Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 78

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Richard hurried toward where Susan was, though he kept on alert for other enemies that might be around. He had long since learned that running up stairs in armor was a recipe for disaster- and the training suit did weigh nearly as much as some armor would. Instead, he settled for a fast pace, but one that wouldn’t leave him exhausted and useless when he reached his destination. He soon arrived at the floor Susan was on, but he didn’t try to contact her on comms. If she was hiding, any extra noise could reveal her location… and if she needed to contact him she could do so.

His extra senses were quite useful here. Though walls were still limiting to Richard’s energy self, he could still get some information through them- or around them, if there were nearby openings. Richard soon sensed two figures. One he immediately recognized as Susan- already prone on the ground, and probably defeated. He could surmise that, because the other figure was standing immediately adjacent. Richard didn’t get a clear aura from the figure, but it felt familiar somehow… though he had no time to try to recognize it as it seemed he was noticed.

The soldier came out of the room, firing toward Richard… or at least approximately where he had been. He moved to a location he determined it would be harder to hit him in, and the bullets went wide. Meanwhile, he got a few straight shots on the soldier, which would normally be enough for a suit to lock up, indicating death. Instead, the enemy charged toward Richard. He wasn’t sure why he wasn’t down yet, but he kept firing even as he readied himself for the inevitable close combat. Just as they were about to collide, Richard dodged to the side in a familiar maneuver, where he would trip his opponent as he avoided them. There was a loud thump, and Richard found that he was the one who ended up down, flat on his back. Then a foot came down on his chest, an almost token gesture that caused his suit to lock up. It still kind of hurt though. “…Jot?”

As Richard’s mother announced the match was over and reset their suits, Jot took off his helmet. “Indeed it is.”

“Is your suit busted? I shot you so many times, it’s supposed to shut off.”

Anna actually answered that question over the comms- where she was always listening, when she wasn’t participating in the exercises. “It’s working as intended. That’s heavy Xevaronian armor. With your current assault rifle, you’d have to hit the exact same spot a dozen times to have a chance of penetrating the armor. Today is your introduction to some weapons that could penetrate it, and the announcement that we’re combining your close combat training with the current exercises.” If Richard had to face Jot in close combat from now on, he wasn’t confident in his chances of winning- or surviving- a match ever again.


Richard was introduced to a sniper rifle that could penetrate Xevaronian armor, but it required being set up on a bipod for him to handle the recoil, and even then it was difficult. He had the feeling that the ammo wasn’t cheap, either. He wondered how his parents got their hands on all this different equipment, and knew they must have had both connections and money. Growing up, this hadn’t been particularly apparent. His parents hadn’t seemed to have any money problems, but neither did they spend lavish amounts. They seemed quite practical, and probably also took care to give him more reasonable expectations of how to spend money.

In addition to the sniper rifle, Richard was introduced to a laser rifle- perhaps more of a cannon, based on its weight. He didn’t have to worry about recoil, but he could barely even lift it, let alone carry it around with him. Richard didn’t expect such a weapon was ever used by humans except in emplacements, though he supposed Xevaronians wouldn’t find it trouble to use against each other, if the occasion actually arose.

The theme of weapons that could easily penetrate Xevaronian armor soon became clear- they weren’t infantry would be able to bring with them. He was also introduced to some weapons that were in between the heavy weapons and what he was used to. In the end, though, he felt that the best method was to never fight against anyone in very heavy armor to begin with.


Richard sighed. He was still going to classes, and somehow managing to keep up with his studies, but he didn’t really feel like a student right now. Instead, he felt like a soldier. Though he found guns quite interesting, he really didn’t want to be in a situation where he needed them- or to really fight. Sparring was fun as an exercise, but when being taught how to kill people unarmed, it was no longer fun. Richard supposed it was good that he didn’t find it fun, because that would indicate mental instability of some sort. Enjoying the thought of killing people was definitely not a behavior that society wanted to encourage, and even though they were training him on how to do so, his mother and Jot were clear on that. The only problem was that he might need to do so in the future, both because of his own curse and because of the soldiers who attacked him and his friends.

Richard hadn’t killed anyone, but he’d seen people die there. It was different in person than in movies… but Richard hadn’t felt much sympathy for people trying to kill him. He hadn’t really dwelled on the topic much. In that combat, he hadn’t been thinking about whether or not he would kill his opponent, but he wasn’t placed in a situation where he was able to do so anyway. He would have dislocated or broken limbs because that was what he knew how to do best. No matter what, it was a big change from Richard’s completely peaceful life two years ago, where he had never almost died and nobody had tried to kill him even once.

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One Reply to “Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 78”

  1. Thanks for the chapter!

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