Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 48

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It finally came about on the second day that the real issue was brought up, probably. Richard wasn’t sure, but it seemed likely. When the history came to the most recent two hundred years, there was a lot of emphasis placed on the growing infertility of the Noxians. This was a big issue, and Richard certainly considered it worthy of an emergency meeting. He would have just preferred if they had stated that, and then said what plans they had to do something about it, instead of taking so long to get anywhere. Richard would have thought that perhaps this was normal Noxian procedure, but he could tell that even some of them were upset by how slowly thing were being taken. Finally, the man speaking seemed to have finished his history after a mere day and a half of speaking. He then passed the floor onto the next speaker, but instead of being happy Richard wanted to go back to boring history exposition.

Geran Oulbriph had been given the stage, or as he was better known to Richard, jerkface. Richard thought that perhaps it was normally unfair to judge someone based on two meetings, however he was willing to make an exception for someone who tried to kill him on their first meeting. Perhaps Geran hadn’t tried to kill him, and expected he would survive… that didn’t particularly make things better. After all, if someone came up and punched Richard in the face or stabbed him in the arm, he wouldn’t think well of them just because they didn’t intend to kill him. Besides, Richard wasn’t sure that he hadn’t intended to kill him. While he couldn’t see him getting off lightly for that, even with his status, Richard wouldn’t really have appreciated revenge from beyond the grave. When Geran had shown up just to deliver the summons to Elena, he hadn’t particularly given off a nice feeling either. For one thing, a message could have been accomplished in another way, at least to give Elena more time to prepare even if the formal letter was still required. He had also had something like a sneer when he handed it over.

Geran started his speech with a relatively quick summary of what had been done to try to combat the infertility. Things ranged from a study of as much Noxian DNA as they could to personal changes in diet. On the DNA side, there wasn’t just one gene responsible. If that were so, then the set of people who had it would have been infertile and died out without issue. Instead, though they had come up with several ways to test for it, the exact cause was still unknown. Though it was less boring than the previous history speeches, Richard still found his mind wandering. In fact, the part of him that was energy had been thinking about completely different things since he had arrived… though it wasn’t the part of him that heard sound, so it had little reason to pay attention to speeches.

As his mind wandered, Richard couldn’t help but think of certain things. He moved from his seat to find Carl, and whispered a question. Though having private conversations was frowned upon, sometimes things had to be said… and Carl also probably didn’t care. “Hey, would you mind if I ask you a potentially rude question?”

“Hmm… I can’t say that nothing offends me, but I assume you have a good reason… and you don’t seem the type to ask something that would actually offend me. Go ahead.”

“It’s just a bit of a touchy subject. Are you fertile?”

Carl gave a light, quiet laugh. “Hah, a topical question. There’s also no reason for me to be offended by that one, because it’s actually a matter of public record. My entire family is fertile, though I suppose it was easy to guess that my parents are. If not, I may have to talk to your biology professors and tell them to flunk you.”

Richard nodded, “Oh, okay. I just imagine it can still be an awkward subject. There are public records?”

“Indeed. At least, for nobles the information is strictly tracked.”

“I guess that makes sense. Thanks.” Richard then went to sit next to his father, though he only had to move a few seats. “Hey, dad. Are… hmm, this question is more awkward to ask you than I thought. Can you… umm…”

“I’m sterile, actually. That’s why you don’t have dozens of siblings.” When he saw Richard’s shocked face, he shrugged and continued, “What? I have good ears. Whispering isn’t really that quiet.”

Richard shook his head, “That… is far more information than I needed. Thanks, I guess.” Richard moved to sit next to Jot next. “So, for reasons, I’m doing a sort of survey. Are you fertile?”

Jot shrugged. “I have no reason to believe that I am not, though I have not tried.”

“Hmm… okay.” Richard looked around. Hiroshi’s response would probably be similar to Jot. Richard started moving to different spots around the room, though he never actually sat with any of the other groups. In fact, Richard didn’t even talk to anyone in the groups, and didn’t even look like he glanced at them. However, Richard was actually studying everyone quite intently. He was also looking at his computer, and he was actually paying attention to that as well. By the end, Richard had pretty much confirmed his suspicions. With his curiosity satisfied, he returned to his original seat.

Richard had half been paying attention to Geran’s talk. At this point, he was going over how the Noxians had been and ‘should’ deal with the problem. Richard felt he was dangerously close to actually saying something concrete, and making a real point. Though, there were also a lot of buzz words like ‘duty’ and ‘honor’ and ‘tradition’ thrown around… or at least things that translated to those. Then, suddenly, he actually came to a concrete point… and Richard like it even less than he thought he might. He was glad that he wasn’t standing next to Geran at the moment, because he would have punched him straight in the jaw.

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