ysonesse: (Default)
ysonesse ([personal profile] ysonesse) wrote2013-07-26 08:49 am


Dream World: Cloud City

Nalieza walked through a long and empty corridor, surrounded by white walls on both sides. All she had seen in this damned city were walls. Some of them were plain; others had intricate designs carved onto their surfaces. There were no windows to be found on any of the walls.

And she had definitely seen far too much white. The color of innocence, purity...and the color of hope. But also the color of mourning in some cultures...now, she could add another association. White was also the color of insanity. She'd seen far too much of it in the last few...hours? It wasn't hard to imagine being driven over the horizon of reason into the depths of a never-ending abyss of unreason and chaos after being surrounded by the blinding monotone of this empty shade.

Getting swallowed...that seems to be a recurring theme lately.

This city was a strange place. Beautiful, but it felt oddly poisonous. A pretty trap, like a jewel box with a serpent hidden inside the velvet lining. And it was a labyrinth, and she could wander around for ages upon ages, with no end in sight. The corridors were so similar that it wouldn't be hard to get lost in here.

Not in this lifetime, girl. Keep going, and you'll probably find him at the center. The heart of a labyrinth is where all things that must be confronted lives, right?

Suddenly, a window appeared on the left wall just ahead of her. It was large and round, with a clear view of the scenery outside. Sitting in the east were two pale green slivers of moons. Trapped behind those moons was a sun, red and pink...the tint of a rose intertwined with the shading of blood. Two lifeless bodies holding a life-giving entity as a prisoner, keeping it frozen in space and time. Another sun standing still...a different setting, yet with the same meaning. Life suspended in the flow of time...literally trapped in ice.

Along with the sun and moons, there were clouds everywhere. So many...

A city in the clouds. Bespin...Cloud City. So this was where Han had sought refuge...but instead had been condemned.
He was shutting himself away. Here, in this simulacrum of the place where everything had fallen apart.

She stopped walking. None of this made sense...and yet, it was sadly logical for Han to lock himself away in a remembered version of this forsaken idyll turned nightmare. To condemn himself was the final step in the complete descent into despair begun a few weeks before. Waiting, knowing how long he had been frozen, and then not finding Leia in the garden...even the strongest person would collapse and break apart under such things.

Nalieza began walking again, but still had no idea where or which way to go. More minutes passed, and she kept walking through blank-walled corridors.

"Damn, somebody give me a sign here," she muttered, staring down at the floor for a moment, just to pull her attention away from the maddening walls.

Look up.

In front of her were two paths diverging at a crossroads. The delicate process of making the right choice was suddenly important. Going one way would lead her to the center of this maze, and hopefully to where Han was. But going the other way would lead to...where? Maybe through more endless corridors, or perhaps out of this city, into some new and foreign space where she might be forced to wander until she faded away from existence.

Nalieza looked down the long hall on the right. Far away down the length of the corridor, and just around a corner, she could see a shimmering rose-and-gold light. She turned to look down the similar looking hall on her left. There too was a light coming down the hall, but this one was murky grey. More like a patch of fog than the soft light coming from the right side corridor.

"Which way am I supposed to go?" she called out to any deity or unseen helper that might be paying attention.

The response she was given was a brief flash of a vision...like the quick light from a holoimager...a room filled with chairs gathered around a long table...sitting at the head of the table...there he was, hunched over, with his elbows on the table...his face was hidden from her view, as it rested in his hands.

Han was completely adrift on the dark-night sea of his own despair. Things had happened in Cloud City too fast for him to change the course of events.

She had seen what took place that day in one of the earlier dreams...when the doors opened, Han saw a demon at the far end of the table. And entering from stage right came the bounty hunter, in the role of the demon's henchman. The blaster came out of the holster with the lightening flash reflexes honed over years of gunfights...but the demon at the other end of the table was faster than any normal man could ever hope to win against in such a battle.

Han couldn't save them...he couldn't save her. What he had sworn to do...that had been his ultimate motivation. Even if it meant that to keep her safe, he would need to leave the Rebellion behind. Having the curse of a bounty hanging over his head meant staying near Leia could bring her far too close to danger. She already faced enough danger leading an underground revolution against the Empire...to bring her more of it would only be foolish. He couldn't do that to her. So out of necessity, Han had to break his promise about staying with the Rebels, and leave.

But that never happened...

She concentrated, seeking out his presence in the Force so she could find him. After a moment, she felt that he was nearby. Very close, in fact.

With a quick nod, she headed down the right side corridor.

For a few moments, the only things she saw were two white walls surrounding her, exactly like all of the other ones she had passed by. But soon, she could feel an overwhelming sense of sadness coming from somewhere close to her left side. It radiated outward like a cold draft seeping through a crack in an attic ceiling.

She turned around. There were two doors towering over her head.

She looked around to locate a control panel that would let her into the room behind the doors. But there was none. Which did not make any sense, as there would obviously be some way of entry in the real life counterpart. Not easily being able to access the room could only be coming from Han's mind.

She leaned her forehead against the doors. What could she do now? All she could think of doing at the moment was to bang on the doors with her right hand curled up into a fist.

"Leave me alone." His voice was muffled, but his tone was clear enough.

She stopped pounding on the barriers in front of her. "Han, please don't do this."

There was no response. She knocked some more. Still, there was no reaction from him.

Nalieza slid down to the floor, and drew her knees up to her chest.

This was the lowest moment for both of them. He had lost hope, and even she now felt that nothing was possible anymore.

Maybe Han had the right idea. Would it really be so terrible to give up? Letting yourself detach and drift away was far better than feeling the anguish of another person. No, no. Try to hold on a little bit longer. Find something to keep him going. Don't let this blasted white city nightmare become his tomb.

Nalieza put her head down on her knees. Calling up something miraculous out of nowhere, stuck in the middle of this? How was that supposed to happen?

"If I'm supposed to be helping him through this mess, then I need some ammunition here," she whispered. "You can't expect an aident out on their first dream journey to do all of the work alone, especially in circumstances like these." She looked up at the ceiling. "Help me."

An image began to form in her mind...a pavilion, with its gentle filigree metalwork glittering softly under a golden full moon. A small group of people stood outside on the top level, with a gorgeous view of the river providing the backdrop to the scene. In the group, there was a woman standing on the right, wearing a white dress that glowed softly under the light of a nearby park light. Standing on the left was a man, wearing black and white, and looking uniquely elegant. An officiator was in front of them, holding a scroll and reading aloud from it. Just behind the couple was another man, younger than the groom, wearing dark blue and black...and next to him was a Wookiee, towering above the four humans. And in the far left corner, a small blue and silver astromech silently recorded the proceedings...a wedding ceremony...Yes, yes, it appeared to be...but who was getting married?

A small streak of light briefly illuminated the scene. She saw just enough to notice the faces of the participants.

That couldn't be possible...surely this was some weird vision induced by too much stress. Or some grand wish on her part...but if it was either of those, why did it feel right? So...real?

She opened her eyes. Had she just seen the future?

Her head buzzed. And the draining effect from feeling too much of one person's emotions plus her own was still present in her body. But there was something to motivate her, a strong sense that rose up past the remains of the sadness.

She jumped up from the floor and was about to knock on the doors again. Until she noticed a small but significant detail...on each door was a stylized geometric design that resembled a benu. The benu was a mythical bird that had once been held sacred as a sign of resurrection. Nalieza didn't know if these designs were actually on the doors in Cloud City, or if it was something being used symbolically in this dreamscape. Either way, it meant something important.

She started beating on the doors with her hands. "Han! Han, please open up! I have something to tell you!"

There was no answer.

If asking nicely wouldn't work, then the only way to get him listen was to make him angry. Not the most logical thing to do under normal circumstances...but a desperate measure was required for a desperate moment. Logic could take a flying leap out an airlock for all she cared at this point.

She took a breath, and yelled, "Okay, you stubborn fool. You can stay in yourself until you die! Even if they come and thaw out your sorry carcass, you'll still be locked up in here! And do you know why? Because you gave up!"

She looked at the ceiling, closed her eyes, and then said more quietly, "You'll lose her. All you'll ever have are thoughts, not the reality. So go ahead, leave her alone." Then she said in a whisper, "And you'll be alone."

There was nothing to do but wait for his reaction.

It took less than a minute for the doors to fly open. Han stood between them, looking angry, yet trying to keep it contained. "Watch your mouth," he said in a low tone.

She did not respond, or make any movement. It was better to let him say whatever he wanted at this point.

"Don't come here preaching to me about my life. I never asked you to start showing up. I definitely never said you had to keep coming back. You should have let me stay blacked out. It was better then."

Nalieza kept her steady facade. "I know."

"Oh yeah? How do you know? You have no idea what it was like."
"I do know what it was like."

"Only second hand. That's not the same as actually going through it."

"It is different, yes. But I still felt the pain, and everything else."

"No, you don't know it at all. You don't know what it was like, having to feel it coming down." He turned around and walked over to the window. "You didn't feel it. It was like..." he rested a hand on the wall, and she felt his tension; trying to recount the memory was almost as bad as having to remember it. "It was like drowning," he said quietly. "Or what I've heard it feels like. Because it's never happened to me, so I don't know what it's really like. But having that stuff coming down..." His hand clenched into a fist. "No wonder my mind took a hike when it started happening."

This wasn't the best time to disagree with him, to press her point about what it felt like to go through this experience right along with him. But all of these months, she had to keep so much held in, pushed aside and locked away while trying to help him sort through the memories so he could take something useful from this pointless consciousness he had been cursed with from the beginning. He had been making progress...but now, he was giving up. Giving into the sadness...it was going to destroy him. And it might destroy her, too. That was hard to believe at first, to think what happened to someone who still was a semi-stranger could effect her so much she might have some kind of emotional breakdown if they suffered a collapse. But there it was, though, and that could not be denied.

She had to save him, if only in part to save some of herself.

"When this all started, yes, I was just an outsider looking in. I never asked to be pulled into this, Han. I didn't ask to see your memories or feel what it's like to be frozen." Nalieza crossed her arms. "But it happened. And neither one of us can change that now." She pressed her lips together, trying to hold her resolve. "It would make things a lot easier for both of us if I just gave up and walked away right now. If I do that though...you lose everything that you want."

"Everything I want is already gone. There's nothing out there for me anymore. What's the point in waking up?"

"Stop it! Haven't you ever noticed the effect you have on people? Every person you ever come in contact with, you make an impression on them." She had to swallow, to keep her voice steady. "But if some of those people let you into their hearts...well, you certainly can do something to them."

Han wasn't about to give up. "That doesn't mean anything."

Nalieza sighed. "Quit it." She walked past him into the dining room. "I'm not leaving until you come out of here."

"You're gonna be waiting a long time," he responded.

She fell down into one of the chairs that were placed around the table. "Fine. I'm not doing anything particularly important in the real world. That leaves plenty of time for irritating you."
He stalked over to the left side of the chair and leaned down close to her face. "You won't do it."

She did not flinch or draw back from him, but simply stared at him. And did not say a word.

"No, you're just bluffing, like a bad sabacc player. I can tell."

"Do you want to test that assumption? I'm willing if you are."

Han pulled back. "What's your problem?" He pointed to the open doors. "Go on, get out. This isn't where you're supposed to be."

"Neither are you." There, nothing left now but a stalemate.

An awkward silence fell between them. Nalieza kept her eyes downcast, gathering up her mental strength, just in case he might decide to continue being stubborn. Although it seemed likely now that the worst part was over, because she could feel the instinct to fight leaving him slowly.

After awhile, he finally spoke. "You wanted to tell me something. What is it?" Much of the tension in him was gone, replaced by a weary feeling that she also felt.

"I saw something. Maybe this won't happen...I wonder if what I saw is even part of the future. But I still think telling you might help."

"What did you see?"

"I saw your wedding."

Han looked startled. "My...who was the bride?"

"Leia, obviously. Who else would it be?"

"I..." he looked at the walls, at the ceiling, then back at her. "Well, I'd want it to be her, definitely. No one else could...I mean, I never thought of marriage to any woman before, but if I did, then I...Do you think she would even have me?" He shrugged, slightly embarrassed. "You never know when some prince from a faraway system shows up with a lot of money and fancy ships. That's the kind of guy who usually winds up marrying a princess."

"Not every princess. Only the stupid ones go for those flashy types. I don't think your princess is like that at all. She seems to value substance over style. Or in your case, both substance and style."

He rubbed the back of his neck. "If I ever asked her, would she accept? Or would she start laughing at me?"

"Don't be ridiculous. She would definitely say yes if you proposed."

"Yeah, yeah, you're right. I mean, she'd be crazy not to. I'm a catch for any woman. Especially a princess."

"Of course you are." Nalieza reached out and patted his arm. "You'll have what you want. Don't think for one more minute that it won't happen. Okay?"

Han nodded. "Yeah, I'll try to keep that in mind."

"Don't try. Do. Or don't. But I'd really like it if you did." She noticed something outside the window at the far end of the room. ""Hey, look at that."


"Turn around." She pointed in the direction of the window. "The sun's finally out."

And there it was, bright, clear, and golden. Sitting high over the clouds, tinting them with soft tints of red and pink.

"Well, it's not in the right setting, but it finally got over the horizon."

"Which means what precisely?"

"It means things are finally moving forward. I think it's almost time for you to get out of here."