Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 67

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LXVII

In the morning, Richard surveyed his body. All of the internal bleeding had long since stopped, though he was still pretty banged up inside. Richard found that removing the blood from where it wasn’t supposed to be… was rather easy. He knew he could make changes inside his own body, but removing matter was much less tiring than he thought it would be. He wasn’t exactly sure, but he felt that he turned the blood into energy… it was still a net loss, but not as much as he thought it would be.

Jot came to visit, which was a good sign because it meant he hadn’t been arrested or anything. That was actually an incredible testament to the autonomy given to the Xevaronian Martial Arts Association. “How are you feeling, Richard?”

“Well, I can’t help but wondering if this whole thing isn’t my fault.”

“I’m going to assume you are physically fine then. Also, I fail to see how you have any fault in this situation.”

“Well, there’s my curse. While it’s not really under my control, my presence caused a lot of trouble for you.”

“Well, perhaps. It could be that he showed up because of your curse, but I imagine he would have come anyway. You just happened to be the easiest method to cause trouble. Without you, he would have just caused different trouble. He was looking for a power trip, and standing as the master here would have done just that. Still, he was already on watch for being somewhat unruly, so it would probably have been a short reign. Not that he knew he was on the list, because people behaving just because they know they’re on shaky ground isn’t a great method.” Jot shrugged. “Maybe because of my actions I’m on the list now, but officially what I did was deemed ‘overzealous’ and ‘hasty’, which isn’t entirely unexpected at my age. That just means there will be some delay before I am promoted to second tier master.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

Jot shrugged again. “Not really. I can wait. In the end, they have to promote me eventually because I defeated a third tier master. I wasn’t expelled or even really punished. Actually, I’m glad you were around. Though I don’t particularly like seeing you get hurt… if there hadn’t been more on the line than just being the teaching master here, I might not have beat him. That would have been troublesome for many people.”

“Hmm… as glad as I am that maybe I prevented trouble for others… I’m not so unselfish to say I enjoy it. I mostly just cared about any trouble I caused you in particular.” Richard looked over Jot’s arm, which was covered in bandages. It wasn’t in a cast, because nothing was technically broken. “How’s your arm?”

“It will be better in a few weeks. Unfortunately, that means no sparring, because even though I could still win, the movement would prolong this injury.”

“Okay. Is a few weeks long or short? It looked serious, but I’ve never seen you injured before… even when you stopped that beam.”

Jot nodded seriously. “It’s pretty long. I messed it up pretty bad to get a moment of flexibility. On the other hand, if I had done it differently it could have been torn off, which is a much longer path to recovery, even with good surgeons.”

“Well… maybe you could have gotten a cybernetic arm!”

“I suppose… it wouldn’t have been as good though.”

“Hmm… I guess it’s more of an upgrade for humans, since our bodies are weaker.”

“Speaking of which, you should probably rest.”

—–

Richard realized he would never be able to live a normal life. Not that he exactly wanted a normal life, but if he did, that path was forever closed off to him. Even ignoring his cursed status, he wasn’t a normal human anyway. In fact, he was only human effectively by coincidence, and even then he wasn’t a normal human. Not that anyone around him was normal either.

Jot was a martial arts master, and had even killed someone without being particularly bothered by it. That might or might not have been a “normal” Xevaronian thing, but it wasn’t normal for a human to be that deeply involved.

Elena had almost killed Richard- on accident- and she was also a princess. Though there were millions or billions of royal and noble families throughout the galaxy, the actual percentage of such people was miniscule. Out of uncounted quadrillions of people, they certainly weren’t common.

Hiroshi… well, he claimed to be a ninja. He was a ninja, at least by certain definitions. At the very least, he had abilities that gave him such qualifications. He had fast reflexes… and sometimes moved very quickly. He talked about magic- or ki from his point of view- as something that definitely existed… though Richard hadn’t seen him do anything with those abilities. On the other hand, not seeing something didn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Richard’s parents were humans, though he supposed he had to say technically since what people normally thought of humans didn’t apply to them. On the topic of his family, Richard’s grandmother used to be a sorceress, or whatever the proper word was. Susan was the most normal out of the bunch, but she was a clone of his mother, which meant even by just her genetics she was different.

Though he knew he wasn’t normal, Richard couldn’t necessarily say what normal was. Growing up, going to school, finding a job… that might have been it, but some species didn’t go to school as a whole. Still, if ‘going to school’ was replaced with ‘being educated’ then that applied. People learned things, unless they were just a lump that sat in a corner just technically being alive… but even then, if they were conscious they would learn something. As for getting a job, that could be replaced by ‘finding a purpose’ or even ‘looking for a purpose’. That would cover pretty much everyone, though Richard supposed there might be some strange exception.

Still, even if he used that definition of normal, he only mostly fit. Normal people didn’t almost die as much as Richard, because otherwise there would be no more people. Everything would be in chaos all the time even if every person only suffered one near-death experience per year. After all, that would still be .27% of people every day. That sounded small, but even with just a million people that would be 2700 per day, which meant everyone would at least see something happening almost all the time.

Richard found he had entirely too much time to think when he was injured, even if it wasn’t for long in the grand scheme of things. He couldn’t hope for his life to be normal, but he could hope it was at least more on the interesting side of abnormal, and slightly less on the potentially deadly side.

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