Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 86

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LXXXVI

As the year came to an end, not once did Richard experience a situation that was a threat to his life. This didn’t mean his curse had come to an end, but rather he had raised his standards for what could threaten his life. There were even a few situations with people that Richard was able to dissolve with words, which was new to him. Normally such situations occurred like a spark in a dry field. With the Ulph, things had escalated instantly. The Xevaronian master had hidden his intentions to injure- or kill- Richard until the last moment. The soldiers from the Brotherhood of All Knowledge had never been interested in negotiation in the first place. However, in the last few months Richard had encountered a few individuals who were in supremely bad moods, or otherwise in a state where they weren’t interested or capable of controlling their reactions. However, Richard recognized them as possible dangers from a distance.

One such incident involved a man clearly in a bad mood. Richard ought to have known what species he was, given his major, but the particular word slipped his mind. Regardless, the man had six arms, which seemed like a completely unnecessary amount. They did differ in size, with the bottom ones being merely the size of a muscular human’s… and the top ones being like small tree trunks. The man had a very stocky build and thick legs… otherwise Richard imagined he would fall over. Regardless, he posed a serious physical threat. Richard found himself watching him as they approached closer on the street. Perhaps it would result in nothing, but as the man approached closer Richard had seen his bad mood. As he took in all the information he could, the man noticed him staring. Ironically, that was what caused him to approach Richard in anger. “Whatchu staring at, huh? Never seen a Xuyyht before?” The man put his face close to Richard’s, almost butting foreheads with him.

Ah, Xuyyht, that was the name. Richard shook his head, “I have, actually, though not many.” Richard struggled to recall any information that would be useful in such a situation. Six arms… he had already seen that already. They weren’t noted as a particularly aggressive culture, despite their build.

“Yeah well plant your eyes elsewhere! Go on, git!” The man waved his hand dismissively, but Richard felt like this might be the kind of situation where he would find an excuse to prevent Richard from leaving. On the other hand maybe he would just get annoyed at someone else, with less positive results.

Richard kept looking and thinking as he smiled in a pacifying manner. “I didn’t mean to offend. I’ll be going now.”

The man gave a great *hmmph* and turned to walk away. Then, there was a sound. Richard recognized it, and turned to grab the man’s arm. The man turned back to face him, glaring strongly. “What? You got some business with me now?”

Richard reached into his pocket, and pulled something out, holding it up. It was a nutrition bar- not a Cal Pal, because even though he had taken to carrying food around with him much of the time, he didn’t always need that much. “Hungry?” he asked as he held the bar out toward the man.

The Xuyyht looked at him in confusion, before reaching out with one of his lower hands. “Um… actually, yeah. Thanks.” He opened the packaging as his stomach growled again. “I missed breakfast… and now it’s almost too late for lunch.” He finished off the bar in a few bites. “I still need to get lunch though… but I’ve been so busy.” At this point, he wasn’t even really talking to Richard, but to himself. He wandered down the street, rubbing his stomach. Richard sighed. That might not have escalated into an incident… but it was close.

With that situation as well as some others, Richard was coming to understand that while his curse led incidents to happen around him, they weren’t inescapable. More importantly, he didn’t have to wait for them to happen before dealing with them. Richard was becoming very good at noticing failing or sloppy construction even from a distance, or other accidents about to happen. Sometimes warning people helped the situation, sometimes it made it worse, but Richard felt that it was mostly better, as long as he did it the right way. Shouting at someone who was holding something precariously or was distracted and failed to notice something wasn’t the best option, usually resulting in the incident happening anyway. There weren’t always people involved, but when there were he’d learned some ways to get their attention without causing someone to spin around, knocking something over into something else… or even just one thing. Then again, sometimes he just pointed something out to Hiroshi. He was very good at parkour… and it was impressive to watch him climb up the side of a building just like a video game character might, only to move a flower pot, or stabilize a railing. Sometimes, this put Hiroshi in danger, but he didn’t seem to mind dodging falling debris. Richard didn’t really like the idea of him being in danger… but from what he’d seen, it was usually very slight. He hadn’t even been scratched yet.

Richard had also become quite adept at contacting owners of buildings to let them know about various structural problems. Some of them probably wouldn’t be an issue for a year or more… and some owners probably wouldn’t deal with the problems. What did they care if a fire staircase collapsed in an alleyway? Most of the time though people would send out a real inspector and then a repair crew if necessary. Some of them did this merely because they wanted their buildings to be safe and good looking… and some of them were worried about possible fines if they didn’t do something after being told. Not that Richard could issue any fines himself, but if an incident happened and someone found out they had been told and done nothing there could be serious trouble. Though… in one or two cases, Richard had reported some of the more precarious structures to actual authorities when he saw them again and nothing had been done. It was to protect himself- and anyone else who happened to come through the area. Sometimes, Richard found himself at the scene of a car crash or something similar that surely would have happened anyway, but he just happened to be nearby. He couldn’t help but feel he was responsible for some of that, even though he wasn’t. He tried to do his best to call for help… and if there was anything he could do himself, he would. It was far too easy to get used to bad things happening, but well… people could adapt to pretty much anything.

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