Kylo Ren awoke from a drugged sleep in his chamber on Starkiller Base and dragged himself into the refresher. He stared at the reflection in the mirror. The long face was drawn and pale, and beneath his sleep clothes, his sinewy form had melted away. His breathing was still a bit wheezy, but the coughing fits were over. He was starving, and he took that to be a good sign. The virus had struck a month ago and wiped out half the First Order forces within a week. Ren and Hux had been quarantined immediately once the infection had spread through the Ninth Division from the fool who had brought it back with him from shore leave. At least the idiot’s dead, Ren though bitterly, and I don’t have to Force-choke him.
All their biological protocols had failed to contain the disease, and many officers – those who were alive – speculated that the trooper had been a purposely infected and sent to deliver the superbug to the First Order ranks. Ren had to admit it was a brilliant move – warfare without bloodshed or property destruction, a maneuver that crippled the enemy as effectively as any Death Star.
He was not looking forward to the day’s status report. Hux was still in a coma, that much Ren knew, and he himself had only survived the epidemic due to his ability to tap into the Force. He’d still required drugs to prevent his lungs from completely filling with fluid, and that bothered him. He hadn’t felt this weak since was at the academy. He’d been sick then, but not due to an infection. The memory was fuzzy, illusive, but bits and pieces of it came back now as he stared at the gaunt figure in the mirror.
He’d been fifteen and home in his own bed in a severely weakened state. He remembered medi-droids poking at him, reading his vital signs, and injecting fluids, but he didn’t remember his mother leaning over him. Where had she been? On one of her missions, fulfilling senatorial obligations, he supposed. He recalled waking once at the touch of his father’s hand on his cheek, but when he was finally able to get out of bed, Han Solo wasn’t there. Ren knew he’d been close to death then. Why hadn’t his parents been there to rejoice in his recovery?
There was one who had been there. He could see her face now – the blonde woman who haunted his dreams, the one who was responsible for stealing his memories. He was sure of it. Before he got up on that bleak night long ago, she’d laid a cool hand on his forehead and spoken softly to him, read him legends and tales from the Old Republic days and spoon-fed him when he was too weak to keep his eyes open. And when he was finally strong enough, she’d brought him out on the open patio overlooking the city lights. The air was cool for that time of year and she’d propped him up on the lounge chair, tucking the blankets around him. She heaved a sigh as she settled into a chair next to him.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to hear this story.”
At first he hadn’t known what she meant, his head still reeling from the strange sickness.
“Your uncle has been out of contact – something about terrible ion storms disrupting communications, but I managed to get a few messages through to let him know you were fine,” she went on, then reached out and patted his knee. “He’s doing ok too, but he’s been worried about you….So, can you tell me now what happened?”
Ben Solo had frowned in concentration, straining to make sense of the images that flitted through his addled mind. He and his uncle had been in some sort of skirmish that had ended in a huge flash of red. When he closed his eyes, sometimes that was all he could see.
“There was a tree,” he began slowly, “in a forest. Uncle Luke and I had been
investigating an old Jedi legend when we suddenly sensed a great disturbance in the Force.” He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, remembering. “We both ignited our lightsabers and put our backs together, turning to face the threat. They came out of nowhere – a man and a woman. We didn’t sense them until they were upon us.”
“Who were they?”
Ben shook his head, wincing a little. “I’m not sure, but they…they were…strong with the Dark side of the Force.” He let these last words out in a whisper. “I barely got in a few blows and was fending off the woman, but there was a little girl with her. She stepped out from behind the tree and distracted me.” He shook his head to clear it. “She planted something in my head – a thought or image – I can’t remember now, but the next thing I knew, I was flung against a tree on the edge of the clearing….Then I woke up here.” He looked up sharply. “Has my uncle said anything…about whether or not he…killed them?”
Amanda Snoke took his cold hand in hers. “All he said was, ‘Tell Ben everything’s ok’ and you needn’t worry about being attacked again. That’s all I know, sweetie.”
Kylo Ren turned away from the mirror, breathing hard as the word echoed in his head.
His jaw clenched and his fingers curled into fists…but he didn’t know why.
@MyKyloRen 30 August 2016