Returning to Maropa wasn’t a particularly big event. Richard and the rest had only been gone for a pair of months, and they really hadn’t gone very far away during that time. Richard found that it already felt like home. It didn’t hurt that he’d made a number of good friends at the university… and of course his father was around, which was a good portion of what he thought about as home anyway. The only thing missing was his mother, though she’d still been gone sometimes. However, he usually saw her every few weeks at minimum, and she stayed around. Now, he hadn’t seen her for months, and video calls weren’t the same as meeting in person. Not even holographic calls were the same, really. That was true before Richard could feel people’s auras and presence, but now it was even clearer that it wasn’t in person contact. Still, it was nice to know she was alive and healthy.
Elena returned to Maropa a day after Richard and the rest. Richard spoke first. “So, how did things go? I know that something besides ‘boring political stuff’ must have happened.
Elena shook her head. “No, not really. Well, I just found out that Carl broke his arm but other than that… Oh, and we worked on your situation. You are now almost completely verified as a duke.”
“I didn’t need to be there for any of that?”
“Well, not for most of it. We worked with the lawyers your father. If you want to partake in any official duties, you need to swear an oath… conversely, if you do not want to, that part can be delayed pretty much indefinitely. However, various possessions and properties are now yours.”
“Hmm…” Richard thought seriously for a few moments, “I wonder if that means I won’t be getting allowance anymore.” Richard grinned. “Thanks for taking care of that.”
“I was only tangentially involved in that, but my father would say he was just following procedure. By that, he means following procedure as much as it suits him. So, what did you do during your vacation?”
“Well, I saw a lot of animals, and was reminded that slides can be much larger in lower gravity. It’s almost directly proportional to gravity, actually.”
“Interesting. I have never been on a slide.”
“Well, I remember where there was one around here… it’s one of the shorter ones though.”
As the next year started up, it was easy to get back into the routine of school. Meals, classes, homework, and training with Jot were all a part of Richard’s daily life. Richard still made sure to find time for relaxation, because he didn’t want to go crazy.
Richard’s energy body had recovered while on Utopia. It had just taken time… and a lot of food. Not that a large amount of food also wasn’t being used to give him energy for the exercise he did, and the muscles he was developing. However, Richard had noticed a dramatic increase in the recovery rate when he ate more. There was probably a limit, but energy beyond what his body needed to function was mostly taken by the other part of him, though Richard wasn’t exactly sure how it was converted. On the other hand, though Richard knew most of the process he couldn’t list all of the different molecules his body broke down and assembled to use for energy. Then there was the conversion of matter to energy that had to occur for the energy part of him. He wasn’t even sure what type of energy it was, or more likely types if it functioned anything like his regular body. He would have to look deeper into the information left by his people. Although understanding the basics wasn’t hard, the higher level details took some time to learn. In addition to that, the information wasn’t arranged in a way that he could directly understand with his human brain, so explaining it in terms of familiar biology and physics was going to be even more difficult.
However, after he had recovered, he discovered that it was negatively affecting his training. Once he was aware of the possibility and thinking about it, he could see it clearly. It wasn’t that his energy body was doing anything negative, but rather that it was doing something unnecessary. It was helping to repair the muscles that were strained by exercise. This put the portion it repaired back in a healthy, natural state. That also meant that the physical body didn’t repair them the way it normally would… including the addition of more muscle.
Richard found that strange, since it certainly had helped him with building muscle when he was initially started training. He had rapidly grown to around the limits for a human of his size. Then his improvement had slowed to a crawl. He was still getting stronger, but only barely. That had seemed pretty normal. Though, when Richard thought about it it was quite strange. Theoretically, he should still only be able to improve to the limits of his genetics, though his genetics were mutable if he wished them to be. Going beyond the expected limits of a human was rather strange. Richard had copied the muscle patterns of his father, which made him strange. Not that it was a new idea, but Richard realized he should probably ask about that more.
First, though, he needed to see if he could make his body improve “naturally” at a better rate. If he could get the energy part of him to assist in the grown of the new type of muscles as much as it had with the old, he would be happy… but he didn’t want to get into that right away. He started to see if he could turn off the ‘assistance’. He wasn’t a machine, so he didn’t have a switch. It was a subconscious process as well, but breathing was the same way. If Richard wanted to, he could breathe manually, or even stop breathing for a time. In this case, helping to repair muscles was just useful but not critical to life. After some practice, he realized he could indeed turn it off, when he was thinking about it. When he wasn’t thinking about it… he wasn’t sure, because he wasn’t thinking about it. Did his energy body stop repairing his muscles entirely, or did it just cease when he thought about looking to see if it was? It wasn’t really something easy to test. Maybe if there were another one like him, they could watch him and see. Currently, all of the rest of Richard’s people were dead… and he wasn’t planning to have kids any time soon. Theoretically, they could be like him… but he hadn’t studied that in detail. Richard sighed. Well, at least his muscles were improving slightly faster now, because he was at least thinking about it a little bit while training. Maybe he could manually make the process better instead of just stopping the energy part of him from making things slower, but he decided to take his time on that. He had messed his body up a bit before, and he wanted to make sure there weren’t any side effects of turning that part ‘off’ before trying anything more.