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Terminus Est 1 - Dream A Little Dream
This is the place of parting.What is happening in the galaxy, that the sleep of so many is troubled? It is hard to know. Something came from the ether of dreams and stole away the thoughts of the living, parted them from this world and placed them in another. All they knew was cold...
((This thread is a companion to events sparked by the "Graffiti Murders" and "Dream A Little Dream" Holonet Threads. Herein lie the gathered nightmares and thoughts of those whom the darkness has touched...))
Posted Feb 18, 17
· Last edited Feb 19, 17
She was... awake. Nliuha stirs, looking about. It was a boat, she was sitting at the bow of a boat. It’s a bright little vessel of polished wood with a white sail, and it moves gently across the lake in front of the breeze. With a quick glance, she was looking down past the water where her trailing hand disturbs the surface; it’s spirit-thick and gray. Is that movement? The rabbit pulls up her hand and a mottled shape balloons past not far below, then another – huge marine creatures. Up ahead the water slaps. The white and yellow back of one of the things clears the surface for a moment then dives. Nliuha could spot it still. It’s coming right at her – bigger and bigger – and it rears out of the water fully now, looming above the boat like a cliff. Why is she waiting? She wouldn't wait for this. She stands and she steps off into the water. Falling. Falling. Eyes closed.
The water becomes a mist. It clears and a landscape stretches out around her, stone and heathland and then a walled cemetery. Stepping through the gates, the mossy graves fan out in a surrounding area. Nliuha walk on and on, plain markers are everywhere, tens of thousands – there are no crosses or angels or other superstitions. Finally, she comes to a corner that felt familiar. The girl knelt to read some of the names here and they’re friends and family, everyone living and dead is here. And the dates on the graves are all within a few years of today. Even her own grave was here, but it was cracked. It’s a plain tablet without her name but she had a feeling it was hers. Nliuha felt a stirring of a half-memory, how it was before she found herself in the boat, before the King in Yellow came. But everyone’s here now, for This is Carcosa and this is the cemetery for all...
...as her fingers brushed the unadorned tablet, something more substantial than the breeze ruffled her hair with mournful affection. "I am sorry you are caught up in all of this, little one." The woman's voice was familiar but blurred, a blend of pitches and tones, all muffled by...something.
The little Chiss turned and looked up, into a face that was heartbreakingly perfect. Its polished silver surface, chased with flowers and vines that were and were not familiar, reflected her face back at her in odd ways, twisting it into unrecognized shapes. Silver-white hair spiraled down haphazardly on either side, an elegant coiffure gone ragged and disheveled. The bare arm was cobalt, the hand that patted her cheek work-roughened and calloused, incongruous with the tattered, elegant white ballgown that wrapped the figure.
"Help me, little one...find the..." The final syllable spiraled away into a shriek of anguished torment and the Chiss-colored woman began melting, twisting and collapsing in on herself.
There was a clang.
The silver mask clattered at Rabbit's feet.
A startled shout bubbled up in the girl's throat, sitting bolt upright in her bed. Nliuha felt a cold sweat breaking out under her bangs, pooling in her chest and lower back. For a moment, she had to blink away the scene from her eyes, still shaking from the shocks of the dream.
Here she was, on the Csillan Rose. Her room.
Tiny hands fisted into the blanket, clutching them close to her chest. What was that? Who was that?
Her head slumped into her knees, too weary to consider it further for now...
Posted Feb 18, 17
· Last edited Feb 18, 17
It’s been a fitful, restless sleep for Ataiun: a night fraught with uneasy dreams and nightmares, of waking up covered in sweat and shaking, almost dreading to close his eyes again...only to be lulled back to sleep time after time. And yet his last dream of the night will prove the most different, the most painful: he’s awake - and yet somehow still asleep.
When his eyes open and he looks about his surroundings, he at first expects something nonsensical and unfamiliar (like all the other dreams he’d had that night), but he’s sorely mistaken. This place he knows all too well.
Gray-and-white flecked tiles, scrubbed immaculately clean, provide the flooring for a sterile looking hallway with white and pale blue walls. The ceiling, too, is white, and there’s an almost uncomfortably light glow emanating from square light fixtures. Lining the hallway every so often, between white doors, are hard, wooden seats. Only one is occupied, and that by Ataiun.
He realizes in an instant where he is. It feels all too real, like he’s actually re-living this moment physically in history: it’s no dream, but a memory. The Chiss tries to move his fingers, willing himself to wake, but there’s no waking from something that’s real. He knows what’s about to happen: but is for the moment frozen, powerless to act, simply an observer in his own mind.
His eyes glance down and he finds himself looking at two images, clutched in one hand: one that of a woman not much younger than he is, her eyes closed, dark hair spread out under her head and fanning her soot-smeared skin - telltale freckle at the corner of her lips; and the other of a girl, eyes half-open but unseeing.
His other hand is in a fist, clenched so tightly that the well-trimmed nails of his fingers are biting into the flesh of his palms, drawing blood, as he waits.
“No,” he thinks. Rails against what he knows is about to happen, feels panic welling up in his throat, rages against the confines of his own mind, wanting nothing more than to close his eyes and go somewhere else, to wake up: but it’s no use.
Though his younger self is stuck in a limbo, waiting to hear news that could go either way, he knows. He feels his lips move, muttering a silent mantra over and over and over, whispering, “Let her live, oh, Flame, let her live, don’t leave me alone, please-”
But when the door nearest him opens, he hears his name being called, looks up and over to see a doctor staring at him with a look on her face that can only mean one thing - he panics, urging himself not to move, to just wake up- yet, unbidden, he feels himself stand and, shaky, take a step.
His feet take him in an instant into the room and to the side of a girl’s bed. He hardly hears the doctor speak behind him, telling him in a quiet voice that she’s slipping away and he’d better say his final words, because she doesn’t have long.
His arms gently gather the frail body into their warmth, encircling the once-lively figure as he bows his head, body shaking and trembling with sobs.
Again he feels his lips move, hears his voice as he speaks to her softly, when he can, when his voice isn’t broken and choking. Tells her that he loves her, pleads with her not to leave, simply whispering “please” over and over.
He isn’t aware of how long the passage of time is that he’s crouched at the side of her bed like that, only aware of the unresponsive body in his arms, his only thoughts that of the last words she’d spoken to him that morning.
“We’ll get you a gift!”
Time passes, as the medics behind him give him space. For all he’s concerned, only the two of them and his quiet pleas occupy the room. But he’s never been a particularly lucky man, and whatever luck he’d had in the past certainly doesn’t hold up now. His pleas go unanswered.
He feels the moment when the girl draws her last breath, when whatever light and energy that had once filled her up winks out and leaves nothing but a shadow of what once was. She goes limp, slack, in his arms, and he knows, just when the monitors in the room let out a buzz and a flat tone. Ataiun buries his face in her hair, holding back shuddering sobs that wrack his body and hers with their force. Never in his life has he been so shaken to his core.
But he doesn’t, for better or for worse, have too much time left in this nightmare: as it fades around him slowly, like fog dissipating into the air, and he finds himself slipping to his knees, the body slipping from his fingers, and suddenly he’s alone and in a place very different.
He’s sitting in the prow of a little stationary boat, perched at the junction between land and water. A new landscape stretches out around him, stone and heathland and a walled cemetery. He shakily rises to his feet and, almost in a trance, begins to walk- away from the boat, away from the water, through the heathland: as he steps through the gates of the cemetery, mossy graves fan out all around him. He walks on and on, taking in the sight of tens of thousands of plain markers - and only plain, these marks of the dead: there are no crosses or angels or other superstitions.
Finally Ataiun finds himself in a corner that he...seems to know. He reads some of the names on these markers and they’re all friends and family, the names of everyone both living and dead. Some he runs his fingers over, others he simply stares at in disbelief. The dates on the graves are all within a few years of today. His own grave is there, too, the marker cracked, tablet plain and without even his name and yet, somehow, he knows it well. He feels a half-memory of how it was before he was in the boat, before the King in Yellow came. But everyone’s here now, for this...this is Carcosa, and this is the cemetery for all the galaxy’s dead.
A gentle touch on his shoulder and the rustle of fabric against sere grass. "Captain...I am sorry to have brought you here. But...my resources are limited. Please...help me..."
He turns to look, hearing a title that he hasn’t heard in a long time. There is a blue-skinned woman in a tattered white ballgown at his side, hand resting on his shoulder. She reaches up to pull away an impossibly perfect silver mask that hides her features. The eyes turned up to him are empty holes in the flawless face. There is a tearing noise, a high-pitched wailing on the icy wind that lashes them both, whipping her skirts and disheveled hair into a froth of silver and white. As the mask pulls away, her fingertips turn to ice, translucent blue, and the transformation races up her arms and closes around her throat before she can scream. For a moment, her face is caught mid-wail or plea...then, for no reason, she shatters.
"Help me, Captain..." A whisper in the dying wind. The silver mask clatters to the cobbles at his feet, empty and meaningless.
He wakes up shivering from a cold that he doesn’t quite feel, cheeks stained with tears.
Jedi Master Vrik Demerik sat cross-legged in his tent. Though he could hear the muted sound of battle not far from the Organa encampment and with a thought he could see the soldiers on patrol, he knew it was safe enough where he was. The killiks were under control. With orders he was not to be disturbed until morning, he felt comfortable enough to let the facade slip. He set the bone mask that usually covered the place where eyes would be on another species aside. Beneath it, veins were darker, small wrinkles were beginning to form, the skin was just slightly ashen. The dark side was just starting to take its toll on his body. It wouldn’t be long before he would either need to employ trickery to continue his work in the Republic or devote himself to work within the Empire.
He lowered his head and stilled his mind. He breathed deeply, in and out, and focused on the small knot of rage that rarely left him anymore. He let it grow, let his mind drift. When the meditation passed on to sleep, he wasn’t sure, but he vaguely remember waking after a nightmare of something dark chasing him through marbled halls. He stumbled to his bunk and fell straight back to sleep again. The dream changed.
Master Demerik stood in a place he thought he knew well. Though the vibrant color and rich decoration was somewhat lost on the blind Miraluka, he could feel it through the Force, knew the hall he stood in cost a Hutt's ransom and the people around him, talking and laughing, all treated it as routine. Rich smells filled the air, food that made his mouth water, and he knew most of it cost more than a typical family’s weekly stipend. The music was light and airy, a tune that begged him to dance, so different from raucous cantina music.
It was strange. He felt wide awake, yet blunted at the same time. It was as if something larger than himself was in control. His attention was drawn to one of the nobility, a young woman in a dress of lace and muslin. Men approached her, and though he couldn’t quite focus on their faces, he could feel their panic as they hurriedly left. They felt like men cast adrift, suddenly alone in the galaxy. She raised her fan to her face and he could feel her attention on him. The cape of his Jedi tunic billowed around him as he went to her and guided her onto the dance floor. Shapes passed them, other couples dancing to the tune, though he couldn’t make his Force sight focus on anything more than her, the feel of her against him, his hand at the small of her back as he guided her in the dance.
Her perfume filled the room, as sweet as Alderaanian nectar, so rich that it made his head spin. He found himself alone with her, in a gallery with glass doors along one wall. Distantly, he could hear the music playing still, and he still led her in the dance, though his attention wandered down her pale neck to the curves of her body hidden by the dress. He realized with a start that despite his attention, he had not yet seen her face. Fear bloomed deep within and he willed himself not to see, to be as blind as some in the Empire believed him to be. He could feel a chill coming off of her, cold and hungry as deep space. Her fingers brushed his face, found the bone mask he always wore and brushed it aside. It clattered to the floor as he willed himself not to look at her.
Something brushed the scarred skin where his mask had been. Against his will, he looked. Darkness met him. Darkness deeper than anything he had ever felt before. He was held in the heart of the dark side, where even his sight could not penetrate, drowning in the deepest ocean, pushed down into its crushing depths yet falling upward at the same time. He was dying, slowly but surely, still holding tight to her, falling up into the stars that were her face. Even as the pain and terror overwhelmed him, he knew there could be no other end. This was her right.
Through the syrupy, endlessly cold waters a voice whispers "Vrik... Vrik Demerik... Can you hear me? Find the holocron, find the library..." The voice is muffled slightly. The shimmering face in the stars solidifies into a silver mask, flawless and enigmatic as a moon. The eyes are empty holes where not even stars glimmer. It shrinks and coalesces further into a woman in a tattered white ballgown, silver hair disheveled, bare feet bloody. Her skin is cobalt...or is it coffee-and-cream?
"Help me. We need to sto-" The woman's last word stretches and twists into an agonized shriek. Pinpricks of light blossom across her skin and rivulets of silver run freely from them. She is melting like wax, like molten metal...
There is nothing left but the mask, staring blindly and endlessly upward, at his feet.
He woke with a start, tangled in blankets, nearly strangled by them. He waved off the soldier at the tent’s opening. “I’ll be out in a minute.” He sat, bone weary and filled with terror...
It was cold outside, the window into Mirrisen's chambers standing wide open, rain pattering into the lushly furnished room. The curtains sighed, their motions unhindered by the damp. The Sith Lord groned, turning over then sat bolt upright with a start. The sheets were ruined, shredded into long streamers. Had she done that? Her claws? No, she touched them and the crumbled to dust, as if an ancient funeral shroud.
She rose from bed and stumbled out of the room. This was not her estate in Kaas City. She found herself in a long hallway, moldering grey stone, and the scent of mold and decay hanging in the air. Along unfamiliar corridors and across long chambers, she noticed marble, carpet, passed glass, velvet hangings, brick and porcelain, oil, and gold wood. A muttering voice intruded on her thoughts: “It’s all a distraction. All a distraction.” She paid it little mind. Such intrusions were common, even during waking hours. This was obviously a dream, wasn't it?
There was a mask on the wall and she took it, putting it on impulsively. A sword was next, then the robe of tattered cotton. The garment played out behind her, lending her a dignity commensurate with her task.
Task? What task? She had one, of that she was certain, but she could not remember-
And then Mirrisen saw the figure in a side corridor watching her. Her doppelganger, eager and worried. Suddenly furious, the Cathar stormed over, gripping the sword tightly. Unbidden, angry words poured from her throat: “You think you can stand in judgment over me? You think this has nothing to do with you?! It’s my crown! Mine!”
She whirled furiously, the weapon singing. Attack and defense are contrived and inexpert and the pair separated. But blood bloomed thickly on her arm – she was shocked, she'd seen many weapons like this but she didn’t think they actually worked – and she hold the wound and watched her double raise the sword again. And it looked so afraid…
Behind the doppelganger, a raggedly elegant figure loomed, the tattered ruin of her finery somehow more beautiful for its decay. Your double froze, ice spreading through its limbs like fire, the sound of ice cracking accompanying the change. She, too, was masked and armed, but the impassive female face was forged in silver, the metal throwing strange reflections back at the Cathar. The depthless darkness of the seemingly-empty eye sockets met her gaze and stared into her..Stared through her.
"...you can see us. Can you hear us? We need you to hear us. Listen..."
She stepped out from behind the crystallized doppelganger, the corroded and bloody sword in her hand dragging against the floor. "I only have so much time before he finds me again. We need to stop him. I need your help. Find the owl, find the library... Stop the words from being said, stop the veil from being torn... You must warn them!"
As the woman spoke, her slightly muffled voice low and urgent, her exposed flesh slowly began to crystallize. It ate at her as if it were a disease, the flawless corruption crawling across her flesh, turning cobalt to ice. "Warn...theee-" She was cut off, strangling on transformation, her agonized wail silenced abruptly as she shattered, taking the light with her.
There was a clatter.
A single candle burned, silver-white.
The mask and the blade lay at Mirrisen's feet, waiting.
The rest was the abyss.
Mirrisen woke screaming.
Posted Feb 24, 17
· Last edited Feb 24, 17
"I'm on Broad Street right now," Malazin reported, her right hand perpetually pressed against the comlink in her ear. "Can you see where she's gone?"
"You're going to keep asking me that and I'm going to keep telling you I can't," Lersa sighed from the other end of the comm channel.
"Send out more probe droids," Malazin suggested, dodging a pedestrian in her way. Broad Street was crowded tonight and despite the rain being worse than usual, Malazin was forcing herself to wade through a sea of bodies.
She pulled out the key on its string, reassuringly solid and heavy, then stuffed it back into her inside pocket.
"I've got twenty probe droids already deployed and I'm about to send out another ten," Lersa answered. "Any more, and I'll be fielding calls from the Ministry of Intelligence for the rest of the night."
"I'm sure it won't be that bad -- mind where you're going, you drunken arse!" Malazin shouted at a muscular Zabrak woman in a black and grey jumpsuit, possibly a Sith apprentice, definitely off her face on some kind of cheap gut-rot.
She checked once more for the key. Still there, still rusting away in the rain.
"Cassilda And The Strangers are playing at the New Symphony Hall tonight," Lersa reported with the same tone of voice as if she'd been commenting on the weather.
"Their show must've just ended."
A scrawny young human male in a red shirt bumped into Malazin. She looked round in equal parts anger and alarm, meeting the man's apologetic, slightly drunken gaze. She decided she didn't have the time to give him a reprimand and moved along swiftly.
Her key was still there. As she pushed her way through the crowd Malazin pulled the string out of her pocket and hooked it round her neck, letting the palm-sized antique hang from her shoulder. Another collision and a near-miss with another pair of youths out on the town, both male, one human, the other a hulk of a Sith Pureblood for whatever odd reason, made Malazin think better of it and she put it away again, grumbling.
"Found her," Lersa reported at last, and Malazin perked up instantly as she sidestepped around another human woman, quite solidly built and wearing the black robe of a Sith apprentice -- this time it was unmistakable.
"Where?" Malazin asked.
"Are you near the bridge?"
Finally past most of the pedestrians milling about, Malazin looked down and off to the right as a few watercraft and passenger ferries bobbed along on the river.
She still had her key. That was good. She needed it, but right now the reason why escaped her. Some mechanical lock that her security breaker wouldn't work on, she supposed.
"Just crossing it."
"Take a right when you're -- wait, that won't do, there's a roadblock. I... damn it, she's fast."
"Lersa?" Malazin asked, her tone carrying a note of impatience, even danger. The rain was getting heavier and she fancied that she could hear a rumble of thunder in the distance.
"No, we're fine, I've got four probes watching her. Can you speed up a bit?"
"I don't have nearly as many people to contend with now, so yes," Malazin answered, trotting along almost at a jog but allowing the Force to carry her at a considerably faster pace.
"There should be a hotel a bit further along from you," Lersa explained; Malazin could hear the sound of Lersa typing away furiously on her touch panel. "Turn right there, then you should be at Five Dials."
"A roundabout with a statue of--"
"I know what Five Dials is, Lersa, but why's she there?"
"Lersa?" Malazin ventured again, turning the corner past the hotel her adjutant mentioned.
She pulled out the key again; except this time it wasn't so much a key as a hollow effigy of a human, a limbless torso and head seemingly made out of cobwebs and dirt lying in the palm of her hand.
Malazin paused, staring into the effigy's hollow chest and hollow face and hollow eyes, and felt almost like something was staring back at her. The air smelled of rotting fruit and she fancied that she could hear flies buzzing and voices whispering in the back alleys.
She looked up and suddenly there wasn't a city any more. Instead of buildings, Malazin saw stunted trees, a few hillocks, and mounds of freshly dug earth dotting an otherwise flat landscape. She saw people dotted around, all of them standing still or ambling about like zombies.
"Lersa?" she asked once more, but her comlink had died on her. Typical.
Malazin edged closer to a little knot of people as the storm overhead began to pick up, powerful gusts of wind blowing her hair and clothing around -- though for some reason the bystanders' clothes were perfectly still and bone-dry in contrast. Perhaps stranger for Malazin was that none of their faces looked particularly memorable; she seemed to forget each one as she looked at the next. None of them seemed to notice her at all.
"Hello?" she asked one of them. None of them responded.
In the darkness of the night, lit only by a few dim stars and the moonlight shining through the storm clouds, Malazin fancied that she could make out nine distinct shapes, taller than her, taller than the people and the trees, like she'd walked into a ring of standing-stones. Sith ritual circle? Perhaps, but she was in a city before. The one form she could make out was smooth except for where the rain and wind had weathered the stone. She took a few steps closer, noticing as she walked that the ground itself felt different. Dry, crumbling like sand, incongruous with the rain pelting down on her and the stones.
The voices Malazin thought she heard earlier were getting louder. Some were shouting threats. Others seemed vindictive and gleeful. A few were screaming, and as Malazin listened she thought she could feel her heart about to burst in her chest, or implode or otherwise find some way to fail dramatically. She considered that she didn't want to go through that again.
The screams started cutting out one by one. Malazin looked around, eyes of metal and glass independently tracking where she thought the screams were coming from; and as each scream halted, a person -- still catatonic, still not unlike a zombie -- vanished from existence.
Almost as if someone, or something, were snuffing them out like candle flames, or -- the thought occurred to her -- devouring them.
Malazin was suddenly alone as the last vestige of a person faded from view. She reached for her lightsaber, but it wasn't there. In confusion she hesitated, and in that moment it was upon her, seizing her in an impossibly large phantom hand and lifting her into the air. Malazin struggled against it, thought about using the Force to break the entity's grip or attack it with lightning, but found herself staring into the entity's eyes, huge, glowing and dreadful.
The entity's form became visible, then seemed to melt before Malazin could take it all in. The face shifted into a woman's face, flawlessly silver, with shimmering white hair tumbling down in a dishevelled cascade around her shoulders. Malazin looked back into the woman's eyes, only to notice that the woman's eye sockets were dark and empty.
She seemed to wrench Malazin closer -- her hand now not even touching Malazin, but holding her tightly all the same -- and Malazin could more clearly see a tattered ball gown, once white but now filthy and ruined, and a broken, blood-stained sword that somehow still seemed elegant for all the abuse it had gone through.
Malazin felt a sudden chill around her legs and looked round to see mist creeping in and curling around them both.
"You must stop them," pleaded a low, insistent voice -- the woman's? "Help me stop th--"
The plea was cut off by a horrified shriek that spiralled into an echo of agony. The woman's figure was smothered by the mist, and then Malazin was as well, so cold that it burned where it touched her exposed skin and coated her jacket and bodyglove with thick frost. She tried to breathe but her breath caught, then froze painfully in her throat and lungs.
And then as quickly as the screaming started, it was over. Malazin dropped back down to the ground amidst a clang and a clatter.
She looked down as the mist cleared away, but there was nothing left of the woman save for a frozen mask of her face, blindly staring up at the sky.
"Did you put something in my tea last night?" Malazin asked Lersa as she picked at a pile of scrambled eggs.
"No," Lersa answered slowly. "Why do you ask?"
"Bad dream," Malazin shrugged. "Granted, it's not unheard of for Sith to have dreams. I just hope it's not one of the ones that's supposedly prophetic. It had better not be, actually; I felt like I'd stepped into some science fiction holodrama."
"You're worrying too much about something, my lord," Lersa noted as she refilled Malazin's tea, then poured a cup for herself. "But that's also normal for Sith, right?"
"Some of us."
"What was it about?"
Malazin took a sip of her tea and looked her adjutant in the eye as she set the cup back on its saucer. "Sit down. It's a long story, and I suspect you won't believe me anyway."
Posted Feb 24, 17
· Last edited Feb 24, 17