Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 30

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XXX

Richard was hungry. This was not particularly a surprise. However, he still felt pretty good, other than that.

“C’mon Jot. Let me carry it.”

“No.” Jot said, holding Richard’s tray above his head. “You wouldn’t do it properly in one hand.”

“But you’re carrying one tray in each hand!”

“I’m ambidextrous.”

“I’m right handed. Why would I do any worse than you?”

Jot paused for a second. “Your equilibrium is off.”

“What? I’ll have you know my balance is perfectly-” at this point, Richard ran into a table he’d been intending to avoid. He stared at it for a second. “I was walking that way?”

Jot nodded. “You haven’t eaten in more than 12 hours. At the rate you burn through calories…”

“I could be a Xevaronian?”

Jot snorted. “In puberty. Anyway, sit there.” Jot placed the trays down on a table, and indicated sat across from where he indicated. They started eating.

Soon, Elena joined them. “Good morning.” She started eating some food from her smaller and less filled tray. Then she paused. Her eyes grew wide. “What happened to your arm?”

“I broke it.” Richard said.

“He also dislocated it,” Jot clarified.

“What, did you pick a fight with a Xevaronian?”

Richard put on a weird face.

“…Seriously?”

Jot spoke for Richard. “Technically, they were sparring. Also, he did it to himself, mostly.”

Elena stared with her mouth open for just a split second before putting on a politely neutral expression. “So, why would you be sparring with a Xevaronian exactly?”

Richard shrugged. “Jot’s teaching me. You know that.”

“I knew he was putting you through basic fitness, and teaching you forms… but, sparring? With a Xevaronian? Are you crazy?”

“Probably,” said Richard.”

“Definitely,” said Jot. “Though, to be fair, he’d made a lot of progress.”

Richard nodded. “Yeah, I just forgot… that I needed more than strong muscles.”

“Oh?” Elena raised her eyebrow.

Richard explained his new muscle pattern, as well as he could. He avoided saying that he’d seen it in his father, for some reason. “Anyway, it seems like everything’s progressing on its own, so I’m going to let it. I don’t want to forget anything. I’m tired of getting hurt.”

Jot seemed to agree, and so did Elena. Hiroshi gave an emphatic nod.

—–

Richard found it was annoying to have an injury that let him move around and yet still hindered him. Fortunately it was his non-dominant arm. He was pretty sure his arm was already better, at least as far as he could tell, but he still needed to go to the doctor to get it checked out. As much as he would have liked to, he wasn’t just going to break his cast off when he decided it was done.

“C’mon Hiroshi, let me carry my tray. I haven’t even walked into a table in weeks!”

“No, but you spilled your tray yesterday.” Today, Hiroshi had taken over Jot’s job of keeping Richard from carrying a tray. He was generally pretty quiet, when he wasn’t blurting out things that seemed like they could be secrets, but had been continuously hanging out with Richard’s group of friends, small as it was.

“I only spilled my tray because-” Well, it had been a combination of factors revolving around him being deep in thought and then getting distracted by something else. “Jot!” Richard grabbed Jot’s shoulders and shook him. Well, he made a shaking motion, but Jot didn’t move. Instead, Richard basically pulled himself forward and back. “I’m the only one like me!” The attempted shaking continued.

“I would say that is true. I’ve never seen anyone like you. For example, most people don’t jump up onto a table to emphasize their points. Also, doesn’t that hurt your arm?”

Richard climbed back down into his seat. “Only… a little bit.” Richard grimaced. “But I mean, like, as an energy thing. I’m the only one. That part of me can’t even talk to anyone.”

“Okay, but what about… wherever you came from?”

“They’re dead, Jot. Didn’t I… I guess I didn’t tell anyone that.”

Elena looked over at Richard with a shocked expression. “Your race is dying?”

“Dead, except for me. I still fit in with humans, and I’m still mostly used to being human, but I’m also one of… Well, there wasn’t a need for words for what they were. One of them. However, after I die, I guess a race will be dead.” Richard paused. “Not that I plan to die anytime soon.”

The table sat in awkward silence for a few minutes. Richard picked at his food. Eventually, Elena spoke. “Was it like what’s happening with the Noxians?”

Now it was Richard’s turn to stare in shock. “Something’s happening with the Noxians?” He’d done basic research on them (and Xevaronians) because he didn’t want to commit any major social blunders. “Since when? I didn’t read anything about that.”

Elena covered her mouth. “Well, actually… it’s kinda kept quiet, but… we’re getting less fertile. Soon we won’t even have enough kids to keep up the population.”

“Oh.” Richard almost regretted asking. “No, it wasn’t like that. Their sun… was, I guess it still is, in the stages of going supernova. The planet’s scorched. I was the only one who got off the planet.”

“I heard about that.” Hiroshi nodded to himself. “Err, I’ve heard of stories like that, in fiction.”

“Nobody else left?” asked Jot.

“No, they weren’t spacefaring. My parents… they found them, and they saved me. Nobody else could come, though. The only thing left of the civilization is a rock.” Richard slammed his hand onto the table. “That’s it! I forgot there was more information in there somewhere.” He stood up to rush off, presumably to his room.

“Richard!” called Jot. Richard turned around to listen. “You should pay for that tray.” Richard looked at the broken tray sheepishly.

“I guess my new muscles work. I’ll just take this up to the counter.”

Fortunately for him, the trays were due for replacement, so he didn’t have to pay anything. Not that he didn’t still feel bad for breaking the tray. On the other hand, he did feel slightly good that he could.

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