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It’s dark. It’s dark and he’s alone and it’s dark. Dark is bad. Alone is bad. His heart is in his throat and his chest at the same time, beating so, so fast. Thump thump thump. He’s inside somewhere and he shouldn’t be inside. He’s scared and his blood is rushing in his ears like a river. Something is very wrong and it’s dark and he shouldn’t be here.

He’s outside. There’s a light. It’s the moon, high above him in the sky. He looks up and the stars are there, twinkling gently. It’s a full moon and the light is soft and friendly and cheerful.

And then it isn’t. He blinks and the moon is gone. There is rubble floating in the sky in its place. Darkness blacks out the stars.

There is still light. It is not good light.

He is in Soluna and it is under siege. There is no light from anywhere but the flames roaring around them from attacks by the Shadowscythe. He is leading people against them, fighting the invaders. The students of G.E.A.R.S against the Shadowscythe.

Somewhere in his heart he knows that there are no SDF with them. None. Because the moon is gone and those against Slugwrath with it. They’re gone all gone but they can still fight against the Shadowscythe-

And then. No.

It’s is not the Shadowscythe he is fighting. The allies and the foes have switched. It is the face of a student on the other side of the energy blade now.

No no no. This is not what happens! No! He presses his own blade forwards, a cruel smirk on his face, and the student looks panicked and who is it who is it who is it? Their features are blurred and indistinct but he knows it is a student. Someone he is supposed to protect and care for.

His body doesn’t listen to him. It doesn’t respond to his will. It responds to another’s. The Shadowscythe’s.

“Soluna will fall,” a voice hisses and it sounds like his own and like garbled gurgling alien speech in his ears as his body starts to stop listening to him “Soluna will fall easily-” the blade of the student slips and suddenly he has a deactivated blade in one hand and a tight grip on their neck in the other. The hilt of his blade presses up against their stomach. “-to its trusted hero,”

The indistinct face is suddenly one five ten a hundred distinct faces all at once Warlic Jaania Casca Xaria Anastasia Denara Aleysia Odessa Tsuba Twang Sally River Starbuck Hero and his thumb presses down on the ignition of his blade-

And he awakes from the nightmare like a man drowning.
Not, as one would expect, flailing and gasping for air, but deadly still, eyes open and somewhat glassy, almost unseeing, lungs desperately gulping in what air they can get.

It lasts for all of five seconds before his chest heaves with a deep breath and he jerks upright, pulling his pillow out from behind his head as he does so. He draws his knees up to his chest, puts his pillow behind them, buries his face in it and screams. His arms are wrapped around his knees and he screams and screams into the pillow so that the sound is muffled. His shoulders shake and liquid stains the fabric.

Eventually, there is nothing left in him to scream with. He slowly straightens up, puts the pillow back, swings his legs over the side of the bed.

His bare feet feel cold against the floor. He reaches over to the lamp slowly, feels the cold, sharp sting of metal against his skin, turns it on. The light is sudden and bright and burns his eyes, but it is a welcome pain because it is not that light and now it is not dark.

He flexes a hand in front of his face, wiggles each finger one by one. He taps his toes against the floor. Everything responds how and when he wants it to. Nobody controls his body but him.

Wearily, tiredly, resigned to what he will see, he looks to the clock.

01:07 the green numbers blink cheerily at him.

One hour and forty three minutes since last time he looked at it. One hundred and three minutes.

On average, it takes ninety minutes to enter REM. Most dreams occur in this stage of sleep. chimes a voice in his head that sounds like Helia.

He sighs and then pushes himself up to stand. Cold night air winds around his legs but he ignores it. He yawns, brushes the hair out of his face, and heads to the kitchen.

He grabs the mug sitting upside down on a dishtowel off of the table and fills it with milk. He debates with himself for a moment after sticking it in the microwave and setting the time, and then decides to grab the cocoa from the cupboard.

He shovels two heaped spoonfuls into the steaming milk, stirs it around, and gulps it down.

He rinses the mug out at the sink, along with the spoon, and then sticks both on the dishtowel already on the table. He doesn’t put the cocoa away.

After all, he’ll probably be back in the next few hours. Easier if it’s just already out.