Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 46

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XLVI

As the group got off the ship into the nearby buildings, they were met by several Noxians. It was immediately obvious that these weren’t servant sent to pick up Elena, both by their manner of dress and their attitudes and bright smiles when she came into view. She immediately smiled back. “Father! Mother! Brother.”

The last was less enthusiastic than the others, though Richard felt that it was said somewhat sarcastically. Elena’s family reunion felt a bit less happy than he had imagined. It wasn’t that everyone wasn’t smiling and talking. Elena went up to each of them in turn, and they bowed in a rather formal way. Richard would have expected hugs from his family, but on the other hand it made little sense for Noxians to hug. Though they enclosed themselves in protective garments, if there were any problems it would be quite dangerous. Though Noxians were more resistant to each other’s toxins than humans were, nobody wanted to experience something even potentially life threatening.

Though they were all speaking Noxian, Richard and the rest had translator units. After all, many things would be spoken around them solely in Noxian. After the initial greetings, and a small bit of catching up, Elena’s family turned to the rest of the group. Her father took the lead to ask, “And who are these friends of yours?” He spoke in very clear Common, not that Richard would have expected differently. After all, Elena didn’t really have a noticeable accent easier. Most places spoke Common for interacting with other places, and while not all Noxians would speak common, nobility and royalty were responsible for diplomatic actions. Even if it wasn’t required with translators existing, speaking a language almost everyone understood was sensible.

“This is Richard Smith.” She paused, and Richard bowed politely. It was strange not to offer a handshake or something, but that wasn’t a great idea. Richard saw a slightly strange look in Elena’s father- the king’s eyes. “This is Jot.” Susan again paused between each introduction. “Next is Hiroshi. Then we have Susan Smith, and Richard’s father Gilbert Smith.” At the end Richard saw the look again, though he might not have noticed it if he didn’t interact with Jot and some other Xevaronians regularly. They were subtle with the emotions displayed on their face, and that had given Richard some practice reading people. This particular look was recognition. “My friends, this is my father Gregor, my mother Katherine, and my brother Carl.” Richard had learned that Noxian’s names, such as Elena, were just the version that were easy to pronounce in Common. This was similar to Jot being… Jot, instead of whatever his full name was.

After the introductions, the group turned to head elsewhere, instead of standing near the ship. Carl actually came up to Richard and offered his hand, which Richard shook. “I’m Carl. I’ve heard a lot about you from my sister.”

“Richard. I’ve heard… that you exist.”

“Hah! Just recently too. Even if Elena hadn’t been keeping the fact that she was a princess covert, she probably wouldn’t have mentioned me much. I’m a bit of an embarrassment.”

“How so?”

“Well, I’m a bit of an anti-traditionalist.” He raised his eyebrows. “You’re a bit of an odd one yourself though. Why did you shake my hand?”

“You offered.”

Carl smiled. “Not afraid? Or are you just reckless?”

“If I have to answer that… I’m not afraid, so shaking hands seemed natural when you extended yours. Though, perhaps I should have thought about it.”
“Why?” Carl touched his chin thoughtfully, though there were at least two layers of fabric between his actual hand and his chin. “There’s a reason we wear gloves. It’s not because we like how they feel. Yet, everyone’s afraid of shaking hands with a Noxian. It’s not dangerous though… exceptional circumstances aside. I hear you ran into some of those. These gloves aren’t easy to slice open, you know? Everything is also designed to neutralize any traces that gets on them, so even if we were careless with putting them on, there aren’t any residual toxins on the outside. The chance of being in danger from shaking a Noxians hand is ridiculously low.”

“I guess people just don’t like that possibility.”

Carl shrugged. “I suppose so. Want to know something interesting? You’re much more likely to get sick- something serious and deadly, from a handshake with people not your own than you are to have problems with a Noxian. Something mild to one species might be deadly to another. It’s just that Noxians look more dangerous, even though the probability is much lower.”

Richard shrugged. “People are irrational sometimes. I have to say though that personally 40% of the Noxians I’ve met have almost killed me… or tried to.”

Carl’s eyes glazed over for a moment, before responding. “Who’s the other one?”

“Umm…” Richard pondered for a few moments. “I’m pretty sure his real name isn’t Jerkface, but I don’t actually know his name.”

Carl thought for a few moments. “Well, the only other Noxian I know of that went to Maropa is Geran Oulbriph. Sounds like a fitting nickname.”

“Oh right Elena told me I wasn’t supposed to say that here.”

Carl shrugged. “I won’t tell. I might call him that myself though.”

“Not a fan?”

Carl shook his head. “He’s the worst kind of traditionalist. He just uses tradition as a weapon, just like his father did. Unfortunately, he’s actually quite good with weapons. Still, it’s not normally like him to call for this kind of meeting. If it’s not truly important, he’s not going to get off with just a slap on the wrist.”

“He called for this gathering? Why don’t I like that at all?”

“Because he’s as pleasant as a dried out piece of dung. Umm, we should really catch up with the rest of the group. I don’t want my sister to think I’m being a bad influence on you.”

“Aren’t you?”

“Yeah, but I don’t want her to think that.”

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