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When I was 17

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“It's been a long time, Cap,” the Kid said. He wasn't kidding; the Kid was older than his Captain, close to fifty years. “A long time.”

“Are you all right, Kid?” the Captain asked.

“It's been a long time,” the Kid said again. “Too long. I'm slowing down; getting tired.”

“It's your mind in there, Kid; not your body. It doesn't get tired the same way.”

The Kid shook his head. “It's the will that's going, Cap. I've lost the edge, the old fire of rebellion. I've lost the faith.”

“Faith, Kid? You were never a religious man.”

“Naw,” the Kid agreed, “but it's not about that. It's the whole thing. Revolution, freedom... I lost my faith in them. It's just... It feels like it's not worth it.“

“Kid; you're the best I know.”

“I was,” the Kid replied. “I'm not taking the risks, and that... it's going to kill someone. It's time, Sir.”

“Kid...”

“It's time.” He forced a smile. “How many people get a chance to do this?”

The Charlemagne set down close to I-666, the main route between the Machine City and the outer fields. The Kid left the ship, dragging a heavy load down onto the highway, where his presence was so anomalous that it took almost a full minute for the machines to react.

When at last they saw him, they came at him in a flood. The pinch he had dragged down went off, the EMP downing hundreds before he was buried in the next wave.

The Charlemagne waited for things to calm down before it moved on, leaving a simple mark to show where the Kid had taken the Last Walk.