It was now the break between years of school. The duration and time of such breaks varied greatly from school to school. Richard heard that it used to be based off of the seasons, but since planets didn’t share seasons, or even year lengths usually, it didn’t make any sense to stick to that method. Besides, not all cultures even used the university style of learning, and most of them that did had been completely desynchronized when they met.
Regardless of why the break was the way it was, Richard had a few months to relax and recharge from his studies… though he was reminded to not let his mind idle completely during the time off. After all, he would need to be ready for when he started again.
Since Richard’s home was “nearby” he planned to return to Utopia. Richard supposed that half of the other members of his family was on Maropa with him, but that was another reason to go to Utopia. Richard wanted to show Susan where he had grown up. Since she hadn’t had the chance to experience a traditional childhood, he wanted her to at least have a chance to try.
Richard also invited Jot and Hiroshi to come along. Jot only took a few moments before agreeing. “I was planning to stay here for the break, but going with you is likely to be better. I also considered visiting home… but that is a much longer trip, and I’d rather not travel for most of the break. It would also be much more costly.”
Hiroshi himself came from Utopia, so he agreed as well. “I can visit with family, and if I have the excuse of visiting with you I don’t have to see my family too much. Seems like a great plan.”
Elena was also invited, but as Richard had expected she would be returning to Nox. He didn’t envy the responsibilities that came with being a princess. He would miss her presence, but it wasn’t like they couldn’t communicate during the break. Actually, the only time would be when Richard was on the ship, because he would be going back the same way he came, and thus it would be costly to call while onboard. Their respective trips would be a week for Elena to travel about 100 light-years, and about half that to travel part of the way around the planet that Maropa and Utopia were both moons of. Such was the difference caused by TDDs… and complications with gravity wells.
Richard had been hoping to go back on the same ship as before, but alas it was just one very similar. It would have been kind of fun to sit at the same restaurant with Jot, but it didn’t happen. Still, they found themselves spending a good amount of time eating… when they weren’t doing some training. There wasn’t much room, though the ship was bigger than the one Elena was using, since it carried many more people.
Going in the other direction was strange, since he was going from 1.5 g’s to .8, and Richard was much more fit than he had been. Unlike when going to Nox, he was cognizant of this change, and it was certainly a strange thing. Especially since gravity he had grown up with his entire life now felt very minimal.
It felt like almost no time before they were over Utopia, though part of this was because the moons were in a good rotation to make the trip slightly shorter. The rest was having several friends to pass the time with. From space, Utopia looked much like other planets, with continents and oceans. In a few places, cities were visible- those that were completely urbanized, though often it was actually several cities adjacent to each other. Richard didn’t feel anything particularly special from it until they entered the atmosphere and closed in on the familiar skyline of his home city, Hostetter.
The spaceport the ship landed in shared the Hostetter name, though it was actually in a different city. This was, however, the same one that he had left from almost a year ago. When they landed, Richard thought it felt… different. It wasn’t that it had changed, but he had. Not as much in the expected manner of maturing and seeing things differently… but more that he now had a part of him that was energy, or more specifically had such a part that he was aware of. After all, he’d always had that part of him, it just hadn’t been mature enough for him to feel anything through it, at least not consciously.
Richard’s mother met the whole group outside the spaceport, and Richard was glad to see her… partly because that meant she wasn’t off doing something dangerous. Before, Richard hadn’t had that worry, but now he wasn’t sure. “Hi, mom.”
“Welcome home, Richard. And the rest of you as well.” Though she casually included Richard’s father in the second statement, it was only a brief moment before they were in each other’s arms. It was awkward to see his parents kissing… but Richard supposed it was good that they liked each other. They sure acted like they were young, no matter how much they said they weren’t.
The home where the Smiths lived had a guest room, but only one. While it was spacious enough for Jot and Hiroshi to share, the situation was made simpler by Hiroshi going to stay at his own home. It was in a nearby city, less than half an hour away, with the right kind of transport. It wasn’t strange that their paths had only crossed at Maropa University, since there were tens of millions of people in the area, while Maropa University was one of the biggest schools nearby, but as a university was generally composed of people of a certain age. What that age was varied greatly, but for humans it was around eighteen years old. In Jot’s case, he was quite a bit older, but that was a Xevaronian thing.
Richard surveyed his own room. It contained many memories… and reminders of his hobbies. Those hadn’t changed much, being games and books. The only thing was the addition of an interest in martial arts. While Richard wasn’t exactly disinterested before… he hadn’t thought he would enjoy it so much from the practical side. He did enjoy training, even though it was mostly to make himself stronger because he had been experiencing danger. It filled him with confidence and made him feel like he could do anything. Maybe he could. Richard supposed he would have to put himself to the test… though hopefully in an area that wouldn’t be dangerous to his life. He liked being alive.