Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 28

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XXVIII

Richard sat on his bed, apparently doing nothing. He had been there for over an hour, unmoving, but obviously not asleep. Then, he was startled into movement by Jot’s voice.

“Richard. Time to go to training.”

Richard shook his head back and forth for a moment, then focused his eyes on Jot. “I can’t today. My muscles are all weird right now.”

“…What?”

Richard pointed to his left arm. “These ones are different, but the rest are still the same. I don’t want to strain them until they are all the same.”

“Okaaaay. Umm, be careful with your… body modification. I’ll be back later.”

Richard waved goodbye with his right arm. Then, his attention refocused on his left arm, which he had been working on. There was just a little bit of muscle that was different. The final 99% of his muscles Richard estimated were what he considered “normal” for a human. So far, this single percent was similar to what he had seen of his father’s muscles. That was actually another mystery. Although he didn’t really want to admit it, Richard could tell his father was “not normal”. He was very different, with Richard’s new senses, than any other humans he had seen. Even Hiroshi, who somewhat stood out, was insignificant compared to Richard’s father. Richard didn’t actually know that much about his father. Sure, he knew likes and dislikes, his personality, but he didn’t know much else. Richard knew his father’s birthday, in terms of day and month, yet was unaware of the year. Richard didn’t know his father’s job, other family, or almost anything about his past before Richard was born. Combined with Richard’s new senses, he definitely felt his father was anything but normal. Richard had never thought about him in terms of normal or not normal, so it had taken him a while to realize it. Now, he was curious about any number of things. Eventually, he would ask about it. Right now, though, he wanted better muscles. He’d seen them, and though they were very different, to Richard, they still felt definitely “human”, although he could not have said why… except that the DNA said so.

For the next week, Richard did not attend classes. He still did his homework with his “normal” body, but only left his room to eat meals, and even then only quickly, which meant he usually didn’t eat with anyone else. Sometimes Hiroshi was there, because he didn’t eat at a set time, but Jot was more rare, and he didn’t see Elena at all. He was always very hungry at meal times, even though he was eating a significant amount every meal. He knew he was using a lot of energy, so it made sense. Doing much movement distracted him from adjusting his muscles, which was why he avoided going to classes, even though he wasn’t using his physical brain for that process. He felt he was almost done. He looked down at his muscles and saw his work. Throughout his body was spread the new kind of muscle, covering part of every limb and his body as well. The process was very time consuming, but Richard had soon discovered something interesting. At first, he had thought he was misremembering, but eventually he decided that the muscle was spreading from its origin points on its own. Slowly but surely it replaced the surrounding muscles with the new type. Once he’d discovered that, he “planted” the muscle in various places. This took less effort than doing each piece bit by bit, but the process was slower. With the combination of manual and automatic processes he was almost finished with his work. The next morning, he could finally call it “done”. He actually looked thinner and smaller, but he felt about the same as he had before.

—–

The next day he left for classes, with much suspicion from Jot. Richard didn’t stop him from poking and prodding his muscles. Jot even lifted Richard over his head. Finally, Jot finished with a shake of his head. “Where did you get that idea? It’s not Xevaronian… too squishy.”

Richard thought for a few moments before finally responding. “That’s top secret information. However, it’s still human.”

Jot looked at Richard with doubt in his eyes. “I have seen data on human muscles. Unless you have rocks pretty evenly spread throughout your body, or you replaced your bones with steel, those are not human muscles.”

Richard shook his head. “Don’t worry, I didn’t replace my bones. Though I feel that steel would make me actually a lot heavier…”

“That is true. Regardless, I advise you to be cautious. Since you are the only one who actually knows what you are doing, you will have to figure out proper caution yourself, but please do try to be cautious.”

“Of course, Jot. Don’t worry, I actually like being healthy and uninjured.” Then they arrived at the cafeteria.

At breakfast, Richard saw Elena for the first time in a week. She immediately got a worried look in her eye. “What happened? You’re so thin now. You look like you were sick! Is that why you’ve been missing classes?”

Richard looked down at himself and thought for a moment. “Oh, sorry. I got caught up in something and I didn’t want to stop. It wasn’t entirely planned, so I didn’t think to tell anybody about it.”

“Well, Jot said you would ‘probably be fine’,” Elena responded. “However, he said that when I saw you in the clinic, and you had most of your ribs broken.”

“At that point, I was a lot better. Also, technically it was only half of my ribs.”

Elena gave him a frown. “Do you not care about what happens to your body?”

“I do! Sort of. I mean, I guess I could worry about it more, but… I don’t.” Richard shrugged. “I don’t feel that much about it, since now it’s like… half of me. Things seem less significant than they would otherwise. On the other hand, while I might not care that much about injuries, I take very seriously any threat to my life.”

She shook her head. “Well, please do take care of yourself.”

“Of course. I’m fine. Just um… a bit more thin. I’ll explain it once I’m more sure it worked right. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll get to explain how I messed up.”

Jot interjected at this point. “Yes, and now we have to eat fast to get to class on time. Better start.”

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