So here, we needed to strike a balance. Even on his worst day, Ardaic is not without compassion, especially for the soldiers under his command. He can spare a moment to acknowledge Braggadocio’s anguish…

But no more than a moment. Don’t forget you’re a resource, man! There’s a war on!

The real ambiguity here, for me, is that in the short term, putting Braggadocio to work in structured military life might be doing him a kindness. I feel like Bragga would wallow in this anguish for a lot longer if Ardaic permitted it: He was my best friend and I was supposed to look out for him! I’m the strong one! Why couldn’t I?

In the longer term, though, some problems with Ardaic’s approach will emerge. One is that Ardaic’s faith in the perfection of the system means that he just stamps “RETIRED” on Bert’s record and then forgets about him forever. Why shouldn’t he? Bert’s taken care of now, he’ll be fine, on to the next order of business.