Penn stepped from his apartment onto the spiral stairs leading down to the Guild’s central courtyard. He told Fred, his AI, to slip the construct of a pirate over his personality. The Guild Master had told him to fix Teagarden 1 Station and trusted Fred to flip him back when he’d acquired enough information to change their society. Gods only knew how long that would take. Going undercover left a man different. And no matter how carefully his core persona returned, he knew that he wouldn’t be the same. Would his lover continue to find him comforting and exciting? Would he with her? Or would the sex slaves and forced marriages of the pirate kingdom leave a bad taste in his mouth and a need for solitude? Would his morning oatmeal keep its good taste, after three squares a day of algal mush for months, that was the food of forced-choice in the pariah state? Would mercantile capitalism still seem a good thing after spending time in its extreme extension of might makes right. Time and life followed a flowing set of discrete events for no one. It was the life he had chosen.