Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 37

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XXXVII

Richard’s mother, Anna, thought for a few moments before she continued to explain. “I suppose you must have noticed there are some strange things about your father and me.”

Richard nodded. “I mean, for all that I’ve known you my entire life, I barely know anything about your past. Or your present, for that matter. I never knew what work you did, but sometimes one of you would go off on a ‘business trip’ for months or more. Apparently dad is qualified to teach galactic history, and also somehow capable of getting the job with zero notice. You… for some reason got cloned in a probably-illegal facility, and yet somehow got a clone of you out.”

“Then she blew it up.” Susan said, almost as if she were talking about the weather. Anna gave her a sharp look. “What? Was I not supposed to say that? I thought we were sharing the secrets now…”

Richard’s mother shook her head. “Saying it out of context can lead to a confusing idea of what really happened.”

“Sooo…” Richard drew out his question, “What does the context add to that situation? Was it the probably-illegal cloning facility that you blew up?”

“Well you see…” She stopped for a moment to think, “Actually that’s basically the whole story. I found out about the place, then scouted it out. I found Susan… though she didn’t have that name then, and then after I left… well… technically the facility imploded.”

“And you did that… how?”

“I set some charges, then detonated them.”

“No, I mean, that makes sense but… where did you get them? How did you get into the facility? I imagine they had security.”

“I bought them with money. Getting past security isn’t too hard with a good plan and some of the right tools, as well as being in good shape.”

Richard thought for about a minute after that, not saying anything. “Well, I will admit that you are in good shape. You certainly don’t look like the type to do infiltration missions or anything… but you did pick me up and spin me around like it was nothing. That still doesn’t explain why you have access to the black market though, or why you would know how to do any of that stuff.” Richard shook his head. “Maybe it doesn’t matter though? I’m not sure.”

“Well, if it makes you feel better, I got the charges through legitimate channels.”

“I’m not sure if it does.”

Anna shrugged. “Well, I didn’t want to dump all of this on you at once. You seem to be handling it pretty well though. However, we can take a break if you want.”

Richard pursed his lips. “Well, I would probably be freaking out more, but about half of my human part is thinking ‘this is pretty cool’. The other half is super confused right now though. Then, the other part of me seems completely unperturbed, which is helping a lot. Actually, what I most want to ask right now is… Are you okay? Were you in danger?”

His mother smiled. “I’m glad you asked. I am perfectly fine. As for whether I was in danger…” She tilted her head to the side. “I would say not particularly. In a relative manner, you have been in much more danger than me lately.”

“Good.” Richard paused again, pursing his lips. “So, dad, any secrets you want to share?”

“Want to? Not really. However, I suppose I should share some things. Let’s see… a long time ago I was a bad person. I also tried to kill your grandmother… numerous times.”

“Is that why you don’t stay in the same room for long?”

Richard’s grandmother shook her head. “Being in the same room as your father, Gilbert, still makes me quite uncomfortable, even though it was well before your mother was born when we had any conflict. While we are sharing things, a long time in the past I cursed your father, because of what he had done.”

“I totally deserved that, to be clear. Not that I would have admitted it at the time.”

“Huh.” Richard mulled over what he had learned for a while. “I don’t know what I was expecting to learn here, but this wasn’t it. Wait, you said you knew dad before mom was born?”

“That’s right,” Richard’s father stated. “I’m much closer in age to your grandmother than your mother.”

Richard looked at the two of them. His father looked young, like his mother. Again, he could have been mistaken for Richard’s older brother. “How does that work? Was it just that you took anti-aging treatments and grandma didn’t?”

Richard’s grandmother shook her head. “A side effect of cursing him. It took a lot out of me.”

Susan was looking around, confused. After all, she didn’t really know anything about the situation either. “Umm, is the curse bad Uncle Gilbert? Is it okay to ask?”

“Let’s just say… I’m not even sure if it’s still in effect, and if it is it doesn’t matter.”

“That’s… good.” Susan looked down at her hands, wringing them nervously. “Umm… you said they didn’t get what they expected when they cloned you. Does that mean I’m a failure of some kind? Will I be okay?”

Richard’s mother, Anna, smiled gently. “Don’t worry, dear. I think the cloning was quite successful. It was just that they expected more immediate results.”

“Umm… I was raised from being a baby. That doesn’t seem like they wanted immediate results…”

Anna shook her head. “Accelerated aging processes never work out well, from what I have heard about clones. A couple decades was within what they would have expected. It’s just that it will take you longer to get to the points that they wanted.”

“Is that why they kept trying to make me do things I couldn’t do? Testing my reflexes, fighting, and such? They seemed to think I should have been stronger…”

“You can be as strong or as quick or as knowledgeable as you want. It will just take some time. A lot of time, and dedication.”

“Oh…” Susan continued looking down at her hands, quietly.

“Well,” Richard said, “It seems like we have a lot to think about. Will we be able to do this again sometime? You’re not running off again somewhere, are you?” Richard looked at his mother.

She shook her head. “I shouldn’t be. All of my matters should be settled for the foreseeable future.”

“Good… good.” Richard shook his head. “Why did everything have to all happen at once anyway.”

Richard’s father shrugged. “That’s just the way things happen. Nothing for a long time, then everything at once.”

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