Better to have never loved

 

loveloss

It’s nights like these when I am reminded of the phrase, “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” which is quickly followed by, “Try it” in my romantically cynical head.

Well I have. And I might be hotly in agreement with Men In Black’s Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones to those who have no idea what I’m referring to).

I thought at first that it was a miracle that I could ever feel the overwhelmingly wonderful emotion of “in love,” and I was surprisingly grateful. But now I take it back. It has made me lonelier than I thought possible. I am pickier than I thought imaginable. And I can’t go back to the way I was before.

I am stuck. Really stuck. And if there’s one thing I hate most, it’s being stuck.

So what do I do? I distract myself with unending work. When the unending work runs out, I distract myself with numerous friends, surrounding myself with as many companions as possible to hide the imminent isolation I would feel. That works for a good while, until my brain realizes the tricks I’m pulling on it and drags me back to reality again.

Then I distract myself with books. Books on top of books. Deep books filled with rich descriptions of worlds I will never smell, touch, or see.

I know what I’m doing. Because I am more than scared to admit that I am so human. More than scared to give my feelings a sense of reality. They, my feelings, scare me more than a demon or devil created in the Bible, more than the evil things that walk this earth, more than sharks and zombies that can eat people, and much more than death. It is they that I try so hard every day to smother into submission.

I bought a book on a friend’s request. Fifty Shades of Grey. I thought maybe the sexual nature of this book would give me the distraction I needed most: distracting the heavy, despairing loneliness which threatened to suffocate me. The book did nothing for me. And so I am left with my nights alone. Nights where my brain tries desperately to entertain me and keep me company with fantasies and pleasuring images. Dreams of seductive vampires, evil and beautiful, drawing me in with every last moment of my own breath. Dreams of the Phantom of the Opera, the true Phantom who sings to me, and hypnotizes me until I melt to his will, ‘til I succumb to his whim. Dreams of dominating men who demand my obedience simply through their tenderness.

I am craving. And it feels like I am tearing myself in two. Because I am not the type of girl to find companionship through a quick twenty-four hour time period. I am not interested in just a whimsical night with a stranger. It is my curse that I had experienced love once.

And this is why I am on Agent K’s side. It is not better to have loved and lost. Because if you have, then you must be me, lying alone in your bed, hugging your cat, or your pillow, burying yourself beneath your covers, and hoping somewhere, someday, someone will be holding you again, wanting you again, and loving you without the losing.

Flygirl

 

Flygirl

The air was cold and cutting up here, ripping past my face and through my hair, tangling knots that I would never forget. Stirring up, lifting up, until I thought I couldn’t go any farther. But I didn’t stop. It was exhilarating and addicting. Every moment was filled with fear, but I never fell. The air was pure up here, tasting like ice crystals from a fresh fall of snow, and I inhaled it slowly so as not to freeze up my lungs. My skin prickled everywhere in the thrill of the speed. I pushed ever so slightly, pushing forward, going faster. I hovered horizontal, then shot vertical, and horizontal again, pulling farther and farther from the ground. You can’t have me, I said. I’m too far from you now.

“You’ll fly someday,” she said, “but not today.”

I vaguely remember her. She had long black silk hair, sharp features, wide black eyes, and was very tall. At least it seemed that way from a child of six years. She would wake me at six in the morning sometimes. This was not easy for a six year old girl who was born a night person.

“We’ll get donuts,” she said to me as I grumbled in bed. “And then we’ll walk to school.”

That did it. That always does it for a child. Sugar. Well, why the hell not! I’ll get up. I didn’t even hear the school part. She’d brush my long golden hair with slow and gentle strokes. She was always careful with me, as if she was afraid she’d snag a knot somewhere and force a cry of pain from me. Then we’d walk to the donut shop a few blocks away from home. The donut shop was through the tall green trees and across the busy street. I was never allowed to cross the street by myself. But Gretchen was with me. It was okay this time.

She held my hand tight as we crossed, her long fingers wrapped around my tiny hand. Her fingers, long and thin. I would look up at her, her hair flowing long and black and straight. She was always so pretty, I thought.

We walked into the donut shop and ordered a box of donuts, some cake, frosted, crème-filled, bearclaws, and my favorite, glazed rope twist. We sat down on a bench near a park by my school and she handed me my glazed rope twist. I finished it in seconds. I was about to reach in for another donut—I had my eye on the chocolate frosted one—but she held me back.

“These are for everyone else,” she said. “You have to share.”

I pulled my hand back silently. I was tempted to say that nobody else eats donuts, but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of guilt. I could have eaten the entire box, and the idea of sharing was so frustrating.

I looked up at my aunt. She didn’t have a donut. She never ate, not that I saw. She sat quietly, with one arm around my shoulders, staring across the park. The park was empty, which was something I rarely saw. Normally it was filled with kids running, playing tag, with bouncing backpacks on their backs. There was nobody out this early. This’ll be my first day not late for class, I thought vaguely. My father usually took me to school. I always got up too late and we always arrived too late…or barely on time. I’d always be the last to walk in.

Not this time! I thought happily. But it would be my last time.

“You know something?” Gretchen said, breaking the silence. I almost forgot she was next to me.

“What?” I responded.

“We are very special,” she said, but she didn’t look at me. “You know why?”

I shook my head no.

“We are flyers,” she said. “You fly sometimes.”

I opened my mouth to say something, to say how did you know?, but shut my mouth. I always felt like I could fly, and that I did sometimes, but never told anyone. How did my aunt know that I could? But she said she could too.

“I’ll be flying again soon,” she continued, still staring across the empty park. “But I won’t be coming back.”

“Where are you going?” I asked curiously, looking up at her. Her face was pale, always pale and colorless.

She didn’t answer. Her black eyes glazed over and I didn’t understand.

I followed her gaze, across the thick green grass, the soft brown dirt outlining a child’s baseball field, the silver metal swings, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. My aunt continued to stare, however.

“I want to fly there too,” I said absently, if for no other reason but that I didn’t know what to say.

“No,” she said, turning to look at me finally. But her body remained still and cold. Her arm around my shoulders never felt soft, but boney and hard. “You can’t go there. Not yet.”

“How come you’re going then?” I said.

“Because it’s my turn,” she said. “I don’t belong here. Neither do you, but that’s okay. I just can’t stay anymore. You’ll understand, someday.”

“But where are you going?” I pushed. I hated never having all the answers.

“Far away,” she said. “Just for a little while.” But that last comment seemed like an after thought, as if she was saying it just for me.

A blew out a puff of air in frustration. Bad enough I couldn’t eat another donut, but now my aunt wasn’t giving me straight answers. Adults always did that. And I hated it. I crossed my arms in defiance.

She laughed and pulled me close then. “It’s okay, hunny,” she said. “You’ll fly someday. But not today.”

Later, not long after, she died. Shot herself. At least that was what I had heard. A part of me imagined she wasn’t really dead, that she had flown off like she said she would, and that the body in the coffin was just her doppelganger or something.

She flew away to the other side, wherever that may be.

At six, I decided I’d try to follow. It was windy out, so that would help lift me, I thought. The trees’ branches swayed and brushed against the roof of the house. I stood on my bed, leaning out the open window. The wind, warmed by the summer sun, gently played with my long golden curls. My blue-green eyes widened in anticipation. I stepped out the window, my bare feet gripping the rubbery black-blue shingles, and jumped.

I didn’t need a running start, like I thought I would. I hovered a few inches above the roof of my house. I felt heavy, like the ground was trying to pull me back down, but I pushed away with my hands and lifted higher. I pushed again and again until I was a good distance above my house and the trees. I averted my gaze from the ground to the sky, overcast in grey-white clouds, as was typical of Chicago. The sun glowed brightly behind them.

That’s where I was heading. The sun. I pushed hard this time with my arms and flew straight up. The air instantly cooled around me, tugging at my hair, clothes, stinging my eyes as I flew faster. I was aware that I had stopped breathing and couldn’t catch my breath as I continued farther up. I didn’t care. I didn’t need to breathe. I had the air lifting me instead. I pushed through the clouds. Cold moisture immediately layered my body, prickling my skin. The clouds slowed my progress, so I pushed even harder until I broke through the grey and into the bright gold light of the sun’s rays.

Warmth engulfed my body, drying my wet skin and hair. The air was barely a whisper up here just a few feet above the roiling clouds. I stared at the sun.

“You can’t come here,” she said. “Go back.”

“But I can fly there and fly back,” I said.

“No,” her voice echoed from somewhere all around. “It’s not your turn.”

“But I don’t belong here either!” I shouted to the sky. “I want to leave and go where you are!”

“It’s not your turn. Not today.”

“I can’t stay here! I can’t stand it! I’ll fly far, I will!” My feet brushed the tops of the clouds as I said this, briefly catching moisture on my toes. That’s when I realized I was sinking. The pull was strong on my ankles, and then it reached my knees and soon I was waist deep in the grey clouds.

“No! Don’t take it from me,” I cried helplessly, trying to push away from the deep of the clouds, flailing as I was falling through. “I want to go too, I want to go too!”

“You’ll fly someday…but not today…”

And I dropped. I fell backwards, watching the sun vanish behind the roiling grey-white clouds, watching as the puffy moisture swirled as I cut a path through its travels, watching as I broke through only to see a darkening layer of rain cloud forming above me. I reached out as if to grab a hand, but there was nothing there to grab. I continued my fall, my hair clinging and whipping my face as if it were desperately trying to reach out to the sky as well. The air was colder now, cutting through me like icicles. And then I finally landed, flat on my back, in the cushion of green grass. I laid motionless for what felt like forever.

Then a little droplet of water fell into my eye, strangely warm and soothing. I blinked it away and propped myself on my elbows. I was in the park near my school. And it was starting to rain.

But I didn’t care. My wings were gone.

The rain came hard then, soaking my gold hair to dark, sticking my clothes to my skin. And I sat there in the green-brown grass, letting the rain flood my eyes, staring up into the sky, waiting for the day when I could fly again. Someday.

Stargirl: part 2

 

Superman Returns by John Ottman

Listen while you read.

stargirl

I left Earth once.

I was sixteen years old and I was standing on Endor’s fourth moon, surrounded by the dark jungle of giant trees, smelling the damp earth rise from beneath my shoes, and the warm air, still and clingy, engulfing me as I watched Luke finish building the fire pit. He didn’t want help when I offered.

In the distance, I could hear the Ewok and Rebel Alliance celebration: singing, cheering, the clanging of instruments.

I was still in my shimmery red gown, smelling of burnt skin and silk. My flesh felt like it was pulled so tightly over my frame that if I dared to move, it would split and spill my insides out.

Luke didn’t seem to notice his similar injuries. He had finished the fire grave and was levitating his father’s body on top. And then he lit it with a torch. Fire enveloped the wood and soon Darth Vader’s body, the terror of the galaxy, his ashes floating up into the sky.

Luke stood watching in solemn silence. I moved to stand next to him. He didn’t seem to notice me there. I felt his sadness, but beneath it was a sense of hope. It was finally over. And he hadn’t failed. He saved the only father he’d ever known to have, even if their reconciliation lasted for only a few minutes. There was hope still, for him, Leia, Han, and the Alliance. Where they would go from here, who knew?

“I’ll be leaving soon after the celebration,” I said quietly. I had decided my time in this universe had ended. But Luke wouldn’t know that. He would only think I was to disappear somewhere in his galaxy. It didn’t matter what he thought, after all. My adventure—my experience—was over. I had learned what it was like to be outside my world and that I couldn’t change the things to come.

“I’m sorry—“ but that’s all I could make out. What I was going to say sounded stupid and pointless. He won’t care that I tricked him into thinking I was someone else (and I really was someone else anyhow) because he wouldn’t remember me after I left.

I looked at him, his melancholy profile shadowed in firelight. He didn’t look back. This was as close as I’d ever be. And he hated me. I didn’t sense it, so to speak, but I might as well have guessed it.

Without another word, I turned and left Luke alone in the red-orange firelight and returned to the Ewok village. I wanted to feel what the others felt (joy, love, real happiness) before I left.

The celebration was wild and jumping. The bearlike Ewoks singing in a language I could not understand, but it felt like victory words. Leia, Han, the Wookie Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian all gathered in a tight circle, laughing, embracing. Wedge Antilles and the other Rogue Squadron pilots stood off to another side, clapping each other’s backs, playfully pushing each other around. They paid no attention to the girl in the red dress, obviously overdressed and sticking out like a warning beacon in the midst of browns, greens and greys. They didn’t care. The battle was won. But the Empire wasn’t beaten yet. It still had control of the capitol planet, Coruscant, and it was the Alliance’s job to overtake it. That would happen on another day, though.

Tonight, they drank, ate, and cheered each other and their survival.

I stood off to the side, watching in wonderment. R2-D2, the silver and blue astromech droid, bumped into my leg. I glanced down and smiled. R2 tweeted and cooed at me, and remained at my side.

“Luke!” I heard Han call out.

And there he was, smiling and embracing his sister Leia, coming in for another by Han Solo. Everyone gathered around Luke, relief flooding through those who hadn’t known if Luke had survived the destruction or not.

It was time, I thought. I turned away, but then in front of me, flickering into view were the soft white-blue silhouettes of Ben Kenobi, Yoda, and then, finally, Anakin Skywalker. They were looking right at me, smiling. I thought they wouldn’t have recognized me, but somehow they knew who I was.

Then I noticed Luke standing directly beside me. I hadn’t even realized it until he turned to smile at me. All the hurt was gone. He seemed more at peace now.

“Where will you be going?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, although I knew exactly where I was going. “Somewhere away from all of this. To start a new life, I suppose. The Empire will think their only other rightful heir was also killed in the destruction of the Death Star. The Moffs will be fighting for power. It’ll be the perfect time for me to disappear.”

Luke nodded slowly, then said, “You could stay here, with the Alliance. They could use someone with your knowledge. It will definitely help the tide of the war.”

I shook my head no. “I’m not sure if that would be a good idea. If I were discovered alive…well, let’s just say the Moffs won’t stop to try to kill me and anyone near me.”

Luke then turned me to face him, his blue eyes full of sincerity and confidence. “You are now exactly how I met you. Alone, your family killed. If you stay with us, you’ll have somewhere to be. You can start again. Think about it, Christalee. And if you still don’t think it’s a good idea, you can always leave any time you want.”

I wanted to stay, more than anything. Looking into his ocean-blue eyes, I felt suddenly like I belonged, that this was where I was meant to be…maybe…possibly. I smiled and Luke embraced me in a warm hug.

“Come on,” he said brightly, “I’ll introduce you to Leia and Han.”

***

I decided to try it for a couple of days, to see how long I could stay in this universe. Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, and before I knew it, I was apart of a culture I only ever dreamed of. Luke and I had agreed to keep my identity as the Imperial Princess a secret, even to Leia and Han. I became a Rogue Squadron leader, fighting alongside Wedge Antilles, helping break through the security defenses of Corsucant and fighting the Empire into a little corner of the galaxy. This took years, of course, and before I knew it, I was in my late twenties. I had helped bring up the New Republic after the Empire had been finally beaten. I became Leia’s personal aide and guard when she became Chief of State. When I wasn’t with Leia, I was with Luke, helping him create the Jedi Academy. There were many times when I tried to leave, or when I thought it was a “good idea” to leave. Luke and I would have an argument about his decisions. I would tell him not to do something, or not to trust somebody, and he would fight with me on my reasons. Those reasons being because I couldn’t give him one. I couldn’t tell him how I knew certain things were to happen because I would give away my real identity: which was that I didn’t belong there.

I knew bits and pieces of the future, but it didn’t help. I would save Luke’s life in extremely impossible situations, and he’d wonder how I did it. It pained me that I couldn’t let him know who I really was, or how I was able to seem invincible. And I wondered on that too, how I was able to have nearly unlimited power. The longer I stayed in Skywalker’s world, the more powerful and knowledgeable I became. I slowly began to forget home, becoming fully integrated into this other world.

Before long I was in my thirties. Luke and I had become very close friends, but there was something else. There was romance somewhere, but we both buried it far below. I knew Luke was afraid to let anything more happen between us because of his bad luck with women (every romantic relationship he’d ever had either ended up in betrayal of the worst kind: assassination attempts, death, or mysterious disappearances). I was afraid because I knew I’d have to leave someday.

Luke and I were two of a handful of Jedi Masters at this point, with an academy going strong. Leia and Han had been married and had three children who attended the academy. I was still involved in the political affairs of the New Republic, splitting my time between the Jedi Academy and the capitol. Lando wanted to sweep me off my feet, much to Luke’s annoyance, and I let him take me out on a few wild space nights. Nothing that amounted to anything but a good friendship in the end.

By the time I was in my late thirties almost forties, I had resigned as a personal aide, left the academy temporarily to embark on some “legal” smuggling missions with Mara Jade and Talon Karrde. A year flew by and I had been out of touch with Luke, Leia, and Han. Then a rescue mission forced Luke and I back together. That was when we had decided to forget about our inhibitions (that made no sense anyhow!) and allow ourselves to grow into more than just “close friends.” This rescue mission had me nearly drowning in cave of water when Luke openly cried out, “I love you.”

I found it to be perfect timing.

In all this time, I had been kidnapped, tortured, stabbed, brainwashed, seduced, shot, enslaved, hunted, and exiled.

And in all this, I had fallen in love.

Then the Yuuzhan Vong came, an alien race from another galaxy that existed outside of the Force, and they nearly wiped out our civilization, changing our planets to adapt to their lifestyle. The darkest years of our lives painfully crept by. Every day knowing you survived was a day to be grateful. But then you feared to sleep. Leia lost her youngest son to the Vong. Chewbacca was also lost. Jacen, Leia’s oldest son, and I were captured during a near-fail mission to eradicate one of the Vong’s most brutal weapons to the Jedi: acid spitting wolf-like creatures undetectable by the Force. Jacen was tortured, but after a year, he escaped. I was tortured as well, and became the plaything for the fleet commander Warmaster Tsavong Lah. He was fascinated by the Jedi and the “magic” we could wield. So he kept me as a pet on a leash. I eventually escaped, stabbing the warmaster straight through the heart with his own amphistaff.

Through the years of fighting for our lives, our homes, our planets, Luke and I had a child: a boy we named Ben. I couldn’t believe it! I had a little boy with little blue eyes and a little nose and a little mouth, little feet, hands, toes and fingers.

I never felt anything like it. The feeling of overwhelming love. The connection I felt with him through the Force was unimaginable. He was my child. Every day was a wonder—and a nightmare, because the war hadn’t ended yet. An animalistic side in me grew when I fought against the Vong. I wanted to wipe them out, one by one, so that my baby could grow up in a safer place. I refused to lose my child the way Leia lost hers.

Suddenly the tides had turned, and we finally had the upper hand. After finding a solution between our two peoples, that solution being a living planet called Zonama Sekot, which seemed to be a portion of their homeworld, a wary peace finally spread across the galaxy.

Sitting across from my child playing in our apartment on Ossus, the new home for the Jedi Academy, I watched him attempt to levitate a ball off the floor. He was barely two years old. It reminded me of when I was two years, sitting next to my cousin, fighting over a doll she thought best to pull away from me. My mother surprising both of us. I froze, thinking I was in trouble for “not sharing.” But then my mother pulled out a camera and flashed us with a bright light. Just a picture. She only wanted a picture. So I’m not in trouble after all—

Mother? What mother? I was grown in a tube. —No you weren’t, you were grown in a womb.

I sat, watching my son lift the ball successfully into the air, smiling and giggling as he let it bounce back to the floor.

“I could never do that at two,” I said to Ben, smiling. Ben looked over to me, a wide smile spreading across his face, a few baby teeth glistening in the pale yellow sunlight which flooded the room from the large viewport.

“Momma!” he burst, then crawled towards where his ball rolled away to.

Of course you couldn’t at two because there is no such thing as the Force where you’re from.

I frowned. Where am I from? Coruscant. No. Corellia. No!

I was forty-six years old, with a two year-old child, and—No you’re not! You are not forty-six. Forty-four? No. Forty? No!

Well then WHAT AM I ???

I sat in silence. Ben was staring at me, a tiny little crease indenting his forehead. His big blue eyes showed worry. I gasped in air suddenly, realizing I had not been breathing for a handful amount of seconds, and tears began to burn my eyes. I’m not from here.

“Ben—“ But I stopped, my throat closing in on me. I already knew what needed to be done. I had stayed too long, far too long. I took Ben into my arms, pressing him tightly against my chest, and rushed to a neighboring apartment, one where Ben had spent many nights when Luke and I were away on missions.

Corran Horn’s son, Valin answered the door. Valin was a Jedi Knight. I told him I had to find Master Skywalker quickly and that it was very important. Ben’s little fingers gripped my shirt-blouse and wrapped into my long golden blonde hair. When I tried to place Ben in Valin’s arms, he pulled a part of me with him.

“Mommy,” he called out. He could sense my despair and knew something was wrong. His tiny fingers reached out for me. Valin held Ben tightly, but was becoming worried himself. Valin must have been only thirteen or fourteen.

OR MAYBE SIXTEEN!!!

“No!” I barked. And I realized I made Valin jump away, scaring Ben too. “I’m sorry, Valin. I’m sorry, Ben. It’ll be okay,” I said. My eyes began to burn again. “Valin, I want you to contact Mara Jade quickly. Tell her that—“ My throat closed again. I swallowed a couple of times until it cleared somewhat. “Tell her that I need her to watch over my son.”

I turned away as fast as I could before the look on Ben’s desperate, round face changed my mind. I had to go home. I felt something was wrong there. I had to get back to my family, to my life that I once knew, but couldn’t seem to remember too well.

You don’t belong here. You never have…

I kept going, even as I heard Ben crying for me to come back, and made my way to my ship, the Starfire. From there I sent Luke an urgent message with coordinates for a meeting place.

When I finally arrived on the Sanctuary Moon of Endor, I landed my ship in a field clearing. Exiting the Starfire, I walked up to a hill that looked over into a valley of forest. The breeze was cooler for Endor this time of year. I could still hear the distant tribal hunting calls of the Ewok, the smaller, more subtle clicks of the insects, and the rustle of leaves and creaking tree trunks as the wind played gently through them.

“You know I can feel your panic from thousands of kilometers away,” Luke said from behind me. “’Urgent’ message is rather redundant, don’t you think?”

I smiled. He was nervous. He knew I was thinking of doing something. I could barely hide anything from him these days—these years!

“Where are you going, Christalee?” he said. He was now directly behind me. I could feel his warmth radiate off of him. And I was going to have to give this up?

I turned slowly to look at him, his deep blue eyes accented by subtle creases of age, his mouth bent into a soft smile, but there was tension behind it.

“You know how you’ve always wanted to know how I know things?” I started. “Things that I knew would happen and did happen. And I said to you that I couldn’t tell you. It used to drive you crazy.”

“Yes,” he nodded, still smiling. “I remember. And I decided to stop pressing you about it because I figured eventually you would tell me.” He pulled me in close, wrapping his arms around my waist. “Is this that time?”

I looked up into his eyes, my throat constricting on me again. I swallowed hard, my face hardening as I did so.

Luke’s smile melted away. But his body stayed calm, no twitching of nervous muscles, and he kept a solid grip around my waist.

“Yes,” I barely made out. I cleared my throat again. “Yes, this is that time.”

Luke stayed silent.

“I am not who you think I am,” I continued, and as I spoke, I slowly slipped from Luke’s embrace. “I wasn’t supposed to be here this long.”

Luke kept quiet, but I could see the multitude of questions forming on his face.

“The night we met on Endor was supposed to be it,” I said. “But I stayed because I wanted to know what it was like to be a part of this—your—world. The longer I stayed, the harder it was to leave. I fell in love with this place. And I fell in love with you. And it seemed as if everything was okay here, that I was allowed to be here. I forgot about where I came from and the life that I had had. I made a life with you. With Leia and Han. Chewie and Lando. I didn’t want to let it go.

“But the longer I stayed here, the more my world fell away. My world is in danger now and I have to go back. I have to help save it.”

Luke was dumbfounded. “I don’t understand,” he said. “What world? What danger? Let me come with you to help you—“

“No, that’s the thing, you can’t,” I said, and a sudden serenity fell over me, even as I saw the panic grow in Luke’s deep blue eyes. “Where I’m going, you can’t follow. Our two universes can never meet.

“Let me show you who I really am.” I took a step back and a white-gold shimmer haloed around my body. My face, lined with the same age as Luke’s, dissolved into my younger self, and the jumpsuit I wore was replaced by jeans and a simple t-shirt. Then I pointed towards an empty spot on the hill. White light shot from my fingers and opened up a portal. Inside the portal was, at first, black with stars, then, rising into view, my home planet.

Luke stood in completely awe, watching a blue and green planet merge into view on the other side of the portal.

“This is where I’m from,” I said, wistfully watching as the image moved past the planet’s atmosphere, through thick white clouds, racing over the blue-black oceans, reaching city-scape, forests, rolling dunes, deserts, mountains, and then—

“My home,” I said, as a medium-sized house flew into view. “I’m from Earth.” I turned to Luke.

He stood there, unable to move, a deeply sad understanding sinking onto his visage.

“And I can’t come with you,” he said, and it wasn’t a question.

I shook my head no. “It’s too far away from here,” I said. “Luke, I never belonged in your universe. I have to go back and save my world.”

“Don’t do it,” he said suddenly, moving forward ever so slightly, as if afraid one more step would make me run. “Don’t leave us. You can’t.”

I went to him, wrapping my arms around his neck, knowing that this was it, that this was my last chance to feel this, before it all went away.

“Luke, when I leave…” my voice trailed off. I cleared my throat. “After I leave, you won’t remember this.”

“No, you can’t—“

“You won’t remember anything and all will be as it should be,” I said firmly. “The way it was meant to be. But I will always love you. Know that.” I choked and my eyes burned so hotly that I couldn’t stop the tears this time.

“You and Ben will always feel loved,” I continued brokenly, “even if you don’t know where it’s coming from.”

“Don’t…” And then I kissed him before he could try to say anymore. I knew this was my last chance, my last kiss, my last moment to feel this way, before reality sucked me into the portal. It was beyond anything I could imagine, this feeling. Kidnapped, tortured, stabbed, brainwashed, seduced, shot, enslaved, hunted, exiled, and loved.

And loved back.

I broke the connection. I stepped towards the portal. My home was in there. The sun was shining bright in both worlds. The wind picked up, a burst of pine rode with it, and it was even cooler this time in my Earthling t-shirt. I looked back at Luke one last time before stepping through. Clad, still, in all black, his lightsaber dangling at his side, his brown hair ruffled by the wind, and his blue eyes glittering brightly in the sunlight.

“Christanna,” he said. How did he know my real name? “Will you remember?”

I smiled. “I’ll remember everything.” I stepped through the portal.

***

I was back.

I was nineteen years old. I stood standing in the gravel outside my parents’ house. Time had passed by, but not a lot. The sun beat hotly on my skin and I felt a trickle of sweat trail down my spine.

“Mom? Dad?” I called out. No one was home yet. That was usual. I wondered if they even knew I was gone. That I went to the stars and back.

I looked behind me where the portal had been. There was no trace of it. As if it never happened. But I remembered everything.

Sweat built up on my brow, I made myself move towards my parents’ house and go inside—shut the door—waited for them to come home—and never looked back.

But, every once in a while, I’d look up.

Stargirl

 

 

Superman Returns by John Ottman

Listen while you read.

stargirl

I left Earth once.

I was sixteen years old, home alone, watching Return of the Jedi. It was dusk, and I knew I would have the house to myself again, a medium-sized house in the middle of a mountain pass surrounded by nothing but forest and brush, all half dead and dried-out. I spent most of my hours alone in the Family Room, marathoning movies like Aliens and Star Wars until I’d had the entire series memorized.

This night felt different. My attention was split between the television screen (Luke, Leia, and Han entering the Sanctuary Moon of Endor’s atmosphere) and the red sun sinking behind the mountainous terrain outside my window. A blanket of star-studded black inked out the red sky. Luke and Han were being held hostage by the Ewoks. I felt a wave of yearning like little pinpricks across my skin. How I wanted so much to be apart of something else, to live in a different world and time, to travel beyond the mountains and the moon and the stars.

I blinked my attention back on the screen. Threepio just assisted in the release of Han and Luke’s capture, and Leia came out greeting them both. Blink—the sky was fully black with only half of the moon reflecting a soft silver light. If I wanted, I could go there. But I would have to do it now. This was my only chance.

I took a deep breath, looked back at the television screen, Luke and Leia were just discovering each other’s familial relationship, and I blinked hard.

I kept my eyes shut. A warm breeze floated by and the sound of night animals echoed in the distance. It smelled like pine and rich green lush, damp, with a hint of earth.

I opened my eyes. I was surrounded by trees, their tops disappearing in the darkness above. Distant stars glittered faintly through the thick foliage at the top, and the animal sounds became more distinct. They were the creatures called Ewoks, their tribal calls echoing throughout the jungle of giant tree trunks.

I shivered slightly, despite the warm air. I glanced down. My clothes had changed. I wore only a crude leather skirt and top, two pieces that barely covered me, and I wore sandals made of simple flatwood and string. The entire outfit looked to be more Ewokish than human, but big enough to be fitted onto me.

Why was I here?

Oh yes! I remembered. I was sent down to Endor by my father, the Emperor. I was on a secret mission, that’s right! To make certain that Vader did not betray my father and join Luke Skywalker in a revolt. I had to make sure that Vader took Skywalker to the Death Star and that he was brought before my father, so that, in the end, Skywalker and my father could negotiate a way of peace and end the war between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. I knew that Luke was Vader’s son and so did my father. If Luke could be persuaded, the rest of the Alliance would follow.

Of course, I knew the truth. I knew the Emperor wanted Luke to join the Dark Side of the Force and that my “father” was evil. But I was here now. I had to play along, otherwise they would all discover I didn’t belong.

I heard footsteps suddenly, off to my right and further down a bit. It was Luke Skywalker, fully dressed in a black jumpsuit, lightsaber hanging by his side. He was moving towards the direction of the Imperial shield generator.

I couldn’t believe it! It was really him!

I moved to follow, quickly in order to catch up. I only made it a few steps before Luke whirled on me, his right gloved hand trying hard not to rip at his lightsaber. He was, after all, preparing to surrender to the Imperial forces.

Surprise washed over his sullen face, his blue eyes glistening in the dark. “Who are you?” he demanded.

I paused. Who was I, after all? I had to think up a name fast. Lee, Chris, Lilliya (no, that’s another story!) Christalee!

“I am Christalee,” I said. I was elated. I couldn’t believe this was really happening. It took all my willpower to keep myself from springing around in some sort of wild ecstasy. Focus, Christalee, or else Luke will become suspicious and I will lose this chance! “I am with the Ewok tribe,” I lied, grimacing at my pathetic excuse. I should have rehearsed something before… “I followed you here because I overheard that you were going to the shield generator—to turn yourself in.”

“That is true,” he said, cautiously. But he said no more, starring at me in bewilderment, probably wondering why he hadn’t sensed me following him.

“You shouldn’t go.” What?! Of course he should.

“I don’t know you,” he said, coming a step closer. “But I think it would be best if you returned to the village.”

“If you’re going to the generator, I’m coming with. You’ll need someone at your back,” I said.

His mouth twitched into a wry smile. “Thank you for your concern, Christalee,” he said, shaking his head. “But what I’m doing must be done alone. Go back to the village. It’s safer there.”

He turned and continued steadily towards the shield generator. I followed (and I couldn’t believe that I was following!).

Luke stopped and turned around. “I’m very serious,” he said. “Please go back to the village. I won’t be able to protect you.”

“I’m not the one needing protection,” I said. “The Empire killed my family, Luke. I have nothing left. My decision here is my own and if I choose to follow you, so that I might have a purpose in life, to face the dangers with you, to fight next to you, that is my choice.” As the words tumbled from my mouth, I was astounded. My lie was getting better and better!

Luke stood there, struggling to argue back, but the expression on his face said that he felt pity. There was nothing he could argue against what I said, because he was that person too.

“I don’t know why you want to do this,” Luke said. “But I guess I can’t stop you. Remember, I won’t be able to protect you.” With that, his face fell sad, and he turned to continue towards the generator.

And I followed. I followed Luke Skywalker, the man with the green lightsaber. My adventure was beginning.

It all happened so quickly. Once we reached the perimeter, we were surrounded by Imperial troops. They shackled Luke and me, taking us into the base. There, Vader stormed in with his usual stride. I felt his surprise when he looked upon me (that’s right! I now had the Force). He recognized me and ultimately knew I was there to watch him. He gestured for the stormtroopers to take me into the shuttle, leaving himself and Luke alone for a minute.

As I sat inside the shuttle waiting, I could sense Luke’s struggle to convince his father to turn good again. The writhing battle of emotions: anger, sadness, and a strange hint of betrayal, all came at me in one blow. I choked, a wave of dizziness coming over me, and I fought back the urge to cry. I had to figure this Force stuff out fast before it overwhelmed me; it obviously took me by surprise that I had any connection at all.

But of course I did! I was the daughter of the Emperor, genetically engineered to be the strongest human in the Force. I had been bred in a tube, injected with midichlorians every growth cycle. I was one of many, but the only human to have developed successfully. All the others were terminated.

Soon, Luke joined me in the shuttle, Vader following a few minutes later. We took off for the Death Star.

Luke didn’t speak the whole trip. But I knew what he was thinking: that this was either the end or the beginning, that he might be on his way to die, that he would fail and the Alliance would fail…that this girl next to him might die too.

When we reached the moon-sized space station, Luke and I were separated. However, my experience was quite different. Everyone recognized me and stiffened noticeably when I walked by. I pulled an android aside to escort me to my quarters (because I had no idea my way around this station!) The android took me without question. (It’s all here, it’s all real!)

As soon as I changed into something more regal, a shimmery red gown, the material fitting around my sixteen year-old body in a way more appropriate for adults, I made my way to the Throne Room. I knew Luke and Vader would be there already, and I had no trouble finding this place. I reached out for Luke and found him. I also caught a glimpse of my so-called “father.” My skin crawled at the vast darkness I sensed in him. It was as if there was a deep, black hole in which something with teeth lurked, and if I got too close, it would grab me and drag me down to eat me.

I arrived at the Throne Room.

“Ah, my child,” the Emperor said, his voice drawing a shiver up my back. “Join us. We were just discussing the future of the galaxy.”

I made my way up the black, metal stairs, glancing at Vader who did not acknowledge me, glancing at Luke, whose eyes were full of accusation and shock as he stared me down, and then I finally dared to meet the Emperor’s burning gaze.

He smiled. Not a nice smile. It was full of evil and contempt, power and murderous desire. Pale light glinted off his rotten teeth. I repressed a shudder.

I stood by the left of my father’s chair. Vader was on the right. He hated me. I could sense it. Luke almost hated me too. It occurred to me that my father wanted this, so that I could assist in the turning of Luke to the dark side.

Luke gave me one more disdainful look before turning back to the viewport. Out in space, the battle was raging between Imperial and Alliance ships.

“…now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station!” I heard my father say.

And then it started. A few more taunts and Luke was ripping his lightsaber off the Emperor’s chair, swinging. I cried out, No!, before I even realized it. And Vader interjected his red blade to block Luke’s green one.

They fought. The Emperor laughed. I stood helpless. There was an uncontrollable urge to run out there and stop them, father and son, from cutting each other down. Then Luke yielded, briefly, flying up to one of the higher-up walkways. Vader let loose his blade, vibrant red slicing neatly through black metal, sparks flying, and Luke’s platform crashed with him on it.

I moved forward instinctually, but the Emperor grabbed my wrist—knobby, cold fingers wrapping like an iron shackle.

“Wait, my child,” he murmured, his voice like a whispery husk.

I could feel Luke’s fear and pain and hopelessness. He was failing. And I couldn’t help him. And then a sudden rage built up from beneath the Throne Room’s floor where Luke was hiding and Vader was hunting. The rage was followed by a scream so strong it cut through the air as hot as a laser from a lightsaber: the word Never!

And then Vader was being overthrown by Luke wildly swinging his saber in every direction. One blow after another blow. Until Vader fell to his side against one of the bottomless shaft’s rail guards. Another blow, swing, crash, slice—Luke sheared through Vader’s right hand, it and the red lightsaber disappearing down the shaft. Luke pointed the tip of his green blade beneath Vader’s mask.

The Emperor laughed. “Good,” he said. “Good.”

Then something happened. Luke stopped, looked at his right hand, then disengaged his lightsaber. “I’ll never turn to the dark side,” he said. “You failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi. Like my father before me.”

Silence. I watched my father carefully, who had moved ever so slightly down the metal stairs towards Skywalker. But he was perfectly still. And I felt it—what was coming. An unstoppable wave, dark and suffocating. I knew that if Luke didn’t join my father, he was to be killed.

“So be it,” the Emperor said. “Jedi.”

“No!” I screamed out, flying forward to intersect the arcs of lightning that shot out from my father’s fingers.

I crashed right into Luke, knocking us both down in writhing electrical spasms.

The Emperor’s golden, burning gaze stared at me in horror. Then anger. Then a strange mix of serenity and control reflected in his eyes. “My child,” he said. “You too, then, shall die.”

Luke and I lay there waiting for the coming blow. It came all too quickly, the flesh burning under the arcs of electricity. We couldn’t help but cry out in response. Seconds passed like hours, it seemed, and death couldn’t be any slower. The Emperor would stop and start and stop again just to torture us with words of victory.

And all Vader did was watch. But through all the painful spasms, lightning licking at my limbs, crawling up my skull and injecting my eye sockets with fiery needles, I could sense in Vader his own torment. His sudden sense of doubt.

I thought I heard Luke scream out Father!, but I couldn’t be sure. I was deaf from the pounding in my head. So I yelled out, “Vader! Do something!” My teeth clamped back down together in another violent wave of convulsions.

Suddenly, I heard a new voice join the screaming, an old man’s scream, and the burning ceased. I looked up and saw Vader carrying the Emperor—my father—towards the shaft. Lightning crackled down my father and into Vader. And then he released, throwing my father down the shaft, screaming all the way. A few seconds later, a blue energy erupted from the hole of the shaft. Vader collapsed. And my father, the Emperor, was dead.

Luke was next to me, watching too. He glanced at me, gasping for breath, and then forced himself up to cradle his own father, the father he never knew, and would never know. I watched, stunned, my skin smoking. It smelled like charred meat and metal.

After what seemed like the longest minutes of our lives, we were able to get to our feet, sling Vader’s arms about our shoulders and carry him to a shuttle. The Death Star was about to explode, the evacuate sirens were blaring. Luke and I collapsed at the shuttle’s lip. I ran inside to start up the engines. I don’t know how I knew, but things were starting to just come to me, as if I’d known all along. By the time the engines were warm enough to take off, Vader had died and Luke was dragging his father’s corpse onto the ship.

Metal beams and platforms were crashing all around the shuttle as it slowly lifted off the floor. A fireball followed closely behind us as we left the landing bay. Luke and I both gasped in relief. The Death Star exploded in a glittering firework frenzy behind us. And we rode the trip back down to the Sanctuary Moon of Endor in silence.

—TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2—

The Revolution: Chapter 10 part 2

Luke stood at the edge of the forest, sensing Ben’s fear, but couldn’t understand the meaning of it. It didn’t make sense for Ben to fear Lilliya unless she had turned on him violently. And then the possibility hit Luke like bolt of hard energy. Maybe Lilliya was the alien imposter he and Leia surmised she could be. image

Luke’s hand automatically drifted to the hilt of his lightsaber as he was vaguely aware of other Jedi gathering a few meters behind him. Maybe they felt Ben’s fear too. Ben hadn’t expressed fear since the death of Jacen, so feeling it ripple through the Force was shocking.

But before Luke decided to run in there after him, Ben’s figure finally broke free of the dark jungle. And in his arms was an unconscious Lilliya, sickly white with an odd tinge of blue.

“She was attacked!” Ben answered the unasked questions of his father and the other Jedi behind him. “About seventeen hundred meters from here. I killed the attacker, but left the body.”

Still refusing to use levitation to carry it with you, I see, Luke thought. “Sori, C’obin, retrieve the attacker’s body and bring it to the science lab,” Luke gestured to the two Jedi Falleen standing side by side. Without a word, they unhooked their lightsabers and disappeared into the jungle in the direction Ben instructed.

Ben looked very worried as he approached his father with Lilliya cradled.

“I can’t tell if she’s dying or if she‘s already dead,” Ben spoke quietly so the other remaining curious Jedi didn’t hear.

Luke observed the main wound, a deep bite mark, on her shoulder. The bleeding had stopped and it was already blackening over. She didn’t look like she was breathing.

“Let’s get her to the infirmary,” Luke said, eyes tight with concern. “I’ll call Uhala to see what she can do.”

Uhala was the leading Jedi Healer on Ossus and had brought many of those near death back to perfect health. She was also the first-ever Chiss to be a Jedi Master. Luke wasn’t sure how she could handle someone invisible to the Force, but there wasn’t much of a choice at this point.

Ben laid Lilliya down on the white bed. Uhala was already there wrapping herself in sterile robes. Luke stood outside speaking quietly into his comlink.

“How bad?” Ben asked as Uhala scanned her.

Her blue skin glowed under the bright lights and her red eyes flickered at Ben briefly before settling down on Lilliya’s bite wound.

“Scans say she is alive, but the venom inside her has paralyzed all functions,” Uhala said, her tone betraying no emotion. “It won’t be hard to extract the venom from her body. She should be fine, as far as I can tell with just these instruments.” Uhala gently probed the wound with a gloved finger. “Fascinating…” she murmured.

“What?” Ben said anxiously, glancing from Luke standing outside deep in conversation and Lilliya’s paralyzed form.

“This wound seems to already be healing itself. I will sterilize it anyway,” Uhala shrugged as she gathered solution and dressings to wrap the bite mark with.

Ben gazed down at Lilliya’s shoulder and noticed how drastically it had healed. When he had found her, the shoulder was oozing blood. The wound was not only scabbed up, but the skin around it was no longer inflamed or bruised.

“Is that also bad?” Ben asked, feeling like an amateur with this medical stuff.

Uhala shrugged again, barely glancing in Ben’s direction as she began to wrap the wound. She grabbed another needle-like instrument and began to hook Lilliya up with a computer. “This will detect the venom from the blood and extract it from the body,” she said and Ben knew she was just humoring him. Uhala never spoke unless she really had to, but she could sense his unease. He was nervous about Lilliya dying because he felt guilty. And this irritated him because he didn’t want to feel guilt.

“Sori and C’obin found your attacker,” Luke said suddenly as he walked into the med room. “They have it in the science lab and are examining it now. I want to see this thing. We can leave Lilliya here with Uhala.”

Uhala nodded in confirmation. Ben seemed strangely reluctant to move away from Lilliya’s bedside, but followed Luke out anyway.

The two Skywalkers walked side by side silently down the long corridor then through a metal doorway into the labs.

Sori and C’obin stood around a dissecting table with the strange white humanoid already being disassembled. Luke and Ben stood on opposite sides of the table as the green-skinned Falleen Jedi stopped their work.

“I was worried because I couldn’t sense Lilliya in danger,” Ben explained without being asked. “It was only when I heard her scream that I could detect where she was. I couldn’t sense whatever this thing is either.”

“Master Skywalker, may I explain,” Sori, the female Falleen, spoke.
Luke nodded.

“It is an android, built to look and feel like an organic humanoid,” Sori said. “Not so different from our own organic droids, but it’s tissue isn’t registered in any of our droid banks. Although the computer is still scanning its origin, all of our organically manufactured tissues are registered within the droid marketing corporations including black market droid sects.”

Luke’s brow furrowed as he stared down at the white face and wide black eyes. They seemed to be staring back at him, watching him.

“Are you sure this thing is dead?” Luke asked, looking up at Sori.

Sori and C’obin looked at each other, then back at Luke. “It’s primary functions are no longer operating,” C’obin said. “Ben Skywalker had severed the main server in its chest.”

“Continue the autopsy,” Luke said, moving away from the humanoid’s range of vision. “And cover those eyes while you’re at it.”

Sori and C’obin looked at each other again and shrugged. Luke and Ben exited the lab and continued back down the corridor toward the infirmary.

“I got a bad feeling,” Luke murmured.

“Yeah so do I,” Ben said, turning to stop Luke. “If that thing isn’t from Ossus, what the hell is it doing here? And why is it just as mysterious as Lilliya. I mean, the fact that it wasn’t detectable in the Force, Sori and C’obin say it’s tissue samples aren’t recognizable by the computer, and it was after Lilliya. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen anything like that thing.”

“It is a big galaxy,” Luke said mostly to himself, looking deep in thought.

“Come on, Dad,” Ben said, frustration seeping into his voice. “That thing is just as weird and out of place as Lilliya. And what about Lilliya’s mysterious battle ship? What about Jaina? What’s happening on Endor? I haven’t heard from her in two weeks. Her mission shouldn’t be taking this long without an update.”

“Calm down, Ben,” Luke said, snapping out of his reverie. “It won’t help anyone if you’re panicking. I want you to get some rest while I speak with Uhala and Leia on this.”

Ben crossed his arms. “I thought we’d figure this out together,” he said.

“We will figure this out together, but right now I want you to rest while I get a hold of Leia and talk to her first,” Luke said more firmly, placing a reassuring hand on his son’s shoulder.

Ben looked as if to argue, but held back. Instead, he nodded briskly, spun around and disappeared down the corridor.

Luke waited until Ben was out of sight before he returned to the med room where Uhala continued to examine Lilliya. Luke hated to be so secretive with his son, but he wasn’t ready to explain to him that Lilliya wasn’t human and that they didn’t know what she was. Luke had already contacted Leia, letting her know that Uhala would soon find out that Lilliya wasn’t human and that meant that Lilliya’s secret would then be known by one more person. And this made him uneasy. He wasn’t sure how long they could keep it a secret, or if they needed to at all. Perhaps Lilliya did know she wasn’t a human. Perhaps she already knew what species she was. Maybe they just needed to ask. But what would asking bring?

“How is she doing?” Luke asked Uhala.

“Quite well, surprisingly,” Uhala looked up with her bright red eyes.

“When will she wake?”

Uhala glanced down at Lilliya’s peaceful form. Her skin had already brightened back to its normal creamy hue and they could see her chest moving in shallow breaths.

“Probably within the hour,” Uhala answered, her gaze seeming to hide something.

“Should I keep her here under observation?”

“That would be a good idea, in case anything goes wrong,” Luke responded, staring back at Uhala. “Did you find anything on the venom’s origin?”

“No,” Uhala said bluntly. “The computer could not recognize the venom. The computer also could not recognize Lilliya’s blood, therefore was not able to determine what to extract as a toxin. It determined her as…unreadable.” For a female Chiss with barely any emotion, she looked as though she was actually excited by this information.
Luke glanced from Uhala and back to Lilliya, not quite making the connection. “Are you saying…she healed herself?”

“Precisely.”

But how? Luke thought. Maybe she was able to go into a Jedi healing trance before she went unconscious. But that didn’t make sense when she didn’t even know how to lift a rock with the Force.

“Uhala, you mustn’t tell anyone what you have discovered, not even Lilliya,” Luke said.

“I understand,” Uhala nodded professionally and as Luke exited the med center, he suddenly realized just how much he didn’t understand.

***

Maurel watched a holo image of a man in black with shocks of gray above each ear frown then disappear from view.

“That is Luke Skywalker, the Grand Master of the Jedi Council,” Captain Jorn explained as they watched the images change from a white ceiling to a green-skinned Falleen female and male. A few minutes later the image was lost to darkness, probably, Jorn surmised, by the Falleen Jedi disabling it.

Maurel had a grim smile on his chiseled face, but remained introspective.

“Was it her?” Captain Jorn asked, his sad, wrinkled face looking older now under the control of the Chrystallite Regime.

Maurel turned to a computer pad and read the readouts the probe droid had sent out before the Jedi, Ben Skywalker, terminated it. The droid’s mission was to identify and capture the woman Maurel was after, and if the droid couldn’t do the latter, then at least the identification readouts would be enough.

And as Maurel read the DNA readings taken when the droid bit the girl, his smile broadened.

“Reverse image back to point one-oh-five clicks,” Admiral Maurel commanded, and the holo images reversed back to a close up image of the woman backed against a tree.

“So you gonna eat me, or what?” the woman had said, right before the probe droid bit her.

“Back point one-oh-two,” Maurel said again. And the image showed a longer duration of the woman’s appearance struggling against the tree. Gold-blonde hair streaking with silver as darkness came, flawlessly ivory skin, one sapphire eye, one emerald and within the emerald was a diamond scar flashing a dark purple.

Dark purple, Maurel knew, meant fear. But only Maurel would know this. He watched the image of the young woman with a ferocious hunger, listened to the recording of her voice say, so you gonna eat me, again and then listened to her scream. The scream seemed to send Maurel a thrill of excitement, his sapphire eyes glittering bright.

“Set course for Ossus,” Admiral Maurel finally said. Then he turned to give Captain Jorn a fiery glare. “That’s her,” he said with a slow smile.

Captain Jorn nodded and turned to his second in command, giving the order. Maurel continued to watch the recording, repeating the same image of the young woman, and Jorn turned to leave him to his disturbing pleasures, all the while feeling sick to his stomach. Jorn had never seen anyone take so much pleasure in hunting someone. Even in his younger days, while growing up in the Imperial Remnant, the Moffs never showed such animalistic desire to kill.

But Jorn could have no opinion. Jorn had no freedom. Jorn was Maurel’s pet, along with all the other human captives forced into the Chrystallite Empire. They were all pets. And Jorn couldn’t help but wonder how long it would be before Maurel decided he had no more use for them and kill them all.

The Revolution: Chapter 10 part 1

As soon as Lilliya hit the edge of the jungle and was out of the sites of Luke and Ben, she made run for it. Running felt good, felt the wind on her face, felt the branches brush away her tears. Running felt just that—running from her past, from her future, and definitely from her present situation.image

After a mile of pure sprinting, she stopped, winded, but feeling rejuvenated and free. She was deep within the jungle called The Forest of Ood. When the Jedi students created it, as they did with all the other green, blue, and orange planet life not inherit of Ossus, they named the forest jungle after the ancient Great Jedi Master Ood, whose spirit had resided within a tree on Ossus for centuries until Luke came upon it decades back.

Ood’s spirit was only a memory now, remembered by Luke Skywalker and other students of the Academy. And Lilliya had just come to learn about him briefly during one of her long conversations with Forra on the history of Ossus. Now, as she stood leaning up against a tree, alone and deep within the darkening jungle, she imagined what it would be like to talk to a Jedi Master in tree form. She wondered what wise things Ood would tell her.

She wondered when the hell she could get off this planet! Or if she should stay…

Maybe Ben was right, about her not belonging. She knew that was the root of it all. She had his father’s full attention, was his prized, mystery artifact. Ben was cast in the shadow she did not want to create.

But maybe Luke was right. Maybe learning the ways of the Force was something worth while. Just maybe…it would reveal something about herself she desperately needed to know.

Still leaning back against the ominous tree, the sharp edges of its bark gently pressing into her jumpsuit and bare skin, Lilliya watched the tops of the branches sway slightly in the breeze—a breeze she could not feel from where she stood—but felt a subtle warmth spread against her chest bone. Lilliya closed her eyes and soaked in the familiar heat she knew was radiating from her crystal buried underneath the jumpsuit’s shirt. It felt like home for a moment, the peace, the quiet, the movement of the trees and other life forms around her. Although, she noted, it was quieter than she would have expected for a jungle.

And her crystal never glowed for fun.

Lilliya let her eyes slowly open, leaning forward and away from the tree. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a white figure amidst the dark greens and blues of the jungle trees. She turned to look.

Standing just a few meters to her right stood a humanoid-like creature. Very gaunt and very white, it wore no clothing, but its body shivered with every twitch of a muscle. Its mouth hung open slightly revealing nothing back a black gape, and its eyes met hers with an unnerving, unblinking black glare.

It looked like a feral white human.

And it stood very still.

Lilliya didn’t move a muscle. She found that she almost couldn’t. She stood frozen, staring wide-eyed, waiting for it to make a move. She recalled for a second that she didn’t even hear the white humanoid approach in the first place.

It didn’t move. It continued to stare with its wide black eyes, hands hovering beside its hips, long, gangly fingers stretched like claws.

Lilliya thought about trying “hello,” but then already knew its intent. Its malicious stare said it all. Still frozen in place, Lilliya forced herself to unhinge her taut muscle, readying for a run. She was a good runner, at least she had that to be confident about. Her foot shifted about an inch in the other direction, knocking a tiny pebble, barely making a sound.

The white humanoid darted forward in a flash coming straight at her.

Lilliya was so surprised by the speed of the creature that she tripped over her own feet in an attempt to turn and run, falling flat on her back, her legs sticking up in defense.
The humanoid flashed to her side, stopping immediately at her feet, and looked down. Its mouth slowly opened baring silver metal-like teeth, terrifyingly sharp.

Lilliya let out a shout of horror and defiance as she punched her feet into the chest of the white creature, knocking it back a few paces. But it didn’t fall. Lilliya rolled back and onto the balls of her feet, rising slowly in a combat stance.

The creature stood hunched now, fingers clawing the air. The humanoid bared its teeth like an animal.

Lilliya knew she wasn’t prepared to fight something she didn’t know anything about, especially being weaponless. But that was the point of combat training, right?

The thing lurched at her and Lilliya charged, double kicking in the air towards its head. It moved with lightning speed—literally a blur of white—to the left side of her and punched her in the left kidney. She cried in agony and surprise, clutching her left side for an instant. The thing tilted its head to the side as if confused by her scream, then came towards her, mouth wide open.

Lilliya swung her fist up under and to the left of its chin, and felt her fist crack, as if it just contacted with durasteel. She had to bite her lip to swallow another cry. The humanoid retaliated by swinging its white fist towards her temple. This time she ducked and ducked again when the humanoid came for another swing. By the second dodge, she punched it low in the stomach, turning slightly and ramming her elbow into the center of its chest.

It backed away miming a howl. The humanoid made no sound and she faintly realized it hadn’t from the moment it appeared. And then it rushed toward her, another white blur, something she couldn’t even react quick enough too. It punched her square in the chest with a flat hand, but the force was strong enough to send Lilliya flying backwards and smash against a tree. She slid down, tiny blue leaves littering around her, and spat blood.

The humanoid made a sniffing sound and its black eyes widened at the blood on her lips.
Ignoring every ounce of pain coursing through her body, Lilliya jumped up, turned and ran, deciding she was no match for this thing…at least without a weapon. She hoped, at least, that she was going in the right direction toward the Academy grounds. At this point, she really didn’t know.

She ran as fast as her legs could take her for about two minutes before she stopped. She quickly looked behind her. There was nothing but dark jungle, and considering how white that thing was, there was no way it could blend in. Breathing raggedly, she watched behind her to see if anything was coming. She was hoping it was just a random animal born of Ossus that she just happened to accidentally run into…

And then her hopes were lost as something slammed into her from the left, sending her skidding to the ground. Dirt and debris dug into her bare skin and tore open her jumpsuit. She looked up with bleary eyes and saw the white shape of the creature standing above her, perfectly posed for attack. At this point, Lilliya’s mind was out of ideas. She quickly scurried away on all fours, but the humanoid came at her in a flash, shoving her up against a tree, its fingers like ice, gripping her arms.

Lilliya closed her eyes and pushed all of her will into transporting her form from the vice-grip of the creature. She opened her eyes and was disappointed. She was still pinned against the tree, face to face with the humanoid. She thought this would be an ironic way to die. Not in battle, not from a Jedi too lightsaber-happy, and not from Ben Skywalker.

But from an animal lost in the Forest of Ood. Fitting.

It peered at her with its large black eyes. Lilliya could almost see her reflection in them, saw her dirtied face, her resignation, and for a moment, its eyes only seemed curious and gentle. It moved closer, their noses almost touching, and Lilliya cringed. But there was no smell to the humanoid. And no sound.

Interesting, she thought. “So you gonna eat me, or what?” she said, a little surprised she was so casual about the whole thing.

As if to answer her question, the humanoid leaned forward and bit her above the left shoulder.

“Ah!” she screamed in pain, the scream so loud it bounced off the trees and into the distance. The humanoid bit down deeper too, sinking all the way through skin, muscle and nearly to the bone of her shoulder. This made Lilliya’s scream raise in pitch. She wanted to raise her hand to slap it away, but found she couldn’t move. The pain was searing hot, burning through her veins, but that wasn’t why she couldn’t move. She was paralyzed.

Before she could even understand what was happening, the humanoid stood up, blood dripping down its chin, a stark contrast to its blinding white skin, took her by the left arm and started dragging her one-handed.

Lilliya’s ears were ringing and her vision was blurring. She could see the tops of the trees still, even though the sky was darkening towards sunset. She looked up to her captor and wondered vaguely how it was going to end. She couldn’t feel her body being dragged, couldn’t feel its hand grasping hers. She imagined it eating her alive and hoped that this paralysis would keep until the very end. She looked back up towards the sky and smiled, or at least thought she smiled. This was it. Lilliya Starr was done…

***

Something fast and dark flew above and past her, but out of the corner of her eye, she could see a glowing blade. Lilliya glanced up and saw the humanoid’s hand was no longer holding hers. Whatever was happening was happening outside her field of vision. She could barely make out the muddled humming of something powerful, but that was the only sound present. It could have been the ringing in her ears for all she knew.

And she didn’t know how much longer she could stay conscious. The venom that was injected into her was either going to kill her or knock her out to be a convenient dinner for this thing. She had no idea what to expect.

Suddenly she saw the white shape of the humanoid fly past her right, smacking against a tree. And a black boot stepped into her site, a barrier between her and the humanoid.
The humanoid charged in a flash again, coming straight for the person in the boots. But this time, it charged right into the glowing blade of a lightsaber, skewering itself through the center of its chest. It stood still for a second, shivering and twitching, and finally its black eyes rolled white, falling backwards to the ground.

The person in boots moved forward a bit, peering down at the humanoid, making sure it was dead, Lilliya was certain. And then, whoever it was, hurried over to her paralyzed form and knelt down to her.

Lilliya was surprised to find herself looking straight up into the distraught face of Ben Skywalker. She could tell he was trying to check her pulse and see if she was alive, but she couldn’t feel his fingers on her. His mouth moved and it looked like he was saying her name. Lilliya just stared back, feeling the darkness overwhelm her consciousness. And then she was out, the last image in her mind being the anxious blue-green eyes of Ben Skywalker.

“Lilliya!” Ben exclaimed, shaking her limp form in a sad attempt to revive her. He glanced hurriedly at the white form of the humanoid. He was certain it was dead, but it unnerved him that he couldn’t sense the creature in the first place. Just like Lilliya.
His gaze turned back to her pale form and noticed the deep bite mark above her left shoulder. Her eyes were barely open, but she wasn’t responding, though he was confident she would live. Her pulse was slow but steady. He cursed Lilliya for being invisible to the Force. It would be so much easier to monitor her life if she was apart of it somehow. And then he cursed himself.

For everything he knew he’d done wrong.

But there wasn’t time for self-pity. Ben lifted Lilliya into his arms with ease and ran at a Force-sprint back to the Academy. Though he’d denounced the Force in his life, he knew very well how to recall it when necessary. And he was quite aware of the hypocrisy of it all.

The Revolution: Chapter 9 part 2

The darkness lasted for what seemed like seconds—not long enough—before Jaina felt the pain roll through her body as she slowly woke. There were voices, quiet and curious, but she couldn’t tell how many there were. On Endor, she thought she had died along with her team. To her dismay, it seemed they—whoever they were—decided to keep her alive.

“Is she awake?” Jaina heard a man’s voice say. She debated whether she should fake unconsciousness or not.

“Not sure,” another answered. “She should wake any second.”

“Send him in, then,” the first man’s voice spoke. Another minute passed and then she heard hustled footsteps followed by slow, controlled steps clinking against metal. Jaina reached out with the Force to sense her surroundings. She felt two presences—human, according to their thought processes—and only two. Jaina could handle two, depending on her physical condition and surrounding. At the moment, she didn’t know the status of either.

“She should wake any moment, Admiral,” the first man’s voice said.

“She is already awake,” a new voice, darkly musical and soft, said. “And she can hear me. Can’t you?”

Jaina assumed that last phrase was directed at her. No sense in keeping up the pretense, she decided, and slowly opened her eyes.

Pain shot through every nerve in her body just from the simple movement of her eyelids. Her vision blurred as her eyes watered in pain, her face tingling as she attempted to regard her surroundings. She was inside a small, metal cell. It was clean as far as she could tell, and she happened to be laying on her back on a cold, hard cot. She risked turning her head towards her visitors and winced as pain rippled through her neck. But the effort was enough to see who was standing in the cell’s entrance. Two men stood to the side, human just as she had predicted, and in silver military uniforms. But there was a third person she didn’t sense through the Force. He stood in the center of the entrance, tall and muscular, shockingly handsome with ivory skin, silver hair chopped short, and a glistening white smile.

The smile sent shivers down Jaina’s spine.

“Hello,” he said with that silky, mesmerizing voice. He cocked his head to the side, starring at Jaina with an animalistic curiosity.

She opened her mouth to respond out of habit, but nothing came out and she quickly shut her mouth.

“Her vocal cords may be temporarily paralyzed due to the paralysis,” the man with gray-white hair, to the left of the handsome man, said.

“I can fix that,” the handsome man said, cocking his head again.

Jaina’s heart quickened, fearing what he meant by that. She did indeed feel like she couldn’t move her body, and it frightened her more that the man moving towards her was completely invisible to the Force. It was like watching something unreal and ghostlike stalk her down and there was nothing she could do to stop it.

The handsome man sat down on the cot beside her and gently lifted her to a sitting position, his cold hands gripping her bare arms. As he helped her up, Jaina realized her pilot uniform had been replaced by a thin white sheet which barely covered her body. Normally this wouldn’t bother her, but the close proximity mixed with the invisibility of the handsome man put her on edge.

The man reached out with his right hand and placed it on her neck. He gently began to massage right underneath her chin and Jaina felt warmth spreading into her throat. She watched his eyes. They sparkled strangely and his eyes were the darkest blue she’d ever seen. And then she noticed something in his left eye. There was a black spot to the side of the iris—deep black and diamond-shaped. It reminded her of something, but her head hurt too much to concentrate.

He massaged her neck for about a minute before releasing her, smiling again.

“What is your name?” he asked, his eyes penetrating and hypnotizing.

Jaina debated answering, but couldn’t think of a reason why she shouldn’t.

“Jaina Solo,” she answered, her voice crackling. She coughed to clear it.

“My name is Maurel,” he replied, his breath cold against her skin. Jaina noticed the man with the gray hair frowning in disapproval, or confusion, she couldn’t quite tell. Her connection with the Force felt numb and distant for some reason. “You are a JedI, I assume?”

Jaina frowned realizing she was under interrogation and it was already a bad idea that she gave out her name. She made an effort to keep her mouth shut, but found it hard not to answer the questions.

“You’ve been given a mental-calming serum. You’ll be more corporative this way, but don’t fight it. You’ll overload your brain and die if you do,” Maurel said. “At least, that’s what happened to the last girl we interrogated. What was her name?” He turned to the gray-haired man behind him.

“Macy,” the older man answered.

“Yes,” Maurel breathed. “She was the President’s personal aide. She died a painful death. She rejected the serum and her brain, in simpler terms, exploded. I’ve never met a JedI before, so I would like to keep you alive for a while longer. So, please, cooperate.”

Jaina’s vision blurred as Maurel spoke, her head feeling heavy. She would have fallen over if it weren’t for Maurel holding her up with his hands.

“Of course we already know you are a JedI,” Maurel continued. “We’re studying your lightsaber. It has some fascinating qualities. I’m surprised you JedI use—crystals, is it—as the power source. An interesting choice, I will admit, but a smart one. If only the crystals you used were of a better, stronger material. I experimented with the crystal you had inside your lightsaber. It overloaded and shattered.

“Interesting actually. It symbolizes you, or your galaxy’s species. So frail…” Maurel brushed a cool, white finger along Jaina’s jaw. Her eyes rolled back, the room spinning around her sickeningly. She squeezed her eyes as she tried to regain control.

“You sure risk a lot—” she gulped as she forced herself to speak, “telling me all this.”

“Not really,” he smiled again. “You won’t remember this conversation.” His finger continued to stroke her cheek, then suddenly snatched her chin in a tight grasp, forcing her to look directly at him. “What were you doing in this system?”

Jaina bit her lip, fighting against the urge to answer. Her mind seemed to be rebelling against her. So she breathed deeply, as deeply as she could handle since her lungs were tight, and tried to concentrate on the little connection she had with the Force. Surprisingly, it gave her some strength and resistance to the serum she was under.

“No matter,” Maurel silky voice caressed her skin. “I already know you are the President’s daughter. Of course you would be sent here to investigate one of your military bases. And seeing as this is one of your furthest outposts, it is only logical to assume that someone alerted you to the base’s destruction. Someone who escaped…”

Jaina immediately thought of Lilliya. She pictured her silver hair cascading down in ringlets, her long muscular form, her drawn face and sad expression…

Maurel’s grip on Jaina’s chin tightened as he leaned closer. “I need you to help me,” he murmured darkly, his tone suddenly turning ominous. “I am looking for someone. A girl. She escaped to Coruscant and I know that she had met with your President. Which means that you know of her existence.”

Jaina shook her head, not in response to Maurel, but in an attempt to shake off the drugging serum.

“She would have white skin,” Maurel continued, “and gold hair by day, silver hair by night. She would be very unique compared to the rest of you. And beautiful, very beautiful. I need to know her name. I need to know where she is.”

Jaina knew exactly who he was referring to, but refused to tell, fighting against the serum. “I don’t know—” Jaina whispered, and the mere lie sent excruciating pain to her head and behind her eyes. It really did feel like her head would explode. So she quickly reverted back to meditating on the Force in order to help her clear the pain.

It sounded as though Maurel growled, but she couldn’t be sure. She was barely keeping conscious as it was.

“Maybe this will spur your memory,” Maurel muttered, pulling out a necklace from the folds of his chrome-colored tunic. From the end of the necklace hung a familiar crystal charm. It glittered in the dim light, refracting little rainbows on Maurel’s pale skin. “If she were smart, she would be wearing one of these at all times. And I guarantee she is very smart.”

Jaina glanced at the charm, then back up into Maurel’s smoldering eyes. The diamond scar seemed to grow blacker, if that was even possible.

And then something struck her. Maurel’s diamond scar and crystal necklace were exactly the same as Lilliya’s diamond scar and crystal necklace! Somewhere within the foggy dimness of her mind, Jaina made a revelation. She just couldn’t pinpoint it in her current mindset.

Suddenly, Maurel grabbed Jaina’s head, placing both hands on either side, and squeezed. Jaina gasped, the pressure of his hands sending shock waves of pain into her head.

“This is going to hurt more than the serum,” Maurel growled. “But you leave me no choice. You will tell me where she is. You will tell me her name.”

Maurel’s eyes, smoldering sapphire, bored into hers, lighting on fire. Then, before she could blink away, something powerful slammed into her head, her brain feeling as though it were being torn open to expose her every memory, thought, dream…the pain so unbearable a scream ripped through her throat, echoing off the chamber walls and down the corridors.

And somewhere amidst all the agonized screaming, a name was whispered.

Lilliya…”

Maurel smiled.

The Revolution: Chapter 9 part 1

A cool breeze whipped Jaina’s hair as she stepped out into the opening, kicking a metal shard with her boot. The smell of burnt decay wrinkled her nose and she tried to ignore the small animals scavenging the dead bodies.

The TwinSuns team had landed on Endor nearly over two weeks ago. They had decided to stealth land outside the Raider Base perimeter in case the base was being watched by the invisible enemy. When they had arrived in the system, there was no sign of a ship, but that didn’t make Jaina feel safe. The other investigation team had vanished in just a matter of hours, so Jaina and her team were taking every precaution.

They journeyed towards the base perimeter on foot, surveying the forest for any sign of alien life. By the end of the week, as they neared the base, they had discovered a crashed Z-Wing, half way melted to the ground.

The team had set up camp within the forest outside the wide crater where the Raider Base once stood, and waited. Nothing showed up. No sign of any alien life appeared on their scanners. Just a few local animals greeted the team every once in a while. So Jaina decided to move on ahead to the base. With her adept Force skills, she couldn’t sense anything out of the normal, and she felt it safe to accept the possibility that the ship had moved on. But that meant, wherever it might have moved to, there would be another attack, and that would be very bad.

“We’ve done a full scan of the area,” Gavin called from a few meters away. “There’s no evidence of the investigation team even landing here.”

“If that ship was here when they arrived in-system, there’s a chance they never landed at all,” Wess said, surveying the debris.

Jaina pursed her lips. The situation was more perplexing than she thought it would be. “Well, looks like whatever was here is gone now. And I think it’s safe to assume the investigation team has been eliminated. Nothing left for us to do, but to return to Coruscant and let the Alliance know we have a dangerous rogue ship on the loose.”

“Unfortunately that means we’ll have to wait for the next attack before we can do anything about it,” Gavin said. The other pilots exchanged grim looks.

“Seems that way…” Jaina grumbled, scooping up to pick up a melted shard of metal. She peered casually at it, thinking she recognized the warped emblem on the black metal. As she looked closer, it dawned on her. It was the specific Alliance emblem for secret security. The Raider Squadron wouldn’t have been issued the emblem because it was only given to the highest agents of the secret Alliance corps. That corps came from Coruscant. But before she could say anything, something froze inside of her.

“Sithspit!” Wess shouted from behind her.

She looked up from the shard and noticed a ghostly white figure, tall and slender, facing her from the edge of the forest. Jaina dropped the shard in surprise.

“Jaina, we got company,” Gavin called to her.

She turned around and saw five more white humanoids all spread out along the perimeter of the crater. They didn’t move.

“Looks like,” Jaina muttered, wrapping her fingers around the lightsaber’s hilt hidden within her jumpsuit. Gavin, Wess, Kenalle, and Bayley pulled out their rifle blasters and started to form a tight circle with Jaina. Still, the humanoids didn’t budge.

“You think these are our guys?” Kenalle said.

“Most likely,” Gavin said, his voice tight.

Bayley made a low growl in response.

“Don’t do anything yet,” Jaina said, locking her eyes on the humanoid across from her. “Let them make the first move.”

As soon as Jaina said that, the tall humanoids started sauntering towards the pilots’ little circle, no weapons in hand.

“All right…they’re making the first move,” Kenalle grumbled tensely.

Jaina’s grip on her lightsaber tightened as she realized she couldn’t sense these humanoids. She could sense the nervousness of her pilots, but the white humanoids were as though they didn’t exist…like ghosts. Like Lilliya. This realization turned her stomach to ice. It seemed that Lilliya was an imposter after all. Her thoughts turned to Ossus, fearing for the safety of the Jedi Temple.

“Jaina,” Gavin said, “what do you want to do?” The humanoids were just meters away, their strides careful and even, almost dance-like.

“Shoot ‘em down,” Jaina muttered, igniting the blue blade.

At her command, the pilots fired upon the oncoming humanoids, red laser beams propelling from the rifles.

Strangely enough, the beams absorbed into the humanoids’ skin, leaving nothing but smoke. And they kept coming. This time, all six of them pulled out a long silver, wicked-looking rifle, all aimed at the pilots.

“We are in serious trouble,” Wess said.

“Never saw that before,” Kenalle grumbled.

“Grenade!” Jaina yelled, pulling out a small round mine and tossing it at the humanoid in front of her. It exploded on contact, except that the humanoid had dodged it effortlessly. It was now charging at her, rifle aimed and firing. Silver-white bolts flew in Jaina’s direction, but she deflected them easily with her lightsaber, forcing the silver bolts back at the attacker. They struck the humanoid and it’s body disintegrated in sickening silence, leaving only a pale dust.

Jaina’s eyes widened in horror. “Bad news guys,” she called, “don’t get shot.”

Too late, it seemed, as she heard someone behind her cry out in agony.

“Bayley!” Gavin cried out, running to support Bayley’s crumpling body. Bayley’s left arm had melted off and his shoulder still seemed to be disintegrating from the bolt.

Two other grenades went off as Wess tossed them towards his attacker. The second one successfully blasted the legs off of the humanoid. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop it. It started crawling towards Wess with its arms. Wess stared in horror, shooting at the humanoid’s head and hands to no avail.

Jaina propelled herself through the air, landing on top of the humanoid’s torso, and drove her lightsaber into the back of its neck, ending its progression. She grabbed the silver rifle the humanoid had dropped and tossed it at Wess who caught it swiftly.

The other pilots were retreating towards the forest, tossing grenade after grenade in an attempt to slow down their attackers. Gavin was nearly dragging Bayley.

“Come on!” Jaina clapped Wess on the back, snapping him out of his temporary shock and the two of them ran for the forest. Wess shot at one of the humanoids who had directed its attention towards them, but missed as the humanoid dodged the bolt.

Jaina flew through the air towards Gavin, Bayley, and Kenalle to help them fight off the other three attackers. She landed in between the pilots and the humanoids, deflecting the blazing silver bolts with every swing and arc of the blue blade.

“Wess!” Gavin yelled, shouldering Bayley onto Kenalle’s arm. “Get the hell over here!”

Wess was determined to shoot down the other attacker, but this one was adapting to Wess’ firing pattern, dodging every shot and getting closer with its own rifle.

Jaina was busy with her own threesome as each deflected shot seemed to miss the oncoming attackers.

“Grenade!” Kenalle shouted, as he tossed another mine towards the threesome. The explosion took out one of the humanoids, but the other two kept coming with relentless fire.

“Behind you!” Gavin cried, but his voice was soon drowned out by a guttural scream. Jaina took a second to glance behind her just in time to see Kenalle’s body melt away, Bayley falling into his dust.

“How!—” Jaina exclaimed, but was cut off as another bolt shot through Bayley’s chest this time, evaporating his body. In that instant, Jaina noticed Wess could not be found and saw the fourth humanoid charging at them from behind.

Gavin and Jaina exchanged tense looks as they grimly realized they were going to die.

Jaina turned back to her two attackers and concentrated on surviving a little longer, wielding her lightsaber in a blinding flash. She vaguely heard Gavin call out “grenade” and recognized multiple explosions from behind. She hoped one of the mines would take out that humanoid. Sweat trickled down her forehead. She wondered if this was really how she was going to die after all the wars, kidnapping, and assassination attempts she somehow survived. She was going to die on Endor by two alien humanoids shooting at her. She was the last surviving Solo child and she still wouldn’t make it to retirement. What a way to go down in history, she thought wryly. One of the bolts escaped her blade and nearly nicked her face if she hadn’t slid to her knees.

“Gavin?” she called out, wondering if he was still alive.

“Still here!” he called back, but his voice was tight. Jaina stole a glance behind her. Gavin somehow was able to disarm the humanoid and was now in hand-to-hand combat with it.

Jaina reached out with the Force and pulled at the abandoned silver rifle. It landed smoothly in her hand and she swung it at her attackers, firing wildly from side to side. The humanoids seemed to anticipate her move and fell to the ground rolling in opposite directions.

“Dammit,” Jaina muttered, watching the humanoids spread apart, making it more difficult to shoot at them. Then the rifle in her hand was shot away, the silver metal melting rapidly on the ground. As soon as that happened, the two humanoids sprung back up with incredible speed and were now sprinting towards her from both sides, rifles ready but not firing.

She pushed with the Force at one of them. It flew back a few meters, but didn’t slow it down. They weren’t firing at her anymore, so she didn’t have any bolts to deflect back at them. She pushed again at the second humanoid. Same result.

Wondering about Gavin, she glanced behind her to check on his status and came face to face with the other humanoid. For a split second she was completely caught off guard, but that was all it needed. The tall humanoid punched her in the nose, the impact knocking her backwards and blurring her vision. Jaina rolled to her side, grasping her nose reflexively and thought she saw Gavin lying on the ground a few meters away. She reached out, sensing that he was still alive. Maybe they weren’t going to die. Maybe the humanoids wanted prisoners, which could buy Jaina some time to escape…

A white hand grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet, pointing the silver rifle in her face.

Then again, maybe not…

The other humanoid stood ready, its rifle also aimed at her face. Jaina could feel warm fluid running down her mouth, tasted like copper, so she assumed her nose was bleeding and broken.

For the longest moment, it seemed, nobody moved. Jaina got a good look at her attackers. Their skin was whiter than white, almost clear. Their hair was also white and bristly. Their bodies masculine and lean, with muscle that bunched and twitched with every motion. And their eyes…their eyes were the most disturbing part of them all. Ice-blue and blank. There was no emotion, no hint of fear, anger, determination—nothing. Which disturbed Jaina even more because she couldn’t sense their presence in the Force either. But none of their appearances looked anything like Lilliya’s. The only thing they had in common was their ability to be invisible to the Force. But that was enough to put Jaina on edge and be convinced Lilliya was one of them.

“What now?” Jaina growled when nothing happened.

The humanoid to her right cocked its head curiously, then Jaina heard a moan from behind. Gavin was coming to. Jaina turned to see him grabbing his face in pain. The  humanoid that cocked its head sauntered over to Gavin. For a moment, fear stabbed Jaina in the gut hoping that Gavin would know to stay perfectly still.

It didn’t matter. The humanoid pointed its rifle at Gavin’s torso. Gavin opened his eyes, peered up at the white alien, then flickered to glance at Jaina. Before he could even open his mouth to make a sound, the humanoid fired a single silver bolt into Gavin’s gut, disintegrating his body instantly.

Jaina felt bile rise up her throat, Gavin’s agonized expression imprinted into her memory. And then something burning pierced her in the back, blackness overtaking her.

***

“I can’t feel the damn rock!” Lilliya exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air, pacing back and forth in the center of the training room.

Luke sat cross-legged on the floor, his fingers making a steeple lightly touching his lips. He seemed to be battling patience with irritation and confusion. He had spent full days alone with Lilliya trying train her in the Force. He had decided to take her on as his personal student for many reasons. One of them being the other students felt antagonized by her ever since her confrontation with Pell, another being that she was a mystery that needed to be solved. He had tried to have her reenact the transportation technique, but she couldn’t do it again. Lilliya admitted that she had never experienced that before and had no idea how it happened.

Luke was convinced she was able to tap into the Force in a different way than most, which was in defense. So Luke spent hours putting her in situations which would cause her to protect herself, but nothing extraordinary happened. Lilliya was able to defend herself like any other normal being.

So Luke then tried the old-fashioned way of Force training. He used techniques and exercises on her that Yoda used to use on him. Still, to no avail. And Lilliya was losing her patience fast. Which meant she was losing concentration, making any Force training exercise pointless.

Lilliya kicked at the rock she was supposed to levitate, or at least sense through the Force, and winced.

“There,” she grumbled, “now I felt it.”

Luke looked up at her from his sitting position, rubbing his temples in exhaustion. She stood facing him, hands on her hips.

“Come here,” he finally said, weary seeping into his voice.

Lilliya hesitated for a second, then grudgingly knelt down in front of him, running a hand through her golden hair.

“Let’s try something else—” he started, but Lilliya interrupted.

“Aren’t you tired yet? I feel like we’ve tried everything in the book. I do not have the Force…” Her voice trailed off in response to Luke’s stern expression.

He took a deep breath and cleared his mind of frustration. “This is simpler. It’s just a meditation exercise. It should help you calm your mind. It is possible you are too distracted.”

“I just don’t understand the point of this,” Lilliya argued. “I’m a pilot, not a JedI. I should be out with the TwinSuns Squadron investigating Endor, not here wasting my time pretending to be something I’m not capable of being.”

“Don’t you think it’s extremely out of the ordinary that you could transport your body through time and space? By accident?” Luke said, his voice soothing.

“Yes. It’s the strangest thing I’ve faced yet,” Lilliya admitted sarcastically. “But I don’t really care about investigating it because it seems I can’t do it again. I’m okay with calling it a fluke accident.”

“Lilliya,” Luke said, resting a hand on her shoulder. “You are very unique and—”

“Yeah, yeah. Believe me, I’ve heard it before,” Lilliya muttered, jumping to her feet. “I’m one hell of a special girl, blah, blah. What I want to know is why you have such an interest in me. Why you? And Leia? And I can tell all the other JedI around here look at me like I’m some freak. Especially your son.”

Luke sighed, sensing defeat for today. He was bothered by Ben treating Lilliya so harshly. He was surprised that Lilliya wasn’t lashing out at him yet.

“The reason I have such an interest in you is because you have displayed a skill that has never been recorded by any person in the whole galaxy,” Luke said, rising to his feet to counteract Lilliya. “That makes you very unique and worth understanding.”

“I’m like a science project to you.”

Luke was silent for a moment while he thought of a response. “In a way…yes.”

Lilliya was about to turn away, but Luke grabbed her arm and continued.

“I know how you feel,” Luke started, his voice suddenly very soft. “I know that you feel isolated, alone…useless. Everything you belonged to is gone now. It’s all gone.”

Lilliya looked away, trying to hide the pain building in her eyes.

Luke took her other arm, holding her at arms length. “This is your new beginning. You are unique. To me. This is why I want to waste all my time teaching you. How else do you think I single-handedly built the JedI Academy from the ground up?” He smiled wryly because if anyone else were to have heard him say that, he would never hear the end of it. “I believed in people and never gave up on them,” he continued. “Just like you.”

Lilliya stared at the ground, her lips pulled in a tight line. She shook her head in defeat. “This is…ridiculous,” she muttered, then met Luke’s blue stare with clear eyes. “Jenar—my best friend, or was until…” Her voice trailed off, but Luke encouraged her to continue, gently tightening his grip on her arms. “Well, anyway, he always thought I had a connection to the Force. He and I would argue about it all the time. I didn’t like the whole JedI thing because he kept pushing it on me. He never gave up, I guess. I told him he was crazy…”

Luke cocked his head in interest. “What inspired him to think you had the Force?”

Lilliya hesitated. She wasn’t sure how to explain it. “There were times,” she said softly, “where I could feel something about to happen before it did. Almost like really accurate intuition. It always came as a tingling sensation, like on the back of my neck. I got that feeling the day of the attack. The problem is I can’t always pinpoint it. I just know something is going to happen or change.”

Luke nodded slowly. “All the more reason to keep you training. We’re bound to discover something.” He smiled crookedly, sensing the tension between him and Lilliya had passed.

Lilliya rolled her eyes. “I guess that means we’re not taking a break.”

Luke smiled widely. “Nope.”

“You JedI are relentless,” Lilliya groaned in resignation.

“We are at that,” Luke laughed. He sat back down and crossed his legs, motioning for Lilliya to do the same.

She sat opposite of him on the hard stone floor, wiggling to get comfortable. “I’m assuming this is gonna be a while. Do we have any pillows?”

“JedI move past any discomfort. Meditation helps with this,” Luke explained. “With this particular exercise, I am going to help you in meditation. I will be reaching out to you with my mind, hopefully connecting with your thoughts, and help you focus them.”

“Sounds invasive,” Lilliya said humorously.

“If you think of it that way,” Luke said, cocking his right eyebrow. “But I’d rather you think of it as me helping you focus on a target, so to speak. I will be helping you aim your thoughts on a spot of light. That light will represent the Force. Of course, it won’t really be the Force, but it will help you direct your thoughts in knowing what to look for.”

Lilliya nodded, taking a deep, relaxing breath.

Luke took her hands in his; she jumped at the touch, so he squeezed tighter in reassurance. “Close your eyes,” he said, his voice turning hypnotic. “And clear your mind of all thoughts…worries…desires…”

Lilliya did as she was told, letting her eyelids fall and pushing all thoughts from her mind. The last image she saw was of Jenar smiling at her before she fell into a deep meditation. Her senses resorted to the physical. She could feel a warm breeze emanating from the windows brush by her skin; could hear distant animals call each other from the jungles; could smell the sweet scent of floral mixed with dry, dusty dirt; felt her lungs slow with every intake of oxygen and her heart beat in a calming rhythmic pattern; felt warm hands clasped to hers.

Very warm hands. Almost too warm. Lilliya concentrated on not thinking about how Luke’s hands tingled against hers. But as she forced herself to forget about it, the tingling worsened, moving up her arms, crawling up her chin and to her mouth, down her throat and into her chest. Her chest felt heavy, the tingling nearly overwhelming, as if it were drowning her. Her breathing began to quicken and she felt something very hot against her sternum. The sensation was familiar, but she couldn’t pinpoint it.

She slowly opened her eyes and noticed Luke’s were still closed. He didn’t seem to notice her change in countenance. Lilliya was beginning to perspire and the room was spinning.

“Stop,” she said, but the word was barely audible. She tried to let go of Luke’s hands, to break the connection, but she couldn’t seem to remember how to move them. Searing heat pressed hard against her chest. She figured it was her crystal necklace again. She neglected to take it off like Luke had requested, and instead hid it beneath her clothing. A heavy weight seemed to press against her lungs and it felt like only a matter of seconds before she would pass out.

“Stop it,” she mumbled again. Her eyes rolled back and she began to fall backwards.

This snapped Luke out of the meditation immediately. He felt Lilliya’s weight pull on his arms as she fell backward to the stone floor. He let go of her hands and quickly moved to her side, placing his hands on either side of her face. Her eyes were flickering and rolled back. She wasn’t having a seizure, she was definitely not coherent.

“Lilliya, can you hear me?” Luke gently patted her cheek, trying to bring her to. He couldn’t believe this happened again. The last time he tried to penetrate her mind was at the YVA celebration on Coruscant, but he thought that was because she was unaware of the intrusion. This time he warned her of what he was going to do and still she reacted badly. A mind connection through the Force wasn’t supposed to be harmful. Never was before.

“Lilliya!”

Her eyes blinked twice, then closed tightly as she rolled to her side.

“I don’t feel so good,” she mumbled, clutching her stomach.

Luke stared at her in concern. “What doesn’t feel good?”

“My stomach…and chest…head.”

“Everything?”

“Mm-hm.”

Luke sighed in frustration. “Well, I guess that won’t work either. I’m not sure I understand what went wrong.”

“Science experiment…” Lilliya muttered, smiling weakly as she leaned her forehead against the cool stone floor.

Luke smiled sadly. “I suppose you are.”

Lilliya’s breathing began to even out and the heat against her chest subsided completely. She blinked a few times and pulled herself up to a sitting position, Luke supporting her in case she fell again.

“Do you have a history for passing out a lot?” Luke asked wryly.

“Just around you,” Lilliya answered.

“Can you tell me exactly what happened?” Luke said, turning serious.

Lilliya thought for a minute, collecting her thoughts. “I thought I was doing good. I was focusing on everything involving my senses—wasn’t thinking about anything—just noticed how everything felt. Then your hands felt hot—tingly. It spread up my arms, throughout my body, and before I knew it, I couldn’t breathe anymore—felt really sick to my stomach—dizzy.”

Luke frowned. “I’ve never had anyone react that way before.”

“You’ve never seen anyone transport through time and space,” Lilliya mocked. “Unique…”

Luke didn’t respond this time. His blue gaze stared off into space as more and more questions filled his mind. Only one possible answer kept popping up into his thoughts: not human.

His dark blue eyes flicked back to hers, meeting her concerned gaze. His eyes burrowed into hers as he examined them. One eye blue, the other green. The green eye had a diamond scar that flashed colors according to her mood. Her hair changed from gold to silver according to the sun. She didn’t exist in the Force. She couldn’t feel the Force. She could defy physics by transporting. And she wasn’t human, according to her DNA. But she looked exactly like a human, as far as he could see. And that didn’t answer anything.

“Why are you staring at me like that? You’re making me uncomfortable,” Lilliya said, snapping him out of his reverie.

“I’m sorry,” Luke said. “I was just thinking.”

“About what?”

Luke took a deep breath and decided to change the subject. He needed more time to think on this. “Let’s try one more thing and then we’ll call it a day.”

“Are you serious? After I had already gotten sick?” Lilliya exclaimed.

“This one is less complicated and involves more combat. Something you already know.” Luke stood up and called to his hand a remote. He set it to “light stun,” activating it. The remote hovered in the center of the room as Luke pulled out a practice lightsaber.

“Let’s do some lightsaber exercises. Really simple ones,” he said. “I want to test your concentration and defensive skills.” He handed her the lightsaber.

She hesitated, staring at the weapon, then looking doubtfully at the hovering remote. She decided to keep her mouth shut and get the exercise over with. She knew it would be a quick failure anyhow.

Shaking her head, she ignited the lightsaber in resignation, the light blue blade snapping to life.

Luke watched her from across the room clumsily parry with the remote. He knew the exercise would be pointless and wouldn’t shed any light on the mysteries behind Lilliya, but it bought him some time to think. And as he watched, he noticed the lightsaber whined higher and louder than usual; the blue laser blazed brighter. Another curious, unique, and inexplicable reaction to Lilliya’s invisible existence.

1980s Film Reviews

1980s Review
As I entered the 80s era, I had come to realize that this was the age of the great science fiction and fantasy films. CGI was just coming into play and the special effects were evolving to blending puppet animatronics and computer simulations, giving life to aliens, fairies, and other out-of-this-world creatures. The writers and filmmakers hadn’t lost touch with the story outline of the films and were not yet distracted by their developing special effects capabilities. Even today, most science fiction films can’t seem to beat the 80s. Back then, they still had crazy imaginations.
1980
-Flash Gordon
Director, Mike Hodges
“Gordon’s alive!“ This is what I call a classic 80s sci-fi film. This movie was a remake of the science fiction cult classic serials of the 1930s. It’s score was mainly performed by Queen with the hit song “Flash, Ahh!” Great movie if you’re looking for cheesy comedy and a great sci-fi goofiness. This movie is not to be taken seriously. Grade C+.
-The Empire Strikes Back
Director, Irvin Kershner
Probably the best Star Wars film ever made, Empire excels in direction and story. This is the darker of the original three and has a more intriguing and anticipating plotline. If you’ve never seen a Star Wars film, this is the one to start with…seeing as the main “spoilers” have already been spoiled. Grade A.
1981
-Escape from New York
Director, John Carpenter; Starring Kurt Russell
John Carpenter returns to sci-fi with this film, which is a much better piece of work than his last sci-fi, Dark Star. It’s funny, exciting, and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you wonder anxiously how Kurt Russell will come out of the futuristic New York island alive. A classic Carpenter style with leather, machine guns, knives and crazy mohawks. This movie is a lot of fun and really reflects the 80s sci-fi era. Grade B.
-Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
Director, George Miller; Starring Mel Gibson
Again, another sequel that happens to be better than the first film. This must have been the trend during the 80s. Somehow the sequels end up being way better than their predecessors. In any case, this is a must see post-apocalyptic film about motorcyclists against cars…generally. The film’s style is almost similar to Conan The Barbarian, which is also a fantastic fantasy film. Mel Gibson plays a great rogue, every man for himself type of dude. Science fiction grade B+.
1982
-Blade Runner
Director, Ridley Scott; Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer
Ridley Scott comes back again to sci-fi after making the horrifically terrifying but popular film Alien. Though this movie has a huge following of fans, I felt a little less interested in the film. The film’s visual effects were less impressive, but relied mostly on artistic features. The storyline is very deep, almost too deep that I felt like I was drowning in confusion. I have seen this movie many times, and by the last time, I finally felt like I understood what was going on. In any case, the film itself moves very slowly with lots of mysterious new information constantly being thrown at you. I give this film a C+.
-E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
Director, Steven Spielberg
Spielberg and Lucas were neck and neck during the 80s when it came to science fiction. Spielberg’s next sci-fi movie, after Close Encounters, would be a rival to the Star Wars franchise. It even featured some cameos from Empire to make Star Wars fans go crazy. E. T. is a fantastic film, well directed, top-notch acting—even from the little alien puppet—the music score emotionally riveting—compliments to John Williams—and the story so touching it’ll make you wanna watch it over and over. Grade A.
-Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn
Director, Nicholas Meyer
Nicholas Meyer brings the Star Trek franchise up to speed with its competitors. This movie should have been the first Star Trek, in fact, The Motion Picture is so lame, there’s no point really to see it—unless you’re a diehard fan, or want something to compare it to. Kahn is phenomenal, entertaining and was known for a long time to be the best Star Trek movie ever made. The acting is superb, the storyline exciting and with all the right adventurous touches, and the directing is smartly done. If you’ve never seen a Star Trek movie, there are only three that I would suggest to see. This movie, First Contact and Star Trek 2009. “Kahn!” Grade A-.
-Tron
Director, Steven Lisberger; Starring Jeff Bridges
This is an interesting movie following the cheesy 80s sci-fi style. If you’re into video games and other science fiction films, then I suggest seeing where it all began. This movie utilizes computer animation for most of the film and was a test, so to speak, to see how far they could go blending the blue screen with the actor. The special effects are rough and are sometimes hard on the eyes. The storyline is decent, the acting a little silly, but so are a lot of science fictions films of the 80s. It’s what makes them loveable. However, this particular film I would like to see remade someday, minding that we get a good writer to work on it. Grade C.
1983
-Return of the Jedi
Director, Richard Marquand
Aw, it’s the little Ewok movie. The last installment to the original three Star Wars films ended with cute little talking teddy bears. Well, not just teddy bears… This film was a decent end to the trilogy and was exciting from start to finish. There were great action sequences, the special effects were so advanced you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference from today to then, and the storyline was a perfect conclusion to the popular franchise. Except for the bears… Nonetheless, the actors pulled off their performances just right in response to the cute, fuzzy little creatures, and the audience could walk away contently. Grade A-.
1984
-2010
Director, Peter Hyams; Starring Roy Scheider
This is the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey and could have been a really interesting story except that it didn’t make too much sense in the end. Also, if you watch both movies side by side, you can tell there’s a huge time difference. Where this film is supposed to be nine years in the future, it feels like its twenty years behind. The storyline is slow moving and doesn’t catch your interest too often. Though it’s interesting to note that 2010 is just a few months away, it might be humorous to watch it now and see that we’re nowhere near mining moon. Grade C-.
-Dune
Director, David Lynen; Co-starring Patrick Stewart
Ugh…great book, great story, and not so shabby acting or directing, but please spare me the crazy blue-eyed special effects and other bad CGI attempts. The special effects were so bad and the movie so long that it made it hard to survive through it. I suggest skipping over this one and watching the remake instead. Grade D.
-The Ice Pirates
Director, Stewart Raffill
If there’s one thing I could say about his movie, it would be HILARIOUS!!! I was laughing the whole way. Again, the film isn’t to be taken seriously, and its comedy is almost right up the Mel Brooks alley. If you love sci-fi and comedy, this is a must see. It’s action-packed, but in a ridiculously funny way. Grade B.
-The Last Starfighter
Director, Nick Castle; Co-starring Robert Preston
I watched this movie with a vodka and sprite, but I still ended up loving this adorable film about heroic dreams and space adventures. The concept is really quite interesting and unique. The special effects were a little under par, but because the story was so cute and such a classic 80s, that is was easy to ignore how unrealistic some of the aliens and ships were. I definitely suggest to see this film. It’ll warm your heart and bring hope to your dreams. Grade B.
-Star Trek: The Search for Spock
Director, Leonard Nimoy
This is the third installment to the Star Trek film series. It had an interesting idea, but came off a little less engaging. This is where the movies start to only filter towards the Trekkie, meaning that anyone else would probably be less into it. The special effects are, of course, very upscale, the storyline entertaining but not quite believable, and the actors have acted these roles for so long, they have become the characters. Generally, this movie was a little slow, action-wise, and Star Trek relies on action. So, even though I’m a huge Star Trek fan, I give it an overall sci-fi grade of C.
-Starman
Director, John Carpenter; Starring Jeff Bridges
John Carpenter gravitates away from the biker/rocker, post-apocalyptic and actually does a romantic sci-fi flick. Bridges plays a believable alien from outer space trying to fit in as a human being. The story is a cute adventure and is well directed. It doesn’t reek of sci-fi, per se, and has more of the sense a drama/adventure rather than space action or post-apocalyptic. So if you’re in the mood for a romantic sci-fi, which I have to say there aren’t many, see this one. Grade B.
-The Terminator
Director, James Cameron
Fantastic story. Though the acting can get a little cheesy, it sort of works with the style. It’s almost like a the sci-fi version of Freddy Kruger or Jason in the campy slasher films. The special effects is a little mediocre, but it doesn’t make it a bad movie either. This film is more horror based compared to its action-packed sequel. Still, a great entertainment and you get to see the Governor of California say his famous line for the first time: “I’ll be back.” Grade B.
1985
-Cocoon
Director, Ron Howard
Another cute sci-fi. I’m not sure what it is about the trends of the 80s, but a lot of their movies were really into the sweet and adorable aliens. Despite the title and its original poster, the movie is a drama about old-timers feeling young again. The direction is good, thanks to Ron Howard, and the performances done by the actors is believable. This movie will warm your heart and bring a smile to your face. Grade B.
-Explorers
Director, Joe Dante
This is mainly a kids movie in space. It’s cute and if you have a kid or baby-sit, bring this movie along. It’s fun and family oriented. The special effects are more cartoonish and alien makeup is mainly puppetry, but it’s not so bad if you’re into that kind of film. Grade B-.
-Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Director, George Miller, George Ogilvie; Starring Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson is back in this third installment of the Mad Max series. This movie gets a little kooky with guest star Tina Turner. It’s not as good as its predecessors, but it still gets the entertaining job done and stays true to the motorcycle, gas fighting gangs. Grade C.
1986
-Aliens
Director, James Cameron; Starring Sigourney Weaver
After the success of Terminator, Cameron was asked to direct the sequel to Alien. This movie is topnotch science fiction and action, with a touch of terrifying suspense. The special effects are at its peak in this film and the aliens look just as real as the humans. But don’t get too close, or you’ll end up with an alien in your chest. This movie excels in performance, direction, storyboard, and plotline. You can’t miss this film! Grade A.
-Critters
Director, Stephen Herve
Oh, boy. Well, the one thing I have to say about this film is…a total waste of time. I will admit, there are some cheesy 80s horror films that are entertaining. This one is not one of them. I couldn’t tell if it was a comedy or a horror. The director definitely needed to figure that one out. The sad thing was, it wasn’t funny or scary. Just plain stupid. I still can’t believe it made sequels. Grade F.
-Flight of the Navigator
Director, Randal Kleiser; Co-starring Sarah Jessica Parker
Again, another cute science fiction film with mediocre plot, special effects, and direction. It’s a renter if you’re a babysitter. Grade B-.
-The Fly
Director, David Cronenberg; Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis
A great remake of the original and a lot more disgusting. It’s definitely a good horror flick and will make you hate flies forever…and probably sugar too. The special effects are not too bad for the 80s. There’s a lot of makeup, masks, and puppetry involved in this one, but you really get into the plot that it’s all believable. I suggest seeing this movie just for educational purposes. It’s definitely a different perspective on Star Trek’s transporters. And don’t eat donuts while watching this. Ugh. Grade A-.
-Short Circuit
Director, John Badham
Ah, yet again…another CUTE sci-fi. A little slow moving, but it’s fun to watch if you’re in the teddy bear, cuddly mood. I get the feeling E. T. really inspired all these cutie-patootie films. Only E. T. was actually really good. Grade B-.
-Star Trek: The Voyage Home
Director, Leonard Nimoy
This film is hilarious. Nimoy didn’t put in too much special effects, and I will say, there were some scenes that weren’t too realistic looking. Nonetheless, it was still fun to watch. Not very action-packed like all the others, and relies more on comedy. Shatner and Nimoy are a riot. I suggest seeing this movie just to see how funny they all are. However, the real crisis in the plot is disappointing. It doesn’t make sense and it’s not critical enough to make us worry for the characters. The story is more like a fun, comedic ride to the past. Grade B.
1987
-Cherry 2000
Director, Steve De Jarnatt; Starring Melanie Griffith
I had high hopes when I read the synopsis of this film. A mix between Mad Max and other post-apocalyptic films, this one fails as anything but lame and boring. The story has no depth and moves too quickly for you to get into the characters. The characters are stagnant and pathetic, not to mention unbelievable in their acting. I yawned the whole way… Grade D-.
-Predator
Director, John McTiernan; Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
This movie had potential in being just as good as Alien, and even though I know there is a very loyal fan following to this film, I think it really fell short in delivering something great. Arnold does a decent job in his role and the story is really something unique. However, I couldn’t get over how awful the music was. It really helped distract me from the film itself. I would have probably enjoyed it a lot more without any music at all. It’s mainly all action and lacks any depth of a story. Grade C+.
-Robocop
Director, Paul Verhoeven
This film is great to watch, especially if you have a vengeful side. The good guy definitely gets his chance to beat up the bad guy and it leaves you feeling satisfied. Though, I did feel the film ended too suddenly, all in all it was a fun little piece of action. Grade B.
-The Running Man
Director, Paul Michael Glazer; Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold strikes again in this really interesting sci-fi. The story is actually really different and intriguing. It keeps you into it all the way through. It is your typical sci-fi, though, without mixing any other genre. It’s fun, exciting, adventurous and entertaining. Grade B.
-Spaceballs
Director, Mel Brooks
A classic space spoof. Mel Brooks delivers a great little raunchy comedy starring Star Wars, Aliens, even a little cameo of Planet of the Apes, and all sort of other famous sci-fi flicks. You can’t go on with life without experiencing SPACEBALLS. Grade B-.
1988
-Alien Nation
Director, Graham Baker; Starring James Caan
An interesting and unique movie about aliens from another planet trying to make a living on Earth. The style is more like a cop suspense/mystery rather than a science fiction film. Still, it wasn’t boring to watch, though, again, I felt like the ending came up too short. It did produce a TV show later. Grade B.
-Short Circuit 2
Director, Kenneth Johnson
Much better than the first film and a lot more fast paced and interesting. Still, it remains a cute film about an adorable robot trying to make it in the real world. This one grabs your attention a lot more and really touches your heart. Grade B.
-They Live!
Director, John Carpenter
Oh man. This one is ridiculous. Carpenter keeps pooping out bad to awesome films, but there never seems to be an in-between. This one doesn’t entirely make any sense and the fist fight scene NEVER ENDS! And when I say never ends, I mean it! There’s maybe a whole half hour of the same two guys fighting each other into a bloody pulp. Any normal human being would have been dead by then, but NO…these guys can keep going even when they’re not breathing. It’s very comical and the movie shouldn’t be taken seriously for sure. Grade D.
1989
-Earth Girls Are Easy
Director, Julien Temple; Starring Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum
Kind of a knock off of The Rocky Picture Horror Show, only this one didn’t create a cult fan club. Really weird and the singing isn’t so great. In fact, it’s outright, flat out, incredibly crazy. Not sure where they were trying to take this one. Especially with all the famous actors running amok. Grade F.
-The Abyss
Director, James Cameron
Cameron returns to the science fiction world and inspires a whole new trend of underwater aliens and monsters flicks. This movie is mainly a show-off of special effects, trying out new techniques and that sort of thing. You can see the CGI obsession starting here. The story is intriguing and moving, though incredibly long and doesn’t really go anywhere by the time it ends. Though, it’s not an entire failure. Grade B.
-Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Director, Stephen Herek; Starring Keanu Reeves
Very awesome, dudes! This movie‘s tubular! ‘Nuff said. Grade C+.
-Cyborg
Director, Albert Pyun; Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
Ugh, shoot me in the head because that’s how I felt when watching this film. Though, I will admit, Van Damme is easy on the eyes and was worth watching his muscles in action. However, the story itself died a long time ago and was pretty much a waste of time and effort for these poor actors. There could have been potential, but wait…oh no, there wasn’t. Grade F.
-Deepstar Six
Director, Sean S. Cunningham
It’s Alien but underwater! Go figure. The story is sort of a knock off of The Thing and generally is a waste of time. It doesn’t make any sense and the special effects is incredibly stupid and unrealistic. Grade F.
-Leviathan
Director, George Pan Cosmatos
I can’t believe this came out in the same year, but again, a horrible waste of film. The special effects is just bad and tasteless, the story isn’t worthwhile or even original, and the acting falls flat. There are some entertaining moments that keep the movie rolling, but all in all, I could have been happy to never see it. Grade D-.
-Slipstream
Director, Steven Lisberger; Starring Mark Hamill
AGAIN!! Another horribly made film. This story is at least a little more unique and has some potential, but the direction the movie took was long and boring and action-less. It needed a hell of lot more oomph to get this movie going, and even the famous Mark Hamill, playing a bad guy—can you believe it?!—couldn’t help bring this film up to par. Started out dead, ended dead. Grade D-.
-Star Trek: The Final Frontier
Director, William Shatner
Shatner gets to direct his first Star Trek film, unfortunately the story is really a drag. The idea of the story has promise, but the script didn’t bring it anywhere. The acting was a little lame as well, though they stayed true to their characters. You can tell by now the Star Trek film writers were running out of ideas. Grade C-.
Conclusion:
After watching as many 80s science fiction films, I had come to notice a pattern throughout each year. When one movie comes out and makes it big, other movies copy its story. For instance, E. T. with the loveable, good alien comes out and is a blockbuster hit. Then, other films like Explorers, Flight of the Navigator, and Short Circuit follow immediately with pretty much the same storyline idea. Same thing happened with The Abyss, an alien underwater storyline. Then followed a couple of other movies that were really stupid.
All in all, I have to pick the best science fiction film of the 80s and it’s gonna be hard, because there were a lot of good ones. Aliens, The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn, and E. T. were all the best sci-fi films of that year. But if I had to pick one out of those films, it would be Empire.
Though Aliens comes in pretty close behind, Empire has all the elements of sci-fi and really was able to pull it off exceptionally. It had the believable story, the special effects, the fantasy, and the acting and directing were much better than in the first film. The Empire Strikes Back wins the 1980s.

1980s Review

As I entered the 80s era, I had come to realize that this was the age of the great science fiction and fantasy films. CGI was just coming into play and the special effects were evolving to blending puppet animatronics and computer simulations, giving life to aliens, fairies, and other out-of-this-world creatures. The writers and filmmakers hadn’t lost touch with the story outline of the films and were not yet distracted by their developing special effects capabilities. Even today, most science fiction films can’t seem to beat the 80s. Back then, they still had crazy imaginations.

1980

-Flash Gordon

Director, Mike Hodges

“Gordon’s alive!“ This is what I call a classic 80s sci-fi film. This movie was a remake of the science fiction cult classic serials of the 1930s. It’s score was mainly performed by Queen with the hit song “Flash, Ahh!” Great movie if you’re looking for cheesy comedy and a great sci-fi goofiness. This movie is not to be taken seriously. Grade C+.

-The Empire Strikes Back

Director, Irvin Kershner

Probably the best Star Wars film ever made, Empire excels in direction and story. This is the darker of the original three and has a more intriguing and anticipating plotline. If you’ve never seen a Star Wars film, this is the one to start with…seeing as the main “spoilers” have already been spoiled. Grade A.

1981

-Escape from New York

Director, John Carpenter; Starring Kurt Russell

John Carpenter returns to sci-fi with this film, which is a much better piece of work than his last sci-fi, Dark Star. It’s funny, exciting, and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you wonder anxiously how Kurt Russell will come out of the futuristic New York island alive. A classic Carpenter style with leather, machine guns, knives and crazy mohawks. This movie is a lot of fun and really reflects the 80s sci-fi era. Grade B.

-Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

Director, George Miller; Starring Mel Gibson

Again, another sequel that happens to be better than the first film. This must have been the trend during the 80s. Somehow the sequels end up being way better than their predecessors. In any case, this is a must see post-apocalyptic film about motorcyclists against cars…generally. The film’s style is almost similar to Conan The Barbarian, which is also a fantastic fantasy film. Mel Gibson plays a great rogue, every man for himself type of dude. Science fiction grade B+.

1982

-Blade Runner

Director, Ridley Scott; Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer

Ridley Scott comes back again to sci-fi after making the horrifically terrifying but popular film Alien. Though this movie has a huge following of fans, I felt a little less interested in the film. The film’s visual effects were less impressive, but relied mostly on artistic features. The storyline is very deep, almost too deep that I felt like I was drowning in confusion. I have seen this movie many times, and by the last time, I finally felt like I understood what was going on. In any case, the film itself moves very slowly with lots of mysterious new information constantly being thrown at you. I give this film a C+.

-E.T. the Extra Terrestrial

Director, Steven Spielberg

Spielberg and Lucas were neck and neck during the 80s when it came to science fiction. Spielberg’s next sci-fi movie, after Close Encounters, would be a rival to the Star Wars franchise. It even featured some cameos from Empire to make Star Wars fans go crazy. E. T. is a fantastic film, well directed, top-notch acting—even from the little alien puppet—the music score emotionally riveting—compliments to John Williams—and the story so touching it’ll make you wanna watch it over and over. Grade A.

-Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn

Director, Nicholas Meyer

Nicholas Meyer brings the Star Trek franchise up to speed with its competitors. This movie should have been the first Star Trek, in fact, The Motion Picture is so lame, there’s no point really to see it—unless you’re a diehard fan, or want something to compare it to. Kahn is phenomenal, entertaining and was known for a long time to be the best Star Trek movie ever made. The acting is superb, the storyline exciting and with all the right adventurous touches, and the directing is smartly done. If you’ve never seen a Star Trek movie, there are only three that I would suggest to see. This movie, First Contact and Star Trek 2009. “Kahn!” Grade A-.

-Tron

Director, Steven Lisberger; Starring Jeff Bridges

This is an interesting movie following the cheesy 80s sci-fi style. If you’re into video games and other science fiction films, then I suggest seeing where it all began. This movie utilizes computer animation for most of the film and was a test, so to speak, to see how far they could go blending the blue screen with the actor. The special effects are rough and are sometimes hard on the eyes. The storyline is decent, the acting a little silly, but so are a lot of science fictions films of the 80s. It’s what makes them loveable. However, this particular film I would like to see remade someday, minding that we get a good writer to work on it. Grade C.

1983

-Return of the Jedi

Director, Richard Marquand

Aw, it’s the little Ewok movie. The last installment to the original three Star Wars films ended with cute little talking teddy bears. Well, not just teddy bears… This film was a decent end to the trilogy and was exciting from start to finish. There were great action sequences, the special effects were so advanced you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference from today to then, and the storyline was a perfect conclusion to the popular franchise. Except for the bears… Nonetheless, the actors pulled off their performances just right in response to the cute, fuzzy little creatures, and the audience could walk away contently. Grade A-.

1984

-2010

Director, Peter Hyams; Starring Roy Scheider

This is the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey and could have been a really interesting story except that it didn’t make too much sense in the end. Also, if you watch both movies side by side, you can tell there’s a huge time difference. Where this film is supposed to be nine years in the future, it feels like its twenty years behind. The storyline is slow moving and doesn’t catch your interest too often. Though it’s interesting to note that 2010 is just a few months away, it might be humorous to watch it now and see that we’re nowhere near mining moon. Grade C-.

-Dune

Director, David Lynen; Co-starring Patrick Stewart

Ugh…great book, great story, and not so shabby acting or directing, but please spare me the crazy blue-eyed special effects and other bad CGI attempts. The special effects were so bad and the movie so long that it made it hard to survive through it. I suggest skipping over this one and watching the remake instead. Grade D.

-The Ice Pirates

Director, Stewart Raffill

If there’s one thing I could say about his movie, it would be HILARIOUS!!! I was laughing the whole way. Again, the film isn’t to be taken seriously, and its comedy is almost right up the Mel Brooks alley. If you love sci-fi and comedy, this is a must see. It’s action-packed, but in a ridiculously funny way. Grade B.

-The Last Starfighter

Director, Nick Castle; Co-starring Robert Preston

I watched this movie with a vodka and sprite, but I still ended up loving this adorable film about heroic dreams and space adventures. The concept is really quite interesting and unique. The special effects were a little under par, but because the story was so cute and such a classic 80s, that is was easy to ignore how unrealistic some of the aliens and ships were. I definitely suggest to see this film. It’ll warm your heart and bring hope to your dreams. Grade B.

-Star Trek: The Search for Spock

Director, Leonard Nimoy

This is the third installment to the Star Trek film series. It had an interesting idea, but came off a little less engaging. This is where the movies start to only filter towards the Trekkie, meaning that anyone else would probably be less into it. The special effects are, of course, very upscale, the storyline entertaining but not quite believable, and the actors have acted these roles for so long, they have become the characters. Generally, this movie was a little slow, action-wise, and Star Trek relies on action. So, even though I’m a huge Star Trek fan, I give it an overall sci-fi grade of C.

-Starman

Director, John Carpenter; Starring Jeff Bridges

John Carpenter gravitates away from the biker/rocker, post-apocalyptic and actually does a romantic sci-fi flick. Bridges plays a believable alien from outer space trying to fit in as a human being. The story is a cute adventure and is well directed. It doesn’t reek of sci-fi, per se, and has more of the sense a drama/adventure rather than space action or post-apocalyptic. So if you’re in the mood for a romantic sci-fi, which I have to say there aren’t many, see this one. Grade B.

-The Terminator

Director, James Cameron

Fantastic story. Though the acting can get a little cheesy, it sort of works with the style. It’s almost like a the sci-fi version of Freddy Kruger or Jason in the campy slasher films. The special effects is a little mediocre, but it doesn’t make it a bad movie either. This film is more horror based compared to its action-packed sequel. Still, a great entertainment and you get to see the Governor of California say his famous line for the first time: “I’ll be back.” Grade B.

1985

-Cocoon

Director, Ron Howard

Another cute sci-fi. I’m not sure what it is about the trends of the 80s, but a lot of their movies were really into the sweet and adorable aliens. Despite the title and its original poster, the movie is a drama about old-timers feeling young again. The direction is good, thanks to Ron Howard, and the performances done by the actors is believable. This movie will warm your heart and bring a smile to your face. Grade B.

-Explorers

Director, Joe Dante

This is mainly a kids movie in space. It’s cute and if you have a kid or baby-sit, bring this movie along. It’s fun and family oriented. The special effects are more cartoonish and alien makeup is mainly puppetry, but it’s not so bad if you’re into that kind of film. Grade B-.

-Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Director, George Miller, George Ogilvie; Starring Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson is back in this third installment of the Mad Max series. This movie gets a little kooky with guest star Tina Turner. It’s not as good as its predecessors, but it still gets the entertaining job done and stays true to the motorcycle, gas fighting gangs. Grade C.

1986

-Aliens

Director, James Cameron; Starring Sigourney Weaver

After the success of Terminator, Cameron was asked to direct the sequel to Alien. This movie is topnotch science fiction and action, with a touch of terrifying suspense. The special effects are at its peak in this film and the aliens look just as real as the humans. But don’t get too close, or you’ll end up with an alien in your chest. This movie excels in performance, direction, storyboard, and plotline. You can’t miss this film! Grade A.

-Critters

Director, Stephen Herve

Oh, boy. Well, the one thing I have to say about this film is…a total waste of time. I will admit, there are some cheesy 80s horror films that are entertaining. This one is not one of them. I couldn’t tell if it was a comedy or a horror. The director definitely needed to figure that one out. The sad thing was, it wasn’t funny or scary. Just plain stupid. I still can’t believe it made sequels. Grade F.

-Flight of the Navigator

Director, Randal Kleiser; Co-starring Sarah Jessica Parker

Again, another cute science fiction film with mediocre plot, special effects, and direction. It’s a renter if you’re a babysitter. Grade B-.

-The Fly

Director, David Cronenberg; Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis

A great remake of the original and a lot more disgusting. It’s definitely a good horror flick and will make you hate flies forever…and probably sugar too. The special effects are not too bad for the 80s. There’s a lot of makeup, masks, and puppetry involved in this one, but you really get into the plot that it’s all believable. I suggest seeing this movie just for educational purposes. It’s definitely a different perspective on Star Trek’s transporters. And don’t eat donuts while watching this. Ugh. Grade A-.

-Short Circuit

Director, John Badham

Ah, yet again…another CUTE sci-fi. A little slow moving, but it’s fun to watch if you’re in the teddy bear, cuddly mood. I get the feeling E. T. really inspired all these cutie-patootie films. Only E. T. was actually really good. Grade B-.

-Star Trek: The Voyage Home

Director, Leonard Nimoy

This film is hilarious. Nimoy didn’t put in too much special effects, and I will say, there were some scenes that weren’t too realistic looking. Nonetheless, it was still fun to watch. Not very action-packed like all the others, and relies more on comedy. Shatner and Nimoy are a riot. I suggest seeing this movie just to see how funny they all are. However, the real crisis in the plot is disappointing. It doesn’t make sense and it’s not critical enough to make us worry for the characters. The story is more like a fun, comedic ride to the past. Grade B.

1987

-Cherry 2000

Director, Steve De Jarnatt; Starring Melanie Griffith

I had high hopes when I read the synopsis of this film. A mix between Mad Max and other post-apocalyptic films, this one fails as anything but lame and boring. The story has no depth and moves too quickly for you to get into the characters. The characters are stagnant and pathetic, not to mention unbelievable in their acting. I yawned the whole way… Grade D-.

-Predator

Director, John McTiernan; Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger

This movie had potential in being just as good as Alien, and even though I know there is a very loyal fan following to this film, I think it really fell short in delivering something great. Arnold does a decent job in his role and the story is really something unique. However, I couldn’t get over how awful the music was. It really helped distract me from the film itself. I would have probably enjoyed it a lot more without any music at all. It’s mainly all action and lacks any depth of a story. Grade C+.

-Robocop

Director, Paul Verhoeven

This film is great to watch, especially if you have a vengeful side. The good guy definitely gets his chance to beat up the bad guy and it leaves you feeling satisfied. Though, I did feel the film ended too suddenly, all in all it was a fun little piece of action. Grade B.

-The Running Man

Director, Paul Michael Glazer; Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold strikes again in this really interesting sci-fi. The story is actually really different and intriguing. It keeps you into it all the way through. It is your typical sci-fi, though, without mixing any other genre. It’s fun, exciting, adventurous and entertaining. Grade B.

-Spaceballs

Director, Mel Brooks

A classic space spoof. Mel Brooks delivers a great little raunchy comedy starring Star Wars, Aliens, even a little cameo of Planet of the Apes, and all sort of other famous sci-fi flicks. You can’t go on with life without experiencing SPACEBALLS. Grade B-.

1988

-Alien Nation

Director, Graham Baker; Starring James Caan

An interesting and unique movie about aliens from another planet trying to make a living on Earth. The style is more like a cop suspense/mystery rather than a science fiction film. Still, it wasn’t boring to watch, though, again, I felt like the ending came up too short. It did produce a TV show later. Grade B.

-Short Circuit 2

Director, Kenneth Johnson

Much better than the first film and a lot more fast paced and interesting. Still, it remains a cute film about an adorable robot trying to make it in the real world. This one grabs your attention a lot more and really touches your heart. Grade B.

-They Live!

Director, John Carpenter

Oh man. This one is ridiculous. Carpenter keeps pooping out bad to awesome films, but there never seems to be an in-between. This one doesn’t entirely make any sense and the fist fight scene NEVER ENDS! And when I say never ends, I mean it! There’s maybe a whole half hour of the same two guys fighting each other into a bloody pulp. Any normal human being would have been dead by then, but NO…these guys can keep going even when they’re not breathing. It’s very comical and the movie shouldn’t be taken seriously for sure. Grade D.

1989

-Earth Girls Are Easy

Director, Julien Temple; Starring Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum

Kind of a knock off of The Rocky Picture Horror Show, only this one didn’t create a cult fan club. Really weird and the singing isn’t so great. In fact, it’s outright, flat out, incredibly crazy. Not sure where they were trying to take this one. Especially with all the famous actors running amok. Grade F.

-The Abyss

Director, James Cameron

Cameron returns to the science fiction world and inspires a whole new trend of underwater aliens and monsters flicks. This movie is mainly a show-off of special effects, trying out new techniques and that sort of thing. You can see the CGI obsession starting here. The story is intriguing and moving, though incredibly long and doesn’t really go anywhere by the time it ends. Though, it’s not an entire failure. Grade B.

-Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Director, Stephen Herek; Starring Keanu Reeves

Very awesome, dudes! This movie‘s tubular! ‘Nuff said. Grade C+.

-Cyborg

Director, Albert Pyun; Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme

Ugh, shoot me in the head because that’s how I felt when watching this film. Though, I will admit, Van Damme is easy on the eyes and was worth watching his muscles in action. However, the story itself died a long time ago and was pretty much a waste of time and effort for these poor actors. There could have been potential, but wait…oh no, there wasn’t. Grade F.

-Deepstar Six

Director, Sean S. Cunningham

It’s Alien but underwater! Go figure. The story is sort of a knock off of The Thing and generally is a waste of time. It doesn’t make any sense and the special effects is incredibly stupid and unrealistic. Grade F.

-Leviathan

Director, George Pan Cosmatos

I can’t believe this came out in the same year, but again, a horrible waste of film. The special effects is just bad and tasteless, the story isn’t worthwhile or even original, and the acting falls flat. There are some entertaining moments that keep the movie rolling, but all in all, I could have been happy to never see it. Grade D-.

-Slipstream

Director, Steven Lisberger; Starring Mark Hamill

AGAIN!! Another horribly made film. This story is at least a little more unique and has some potential, but the direction the movie took was long and boring and action-less. It needed a hell of lot more oomph to get this movie going, and even the famous Mark Hamill, playing a bad guy—can you believe it?!—couldn’t help bring this film up to par. Started out dead, ended dead. Grade D-.

-Star Trek: The Final Frontier

Director, William Shatner

Shatner gets to direct his first Star Trek film, unfortunately the story is really a drag. The idea of the story has promise, but the script didn’t bring it anywhere. The acting was a little lame as well, though they stayed true to their characters. You can tell by now the Star Trek film writers were running out of ideas. Grade C-.

Conclusion:

After watching as many 80s science fiction films, I had come to notice a pattern throughout each year. When one movie comes out and makes it big, other movies copy its story. For instance, E. T. with the loveable, good alien comes out and is a blockbuster hit. Then, other films like Explorers, Flight of the Navigator, and Short Circuit follow immediately with pretty much the same storyline idea. Same thing happened with The Abyss, an alien underwater storyline. Then followed a couple of other movies that were really stupid.

All in all, I have to pick the best science fiction film of the 80s and it’s gonna be hard, because there were a lot of good ones. Aliens, The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn, and E. T. were all the best sci-fi films of that year. But if I had to pick one out of those films, it would be Empire.

Though Aliens comes in pretty close behind, Empire has all the elements of sci-fi and really was able to pull it off exceptionally. It had the believable story, the special effects, the fantasy, and the acting and directing were much better than in the first film. The Empire Strikes Back wins the 1980s.

The Revolution: Chapter 8

Days had gone by with no news from Jaina’s team. This was to be expected, of course. Jaina had been informed to not use any forms of communication until they knew it was safe. She and her team had all been fitted with sensor chips that could detect their vital signs and also warn if they had been captured, or killed. So there was no need to call if in distress because Coruscant Security would have been notified through their computers.

The days had also gone by slowly for Lilliya, as she waited anxiously on Ossus for any information from the TwinSuns Squad. She spent most of her days roaming the Academy grounds, exploring the jungles, the rocky cliffs, swimming the cold rivers, and the labyrinth inside the Jedi Temple. She had discovered that the oasis the Jedi Academy resided in was actually planted and built by the students studying there. The alien plant life made Ossus much more hospitable compared to its normally dry and desert-like atmosphere.

The days after her arrival were much more calm and peaceful, the family visitors having left the planet.

And when there seemed there was nothing else to explore, she took up Luke’s offer and followed the students on their training schedule. Mostly, she stood by and watched as they practiced levitation exercises, lightsaber sparing, and mind puzzle solving exercises. Sometimes, she would try an exercise or two, but would fail miserably, always embarrassing herself in front of the others. She did better at the aerobic exercises they did throughout the day. But even those turned out to be too difficult for her at times. She didn’t have the stamina like a Jedi.

And when the students meditated for hours, Lilliya escaped into the Temple’s library, a dark and serene hall where she could really find some peace and quiet. She could sit in one of the deep couches and explore the documents and files for hours.

This was one of those days.

“Hello,” someone said from behind her.

Lilliya jumped in her seat, surprised by the soft voice disturbing the otherwise perfectly silent hall. She turned halfway to see who it was.

A young man, skinny and pale with green eyes, stood behind her, smiling. He was bald without a hint of hair left on his scalp, but it seemed to suit him perfectly.

“How is it going?” He gestured to the data pad on her lap.

“Oh,” Lilliya said, surprised anyone even noticed her at all. “It’s just a little reading.”

“Ah,” he nodded. “I am Forra.”

Lilliya slid up from the couch and greeted the young man.

“I’m Lilliya.”

“Pardon my intrusion,” Forra bowed his head. “I noticed you in here many times. I assume you are the mysterious new guest we have on Ossus.”

“Mysterious?” Lilliya murmured. “I didn’t realize I was a mystery.”

“Oh, yes,” Forra chuckled lightly. “You could say that. Well, I just wanted to introduce myself. I spend most of my days in the library too. But I will leave you be.”

“Wait,” Lilliya said, holding out her hand as if to stop him. “Actually, I wouldn’t mind the company. You’re sort of the first person I’ve been able to talk to. That is, besides Luke Skywalker. But he’s so busy with his students, I haven’t had a real conversation with anyone in a while.” Which was true. She could talk to Ben, whom she saw occasionally training with the other students, but he stayed clear of her. She had to keep reminding herself that Ben didn’t particularly care for her.

Forra raised his eyebrows in surprise and a big smile spread across his lips.

“You are not what they say you are,” he said. “Sure, I will join you.”

Lilliya cocked an eyebrow. “What is it that they say about me?”

Forra shook his head, wishing he hadn’t said anything. “I am sorry. They were just rumors—”

“Rumors? About me?” Lilliya was shocked. “I thought I pretty much stayed out of everyone’s way. I’ve been more like a ghost than anything else.”

“A ghost, yes,” Forra chuckled again. “Interesting choice of words. Well it does not matter what they say.”

Lilliya pondered that for a moment, and decided to drop it. She didn’t really need to know what the rumors were.

“So what do you do here?” she asked instead.

“Me? Oh, I just hang around here a lot,” he said. His demeanor was almost nervous or shy.

“So do I, but I’m supposed to be training with the others. Are you a keeper?”

“Of the library? Oh, no. But I suppose you could say that I am, sort of. I am a Jedi student, but…I am not very strong in the Force. I cannot keep up with the others very well,” Forra said, a somber look flashing across his face. “So I devote most of my time learning the histories of the JedI and the Sith. Most of the older documents are in an ancient language, so I took it upon myself to decipher most of it. I can read almost nine thousand languages.”

Lilliya’s mouth dropped. “Wow, that’s quite a brain you got. I can barely remember six.”

“Six thousand?”

Lilliya barked a laugh. “No, no. Just six. I don’t think my brain capacity could handle even a hundred.”

Forra smiled. “You would be surprised with yourself, but then again, I am not human either. I am a Seviths.”

Lilliya cocked her head to one side. “I am unfamiliar with that species. Where are you from?”

“We have no home planet. We sort of are nomadic,” he explained. “We make it a life’s goal to know most, if not all, the languages of the galaxy. Maybe that is where my Force talent lies. Inside my translation.”

“Maybe so,” Lilliya murmured. “I don’t fit in here very well myself. I am a military pilot. My base was on Endor, until…”

“Yes, I heard,” Forra said, and there was only sympathy in his voice. “Most of us found out why you were here. As soon as you arrived, you became the focus of our attention.”

“Why is that?”

“Well, because…” Forra hesitated. “There are some who feel threatened by you.”

“Threatened?” Lilliya exclaimed. “But I’ve done nothing—”

“It is not what you have done,” Forra said, his voice soft and calming. “No matter. I do not sense what they feel. It may be because I am not strong in the Force, but still. I do not feel threatened by you.”

“Well that’s good,” Lilliya grumbled. “Although, it explains all the strange looks I’ve been getting and why no one comes near me.” She shook her head in frustration. “It doesn’t make sense! I haven’t done anything that could be considered a threat.”

“It is a mystery. It is why you are the center of our attention,” Forra said.

“I don’t know why I’m even here. I only do some of the Jedi exercises to keep my mind off—the waiting.” Lilliya corrected herself. She was going to say, “mind off Endor,” but decided not to bring up that personal subject.

“What are you waiting for?” Forra asked, cocking his head to the side and gazing at her with his innocent green eyes.

Lilliya was a little taken aback by how the question was phrased. And she realized something she hadn’t even considered. She was waiting. But for what? For something better than where she was, or what she was? Maybe for her to be able to tap into the Force, which Luke was so convinced she had. She didn’t know. And for the first time since she’d arrived on Ossus, she felt like she needed to really do something about it.

“That,” she said, a wry smile curling up one side of her mouth, “is a very good question.”

Forra cocked his head to the side again, almost like a curious bird.

“Look at me,” Lilliya chuckled. “I’m spilling my guts out to you like I’ve known you forever.”

Forra smiled.

“Well,” she continued. “I suppose I should make something of my life. I’ve got nothing else to wait around for, that’s for sure. I guess I’ll go meet up with the group and try a little harder.”

Forra laughed quietly.

“What?” Lilliya asked.

“There is no try,” he said, laughing softly. “It is just a little something Master Skywalker likes to say a lot.”

“Interesting,” she said, smiling slightly. “I’ll see you around. Don’t get stuck in here too long. Oh! And one more thing.”

“Yes?”

“Could you do me a favor. I nearly forgot, but once you told me you spoke nine thousand languages—”

Read. I read nine thousand.”

“Oh, yes,” Lilliya corrected. “Well, I found something that belonged to my father.” She unhooked the metal tag from her necklace that she had attached nearly a week ago. She handed it to Forra. “It has an inscription embedded in it. But I don’t know what it says. I would have asked my best friend, Jenar, to translate it, but…” She allowed her voice to trail off.

Forra peered at it curiously, flipping it around in the soft orange lighting. “I don’t recognize it offhand, but if you give me a few days…”

“You don’t have to if you don’t want,” Lilliya said. “It was just something that had me interested.”

“I would be happy to,” Forra said, beaming. “I have been studying so much of the historical documents, it would be nice to solve a little mystery like this.”

“Well, I’m full of mystery…apparently,” she muttered. “Thank you, Forra. I really enjoyed talking with you. I’ll see you soon.”

Lilliya quickly left Forra in the library to hunt down the group of Jedi students being led by Master Skywalker. She ran down the stony path, kicking up dust behind her. She wasn’t exactly sure what she was running for or what even inspired her to suddenly act so excitedly. She only knew that she had to hurry.

She saw a group of people up ahead, nearby the jungle’s edge, and picked up her pace.

“What are you in such a hurry for?” A man’s voice made her stop short, a dusty cloud swirling around her feet.

Lilliya looked to her right to see Ben Skywalker leaning up against an irregular stone sculpture. Lilliya hesitated. He looked casual and relaxed, his expression seeming innocently curious. This was the first time he had spoken to her since they’d arrived, so she felt a little uneasy and suspicious.

“Uh,” she stumbled, “I was trying to catch up with the rest of the students.”

Ben glanced over at the group, then looked back at her, his blue eyes penetrating. “I thought you didn’t believe in any of that Jedi stuff,” he said.

Lilliya hesitated again, wondering about his motives. “I thought I’d give it another chance,” she said, smiling weakly. “It seems to work for them.” She gestured to the group of students, who were now standing on their hands. “What about you? Why aren’t you with them?”

He shrugged, then turned to look at them before answering. “I’m taking a break. It’s been a while since I used the Force. Gets a little overwhelming at times.”

“I didn’t realize you’d stopped,” she said, cocking her head to the side.

“Oh, yeah,” he grumbled. “I was a Jedi Knight. Then I decided a life of pain and suffering wasn’t a life I wanted to live.” His blue eyes twinkled in her direction. “I’m only here for the sake of my father. To please him somewhat in picking up my training.”

“Well that’s awfully nice of you,” Lilliya said. She wondered why he had decided to open up to her now after blatantly avoiding her for days. It was funny that after days of wishing he would talk to her, now she didn’t want anything to do with him. “I think I’d better get going.”

“Yes, of course,” he said, pushing himself off the sculpture and moving closer to her. “Sorry for keeping you. I’m sure you’ll be able to catch up with the lessons in no time.”

Lilliya was about to leave, then stopped herself, turning slowly to look Ben in the eye. “What is that supposed to mean?”

He feigned innocence, smiling ever-so slightly. “I’m sure a girl as talented as you can pick up the traits of a Jedi very quickly. You know, like levitation, lightsaber fencing, being able to sense an attacker’s next move, being able to sense someone’s presence in the Force… That sort of thing.”

Lilliya frowned, crossing her arms across her chest. “I never said I had the Force. But Luke Skywalker seems to believe that I do. I figured I’d try it out.”

“Yes, my father has a lot of faith in the strangest of peoples,” Ben murmured.

“What exactly is your problem?!” Lilliya burst out. “I don’t know what I’ve done to you, but this is ridiculous. You haven’t said a word to me in days and now you’re criticizing me for wanting to actually participate in these lessons. Is there something you’re not telling me? Something I need to know?”

Ben stared at her for what seemed like an eternity. Something flickered in his gaze, but she couldn’t quite place it. It was quickly shielded by his critical glare.

“You’d better get over there,” he muttered.

“Oh that’s fine!” Lilliya exclaimed, her diamond scar growing a dark red. “Sure, why not. Don’t answer me. I love these guessing games anyhow. Just let me know when you wanna have another conversation about how I don‘t belong here. About how, maybe, I don’t belong anywhere. You know where to find me.” She stormed off in the direction of the students. Some of them were surprised by her approach and fell from their hand-stands to their sides. Lilliya was so angry, she didn’t even notice all the stares.

“Lilliya?” Luke said, standing from his sitting position. “Is there something wrong?” As he spoke, the small group of students began to lower themselves from their hand-stand positions.

“No, not at all,” Lilliya said, her tone a tad bit higher than usual. She forced a smile. “I just thought I’d join in on the exercise.”

Luke looked confused. He could see the anger in her eyes and the strange diamond scar glowing a dark red. “Are you sure you can do it?”

Lilliya swallowed down her first response and opted for another one. “Of course. I’ve done hand-stands since I was six.”

She heard some of the students whisper to each other, but ignored whatever it was they were saying.

Luke looked warily from his students to her. “This exercise takes a lot of concentration, Lilliya,” he said slowly, trying not to offend her. He saw Ben in the distance and already understood Lilliya’s sudden anger. “It’s more than just doing hand-stands. This is a levitation exercise. You will be trying to lift the object in front of you…with your mind.”

Lilliya’s anger seemed to abruptly subside and was replaced by chariness. She glanced from one student to the other, each one looking at her in anticipation.

“Well…” she hesitated. “I could try.”

Luke nodded slowly. “Yes, I suppose you could,” he said. “Everyone, please return to your positions.” The students obeyed, though some continued to watch Lilliya. Luke moved to where Lilliya was, standing in front of her.

“Now, this may be very difficult for you,” he said quietly. “I wasn’t planning on having you start at this level. But if you feel you’d like to try it, I will help you.”

Lilliya nodded.

“You’ll have to stand on your hands for longer than what is considered normal,” he instructed. “Once you have mastered it and feel confident you can remain in the position comfortably, then place your concentration on an inanimate object nearby you, preferably a rock or something similar. In order to do this, you must let go of any thought that plagues you. Let your mind empty.”

Lilliya looked as though she was going to argue, but she didn’t. Instead, she nodded, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Once she felt calm, she rocked onto her hands and head, then pushed her legs up until they pointed straight and up. Then she slowly lifted her head off the ground with her arms, biting her lips all the way. Lilliya hadn’t done something like this in months, much less keeping herself in a hand-stand, so the effort strained her forearms.

Luke stood close, lightly placing his hands on her knees to help her steady herself until the twitching in her muscles began to subside.

“How are you doing?” he asked.

“Fine,” she said through gritted teeth. The other students were already beginning to levitate their inanimate objects. She doubted she would get that far.

“Look up and focus on something,” he said. Lilliya had her head tilted back and was staring at the ground. “Keep your eyes on something ahead of you. Don’t look at anything else.”

Lilliya did as she was told, and felt her body nearly topple backwards, but Luke kept her in place. He held onto her until she seemed in control. “You got it?” he asked.

“Mm-hmm,” she mumbled, realizing this was a lot harder than she imagined. Sweat began to trickle down her cheeks and into her eyes.

“Now…” Luke murmured, “let your mind go. Feel everything around you, the ground, the trees, the cool air flowing around you, holding you…”

Lilliya’s gaze went blank as she concentrated on Luke’s words. Her crystal necklace bumped against her face repeatedly as she held her balance.

“There is nothing but you and the life surrounding you, flowing through you, becoming apart of you.” His voice was like warm silk, hypnotic, seductive. He watched her intently, gauging her strength and focus. His hands hovered near her legs, ready for her to falter. She seemed to steady, and to Luke’s mild surprise, was able to keep her balance, even though the simple task of staying in a hand-stand was a difficult one to master for the average person.

Luke also let his mind wander through the Force, searching for Lilliya’s presence somewhere amidst his students. He pushed farther, focusing on the area where Lilliya existed physically. There was nothing but emptiness where she stood. He focused deeper and realized that not only did she not exist, but the immediate space was vacant of any life. Normally he would be able to feel the atoms of life resting around her, but he felt nothing. A small circumference of a void existed where she was, as though she repelled the Force’s touch. He searched for anything, a glimmer of a thought, a strain in the Force, and still he failed to feel her presence.

Lilliya felt her body heat rise as she struggled to keep her position. She knew her muscles weren’t twitching in rebellion anymore, but she could feel herself weakening. She focused on a nearby rock to keep from looking elsewhere and forced her heart rate to slow. But it didn’t. In fact, she could feel her heart quicken with every intake of breath. Her body seemed to be on fire now, every muscle aching to be let down. And there was something else.

She felt something pushing on her, weighing her down with every second. She tried to ignore it, but the pressure kept coming, harder, more unbearable. Dizziness seemed to be clouding her vision and she wondered if she could hold out much longer.

A hot pulsing began to spread from her gut to her chest and something searing hot pressed against the side of her forehead, but she dared not look away from the rock. However, she couldn’t help but notice a bright, glaring light distorting her vision. Something bright grew brighter to the point of nearly blinding her. She could no longer see the rock.

Lilliya stopped breathing as she realized she was going to lose it. Whatever was blinding her was burning her forehead and the invisible pressure she fought against was making her sick. She was vaguely aware of someone saying her name, but all she heard was a loud humming. Lilliya focused harder on the rock, squinting her eyes as she fought against the blinding light. Then, suddenly, the pressure seemed to be loosening up, and when it seemed it would disappear, she pushed.

“Stop!” Someone shouted in the distance. “Whatever you’re doing, stop!”

Lilliya blinked and lost it. The dizziness took her and she fell backwards, landing hard on her spine and head. She thought she heard someone vomiting in the distance, but was too dizzy to open her eyes.

“What happened?” she mumbled through a dry mouth. She felt a hand against her arm, shaking her awake. No one answered her, so she rubbed her eyes open and was glad to see the light was gone and the dizziness had subsided.

Luke was sitting beside her and it was his hand that gripped her arm.

“What’s wrong?” she asked again. But as she pushed herself up on her elbows, she didn’t need an answer. She saw it. All the students who had just recently been standing erect on their hands, were now crouched over on their knees, vomiting. When one of them was able to stop, they started exclaiming to Luke in shock.

Luke didn’t meet Lilliya’s confused stare. He watched his students doubling over in nausea. He also had a hand gripping his stomach as if he was going to be sick too.

Finally, after the students’ sickness decreased, Luke stood up and ordered a recess for everyone to recover.

Lilliya remained in her sitting position, watching the students drag themselves away, some of them glaring at her as they passed.

Luke stared down at Lilliya, a mixture of confusion and worry contorting his face.

Lilliya gulped nervously. She had no idea what had happened and she was afraid to find out.

“Can I ask you something?” Luke said, after many minutes of silence.

Lilliya nodded.

“Where did you get that necklace?”

Lilliya glanced down at the crystal that laid against her chest. It sparkled dully in the sunlight.

“I’ve had it since I was a child,” Lilliya said. “I don’t know where it came from.”

Luke stared at her, his blue eyes scrutinizing. “You wear it all the time?”

“Yes.”

“Do you think you could not wear it once in a while? Maybe not wear it during training.”

Lilliya gulped. The very idea made her nervous for some reason. “Why?”

“Something happened here today that I can’t explain. I’d never seen anything like it. And I’ve got a hunch it is connected to that crystal,” he explained, crouching down on his knees to look her straight in the eye.

“I’ve never really taken it off. It’s kind of apart of me,” Lilliya said quietly.

“You know,” Luke started slowly, “there are some crystals in this galaxy that have their own…power, so to speak. The crystals we use in our lightsabers, for instance, have a very unique strength within the Force, almost a life of their own. And there are other much larger crystals that can contain the Force, or magnify it. Then, just a moment ago, while you were exercising a levitation technique, your crystal started to glow. Very bright.

“Then out of nowhere, everyone started getting sick. I nearly vomited myself. I’d never seen anything like it.”

“I’ve seen it glow,” Lilliya explained softly, nervously, “from time to time. It doesn’t very often, but it has in the past. I never understood it. Never questioned it. But I can tell you that I felt something too. Something like pressure, or smothering. It was making me sick, but then I pushed against it.”

“You pushed?” Luke repeated.

“Yes, kind of, I guess. At least, I imagined I was pushing against whatever was smothering me…”

A new kind of worry flashed across Luke’s face. He sat silent for a moment, staring at Lilliya with a strange curiosity. Then he held out his hand and helped her to her feet.

“Could you not wear your necklace tomorrow?” he asked.

Lilliya hesitated, panic flashing in her eyes, and Luke saw her diamond scar turn a dark purple, almost like a deep bruise.

“I always wear it…” she said, her throat closing up in fear.

Luke frowned at her, curious as to why she was so afraid. “Why is it such a problem?” he asked.

But before Lilliya could answer, Ben suddenly showed up.

“Dad,” he said, his voice sounding concerned. “The students are going crazy in the mess hall. A lot of them are scared or angry and are shouting about—” he looked at Lilliya, “—something.”

Luke sighed, glancing from his son to Lilliya. “Excuse me, Lilliya,” he said gravely. “I have to take care of this.” Luke turned and left, leaving Lilliya standing in shock. Ben stood by Lilliya, staring at her for a minute before turning to leave as well. Lilliya watched the two Skywalkers disappear down the dirt path, her ivory hand unconsciously gripping her crystal charm, knuckles white.

 

 

Another week went by, much slower this time, and still no word from TwinSuns Squadron. Although Lilliya worked hard at keeping up with the other students—running miles along side of them, solving mazes deep below the Temple—she had to quit when faced with anything that involved the Force. Luke suggested she meditate during those hours and try to tap into the Force that way.

Lilliya didn’t know what to look for, and she didn’t believe she would ever find it, but she was thankful for the activities. They kept her mind distracted from the real threat that lurked deep inside of her.

The other students stayed away from her, blaming her for the reason they all got sick. Luke worried this would cause too much tension among his young students, especially among those he felt could be more prone to the dark side. He and the other Jedi Masters watched every student carefully for any signs of emotional instability. There were many that disliked her, merely because she repelled the Force away from her, a mystery Luke still hadn’t solved.

Luke met with the other Masters every night to discuss Lilliya and the mysteries she brought to their attention. He felt himself becoming obsessed with her and needed time to himself to meditate. He had ordered the other Masters to take over for him so that he could meditate privately for days.

Lilliya wondered why Luke had disappeared and felt vulnerable because of it. The other Masters seemed wary of her as well, not like Luke, who acted confident and comfortable around her. With the students hating her, the Masters nervous of her, and Ben Skywalker making her feel like an intruder, Lilliya fell deeper into a depression she feared she could never escape.

It was midday, and Lilliya sat cross-legged under a canopy, eyes closed and meditating. The other students were sparring with their lightsabers in the open space right outside the jungle’s edge. The Masters had retired for an hour, disappearing inside the Jedi Temple. Ben, though he now participated in every other exercise, also excused himself during the lightsaber fencing, disappearing into the jungle.

It was hot out this time of day and Lilliya felt sticky in her tan jumpsuit. Her crystal seemed to dig up against the skin of her chest in irritation. These days she hid the necklace beneath her clothing, rather than leaving it behind like Luke had asked. She forced herself not to fidget as a droplet of sweat trickled down the side of her face. She could hear the lightsabers humming and vibrating, clashing together in loud electrical surges. Some of the students liked to talk during their sparring, murmuring things like, let the Force flow through you, or feel your opponent, sense his thoughts

Lilliya felt a cynical smile curl on her lips. Let it flow through you, she thought. Right! What a bunch of sith—

“Hey, you.” A man’s voice suddenly broke Lilliya’s reverie. She let her eyes slowly open and saw Pell, a male human standing in front of her, lightsaber humming in hand. Lilliya moaned. Like Ben, this particular human also made her life miserable. Except that he made it a point every chance he got that she shouldn’t be there.

“What do you want?” Lilliya said, sighing in defeat. There was no point in making it a fight…again.

Pell flipped his long blonde hair out of his eyes and smiled sardonically. He was not an unattractive man, but the nasty looks he always shot at Lilliya made him appear hideous.

“Lilliya,” he said, his voice riddled with sarcasm. “Have you ever wielded a lightsaber?”

“No,” she said, closing her eyes and assuming the conversation was closed.

“Why don’t you join in with us?” he pushed.

Lilliya opened her eyes again, glaring up at Pell. The other students watched her warily, some of them whispering to each other. Otherwise, everyone had stopped practicing, all attention on her and Pell.

“What are you trying to do?” Lilliya asked, her voice lowering to a threatening growl.

“I’m sure, with all your combat training, that you could handle a simple lightsaber,” he said, twirling his lightsaber around casually.

“My combat training didn’t include fencing…or lightsabers,” Lilliya grumbled. “Besides, you know I’m not supposed to mess around with those things.”

“I don’t recall anyone saying you couldn’t practice with one?” Pell said. “Come on, Lilliya. I’m giving you a challenge you can’t refuse.”

“Sure I can,” Lilliya rolled her eyes. “And I don’t need to prove myself to you.”

Pell raised his eyebrows. “Really? Then why are you here? You’ve pretty much failed at every other Jedi task, sitting out and meditating. Meditating what, I wonder? You can’t feel the Force like the rest of us. Your mere presence is an insult and a distraction, and a waste of your time.”

Lilliya’s eyes flashed darkly, her diamond scar burning red.

“You know it too,” Pell continued casually. “You know you’re wasting your time here when you could be off doing something with your life. You’re no Jedi. You can’t use the Force, yet you pretend to be like us. And for what?” Pell moved closer, crouching down to his knees to peer at her more directly. “Because…you want to prove something. Maybe you want to prove something to Master Skywalker. You know, it’s because of you that he’s not here right now. You’ve taken up all his time. Why? What is it that you want to prove?”

Lilliya pushed herself off the ground, standing straight and threatening. She had had enough of Pell. “All right,” she growled. “You want to play, you got it. If it’ll only make you shut up.”

Pell laughed mockingly. The other students began to crowd around nervously, still keeping their distance.

“There she is,” he murmured. “Now you’re awake. Someone hand me a lightsaber.” He looked towards the crowd.

“I don’t think this—” Someone said, but Pell cut him off.

“Nobody asked for your opinion, Danican. Just hand me the lightsaber.” Danican hesitated, then unwillingly tossed the deactivated lightsaber into Pell’s hand. Pell then passed it on to Lilliya who gripped the handle tightly. She gulped anxiously, realizing that this was probably a really bad idea. Still, she ignited the lightsaber, a blue blade snapping to life.

Pell brandished his white-blue one menacingly. Then saluted Lilliya.

Lilliya didn’t bother with the salute, rather she smacked her blade against his, swatting it away.

And then it began.

White-blue blades collided in crackling hisses. One was more fluid than the other. Lilliya was clumsy, barely keeping out of the way of Pell’s blade. She fought against him, using only her instincts, wondering nervously how it would end.

Pell laughed as he barely used his full strength on her, letting her gain the lead, then backing her up again and again. It was like a predator playing with his prey, knowing that, in the end, he would win.

The crowd of students began to grow as others from other groups joined in. They stayed silent as they watched, fearful of the outcome, and fearful of being found out by their Masters.

Lilliya felt her heart rate quicken as panic filled her veins. She was tiring, constantly dodging Pell’s blazing blade. She almost thought she felt the ends of her hair singe when the blade got too close.

“You’re not getting tired, are you?” he laughed. “I’m barely out of breath!”

Lilliya gritted her teeth angrily, swinging her blade around at his midsection, trying to push him back. She knew this was dangerous and that either one of them could lose a limb or worse. Pell was able to parry and dodge every swing she made with ease.

“I will say this,” he said, smiling, “you could be a challenge. I can’t sense where you will attack next. But, you are too predictable. Try changing it up.”

“What?” Lilliya puffed, trying to catch her breath. “You’re giving me pointers?” She slashed at him again; Pell batted it away with one hand. He began to back her up towards one of the stone walls.

“Why not? I want to make this more interesting.” He feigned a yawn.

Lilliya thrust her blade at him with a one-handed grip, but Pell knocked it easily, the hilt ripping from her hand. It bounced to the ground, deactivating automatically.

“All right, Pell, you win,” Lilliya said, holding her hands up defensively.

But Pell didn’t stop. He charged at her, swinging at her head. Lilliya had to duck and roll to get out of the way. Fear was caught in her throat as she realized Pell didn’t want to stop. She wondered how far he would go. It would be a shame if she died by accident at the hands of a Jedi student, after all she’d survived from.

“Come on, Pell. She’s unarmed,” Lilliya heard one of the students say.

Pell didn’t seem to be hearing them, though. She saw in his eyes a dark rage that frightened her. He couldn’t really be planning on killing her, could he? She knew that Pell didn’t like her, but she didn’t realize his anger was so strong.

Pell swung at her legs this time and Lilliya jumped, missing the blade. She stepped further back from him, but he wouldn’t let up. He swung again, more towards her waist. Lilliya rolled to her side, close enough to kick out her leg and bash her heel into the side of his knee.

That took him by surprise as he toppled over to one side, nearly losing his lightsaber. If wanted unpredictable, he would get it, Lilliya thought.

She took the moment’s pause to see if she was close enough to reach her lightsaber. She wasn’t and Pell was back on his feet before she had a chance to escape.

He swung again, nearly nicking her arm. She felt the heat of the blade brush her skin as she ducked out of the way. Then, out of nowhere, something punched her in the gut, an invisible force shoving her backwards and against the stone wall. She coughed for air.

Pell moved in, brandishing his lightsaber.

Lilliya peered at him through blurry eyes. Was he really going to kill her? It was the only thought that registered in her dazed mind. This can’t be the way it ends…

Fear rolled inside her, flooding through her and down her limbs, to her fingertips and toes. She couldn’t think straight. All she could see was a blinding blue blade flashing in front of her. She felt heat burning her skin, numbing her senses.

Pell had thrown the blade in her direction, towards her head. Lilliya saw it coming, and all of a sudden the air inside of her vanished. Her lungs collapsed, her vision went white, her skin was on fire, and she felt a rushing sensation, as though she was being pulled through a liquid very, very fast.

Pell’s lightsaber nicked the stone wall an inch above Lilliya’s head, or at least, where Lilliya’s head would have been.

She was gone. Her body had vanished literally into thin air. The lightsaber had fallen to the ground, deactivating, since Pell didn’t call it back to his hand. Pell stood in absolute shock, staring at the place where Lilliya should have been. The crowd was silent for what seemed like forever.

A second later, somebody gasped.

Pell turned to see who it was, but found Lilliya standing directly behind him. She did a double-spin, kicking him square in the chest. He flew back hard against the rock wall, his head snapping back against the stone, knocking him out cold.

Lilliya stood shaking, staring at Pell’s limp body. She felt cold, colder than she’d ever been. And completely horrified.

The students stared at her in repulsion. None of them moved, or could think of moving. All they could think of, all they could recall, was Lilliya’s body dissolving, disappearing, and a second later, reappearing behind Pell.

Nobody, no Jedi or Sith, or any species for that matter, could do that.

Lilliya fell to her knees, sucking in air like she had been drowning, clutching her arms. Then she heard the concerned murmuring, the heated whispers.

Lilliya glanced up to see Luke and Ben Skywalker at the front of the crowd. They had gotten there just in time to witness Lilliya’s transportation. The look on Ben’s face was one of pure disbelief, like he couldn’t comprehend what he just saw.

Luke also stood frozen in astonishment, his blue eyes unwavering.

Still, nobody moved, and Luke came to the disappointing conclusion that this young woman was more of a dilemma than they thought before. Now she was a social obstruction. Now she was a real threat.