Track of the Apocalypse Ch12 Ficbit – Not Nomads

How many villages weren’t by the tracks at all? How integrated were the railroads, before the Kabane hit?

Because that could be important. Twenty years could be a long time – and yet, for some cultural things, no time at all. Based on Earth’s history and what he’d seen of the spread of tech on other planets, odds were there’d been some proportion of Hi-no-Moto that had been getting along without the trains quite well, thank you. Until the Kabane showed up.

And then, everyone outside a station just… didn’t make it.

Probably. It’d depend on how fast the Kabane had spread, how well people had fought back or hidden themselves, how fast they’d run. Humans were tough. He could honestly picture scenarios in which random survivors were flushed out of the mountains for years.

Daniel gripped the rail harder, blinking hard. If they had – that might have gone a long way toward hardening station attitudes towards suspicious wounds and quarantine. Ikoma and the others had said quarantine was supposed to be three days. That implied that sometimes the infection took longer than a day to show. Have some shocked survivor wander down from the mountains with a day-old scratch, apparently fine…. Ouch.

Focus. We’re coming up on Shitori soon. So what else have I figured out? Because we need to know what to ask Lady Ayame and her people now, before we hit the station. Everyone on this whole planet is stressed out and twitchy, and if we put a foot wrong in Shitori… SG-1 might live through it and get off Tenka, but the Koutetsujou has to live here.

And that was an interesting place to start, because the Koutetsujou as a people, not just a crew, was something new to this world. Stations, ruined villages, the bits he’d managed to get out of Suzuki about Albion – traveling merchants and crews existed in both societies, but nomad didn’t even come close to translating.

They’re not nomads. Yet. But they’re working on it.

29 thoughts on “Track of the Apocalypse Ch12 Ficbit – Not Nomads

  1. Hmm. I wonder how far Kabane roam before they hunker down to hibernate? Would be interesting to see if there are any pre-Kabane villages left simply by virtue of being so remote even the Kabane figured they were too much effort to get to…

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    1. Not sure it would have lasted though. Any village remote enough to have avoided Kabane would have attracted desperate survivors who figured this place is safe. Thing is, the more humans there are the more tempting it is for a horde. Big settlements attract hordes after all…

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  2. Yeah, it’s definitely possible. Japan is full of sea islands, villages way back in the hinterlands of the mountains, and so on. I mean, there are villages where you have to take a bus for hours from the nearest village with a bus stop, and there are still a few villages that aren’t even on roads, just bridges and paths, and there are also cave villages and hidden valley villages. (Obviously a lot of those villages are dying out because people have to move to the cities to get schooling, jobs, etc.)

    It’s a staple of Japanese mystery and Gothic stories to have a village back in the waybacks that can be easily cut off from the rest of the world, and part of that was because people did found self-sufficient villages in easily defensible places. Sometimes because they didn’t want to be found by any local feudal lords or have to pay taxes, or because they were members of disgraced political or religious movements that had to go on the run.

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  3. Oh, wow! The island of Aogashima, close to the Philippines, has one tiny little Japanese village on it, which is officially the smallest village in Japan. (I’m kinda doubting that, but I guess they’re basing that on area of the town.)

    It’s not just a volcanic island — it’s a crater in crater volcanic island!

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    1. The Smithsonian magazine article says it’s actually four calderas! And the last eruption was in 1785, which remade the island and forced a total evacuation and rebuild of the village.

      Man, talk about living dangerously.

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  4. There are lots of isolated places. And a number of Easily defensible places, in any countryside…against humans.

    Against Kabane? Who track by scent, not sight? Against whom /inch thick plate steel/ is considered an insufficient defense? You want multiple inches by previous comments. Noticeably, which probably puts it at 3-4.

    Islands, maybe. An island far enough away from it’s mainland that no human scent reaches the other shore…
    But there are remarks about Kabane in the rest of the world, and Japan /is/ islands, so maybe not.

    Of course, even with wholesale loss of cities to the Kabane…well shambling foot traffic will only move you so fast. That’s how the Trains work, after all; Countrysides are big, so there are certainly lots of places where the Kabane aren’t and just don’t reach.

    Most of the time. It’s the exceptions to that ‘most’ that are very, very fatal.

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    1. If you cut off the bridges, you gotta have some super-duper climbing kabanes to get to some of those places. Which, canonically, you do have, but after a while, it gets ridiculous. There’s a reason Japan used to be full of little windy tracks and ridiculously long vine bridges, and now has a ridiculous amount of huge steel suspension bridges in the middle of nowhere, crossing huge gorges.

      And yes, I don’t care how good you posit kabane scenting abilities. Human noses are just not that good. Dog noses are not that good. And remote Japanese mountains surrounded by jungle are not exactly full of food sources, unless the kabane are vegetarians that eat bamboo. So even if they are wandering around vaguely, they are more likely to stick to river valleys where they can eat rabbits and such. I could see post road towns being easily wandered to, and immediate suburbs. But kabane aren’t going to walk days and days, or even run superhumanly fast for days and days, without any immediate prospects of food.

      The longer villages would be cut off, the more the little windy tracks would tend to disappear entirely into the woods.

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      1. There are some village areas that, until recently, spoke their own dialects that were nearly unintelligible to outsider Japanese. I mean, if you want to live back in the waybacks, you can definitely manage it in Japan. You might starve, but you can definitely stay off the grid.

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      2. I should point out that human noses aren’t technically anywhere near as bad as most people think. Most of their lack of ability is actually a trained lack, not an inherent limitation of the hardware. People have trained to be able to track by scent, tho it’s admittedly less common even than those who’ve trained to perform echolocation. But, like with many other things, we don’t use some of our senses to their full ability if there’s another sense that is “easier” to use for a certain task. Most people use their sense of smell to handle a lot of the work of “taste”, but then don’t use their sense of smell for examining stuff outside themselves which they can use their sight to examine. And a sense that’s left unused for a certain purpose eventually atrophies.

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      3. “Not bad” is “a couple of miles.” Something distinctive like water, with training, maybe a little farther. Sure you theoretically can follow a scent once you have one, but scents don’t just travel forever and ever in the first place.

        Kabane would be much more likely to smell smoke over distance than humans, and even then, there’s a limit. And you can build fires with nice dry wood to minimize smokiness, which alleviates smell as well as sight. (And heck, a lot of Japanese peasantry were cooking over tiny little braziers or in tiny little firepits anyway, because they didn’t want to waste wood.)

        I can see people being super-fanatical about bathing, in not letting skin touch running water lest it carry the news to kabane, or about always covering their scent with some other strong scent.

        But I just don’t believe the whole concept of “super zombies magically can find everyone,” because it’s silly.

        The world is big. Like, really, really big.

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      4. Also, if kabane rush to the smell of smoke in hopes of finding humans, there’d be a lot of dead kabane every summer, because lightning strikes often cause forest fires in Japan. And since forest fires burn downward, it could be very unfortunate for kabane to rush upward toward smoke.

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      5. Whoops! I reversed that. Forest fires tend to burn upward, not downward.

        Sigh. Good thing I don’t live in a forest fire area. And I guess kabane are probably smart enough to retreat from a forest fire, in that case.

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      6. Ok, I was just noting that technicality because too many people say human noses “aren’t that good” and actually mean “even if the odor-source is right there, we can’t even detect its existence, let alone differentiate between different sources or directions”. Yeah, I agree about there being limits to it from outside factors like distance and diffusion, but those aren’t normally what people are talking about when they complain about human nose quality.

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      7. Now, if you pre-programmed your kabane to do grid searches, or outward spirals from colonies of kabane at fixed intervals, etc., then I could see kabane finding everybody. But I don’t really see that being the case in canon.

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      8. Kabane might be running off fusion, and replacing the hydrogen with water from the air.

        Because if the canon kabane last that well when they need to eat, they are very well preserved.

        This fic’s world is fairly explicitly assuming hi no moto is a continent. So your point does stand fairly well anyway.

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      9. Yep. I admit the hayajiro have to be backtracking and not covering straight line distances, but the speed they travel and the time they travel? It just made more sense in this AU fic to have it not a Japan-sized island chain.


  5. I’ll note that this isn’t Japan. Hi no Moto is a continent at least the size of Australia, even if it’s more-or-less shaped like a supersized Japan. We don’t know how far Kabane will roam in search of tasty human-shaped sacks of blood, but the Hunters seem built on the idea that if you can kill the Kabane around a station, it’ll take awhile for another horde to approach.


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  6. Though one thing Lady Ayame will probably want to do is expedite any and all deals with the station and then get the Koutetsujou underway.

    Because whether Dogen wants it or not, any Kongoukaku folk that manage to get off at Shitori are going to talk. And if it’s fellows like Naokata; things might get dicey depending on how much the locals listen to them.

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      1. /the whole hayajiro routes need to be reevaluated in light of which stations are still standing./
        At which the whole ‘Kongoukaku no longer stands’ news is going to break (at least in private between Ayame and Shitori’s lord).

        Now I’m not normally a betting man but I have this crazy feeling said news might not be taken well. Really can’t say why.. 😛

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      2. /*G* Not well by some, surprisingly well by others…./
        Oh sure, based on the civil war backstory given there are no doubt people who wouldn’t be all that torn up about the Shogun dying in the proverbial fire.

        I was thinking more along the lines of yet another station being swallowed. Particularly if Kongoukaku was producing any vital/rare products that the other stations needed.

        Sure on the scale of Hi no Moto I doubt it’s a case of only one station ever producing this one item that everybody else needs; but over the course of the series, four stations have been lost relatively quickly: Aragane, Yashiro, Kongoukaku, and Iwato.

        That is very bad by anyone’s metric.

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