Lilliya was only out for a minute before she woke with a start. Glowing embers of hot metal laid on and around her. Some began to scorch through her silver fighter suit and she had to role before extinguishing the small flames. Her head pounded, her body felt broken, and she could barely breathe within her black helmet. Yet, one priority remained inside her mind: return to the base.
Ignoring all the pains her body suffered by being thrown, she stood shakily and yanked off her helmet. She breathed in the air only to engulf thick smoke, and she turned to face her burning Z-wing. Only then did realization dawn on her. She was beaten. Whoever or whatever attacked her crew had beaten her so easily, it threatened every military force the Galactic Alliance had. The Raiders were based on tactical and combat training skills used on the Yuuzhan Vong and were primary exercises throughout all military forces of this galaxy.
And yet, a new enemy was able to destroy everything they worked and trained for. This new enemy had entered this system and threatened the very being of the Alliance. She was sure that it didn’t end here and that this enemy would surely strike at the core.
Lilliya glanced up into the blue sky, it suddenly being hot and glaring in her eyes than earlier, and tears threatened to form. Everything was lost. Her entire crew of ten fighters: four Z-wings and six V-wings. Not just her crew, but her friends, family, the only people she ever knew. The diamond scar of her left eye faded to a soft blue as sadness seemed to overwhelm her thoughts. Then, just as soon as it turned blue, it shifted to a dark red.
Lilliya clenched her fists in anger and thought to herself that it wasn’t over. She’d reach the base, warn her father, and they would contact the Twins Suns and Rogue Squadron for help and destroy that ship. She would have her revenge.
Taping her personal comlink, she called for her father, knowing that, if Jenar was correct, she would be out of jamming range. “Raider Base, this is Commander Tentle requesting pick-up.”
Lilliya swore viciously as she tried again. She was in no mood for delays, and she certainly didn’t feel like walking to the base.
But, still, there was nothing but static.
Sighing in defeat and ignoring every other feeling that surfaced with the thought of defeat, she looked at her chrono and switched it to field display to see how far away she was. She turned to the west and found that the Raider Base was only a half a mile away beyond the green forest. Frowning, she wondered what could be wrong with the communications. As she looked above the trees tops, she noticed with some anxiety that black smoke filled the air, turning the sky orange.
Biting her lip before she could respond, she started off at a run towards her tree-hidden base. The smell of charred metal and foliage surrounded her as she made her way through the thick forest. And with every step, her heart quickened at what she might find. She came to an abrupt halt as she passed a chunk of burning metal that set fire to one of Endor’s trees. Her fears were confirmed and Lilliya ripped out her blaster—more out of reflex than logic—from its holster and sprinted towards the end of the forest. As she neared, sulfur and an intense heat suddenly filled the air.
Finally, she broke out of the forest…
And into a battlefield.
Lilliya stared in horror of what used to be the Galactic Raider Base. Her mouth dropped open as all air escaped her body. Smoke and sulfur burned her eyes and scorched her skin. The blood from her head wound began coursing down the left side of her face and down her neck, but she paid no mind. She could barely think. She only stared at what used to be her home and family.
The crew of the Raider Base lay strewn across the massive field, made larger from the blast, as if cooked then tossed aside like garbage. Some were burned clear through and only blackened bone remained. Others were only charred, but surely dead from the way their lifeless bodies constantly spilled blood. The only remains of the base itself were blackened pieces of metal that were now finally cooling from the blast. But how…
It didn’t matter how, what matter now was if there were any survivors. There had to have been people who made it into the blast shelters. Unless they had no warning at all…
Lilliya shook herself out of the shock she’d fallen in and began making her way carefully to where the shelters would be, all the while ignoring a nagging warning in the back of her mind. Then, as if she had some hope that her father had survived, she called out his name. “Dad!”
Her voice was cracked and dry, but she called again as she neared to where the shelters would be. “Dad, are you out here?! Dad!” Her mind began to spin at the thought of losing her father too. Please be okay, she thought. “Dad, answer me!”
But he didn’t need to, as she found him lying face down with a large chunk of metal on top of him. He was only a few meters away from the entrance to one of the shelters.
The blaster that Lilliya had forgotten she was holding fell from her hand and she ran to her father, grabbed the still-hot metal and tossed it away from him. Noting his blackened form, she fell to her knees and slowly turned him over.
His face was white, eyes open and gray, and blood seeped from his mouth, nose, and corners of his eyes. His hair was completely burned off and something had gashed open his side. There was no life in him.
Lilliya leaned over him in despair and looked into his eyes, as if willing him to come back.
“Daddy…” she breathed out in ragged breaths. “Come back…come back…come back…” She continued to repeat those words until her voice gave out on her and all she could do was move her lips. Hot tears streamed down her soot covered cheeks and dropped onto her father’s dirty pale face. Everything seemed to slow down: the air stopped moving, the metal stopped burning, the tears stopped flowing, and Lilliya seemed to stop breathing. Her mind began to wander into darkness, taking Lilliya into a past memory she experienced when she was young.
“But what will I do when you die?” Lilliya had asked once when she was ten and beginning her flight training.
Her father had laughed and spoke in reassurance, “Well, I expect you to carry the family tradition,” he smiled and pulled her close, “and become admiral of your own fleet.”
“Don’t be silly,” she returned, wrapping her arms around her father’s neck, “I can’t be admiral without you.”
“I guess then I’ll have to live forever, somehow,” her father had said.
“That’s an affirmative,” Lilliya laughed and kissed her father’s cheek, then went off to continue her training.
The truth of the matter was Lilliya was scared of being left alone. After her mother died at an early age from a terrible unknown poison, Lilliya was deathly afraid of losing her father too. Being alone was something she never wanted to have to deal with and was determined to not let it happen.
But now, as she knelt beside her father, it seemed as though there was no alternative, that she will ultimately have to deal with being alone after all. There was no escape and she must face her fear. Or she could die beside her father, among her crew and her friends like it should be. It was tempting, she considered, to simply end the torturous years of knowing that she failed.
And, yet, another side of her yearned for revenge, a way to pay back those who murdered her people and destroy that black diamond-shaped ship someway. She didn’t care how, but she knew there had to be a way. And the first thing she would do is warn the capital of their new enemy, and she would be their leader in finding and eliminating them from this galaxy.
As if in response to her vow, Lilliya felt a tingling sensation on her back and immediately swung around to meet the new arrivals.
She stood still for a while, trying to understand what she saw. Two human looking forms stood in front of her, holding long, silver rifles that looked more like electrical prods, and that might have been what they were. The humanoids were white skinned, white haired, and had white-blue eyes, staring coldly at her. Then she remembered: they looked the same as the pilot she fought against in combat.
Anger flared inside of her, the diamond scar flashing a sparkling red, but then she realized she was without weapon. Standing erect and staring down her captors, she waited patiently for them to make the first move.
The right one spoke first. “You will come with us,” he said, his voice cold and monotonous.
“Over my dead body,” Lilliya replied swiftly.
“No,” said the left one, “over these dead bodies. But not yours.”
Lilliya stiffened, her anger turning to rage. The crystal necklace trapped beneath her silver suit began to glow hotly.
The humanoids seemed to notice the reaction and immediately turned their weapons directly on her. Without saying a word, they fired blue electrical bolts at her.
But Lilliya was faster. Silently she rolled out of the way of the bolts and closed in on her attackers. Jumping up directly in front of them, she grabbed Right’s silver weapon and turned it on Left, firing. The humanoid crumpled without a sound and fell to the ground, his body slowly disintegrating with the electrical charges.
Lilliya hadn’t seen anything like it, and stared in surprise for only a second.
But that was all the first humanoid needed, and with incredible strength, threw her off him and into a piece of cooling metal. As Lilliya regained her balance, she noticed he threw her nearby her blaster.
The humanoid strode towards her with superhuman speed, firing at her all the way. Lilliya rolled, ducked, jumped, all the while barely missing being vaporized. Finally she rolled to her blaster and turned it on her attacker, who was only a meter from her now, silver rifle trained on her head.
He did not fire on her, but if he had, he would have won.
“I am supposed to bring you alive,” as if this was his last warning.
Lilliya, deciding not to take any chances, fired before either of them could make another move.
The white humanoid dropped the rifle and fell silently at Lilliya’s knees. She stared at it for a moment, noticing its uncaring, docile expression. She’d never seen a species like this one before. Neither had she seen a weapon like the one he used, if it was a he at all. Nevertheless, dizziness was beginning to take hold from the shock her mind was enduring. She had to get out of there and warn the capital before she really lost it and blackened out.
Pushing all thoughts, pains, and feelings from her concentration, she slipped her blaster into its leg holster, gripped the silver rifle and began thinking of a way off the planet. With all the base’s ships destroyed, there was nothing else left but to call for help. Only, she would have to wait until the enemy ship would leave, and even then, they’ll be wondering why their scouts haven’t returned with her. They would send a search party as soon as possible, and she had to get out of there before then.
Then a thought came to her. Her captives had to have come on their own shuttle in order to get down there.
Stooping down over the dead humanoid, Lilliya quickly began searching through its pockets to find anything that would lead her to its ship. She found nothing but a silver gem-shaped medallion. Keeping it, she ran over to the other dead captor and found only the same thing. Hoping these were the keys to a shuttle, she began looking around in the direction her captors had come. Yet, as there was no sign of a ship, she began to think her captors could have come from any direction and that it would take too long for her to search for their ship.
As hope began to fade for Lilliya, she raised up the medallions she held in her hands and examined them. Squinting closer in the smoke-covered light, she noticed a small indentation similar to a thumb-print on the back of the medallion. A thought coming to mind, she quickly rushed over to one of the humanoids and pressed its thumb against the indentation.
Suddenly, movement caught her eye near the edge of the forest, and shape and color began to appear. Finally, the black shuttle appeared in full view, no longer cloaked.
Before Lilliya could wonder where this enemy was able to create a cloaking machine for such a small ship, she dashed towards the open ramp, climbed in and readied the cockpit. Unfortunately, the cockpit looked just as confusing as the medallions. Lilliya began to realize, frustratingly, that she was dealing with a whole other species altogether.
Chewing ferociously on her lip—and losing time rapidly, she assumed—Lilliya attempted to learn the new controls. There was the yoke and the copilot’s seat—that was all she had figured out. All she really wanted was the starter, then she could figure out everything else once she got off planet and at least marginally away from the enemy ship.
There were holes and unfamiliar buttons of all shapes and sizes, until finally one looked recognizable: two certain holes that would fit the medallions in her hand. Placing them carefully inside their slots, two green lights began flashing above, and slowly she turned the medallions as per the markings.
The ship vibrated and rose up off the ground immediately, hovering patiently until Lilliya took the yoke. To Lilliya’s amazement, the ship was completely silent. It occurred to Lilliya that she and the Alliance were not only dealing with a different species, but an extremely advanced one at that.
After a while of figuring out the controls as best she could, most importantly the hyperdrive, she decided to make her get away. However, as she began her assent into space, she realized that the enemy ship would attack her the minute they figured out she hijacked the shuttle. Either she would have to do some pretty amazing flying with a ship she was unfamiliar with, or…
The cloaking device, she thought. But then she cursed herself for not bringing one of the dead humanoids with so she could activate it, and she was already breaking atmosphere. Then, as a last resort idea came to her, she stuck her own thumb on the back of the medallion, pressing down hard.
A low beep sounded and a blue light flashed on above her. She could only hope that meant the cloaking shield worked. By now, it was too late anyway, and she entered back into space, the enemy ship filling her entire viewport. The site made her nauseous and she forced down any feelings that were beginning to rise up her throat.
Lilliya stared at the ship, waiting for it to see her. But it didn’t respond. Maybe the cloaking device did work. How it recognized her finger?—she didn’t have the time to figure out. All she cared about right now was that it worked, and that she could finally escape to Coruscant.
Taking a deep breath, she pushed her stolen shuttle at full speed towards her vector—the enemy ship making no effort to follow—and with one last glance at the moon of Endor, and everything she lost with it, she turned her attention to the hyperdrive coordinates and shot away into the stars. Maybe it wasn’t such a good day after all…
“Admiral Maurel,” Captain Jorn said on the bridge of the Diamond Denominator, “we haven’t heard from the Crystallite Clones and it is well past their time to return with the Raid Leader.”
Admiral Maurel said nothing and continued to stare out the large viewport at the green moon of Endor. A feeling of emptiness filled inside of him and he felt cold. He was, also, annoyed with the delay of his Crystallite Clones, but something else nagged at him, as if he’d lost something.
“Captain Jorn,” he ordered, not taking his eyes off the moon, “send another shuttle down there to the Raider Base and see what you can find.”
Jorn nodded, clearing his throat to give out the order to Commander Celleu. Then he turned back around to stand next to his admiral. He, too, felt like something did not go as planned. Though, the first victory against the base on the outer edge of the galaxy went perfectly, he couldn’t help but feel as if the Galactic Alliance would soon be on their backs before they had a chance to move on to the next outer base.
“Captain Jorn, there is no need to worry,” Maurel said, as if he were reading Jorn’s mind exactly. “Even if the Alliance knew of us, they would not be a threat. Remember, we have been watching their progress and military patterns for over 40 years. We know exactly how they work and how powerful they can be.” Maurel seemed to laugh at this, his eyes twinkling in the starlight from the space beyond.
Captain Jorn, though he spent many years in training with the “new order”, he still was left in the dark about many things, including Maurel’s keen talent in reading minds. It made him uneasy to know his mind was like an open holopad, not to mention Maurel’s sensitive temper and the power he uses to display that temper against those he loses patience with, puts Micael Jorn on the edge of doom. So, it has always been Jorn’s primary objective to make sure he was trusted and needed by Admiral Maurel.
“Is there something troubling you, sir? If it is the Clones, I’ll have them liquidized and recycled into the—“
”No,” Admiral Maurel simply said, “I think that has already occurred.”
Captain Jorn made no comment, but glanced at his superior in a confused manner.
So the admiral continued, more to himself than to anyone else, “I think she’s gone.”
“Who’s gone, sir?” Jorn asked tentatively, looking out to where Maurel was staring.
Then, an evil grin, Jorn had never seen, spread across Maurel’s lips. His eyes sparkled and his diamond scar grew blacker, blacker than the star-studded space surrounding them. And he spoke, so softly that only he himself could hear,
“But I will find her. Now I know where she will be. Then I will find her…
And crush her bones with my own fists…”