3.3 The Problem

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Yellow Thomas swiped his data tablet, controlling an enormous robotic arm in his medical laboratory. He doubted that his experiment on kidney function would ever matter to anyone, but his mentor was relentless with giving him busywork assignments. It seemed she was trying to prevent him from thinking about important things.

Not that many things seemed important anymore. Thanks to the tranquility mesh around his forehead, he felt mellow most of the time. Meshes were better than Prozac when it came to keeping a person away from dangerously intense emotions.

Prozac? Thousands of Torth medical experts in his mental audience wondered what that was.

He flashed his recollection of illustrations on the neurological effects of antidepressants.

His ever-shifting audience burbled with various reactions. Most of them were fans of super-geniuses, but others were curious about what he was working on, or interested in his unique upbringing. Torth never left him alone. Even when he was settling down for sleep, even when he used a toilet, even if he was groggy from waking up, they were eager to listen.

How can he possibly focus on his work with that ugly screaming in the background? a few hundred of them wondered.

Yellow Thomas tried to get rid of the goth electronica song that was stuck in his head. Music always came back. He couldn't quite rid himself of that atavistic inclination, any more than he could shed his constant audience. His Torth audience had to get used to it if they wanted to spend any time inhabiting his mind. He liked music.

This primitive sound-art (music?) connotes a feeling of anger, one of the scientists in his audience observed.

Is he deranged?

Why tolerate such unpleasant imagined sounds?

Other scientists in his audience imagined a defused bomb, and thought, Music is safely detached from emotions, although it may connote illegal emotions.

It is harmless.

He can't help himself.

Everyone has at least one primitive flaw.

Indeed, some Torth snored while they slept, while others were addicted to overeating, and others frowned a bit too often. Such tics were permitted because they had no effect in the Megacosm. Sure, Yellow Thomas had an overabundance of primitive tics—he overvalued privacy, he talked in his sleep, he bit his lower lip when he was deep in thought, and he kept getting music stuck in his head—but he wasn't ashamed. He just dialed up his tranquility mesh if he began to feel that way. Shame could be illegal if it happened too often.

Sometimes he had nightmares (dangerous) (bad thought) which he did his best to forget about. Artificially-supported internal organs floated in display cases throughout his laboratory, with statistical readouts scrolling above each kidney, liver, or pumping child-sized heart. He tried not to remind himself where the organs came from. But sometimes he glimpsed a spike of fear in the Megacosm, and he sensed it came from a murdered child who was emotionally or developmentally disabled. Baby farm rejects got killed.

If he didn't experiment on their harvested organs, another scientist would.

We value you, thousands of fans whispered in his mind.

You are an adult citizen, and therefore safe.

You are one of Us.

That was true. Yellow Thomas tapped calculations on his tablet, aware that no one on Earth had ever valued him as much as the Torth did. He ought to be grateful that they saw him as more than a special-needs child. On Earth, technicians and scientists had humored him, unwilling to credit him with any scientific break-throughs. Rasa Biotech hadn't trusted him to use major lab equipment. Now he controlled a vast high tech laboratory with his tablet, without needing any technicians. He was safe as long as he didn't risk thinking about certain (slaves) things. Especially not about . . . about . . .

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