I may have said this before and may again, but it was pretty clear which side of the Syr’Nj/Bandit conflict Phil and I tended to favor. Phil’s draft had Syr’Nj backing down immediately and completely after “Y’can’t yell at me for following your orders!” but I was like, C’mon, Bandit, of course she can yell at you for not thinking an act of terrorism twenty minutes’ ride away might’ve been an exception to “anything.” Syr’Nj doesn’t want to pursue a conflict right now– she’d be on shaky ground after lying to Bandit at the start of last chapter– but she certainly could.

Still, I did recognize some of the difficulties of Bandit’s position, and the cliffhanger here was mine: with slight hesitation, she confesses a detail that will draw her newish friends and newer recruits into direct contact with her old culture, and it’ll draw her back into that old culture, too. From her point of view, the social risks are enormous, and the physical danger is nothing to sneeze at. This is a huge sacrifice for her. But she makes it, because at the end of the day, she is a hero.

And I can’t help but love how much John did, at our request and otherwise, to capture everybody’s emotions here. E-Merl’s two-thumbs-up at Gravedust’s praise is my favorite part.