Some of the hostility at play here is Ardaic shoving aside his growing, erm, fondness for Syr’Nj while it’s in direct conflict with his perceptions about what is good for Gastonia. That partly explains his otherwise ridiculously understated last line: there’s a bit of veiled concern for her behind it.

This is the last time that Syr’Nj will call Ardaic “sir,” and it’s definitely meant ironically here. But her respect for him will ebb and flow a good deal over the next thirty chapters. Like Dean Reynolds’ relationship with the other Heads, her relationship with Ardaic doesn’t follow a strictly linear progression.

Title’s meh. Seems like one of mine. I can see the thinking behind it: we’re starting to move the series back to a war footing, so when else should plans be made? But some reference to training for a big fight would probably be better, considering what takes up the chapter’s latter half.