Carter’s eyes lingered on curves of steel and rubber. “I have a bike back home.” She looked them over again; not getting closer, though her fingers twitched like Eishun’s had the first time he got his hands on jet bullets. “I don’t think I could shoot from it the way you do, though. Our bikes aren’t built to be stable firing platforms.”
And O’Neill was watching them, and Uryuu had had enough for one day. “You didn’t come here to talk bikes.” He held one hand out flat, aware of his men behind him, the other townsfolk in hearing distance… ah, screw it. “Ask, or don’t ask. Kurusu doesn’t beat around the bush this much.”
Hell no. Kurusu knew what it was like fighting the Kabane, face to face. There wasn’t time for all the lordly politicking station lords pulled on each other. You had to know what your people could do – allies or enemies or whatever the Koutetsujou was to the Hunters now – and you had to know it fast.
And that’s why he went for the bikes, Uryuu realized, ears hot. Wanted to see what we’re like when we’re riled.
Bet he pokes Kabane with sticks, too.
O’Neill swept the car with his eyes; casual, but touching anyone else who might be in listening range. “Look, before we go any farther…. Lady Ayame’s in charge on this hayajiro, and given we’re all hitching a ride, what she says goes. Including about you guys. But.”
Yeah, there’s always a but.
The gray bushi took a half-step closer; not straight in, not sidling away. “You and Eishun came in to get us in Keishi. You didn’t have to do that. You’re not under Ayame’s command, there’s no way anybody could make you ride right into the middle of the Kabane hordes. You risked your necks to save our lives.” O’Neill breathed in, and shrugged. “Far as I’m concerned, we owe you.”
Oh…kay. That wasn’t what Uryuu had expected.
“We could let the whole mess lie,” O’Neill nodded. “Up to you. But my team would like to know what the hell happened with the shogun, and why. Because one way or another we need to get back through Keishi, and that’s going to take a lot of help. And there’s no way we’re going to get it if we stomp on people’s toes because we don’t know who was on which side in a civil war, and how that rippled down to the shogun being stupid enough to strip the stations of soldiers to try and fight the Kabane out in the field when just a few sorties should have told him that wouldn’t work.”
A/N: And now we get some pretty ‘splosions….