A ragged, choked gasp clawed its way from his throat in the dark, ushering in a staggered strain of breath, the likes of which moved too quickly for him to give chase. Sweat-damp hair clung to his glistening brow as he shot upright, shedding the blankets stuck to his skin in an effort to cool down. Scarred, twitching fingers sought familiar features in the darkness of his chambers, extending to trace the edges of his face and drag down his lips and jaw. It was so real.
It felt so real.
Shakily, the miraluka slid his legs about, shivering as the bare soles of his feet pressed against the cold marble floor, and he took to rise.
Shuffled footsteps carried him across the room and into the washroom where he counted his steps to reach the sink and groped after the faucet handles, allowing his muscle memory to guide his blind effort. “Just a dream…” he urged quietly, whispering to himself over the rushing stream of water before him, “it’s only a dream.” Rarely, it was, that Halketh ever managed to settle into restful slumber, not when plagued by the combination of Force influences that he was the prey of. Voices stalked the darkened corridors of his mind at night, skulking through his vulnerability and wounding him when he was most exposed. Visions of fragmented torment arranged themselves nonsensically before his mind’s eye, offering glimpses into possibilities that sliced his fingers open when he tried to sort the shards from beginning to end.
Beyond his solitude, the wind raked screeching claw down the face of his fortress, urging the tower to groan its protest though only he was perceptive to it. It sounded as though a storm had settled in overnight and the Warlord could only hope the hangar crews sealed up properly the evening prior. Scarred hands cupped beneath the cool waters, catching enough for him to splash his face with the hope it could ground and relieve him back to the proper level of reality. Was he still dreaming? The same hands gripped either side of the sink, supporting his weight as he dipped his face, allowing the droplets to trickle from his jaw.
The lingering cries of a million voices perishing in anguish and terror echoed from the depths of his awareness, reaching out to rattle the front of his skull and reverberate down his spine. The Vulture shivered violently, tightening his hold on the porcelain he clutched. Sickened, his stomach twisted into a knot of snakes and tightened on itself, flooding his dry mouth with a bitter, metallic taste. He fumbled towards the toilet and barely angled himself properly to spew bile into it, relieving the tension piercing every tissue of his body none at all. He was sick again. And again, each time rocking his trembling body with violent chills and forcing him to choke for air in the narrow seconds between each nauseated fit. This loss of control released him as quickly as it had seized him, leaving him slumped against the wall and shivering against the cold floor.
There was silence and there was ice but then at once, it was as though the entire galaxy had erupted into scorching heat. It had boiled the blood in his veins as it passed through him in his dream, incinerating his body, yet his consciousness had remained. Then, through The Force, it had been that the horror of some faceless mass had reached him. He felt every inch of flesh reduce to ash in an instant. He felt bedrock splinter apart. Fire. Souls perished, extinguished as quickly as he had even been aware of their presence there in space. Darkness enveloped his Sight, though it was not the familiar arrogance of the Sith Empire… no, this had been something much, much more primal. Raw. Ravenous. It lacked the poise of The Sith Empire, but more than made up for it with raw savagery. It was a collective as untamed as the most unexplored depths of The Force itself, one which had blind-sided even him.
“You’re afraid?” a haunting voice called to him in the midst of his trembling machination, “I thought this is what you wanted, Kezec. I had expected envy from you, not fear.”
Halketh did not lift his head to address the faint whisper of a phantom occupying the space with him. He did not need to focus upon her to know who it was. “Was it you playing harbinger, this time?” He asked her weakly.
“Unfortunately.” Muwian echoed his disinterest, leaning closer to her former apprentice, “Is this not what you wanted? The destruction of worlds indiscriminate? Is this not what you were promised?”
The miraluka angled his head back, resting it against the wall. Messy, damp strands of hair clung to his flesh, deepening the dishevel of his sleeplessness. “I neve-”
“You’ve been reconsidering things since your apprentice perished, haven’t you?” She goaded, interrupting him, “Imagine that. That my apprentice would grow as attached to his own as I did.”
“She didn’t know ab-”
“Of course she didn’t. Not even you know which path it is you walk anymore, Kezec.” The shimmer of a mirialan crouched before the sickly man, expression hardening as she looked to him. “Had I any more power to this torment, I would end yours.”
“Perhaps you would be doing the galaxy a favor-” he smirked, as he pressed off his conversational backfoot, righting his poise.
“Killing a disillusioned savior? Absolutely.” She didn’t find it so amusing.
The Warlord steadied himself on his feet, rising with a hand braced against the wall to his flank to keep his balance. He refused to argue in circles with a woman who had been dead for decades, at this point. He pushed from the wall to pass through her and make his way back into his icy chambers, barely feeling better at all. The ice still lingered in his veins and bloomed along his bones, sinking his gut into his feet and packing it with nothing but lead. It was only a dream, wasn’t it? He situated himself on the edge of his bed, fixing his face towards the door as if he expected a familiar face painted with worry to come bursting in.
But she was gone.
The hallway was silent.
Perturbed still, the miraluka mulled over his options as the phantom accosted him once more- though he brushed her words aside, paying them little mind. Why was he trembling? It wasn’t cold in here, no more than usual. He was still sweating beneath the prickling weight of so much despair… the feeling of so many lives stamped out in an instant. Dread climbed his throat once more. This had been no dream. The urgency of his pulse was enough to persuade him of that very easily. The world he had witnessed, it was cold- snowy. Writhing masses of twitching soldiers flooded its surface, spilling into the cracks carved across the planet’s face. It was not Carlac, no, was it a distant cousin? Hoth? It couldn’t be… he wracked his mind for the answers, clasping a hand over his empty eyesockets to massage his temples. He needed the aid of his lessers if he wished to delve deeper into what he had been the witness of.
“What will you do, Kezec?”