Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 64

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LXIV

“So how did you meet grandma, then?” Richard asked.

“I’m getting to that. This is already heavily condensed, okay?” Mr. Smith paused for a moment, “Now where was I… ah yes. My ‘kind’ of humans began to grow more sympathetic to living peacefully with the others. Well, perhaps instead it was just that they had always been so, and there were just less of us left alive on the other side. There were never too many of us around to begin with, and about half, or a little more, were with the ‘normal’ humans. At that point, a perceptive man might have realized that we had already lost. Unfortunately, I wasn’t good at taking hints. Even more unfortunately, I was pretty good at fighting. There was one more big battle, and at the end I stood upon a small hill of bodies, having slain more of my own people than I had the other humans. That was when I met your grandmother… besides having heard about her before then.”

Mr. Smith took a drink of water and continued. “The world wasn’t interested in making the moment dramatic. It wasn’t raining, nor was it just becoming evening with the sun setting. The slaughter occurred throughout the morning, and ended in the afternoon. I didn’t understand anything about magic- not many people ever do. I assumed it to be all tricks, which is why I wasn’t surprised when your grandmother had no impact on the battle at all, despite being called a sorceress. I still don’t know what she could have done… but I do know this. She used the time of the battle to prepare herself, and when it was over, she cursed me. She probably could have killed me, with the kind of power she wielded. The bit of metal I wore as armor and an axe would have done little to stop her. Instead, she chose a different path. Perhaps she was tired of the fighting. Perhaps she realized that dying an easy way out. Then again, she might have just realized that we were the last two of our kind, and she didn’t want to see us die out. No matter the reason, the curse made me unable to harm anyone.”

“But it’s gone now, right? I mean, you were in that duel…”

Mr. Smith shook his head. “I’m not sure. See, there are some caveats on curses that people create. The more powerful the target, the more difficult it is. In addition, curses have to leave a way out. Otherwise it’s just a compulsion, or it’s more efficient to directly kill the target. Anyway, I was left with one avenue for fighting, and I’ve become rather good at it.”

“So, after you were cursed… did you start on the road to becoming a better person?”

“Hah! I wish. No, it just made me a very angry, pitifully weak, terrible person. I devoted myself to trying to hunt down and kill your grandmother. I remained that way for… well, a lifetime, really. It was only a long time later when I really hit a dead end that I turned my life around. Fixing myself up was a tedious process.”

Richard sighed. “Wow. I’m not really sure how much I believe of that. Not that I think you’d lie but… it’ll take some time to digest.”

“Well, that’s not the worse result. At least you didn’t yell or throw things at me and call me a psychopathic murderer.”

Richard shook his head. “Yeah well… I can tell you regret it. That you’re sorry about what you did. To be honest, hearing about it this way has a lot of distance from what actually happened. Besides, I’ve known you as a good person my entire life.”

“Maybe when you’ve thought about it more you’ll feel differently. I hope not though.” Mr. Smith shook his head. “You know the worst part? Besides the fact that the war was stupid to begin with, the entire premise was faulty. Regardless of whether my kind was better or worse… We were all the same. You know, before your mother, I was married to a few other women. We never had any children, so I continued to believe that we were still a different species.”

“You got divorced? Did you not love them?”

“This was after I was… if not better, on the path to becoming a better person. I did love them, but they died.”

“Oh. I’m sorry. What happened?”

“Don’t be. Certainly, their deaths were better than many. They just… got old. After my first wife, I thought I’d never marry again, but I did… eventually. Anyway, that wasn’t the point. The point was, I continued to think I was a separate species from ‘normal’ humans… all the way up until I met your mother.”

“How did that change things?”

“Well, in this particular case… just the fact that she existed was the proof.”

“What do you mean?”

“I thought you were a biology student. You should understand this. Remember, your grandmother and I were the last two.”

“What? Oh. I suppose grandma had a child with a normal human. Does that make mom a… half-whatever you are?”

“No. It means we were all just humans the whole time. Just that some of us had something like perfect genetics. Maybe instead of perfect, more like genetics that didn’t limit the body so much. After all, if I had perfect genetics… I wouldn’t be sterile.”

“Ah, right. As revealing as all of this has been… part of what I wanted to know was that. How strong can I get? How long should I be able to live? I know grandma’s getting older…”

Mr. Smith shook his head. “You’re grandmother’s a special case, actually. Normally we wouldn’t get old at all. At least, not as far as I know. After all, I’m the same age as her, pretty much. Assuming with your… differences… your genetics still dominate the control of your body, then it would be the same for you. As for how strong you can become… well, that’s limited by how much time you have and effort you put in. In a sense, it could be called unlimited, but that’s not really true. After all, it will slow down a lot. In this last year, even after reaching the normal limits for your body size, you’ve still improved. However, for the same amount of improvement, it might take another few years. After that, maybe it will take a decade, or a few, then maybe a century. So, the practical limit is a few times stronger than a human bodybuilder, but without all the unnecessary bulk. Though, you would have the weight.”

“So, kind of like a Xevaronian? Except I get to remain human… that’s pretty cool.”

“I suppose so, though remember that it will be harder. There is the advantage that nobody expects a human without augmented limbs to be that strong though.”

“Yeah. So… how did you really meet mom? I remember you saying that you just happened to run into each other…”

“Ah, now that… is a pretty good story. I think it would be better if she were around to tell her side too. So, you’ll have to wait a bit for that.”

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