Kylo’s body tensed when he heard that voice behind him. He wiped his cheek surreptitiously, erasing the trail a lonely tear had left behind when crossed it moments ago, and turned around to find his second in command face to face.
“Yes, General Hux?”
“There’s no one left on the base. The rebels managed to escape,” sneered the general.
“Then withdraw the troops and go back to the freighters. We are returning to the Star Destroyer.”
Hux frowned as if not believing what he just heard.
“Excuse me, Sir, but… That is all?”
“What do you mean?”
“That rebel scum has escaped, led by the filthy scavenger that killed our Supreme Leader. And you want us to leave?”
A dense and uncomfortable silence captured them like soured clay.
“Are you questioning my orders, General?”
Hux didn’t answer. Instead, he swallowed hard making a sound of suffocation. His eyes, open wide, were full of fear and he shivered like a leaf. It seemed he had had enough with the terrible blow that Kylo dealt him on the command shuttle, and that his defiant outburst wouldn’t go beyond that pitiful comment.
But then, he took a deep breath and stood up, puffing his chest.
“I’m not questioning them, I’m saying they are wrong.”
Anger crossed Kylo’s body like hot lava. He clenched his fists, fighting the impulse to strangle Hux and leave his death body behind to rot, like the rat he was. He knew he hadn’t the support of the high command of the First Order, and to get rid of Hux would mean too much explanations and some new enemies that he need at the moment.
“And what are you suggesting, general? That piece of junk the rebels call ship jumped to lightspeed, and our tracker isn’t functional. Are we going to blow up this base in case some rebels hid themselves under the floor? Are we to start an aimlessly search? For Empire’s sake, what do you want us to do?”
Kylo’s cold tone and controlled demeanor, aimed at imposing the respect he deserved, had quickly turned into barked words and spasmodic movements.
But he wasn’t the only one. Hux had also lost his composure.
“To prove our superiority! What they’ve done is an insult, worse than an insult! They’ve humiliated us and we must annihilate them!”
“The Resistance is no more, we destroyed it! Luke Skywalker is death and the ones that run away are just a band of thieves. They have nothing left! The New Republic is almost done, Hux, we have to focus on that!”
Suddenly Hux pulled himself together and answered sharply:
“General Organa was on that ship.”
“And what can a woman do against all of our troops? No one came to her rescue today, and no one will.”
“That woman is your mother.”
It didn’t went unnoticed to Kylo that the general had skipped all formalities.
“What are you implying, General?”
“Do you think I didn’t notice the way you were looking at that scavenger? I know you helped her. No one would have killed leader Snoke and his guard and left you behind, alive. Do you think I can’t smell the stink of treason in all this?”
Before he realized it Hux had the sizzling red blade inches away from his throat.
“Shut that mouth of yours, or I’ll will,” threatened Kylo.
“Don’t you dare to point that at me.”
“Who do you think you are talking to?”
“And you, Ren? Who do you think you are talking to? Remember, you are alive thanks to me. I command the army that serves you, you are nothing without me.”
Kylo bared his teeth in anger. Part of him wished to make the move and end all of this, once and for all. Instead, he turned off the saber and walked to the exit.
“Be careful, Hux, I’m the one who commands the Force, and an army is not enough to bring down our enemies. Focus on your work and recover Coruscant from the hands of the New Republic,” he said before disappearing through the door.
With the Supremacy’s hyperdrive badly damaged, Kylo moved to the Intimidator, one of the few Star Destroyer’s saved from the destruction caused by the rebel fleet in the clash before Crait.
Accommodations where prepared for him, probably at the expense of some high officer that would have to sleep on the middle rank facilities from now on. Finally alone, Kylo sat on the corner of the bed cradling his face between his hands. He couldn’t stop thinking about the look Rey had given him before she left, how she had ended their connection.
What was that behind her eyes? Disappointment? Hate? She hadn’t bothered to bid farewell, she just left. And she left him behind, alone.
He stood up, eager to release his frustration. There wasn’t that much furniture in the room so he took it out on the closet door like it was his worst enemy. Instead of soothing his pain, the emptiness his felt on his chest grew with each blow, leaving him breathless.
He couldn’t understand why the Force was still connecting them, now that Snoke was death. Why did it connect them then? Why had he had to see her go, unable to do anything to stop her? It was too painful.
Kylo stopped his assault, resting his head on the door with a muffled sob.
He wished he could act on his words to Luke, he wished he could destroy her. If he did the pain would be over. But it was impossible. Kylo would kill before letting harm befall her. He had, already.
He raised his right hand to look at it. A warm tickling ran through his fingers where she had touched them. She said he wasn’t alone… but she had abandoned him. He closed his hand violently and turned around, banishing the scavenger from his mind.
What was the use of hurting himself by conjuring her image? He had more important things to care about. Hux had gotten suspicious and had to be stopped before he turned against him. Despite his weakness, the general was a dangerous man and Kylo wasn’t going to underestimate him.
He approached the communicator and contacted the destroyer’s captain.
“Captain Berisse, I want you to contact the Knights of Ren. Tell them to set aside their missions and come quickly to the Intimidator for an audience. Choose some high officers to replace them on their tasks.”
“Has General Hux arrived?” added Kylo.
“Not yet, sir. The freighters are on their way.”
“Notify me when he does.”
“At your service, Excellency.”
The communication was cut off and Kylo returned to the bed. He wished for his knights to come quickly, he had to show Hux he had allies too.