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Sense of Obligation
written by "Harrison, Harry, 1925-"
... scavenge the blood of toxins—there are so many things it could do. Things it must have done, since the magter are obviously the dominant life form on this planet. They paid a high price for their symbiote, but it didn't really matter to race-survival until now. Did you notice that the magter's brain is no smaller than normal?" "It must be—or how else could that brain-symbiote fit in inside the skull with it?" Brion said. "If the magter's total brain were smaller in volume than normal, it could fit into the remaining space in the cranial hollow. But the brain is full-sized—it is just that part of it is missing, absorbed by the symbiote." "The frontal lobes," Brion said with sudden realization. "This hellish growth has performed a prefrontal lobotomy!" "It's done even more than that," Lea said, separating the convolutions of the gray matter with her scalpel to uncover a green filament beneath. "These tendrils penetrate farther back into the brain, but always remain in the cerebrum. The cerebellum appears to be untouched. Apparently just the higher functions of mankind have been interfered with, selectively. Destruction of the frontal lobes made the magter creatures without emotions or ability for really abstract thought. Apparently they survived better without these. There must have been some horrible failures before the right balance was struck. The final product is a man-plant-animal symbiote that is admirably adapted for [Pg 141]survival on this disaster world. No emotions to cause complications or desires that might interfere with pure survival. Complete ruthlessness—mankind has always been strong on this anyway, so it didn't take much of a push." "The other Disans, like Ulv here, managed to survive without turning into such a creature. So why was it necessary for the magter to go so far?" "Nothing is necessary in evolution, you know that," Lea sa...

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