Only A Dream by Chris Anderson

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Lucasfilm, Ltd. No money is being made and no infringement is intended.

He used to dream that none of it ever happened. That all of the things that caused him to curse the universe simply never occurred.

He dreamed away more than half a century's pain, dreamed away every loss, every heartache. In his dreams he had not lost friends, mentors, lovers, children... He had not lost anything.

In his dreams the Empire was everything it could be, all that it aspired to be; all that he once believed that it was. In his dreams he never made the mistakes of his youth, never trusted the untrustworthy, never stood by and watched things happen that he could have, should have, stopped.

That was what he dreamed of, before the war.

After the Yuuzhan Vong came, even in his dreams, he could not put the world back together again. Even in his dreams now, the damage has been done.

He dreams now, simply, of peace. Of time to work in his garden, the sun on his face, earth cool and moist in his hands. He dreams of the world he made out of the ashes of the old empire, safe at last.

He dreams the hard-won peace will linger. He has given enough for it, has lost enough in pursuit of it...

So many of the dreams turn to nightmares, now. The war haunts him, as all of the wars have haunted him. He dreams of the garden, and then without warning the sun goes cold and the light freezes, and the soil upon his hands becomes blood he cannot wash away. He sees each flower, each plant in his garden, crushed under armored feet, and each cries out in pain and terror- sentient voices, too many of them familiar...

Some nights the voices call his name, and it's all he can do, when he finally wakes, to remind himself that it was only a dream.