I don’t think I appreciated how sound Flo’s storytelling instincts were here. On one level, the reader wants to see Tom confronted and defeated, even if it’s not really Tom here, and this fight is a good warm-up for the carnage to come.

But on another, it’s very important to establish what this does to Bandit, emotionally. The last time she was this close to a berserker, she died. As traumatically as possible, with no real warning (yes, Syr’Nj did try to warn her, but that shout didn’t reach her ears quick enough to be much foreknowledge). She came back, but she did not come back among friends.

She has the presence of mind to defend herself here with dagger and syringe. But it’s close: she’s also screaming, fighting off flashbacks, irrationally begging. The others don’t really know she has these psychological scars… she hasn’t wanted them to know. Both the scars and how she’s hid them will be important to the rest of this chapter. She’ll face more berserkers like this one, including what appears to be the same berserker who killed her.