On board the Finalizer, General Armitage Hux half-carried, half-dragged the limp form of Kylo Ren into the darkened chamber and dumped him before the dais. The holo of Supreme Leader Snoke flickered briefly and then grew brighter as the master eyed his apprentice with disgust.
Snoke made a dismissive gesture to Hux. “Leave us.”
Ren was alive, but exhausted and badly wounded from the battle on Starkiller Base. Hux had thrown a robe over him, but the dark lord was still dripping from the bacta tank. He’d been asleep and drifting through dreams that both uplifted and devastated him. The drugs in his system dulled the pain but splintered his mind. Hux — or at least he thought it was Hux from the polished black boots that forcibly nudged him and then smartly retreated — had left him in a pile on his knees. Ren ran his palms over the cold onyx floor in an attempt to focus.
“Where is the girl?” Snoke drawled from the projector high above.
Ren knew he had to answer his master, but he just couldn’t think. What girl? The girl that haunted his dreams was tiny — four or five at the most — with arms like a babydoll. “Jakku,” he blurted, too disoriented to lift his head. “We left her on Jakku.”
A deep resonating silence followed. After a moment, Snoke spoke again in a voice low and dangerous. “Kylo Ren, you have failed me for the last time.”
Ren took in a deep breath and curled his fingers into a fist. His shoulders slumped as he waited for the blow that would end his life — wherever it would come from. He no longer cared.
“I have one final task for you,” Snoke told him in a matter-of-fact tone.
Ren slowly lifted his head to stare up at the grotesque image. He blinked several times, not sure what he was seeing.
The face was ravaged but not distorted by violent trauma and decay. It was still beautiful somehow. The eyes, however, had lost their spark and the woman’s vitality was fading fast. She was propped up on a couch, bolstered by plush pillows and draped in blood-red bed clothes that spilled to the floor and over the dais. She reached out a hand to him.
“I have one final task for you,” she rasped.
Kylo Ren, Master of the Knights of Ren, came to take her hand and knelt before her bed.
“This body has failed me, but I have found another,” Amanda Snoke told him. “It will not be long before I’m with you again.” She would have touched his cheek, but under his hood he wore the mask of Ren — the one who brought balance to the Old Republic by wielding the Dark and the Light. With those powers, through Ren, she would forge a new galaxy that was neither Empire nor Republic, one that was ruled instead by the Force and the Intelligentsia who wielded it. But first, she needed to shed the fragile body that had been too weak to contain her essence.
“How is this possible,” Ren asked softly, “when your clones have also failed?”
She gave him a weak smile and squeezed his hand. “Never before have I taken on the body of a Force-sensitive. That is what I now require to survive, to continue our mission.”
Inwardly, Ren gave a start. He didn’t like where this was going, but he remained still.
She sensed his apprehension but merely said, “I leave you the task of seeing to the transfer, for I trust no other. Once it is complete, we shall be together again.”
Kylo Ren nodded, gazing sadly upon the woman who had brought him comfort when he was a frightened child, support and understanding as a troubled teen, and love as a man. She’d brought him into the Cult of Ren and made him their leader. She’d been with him when no one else had, but now the Amanda he knew was leaving him. He understood now why she neither aged nor succumbed to sickness in all the time he’d known her, until her body finally and suddenly let go of all its vigor three days ago. Her skin had taken on a gray pallor and she was alarmingly thin, but still she smiled up at him.
An alien smile.
“Go,” she said in a firm but warm tone. “We’ve been preparing for this. Bring the scavenger girl from Jakku to me. She is the strongest I have found.”
Ren blinked behind the mask, remembering the girl. A slight chill went up his spine, but he did not know why.
“By the time you return,” she continued, “I’ll have no more use for this body.” She reached with her free hand to pick up a ruby-red holocron off a try beside her. “You will find me here, along with instructions. Only you can open it.”
“Bring the girl to me,” Supreme Leader Snoke said in no uncertain terms.
Ren straightened, resting his cold hands on his knees. “As you wish,” he answered, bowing his dripping head before the hologram.
@MyKyloRen 29 November 2016