3.6 Fleeting Pleasures

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The indoor lake reflected tropical trees, laden with fruit. Iridescent bugs flitted above lily pads. Discreet fans generated a breeze, dispersing wildflower fragrances and spores from island to island.

Yellow Thomas trailed his hand through water. His reflection was pale, all yellows and oranges, and small next to the fat blue shape of the Upward Governess.

In your gliotransmission experiment, she thought, I cogitated a plausible eigenvector which you failed to include.

He wished he could ignore her, as the stilt-legged birds ignored their skimming boat. Animals didn't fear Torth the way slaves did.

Your results are sloppy. Her thoughts were sharp, like a thorn. And you've kept Me waiting.

Yellow Thomas gave her a level look. Okay. So he had made one trivial error. He performed feats of math and science that would take a team of normal scientists a decade to work through, and he did it on a daily basis. Surely he deserved a break.

Are My assignments too difficult for you? Her mind flashed threats. If you want an easy time, then find a new mentor.

He dialed his tranquility mesh up a notch. In truth, he would welcome a new mentor, although that was a (dangerous) insane thought to have. Without (protection) guidance from someone as powerful and popular as the Upward Governess, people would cease to respect him, and they would stop tolerating his eccentric quirks.

Not that he was winning much respect even with a prestigious mentor. Was he supposed to be grateful for busywork assignments? 

Your tasks, he thought, though clever, are ultimately pointless.

The Upward Governess oozed disdain. A floppy-brimmed hat kept sunlight out of her eyes, and she navigated the boat without effort, using her data tablet while she reclined on ornately decorated pillows. Do you want to remain a Yellow for the rest of your (increasingly short) life? She mentally emphasized her own health. Although she was still very weak, her hair had a new luster, and her cheeks looked more rosy. You could own a lot more things if you earned a promotion. Her thoughts had a dangerous, blade-like edge. You could have more private time to think. If he simply rose to Green Rank, then she wouldn't need to vouch for him every time he did something suspicious.

Yellow Thomas tried not to give her a resentful glare. His mentor had the authority to recommend him for promotion. If she really wanted him to attain a higher rank, she could probably make it happen.

Her round face remained smoothly neutral, but her thoughts swept together in a thunderhead that sparked with knowledge. I am not a Servant of All (who decides other people's fates). Frustration flashed in her depths. I have done everything possible to enable promotion for you. I often take time out of My busy schedule to give you opportunities. Recognize that. Value it.

He trailed his hand through the water, disrupting their reflections. Really?

On one level, he enjoyed her scientific challenges. Quantum theories, dimensional theories, thermodynamics ... no organization on Earth would have trusted children to solve galaxy-wide problems. The Upward Governess held him to standards that were light years beyond what normal scientists were capable of, pushing him to new levels of ingenuity.

He yearned to apply his new skill set to something worthwhile. Something like ((freedom for everyone who deserves it) NAI-12.

The Upward Governess narrowed her eyes, studying him. If you ever want to regain control of your health and your future, then you need to innovate. Invent something!!! She emblazoned the thought with neon colors. Further the Empire! My assignments are (obviously!) just launch vectors. I am doing everything I can to help you!

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