The Straits of Anian -- at least this channel through mountain Sierras -- dug through a chain of mountains, a grin-shaped interruption of a moonscape of jagged rocks. The canal ran straight into the horizon until it disappeared over the curvature of the planet. On its northern flank a few "seas" glinted with sunlight on the low Nevada plateau floors.
R.P. Luke did not intend to stay long in Ancien' Vegas. But while that city of the former moderns held him, he meant to talk to his oldest friend. Not Major Christopher. Old, yes, but never a friend. So long ago that R.P. Luke could not imagine those times, but he could
He only remembered the important moments.
Major Christopher had proved himself a successful accomplice in the former plunder of Ohio. But they had little to talk about these days. The older R.P. Luke got, the less power the days of youth had over him.
The lie a wash-up would tell himself.
On the subject of wash-ups, R.P. Luke recalled the last touches of a good memory, the warm rays of the object of his fascination could still touch his heart. The last rays of sunshine on a summer day on the banks of a summer creek. The Crick.
Back then. He had spied her from the bushes. He -- her -- not more than ten years old. She stood on one of the faux-iron beams that spanned the heights of the Crick. From one high bank cut into limestone to another steep incline she balanced herself on the beam. Until he caught her eye through the bushes below.
Back then. He had not known she was a girl. A contructicon helmet hid her hair, and even when she pulled it off, the length of her sandy-blond hair still resembled one of a boy. He snuck out of the bushes, as she bounded down the bank, until she stopped at the flood gate. It hung over the waters of the Crick, the boundary line of the estates.
Are you one of the Old Guard, kids?
Ha!, he had wanted to spit out. He was none other than the Old Guard's "kid" -- the KID. This was his domain. Had been since the first of his ancestors had settled these Ohioan woods. Refugees of the Maximillian's Boneyard. The deathmasks of the Pauls and the Lukes lined the chilly encoves of the family cellars. Hollow eyes that haunted him, followed him. Telling him what to do. The children of immigrants had it tough.
She invited him topside to see her father's work. Even then, R.P. Luke had known that he stood witness to great times. Big cranes and earth-moving equipment. Men and the robo-lackies. Pieces of metal moved at constructicon command. The neo-cement pillars of a bridge stood upright, ready to hold up a new world, so one could cross from one to the next.
The lightning bolts.
The lightning bolts standard.
The lightning bolts held in a fist...
Maybe he had paid attention to his father long enough to know what each symbol meant. But he failed to heed his words again. In death, and with the passage of time, the words of a father fell fainter on his ears, and a man was just glad that his father could not see what his son had turned into.
Back then, R.P. Luke had not not known, but he already traveled on the path of the astray. He followed her light blue eyes up the bold-dozed banks, as she pointed out the work to soon take place. She smiled and freckles lay naked to the thick heat of the Ohio sun.
R.P. Luke tried to imagine what Nae Nae had said. Back then she had seemed so eager and shy and open to the adventures that lay in wait behind the tangle of her tongue. And now? Dead. Dead to him, to their world, buried there on the banks of a creek somewhere in Ohio. She carried the ghost she mistook for her father.
But he was old enough to end that scheme, one born long ago, unlike the child of their's, which now struggled to manifest itself in his heart.
He could not let her win. Not that girl. The woman she had grown to become. She needed to lose.
More Than a Feeling went into a dive.