an adventure, to make something of their name, nobles who are tired of being second born… which really all just fit into the “don’t fit in” category. Stations are static situations. Kind of like the town I live in. Anyone old enough to move out, with any kind of willpower and half a chance, leaves to make something of themselves and discover what’s out there past the farm. (Me? I’m here just because rent is dead cheap).
    Of course, all of that above requires the potential passenger to NOT have the “head in sand” mentality when it comes to Kabane. And… accepts the eventual responsibility of SHOOTING at said Kabane.
    The other kind of person would be those who have rage issues and want to shoot something… Who is not necessarily the type of person you want in a civilian population.
    Looking forward to seeing who does end up on the crazy train.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Kotetsujou is still dependent on the other stations, for fuel and maintenance, durable goods, etc.

    Still, there’s another potential commodity they could sell. I’d brought up the whole issue of who, and how, the rail lines where being maintained. Rails and sleepers need to be replaced every now and then, the inevitable landslides and washouts have to be cleared/repaired, water towers maintained, signals/switches, tunnels and bridges inspected/maintained/repaired…

    If Kotetsujou is confident enough in their new weapons, Hayajiro, Hunters/Bushi, and Kabineri Ace in the Holes to be secure with plenty of caution to risk making stops outside of Station walls, then they could well become a critical part in maintaining civilizations stability in Japan. Because, as has already been noted, without some kind of paradigm shift, if the Stations simply remain islands unto themselves, they will inevitiably fall to the besieging Kabane sooner or later.

    Assuming the narrative intends Koutestsujou thrives, the next stage could be adding smaller, specialized Hayajiro to form a convoy- front and rear security/scout trains, “work/(combat)engineer” train to deal with derailments, trackway maintenance/construction, maybe a dedicated cargo train for bulk/heavy/outsized cargo… In essence, the “traditional” Hayajiro are failing for much the same reason the Stations are. Traveling alone, without adequate combat support or defensive capability, desperately dashing from the supposed safety of one station to the next, they aren’t able to deal with rail line/Station disruptions that make them vulnerable to swarming/infiltration by Kabane, or outright massive Swarm ambushes at chokepoints.

    To be sure, the Kabaneri are the key, or a significant factor to the potential success of Ayame’s plan. Without the senses of the Kabaneri, maintaining security/infection control becomes a much greater concern, even crippling. Also, any grand plans for expansion, or wider ranging Hunter/Bushi escort/patrols would seem to neccessitate more Kabaneri support… That would mean eventually trying to save/stabilize someone whose infection is of the slow type. If that individual is even able to accept losing their humanity. Tragically, children are then perhaps the most likely candidates, especially among those if Koutestusjou, with the example of Ikoma and Mumei.

    In time, Kotetsujo might become the center of the Hayajiro subculture, spreading their paradigm to the other trains, or over time absorbing/replacing them (if/when they fail), in one way or another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, if you look at canon, Ikoma’s infection was not slow. He just lucked out that it was far enough away from his head to give him a little time.

      And it’s early days yet, but yes, I expect the crew will be chewing over a lot of this. 🙂


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