Before we get into the meat of this chapter, let’s check in on the few folks who won’t be a part of it. Phil originally suggested that Gravedust and Rachel should also remain behind to tend to Byron spiritually, but (1) Byron doesn’t really need that much care now that Syr’Nj’s Phase One is done, (2) I didn’t want any of the new recruits to hit the sidelines this early, and (3) if Syr’Nj and Byron are out of action, Gravedust is pretty much the only one who can openly take command on this mission. Bandit may be in charge, but she’s got to leave the others under Gravedust’s supervision as a distraction or she will be attacked on sight. Scipio barely speaks, Rachel is still too much of a follower especially when Frigg is present, and Frigg is Frigg. Ardaic has a little bit of a point, which puts Syr’Nj’s work under a deadline.

Syr’Nj is choosing not to disclose Byron’s exact condition to Ardaic, for much the same reason she gave Bandit not to disclose Gravedust’s death powers to Ardaic. If Gastonia decided any of its Peacemakers represented a threat that outweighs whatever assets they offer, it’s pretty obvious what they’d do about it.

Phil was concerned about overusing the mess hall and wanted this set in the trophy room instead, but I think the more open area and dinnertime setting may suit this scene better. Or maybe we just forgot to change it in the panel notes for John.

Gastonian sexism hasn’t been as obvious as its racism (speciesism?) and the prominence and authority of warrior nuns alongside more familiar-looking male authorities probably left a good first impression on that front. But there were reasons beyond sentiment that Mother Scarlett didn’t feel she could hold onto power without a male figure backing her up.