But at thirty, I was too old to join anything but one of those outdated faiths. I smiled; they still chose to farm. Break my body to remember me. They named each other, didn’t they? I would need a place to live. I wanted to build something.
Nearly every organization had a ultra-cache, for storing information or supplies. Churches certainly would. I might need the nanites from some soldier’s bracelet. And I would need a medium, something to preserve the machines and provide their energy. There were gels, ammoniac soups that for some reason came in mostly red, like the blood drying on my hand.
Volunteers could take the nanites into their bloodstream and preserve their memories for reciprocal exchange. A few kindred souls in the space of untold trillions. Nothing the Profusion would ever notice. A strange communion, blood that remembered all who shared it.
Walking back toward the city, I recognized a shape, a kind of stilted x that I remembered. This would take years. But that was the other reason you came to Thaeron: to guarantee that, for a while, you had nothing else to do.
I came beneath the steeple and knocked solidly on the door. I waited, looking away into the hills, until the hinges creaked.
“I’m History Ayaba,” I said to the timid-looking man who had opened the door, “and I need a place to stay.”
A hand grabbed my shoulder. “It’s time, Del Tanich,” said Jerem Cozak. “Stand up, now that you are not orphaned. We have slept three days. It helped them keep you alive.”
I did not at first understand him, but stood nonetheless. I looked around the wood, much thinner by bright morning than by the darkness I had first seen it in. The Never-born were bursting from their sleeping places much as I had done, men like leather caterpillars shaking off the snow.
“The Never-born – they’re the ancient dead,” I said, guessing. “They’re from the Wells of the Dead outside the city. They lived during the Profusion.”