This isn’t the first time I’ve been to Qinhu. I first explored it in a short story for the appendices of the Arc 2 ebook, in which I dive a little deeper into that culture as well as the origins of the spectres (the invisible genotype first mentioned by Cal in Arc 1). I knew I’d be visiting Qinhu again and it was useful to do some preliminary work there before I got to this chapter.

This is one of those calm before the storm chapters, offering a bit of a breather between the climax of Arc 3 and the full-on downward slope of Arc 4. Here we get to hang out in a bar with the guys and see what makes them tick. Of course, that means Furey and Kay banging heads again, even though this time round it’s Kay being antagonistic, while we get to see a slightly softer, more empathetic version of Furey.

The crucial element is Marv’s unequivocal support of Kay’s endeavour, and general optimism. He’s been through some rough times and hasn’t been best pleased to be along for the ride, but this chapter is about him accepting responsibility for what’s happened – regardless of the specifics – and moving ahead in a positive way. Marv’s has a self-awareness that tends to be pretty elusive in the best of us.


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