Hux lies on the cot and stares unblinkingly at the white ceiling. If he screws up his eyes slightly, it seems unsteady and as if it was trembling a little. Coupled with the cold humidity of the room in which the General is located, it is not difficult to imagine that this is not a ceiling at all, but the misty sky of native Arkanis, and that Hux himself isn’t a First Order General at all, but a seven- year-old boy lying on the grass, enjoying a rare minute of freedom. It seems as if the ringing silence is just about to be broken by the loud voice of his father ordering his son to return, and he will jump up and run to him at his call… only the body resolutely refuses to obey the General, and even just blinking requires monstrous efforts. That is why Hux does this so seldom, that is why the ceiling trembles and ripples, and will probably soon dissolve completely, absorbed by the agony already approaching the general. But so far this has not yet happened, and in his thoughts he can return to his childhood – or to the not so distant past, although this is something Hux wishes to remember least of all.
The General still does not know whether Snoke was aware that he was sending him to certain death. He probably was – and made this decision, finding Kylo’s life more valuable. And, however bitter it is to admit it, this could not be argued with. A Force-user against a common man is an unequal exchange. But still… still…
This, Hux is even more reluctant to admit, although somewhere deep within, the General has naively believed that the Supreme Leader would not let him die so easily. In battle would have been okay, or by the hand of someone of his equal status, or even among the rebels – but simply because he was inside the radius of the explosive field of a grenade, thrown, in addition to everything, in Ren’s direction? The realization of such absurdity makes Hux want to howl.
But, instead he lies motionless, contemplating the ceiling and wasting the last minutes of his life. The last – because the only thing that would have helped in his condition is bacta, all of which on board the shuttle was allocated to restoring Kylo. It’s a small grace that there at least were enough anaesthetics for the general. Hux listlessly listens to his intermittent, gurgling breathing and leans towards the thought that it might have been better without them. At least, writhing and wheezing with pain, he would not have remembered his childhood and the accursed Ren, with whose appearance in the General’s life all decisively went awry.
However, Hux does not succeed in finishing this thought, as the soft sound of a door sliding aside is heard, and someone’s black silhouette leans over the General. Focusing his gaze on the visitor with significant difficulty, Hux recognizes the Force-user, not without annoyance. Talk of the devil…
The Master of the Knights of Ren is deathly pale, his hair is tangled and his face is diagonally crossed by an ugly scar. However, he is quite alive, and is even on his feet without any help. As if mocking Hux.
It is said that anger gives strength, but no matter how hard he tries, the General cannot force himself to say a word, and only barely noticeably turns his head in supposed denial: seeing Kylo’s face before death is the last thing Hux would want. Ren, however, does not only not leave, but bows over the general, looking straight into his eyes.
”I was told that you are dying,” he blurts out, and his unnaturally loud voice painfully hits Hux’s much too sensitive eardrums. He takes a short pause and adds somewhat more quietly. ”Now I see it myself.”
Kylo straightens his back, and Hux is about to be pleased at his imminent departure, but Master Ren remains standing like a pillar beside his cot.
”I don’t understand… Why?”
The General remembers the adventure novels he read in his childhood. The heroes in them that, while dying, delivered huge parting speeches of a dozen paragraphs. And he hates them with all his heart, because he cannot squeeze out a single word from himself.
”Because the bacta on board sufficed only for you, Master…”
Judging by the mechanical notes of the voice, this is a droid speaking. Hux did not notice how it appeared in the room, but from the corner of his eye he sees a scarlet glow and even has the time to sympathize with the unfortunate piece of iron before a monstrous roar is heard and Hux’s left cheek is burnt by an errant spark.
”Why?” Ren repeats, growling.
The General turns his eyes to the Master at great effort. Everything is as he thought: Kylo with his lightsaber at the ready, a heap of warped metal at his feet… Will this really be the last thing the General sees in his life? He breathes out, exhausted.
Hux is no longer able to breathe in.
His eyes are straining out of their sockets, as if the General wants to see the entire space around him in his last seconds. His fingers convulsively scrape the smooth surface of the bunk, trying to cling to something. He moans softly – and suddenly sees Kylo’s white face looming so close. The Master’s eyes are also bulging. And his lips are curled in a whine, as if he is the one moaning, and not the General.
”Why?” Ren repeats a third time, but it’s barely a whisper.
And then his face blurs and is lost in the approaching darkness.
The last thing Hux feels is hot drops on his cheeks, quite unlike the icy rains of Arkanis.