4.12 Self-Exile

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Thomas felt lost without the Megacosm.

Unknown factors whipped around him like a storm, shooting off lightning bolts of unknown possibilities. For all he knew, an army of Red Ranks was closing in on him. They might kill his friends (slaves) at any second and then chain him up in the Isolatorium to die a brutal death. The Giant might be dead. Anything at all might be happening in the Torth Empire. He needed to find out.

But then everyone would sense his gigantic mind and glom onto his business. He dared not share his thoughts with any other mind readers. All he could do was enter commands on the tablet on his lap, rapidly opening menus and making selections, aware that his freedom could end at any moment. He had no way of knowing what to expect.

At least some surprises were good. He hadn't expected to be able to hack into the Upward Governess's tablet. Her key-code would stymy any normal person, but Thomas had absorbed her tastes in mathematics, so he'd quickly cracked the algorithm which refreshed her code at regular intervals. It seemed she had not considered Yellow Thomas to be much of a threat.

What a mistake.

She would never recover from this. Using her access, he could reprogram city-wide utilities. The Torth Majority would probably kill her for the screw-up, and even if they allowed her to live, they would strip away her authority over the metropolis of New GoodLife WaterGarden City. They'd demote her to Green Rank or lower. There she would die, since she no longer owned NAI-12 medicine and had no chance of gaining more. And if she reacted like a spoiled child? Well, if she let her inner rage show, they would sentence her to death.


But for some reason, Thomas didn't feel good about setting her up to die. All she'd truly wanted was to live. He had that same craving. In a way, defeating his erstwhile mentor felt like he was celebrating his own unhealthiness and death.

"Thomas?" Margo approached with caution, her hair rippling in the wind. "Are you ... all right?"

He sensed fear in her hesitation. She saw him as a Torth.

His identity was far too complicated for her, a (slave) human, to understand. He didn't entirely understand it, himself. So he simply stated, "My goodwill should be obvious." After all, he was risking his life to help slaves escape. The Torth Empire would hunt them until they died, and he didn't want to think about how they'd react to a renegade super-genius.

"Then ..." Margo peered from him to Cherise, and back again. She wanted to know why he wasn't apologizing or explaining everything.

"I'm busy," he said.

Margo eyed the Torth glyphs that scrolled across the governance tablet. "Okay. What are you doing?"

"Introducing a flaw into a weather monitoring system." He tapped menu options, steering the hovercart with one hand. Precision driving was paramount. They might plunge over the edge of the causeway, into the white-water aqueducts far below, but they also needed to stay in the blackest shadows. He swerved around each brilliant cone of light. Speed was also important, or they'd miss their chance to escape through the sluice gate he'd reprogrammed.

"Why?" Margo asked.

"To make it hard for them to find us." He chose simple words, wishing she could read minds so he wouldn't need to explain facts.

He logged out of the networked satellite system, having reprogrammed the terrestrial surveillance monitors to include errors which would be misconstrued as a wayward hovercart. That would trick the Torth into hunting in the wrong direction. Next, he began to shut down the city's water supply. That would disable half the power plants and prevent transports from taking off. He couldn't guess when the Torth would figure out that he had become their enemy, so he worked as fast as possible.

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