Dreaming as a being made out of energy was fundamentally different. None of the senses were the same as a physical body. The closest thing there was to the same kind of sense was vision. Light was a kind of energy, and it was sensed by Richard’s “eyes”, along with other things. Of course, even this was a bit different. It wasn’t directional, but rather all around. Not something easily comprehended by a human brain, but just as natural as seeing to a being made of energy.
Thus it was that Richard found himself surrounded by other things made of energy. They were all around him, and so much was going on that his senses were overwhelmed. He could see them, and he felt as if he recognized features. He “heard” them talking, although this was more of a changing in the pattern of energy put off. In the dream, he didn’t know what he was going to be. It was a strange thing, thinking of what you will, physically, become. There were many different things that he could be, which one should he be?
Then, new energy things showed up and took him away from the others. These were the same type of thing as each other. It suddenly became simple, he would be one of them. He was comforted by their presence. He could feel the warmth of their feelings, and the love in their actions. He could be one of them, until he grew strong enough to decide if he wanted to be something else. Then, he slept. It was odd, going to sleep inside a dream.
Richard sat and thought about what he’d learned about himself. Theoretically, he could now be anything he wanted. Assuming he didn’t kill himself doing it. When he’d eaten the Xevaronian food, he’d unconsciously tampered with his sense of smell and taste, and probably his brain as well. That was the part that was dangerous, and it scared him. It would be very easy to accidentally make his parts incompatible with the rest of him, and then he’d probably be dead. He certainly didn’t want to test that.
For now, he decided that he would stay as he was. It was working out just fine for him, and he didn’t want to risk a mistake. Besides, he liked himself. It would feel weird trying to be someone else.
“Does yours not taste good, Richard?” Jot asked.
“Hmm?” Richard looked up from his plate. “Oh it’s… fine. I just ordered it before… anyway, I was thinking of eating less Xevaronian food.”
“Suit yourself. I don’t know how you can eat that spicy stuff you call food. It doesn’t even have any real energy in it.”
“Well, it is normal for humans, you know.”
Over the next few weeks Richard’s appetite dropped significantly. What this really meant was that he ate slightly less than he had before leaving home. Elena didn’t notice, or at least didn’t comment. Jot, however, brought it up often.
“Are you sure that’s enough food? You used to eat so much more.”
“I already told you, this is pretty much the amount of food normal humans eat. Besides, I’ve eaten this much for like half the time you’ve known me. The first while I just ate an exceptional amount more than normal.”
“Well, alright. You don’t seem to be losing weight.” Jot paused and just looked at Richard for a bit.
“You just haven’t been acting as… excited about things as you used to. Is something wrong?”
“Well, I guess there were just a lot of exciting things happening at the start of the semester, with new classes and other… stuff.”
Richard avoided really talking about what was bothering him. Jot seemed to understand that there was something. Richard had actually been quite interested in what was happening, at least in basic biology. However, he felt less connected to the learning for some reason. He was less interested in trying new meals. Finally, he was less interested in thinking about what had happened to himself. He just wanted to be human. Thinking about when he’d subconsciously changed his senses to those of a Xevaronian scared him. He could have caused irreparable damage.
During this period, Richard wasn’t entirely introspective. He noticed that he seemed to be Jot’s only friend. At least, his only close friend. Jot certainly spent time with the other Xevaronians, but outside of martial arts training, he rarely interacted with them. Not that he didn’t have a good relationship with them, but it didn’t seem like friends. Instead, Jot only really seemed to seek out Richard if he was looking for someone to spend time with. Jot also spent time with Elena, but only rarely when Richard wasn’t there too. Of course, that was likely because Richard still spent most of his time with Jot, whether they were just hanging out or studying for classes.
On the subject of classes, Richard was surprised at how much his father knew about galactic history. Not that he shouldn’t be knowledgeable about it as the professor, but he shared some insight about events that Richard hadn’t heard elsewhere. More importantly, it seemed some of the other students who had stronger roots in history than Richard hadn’t heard all of the details Mr. Smith knew. Richard was also glad that he hadn’t been embarrassed in front of his friends… too much.
Besides casual relationships and Jot, Richard really only had one other friend at university. Elena, who he’d met through odd circumstances, twice. The first set of odd circumstances had been more accidental than Jot’s help. Richard noticed Elena was very serious about her studies, and had few other friends. She seemed most content when they were relaxing at meals or studying. Well, often Richard and Jot would study about half as long as she did, and then they would engage in various leisure activities. However, she did seem to appreciate the insight they had about some questions. It was useful to have the perspective of a human, a Xevaronian, and a Noxian, since they thought differently about matters.
In the end, Richard realized he had a very small circle of people he regularly interacted with. He was fine with this. Sure, sometimes he participated in activities with other members of the dorm, or members of various classes, but he was happy with the friends he had. Besides, he knew he would find more friends in the future, since there were always new people, or people he’d never noticed before.