What have I done? It was the refrain through his head. It didn't stop him when helping to move critically injured people into his vehicle to be patched up. It didn't stop him as he helped dig out people and corpses trapped under fallen rock. It didn't stop him from smiling when that pretty girl gave him the most elegantly strange salaam he'd ever seen, to thank him for his help.
It was with him waking and sleeping and not-sleeping. What have I done? What have I done? What have I done? Every bite of the strange food. Every tug and pull of the strange clothing. What have I done?
He couldn't have done anything else, or he'd be dead or in Prime's jail cells with some memory scientist stirring around in his loyalty circuits like a Pounder squashing brain cells with every ponderous step. There was no way he could have stayed at his post on the moon. There was no way his old life could have continued.
Gerry, where are you and Jessica and Anne and the kids? Are you still alive? Mama? I think I'm safely dead when it comes to what Prime thinks but Gerry... if they pulled your scheme to save me and the two boys from Lainz out of your head... if they know that I've stolen M.O.M... I have to trust that you've danced your way out of confinement. M.o.m can't find any record of your being charged but she doesn't have access to all code.
Dear and Blessed Source of all Knowledge and Wisdom, please don't let them be in the hands of the Immoderates. Those ignorant bastards are just evil.
What have I done?
He had set up his own, illegal code, on the planet, escaped Xanadu with two spies, aboard an emergency evacuation vehicle and made it across the bottom of the ocean basins to this continent. He'd found out that there were whole civilizations surviving... even thriving here, despite Prime's attempts to kill them all.
He and his machine had saved hundreds of people from fatal injuries when he'd arrived at the biggest city... that Prime was attempting to wipe out by bombarding it with ice meteors from orbit.
I don't have a life anymore. I'm not just a Tech Second Class, younger son of the house, Gerry's scrapegrace little brother Terry.
He found himself, of all things, keeping company with the women. They were the coders and programmers. Apparently they'd been hiding that fact and pretending to be mere sex workers... or their equivalent anyway... zardukar... Women. Who didn't have Keepers nor chains of office. But everyone here wore veils. You could never see anyone's face. Except the Milari, and Hara would always rip the veil off when in private, or with friends. The Milari and the Nadumon were both cultures that went bare-faced, except when outside. This continent was nothing like Xanadu. There was barely enough Earthan biomass to lock down the toxic chemicals in the sand and water and every time the wind blew there was always poisonous grit in the air.
I'm a single Xanadu man here, traitor to my admittedly crazy Prime. Taking up arms against the Font of All Knowledge. My brother faked my death. What have I done?