The exercises Jot provided for Richard were always difficult. They were designed to make his entire body exhausted, and they succeeded at that. All parts of his body were trained equally, as far as could be managed with the facilities available. Unlike when he had first started training with Jot, he didn’t quickly grow stronger. However, in the weeks since he had come back from Nox, he felt he was improving slightly faster. Was it because he was confident? Coincidence? Was it something else? Well, Richard himself could also have been mistaken, but Jot noticed too. “Your rate of improvement has increased. I don’t suppose you get stronger after defeating someone in combat? Like a level up?”
Richard laughed, but then actually thought about it. He went over what he had learned about his people. There hadn’t been anything like that… had there? “I don’t think so. I should still be constrained by my genetics… approximately. With the addition of my energy body, my growth can be faster than normal, but that part of me isn’t really contributing anything right now.”
“Is anything else different?”
“I might be more motivated, now that I started thinking about the future.”
“Hmm, that could be it. Alternatively, the energy part of you could have been holding you back.”
“Maybe. Why would it do that though? How would we test that?” Richard paused. “I suppose we could see if things change once I’m a bit more recovered there. However, I might just accidentally confirm my bias if I’m measuring that. How could I know for sure?”
“It’s simple. Just live your life a few dozen times, changing only minor variables in how you exercise and nothing else.” Jot shrugged. “Really though, it’s hard to know. You could see how things are going when your energy body fully recovers, and if things change, you could try using up all the energy again, but I don’t know if that would cause permanent harm.”
“I don’t know either. I think… probably not, at least nothing I found indicates that. Still, I would rather not try just for the sake of curiosity.”
“A good point. Besides, you are still growing stronger at a reasonable pace.”
Contrary to what his exhausted body felt, Richard was not spending all of his time training with Jot. In fact, that was only a few hours per day. About a third of the time was sleeping, as was normal and expected. That left a bit more than half a day for other things. Classes were most prominent, and studying for the upcoming finals. Then there were meals, but Richard also found some time for relaxing with reading or playing games, or other sorts of entertainment. He would likely go crazy if he spent all his time on self improvement, and he needed to relax.
While finals were coming up, Richard was not particularly stressed about them. He never worried much about tests. There was no need as long as he properly learned all the material during the semester leading up to them. Besides, he wasn’t in any hard classes, being a freshman. Not that other freshmen necessarily felt the same way, since everyone reacted differently.
For a while, Richard thought Jot was concerned about the upcoming tests. Although he took his studies seriously, Richard had never seen him with such an intense look on his face as he was studying. Suddenly, Jot stopped what he was writing and threw his computer to the side. “I’ve got it!” he exclaimed, and then left the room in a hurry. Richard looked where the computer had been thrown. Jot obviously had controlled his strength, since Richard knew it could have dented the table. Instead, it had actually landed in a safe position. That was a good thing about Jot- he was always in control. After an hour, Jot came back and returned to his writing as if nothing had happened, except he no longer looked so serious. When Richard asked about it later, it turned out Jot had been stuck in the particulars of how to perform a specific move, and had finally realized the small but significant issue he had. He had gone off to practice it until he was sure he had improved.
Hiroshi also studied, but Richard got the feeling he didn’t care about the results, or perhaps he was just confident in his abilities. Both of those resulted in the same appearance of minimal effort.
Susan was the most frantic of Richard’s friends. She had come in partway through the year… and with only spotty knowledge compared to what it was normally expected that people knew. She wanted to perform well, because Richard’s parents were paying for her education and she didn’t want to let them down. She certainly hadn’t gotten a scholarship, or at least Richard expected they didn’t have any for people from cloning facilities. Maropa University was reasonably priced, and Richard knew that his parents wouldn’t have any trouble paying for one person. Richard did help her whenever she had any problems. Although she was in some different classes than Richard, what she needed help in was common knowledge. Things that “everyone knew”, though Richard understood that everyone had to learn such things at some point. People weren’t just born with knowledge. Well, not most people anyway.
Elena was quiet and methodical in her study. She likely needed to have top grades, because she was aiming for a medical degree of some sort. That was still a long way off, but it was necessary to have good grades throughout her time as a student. Though it wasn’t her sole responsibility to fix, Richard could tell Elena felt strongly about the Noxians’ troubles. Though she didn’t have the knowledge yet, Richard knew she had the intelligence and the drive to accomplish something. Certainly, there were other Noxians who had been similarly motivated and intelligent, but Richard felt she was special. Perhaps that was only because she was his friend, but there was no reason not to believe in the possibility just because nobody had succeeded at something yet. After all, someone was always the first. He certainly wasn’t going to look down on his friend’s ambition when all he wanted so far was to not die and not make the world worse, even if Elena’s ambition had been much less admirable.