Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 16

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Richard sat in silence as the story concluded. “I don’t suppose… it’s a big joke?”

Richard’s father shook his head, “I’m afraid not.”

“So… I’m not human?”

“I think you are just as human as I am… but also something else. I… don’t really know.”

“I’m confused.”

“That’s very understandable.”

Richard muttered to himself. “I’m… not human?”

“Does it matter?” Mr. Smith raised an eyebrow.

“I’m… honestly not sure how to tell.”

“Take time to think about it. That’s almost always the best advice for any situation.” Richard’s father pulled out a stone, almost a sphere. “This… is for you. I don’t know how it works, but I think it should help you understand who you are.”

“Thanks…” Richard accepted it. It was heavy, and cold. It felt strange. He got up to leave. “Dad… why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“Would you have believed me?”

“…no, it’s crazy. I don’t even know if I believe you now. I don’t think you’d lie, but you might be crazy.”

“Well, of course I’m crazy. It’s still true though.”

“Thanks for telling me. I’m going to go… figure out how to use this rock.”

“Of course. I’ll still be around if you want to talk. Maybe I can help you if you come up with some specific questions.”

“Yeah. I’ll ask. Once I know what to ask.”


Richard sat on his bed, looking at a rock. He felt stupid. Confused. He couldn’t even figure out how to use a rock. He wanted to throw it at the wall.

“Richard, you should really do something besides just stare at the rock.”

Now Richard wanted to throw it at Jot. “Oh? Like what?”

“I don’t know. Shake it. Kiss it. Hit it on your head. Of course, you could always just look at it with your new glowy-sense.”

“I… didn’t think of that.”

“I’m pretty sure you didn’t actually think at all.”

“Shut up Jot. I uh… have to concentrate now.”

Jot was quiet. He watched Richard’s eyes glaze over. He moved closer to check that he was still breathing. Then, Richard started moving again.

“It’s talking.”

“Ah yes. I remember the days when I used to talk to rocks. It was very fun.”

“Oh come on Jot, be serious.”

“I’m always serious. Serious is my middle name.”

“Do Xevaronians even have middle names?”


“Right, but anyway, it’s talking to me. Like, I can see the auras, right? This rock has one, and I can… hear it. Kinda. It’s like… telepathy, talking to my weird, glowy brain. Does that make sense?”

“Not at all, but I understand the words you are saying. What is it saying?”

“It’s… It doesn’t really translate to words. There’s a message though. It’s like… a biology lesson? Kind of. I don’t even really understand.”

“I think there’s going to be a lot of not understanding things for a while.”

“Yeah. Let me see if I can finish hearing what it has to say.”


Over the next few days, Richard did most things in a strange daze. He went to classes, and sort of participated, but it was as if he was only half there. Maybe a bit less than half. When he was talking to the rock, he was both more and less there at the same time.

Richard learned, among other things, that he was still basically himself. He just happened to also be… an energy thing. The only solid part of this second self were tiny little anchor points spread throughout his body. Since he only learned about it through his non-physical side, the concept of the anchor points was less scientific than he would have liked. He just knew that they were something that kept him attached to the rest of him.

He also learned that his energy body could manipulate his physical body, although not without using, well, energy. He thought back on his recent experiences, and he had some idea of how that would work. He hadn’t actually noticed everything, but when he talked to Jot, he pointed out many things.

“When I first saw you, Richard, you could barely stand. You were hungry and completely unused to the gravity. Then, you ate some Xevaronian food. At the end, you could taste it, right? Then, around the next morning, you were walking around as if gravity wasn’t twice what you were used to. Not just used to it, but stronger. I suspect you ate so much because you needed the energy to create, well, new muscle. Have you weighed yourself lately?”

Richard shook his head.

“Well, I bet you’re heavier, relative to the change in gravity of course. More muscle. I probably don’t need to point out that the mortality rate of humans exposed to Noxian toxins is close to 100%. Well, actually, now that we know you aren’t entirely human, we can just go back to saying it’s actually 100%.”

“The doctor was saying I have legitimate human antibodies for those toxins now. Of course, each Noxian is slightly different, but they should work well enough. He also didn’t say ‘legitimate human antibodies’, but that was the idea.”

Richard lay back on his bed. He had a lot of thinking to do. He was still Richard, but Richard was different than he knew. Someone he had known his entire life was fundamentally different than he’d thought. It was harder to take in than that, because it was himself, and he hadn’t known. Richard slept. All of him, the solid and the energy, was exhausted. He wouldn’t have even thought energy could get tired. Or, well, think. Then, it stopped thinking. Instead, it dreamed.

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