It was happening again.
A young man, possibly younger than himself appeared out of thin air. As bizarre as it was, this had been going on for so long he didn't even question it anymore – didn't mean he was used to it. He'd never seen this man, but there was something familiar he couldn't put his finger on.
"You've done well; you should be proud of yourself." the young man smiled.
"Who are you," Ben asked, narrowing his eyes. There were only persistent voices when he was still Kylo Ren, but these were like living in a dream – or nightmare. As many times as this had happened, He couldn't remember the constant visions ever being the same, it managed to be a new experience every time: a different face, voice, or message. He hated it.
The man ignored his question, continuing on, "You're strong with the Force and have become a better man than I could ever hope," he beamed, "but I suppose I should expect no less from my Grandson." The man stepped forward, placing his hand on Ben's shoulder.
Ben glared back at Anakin Skywalker – his grandfather, his idol. Something felt wrong. He looked at the hand resting on his shoulder, flesh beginning to melt away. Anakin, unfazed, grinned at him.
A sense of Déjà vu startled him as his mouth fell open in shock – wait a minute… he remembered why he knew that face. Previously unmissed memories flooded back into his mind... maybe this vision had happened before. He supposed this place was finally taking its toll – he was finally beginning to lose his mind. Why did he think this was a brand-new memory? Had the other visions repeated too? More than once?
Anakin's voice tore Ben from his thoughts, "I was in love too; I would have given everything for her." His voice had now gradually begun to change and his eyes turned a sickly shade of yellow as he continued, "I gave all I had, but it wasn't enough. She left me, all alone." Ben took a step back, hoping to create some distance while grappling with his memory, trying to remember what came next in the visions from before.
The burning of Anakin's arms traveled to his neck, creeping towards his face as he stared intently at Ben, walking closer again, "You see, I wasn't enough, I was weak. I didn't have enough power," pausing with a wicked grin, "Just like you won't." That got Ben's full attention.
"You don't know what you're talking about. I saved her, I felt it," he spat at the vision, "I'm no longer weak like you." What a fool he had been, my whole life chasing the dark side like grandfather – for what? He did more in a day as Ben Solo than years as Kylo Ren.
"You're a fool. I was sure too, but I needed more Power!" he cackled, now a disfigured image speaking with a cacophony of voices. Fear gripped Ben's heart. Could he be right? No, this is just another hallucination from… wherever this is. Rey is fine. Far away from this nightmare. The voices persisted as Ben contemplated, "Power is the only thing that can help you now – love is nothing but weakness."
Ben's mind went blank as his body suddenly wracked with pain; his life force being stripped away. It felt like a slow trickle, but agonizing all the same. The voices grew louder as more seemed to join in, "POWER, MORE POWER, MORE POWER". Ben pulled his focus back to the man, reaching out with the force – squeezing his neck while fighting the pain of the force drain.
Ben's body flew back as a sickening crack filled his ears, the vision abruptly ending. Force, he hated those.
There was nothing left but emptiness in the atmosphere. It might be peaceful if it wasn't so eerily empty. He didn't get moments like this for very long, so he decided to try again to reach out with the force. He had been trying for years – He had no real way to know for sure, being in a place like this, but he could feel it. Knowing Rey had felt like a lifetime in his heart, but in his mind, he could tell it was only a couple years. He had been in this place for far longer. It was bizarre – he didn't eat or rest. He was pretty sure it was hell for his life as Kylo Ren – at least he had made his last moments worth it.
He remembered when he had given his life force to revive Rey. It was a crazy feeling, like they had literally become one in the force, their consciousness melding together for a moment. He could feel every ounce of her feelings toward him, and he could only assume she felt the full extent of his love for her. He loved her more than he could put words to, he didn't even understand or know what to do with it. Besides being a fool and endangering her time and time again, he remembered bitterly.
He knew she shared his feelings, but he felt that if she truly wanted to, she could let go – something he had tried his whole life to do, but could never truly succeed. He thought of Rey, hoping wherever she was, she was spreading her light to the rest of the world. His fists clenched slightly, as an instinctual possessiveness told him he never wanted her to love again, she was his, only his to love. Rational thought gently reminded him that he didn't truly want that for her. He really hoped that she would not feel the same bitter emptiness he did and could find solace in the others she cared about. It was an agonizing thought, but one a better man would have. A man worthy of Rey.
A tremor in the force disrupted his sorrow, as he looked up to notice a flicker of light in the distance. He drew to it instinctually, the light growing larger as he got closer. He finally was close enough to find that this was a rather large figure in the nothingness of this place. Geometric shapes formed a pattern, even taller than himself, lightly glowing in the darkness.
For however long he had roamed this place, he had yet to see something like this. It didn't look like anything but markings, but it felt like there was more to be discovered. He moved closer and touched the inner area of the shape, reaching out with the force to sense what may lie within it. He felt… something. Perhaps. But it was so faint he could have been imagining it... Just like everything else here, he thought forlornly. Regardless of his sanity, he decided it would make a good place to meditate, at least.
Every time he had reached out with the force so far in this place, he only saw visions of the past. They were mainly haunting memories, but occasionally a happy moment here and there – His mother smiling at him, his father nodding and patting his back in approval - "Not bad kid", Luke teaching him how to build his first lightsaber. He made the attempt to keep his thoughts clear of Rey; there was enough pain without the bittersweet reminder of their memory.
Despite his attempts to stay away, this time she flowed through his thoughts stronger than he could avoid. The memory of holding Rey in his arms, looking at her lovely smile, feeling whole, feeling through the bond how she thought he made her feel whole. It felt almost like he was reliving the moment all over again. Desperate for more, Ben attempted to steer the memory into a lucid vision. He beams at her in earnest, gently holding her face in his hand, bringing her face close to his. His deepest desire is to see her again – it's always been to see her again. Lost in her eyes, he whispers "Come find me" before he realizes he's spoken aloud.
The memory… dream… vanishes as quickly as it began. He felt unexpectedly satisfied, instead of tearing at the gaping hole in his heart, as memories of her usually did. I suppose that's what happens when you're a hopeless fool clinging desperately to your own memories, pretending something will change, He scoffed to himself. Still, it had been such a heartwarming feeling – he hadn't felt this fulfilled since arriving in this dreadful place. He looked around in a moment of peace at the realm, the moment allowing him to enjoy the quiet and look over the starry sky, even in a strange place like this. I suppose it's not all bad here.
It only lasted a few moments before a cackle broke the spell and the nightmare began again.