Niko raised an eyebrow at the idea of her being able to offer it to any blacksmith she felt worthy of the right. If she was the sole deciding factor for that, it could be seen as favoritism, but surely, as someone well versed in politics, she would understand that, right? To double check might be considered an insult to the woman’s intelligence, and despite their pleasant conversation, the red-head had not forgotten that she was a superior, and would need to be careful about rubbing her the wrong way. Hearing what her standards were, however, eased that idea completely. It wasn’t whether or not she thought they were worth her time, but what they could produce as proof. Not even Niko was quite to the A-Rank equipment… yet. This made Niko lean back in her chair a little bit, thinking.
Her putting it into perspective, particularly with the ‘lives lost’ caused her eyes to narrow. Now she was starting to understand the direness of the situation and why she was pushing for Niko to advance as quickly as possible. The Flak Jackets in particular was an issue that she knew was long-standing. They were handy because they were flexible and had a lot of cargo room, but absolutely garbage in regards to actual protection. Her mind flitted to a design she had already made that was sitting in a scroll in her room, dragon-scale chainmail. But that was for another time… nothing but a pipedream with her current skills.
Hearing her praise for Niko’s work, even going so far as to take her hand for extra emphasis and show the toughening her hands had undergone to get this far. The praise was enough for her to gain a little bit of a weak smile, a hint of red to her cheeks, and a bit of tears in her eyes. Nothing substantial, but for the longest time, Niko had worked from the shadows. Since she was eight years old she had struggled and fought and worked herself to the bone, and hearing someone of such esteem praise her as such was a bit of a welcome shock. Her free hand quickly wiped away the moisture from her eyes and she moved on in the conversation, but not before a quick “thank you. I promise once the shop is at full capacity, I will contact you and have my pay for missions resume normal rates, and that this is not a moment you will regret. Kinda cheating making it an order though.” She gave her a wry smile to show she meant it as humor, but then took a deep breath and resumed their conversation regarding the ships.
Niko nodded in agreement about sending children to war. That was how she had become an orphan after all was War, and she had no love of it. Hearing that the grand navy was made completely of wooden ships had her blinking a moment in surprise. Even the simplest of water-based jutsu could completely decimate those types of ships, if not properly protected with some kind of enchantment, and even then, a well placed spear could sink one entirely. As strong as it might have looked on paper, this was almost laughable in true military strength, and the fact that it was costing them so much was insane.
A single steel-based warship would be better than that entire fleet, but she tried to spin a positive light on it. “Wood will be good for the students to work with and maintain, and is easier to manipulate to turn it into a proper advanced school. For warfare though…” she sighed slightly. “Any decent tactician could sink that fleet with a few well placed jutsu or a handful of floating mines. Not worth the cost, if I am being honest.”
She paused, letting that sink in. “As far as how to get a steel ship moving…” She stood up, going to her room really quickly before coming back with a few odd looking items. One looked like a rotating fan with a candle underneath it, another like a smaller fan, and a small wooden box that she quickly filled with water and set down on the table. Some careful placement and putting different small gears together, and in about a minute, there was a small model on the table. She lit the candle, which began to make the fan above it spin. “This represents your steam engine.”
She then pointed to where the shafts connected through the gears and then the smaller fan that was placed in the water horizontally, which was now spinning and causing the water to splash against the back of the small box. “And this is where it would lead. It would push the water forcefully, creating thrust you could control by the amount of heat. This is just a concept design, but in theory it would work.” She let her look at it as it continued to push the water around inside the box.
“As far as your last request, a rapid-deployment dry-dock wouldn’t be all that hard. They would be able to deploy the moment we saw trouble coming from the sea, with as little as an hour notice, and that is mostly to load the ships with people.” Already Niko’s mind was mentally mapping how that would look. Having them out of the water meant that their upkeep would be far less than having them floating, as the water itself caused most of the maintenance with the algae and such.