Shitori’s a live station, and we’re a hayajiro, Ikoma told himself; passing Uryuu hanging onto the locomotive stair railing, to stop on the last step before the landing and stand beside Kurusu and Kibito. Lady Ayame, Kajika, and the Elders were gathered around the little table on the landing itself, lists spread out, so everyone could check what they wanted and needed from Shitori, Sukari and Suzuki were standing below the landing to add a steamsmith’s voice on what the Koutetsujou itself needed, and it was a bit crowded. Stations need us. And we didn’t come empty-handed this time.
“I understand we’ve done as much repairs as we can without a railyard?” Elder Shimizu ran tired fingers through the edge of gray hair.
“In good shape, mostly,” Suzuki stated. “Better than after Yashiro.” He glanced further down where Yukina was calmly running the controls. “Need to armor last car. Also, want a chance to hammer sortie car door out better. Dented. Might jump its tracks, at bad time.”
Fuyuki shrugged his shoulders, bare chest gleaming with a hint of summer sweat. “Is there a good time when it’s Kabane?”
That got a round of chuckles. Yashiro’s Mura was the first to sigh, and shake his head. “I hear we’re planning to sell the hive?”
Uryuu draped himself on the railing, eyes watchful. “The bees can’t handle how the Koutetsujou travels. The Kokujou could stop during the day, let ‘em forage. We can’t.”
Mura’s gaze found Ikoma’s. “And how will the Kabaneri fare without it?”
“We have already taken as much honey as the hive could give,” Ayame stated. “It should be enough keep our bodyguards well for months. Surely, long enough to find or trade for more supplies.”
Ikoma glanced at Kurusu as the Elders relaxed. The samurai barely raised an eyebrow.
Right. You’re not worried we’ll wake up a Kabane one morning. Hozumi… it still scares her.