Coalescence, Chapter 13

Sreya dismounted from his speeder and approached a rusted field lab with wariness in his steps. His robes rustled as he walked; the air around him was hot and still. Nearby, short gnarled trees stood silent watch, unmoving sentinels.

The silence was thick, no birds, no insects, no wind. He resisted the urge to speak aloud to make sure he hadn’t suddenly lost all hearing.

He stopped a few feet shy of the entrance, uncertainty rearing its ugly, serpentine head. This was an encounter years in the making, and he was not sure he was ready for it.

There is no emotion, there is peace.

Steadying himself, he resumed his course into the lab. His lightsaber rested at his hip, he would not be the first to draw.

The entryway was dark, and he could see no switch to turn on the lights. His heart yearned to pound, adrenaline pleaded for its release, but he calmly rebuffed them. His heart had started this, he would not let it finish it.

He waited for his eyes to adjust, and then proceeded down the entryway into what appeared to be the laboratory proper. Various technical equipment, whose purposes Sreya could not guess, were strewn about the place; electrum wiring and aluminium tubing jutted from the walls where explosions had ripped into them; and a faint glow emanated from energy restraints near the far wall.

The restraints held one of the room’s two occupants suspended. Sreya did not recognize the old man, but suspected he was the Jedi that the troopers had told him about. The other occupant was a large Cathar, asleep on a table barely big enough to contain him.

The Jedi hanging motionless appeared to be unconscious; reaching out with the Force, Sreya was able to determine that the man was suffering from no major injuries. An invisible fog seemed to surround the old man’s mind, undoubtedly serving to keep him in his unconscious state.

Sreya briefly considered releasing him from his restraints, but finding her was too urgent, and if he knew his Padawan at all, Ky-an would be here soon enough to tend to the older Jedi.

Instead he opened his mind to the all too familiar presence, the presence that had almost been guiding him. Without knowing how he knew it was there, he turned to face a door that would take him to her. It was time.

The doorway opened to another ruined hallway that stretched several meters away from the laboratory.  Sreya followed it, stepping around the debris on the floor. Over his head, an exposed wire sparked, reminding him that there was still some power being provided to the building.

He walked past two doors before stopping at a third. Instinctively he knew, this would be the room. He pushed the button that opened the door, which seemed to slide open slower than he would have expected. And that’s when he heard it.

A voice.

A voice he had never expected to hear again; a voice he had never ceased to dream about. A voice that could soothe all his pain and anguish; a voice that sent chills of terror down his spine. A voice that a tiny part of him had hoped he might never hear again.

“Hello, lover.”

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