Part Eight: Epilogue

Lexie Sunsoft stepped into the main gathering area of the Ebon Hawk to find all of her companions (minus the droids) already assembled there. It took only a quick look at their dishevelled appearances and shaken expressions for her to recognise this as being more than some freaky coincidence. With a sigh, she moved to the only remaining stool and plopped herself down on it. 'So I'm guessing we all had a nightmare, huh?'

'And there I was thinking I was all special,' grumbled Atton sarcastically. He was leaning against the wall, arms crossed, clearly unnerved and trying to hide it in the same way he always did – with humour.

'You all thinking what I'm thinking?' asked Lexie, glancing around the room.

'That this is a parting gift from Kreia? I believe so, General,' said Bao-Dur softly, and several others nodded. It had only been a few hours since the events on Dantooine followed by the confrontation with Atris on Telos, and the Hawk was already hot on the ex-Jedi's heels, headed for Malachor. The ship had been left on auto-pilot under Lexie's strict instructions that they all get a good night's sleep, so as to be well rested, ready for the battle that was sure to follow as soon as they arrived on the dead planet's surface.

'Our own personal slices of hell, courtesy of the witch herself.' Mira rolled her eyes. 'She couldn't have just left us crappy souvenirs or something?'

'Of course not,' snarled Mandalore who was, as always, clad from head to toe in his ceremonial armour. Even through its thick surface Lexie could sense he was uneasy, even rattled by the experience. 'She wanted to get inside our heads. Make us suffer. Throw our focus before the final battle. And as far as I can tell, she succeeded. Say whatever you like about her, she's a tactical genius.'

Mical shuffled anxiously in his seat. 'It was certainly a… disturbing experience, to say the least.'

'Vivid, too,' agreed Visas, stood very still to one side of the room. 'I truly believed what I was experiencing to be real.'

'She's just trying to psych us out,' Mira replied, trying to sound reassuring but seeming to have the opposite affect on Atton who stood up suddenly, rocking forward on his heels and throwing his arms wide.

'Yeah? Well, consider me psyched!'

'Atton…' Bao-Dur, ever the peace keeper, tried to calm the scoundrel but was shaken off.

'No! No, Bao-Dur, don't Atton me like I'm over-reacting here. This isn't just your usual Jedi mind trick bull. This is her, crawling inside our dreams for frack's sake and having herself one hell of a party! How the hell do we fight that? How the hell do we possibly face someone who is in our dreams?'

Atton's little outburst left everyone very silent. The events of that night had affected them all, exactly as Kreia had intended. Instinctively, as was always the case when something of this magnitude happened, the focus of the room shifted to Lexie, their de facto leader, as they waited to hear her take on the situation. It was to the surprise of the whole group that as they watched her a slow smile spread across the exile's face.

'Lex?' asked Mira, sounding slightly concerned. 'We all just had to experience the worst things our subconscious minds could possibly conjure for us, as well as all other kinds of ambiguous crap that I don't even want to begin trying to work out, and the person who made that happen is waiting to try and kill us on some dead planet full of uber-dark energy that we're limping our way towards. What are you smiling about?'

Lexie stood up, her smile growing to become a grin, as she surveyed her companions. 'Don't you get it? This great, all powerful Sith Master just used her astronomical powers to try and shake us off our game. You think she'd waste her abilities or her time doing something on this scale unless she saw us as a threat? She's afraid of us. She thinks that we can beat her. She thinks we can win. And do you know why she thinks that?'

Resolve glittered in her eyes and her determination radiated off her in waves. The inspirational undertone of her voice reached each of them and, in some form or another, offered comfort.

'Because we can.'

'Think about it,' she continued earnestly, looking around the group. 'We were confronted by our worst fears tonight, real deep, dark, painful stuff. And here we all are. She threw everything she had at us and we've survived it to fight another day. Even our nightmares couldn't stop us! So we're going to go to Malachor, and we're going to fight, and we are going to win.'

Her certainty was infectious, and in moments the tension was broken. A last minute revision of tactics followed, and then it was agreed that they should all go back to bed though how many of them would actually manage to get back to sleep that night was something they did not discuss. As each companion headed to their room, Lexie let out a small laugh. 'Well, at least you guys didn't all dream about that cryptic talking gizka. I don't know where that came from.'

Several quizzical looks and knowing glances were exchanged amongst the group, then each retired to their bunk, having finally put their nightmares to rest.