Author : Cosmo Smith

I am knee-deep in snow, holding tight to a dying man. His name is Arkan and he is one of our best fighters. He has stayed alive for an unbelievable two hundred and forty days. Besides that, I know nothing about him.

“Hold tight, we’re close,” a voice whispers into my ear, and looking up I can make out the dim sweep of searchlights through the curtain of snow. Several dirigibles are landing on the cloudfield.

Arkan shivers in my arms. “I – I can’t -” he begins.

I put my fingers to his chest and send a flash of warmth through the restoration glyphs tattooed there. He breathes a sigh of relief and relaxes.

It is only temporary, though. By the time the crunch of boots announce three soldiers with a gurney, Arkan is already dead. His body hangs limply across my knees.

“Dammit,” one of them mutters, but I hardly hear him. I am already leaving. As much as I would like to stay for the ride out, to see again the hovering cumulonimbuses of Cloud Nine from the safety of the dirigibles, snow leaking from their statically-charged underbellies, I have work to do. Events can play out without a cleric for a while. Arkan will regen somewhere with maybe a few weeks or even months of his progress lost. Sucks for him, but not too important in the long run.

I am back at home: a nice four-terabyte house with a view of Saturn’s rings. Over the next hour I will concurrently be checking back on progress in Cloud Nine, coding up a dragonwolf for a client of mine, chatting with the avatars of several friends in my living room, and watching a videofeed of the news back on Earth. I’m not as good at multitasking as some people, but I think it’s pretty decent.

“Why are you still watching Earth?” one of my friends asks.

“Just for fun,” the version of me in the living room responds.

But the part watching the show is completely engrossed. How can people still live such single-threaded lives?

I guess it will always be that way. Even during the 21st century, people were still fighting physical wars as it became more and more apparent that true power lay on the digital frontier. Google, Amazon, Rift: these are the superpowers today. Who even cares what America is anymore?

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