The buzz of low conversation filled the room, as members of three very different, and yet very similar, Legions from three different worlds split and recombined into smaller groups to converse.
Nura was drawn to her obvious alter-ego, who shared only her physical appearance, standing stiffly with arms crossed under a poncho-like garment, her expression blank and her eyes ringed darkly with fatigue.
Dreamer begrudgingly turned to face her doppelganger as she approached, pushing back the contempt that rose within her for this innocent version of herself, this *civilian* with her perfect hair and her ridiculously impractical costume.
Despite feeling a cold reception from her counterpart's posture, Dreamy extended a hand gamely and said, "I'm Nura Nal, Dream Girl, but then, you already know that, because you're me!"
Dreamer glanced down at the proferred hand with an expression better suited to having a dead animal thrust in one's face, and responded, "I'm not you. I am also Nura Nal, and when I was a foolish child, I was called Dream Girl. Now I'm called Dreamer. You must be twice my age, what's your excuse, Dream 'Girl.'"
Dreamy's mouth gaped for a moment, and she had half a mind to take this young upstart over her knee, only to have her train of thought interrupted when a young man walked up and interposed himself, taking her extended hand with a warm smile, as if he'd just decided to introduce himself.
Looking him up and down, at his curly white hair and silvery body-suit adorned with drifting clouds, Dreamy said the first thing that came to mind. "Don't tell me. You must be Dream *Boy.*' loudly enough to carry past him to that unpleasant Dreamer person.
He smiled and moved back a step after shaking her hand, so that he could face both Dreamy and Dreamer, "Well yes, Rol Purtha, Dream Boy, but you could at least let me introduce myself before preeping me."
"Preeping?" Dreamy commented, unfamiliar with the term.
"You know, pre-empting what I'm about to say with your powers." he clarified, and then his head tilted, as if he was hearing some distant voice and he looked puzzled.
"My powers don't work like that. Not normally." Dreamy also attempted to clarify, somewhat surprised that this young man thought that she'd be able to just foresee conversations as they were happening.
He looked like he wanted to say something else, but turned to face Dreamer just as she spoke, "So you can also see the future clearly while awake."
"Yes. Things might be different here, but where I come from, many Naltorians train to be able to see short glimpses of the future during their daily work. Pre-cops use it during any sort of emergency situation, while pre-ments use it in therapy, to anticipate and diagnose mental illness." He looks a bit sheepish as he adds, "I just assumed that any Naltorian who was a Legionnaire would be similarly trained…"
Dreamy absorbed the comment without offense, and looked to Dreamer, hoping to get on a slightly better footing with the young woman now that she was being a bit less abrasive. "And can you also see the future while awake?"
Dreamer looked at her through her dark-ringed eyes, almost suspiciously, before replying, "Yes. I was like you, Dream Girl, only able to get clear visions while asleep, and other Naltorians were no different. But during the war, I was needed, every hour of every day. My visions were needed, and yet I was also needed to interpret those visions and coordinate troop movements. I couldn't afford to be awake. I couldn't afford to be asleep." Her arms unconsciously move up under her poncho again to wrap around herself. "I found a place in-between, where I could still be awake, but remain in a dreaming state."
Dreamy closed her eyes briefly, trying to imagine what sort of situation could drive a person to make such a sacrifice. "And you've been there ever since, haven't you? In that place between awake and asleep?"
Dreamer looked away, "Don't look at me like that." Before saying, "Excuse me." and walking away abruptly.
Dreamy looked to see that Dream Boy was watching Dreamer's with concerned eyes.
"Well, she's certainly the life of the party…" Dreamy said dryly.
Rol smiled, but the smile never quite reached his eyes, which were still canted to the side, watching Dreamer's departure. "She's walking wounded. PTSD."
"Post-traumatic stress? From those wars she was talking about?"
"No, well, that too, but I was referring to *potential* traumatic stress." Rol said, turning now to see Dreamy's curious expression. "She's like us. She's not just suffering from all the death and carnage she's seen with her eyes, but also the countless tragedies she's seen and suffered in her mind." He turns back again to catch a glimpse of Dreamer across the room, standing alone. "Every single soldier or civilian death that a human general would have seen, she's seen a dozen times or more. In the worst cases, the military officer breaks down, regarding the final physical death of a soldier as a relief, since she'll never have to see them die again…" He turns back to Dreamy. "Except in the nightmares."
"Wow." Dreamy says, unsure of what to add to this statement. "Is there, um, a cure?"
"Titanian Shared Trance," he says, and then looks doubtful for a second, "which I was afraid you might not have here, with things being different."
"Her, uh, problems would just pass into the rest of the group…," Nura begins, only to be cut off by his reply.
"It would have to be a specially vetted group, Naltorians, for the most part, with a few Titanians trained in Naltorian psychology."
"That makes sense." Looking at Rol curiously, Dreamy can't resist asking how he could know all of this stuff. "So does your Legion communicate with their Legion more often? You seem to know a lot about her…"
"No. And to preep your next questions, I'm not a half-Naltorian / half-Titanian either." He adds with a grin. "I trained to be a pre-ment, a psychologist. Then I joined the pre-cops and used my training in preventative forensic psychology, to anticipate the seeds of criminal behavior and try to pre-empt them."
"So you're a head-shrinker." Dreamy says, nodding sagely.
He laughs out loud, "Yes. And being able to hear all of the possible things that a person didn't quite get around to saying and use those unsaid things to form a diagnosis always helps…" Rol's smile fades into a look of concern and he raises an eyebrow dubiously as Nura's hand rises to his chest.
"Well, you clearly have already anticipated what I was going to say next, but I'll say it anyway." Nura says with a grin. "Enough depressing talk, handsome, why don't we go somewhere less crowded?"
He gently removes her hand from his chest and kisses it chastely. "And we both know that will lead nowhere, so I'll save myself the frustration."
Nura pulls her hand back with a wistful grin and taps him on the nose gently. "You'll never get anywhere with a lady if you keep up that psychoanalysis crap, mister." She then primly turns on her heel and walks away with an airy head-toss.
Rol smiles at her dramatic departure, but his smile fades as his gaze turns
once again to Dreamer, who now has her back to the wall and is looking out
over the room at the other socializing Legionnaires of Three Worlds, her dark-rimmed
eyes flicking from face to face as she tries to anticipate their fates. Even
now, she refuses to allow herself to rest, and his frown deepens.