Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 40

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Hiroshi explained to Richard, “Actually, there isn’t all that much I can do with ki. I can expand my body’s capabilities, and there are some cool tricks I can do… but it’s rather limited. Those who taught me can do some pretty amazing things… like creating fire. Of course, a flamethrower can do that too.”

“I suppose that’s true. It would be pretty useful though. Can you teach me? Actually, are you allowed to teach me?”

“To that, I would have to answer… no and yes.”

“Ah, I don’t want to get you in trouble or anything. I know people like to keep that stuff secret.”

Hiroshi shook his head. “That’s not really the problem. I’m not particularly qualified to teach you, and it takes at least a decade. Thus, I really can’t… at least, not anytime in the near future.”

“Oh…” Richard looked over Hiroshi. Jot was a good bit older than Richard, in body and maturity, if not in heart. Hiroshi, however, appeared basically the same age. He was human, which meant he would generally have started university at around 18. Given that he started late, and that usually there wasn’t too much discrepancy in when schooling started, Hiroshi shouldn’t have been much more than 20 or so. “When did you start training?”

“When I was six.” Hiroshi shrugged. “It’s a family thing, so I started pretty young. Actually, a lot of it is just learning to sense ki around you or in others… then a lot of sitting and meditating until you sense it within you… and then a lot of time spent learning to control it safely.”

“I can already sense it, sort of. With all the other energy I see.”

“Really? Hmm, that might cut off a couple years of training… or it might not. After all, in your case it’s not your body that senses it, right? Just the energy part of you. That’s umm, not ki, by the way. It’s some other kind of energy, because I can’t sense it. Anyway, the method I know involves ki in your body… and I wouldn’t know how that would work without it going into your physical body. On the other hand, maybe it would work.” Hiroshi shook his head. “I wouldn’t count on it. If you mess up, it can be pretty bad for you. You’d need someone more experience to guide you, like your… like Jot, maybe. Though, his style might be more incompatible with you.” Hiroshi paused to take a deep breath. “Actually, this whole idea could get you in more trouble than it will save you from. Assuming you want to learn because of your curse, it might actually be more dangerous to you because of that. I can’t really say, but it is dangerous, if you make any mistakes.”

“Is it? Partly I was interested because I thought Jot looked pretty cool when he stopped that i-beam… though you saved me from it first, I suppose. I’m still rather new to this whole business of being worried about my safety day-to-day. On the other hand, if I was really serious, perhaps I would just stay somewhere safe and hole up. I hear that would probably work.”

Hiroshi shrugged. “I dunno. It seems like it would be pretty boring though, which is probably why you haven’t already done that. If you’re looking for things you can do to protect yourself, well, besides getting stronger like you already are, there are actually even better methods. If you have money. Go buy a bodyguard robot or an armored suit or something. I don’t really know what kind of danger you should expect, but there’s a reason magic and such aren’t used in wars, besides them being secret. Technology is pretty good.”

“That’s… not really something good for bringing around in normal life. At that point, I might as well just hide away. Though a robot… would probably be really expensive, if it could be good enough.”

Hiroshi shrugged. “Just giving you options. I have no idea how much money your parents have.”

“Umm…” Richard thought for a few moments. “Honestly, I don’t know either.”

“Well, as your friend, I should say not to worry too much. That will make your life worse. Not that you shouldn’t take care of your safety… just try to hang around with either Jot or me. I can’t say I can stop stuff from falling on your head, but I can react fast enough to help move your head out of the way. And the rest of you, too.”

“That’s… a good point. Though I’m not sure if I always want to be relying on my friends.”

Hiroshi shrugged once again. “That’s just how things work. People always rely on their friends, for many different things. In this case it’s just a little bit of physical protection instead of emotional support.”

“I suppose so. I don’t want to always rely on that, though, because you won’t always be around.”


Richard stopped to talk his father, Gilbert, after classes one day. “I have a bit of an odd question. I don’t really know how much money you and mom have, but could we afford a bodyguard robot?”

His father scrunched his face up for a moment, before nodding. “Normally, we wouldn’t spend that kind of money, but we can. Do you want one? For your safety, we can. I just didn’t bring the idea up because it would be a constant reminder that you might be in danger. On the other hand, it could be good for you.”

Richard thought for a moment. “Honestly, I don’t think I do. At least, not right now. I’m sure my friends would understand, but beyond them, I imagine I would get weird looks. I could pretend that I only care about what my friends think and not anyone else, but that wouldn’t be true. If things get worse, though… then I might. I just wanted to know if it was possible.”

His father nodded. “For you, your mother and I would do anything. That said, if you were a bit less responsible, I might have to place some caveats on that. I trust you to make responsible decisions… or at least to try, which is more than can be said for many people.”

“Thanks, dad. Just out of curiosity, though, how expensive could it be without causing financial trouble?”

His father sighed dramatically. “Already pushing the limits, are you? Seriously though, we have a good amount of money set aside. We could get whatever you need. We could also hire a non-robot guard, if you would prefer that.”

“Thanks for the offer. I’ll consider it. Right now… I’m going to try to make myself safer. All of the situations I’ve been in could have been avoided, or at least made more tolerable, if I was ready to react. Though, knowing I have great friends and family to fall back on will keep me sane.”

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