Kaigun: Steampunk Chapter 1

The Poultry Farm (Fukushima, 2012) 


Carolyn Yamasaki threw chickenfeed to the winds, watching the birds scamper and squawk. Her family wasn’t wealthy enough to pay for soil processing, so their farm was placarded.  A sign at the driveway reminded them all that their livlihood was at an end. No produce, fowl or dairy from the farm could be sold, not for human or even animal consumption.  It was ridiculous. After 7 months, they could not keep the family away from their own land, but apparently they could prohibit anyone making a fair living. Carolyn’s stubborn father Takenori would not be cowed. He did give up and slaughter most of the dairy herd, pouring out the milk was just too disappointing, but vegetables, pork and chickens continued to breed and it was a rich, if boring life for the family. Carolyn at least had the escape of school 10 months out of the year. Takenori planned to make a grand reentrance when the soil tested clean, and he invested his corn surpluses in the bellies of surpluses of chickens, breeding them for size. Carolyn had to admit to herself that after a dozen generations of culling, the flock was starting to show some real progress; while she watched, their prize rooster ”Rex,” big as a turkey and twice as mean, chased a pig across the pen. 

Walking back to the house, she saw her father sitting on his little porch stool, head in hands. Mother was like a still life of the supportive wife, hand on his shoulder. 

"Let the animals go, Peach Blossom, let them all go."

“Father, why would you say such a thing?” Carolyn asked, bewildered. 

“The government. They say even we may not eat them.” dismayed, shaking his head. “Look how healthy I am!” Mr. Yamasaki stood up and shook his fists feebly at the sky. “I told the government man this, but they said we have to slaughter them, and we will be given government papers for food. I will not do this. You will let them go Carolyn. Release them all and scare them into the country where they at least can make a living, not like a poor farmer.” 

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In the wild, Rex had no trouble foraging. His chicken brain drew him to other chickens, and he found them always easy to dominate. Soon he was literally cock of the walk, though vaguely conscious that his sons were growing heavier even than he. It didn’t matter. There were hens and food, and chicken-like, he was hungry, always hungry. Deep in his belly, radioactive thorium still fired alpha particle bullets through his gonads. Some had pierced the sex cells and they’d split and split again, cancerously spreading fundamental damage to the ageless recipe for chickens. An inhibitory gene sequence shared by all birds since they first shrank to avoid the notice of their terrible monstrous cousins, was now a shambles. The sequence prevented unbounded growth, or it had, until now.

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