The darkness of space was cold and silent. Only distant planets and stars dotted the blackness. There was utterly nothing.
Then there was movement. Not much, but just a shudder of the surrounding space. A shiver within the area, as if something was trying to cut a hole in the black curtain. Then the stars shuddered and disappeared, the blackness faded to a soft white, and a large object emerged out of the opening. Suddenly, as if nothing had happened at all, space returned to normal. It was black and cold and silent again.
But this time it was not alone.
There, silent and sleek, laid a ship. It was an uncommon-looking piece of machinery, but had similar qualities of the old Empire’s destroyers. Yet it was iron black with tiny white lights blinking around the top and bottom. It was as large as a Calamarian battle cruiser, but shaped more as a geometric diamond. On each of the ship’s four points, there stood a diamond-shaped dome that served as the shield generator. And at the very middle of the ship, balancing like a second appendage upon four spikes, rested the hexagonal-shaped control bridge. Inside the bridge and working vigorously were male humans in grey uniforms, each at their own specific station.
And there at the very front of the bridge, staring out the large view port, was a tall man in black with a long flowing silver cape. He was young, muscular, and very handsome. His ivory-colored skin contrasted starkly against his satin black uniform, his sharply-cut silver hair glistened above his face, and his eyes twinkled mysteriously like the stars far, far away.
His eyes were the most appealing and unique features: they were a clear ocean blue with emerald rays shooting from the pupil. But the most odd feature was the black diamond-shaped scar that seemed engraved on his left eye.
The mysterious man, though only in his early twenties, appeared strong, wise, and experienced. He was a man of great power. But he was also a man of great evil.
His ivory hands trailed down his satin uniform, taking note of the smoothness of the material, then his hands stopped at his sternum. A right finger touched the jewel, or crystal, that hung there. The stone hung on a thick gold chain and at the end of it, three sharp prongs clasped the crystal in between. He never removed the charm; it was his comfort, or protection.
His crew also took note of the charm and was puzzled at first that their admiral would wear such jewelry. Then, realizing the jewel never left him, they assumed it was an inheritance or way of expression, for the admiral rarely expressed any true feelings in the first place.
Another older man, probably the oldest man on the ship, stalked across the bridge toward the admiral. He was much shorter, had grey hair and beard, an aged face, and pale brown eyes. Micael Jorn was the only high-ranking former-Imperial in the Crystallite fleet. He and a numerous amount of male soldiers were, in a sense, kidnaped during the war between the Empire and the Rebellion. They were taken deep into the Unknown Regions, reinstated into a new military and trained on a mysterious moon to work for an entirely new empire. They were slaves to their masters, but decidedly accepted their fate because escape was impossible. Ultimately the former Imperials grew loyal to the Crystallite Regime and, to this day, called themselves Krystallials. They were used as the Regime’s warship bridge crew and ground troops trained only for special missions. Jorn was the only member with the most knowledge about the outside galaxy and was pulled out to be a type of advisor for the admiral. And so, was immediately promoted to Captain of the warship Diamond Denominator.
Captain Micael Jorn, in his grey-green uniform, approached the admiral and stood at attention. Then he spoke, his voice low and gruff, “Admiral Maurel, the planet Endor and its moon will soon be in sight.”
“How long, Captain,” Admiral Maurel spoke softly, almost musically, without turning to look at the man.
“About twenty minutes. All ship bays are full and the DYTE fighters are ready for attack,” Captain Jorn announced.
“Make sure the TIE interceptors are prepared. I do not want to use the new DYTE fighters quite yet,” Admiral Maurel said.
Captain Jorn shifted his footing and a slight frown creased his face. He assumed the use of the DYTE fighters would be a wise choice for the small Alliance base they’d intercepted on Endor’s moon. It would be a clean attack with no survivors; the new fighters were the best in the galaxy and they were also unheard of. This was their gift to the unaware Alliance.
Maurel noticed the slight pause and now turned around to tower above the captain.
“Do you disagree?” Maurel asked almost innocently. His silver eyelashes twinkling over his dark eyes.
The entire bridge went silent. Who would ever dare disagree with the admiral? There had been many fatal deaths in the result of that.
Captain Jorn gulped nervously, but also knew Maurel would not kill him. Nevertheless, the admiral’s stare was terribly unnerving.
“Sir, I only believe that if we use the DYTE fighters, it would be a clean attack. I am only thinking in the interest of our success. If the Empire had access to fighters such as these—“
”The fighters would soon be wasted to their least potential, destroyed or stolen by the Alliance, and the Empire would, yet again, cease to exist,” Maurel broke in, his voice no longer soft, but instead dangerously low. “I know how the Empire works. And do I need to remind you that your Empire has become so weak it has needed to league itself with the Alliance?”
Captain Jorn could almost catch a smirk flash across the admiral’s face when he’d said that. His own personal embarrassment flashed across his. He knew he was the one of the only people on this ship to have lingering loyalty to the old Empire. And he wasn’t quite sure if he was proud of it or not.
“And further more,” Maurel continued in his low pitch, “you, Captain, are no longer apart of the Empire. You haven’t been for quite some time, so I suggest you drop your obvious allegiance to it. You are part of the Crystallite Regime now.” Then he paused and a look of minacious concern crossed his eyes. “At least, I assume you consider yourself apart of the Regime, are you not?”
That was the warning. Jorn recognized that look in his admiral’s eyes and he dare not cross the line with him now. He never did like the Empire, or the Alliance for that matter, so why was he making references to that old government he no longer belonged to in the first place.
Standing straighter and gaining confidence, he answered clearly, “I am apart of the Crystallite Regime, Admiral Maurel. I apologize for my appeared dedication to the Empire. I was only using that government as an example, nothing more.”
The admiral continued to stare silently, as if waiting for more proof.
Jorn gulped noticeably this time, and cursed himself silently for his obvious fear. Then he continued the explanation, “And I agree wholeheartedly that the DYTE fighters would be of no good in the Empire’s hands. Therefore, it is a wise choice to hold back the fighters for a more challenging battle.” There, he finished. Now he simply had to hope that was enough for the admiral’s approval.
Admiral Maurel smiled menacingly, his jeweled eyes glistening beneath his silver eyelashes. Then, with a swirl of his silver cape, he turned back to the view port, approving Captain Jorn with his musical voice again. “Very good, Captain. Continue on this course to Endor. And prepare for ambush.”
“Will we not make our presence unknown to the base before we attack?” Captain Jorn questioned again. Then he wanted to kick himself for even asking.
“It will not make a difference, Captain Jorn,” Maurel spoke smoothly, his eyes hungering over the open space, as if starving to see Endor. “They don’t have a chance.”
“Don’t you ever get sick of being stuck on this planet? Living so redundantly?” Jenar asked, turning over on his stomach.
The two of them laid in the grass just outside the compound. After they had wrestled around on the balcony, they had ended up rolling into the field, and that’s where they relaxed, another conversation brewing.
“Yeah, I suppose,” Lilliya answered, remaining on her back, hands behind her head, and looking up at the clear blue sky. “But this is what I’m meant to do. I’m the only one who can follow in my father’s footsteps. Without me—and Dad’s not gonna live forever—the Raider Base will cease to exist. Either that or it will be taken over by some tyrant like . . . Leia Solo or something.”
“Hey, don’t start with the Counselor Organa Solo thing again. We all know she’s a good leader,” Jenar spoke defensively. Lilliya, he knew, never did like this particular counselor, though she never had a good reason as to why.
“She’s too old—“
”She is not!”
“Okay, well maybe not that old. But she’s been apart of the top government for how many years? She’s been princess, chief of state and high counselor so many times she might as well be Empress of the Alliance. I can’t even count how many times she’s been reelected—“
”I can,” Jenar interrupted.
“Shh, nobody asked you,” Lilliya commented, allowing a wry smile to creep on her lips. “Anyway, I just think it’s time she retired and we had somebody new to take her place among the highest leaders of the Galactic Alliance. Why not a man for once? If I recall, there hasn’t been a male human on the Advisory Board for about twenty years.”
“Do you remember your history at all?” Jenar admonished. “Whenever there was a human, or alien, male as president, the government got screwed up and all chaos was unleashed.”
“What? Give me some good examples,” Lilliya said, obviously forgetting her history.
“First of all,” he began with a sigh, “Palpatine is a great example. When he was elected for Chancellor, because some senator didn’t like how the other man was handling things, he destroyed the Republic and created the Empire instead. Well, we all know what people thought of the Empire, so there was a rebellion. The Rebellion won and created the New Republic. After Mon Mothma, Organa Solo led the New Republic until she was voted off because some people wanted ‘more variety’, just like you want. Then we had a bunch of male presidents at the same time the Yuuzhan Vong attacked, but because of poorly-made decisions, the war prolonged. Again, the galaxy was screwed up. But now, everything is better.”
“Cal Omas was a good president…” Lilliya’s voice trailed off.
“Unfortunately someone else didn’t think so and took it upon themselves to assassinate him,” Jenar said quietly.
“Okay, so you’ve convinced me that Solo’s a good president. Doesn’t mean I have to like her,” Lilliya said firmly, quickly switching the subject.
“Great,” Jenar drawled sarcastically, “I’m glad we got this settled.”
Lilliya exaggerated her smile. “I’m glad too. Now we can move on to something more interesting. Preferably something that won’t get you so defensive.”
“Oh, you exhaust me,” Jenar moaned, setting his head down on the cool grass.
Lilliya laughed loudly. “I exhaust you?! I think it’s the other way around.”
“I don’t think so,” Jenar smiled at her from beneath.
“Del’chlamen!” she laughed, rolling over and smacking his back.
“Ow!” he howled, rolling onto his back only to be attacked by jabbing fingers on his stomach and side. “Okay! Okay!” he shouted through his uncontrolled laughter. “You win!”
“What? I didn’t hear you . . .” she lied, continuing her torture.
“I said, you win!” he gasped again, trying to roll away from her tickling fingers.
She stopped, finally, lying back onto the grass next to him and laughing hard.
“You’re cruel,” he gasped beside her, catching his breath.
“Oh, but you love me anyway,” she laughed, glancing at him.
Ironic, Jenar thought, for he really, truly did. But she never noticed.
“By the way,” she spoke after a long silence of staring at the sky, “are you ever going to tell me what you said to me in Huttese.”
“When did I say something to you?” he teased.
“Don’t play with me,” Lilliya warned, readying her fingers in tickle position.
“All right, I won’t, I won’t,” Jenar laughed nervously, not wanting to be tortured again.
“Okay, good. So tell me. The suspense is killing me,” she said.
“If I tell you, will you promise not to tickle me for the rest of our time together,” Jenar negotiated.
“I don’t know,” she said slowly, “that’s a lot to ask for.”
“Well, then I can’t tell you if you don’t promise,” he said.
Lilliya sighed dramatically. “Oh, all right.”
Jenar smiled, but then tensed. He wasn’t quite sure if he should tell her. “You are my best friend in the entire universe, you do know that, right?”
Lilliya smiled slowly. “Of course.”
“You’re always there when I need to talk with someone,” he continued, his stomach beginning to knot. “You are the perfect person . . . the perfect woman . . .” I don’t think I can do this . . .
“Jenar, for goodness sakes, stop avoiding my question and spit it out,” she said impatiently. “Don’t worry, whatever it is I’ll forgive you for it,” she laughed, “I just want to know what you said.”
Jenar sighed inwardly. She obviously didn’t get it. She was so clueless at times like these. And it was terribly exhausting for him. But there was no going back now, he needed to tell her. He wanted to tell her . . .
“Lilliya, I said that I—“
Lilliya suddenly sat upright with a sharp intake of breath as if someone had just stabbed her. Her eyes went wide and glazed over, her diamond scar flashed dark green with fear.
Jenar was about to ask what was wrong when the warning siren went off a second later. Normally it would be a drill, but they’d already had one for the day. Then a loud female voice spoke on the intercom.
“All Raiders report to their ships immediately! Unknown ship has entered the system! Ship is in attack position! Repeat—!”
“Oh my stars,” Lilliya gasped.
“It’s the real thing,” Jenar said.
They both looked at each other in shock, then jumped up and dashed inside. Jenar ran back to the apartments to change into his flight suit while Lilliya rushed to the ship bay to receive orders.
Everyone acted orderly and calm, though the excitement of a real fight coursed through their veins. The workers filed out as normal and the Raider pilots jogged in, grabbing their helmets and loading into their Z and V-wings.
“This is it, man!” Vorn called out to Tongree as they ran to their V-wings. “This is the day, where we will become victorious! Where we will be as one with space.”
“Yeah, shis is sha day!” Tongree called back with equal excitement. “Sha stars is on our sides t’day!”
Both men seemed to bounce into their fighters at once, calling out shouts of victory as the cockpit shields locked them in.
Lilliya burst out of the control room after discussing the situation with her father, and, simultaneously, Jenar dashed to her side, decked out in his fighter suit. Despite the situation, Jenar and Lilliya both had large smiles spread across their faces as they rushed to their Z-wings.
“Are you ready for this?” Jenar asked, giving her only a glance.
“Of course!” she laughed, then asked, “Are you?”
Jenar laughed with her. “Ready as I’ll ever be!”
“Okay, then, let’s rock the stars!” Lilliya shouted, slapping hands with Jenar and parting to their awaiting fighters.
Lilliya hopped into her Z-wing, shoved her black helmet over her head while the cockpit shield lowered above her. Sealing her inside with a hiss, the chaotic noise was shut out, leaving her in momentary silence until she clicked on her headset. Her fellow pilots’ voices surged through her earpiece as she readied for take-off.
Pulling on her black gloves, she signaled for role call. After all ten fighters gave her the affirmative, she called her father.
“Admiral Tentle,” she continued with the well-rehearsed phrase, “all Raiders are ready for take-off. Awaiting your signal.”
“Commander Tentle, you are clear to proceed,” her father’s voice came in through the earpiece.
Then without a moments hesitation, she fired her repulsorlifts and signaled the rest of her crew to do the same. Soon they were off, flying through the upper-bay doors and into the sky. It had been so long since they had broken atmosphere, they’re hearts were racing faster than the speed of their own ships to reach it. The blue faded into white, then the white turned to dark blue and then to black as all ten fighters seemed to float out of the moon of Endor’s atmosphere and into the star-studded space—Lilliya’s hair, being the only female pilot out of the Raiders, changing to silver.
For a moment, there was a silent awe from all ships. The peace and beauty of space overwhelmed them.
“It sure is beautiful,” commented one of the pilots.
“It’s been so long, I’ve nearly forgotten,” another sighed.
Lilliya agreed, taking in as much of the peacefulness before it disappeared.
“Commander Tentle,” the admiral called on a separate line.
“Yes, sir,” she said, switching off her fighter comlink and onto another link.
“This ship is fully active with a full bay of TIE interceptors. It looks like that’s what you’ll be up against. The ship itself looks like an oddly shaped Star Destroyer, but the readings are way off the scale to actually be marked as one. Unless it’s a new upgrade the Empire didn’t inform us about and that they are starting a new war with the Alliance, which I highly doubt. I’m not finding any obvious weak spots, but I’m guessing they are the diamond-shaped shield generators on all four points of the ship. Take a shot at it and play with it for a while, then back off and report. If it’s big trouble then we’ll call in for help, but if not . . .”
“I got it. Ring and run. Easy.”
“And, Lilliya, don’t play too long. In and out. No heroics,” her father said sternly.
“Got it,” Lilliya said, smiling wryly. Her father knew her too well when it came to fighting.
“Be careful,” he finished off.
“Will do,” Lilliya said, then clicked off the link and returned to her Raiders comlink. “All right, Raiders, it’s gonna be an in and out procedure. Nothing more, nothing less. All wings call in.”
“Raid 2, standing by . . .” the pilots began announcing. Once they finished, Lilliya turned back to the main objective.
“Let’s welcome our little guest, shall we,” Commander Tentle spoke. “I want V-formation and slow movements. We won’t move in ‘til the guest moves first, and then follow my lead.”
“Affirmative,” she heard her pilots call back.