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.

The Revolution: Chapter 9 part 4

image 1 “Ben, you must let go of your fear of the Force.”

That was Luke. He stood off to the side of a training circle watching Ben who stood in the center. Ben had disengaged his lightsaber after a series of holographic battle simulations, with which he failed to defend himself during each level. His decision to no longer use the strengths and influences of the Force, ever since his mentor Jacen’s death, Ben’s skill with the lightsaber was no longer efficient against attack. But he was adamant to prove he could still win a fight without the Force.

However, the holographic simulations were programmed for Force-users; therefore much more difficult.

“Father, how many times must I tell you, I don’t fear the Force,” Ben replied, breathing heavily, “I refuse it.”

Luke crossed his arms defiantly. Then quickly relaxed his demeanor. So much like his mother, Ben was. Defensive, hot-headed, and stubborn. But even Mara had the sense of logic to use the Force, even after her haunting premonitions of the Emperor’s death and the task to kill Luke Skywalker so many years ago. And he knew that the death of Jacen and the death of Mara reverberating through the Force to the young teenage boy of Ben Skywalker had scarred Ben in ways a non-Force sensitive could never be.

“If you don’t start conditioning yourself to the Force now, it’ll be harder for you later. Possibly more dangerous. And I’d rather not have to be constantly worrying about your safety.” Ben’s posture quickly turned defensive, so Luke decided to rephrase that last part. “Remember that you’re Ben Skywalker, which means there are plenty of people out there ready to get rid of your existence.”

Ben snorted. “Maybe if they realize I’m not a JedI…” He let his sentence trail off,  noticing the expression on Luke’s face turn dark, and decided not to push his father too far.

“Am I interrupting something?” A woman’s voice startled both Ben and Luke, but mostly Ben. They turned to see Lilliya standing awkwardly outside the training circle, waiting to be noticed. “I’m guessing you guys couldn’t sense me coming, huh?” That last part sounded bitter.

Which took both Ben and Luke by surprise. Luke knew she wasn’t aware of her “invisibility” situation and wondered who spilt the news. Father and son exchanged a cautious look, then Luke moved toward her, while Ben stood perfectly still, perhaps a little on edge.

“You’re right about that,” Luke admitted gently, his blue eyes showing concern. “We are…unaware of your presence in the Force.”

“Funny,” Lilliya said, crossing her arms, “you never mentioned it before.” She glanced from Luke to Ben. Ben kept his eyes on her, and looked more edgy than before. “And he looks like he’s ready to jump me.” She gestured to Ben.

Luke looked back at Ben, who twirled his lightsaber hilt and clicked it onto his belt, shrugging back at Luke faux-innocently. Luke wasn’t fooled. He turned back to Lilliya.

“Ben just finished a holo-battle simulation and probably still has adrenaline rushing through him. And I never mentioned your invisibility before because you never asked.”

“Ha!” Lilliya scoffed. Then turned serious. “Well, whatever your real reasons were for bringing me here, and despite the fact that you’ve withheld important information on myself and the way the other JedI react to me, I’ve decided to really focus on this whole thing. Meaning, I’ll be taking your training a little more seriously.” She leaned forward as if giving away a secret.

That took Luke by surprise even more. He was expecting a big argument coming his way, which was the last thing he wanted after having consistent arguments with his own son.

“Really.” This time it was Ben who spoke up, still standing defensively. Both Luke and Lilliya turned their attention on him. “The Force isn’t something you can just inherit through knowledge. It’s genetic and believe me, I’m paying for it because it runs wild in my genes.”

Luke made a gesture to Ben that seemed to try to quiet him. But Ben continued.
“I work really hard to block out the Force, to make it not a part of my life style. And even still, I find myself being touched by it somehow, through a dream during sleep, or while I’m flying a space fighter. But you—” Ben pointed at her accusingly. “The Force doesn’t touch you at all. You don’t exist in the Force. If it can’t touch you, how in the universe will you ever be able to touch it? And why would you want to?—”

“Ben—” Luke interjected.

“No, Dad,” Ben said, raising his hand towards Luke. “All the Force will ever give you is pain. Power, yes. Strength, sure. But mostly pain. You will have access to every person’s pain…including your own.”

Lilliya stared at Ben, hypnotized by his sudden passion, something she hadn’t seen before. She felt shaky just by looking at his furious stare. But something inside of her grew angry, knotting her stomach defiantly, an animalistic urge to fight him, to beat him to a pulp. Her hands clenched into fists and she bit her lip feverishly. She had to fight to control herself from lunging at him.

Luke watched the two of them stand their ground, like animals ready to spring, and was amazed at how much negative energy radiated off of Ben. It seemed to flow then bounce right off of Lilliya’s invisible “shield.” It shook him to the bone, the anger he felt from Ben. The anger…and the tormented pain caused over the years of his adolescences.

Lilliya took a shaky breath, then replied darkly, “I can handle pain.”

Ben paused for a moment, then said, “Prove it.” With a snap-hiss, his white-blue lightsaber ignited to life and gestured to Lilliya.

“Ben, what are you thinking?” Luke said sternly.

“I’m not gonna cut her arm off or anything,” Ben said to Luke defensively. “I just wanna see what she’s got. I hear you’ve been training her with a lightsaber for about a week now. If she can somehow harness the Force even in the slightest, then she should have been able to pick up on a simple lightsaber exercise. And it‘s not like I‘ll be using the Force to help better my chances of winning.” Ben gestured to Lilliya again.

“That’s enough.” Luke struggled to hold his anger with his son at bay. “You two won’t be—”

“It’s okay, Luke,” Lilliya said, finally, her voice calm and clear. “I’ve been fighting with a stupid laser ball this whole time. Ben will be no different.” She wanted nothing more than to fight Ben, ever since his bad attitude on their way to Ossus.

Ben chuckled lightly, taking note on the subtle insult.

Lilliya stepped into the training circle, a wicked smile crossing her lips.

“This should be fun,” Ben said.

Luke shook his head, hating the whole idea, but at the same time, was ashamed at his curiosity at the outcome. He tossed his own lightsaber at Lilliya, who caught it neatly out of the air, and knew that this was probably a very bad idea. Might as well let the kids fight it out, Luke almost heard the voice of Mara whisper in his ear. He shrugged and stepped farther back from the circle.

“So be it,” he said, giving both Lilliya and Ben the go-ahead. “The first one to fall to the ground loses.”

Lilliya ignited the green-bladed lightsaber and the two of them saluted each other.
And then they struck, blue and green lightsabers colliding for just a moment, then separate. Another clash, blue and green melding into instant blinding light, and they continued, testing each other’s strength, pushing each other gently. Lilliya tentative but strong. Ben, holding back.

They continued like this for a few minutes, pressing lightsabers, pulling back, and quickly colliding over and over. Their speed quickened as they got comfortable with one another, and they began to take bolder strikes. Luke caught his breath as Ben swung his lightsaber at Lilliya’s midsection—which she deftly batted away—but then the saber swung back around towards her legs. Lilliya pushed off the ground, neatly jumping over the blue blade, all the while swinging her green blade at Ben’s shoulders.
He spun away and took a moment’s pause.

“Nice one,” he said, his breath light.

“Thanks,” Lilliya said, breathing much harder.

Then they attacked again, each push and swing more aggressive than the next, their eyes locked onto to each other like targeting computers. The only sounds within the training chamber were the electric hum and clash of the lightsabers…overpowering Lilliya’s heavy breathing.

Ben swung, dipped, and thrust his blade at her, and was very aware of the Force tempting to creep into his thoughts, to guide his movements. And as he glimpsed at his target through the Force for only a second, he saw nothing, and the Force could give no help. Lilliya was the perfect defense against a JedI. This challenged him further and he attacked harder. He swung his lightsaber in a series of parries, which Lilliya fought against, and got close enough to kick at her outer right thigh.

Lilliya felt the impact of Ben’s heel on her thigh, felt the pain surge through her leg, and nearly toppled over, which would have been a win for Ben. But then she quickly regained her balance on her left leg, spinning around and wielding her blade fast—though rather crude—against Ben’s, swinging in random directions as she learned Ben could not second-guess her.

“Good,” Luke said, though neither Ben or Lilliya was really paying much attention. He watched them both, but pushed out with the Force in an attempt to search for Lilliya within it, to see if she shed any light at all, not matter how small.

Lilliya swung her heel around to Ben’s hip this time, with which he shifted neatly out of the way.

“You’re not bad,” Ben muttered. “For someone who’s never used a lightsaber.”

“Dad taught me fencing when I was a kid,” Lilliya replied blandly.

Their lightsaber dance continued, Ben luring her in and then pummeling her back.

“You’re still as ghostly as ever, though,” Ben grinned sardonically. He heard his father groan in the background. “And this is getting boring. I’m gonna win.”

“Oh yeah?” Lilliya said.

“I’m barely exerting any strength on you. If I wanted, I could get you on your knees right now.”

This time Lilliya smiled. “So do it.” As she said that, she shifted to a two handed grip on the hilt and swung right, left and down.

Ben followed with two hands, batting each swing away, then twirled his lightsaber around hers, yanking it free of her hands. The green blade disappeared into the hilt.

Automatic shutdown.

Ben swung towards Lilliya, unarmed. She side-stepped, the blade entering the space she just occupied, and Lilliya punched Ben in the face.

He took a stumbling step back, a look of pain and shock crossing his face as he grabbed his jaw with his free hand.

“Hey!” Ben cried.

“Sorry,” Lilliya shrugged smugly.

“You know, punching isn’t part of the game,” Ben grumbled.

“Oh?” Lilliya smiled. “I didn’t know. I just know I’m gonna win…without a lightsaber.”

Before Ben could recover from his surprise, Lilliya did a quick sprint toward him, slid forward on her right leg, but without touching her left knee to the ground. She continued to slide under the blue humming blade, passed Ben’s side and elbowed him hard in his right kidney. He yowled, falling to his knees, and as his lightsaber fell with him, Lilliya deftly snatched it out of his hands, nearly breaking his wrist in the process, swung it twice for show, and placed the blade’s tip under Ben’s chin.

Giving a big toothy grin.

Ben, gripping his side tenderly, stared up at Lilliya in irritation.

Luke covered his humored smile with his hand. “Lilliya wins,” he said, trying to hide the smile out of his voice.

But Ben could sense it from him, Force or no Force. He felt humiliated and very annoyed.

“My dad also taught me self-defense,” Lilliya’s voice smug.

“If only your dad could see you now,” Ben muttered softly. And then he caught himself, knowing Lilliya had just lost her father on Endor. He knew he thought it, but was surprised with himself for verbalizing it. But it was too late.

Lilliya’s smug smile vanished immediately. “I wish he could,” she said darkly, her eyes glittering. “So he could see I beat the stang out of a JedI wanabee.”

Luke groaned again.

“Wanabee?” Ben scoffed. “I think you got it all turned around. You fit that description a whole lot more than—”

“How could you mention my father like that?” She cut him off, Ben’s lightsaber still humming in her hands, though she pulled it away from his chin.

Ben paused for a moment, regulating her expression. It was hurt, but he could tell she was holding a lot more hurt back. Then he shrugged. “Oh come on. Everyone dies. And everybody loses somebody. It’s not like you’re the only one who’s lost someone.”

Visions of Jenar and her father flashed through her mind like daggers. She blinked hard. She knew she could feel her tears rebel against her will. The last thing she wanted to do was cry in front of Ben Skywalker.

“Yeah, well—” she gritted through teeth, “doesn’t make it easier. Still hurts.”

“You just said minutes ago that you can handle pain.” Ben slowly stood up as he said this.

“I can handle it just fine!” Lilliya spat. “What I can’t handle is you trying to get a reaction out of me. So I’m gonna give it to you. Don’t ever mention my father again.” Lilliya took a menacing step toward Ben, pointing a finger in his face.

“All right, fine!” Ben said defensively and started to turn away. “Good luck with becoming a JedI. You lose a lot in that career field.”

Lilliya sniffled and hated herself for doing it, but the tears were coming down without control.

“I don’t know what the hell I did to offend you, but from the start you’ve been a jerk,” Lilliya said, despite him walking away.

He stopped, and turned back around for the challenge. “Maybe if you hadn’t broken into my house, messed around with things that don’t belong to you, I wouldn’t even have a problem with you.”

“You can’t be serious,” Lilliya scoffed, despite the tears running down her cheeks. “I didn’t even break in. And besides—”

“There is no besides!” Ben spat. “I don’t need a reason to not like you. I just don’t. So accept it or get over it. And maybe go back to where you came from.” Whoops, that came out wrong, Ben thought. Again, her home was destroyed, so she had no other place. He couldn’t believe what got into himself either.

“That’s exactly where I wanted to go in the first place!” Lilliya cried. “I belong on the team with Jaina Solo. And I shouldn’t have agreed to come out here.” That last sentence was directed at Luke, who still sat quietly on the side on the training circle, watching. She turned directly to him. “So thanks, Luke. For your son, for the students who hate me, for this whole damn place. It’s been a great—a great—” She started choking on her tears and humiliation. She put a hand over her red face, and for a moment, it felt like she was alone, away from Ben and Luke’s critical eyes. She was amazed at herself. She hadn’t had a good cry since she was a young teenager. And as the tears burned her cheeks, all she could seem to think about was Jenar. He would have held her. He would have made her laugh. He loved her. And she never knew.

Her gut twisted in agony as that fact weighed on her mind. He never knew…she loved him. Instead, he died saving her, or trying to.

“I wish…you were here…” she murmured so quietly, she thought Ben and Luke couldn’t hear.

They could.

Dropping her hand, she remembered Ben and Luke staring at her, and that Ben‘s lightsaber was still gripped with her other hand. Thoroughly embarrassed, but not able to do anything about it, she let out a short, mocking laugh of defeat and dropped the unlit lightsaber to the ground. Then she turned around and walked out of the training circle, towards the nearby jungle, not caring what the Skywalkers thought.

Ben and Luke silently watched her go, both men a little taken aback by the sudden rush of emotions. Luke understood it though, knew she had kept it bottled up for so long that it wasn’t surprising it all came flooding out.

Then Luke turned toward Ben. “Go after her and apologize.”

Ben turned to Luke in surprise and was about to debate it.

Now,” Luke said, pointing firmly in the direction she went.

Ben sighed, resigning all argument, knowing he was in the wrong, and nodded silently, not meeting his father’s very stern stare. He followed after Lilliya.

The Revolution: Chapter 9 part 3

imageA scream snapped Lilliya out of her meditation and the last image she saw was of a white-faced man with black eyes rushing at her. Then it faded, as quickly as the scream vanished, into the darkness of her mind. She shifted uncomfortably in the soft sofa chair she lounged in. She was alone within the library again. This was the one place she felt at peace, and safe from the eyes of the other JedI students. Luke was with his son, Ben, at the moment—father and son training she supposed—so the break of attention gave her the chance to do her own meditation.

She just didn’t expect to be frightened out of it by some ghostly figure. She buried the image from her mind, but decided to keep it close in case she should mention it to Luke. He said to tell him anything she experienced that was considered out of the ordinary. Random screams and scary faces of black-eyed men were definitely not her usual daydreams.

“Hello, Lilliya,” Forra said, making her jump in her chair again. He smiled at her surprised demeanor. “You really ought to get used to other people being around. Although, I am sure you would shock me as well, considering I cannot sense you within the Force.”
“Right…” Lilliya muttered, allowing a smile to break her furrowed concern. “How are you, Forra?”

“I am well. And you?”

Lilliya shrugged, not exactly sure which response was best, the truth, or an evasive little lie. “I’m fine. A little tired.”

“You look very drawn,” Forra said, crouching beside her. “Are you sick?”

She shook her head no. “I only had a…weird dream. Kind of jump-started me awake. Nothing too serious.”

“Was it of Pell? I heard of your little lightsaber battle,” Forra smiled, effectively avoiding anything that made Lilliya uncomfortable.

Lilliya laughed a little. “What, you didn’t see it? I thought the entire planet was witness to that. I’m a star now, you know.”

“Yes,” Forra chuckled. “Quite the little transporting celebrity.” Then his expression turned serious. “Speaking of stars, I think I have finally translated your pendant.”

Lilliya grew immediately interested. She had been waiting for over a week for Forra to translate the charm her father had hidden within his private chest, the charm that surprisingly fit onto the necklace she was found with as a child.

“It is interesting, this pendant of yours,” Forra murmured, his brow furrowing. “I could not attain the exact translation, but the closest language it resembles to is of the Yuuzhan Vong.”

Lilliya’s heart stopped. The last thing she dreamed of being related to was of the Yuuzhan Vong, the destructive and religious driven alien species who invaded the galaxy over a decade ago and successfully destroyed nearly everything in their conquest. The Yuuzhan Vong came from the outside, so it would make no sense that Lilliya’s original heritage was from outside the galaxy as well. She was human.

“As we are well aware of, the Vong do not use anything that is not of organics,” Forra continued, playing with the charm between his long fingers. “I cannot tell you how your father came upon this, or what it may mean to you, but the Basic word it closely resembles to is…Star.”

Lilliya was frozen, staring blankly at Forra for what seemed like hours. Then she blinked away her stupor, and cocked her head to the side in wonder. “Star?” she repeated softly.

Forra nodded. “Does this mean anything to you?”

Lilliya thought for a moment, then shook her head slowly. “No,” she murmured.

Forra sighed, then handed back the charm. “I was hoping it would shed light on your mystery.”

Lilliya frowned. “My mystery?”

“Yes,” Forra responded innocently. “You are a mystery to us, invisible to the Force. Others say they feel threatened by you, as though your mere presence repels the Force away. We have experienced this only with the Yuuzhan Vong. And you are certainly not a Vong.” Forra smiled at this, hoping to cheer up the obviously upset Lilliya. Only as her expression darkened in confusion did Forra realize she was unaware of this information he now laid on her. “I am sorry,” he continued, “you did not know of this?”

“Not at all,” Lilliya grumbled. “No wonder I’m being treated as a science experiment.”

“Then I am very sorry,” Forra said, his face falling. “I was not supposed to make you feel isolated.”

“It’s not your fault.” Lilliya waved him off.

“I am not strong in the Force, so, at first, I thought your invisibility was because I could not see you. Where in fact, no one can,” Forra explained. “But I thought you knew this. That was why I thought you were here.”

“So I could be exploited…” Lilliya muttered, her gaze fixed on the stone floor.

Forra grew nervous now. “I am worried. Please do not be angry with us.”

Lilliya’s gaze snapped up and met Forra’s. Her expression softened suddenly and she reached out to touch his arm. “Why are you afraid of me?” Concern flooded her multi-colored eyes.

“I fear things I do not understand,” Forra whispered. “Most of us do. Only the Master JedI do not fear.”

“Don’t be afraid of me,” Lilliya said softly. “You are my only friend here.” Then she smiled to show she was no longer angry, though she reminded herself to have a heartfelt conversation with Luke once he was finished with whatever he was doing. “And I am very happy that you took the time to translate my charm.” Her expression changed as she was reminded by something. Something buried deep within her memory. Al lechufeon marahl… It was the Huttese phrase Jenar was constantly throwing at her, laughing at her frustration because she never learned as many languages as he… “What does al lechufeon marahl mean?” she asked bluntly, not meeting Forra’s golden eyes.

His eyebrows lifted in surprise. “It is of the Huttese language. A very rare saying. It means ‘my beautiful one.’”

Lilliya felt a stab of pain in her chest and quickly reburied all thoughts of Jenar and the Huttese words, zeroing in on her thoughts of Luke Skywalker and her “exploitation.”
Forra’s expression remained worried.

Lilliya sighed and stood from her sitting position. She straightened her jumpsuit and began to make her way out of the library.

“What are you going to do now?” Forra called after her.

“I’m leaving,” Lilliya said. “My time here is done.”

“You cannot!” Forra ran after her. “You must not give up. You may be an enigma to us, but I can tell you are special. I can tell!”

Lilliya scoffed. “You can’t even pick up a tiny pebble with the Force, how you can your assumptions about me mean anything other than sick curiosity?”

Forra stopped, his expression turning sad.

Lilliya stopped too, immediately regretting what she had said. “I’m sorry,” she said, turning to look him straight in the eye. “I didn’t mean that. I just don’t belong here—obviously never did. And I don’t care if I’m invisible to you guys. It’s never been a big deal in my life before.”

Forra took a deep breath, his voice taking a serious note. “Lilliya, you are the star…”

Lilliya paused for a moment, studying Forra’s sudden passion. And then the way the word “star” mixed with her name reverberated in her head baffled her, made her wonder, but then, even more curiously, made her feel like she had come upon a huge discovery. As though something clicked, made sense for the first time. As if, she was one step closer to understanding everything she never understood before.

“I think…” Lilliya murmured, her wonder-filled gaze focused on the ground, “I’m having a revelation.” A crooked smile crept on her lips.

Forra frowned in confusion. “What do you mean?”

“From now on, Forra,” Lilliya said, meeting his gaze, “I want to be called Lilliya Starr.”

“Do you think it is your family’s name?”

Lilliya shook her head. “I have no idea.” She truly didn’t, but for some reason, changing her name was like changing everything, giving her a fresh start at life. And with this new life, she would work harder with Luke to find a way to the Force, in spite of everything she learned of her presence on Ossus. As much as she denied it in the past, deep down inside she knew she had some sort of unusual power. Her visions were no coincidence and her sudden random transportation was no accident, even though she couldn‘t figure out how to do it again.

My beautiful one… Jenar’s voice echoed through her head again and she shook it away as quickly as it came. If the name Lilliya Starr was to give her a new life, then she would have to bury the past far beneath her.

“He loved me,” she murmured, “and I never knew.”

“What?” Forra said.

Lilliya looked up at Forra. “Never mind. Gotta go!” At that, she spun on her heel and left the library at a brisk pace, Forra watching her leave in bafflement.