Four centuries ago, for a variety of reasons, I took the literal mask. It is not useless ornament; its communication leads keep me in constant touch with what I must know. Just now the embedded AIs are unscrolling for me the great briefing library.
While I may be formidable, I am only one man, and those who are my hands and feet and heads elsewhere in the world have been about their business these centuries.
One face of that is the war with the Outposts. Yes, it is difficult to escape there, but when a rebel manages it, they take with them all sorts of lore; things are shared freely there so what each knows becomes common knowledge. They do not understand the Secret nor do they practice it. I don’t mean the Great Secret of physical immortality; I mean the Secret as way of life.
Excerpt from “Last Days of the Immortal,” in Tales from the Inhabited Worlds.
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