“She will?” Jack snapped his full attention on the linguist. “You think she’s got direct command?” Because yeah, Tozuka had mentioned a Lady Ayame, but they hadn’t seen anyone who could give Kurusu orders yet-
And so far we’ve been here, and in a train car full of potentially contagious blood spatter, Jack realized. No good 2IC is going to let the guy in command walk into that.
“Dogen’s noble, and he got involved,” Daniel pointed out. “Either leading from the front really matters to these people, or – well, we’re on a train. There’s just not enough space to keep nobles properly separate from commoners or warriors.” He frowned. “And there’s something else. From the way everyone was acting, Dogen’s higher rank than the Aragane bushi. Yet Dogen didn’t even try to pull rank on Kurusu.”
“You mean, Kurusu’s standing for someone who ranks even higher than Dogen?” Sam perked up a little.
“Or at least has equal rank,” Daniel agreed. “And has the people who know how to run the hayajiro.”
“Game, set, match,” Jack said wryly. “Yeah. Possession being nine-tenths, and all that.” But Sam still had a point. “So speaking of possession, and tech….”
“We have radios, yes,” Daniel nodded. “They have working guns. And they seem… reasonable. Exhausted, but reasonable. If they want something, I’d guess they’ll try trading for it first. Or negotiating with us to use it for them. After all, Uryuu still has his bikes.” He squinted a little. “I just wonder what Uryuu thinks about us. And where they picked up his people.”
Oh good, two of them got the same vibes. “Allied, willing to take Kurusu’s lead when it’s down to the wire, but not the same command structure,” Jack said thoughtfully. “Which – actually, is pretty good for us. Long as we stay reasonable as Uryuu, they’ll probably treat us the same way. Extra backup, that they don’t expect to kowtow except when it comes down to protecting the train and not getting killed by Kabane.”
“We need to know everything we can about those… creatures.” Sam shuddered, like shaking off a dusting of snow down her neck. “Sir, I’ve seen a lot of things in this job, but I could have skipped this one.”