The cyborg had a headache.
It wasn’t the high mountain air. His body knew to compensate for the missing oxygen. Nor was he dehydrated, nor would it have mattered if he were. His body knew how to compensate for that, too. For its age, and the abuse it had suffered, his body remained resilient, efficient, capable, strong.
It was his brain that was going to shit. Hence the headache. Like needles in the backs of his eyes. It was really fucking up his enjoyment of the view.
Peaks stretched north and south, shoulder to rough, massive shoulder, glaciered still, the highest ones — they wouldn’t be, further south — great scudding masses of cloud among and above them to add depth and grandeur. From behind them the sun, orange gold, lit the great sere leeward plain below.
It was the kind of view to make a man believe in God. If his gmorg second brain would quit punching the insides of his skull for five minutes, that is.
The kid eyed him uncertainly.
“I’m enjoying the view,” said the cyborg. “It’s beautiful, don’t you think?”
The kid shrugged, his eyes no less bugged out in wonder and terror than they had been since the two of them passed the checkpoint out of Cascadia. He was so out of his depth it was a miracle he could put one foot in front of the other. Wasn’t his fault, but Pynchon — the platform the cyborg’s wet-drive last ran was named Dick Pynchon — was starting to wonder if it had been a good idea to bring him along after all.
Not that he had much of a choice. He was overdue for an overhaul, his wet-drive too wonky to travel solo. He needed a partner to keep him straight, and Chi — hard c, rhymes with ‘eye’ — was the best he’d been able to come up with since he lost the last one.
Kid wasn’t exactly dead weight. But you could fill a couple of warehouses with all the stuff he didn’t know. Like how to appreciate the little things in life — a breath of clean air, a picturesque view — when you’ve just learned there’s a price on your head.
“Alright. Good try, kid. Let’s get moving.”