Balveda knelt down by the fallen man. She put the gun in a pocket and felt Horza's neck; he was still alive. His face was in the water. She heaved and pushed, trying to roll him over. His scalp oozed blood.
'Drone,' she said, trying to stop the man from falling back into the water again, 'help me with him.' She held Horza's arm with her one good hand, grimacing with pain as she used her other shoulder to roll him further over. 'Unaha-Closp, damn you; help me.'
'Bla bala bal. Ho the hey. Here am are, am here are. How do you don't? Ceiling, roof, inside outside. Ha ha bala bala,' the drone warbled, still fast against the tunnel roof. Balveda finally got Horza onto his back. The false rain fell on his gashed face, cleaning the blood from his nose and mouth. One eye, then the other, opened.
'Horza,' Balveda said, moving forward, so that her own head blocked out the falling water and the overhead light. The Changer's face was pale save for the thin tendrils of blood leaking from mouth and nostrils. A red tide came from the back and side of his head. 'Horza?' she said.
'You won,' Horza said, slurring the words, his voice quiet. He closed his eyes. Balveda didn't know what to say; she closed her own eyes, shook her head.
'Bala bala... the train now arriving at platform one...'
'... Drone,' Horza whispered, looking up, past Balveda's head. She nodded. She watched his eyes move back, trying to look over his own forehead. 'Xoxarle...' he whispered. 'What happened?'
'I shot him,' Balveda said.
'... Bala bala throw your out arms come out come in, one more once the same... Is there anybody in here?'
'With what?' Horza's voice was almost inaudible; she had to bend closer to hear. She took the tiny gun from her pocket.
'This,' she said. She opened her mouth, showing him the hole where a back tooth had been. 'Memoryform. The gun was part of me; looks like a real tooth.' She tried to smile. She doubted the man could even see the gun.
He closed his eyes. 'Clever,' he said quietly. Blood flowed from his head, mingling with the purple wash from Xoxarle's dismembered body.
'I'll get you back, Horza,' Balveda said. 'I promise. I'll take you back to the ship. You'll be all right. I'll make sure. You'll be fine.'
'Will you?' Horza said quietly, eyes closed. 'Thanks, Perosteck.'
'Thanks bala bala bala. Steckoper, Tsah-hor, Aha-Un-Clops... Ho the hey, hey the ho, ho for all that, think on. We apologise for any inconvenience caused... What's the where's the how's the who where when why how, and so...'
'Don't worry,' Balveda said. She reached out and touched the man's wet face. Water washed off the back of the Culture woman's head, down onto the Changer's face. Horza's eyes opened again, flicking round, staring at her, then back towards the collapsed trunk of the Idiran; next up at the drone on the ceiling; finally around him, at the walls and the water. He whispered something, not looking at the woman.
'What?' Balveda said, bending closer as the man's eyes closed again.
'Bala,' said the machine on the ceiling. 'Bala bala bala. Ha ha. Bala bala bala.'
'What a fool,' Horza said, quite clearly, though his voice was fading as he lost consciousness, and his eyes stayed closed. 'What a bloody... stupid... fool.' He nodded his head slightly; it didn't seem to hurt him. Splashes sent red and purple blood back up from the water under his head and onto his face, then washed it all away again. 'The Jinmoti of-' the man muttered.
'What?' Balveda said again, bending closer still.
'Danatre skehellis,' Unaha-Closp announced from the ceiling, 'ro vleh gra'ampt na zhire; sko tre genebellis ro binitshire, na'sko voross amptfenir-an har. Bala.'
Suddenly the Changer's eyes were wide open, and on his face there appeared a look of the utmost horror, an expression of such helpless fear and terror that Balveda felt herself shiver, the hairs on the back of her neck rising despite the water trying to plaster them there. The man's hands came up suddenly and grabbed her thin jacket with a terrible, clawing grip. 'My name!' he moaned, an anguish in his voice even more awful than that on his face. 'What's my name?'
'Bala bala bala,' the drone murmured from the ceiling.
Balveda swallowed and felt tears sting behind her eyelids. She touched one of those white, clutching hands with her own. 'It's Horza,' she said gently. 'Bora Horza Gobuchul.'
'Bala bala bala bala,' said the drone quietly, sleepily. 'Bala bala bala.'
The man's grip fell away; the terror ebbed from his face. He relaxed, eyes closing again, mouth almost smiling.
'Ah yes...' Horza whispered.
'... of course.