Of the next dream, she has no context. It’s night and it’s cold and she’s shaking like a dead leaf. There’s blasterfire in the background, and the distant sound of men shouting in Mando’a, but this is the least of her concerns. Her shoulder hurts, her leg hurts, and Malak’s body is heavy, heavy as a stone as she pulls him out of the river. She lays him down on the mud bank and wills the water out of his lungs, but he still doesn’t move. He doesn’t breathe. Revan’s breath catches in her throat. It cannot end like this. She won’t let it.
“Don’t you dare die on me you son of a kath!”
She lays a hand on his chest and, before she has time to hesitate, releases a single, sudden bolt of lightning. And then he coughs and coughs and coughs again, and Revan breathes a sigh of relief as the fear slowly leaves her.
“I won’t,” he rasps, and latches onto her hand, avidly, desperately, as if clinging to life itself. Another cough escapes him, and his grip on her hand softens just a little. “I promise.”
The trip to Malachor is long. Interminably, excruciatingly long. But a promise is a promise – even one made to the soul of a man who once loved you and later tried to kill you, and would have succeeded, had your amnesiac self not beaten him to it – and she can’t keep living not knowing.
No one greets her when she leaves the dorm. T3 is working and cursing in the engine room and the others are… gone. Returned to the course of their existence. To what is left of their lives. She hasn’t told anyone where she’s going. Better to let them resent her than to drag them down with her. It’s for the best. She was already gone anyway, swallowed whole by the shadows her past. Even the droids could see it. It’s been months now, and the dreams don’t stop coming. She wonders if they ever will. Some make her cry and scream, and yet she finds herself longing for those that don’t, for those rare, peaceful ones in which she’s still young and happy. In which she’s not the Dark Lord. In which Malak is alive.
She settles into the pilot seat as the ship comes out of hyperspace, and the sight before her is enough to make her shiver. This is not a world for the living. This is a cluster of debris floating around a shriveled, deformed planetoid, and as she dives into the atmosphere and towards the scarred, jagged surface, the winds swirl around her and try to toss her out like the intruder that she is. Then lightning hits, and T3 shrieks. Oh, she has a bad feeling about this.
“Bad landing spot.”
She knows that voice. It’s metallic and raspy, not at all like in her dreams, and very much like the day he died. That day she… well, it’s too late now. And it’s too late to correct her landing path as well. She tries to anyway, because trying is all she ever does, but then a green light flashes out from the crevice beneath her, the ship rattles, and the dashboard goes black.
“You’re reaching out to me now?”
Despite the reproach in her voice, she can’t hold back the tears that prickle at her eyes.
“I was busy being dead. The Netherworld of the Force has very bad service.”
Her fists tighten on the yoke as she tries to dodge the next flare. To no avail. The blast sends her spiraling forwards and plummeting into the canyon below. Revan braces herself.
“Well, I doubt that’s any comfort, but it looks like I’ll be joining you sooner than expected…”
“Just look out, damnit!”
Revan hears the hull squeak and groan as the Hawk brushes against the cliff, then a very distinct crack as it finally comes to a halt.
She releases the yoke, and notices her palms have turned red.
“See? Piece of cake.”
Only silence answers her. Perhaps it’s all in her head. Perhaps she’s going mad. Perhaps she always was. But then the voice sighs and speaks again. Fainter. Softer. More human.
“Please don’t make me answer that.”
Then silence falls again. But perhaps the voice is right. She doesn’t want him to. She doesn’t want to know if he’s real, or a product of her deranged, remorseful brain.
She steps out of the Ebon Hawk, and feels her chest constrict. She’s alone, alone amidst old mines and scrap metal and charred, dead bones. She tries to remember Master Dorak’s teachings: there is no Death, there is the Force. But Dorak has never been to Malachor. Dorak has never killed a world. She should remember by now. She doesn’t. But she knows, somehow, that this is her doing. Pain and despair hang around her as she treads the cracked, barren ground, and the wind screams and dies out, only to howl again. Almost human. Almost alive.