Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 14

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XIV

Over the next few days, Richard and Jot often sat with Elena at meals and in class. There were always empty seats around. Eventually, Richard and his incredible tact brought it up directly.

“Hey, I haven’t seen any other Noxians around. Why is that?”

“Well, we’re not very populous. You can’t expect a lot of us in any one place, especially away from our homeworld.”

“Yeah? Humans are one of the kind that are everywhere. I guess a bit more so in this system since it was first colonized by humans. Although, that was a long time ago, so maybe it doesn’t make a difference.”

Jot contributed as well. “Xevaronians are quite spread out yet very clustered. We get along well with most people, but still often form communities that are primarily Xevaronian. Of course, this is more important during the more volatile stages of our development.”

“What, like puberty?” Richard asked.

“Exactly. Well, first puberty is the most volatile. It is unwise to be around Xevaronians during that time unless you are… sturdy. It was during this time that I took up the Martial Arts. It is very calming.”

“What, hitting people?”

“Yes. Of course, there are more directly mental aspects as well. It teaches a groundwork for mental stability.”

“Like me,” said Richard. “I’m super mentally stable. I definitely didn’t try weird food that had no flavor and I don’t see glowy things.”

“Glowy things?” asked Elena.

Richard leaned closer and took on a conspiratorial tone that was not any quieter than his normal voice. “Yeah, after I left home I started seeing glowy things. Auras, I guess you could say. I can’t figure out what they mean, if anything. It’s weird though.”

“Do humans normally see auras later?”

“Humans normally don’t see auras at all. I might actually be crazy. I can turn it off though.”

“That’s… interesting. Oh, there’s my history teacher.” She waved at someone. “He actually looks kind of like you, Richard. Is brown hair common among humans?”

“Yeah, maybe around half of us. Depends on whether you count really dark brown as black and really light brown as blonde.”

“Having different pigmentation is weird,” said Elena.

“See? I told you,” said Jot.

“Fine. I lose. Humans are weird. So do Noxians see auras or whatever?”

“Not really. We do see more distinction among greens though. Plus a little bit of ultraviolet.”

“Hmm. Maybe I’ll find someone to talk to about this glowy phenomenon.”

“What glowy phenomenon?” came a voice from behind Richard. It sounded vaguely familiar.

“Hello Mr. Smith. Richard here sees glowy things.”

“Hmm. Strange.”

The voice really sounded familiar. Richard turned and looked. Into his father’s eyes. The look said something. Was it “I’m looking down at you at an awkward angle and thus have a weird face” or “remember that one conversation we had?” Probably the second one. That’s what that look usually meant.

He didn’t though. Remember which conversation was applicable, that is.

“Umm… context?”

“Hospital bed.”

“Ohh!” Richard faked remembering what he was supposed to remember. Then he stopped faking. Was it… “I’m here for you if anything strange happens?” Yes it was.

Richard spoke up, “Hey, wanna hear about this strange thing? I’m seeing auras or something.”

Mr. Smith responded in kind. “Fascinating. I think we need to talk more later.”

Elena asked, “Do you two know each other? I’m getting the feeling you do.”

“Yes,” they both said.

“He’s my…”

“I’m his…”

“Brother? I’m going to guess brother.”

“Good guess!” said Richard.

“Excellent!” said Mr. Smith.

“Not what I heard,” said Jot.

Richard responded, “Well, that doesn’t make it not a good guess. We could totally be brothers. Actually, he’s my adoptive father.”

“So… did he adopt you from a brother or something?”

Richard hadn’t thought of that. He turned to his father with a finger raised and mouth open to speak.

“No. Completely unrelated.”

Shot down without even asking.

“Well, at least that explains how you don’t look old enough to be his father.”

Richard’s father looked at him. Richard decided to explain as much as he could.

“He says he’s actually more than old enough for that. I wouldn’t believe him but he does look about the same in my baby pictures. He says it’s because of an old family secret.”

“Oh? What’s the secret to looking young?”

“Simple. Pick your parents wisely.” He smiled. “I’ve got to head to my next class, but I couldn’t resist saying hello. See you later.” He waved. Then, he looked at Richard. They would definitely talk later.

“Humans are weird,” said Jot.

Elena nodded.

—–

Richard wasn’t looking forward to having this talk, whatever it was. Although he hadn’t intentionally hidden anything from his father, he felt bad about it.

It also worried him that his father was serious. When his father was actually serious, so was life itself. Far more serious than Richard would prefer it.

On the other hand, Richard was hoping his father would be able to tell him something about what was happening to him. He did always seem to know everything that was going on, but that could have been because he was just older and wiser than Richard. He’d had enough time to figure things out.

Thus it was that Richard went to meet his father with both trepidation and hope. There were a few awkward moments of silence before Richard’s father spoke.

“So… something about glowing?”

Richard explained what he’d been experiencing. “… and for some reason you glow so bright my eyes… my other eyes hurt.”

“Hmm, I have some idea of what you might be seeing, but I can’t say for sure. I also can’t explain why you are seeing these things.”

“I was hoping you might be able to help.”

“Well, I don’t know about how this… ability… works, but I have something that might provide some insight. It will take some explaining though.” Richard’s father took a deep breath, and began to tell Richard a story… one he hadn’t heard before.

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