The Actor’s Check List

 

I was running through the neighborhood. It was my daily run. Something I did to push out all my anxiety and frustration. As any actor can tell you, pursuing an acting career is one hell of a discouraging journey. But it can also be incredibly gratifying. Checking off on your check list is one of them.

This summer I had laid out many specific goals in order to have a possible chance to audition for the upcoming Star Wars film. I’d attended casting director workshops, many of whom had even the smallest connection to J.J. Abrams. I finally created my first actor’s website, and now have only a few more checkmarks left. One of them was creating my first actor’s reel, which I’m still waiting on doing. Another was my admittance letter to SAG-AFTRA actor’s union, something that would make my profession as an actor much more legitimate. And then, if all went well, I could have a better chance at an audition for Star Wars VII.

I had submitted a proof of eligibility form, but didn’t hear from SAG-AFTRA for over a month. So I called and discovered I had submitted the wrong for to the wrong place. Go figure. That’s typical of me. I never got accepted into the Tisch school of NYU because I didn’t complete the entire application. I’ve learned to always call because of this mistake. I submitted the correct form to the correct location, but still waited anxiously. I had read plenty of forums on how long people wait for SAG to get back to them. I was expecting to wait 6 months. But I was hoping that because of the joining of the two unions, SAG and AFTRA, things would be different.

And so I ran. Ran to get it out of my system, to feel stronger, to exhale out my anger and inhale new hope. I ran past the mail lady driving through our neighborhood and pushed the thought of “mail” out of my mind. I slowed down when two horses nearly bolted from the sight of me going by. I ran up the steep hill, feeling the beating sun sucking the sweat from me, passed through the hillside path, and came out on the other side of the neighborhood, back to my home street. And there was the mail lady again and the two horses I’d frightened.

Maybe there was mail for me this time. This was my daily regiment. Hoping I had a special envelope waiting for me. I felt 18 again, waiting to be accepted into something I wanted desperately. I waved to the mail lady and ran straight home to our box, opened it up and grabbed a large envelope that was reminiscent of what I mailed out. “James Riva” it said. One of my roommates. As per usual, not for me.

I collected the rest of the mail in disappointment, beads of sweat finally able to run down my face without the sun taking it from me, and pretty much accepting I’d have to find another way to get into the union. I walked in the door, enjoying the coolness of the house and sorted out our mail. SAG-AFTRA for James. SAG-AFTRA for Heather. SAG-AFTRA for Heather again. One more for James. Another one for Heather. Another one for Christanna—

Wait—what?! Oh God! I clutched the envelope like a baby and, like anyone, I was apprehensive about opening it, as if the letter would kindly say, “no.”

And then, of course, I ripped it open…

As you can imagine, I pretty much did laps around the house, bellowing at the top of my lungs.

It’s more than an incredible feeling when you can check something off the list of things to accomplish. It rejuvenates you, encourages you to keep going and fight for what you want. Even the smallest things, like this letter, can boost a person’s life to a whole-nother incredible level.

And this was a BIG checkmark for me. That’s one wall down, just a few more to go…

IT’S MY BIRTH…wait for it…………………………………………..

 

A lot of changes have happened over the past months since I last wrote. A lot of mental changes and feelings and other things I can’t quite explain. At first, I thought maybe it was because I was feeling the “three-year itch” being an actress. I’ve gone into turbo mode. I am, for lack of a better word, throwing myself at people as if to say “HEY I’M ALIVE AND VERY TALENTED!!! LET ME PERFORM FOR YOU!!!” Then I thought it was because one of my most favorite movie series was being added on to and it switched on my “I don’t give a crap-fighting for what I want” mode. Star Wars was something I lived in since I was 13. Hell, I’ve even written my own stories to the series! Memorized every line of Luke’s. Wanted to be Luke, AND was in love with him. I even compare the guys I date to Luke Skywalker. THIS, alone, is proof of my obsessive compulsiveness. Or was it the fact that all my past girlfriends were married and having children, and I wasn’t. Or was it…simply…the feeling of the clock…ticking.

My birthday is in a few hours. There were many moments where I felt like I should write, but tonight felt like the right moment.

I have a dog sleeping in my bed right now. Tiny, white and cream colored, with long silk hair, and gentle eyes and a quiet demeanor. I rescued him yesterday. It seems like everyone was having babies…and I produced a dog. I named him Toby Lee Orion, aka (just) Toby. Yeah, so I wanted a little touch of sci-fi to the name, I couldn’t resist. I don’t know what’s gotten into me, though…I’ve never been a “small dog” person. I guess you could blame it on my whimming personality. But I feel there’s something else changing in me.

I mailed George Lucas a letter yesterday as well…AND Kathleen Kennedy AND J.J. Abrams AND Disney. I mailed them because I am THAT desperate to have a chance to audition for Star Wars, I’m starting to feel a little nuts. But I figured I have nothing to lose, because currently in the film world I am pretty close to nothing anyhow, so what better thing to do but send George Lucas and friends a “Hello, you don’t know me, but I love you!” letter…for those of you who don’t know me, the “I love you” part is completely satirical……so I say……

I also have a boyfriend that I can’t admit is a boyfriend because the term freaks me out SO much, I immediately turn off and don’t want him anymore. But as long as he stays in the friend zone, I want him. This may also prove I’ve gone officially nuts, but haven’t seen a professional yet… He’s my Number 1 and he’s my best friend. He’s also my intimate lover. But labels really sit sourly with me…to the point of an upset stomach…to the point of me running like there’s zombies after me. EXACTLY!

My mother asked me recently if my motivation as an actress has been spurred on because of the new Star Wars movies and I told her, “Yes.” As a child, I really wanted to be an astronaut. Truly, I still want to be one, but because my bad eyesight wouldn’t be able to make the cut AND when I was young I didn’t think of myself as smart enough, the dream of being in space was limited to just pretense. But an actor CAN travel space within the mind’s eye. So, yes, I know the new SW movies have become my main motivation in life. There’s nothing I want more. There really really is nothing!

For the first time, I’m taking workshops with casting directors that work for J.J. Abrams, sending out headshots and resumes to people I don’t think would ever even care to look at (that’s why I’ll be sending them out every month Winking smile) , buying my first dog that acts like a fabulous stress reliever, and pulling along a fantastic guy/person because I can’t seem to relax in a committed relationship.

So as a result, I have spent more money this year than I EVER have just to somehow make sense of things in my personal life and catch someone’s attention in the Star Wars world. And every bit of it has felt worth it. Because I know that if I don’t get a chance, at least I can say I didn’t try my all……in BOTH worlds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! to me because I’m a MayDay baby

Whimming with Shatner

 

 

Ilia’s Theme by Jerry Goldsmith

Shatner: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship, Xanna D, her continuing mission to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no girl has gone before.

THAT’S RIGHT, KIDS! I FINALLY MET WILLIAM SHATNER!!!

First picture with Mr. ShatnerAnd I pretty much nearly died from euphoria.

You all know I am the biggest science-fiction female freak in the entire universe. And if you don’t, then what the heck are you doing reading this blog? I write Star Wars books (that someday I hope to make into a television series), I write sci-fi reviews for movies, I read sci-fi novels, I play sci-fi video games, I have Star Wars posters all over my room, my movie collection consists of 99% sci-fi. Even now I am currently watching ALL the Star Trek series—EPISODES IN ORDER.

Now, I don’t wanna start up a war on who’s more sci-fi-nerdy than the other, but I just wanna prove that I am, indeed, OBSESSED with all things to do with space, truly the final frontier.

To this day I still want to be buried on the moon when I die, or be put in a capsule and shot into space. That would make all my dreams come true.

But, first things first. I met the man himself, Mr. William T. Shatner…sorry, I just had to throw in the T. Forgive me, Bill. Winking smile

Let me just tell you, my life is officially complete. I can die tomorrow and by okay with it.

So let me tell you how it happened…

One day I posted my status on Facebook saying “I still can’t get over William Shatner…sexiest man ever!” Or something like that…

facebook quote

The next morning, I woke up to a Facebook message from a theater friend of mine saying, “You know Shatner’s going to be at my house filming in two weeks, right? Why don’t you come over and just hang out?”

I bolted out of bed and a slew of shocked profanity flew from my mouth. “Are you &*^@$#$&**&%*@ KIDDING ME?!?!”

Of course I said yes. But there was a little voice inside my head saying it’ll never happen, you want this too much. Anytime I really want something, it usually evades me. So I tried to forget about it. Then, a few days before the shoot, my friend contacted me again to remind me to come out. Yeah, sure, okay…

I wanted this so badly I could feel the bad karma finding me.

The day came for me to hang out during the shoot. Also, on that day, I had a scheduled audition later that night. I wondered ironically, How is it that everything happens on the same day?…

I went to my friend’s house around lunch break, ate delicious halibut, gourmet steamed veggies, mashed potatoes, and pineapple slaw, finishing it with Perrier Lemonade. I met most of the crew members, all of them extremely friendly and welcoming. But William Shatner was nowhere to be seen. He was having lunch privately in his room.

A few hours went by and I anxiously kept checking my phone’s time. I was cutting close to when I needed to leave for my audition. The location was two and a half hours away.

I finally came to terms with myself: when will you get another chance to meet William Shatner??? Probably never again. So I decided to sacrifice my audition for Mr. Shatner.

Many hours passed. I got to see Shatner shoot his scenes. I even caught him glancing at me sideways, which thrilled me to the bone. I smiled at him and he smiled back. He seemed like such a nice person, pleasant and good humored. He laughed with the filming crew and his voice was a deep bass, husky and sweet.

Finally, they wrapped at 5pm. I knew I had missed my opportunity to audition at this point, considering my scheduled time was 6:30pm…again, two and a half hours away.

But then I finally got to meet Mr. Shatner. Handsome, charming, gentle and polite, he was. Smile

I got my first picture with him, in which I very much noticed how strong a grip he had around my waist. More thrills to my bone.

But when I checked my camera to see how it turned out, I noticed he blinked.

Oh no, I need another! I thought. I had to have a perfect picture. Who knew when I had another chance like this?

Finally I worked up the nerve to ask him again.

“Mr. Shatner?” I said meekly. “Is it okay if I have another picture of you?”

And he said, with his deep bassoon-like voice, “Well, it depends on with whom?”

And I said, “Well, with me.”

“Well then, get over here,” he said, smiling with arms wide open.

With that, I nearly died, falling into his arms and into the stars of the universe.

Mr. Shatner and me

I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I was. I was beaming the rest of the day and more. I have had so much admiration and respect for this man. I’d seen things he’d done even before the Star Trek series aired, aka Thriller’s Grim Reaper, which is one of the most frightening episodes I’ve ever seen. This was mostly due to William Shatner’s performance, selling the horrific image of the Reaper purely through facial expression (you never got to see the actual Reaper) as Shatner went to his death.

After the picture was taken, I said, “It was truly a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Shatner. Really a pleasure.”

He smiled and said, “No, no. It was a pleasure for me.” Which, of course, made me blush as red as my jacket and I had to escape. So I nodded, smiled and walked away.

I said goodbye to the film crew that I had mingled with for hours, thanked my friend for inviting me out to enjoy the day with them, and made my way to my car.

“We’ll see you next week, right?” Shatner’s assistant called out to me.

I turned, startled. “What do you mean?”

“You’re coming back next week?” she repeated.

I looked at my friend, confused and not sure what to say. My friend nodded and smiled encouragingly.

“Is that allowed?” I asked finally, turning to the assistant.

She said, “Of course!” Then she leaned in closer, saying, “Trust me, all the guys here want to see you again,” and winked.

I was tempted to say, Does that include Bill?, but I knew better. The man was spoken for, of course.

In any case, being invited to hang out with the crew is a big enough thrill for me to not turn down. How could I say no? And besides, I’m a whimmer. And that’s what whimmers do.

And so begins another whimming adventure. In a galaxy far, far away…oh wait.

 

P.S. I DID make my audition later that night, only I was an hour and a half late. I decided to go anyway for the hell of it. I ended up getting a callback for Sweeney Todd. Smile

Stargirl

 

 

Superman Returns by John Ottman

Listen while you read.

stargirl

I left Earth once.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why was I here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I arrived at the Throne Room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So be it,” the Emperor said. “Jedi.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2—

Looking for Luke Skywalker

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Or actually in a little town called Glendale, there was a thirteen year old girl who fell in love with Luke Skywalker.

Luke Skywalker

Every night, when her parents went off to work and she was left alone to her imagination, the little girl would put in the laser disc of Return of the Jedi and reenact the entire movie. Sometimes, depending on how much time she had throughout the night, she would play all three Star Wars movies, becoming Luke Skywalker in her mind, feeling the changes and emotions he experienced, pretending to fight with Leia over Han Solo, instead of the other way around, until she had the entire original saga memorized by heart.

But it wasn’t Han Solo’s swashbuckling, rebellious personality she idolized and swooned over. It was the passion of a young adventurer, of someone who wanted so much to be apart of something bigger than himself, and, in turn, becoming bigger than he ever could have imagined. Of a boy who grew into a man who was loyal to his friends and family, believed in something great, and held onto that belief with unwavering, but always tempted, perseverance.

The little girl not only wanted to be Luke Skywalker, but was crazy about him. Every blue-eyed glance, every sideways smile creating a soft crease into his cheek, every clench of his fist, every swing of his green lightsaber, made her fall over and over about him. Sometimes to the point of pausing the laser disc on images of Luke having a concerned expression (specifically in Yoda’s hut). This was, of course, before internet was fully functional and she had to rely on the pause button. If any of you remember the laser disc machines, it wasn’t easy to “still” the picture without it turning into a blue “pause” screen. There was a “still” or “step” button that would make the picture freeze in place. And it wasn’t always easy.

So you can imagine this thirteen year old girl trying to figure out how to keep the picture frozen in place so that she could swoon over the still image of Luke looking distraught over Yoda’s death…Yay for internet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then, of course, there’s always the distraught look hidden by the black cloak…

Luke's Brooding

That little girl was me. Obviously.

There’s nothing sexier than a black cloak over a black jumpsuit fighting bad guys. And looking terribly concerned. At least, this was how I felt at the early stages of my adolescence.

One day, while I was with my mother inside Barnes and Noble’s Bookstore, I went off into the science fiction section out of curiosity. I hadn’t seen any Star Wars books before until then. I had no idea other authors had expanded far past the movies and that there were many more adventures. One particularly caught my eye. Barbara Hambly’s Children of the Jedi.Children of the Jedi cover

It was the woman’s image beside Luke who really caught my attention. Finally, a love interest for Luke, I thought.

So I begged my mom to buy it for me, and as soon as we got into the car, I immediately started skimming the pages to anything that had Luke talking to some other woman. I never actually read the book. I just skipped to the pages where the character Callista dialogued with Luke.

After consuming myself with this book, I became addicted to finding other Star Wars novels with different love interests for Luke. I had gotten Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy where I was extremely intrigued by Mara Jade, but highly disappointed that nothing really major happened between Luke and Mara in those stories (other than slight sexual tension of course). Apparently, that wasn’t enough. I wanted more! Every visit my mother and I made to Barnes and Noble, I got a new book, hoping that some sort of romance would happen for Luke. I wanted him to find happiness and love so badly and HAD to be with the right person!

I got extremely excited when Zahn finally wrote the two novels, The Hand of Thrawn series. Hand of Thrawn DuologyThis was where Mara and Luke finally fell in love after years of an on and off friendship, and in the most adventurous and stubborn way.Which was perfect! I loved that Luke would be the sweet, gentle, and loyal guy who was always slightly naïve about someone else’s affections for him. And that Mara, who was the stubborn, highly fiery, no-nonsense woman, but who was also loyal and honest about her feelings and affections, would be the one to land him. It was exactly how I had pictured it.

Around this time, I was fifteen. And I wanted to be Mara Jade. She had a dancer’s body, and so did I. She was a red head, and so was I. I bought green contacts to make my steel eye color to be emerald green. I already saw myself as her, could you tell? I was (and still am) fiery, passionate, logical, loyal and very affection when I chose to be, and with the right person.I wish.

I also wanted to be the type of person you didn’t mess with. A badass. That if you messed with my closest friends and family, you would be dead on my list. Mara would assassinate anyone who got in the way…but she was trained for that. And…well, I was trained to be an opera singer and actress. So I could pretend…

As I got deep into high school, I had become so obsessed with Luke and his romances that I even wrote two Star Wars novels starring my own character Lilliya Starr as his love interest. I made it so it could fit into the chronology of books and had it where Mara had actually been killed off to make Luke available. This was in 1999, years before the authors actually DID kill off Mara. Of course, my stories were filled with mystery and adventure, but there was always exciting sexual tension between Starr and Skywalker that it made it fun to write. And there were six books for me to create. So…that was fun. Not quite done yet.

As I got into college, I realized I was actually comparing my boyfriends to Luke Skywalker. It never occurred to me until I started dating a lot of different guys.

That one is too A New Hope…That one is too Empire…That is NOTHING like Luke.

To emphasize my obsession even more, my mother knew I was looking for a guy with the last name Walker just so I could have a son and name him Luke Sky Walker. Or maybe just Luke Walker. It was always fun to think about.

Because of my mother’s knowledge of this, I had been set up on a blind date with a guy who had the last name of Walker. Didn’t work out, but I am STILL on the lookout.

However, I’m not looking for the name anymore, although that would be a fun plus, and it’s not the physical appearance either that’s catching my eye. I realized recently that, after every relationship and date I’ve had, I am looking for a guy who is caring, compassionate, loyal, brave, spiritual, affectionate, positive, strong, adventurous, has been through the tough times and knows the hard life, motivated, and thinks beyond and outside himself. (I know, this is becoming a match.com-ish speech)

In short, ever since I was thirteen years old, I have been looking Luke Skywalker. He’s everything I’ve ever wanted. He IS my dream guy. And if someday I meet a man like this—and I’ve gotten close—I’m gonna say, “Do you like Star Wars? Do you believe in God? Yes? Well, then, let’s fly outa here. You do own an X-wing, right? Sweet.”

And hopefully he’ll smile at me like this…

 

Preferably without the woman on his side.

And I’m never settling for less. No one should.

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.