A primitive wooden weapon which uses a tautly-strung bow to fire iron bolts (known as 'long sharp iron' to the Mutes) at distance. The weapon was created by the Iron Masters in Ne-Issan and has been traded to the Plainfolk Mutes in return for menial workers over the past decade.
The appearance of the crossbow took the Amtrak Federation by surprise, as previously the Mutes' only projectile weapons had been spears and throwing axes, neither of which had the range to hit their Skyhawk aircraft or the penetrating power to worry their Trail-Blazer ground troops at extreme range. The crossbow changed this balance of power, with the model sold to the Mutes capable of hitting aerial targets up to 1,000 feet in the sky. Skyhawks which circle above this distance can still drop bombs, but are out of effective range for their own guns to be much use. The limitations of the Mk. I Skyhawk in dealing with this weapon is one of the primary spurs for the introduction of the more heavily-armoured and heavily-armed Mk. II Skyhawk, which entered front-line service over 2990 and 2991.
In 2990 the Yama-Shita gave the She-Kargo some rifles to replace their crossbows, but these weapons proved more complex to operate than the crossbow. Whilst the principles of the crossbow seemed fairly straightforward, allowing the Mutes to keep them in good working order and to retrieve ammunition for re-use, the rifle was treated with greater suspicion, as the gunpowder and one-use bullets were monopolised by the Iron Masters, tying the Plainfolk more closely to their suppliers. However, the wordsmith Cadillac discovered how to mine and extract gunpowder, and also how to manufacture their own crossbows from scratch during his sojourn in Ne-Issan. With the Plainfolk Council encouraging greater cooperation between the clans, it is likely that the Federation will soon be encountering considerably more lethally-armed Plainfolk forces.