Of course, Richard didn’t succeed in inviting 98 more people, nor did he try. He didn’t like talking in front of or to people he didn’t know, and he certainly didn’t want to invite them to the zoo. Besides, then it would be too crowded. In fact, Richard had almost forgotten to invite Hiroshi, since he didn’t speak up about it even though they had been sitting together when the idea came up. Richard supposed he was just being polite because they were new friends, since Hiroshi did seem happy to be invited once it happened.
Elena almost didn’t come, since she wanted to study, even though it was a day off of school. Richard convinced her to come by pointing out that learning also requires rest sometimes. That seemed to be a good enough excuse.
Richard did find it somewhat awkward going out with friends but also his father and teacher. He was somewhat considered an adult now, but he felt like a kid as well.
Richard was immensely interested in the different animals. Jot brought the subject up, of course. “Have you never seen these before?”
“Not real ones. I’ve been to a zoo before, but the one on Utopia only had Earth creatures.”
“It’s the human home planet.”
“I see. Why are you not called Earthians then?”
Mr. Smith spoke up. “The proper term is Earthlings, actually. However, since English… Common originated on Earth, they kept the word for themselves the same. Just like Xevaronians are likely called something completely different in your native language.”
“Correct. It’s basically ‘people.’”
Elena was always restrained in her actions, but it seemed she really liked seeing the animals as well. Richard assumed she hadn’t been to a zoo before, as a princess. Learning about things from text or video did not feel the same as seeing something in person. Not that he ever planned to bring up that he knew she was a princess, and he supposed there was a very small chance he could be wrong about that.
Then there was Hiroshi. Although he seemed to be enjoying himself, he was constantly looking around. He seemed nervous, for some reason. He was very good at finding all the little animals that were hard to spot, though. If for nothing else, it was worth inviting him for that. Lots of those animals were pretty cute. Richard supposed that, in their own way, even the ones that opened their mouths to an almost impossible size and had many rows of sharp teeth were kind of cute.
Although Richard was interacting with everyone normally, his second body and brain were on a completely different track. He couldn’t stop thinking about his muscles. He wanted them to be better, but as far as he could tell he could only bulk up and lose some finesse. There might have been slight room for balanced growth, but it wasn’t as much as Richard wanted. He felt vulnerable, even though he was much less so than he had ever been before.
Thus, his energy self observed people’s muscles. If he focused hard enough, he could somewhat see the structure of other people, just like himself. It was best if they were nearby or touching though. Jot’s muscles, as Richard expected, really were much denser. It was one thing to know something, but another entirely to see it, or feel it. The structure was definitely much different from his own. Richard thought he might be able to copy that muscle pattern, but he knew it wouldn’t interact well with the rest of his body. A quick look over Elena revealed muscles similar to a human. Richard did keep that quick, though.
As for the animals at the zoo… Richard found that they had interesting variety, but it wasn’t particularly useful to observe them unless he was planning to change his shape. After all, muscles connected to bones and such, and thus it was better to observe people with the same kind of skeletal structure.
Richard observed other people who passed by, and saw a wide variety of things he’d never imagined before. He wouldn’t have been able to describe the important details on a test, but he got a good idea of what was going on. None had muscles as powerful as Jot’s, though. Still, Richard enjoyed studying the different types, albeit briefly as he passed by. There were even a few other humans that Richard got a chance to look at. Still, Richard didn’t see any way he could make progress without changing his muscles into something not human. He certainly wanted to think about that for a while before attempting it.
Hiroshi was in excellent shape, although if he was really a ninja, which Richard somewhat doubted, then he would have to be. Theoretically, anyway. There was a pretty strong, if subdued, glowiness about him. Richard wasn’t really sure if there was a better way to describe it. It was like… a flashlight covered by a blanket, or something. So maybe he was a ninja or something, and just wasn’t very good at it. On the other hand, Richard wasn’t sure what auras actually meant, and whether they actually had a connection to anything supernatural. At best, Richard’s grandmother’s aura had changed when she was looking over him, but that might just indicate intense concentration or some kind of emotion. Going back to Hiroshi, Richard wasn’t even sure whether a ninja would have any supernatural abilities, because in fiction they ranged from sneaky people to something like wizards.
Then, something caught Richard’s ‘eye’. Well, more like almost blinded it. Somehow, he had forgotten about his father. Not that he hadn’t been physically aware of him, but his other body had subconsciously ignored the interference of what Richard might have called an excessive amount of glowing. Richard had noticed it before, but it was uncomfortable to look at, and to think about. Richard tried to ignore that, but he did check out his father’s muscles. Instead of what he expected, he saw something very strange. It was very hard to tell what was going on, but somehow Richard felt the muscles still qualified as human. That said, they seemed to be denser than Jot’s, and of a very different formation that Richard’s own. Maybe if he could see a little bit closer…
Richard was startled out of his thoughts as he walked directly into his father. “Oh… hi.”
Richard had seen it, and thought he understood it, but he was tired. He would think more about it later, but he planned to enjoy himself fully for the rest of the day. There were some pretty interesting animals to see, and he also thought he’d seen an ice cream stand nearby. He couldn’t spend all his time worry about himself and a possible curse.