2.16 Schooled, Pt 1

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Yellow Thomas was more than ready to escape to his private suite, where he might be able to ease out of the Megacosm and escape the approving voices inside his head. All the approval made him feel queasy for reasons that he dared not examine. But he dared not float alone down the street, because that would be an insult to the Upward Governess.

She regarded the Swift Killer with a vibe of greed. I want recompense, she thought. You wrongly insulted My judgment. You owe Me a favor.

Millions of distant Torth blazed with support. You (Swift Killer) owe a favor to the Upward Governess!

Toxins seemed to drip from the mind of the Swift Killer. She ranked high enough so that color ranks rarely had enough clout to make demands of her, but popular opinion supported her nemesis. What do You want? she thought with resignation.

Get out of My city. That came whip-fast from the Upward Governess.

Bitterness washed through the Swift Killer. She had been looking forward to torturing the Giant. Instead, she would have to watch his suffering from afar, through the eyes of firsthand witnesses. Yellow Thomas sensed her grind her teeth, forcing turbulent thoughts to smooth out. Fine.

She straddled her hoverbike and glided away.

Yellow Thomas knew he'd feel safer with the Swift Killer somewhere far away, preferably on another planet. Alex would probably be safer, too. He wondered if he should thank the Upward Governess, but she was already speeding away, expecting him to keep up.

As soon as he was within range of her, he thought awkwardly, I appreciate Your help.

Good. Her thoughts fuzzed with pleasure. I assume you will choose Me as your mentor.

Thousands of Torth had been vying for his attention in the back of his mind, and now they hushed. Super-geniuses almost never offered mentorships. Their lives were too short. This was the first time it had happened in several generations.

Not fair, many whispered. He's such a low rank. Millions of ambitious Torth flooded into Yellow Thomas's mind, peering through his eyes and riffling through his thoughts, trying to figure out what made him more worthy than anybody else. Even Powder Blues would trade their most valuable luxuries for such a prestigious mentor.

The Upward Governess awaited his agreement, tapping one finger very subtly on the NAI-12 briefcase.

Maybe she would allow him to use a vial or two. The law forbade super-geniuses from creating more, but perhaps she could help him make a secret batch, or help him in other ways. Two super-geniuses might accomplish a lot.

I am Your ready pupil, Yellow Thomas decided.

She seemed to expect that, and floated onward. Good. You face a steep learning curve, but I am confident that you are capable. In her imagination, she built a palace so fantastic and intricate, her city looked dull in comparison. Then she added more complexity to it, and more, so much that not even he could keep track of it. And she kept adding more.

How do You do that? he stared at her in amazement. You're like a high-end computer rendering program.

You have the same capability, she thought. It just takes practice.

Maybe that was so, but Yellow Thomas doubted he would ever catch up to the sheer amount of memories and knowledge she contained.

You can never catch up, she informed him. I've spent My entire life in the Megacosm, whereas you have not. But brilliance and knowledge are two different things. All the knowledge in the universe will not grant you ambition, social wit, cleverness, or wisdom. Few super-geniuses have those qualities. She shot him several hundred memories of super-genius kids committing suicide, most by overdosing on painkillers. Apparently their mutation entailed a very high suicide rate. Ambition is extremely rare among Us.

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