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 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.

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.