I love this gut-wrenching chapter, but I do get a little antsy about what some readers took from it. I joke about “Team Syr’Nj” and “Team Bandit” sometimes (“Syr’Nj done Bandit dirty!” “Bandit deserved what she got!”), but just because the characters will be pressured to pick a side doesn’t mean you should be.

The last two stories have shown how shared adversity and loss can bring people together, whether they be former enemies turned frenemies (Chapter 35) or friends getting closer (the Axemas special).

This story is here to show that shared adversity and loss can also drive people apart. The couple who divorce after the death of their child. The soldiers from the same unit who can’t see each other anymore because of the PTSD-laced memories they trigger in each other. Or a couple of brave, life-saving leader-heroes who fail to prevent an utter massacre. That massacre will make both of them into their worst selves for a while, blaming others to drown out the shrieks of guilt in their own psyches. But even after their characters recover, their friendship never will. That is not, to my mind, something that makes either of them a villain. It’s just a tragedy.

The statement “Good people can disagree” carries a certain optimism, implying that mutual respect and compromise is possible. But Flo had seen enough to know that good people could also disagree irreconcilably. She’d seen such rifts among her social circles (in-game and otherwise), and while she and I hadn’t had that sort of break with each other, there’d been times we’d come damn close.