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.

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The Revolution: Chapter 9 part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sithspit!” Wess shouted from behind her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bayley made a low growl in response.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We are in serious trouble,” Wess said.

“Never saw that before,” Kenalle grumbled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then again, maybe not…

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

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

“What now?” Jaina growled when nothing happened.

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m like a science project to you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke smiled widely. “Nope.”

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

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

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

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

“Sounds invasive,” Lilliya said humorously.

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

Lilliya nodded, taking a deep, relaxing breath.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lilliya!”

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

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

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

“My stomach…and chest…head.”

“Everything?”

“Mm-hm.”

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

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

Luke smiled sadly. “I suppose you are.”

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

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

“Just around you,” Lilliya answered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“About what?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Revolution: Chapter 8

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

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

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

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

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

This was one of those days.

“Hello,” someone said from behind her.

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

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

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

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

“Ah,” he nodded. “I am Forra.”

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

“I’m Lilliya.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Six thousand?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why is that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forra smiled.

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

Forra laughed quietly.

“What?” Lilliya asked.

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

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

“Yes?”

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

Read. I read nine thousand.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well…” she hesitated. “I could try.”

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

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

Lilliya nodded.

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

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

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

“How are you doing?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lilliya nodded.

“Where did you get that necklace?”

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

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

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

“Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You pushed?” Luke repeated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But before Lilliya could answer, Ben suddenly showed up.

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then it began.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pell moved in, brandishing his lightsaber.

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

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

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

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

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

A second later, somebody gasped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Revolution: Chapter 7

“I’m losing him,” Luke said, his voice a sad murmur in the darkened room. Leia sat by him, the two of them gazing out the large window, watching the last of the atmosphere fire shows. The banquet had ended an hour ago, but there were those that continued their own personal celebrations. Jaina, Han and some of the other TwinSuns pilots had gone out to one of the local cantinas. Han had, yet again, tried to persuade Luke to join them, but Luke graciously refused, explaining that the night had worn him out. Whereas, in reality, he was disturbed by his encounter with the new young woman and conflicted with his relationship with his son.

After Lilliya had passed out in his arms, Luke went to find Ben to see if he could convince him to come with Luke to Ossus, if only for a few months. He was able to find Ben inside his personal quarters. Ben was more aggravated than Luke expected him to be, and the conversation had quickly gone sour with no positive result in Luke’s favor. “I can’t even get him to listen to me for one minute.”

Leia sighed and took Luke’s hand in hers. “He’s just going through something,” she said. “And he needs to do it alone. He’s becoming a very talented pilot, you know.”

“I don’t have anything against him learning how to fly,” Luke said. “But he can get the same pilot training on Ossus and even better. He would be taught how to use his Force skills in conjunction with his physical training.”

“Ben has an aversion to the Force,” Leia said grimly. “It’s brought him nothing but pain…at least, that’s how he sees it.”

Luke’s jaw clenched and he forced himself not to say anything. He wanted to say, “everybody goes through pain in life whether you have the Force or not,” but the pain Ben had experienced, he experienced before he was out of his own mother’s womb. That mother, he lost to his mentor and cousin, Jacen. Luke could understand, he could sympathize, but he still refused to accept that his only son had disowned the way of the Jedi. Ben was his only son, after all.

“I wish I could help him,” Luke finally said, a wave of sadness rolling over him.

They stayed silent for a long time. Leia was busy thinking, however, and thinking hard. She was trying to think of a way to make her brother happy, to convince Ben to go to Ossus. All the while, Lilliya kept popping up in her mind and then she couldn’t stop thinking of her.

“I have an idea,” Leia said, turning to look at Luke. “What do you think of bringing Lilliya with you?”

Luke frowned, then immediately shook his head no. “I don’t think so…”

“Wait a minute, before you completely knock down my idea,” she said. “Maybe bringing her to the Jedi Temple, being surrounded by Jedi, will help shed light on what she is. She isn’t Yuuzhan Vong, I believe that now. If she were an intruder, she had her chance at the Crystal Ballroom to kill a lot of important officials, but she didn’t.

“Of course, she did have tight security on her, but even still, if she was a walking Vong bomb, she would have exploded by now. If she was a spy, she would have found a way to infiltrate the Alliance security network. Her identification checks out, and if we weren’t so adept in the Force, we wouldn’t be questioning her identity at all.

“There is something very different with her. I have a feeling…she is something we’ve never encountered before. I sense she is harmless, for now. But what if something changed in her, something we couldn’t possibly predict because we are blind to her?” Leia shook her head, uncomfortable with the thought of being attacked totally unawares. This must be how “normal” people felt all the time.

“No,” she said, reaffirming her plan. “We must find her out, understand her and know what and who exactly she is. She isn’t entirely human, but you and I are the only ones that know this. Other than the MD droid, of course. And I have a feeling that she doesn’t know it either.”

Luke sat silent, seeming to take it under consideration. And then he said, “How does this have anything to do with convincing Ben to come with me?”

“If I can get Ben to go to Ossus, you have to take Lilliya too,” Leia said, a slow smile curling up on her lips.

“You’re starting to sound more and more like your husband,” Luke grumbled, shaking his head in defeat.

Leia shrugged. “We are one in the same.”

“I’d like to know how you’re going to convince Ben,” Luke said.

Leia flashed a bright, mischievous smile, making her appear much younger and youthful. “I have my ways…”

 

There was a loud knock on the door and someone continuously pressed the door chime, till Ben finally pulled himself out of bed, angry and half asleep. He only wore shiny black pants that dragged slightly against the floor and didn’t care to cover his torso. Whoever was waking him at one in the morning had better have a damn good excuse.

He pressed the glowing blue button and the front door hissed open.

Jaina was standing outside the door, her hair a little disheveled, and her breath smelling of Corellian ale. Gavin and Wess were standing a little ways down the corridor, laughing quietly to themselves. The others must have gone home.

“This better be good,” Ben grumbled to his older cousin.

“It’s always good to chat with Benny,” Jaina smirked, as she leaned against the door panel. “I’ve come on a mission from Mom. But I’m not supposed to tell you that.” She snorted a laugh, shaking her head at herself.

“Are you drunk?” Ben said, more irritated now that he was woken up by his drunken cousin and that this also wasn’t the first time she came home like this. “Don’t you have to leave early for Endor tomorrow.”

She barked a laugh again. “Aw, Ben, you know I don’t need sleep. Besides, I’m not nearly as drunk as you think. Can I come in?”

“Maybe you should go to bed and get some rest,” Ben said, blocking the door frame with his muscular size, towering above the smaller frame of Jaina.

“Don’t need it,” Jaina said, brushing the suggestion off with a wave of her hand. “And besides, we need to talk. It’s important.”

“Can’t it wait until tomorrow?” Ben said, hoping maybe that would make her go away.

“Actually, no it can’t. You and I—we need to talk—right now.” When she emphasized now, suddenly her drunkenness seemed to disappear into total seriousness.

Ben forced himself not to say anything, pressing his lips together firmly. What could possibly be so important as to have a discussion in the middle of the night? And Jaina didn’t seem like she would be persuaded to leave. So he decided to let her in to get the “talk” over with as soon as possible.

“I won’t be long guys,” Jaina called out to Gavin and Wess. “Don’t go anywhere without me.” They waved at her as the sliding door hissed shut behind her.

“All right, what’s the problem?” Ben turned to her, leaning up against one of the lounge chairs.

Immediately and very surprisingly, Jaina went from being sloppy intoxicated to a deadpan sober. She didn’t move from the front entrance.

“The problem is you,” Jaina said, her voice clean of the inebriation.

That took Ben completely off-guard and he quickly jumped on the defensive. But before he could say anything, Jaina cut him off with a raise of her hand.

“Look, Ben,” she said, her tone low and serious. “I love you. You’re like a brother to me, and you know that. You and I have been through a lot of grish together and sometimes I still can’t believe we’re standing here alive.

“So with that said, there are a lot of things that I want to discuss with you, mainly about your situation with your dad.”

Ben stood up abruptly, understanding quite perfectly where the conversation was leading, and he wasn’t going to stand for it. “Oh, no. Not you too!” He whirled around to glare angrily out towards the glittering cityscape to gather his thoughts. He wasn’t prepared for this argument, that was for sure. “Come on, Jaina, you know I don’t want anything to do with the Jedi Academy.”

“It’s not just that you don’t want to go to Ossus with Luke—which is something I think you really need to do,” Jaina continued, still standing in the same spot, hands on her hips. “It’s the fact that you and Luke don’t act like father and son anymore. You guys barely talk and when you do actually speak to each other, it turns into an argument.”

“That’s because he won’t ever listen to me—”

“Oh, please!” Jaina interrupted with sudden fervor it shocked Ben into silence. “I am sick of hearing about this. You’re the one not listening and you know how I know this? Cause Luke has had years of training to be a good listener. It’s called JedI patience. And I also know you and how you argue. Besides no one wants to hear about your troubling, adolescent issues.”

Ben shot an icy glare in her direction, but then it suddenly turned pained.

Jaina took a deep breath as she watched her younger cousin sag in misery and forced herself to calm her own heated temper. Unclenching her fists, she slowly moved over to her silent cousin and leaned against the window opposite of him so that she could look him straight in the eye. His gaze never left the floor.

“I’m sorry,” Jaina said finally. “That was uncalled for.” She waited for him to respond and look up, but he didn’t.

When she spoke again, her voice was softer, more sympathetic. “Luke needs you, Ben. Badly. He needs to have his son at his side. You’re all he has. You should know this more than anyone.”

Ben looked up, but didn’t meet Jaina’s gaze, rather he stared off into the cityscape again.

“You owe him these few months, at least,” Jaina said, and her tone sounded more pleading.

Ben sat silently for a minute, lost in thought. “What about my classes?” he finally said. “I can’t just not show up.”

“Actually, Mom has that all taken care of,” Jaina said, perking up casually. “She already requested a temporary leave of absence in your name.”

Ben’s eyes lit up in anger again, but he quickly pushed the feeling aside, not wanting to add to the already uncomfortable argument. Instead, he said, “Isn’t that illegal.”

“Yeah, sure, but Mom has her ways. And she figured you really wouldn’t make a court case out of it.”

Ben rolled his eyes. Of course he wouldn’t. What was he going to do, sue his aunt and the President of the Alliance?

“I guess I never really had a choice then, did I?” Ben muttered.

“With Mom involved?” Jaina laughed. “Not really.” Jaina pushed herself off the glass and made her way to the front door. Ben followed.

“I’m not gonna like this,” Ben admitted.

“Nobody said you had to like it,” Jaina said, pressing the blue button to let herself out. Gavin and Wess waited in the corridor. Jaina spun around suddenly to Ben. “Oh, and before I forget. You’re also flying with Lilliya Tentle. She’s going to Ossus too.”

“What?!” Ben nearly shouted.

Jaina ignored his outburst. “Surprisingly enough, she was much harder to convince than you were. She’s got nothing here, so I assumed it would be easy. Turns out, she’s not too fond of JedI either. Funny—you two seem to have a lot in common. You guys should get along nicely.” That last comment came out more sarcastic than Jaina meant it to.

“You seem to have been busy tonight,” Ben said wryly.

“Unfortunately.” Jaina glanced back at her waiting comrades. “And now I’m gonna be more busy enjoying the rest of the night.”

“Why do I have to take her?” Ben said.

Jaina cocked her head to the side, bewildered by Ben’s distaste in Lilliya. “Why not?”

“I just get a bad feeling from her, that’s all,” Ben shrugged.

Jaina leaned in and peered closely at Ben as if she was going to tell a secret. “So does everyone,” she said matter-of-factly, then stepped back. “That’s why she’s going, though she doesn’t know it. She thinks she’s going for investigative purposes, so that the JedI could help in uncovering the mysterious new enemy we seem to have.”

Ben crossed his arms defiantly. “Well, you and Leia seemed to have this worked out perfectly. It’s a wonder if anyone gets a say in anything at all.”

Jaina smiled roguishly. “Then nothing would get done right. Pick up Lilliya at her apartment in the morning. Uncle Luke will already have left for Ossus, so it’ll just be the two of you.” She smiled again, but this time, much more insinuating. “Sounds like fun,” she said silkily. “Love you.”

With that, she turned on her heal and disappeared down the hall with Gavin and Wess.

Ben stood in the doorway for a couple minutes more before sliding the door shut.

 

***

 

Morning came swifter than Lilliya wanted. She could have used a couple more hours of sleep, but instead she forced herself out of bed to face the day she knew she would dread. In an hour, she was dressed in a simple grey jumpsuit and black knee boots, and was packed for the trip to Ossus. She didn’t know what compelled her to agree to go to a place full of JedI, but she also knew she had nothing to lose by going. What else was she going to do, be trapped inside this apartment and constantly followed by GP droids? Lilliya came to the conclusion that traveling to Ossus, despite its population consisting mainly of JedI, whom she thought creepy and disturbing, was better than being stuck on Coruscant.

Lilliya gazed out the large window, mesmerized by the heavy air traffic flowing in and out in perfect zigzag patterns throughout the city’s spires. The two suns gave the city a dull, metallic look, lacking any of the color it had the night before.

Three days ago, she would have been looking out at Endor’s lush greenery. Three days ago, she had a family and a career. Now, she had nothing. She was vaguely amazed at how much could change in just a day. She wondered what was to happen to her now.

The door chime snapped her out of her reverie and she strode over to open it. To her surprise, Ben Skywalker stood on the other side, tall and clad in a blue jumpsuit, typical of Academy pilots.

“Good morning,” he said.

“Hi,” Lilliya responded. “Where’s Luke Skywalker?”

“He left much earlier,” Ben said, and something close to irritation seemed to be struggling in his voice. “I’m supposed to take you to Ossus. You ready?”

Lilliya nodded, no longer certain if she wanted to go now. Shaking her uneasiness away, she grabbed a small bag of belongings she’d packed and followed Ben out. Again, to her surprise, the GP guard droids that stood at attention outside her door didn’t follow her this time. It felt like she was being released from prison.

It took about ten minutes for them to reach the docking bay where Ben’s small ship, a T4-9ner, brand new and sleek, sat waiting. Lilliya had heard a lot about them and mostly how they had yet to pass the air safety tests, meaning they weren’t entirely safe to fly because of how fast they were.

The two of them entered silently up the ramp and into the main cabin, Lilliya looking longingly at the little ship. She also always knew she wanted one.

“It’ll be just us two, but you can sit the trip out in here if you’d like,” Ben said, gesturing to the blue and silver swivel chairs that were bolted to the deck around a small lounge table. “Or there are the bed cabins down the hall there if you’d rather sleep on the way.”

“Sleep is tempting, considering I didn’t get very much of it,” Lilliya responded, glancing down the skinny pathway towards where a two bunk beds were hidden behind privacy doors. She assumed they were very claustrophobic, as were most bunks within ships this size. “I think I’d rather be up front in the cockpit. Much more comfortable that way.”

Ben shrugged, but Lilliya could tell he was trying to hide his disappointment. Maybe he wanted to spend the trip alone, but Lilliya never did like someone else flying her when she could do it herself. So he would have to deal with her company for a few hours.

Ben made his way to the cockpit—it was only a few steps more—with Lilliya close behind. The two sat in the forward chairs, Ben in the pilot’s seat and Lilliya in the co-pilot’s. The seats were comfortable and luxurious, melding to each of their body form and weight. Lilliya assisted Ben with the ignition and they were off in just a few minutes. The ship hummed quietly as it sped through Coruscant’s grey atmosphere, Lilliya watching the skyscrapers disappear beneath them, and burst out into the blackness of space. Security recognized Ben’s ship immediately so it didn’t take them long to get through and ignite into lightspeed.

The two sat side by side in awkward silence. Ben glanced over in Lilliya’s direction and noticed her long golden hair, laying in curls around her shoulders, and turned to silver once the stars’ lights no longer reached her.

“You weren’t kidding about your hair,” Ben said, breaking the dull silence. “That is an interesting trait you got going on there.”

Lilliya fingered one of her curls, glancing down at the opulent silvery color. “Yeah, it’s definitely something I’ve never been able to figure out,” she said, glancing in Ben’s direction shyly. “Among the many other things…”

Ben raised an eyebrow. He wondered exactly what she meant by that. The thought that went through his mind was the fact that she was invisible to the Force. Was she referring to that? Probably not.

“So, uh, tell me about yourself,” Ben said, forcing himself to make conversation. It was going to be a long trip and if she wasn’t going to ride it in the main cabin, then he’d better make something of her presence.

Lilliya shrugged, smiling crookedly. “There’s not much to tell,” she said softly. “What do you want to know?”

“Well, you’re a pilot, for one. Where’d you train?”

“My dad started teaching me to fly when I was a kid. He taught me everything I know. We lived most of the time on Endor, at the base, once it was established. Before that, I lived on Coruscant. But when my mother died…we moved.”

Ben was silent for a second. The two of them were staring off into the streaking light field. “What happened to your mother?” Ben asked.

Lilliya sighed, trying to recall the memory. It had been so long ago. “I remember that she was really sick, suddenly. My dad had her see so many doctors from all over, but none of them could give him a straight answer. They all said the same thing, ‘they’d never seen anything like it.’ She died in a week from the first day she got sick. It was…strange. One day she was perfect, the next…” Lilliya shrugged, remembering why she didn’t think about the memory in the first place. She was six at the time, but she never could fully recover from the loss of the mother. “I was really little and so I blamed it on myself for a long time.”

Ben frowned, but didn’t say anything. He continued to stare out the view screen. His expression was somber, from what Lilliya could tell.

“What about you?” Lilliya said, trying to turn the attention away from her. She could already feel the depression creeping up on her and she really didn’t want to deal with it. “Tell me about yourself.”

Ben shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “I study at the Coruscant Flight Academy. My dad’s a JedI Master. That’s about it.”

Lilliya raised her eyebrows in disbelief. “Interesting. I would think you would have a whole novel to tell me.”

Ben shrugged indifferently, not meeting her gaze.

“Are you a JedI too?” Lilliya asked.

Ben’s jaw twitched. “Not anymore,” he said.

“You had that lightsaber,” Lilliya pointed out, but hoped it wouldn’t bring back any hard feelings about her intrusion into his home.

“Yeah, it’s more like decoration,” he said. “Or a reminder.”

“A reminder of what?” Lilliya prodded.

Ben glanced at her in irritation, and then quickly flickered his gaze back out the view screen. “Of stuff I don’t want to get involved in anymore.”

Lilliya was taken aback. “Really? Then why are you going to Ossus?”

Ben exasperated a sigh. “I owe someone.”

“Like who?”

Ben turned a look on her that meant “none of your business” and Lilliya dropped the subject. The two sat in silence again, the ship’s gentle humming being the only sound in the cockpit. Ben began to twitch in his seat agitatedly.

“There’s food in the cabin behind us and hologames, if you’re interested,” Ben said, breaking the silence.

“Are you hungry?” Lilliya asked.

“Well, no,” Ben said, nervously glancing away from her. “But I mean, if you are? I thought I’d let you know you’re welcome to it…if you’re hungry…or bored.”

Lilliya stared at Ben curiously, then nodded slowly, understanding his meaning. He wanted her to leave the cockpit, to be farther from him. She felt her stomach get hot as frustration boiled inside her. A sardonic smile bent her lips.

“Why…” she said slowly, “do I get the feeling that you don’t like me very much? Is it because I was in your apartment?”

Ben didn’t answer or look in her direction.

Lilliya stared at him now, hoping that would get him to answer, if not annoy the sithspit out of him.

“You really don’t like me, do you?” Lilliya said, a little surprised and hurt by the idea.

Ben shot a glare at her, but he still refused to say anything. Although the icy look in his blue eyes said enough.

Lilliya felt heat crawl from her stomach and through her veins as she became flat out angry. She felt confused and offended that someone who barely knew her had already come to the conclusion that they didn’t like her. And for what? It angered her even more that she didn’t know why.

When Ben looked at her, he was surprised to see the strange diamond scar in her left eye flash a deep red.

“I think I’ll check out the hologames in the back,” Lilliya said darkly, her gaze not wavering from Ben’s.

“Sure,” Ben said quietly.

Without another word, Lilliya got up from her chair and calmly left the cockpit and Ben. They stayed apart like that for hours. Ben didn’t leave the pilot’s chair and Lilliya fell asleep in the main cabin, her head on the lounge table. It was the hyperdrive alarm, warning their arrival to Ossus, that woke Lilliya. She refused to not be present inside the cockpit during the landing, so she bit the insides of her cheeks and boldly walked back inside.

Ben glanced back in surprise, if only that he was reminded that there was another person on board, but quickly turned back to the controls. Lilliya slid quietly into the copilot’s chair as they came out of lightspeed.

Ossus was before them, a grey-brown of a planet. Much different than the green of Endor or the sparkling glitter of Coruscant. Once they were cleared by security, the ship began to make its dissent into Ossus’ atmosphere. It was daytime on the planet, which turned Lilliya’s silver hair back to gold.

They flew across desert, old brown forests, rocky cliffs, small grey lakes, until it seemed there wasn’t any civilization at all.

“Interesting place for a JedI establishment,” Lilliya muttered. “Pretty ugly.”

“Humph,” Ben sighed, turning the ship around a rocky bend and down a canyon where a small river ran. “Well, you’d better get used to it. This is where we’re staying for a few months.”

We?” Lilliya cocked an eyebrow in Ben’s direction.

Ben smiled cynically. “Yep. You and me. We’re gonna get to know each other really well. The academy is a pretty small place. Not much in the way of escape.”

Lilliya looked at Ben and allowed her expression to turn into a sour smile. “Great,” she muttered, and turned back to look out the viewport as they sped down the river. Suddenly, the cliffs and river seemed to drop off ahead of them, leaving only the blue skyline. As the ship got closer, she noticed the river dipped down into a massive waterfall. Lilliya’s sour expression slowly turned into astonishment.

Beyond the waterfall, past the rocky cliffs, there stood an impressive white and silver tower glowing in the center of a valley surrounded by a canyon and other falls. Birds of all kinds soared past them and disappeared into the jungle below. Lilliya could see little rivers flowing all throughout the wild green trees and flowers. Surrounding the glowing tower were little square-shaped structures she assumed were homes for those who resided here.

“Wow,” Lilliya whispered, as they circled the tower, its skin seeming to reflect into the cockpit. She couldn’t tell if there were windows or outlets along the outside. The material seemed so surreal. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“No one has,” Ben said. He set the ship down on one of the landing platforms at the edge of the tower. As soon as the ship powered down, Ben got up from his seat to gather his bags. When he left, Lilliya could have sworn she heard him give a nervous sigh. Before she went to get her things, she saw outside the cockpit’s window a gathering of people in various robes making their way to greet them. Lilliya gulped nervously as well.

She moved into the main cabin and grabbed the bag she had secured in one of the cubbies. Ben was already on his way down the ramp, so she had to hurry to catch up with him. He waved a short greeting at the group of robed people as Lilliya tried to stay close. The two entered through a double sliding glass door and into the central chamber of the tower. It was filled with people, and Ben was moving so fast Lilliya could barely keep up with him.

“Where are we going?” she called, her voice echoing in the reverberating chamber. Her voice nearly drowned out amongst all the other voices with people bustling around busily.

“Not sure where you need to be, but I’m heading off to my quarters,” Ben called back without stopping. “Good luck to you. See you around.” With that, he disappeared into the crowd.

Lilliya stopped following him and allowed herself to be engulfed in the crowd. She was beginning to wonder why she ever came. Someone bumped into her and she barely heard his or her apology. She also wondered why everyone was in such a hurry considering all the rumors she heard about the JedI Academy being a very peaceful place. Her first impression of it now was very hectic and confusing. She decided that she needed to find Luke Skywalker. Once she found him, everything would be okay.

“Excuse me,” she called to someone who moved by her, but they didn’t stop. So she continued down the hall, pushing herself through some of the congested passageways. “Excuse me,” she said again, and grabbed a male Bothan by the arm, her fingers sinking into his deep fur.

He turned and looked her up and down curiously.

“I’m looking for Luke Skywalker,” she said. “Can you tell me where I can find him?”

“He’s at the Cliff Sprie outside with his students,” the Bothan responded. “That way.” He pointed out towards an exit.

“Thanks,” Lilliya said and quickly made her way through and out of the congested lobby.

There were a lot less people here and it was much quieter, only the sounds of insects and wing-bearing animals could be heard. She started to walk in the direction of where the Bothan pointed and hoped that she wasn’t going in the wrong way. Or that she would get lost. Thankfully, she heard some voices in the distance as she walked down a stony path. As she neared, she saw about six people, all in tight-fitting jumpsuits, standing at the edge of a small cliff. Underneath the cliff was a river and across the gap was another cliff where more people stood waiting.

Lilliya held her breath as one of the students on her side jumped off the ground, flew into the air, and landed on the other side, clumsily falling to one knee. She was almost all the way to edge of the cliff, and at the end of the line of students, as each one made the jump. Some were more graceful than others and each time they leaped, Lilliya’s heart skipped a beat.

Finally, Lilliya was at the very edge and was close enough to see Luke Skywalker’s black-suited form on the other side. She was about to wave to catch his attention, but her foot caught a pebble that trickled over the edge of the cliff. She glanced down as she heard an electrical charge and noticed the pebble bouncing off a force field below.

Simultaneously, the last student to jump heard the crackle and glanced at Lilliya, was surprised to even see her standing next to him, and in mid-jump fell over the cliff’s edge.

Lilliya gasped and tried to reach out to him instinctively, and her heart stopped as she watched him fall, screaming all the way. And then he suddenly was caught by the force field, right above the river, and he lay there motionless.

Lilliya heard a synchronized moan emanate on the other side. She glanced up to see some of the other students shaking their heads and staring at her, confused about her presence. She felt her cheeks flush. Great entrance, she thought in annoyance.

In that moment, she heard something land in the gravel behind her. She turned and nearly fell backwards into the pit herself when she saw Luke Skywalker standing there.

“I didn’t do that,” she blurted, motioning towards the space where the last student had been. Then she wanted to smack herself for saying anything at all.

Luke smiled greatly, his sapphire eyes glittering in the hot sunlight.

“It’s all right, everyone,” he said, calling across the pit, and again she heard synchronized murmuring. “This is the guest I’d been telling you all about.” He glanced back at her, as she made a conscious decision to move away from the cliff’s edge. “I’m so glad you decided to come.” His smile creased his eyes, and suddenly Lilliya seemed to feel better immediately.

Lilliya heard more muffled landings as the students came back from across the pit. Even the boy who had fallen had already gained his strength back to levitate himself back to the group.

Luke stood beside Lilliya and gestured to his group of young students.

“I would like you all to meet Commander Lilliya Tentle,” Luke announced. “She will be with us for a few months, learning the ways of the JedI.”

Lilliya shot a surprised look at Luke, who seemed completely unaware. Suddenly, she didn’t feel so good anymore.

The murmur grew louder. The students were giving Lilliya a strange look that made her feel very exposed and very alien.

“Yes, I know it’s a little late to except a new student,” Luke continued, and Lilliya made a point to keep her mouth shut. “But I have strong hopes that Lilliya will become a great addition to the JedI.”

Lilliya’s jaw clenched tightly and willed herself to not throw a fit.

“Welcome, Commander,” one of the male students said, his voice smooth and chime-like.

Lilliya couldn’t seem to find her voice, so she just nodded in response.

“I think we can call for a recess today,” Luke said. “We will begin this exercise again tomorrow.”

The group dispersed immediately, some going off alone into the jungles, others going off in pairs towards the apartments and tower.

Lilliya, fists clenched, teeth grinding, met Luke’s smiling gaze.

“Well, now that you’re here,” he said, taking her bag from her hand. “Let’s get you settled in. I wasn’t sure if you were really coming, but I did reserve private quarters for you. This way.”

Lilliya followed him down the stone path and towards the grouping of small structures Lilliya had guessed were the apartments, still keeping her mouth shut.

Luke must have keyed into her silence and so kept talking.

“So did my son fly you here?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she muttered. “He so conveniently ditched me in the lobby too.”

Luke cocked an eyebrow but didn’t comment. “I wasn’t sure if he was coming either. He must have gone straight to his quarters. I’m surprised you were able to find me.”

“I had to stop one of your students and ask,” she answered. “By the way, how come it’s like a field day in there? I could barely move.”

“You came on a convenient day,” he said. “Today was visitor day. As a JedI student, you don’t get to see your family too often, so today is when the family members can come see their son or daughter. A student isn’t technically aloud to leave in the middle of training.” Luke gave Lilliya sideways glance. “For various reasons, of course.”

“Well, it was like hell trying to get through there,” Lilliya grumbled. “What is that place anyhow?”

“That?” Luke glanced at the glowing tower. “Is the JedI Temple. It’s fascinating, isn’t it? The metal is made from the sentient planet called Zonama Sekot. The remaining Yuuzhan Vong reside there now, in peace.”

“Why does it glow?”

“It’s an enigma, but we think it’s because the metal is alive and filled with the Force. It emanates a light reflecting its life. Maybe its aura.”

They walked down another stone path surrounded by numerous flowers this time. The path cut through the small apartments and then Luke stopped at one of the doors, punching in a code and stepping into the studio. He set Lilliya’s bag on the plain metal desk that stood by the door.

Lilliya stepped in and looked around. The room was plain. It had one window looking out towards the other apartments and gardens. It had one bunk bed, a closet and a bathroom, and then the desk near the door. It was small and simple, and not unlike her bedroom on Endor. It fit her quite nicely, actually.

“I won’t be under house arrest here, will I?” Lilliya asked, as Luke made his way out the door.

He smiled. “No. You’ll be free to go anywhere you like without having any guard droids at your back. I’ll let you get settled in. All you need to do is relax for today. Tomorrow is going to be a long day for you.”

“Oh, yes, about that,” Lilliya said, trying to keep the bottled up anger from entering her voice. “I was quite surprised that you volunteered me as a student. I was not told that was the plan when coming here. In fact, I was told something completely different.”

Luke’s smile faded for the first time, which kind of unnerved Lilliya. She had gotten so used to Luke having a smile plastered on his face. “You’re right,” he said. “I’m sorry about that. I assumed that you wouldn’t have any aversion to learning about our ways considering I sense in you the potential of being able to use the Force.”

Lilliya’s mouth nearly dropped. She remembered Jenar telling her that he thought she might have had the Force, but she really never took it seriously. As far as she was concerned, she’d much rather not have anything to do with it.

“I know that enrolling into the Academy is probably not an option for you at the moment,” Luke continued. “But if you would consider sitting in on some of our lessons and maybe trying one or two of them out…well, who knows?”

“I don’t know…” Lilliya shook her head, feeling very lost, confused, unprepared, and not in her realm at all.

Luke’s expression grew very solemn. “Look, Lilliya,” he said quietly. “I know what you’ve been through. I know how you must be feeling right now. Maybe this would be good for you. I don’t know what will happen today or tomorrow, but…what else…do you have?”

Lilliya’s diamond scar turned a dark green and she made herself shove away the flood of tears that threatened her. So this was why she was here. To give her something to do, to make her feel useful. And why not? She didn’t have anything or anybody anymore. She was a lost soul. A nobody. And he was right. They were all right. She had nothing left.

The rims around her eyes burned red as she fought back tears.

“There’s a data pad on the desk that’ll help you get to know the area and also has the training schedules logged into it, in case you change your mind,” Luke said. “In the meantime, we will be investigating the incident at Endor and will be asking you some questions that could help us. Right now, the TwinSuns squadron is on their way to the system. We should hear from them in a few days with an update.”

Lilliya nodded, not meeting Luke’s prominent gaze.

Luke frowned sadly, knowing how awful she must have been feeling. He wanted to hold her and comfort her, but something pushed him away. He still couldn’t sense her presence, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t see her fighting back the tears. And yet, Luke could feel something else emanating from her. It was like warm liquid and the closer he got to her, the more it flowed over him like an intoxicating drug. This unnerved him. He had never felt this sensation coming from someone before, and especially someone who’s life signs didn’t exist in the Force. What worried him more was that no one else mentioned the warmth he felt radiating off of Lilliya. Leia mentioned she felt like she was being pushed away from her. So did Jaina, but the feeling wasn’t so strong. Ben said he couldn’t get a sense out of her at all, but that she reminded him of the ysalimiri, the species that strangely blocked the Force from reaching anyone who stood nearby.

Luke, however, felt a mixture of things, one of which was the warming sensation, and one that also matched everyone else’s description. To him, she resembled a light that seemed devoid of life. Not unlike the Jedi Temple and its glowing metal skin. Like she had the aura, but lacked the soul.

Luke noticed Lilliya fidgeting and decided he’d better leave her be.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said. “Whether you decide to join us in training or not. Get some rest and things we’ll start to shape up quicker than you think.”

Lilliya watched Luke go and continued to stare at the door even when it slid closed. All she knew was that her life had ended. She didn’t know the one she was leading now.

The Revolution: Chapter 6 part 3

The night air was cooler than usual for Coruscant’s summer. The two suns had already disappeared far below the horizon, shrouding the city into a sparkling night. There was a gray haze in the sky, hiding the stars, but the city contained its own light. Fireworks, parades, and other lighting spectaculars lit up the night sky, reflecting off skyscrapers’ silver metal skin. Every spire was lit from the inside with blue, gold, yellow, and red.

The Galactic Palace had an array of colorful laser lights surrounding the base. The colors bent, twirled, and made shapes in the dark sky’s gray haze. The city echoed with sounds of all kinds, the palace being the main center of attraction. People from all over the galaxy traveled to see the palace on YVA day. Security had their hands full as they scanned every person before entering the palace and into the massive Crystal Ballroom. The ballroom had a live band playing New Republic classics that people danced to in the center of the room. Surrounding the dance floor were circular tables elaborately decorated with ice-mist sculptures that changed shape when no one was looking. The room was packed to the brim with delegates from all over, politicians, bureaucrats, celebrities, wealthy citizens, high military officials, ambassadors, and even some celebrated pilots who were graciously invited and decided to make an appearance.

Lilliya felt incredibly overwhelmed as soon as she stepped through the immense crystal doors and into the Crystal Ballroom. She could feel the eyes of all the people looking in her direction, probably because of her intimidating escort, the GP guard droids, looking very out of place in a room full of organics. Or maybe it was the gown she wore given to her by Jaina. A gown that Lilliya felt particularly exposed in and that drew too much attention to her figure. Her hair cascaded in curls down her back and the white satin dress, embedded with tiny little crystals, flowed down her body, clinging to all the right places. The low cut front and back made her feel too self-conscious. She wondered wryly to herself if this was punishment for something she did in an earlier life.

Lilliya shrank into the crowds, searching for anyone she might recognize. The GP droids stayed very close to her, which made the groupings of people part out of her way. She could hear them whispering about her. One of her many talents was her hearing, but at this particular moment, she didn’t want to hear what they were saying. Some were curious, others were jealous, and some were nervously backing away because of her escort.

After maneuvering through the crowds, it seemed impossible that she might find someone she knew. She was hoping Jaina would be easy to spot, the only person she felt remotely comfortable with.

She stopped near a group of high-class Calamarians and surveyed the room. There were too many people and Lilliya was thinking she’d rather go back to her apartment. If she couldn’t find anyone, then there was no point in her being there.

As she stood there looking through all the people, she had the strangest feeling she was being watched. She listened closely to the murmuring around her, but no one was paying attention to her anymore. The droids, of course, were watching her every move, but she could have sworn she felt something else too. A shiver ran up her spin as she became more and more aware of a pair of eyes peering at her from across the room.

Lilliya turned slowly to her left, saw a tall, blue Chiss glance in her direction, but then disappear onto the dance floor. It wasn’t the Chiss who caught Lilliya’s eye, however; it was the man standing behind the Chiss.

There was a man in simple black formal attire standing alone on the far side of the room. He had dark hair with a shock of white above each ear, a sinewy figure, chiseled jaw, and deep, glistening blue eyes. Even meters away, Lilliya could tell they were blue.

And he was staring right at her. His gaze didn’t even flinch when she looked right back. It was as if he knew her from somewhere. In that moment, Lilliya felt the world melt away. The bright colors blended together in a swirling mesh, the movement of the people slowed and mixed with the colors, and everything went silent. The only thing Lilliya could feel or hear was her heartbeat as her breath caught in her throat. She couldn’t explain her reaction, only that she didn’t know if it was fear she was feeling, shock, or wonderment. His eyes never left hers. She couldn’t move—couldn’t look away, though her mind was telling her to run.

“Lilliya!” Someone shouted her name, but it sounded too far away. Suddenly, a cool hand grabbed her arm and pulled her at her.

“Lilliya, I’m so glad you decided to come,” Jaina shouted through the loud music, a wide grin spread across her angelic face.

Everything went spinning back up to speed as Lilliya broke her gaze from the stranger.

“Yeah, better late than never,” Lilliya murmured, allowing herself a weak smile. She glanced back to where the man was, but he had already disappeared. She felt very uneasy now.

“I knew that dress would look great on you,” Jaina smiled wryly. “I know I could never pull it off. Come with me!” Jaina picked up the train of her blue silk dress and held onto Lilliya’s hand as Jaina pulled her through the crowds. The GP droids were somehow able to keep up. Jaina and Lilliya met up with a much more casual-looking group, all about the same age.

“This is my squad: Gavin, Kenalle, Bayley, and Wess,” Jaina said, introducing the four very tall and muscular men, all human except for Bayley. He was a yellow-skinned Andrian. They all grinned handsomely at Lilliya, Wess not hiding is obvious approval. “And this is my cousin, Ben,” she said, turning to the last man in the group.

Ben turned around to shake Lilliya’s hand, but then stopped himself when he recognized who it was. Lilliya, too, stopped herself and they both stared at each other awkwardly.

“We’ve met,” Ben said, his voice gruff. But he couldn’t help notice how stunning Lilliya looked. The crystal necklace caught his eye as it glittered against her near-bare chest and he had to concentrate on looking away.

“Yes,” Lilliya blushed. “Earlier today…we ran into each other, sort of.”

Ben grumbled something unintelligible and looked away.

“Oh,” Jaina said, giving Ben a sideways look. “Well, now you can meet again.”

“So we hear you’re a pilot for the Galactic Raiders,” the older man named Gavin said.

“Yes, I was,” Lilliya nodded. So it begins… “Or rather I am the last remaining Raider pilot.”

“Yes, we’re very sorry to hear about that,” Gavin said, and it sounded like he meant it. “We’re shipping out early tomorrow morning actually to find out what’s been going on over there. This is the first real disturbance we’ve had in years.”

“Let’s hope that’s all it’ll be,” Kenalle said to Gavin.

“Yeah, just a nuisance,” Wess piped in. “Though I’ve been aching for a little action. Patrolling the galaxy can get a little old, you know?” He winked at Lilliya. She pretended not to notice.

“I’m sure.” Jaina rolled her eyes.

“Lilliya,” another voice called in her direction. She recognized this voice as Leia’s. “I’m glad you’ve decided to join us.” Leia joined the little group of pilots, a gold gown clinging to her small frame and flowing far behind her. A man Lilliya didn’t recognize stood at her side and another entourage of droids stood a few more paces away from her. These weren’t the same droids, however; they were the HD organic droids. They were even more disturbing looking than the metal GP guard droids, despite their lifelike appearance.

Lilliya nodded a greeting. She was happy to find that Leia seemed to be in a much better mood this time.

“This is my husband, Han Solo,” Leia said, introducing the man at her side. He was very ruggishly handsome and looked more like a rouge than a president’s partner. He nodded and grinned a dashingly crooked grin at Lilliya.

“Something looks different about you,” Leia said, examining Lilliya’s face. “Did you dye your hair?”

Lilliya frowned in confusion, but then remembered that her hair did change color. But it always did when the sunrays didn’t shine on her. For some strange reason that had never been explained, Lilliya’s hair color would depend on the sun. During the day, her hair would be a golden blonde. At night, her hair would turn, not gray or white, but a lustrous silver. She was so used to it changing without explaining the strange occurrence, she had completely forgotten about it. It was another thing her father told her not to worry about, that she was unique and should feel lucky to have changing hair color…

“Oh, no,” Lilliya answered. “I have a weird hair pigmentation problem that is heavily affected by sunrays.” Let’s see if they buy that story…“That is weird,” Jaina said. “I didn’t even notice until you said something, Mom.”

Everyone was examining her, Jaina and Leia especially, and Ben seemed to sneak angry glances in her direction, his blue eyes very accusing. Lilliya was beginning to wonder why Ben acted so strangely toward her. He couldn’t have been still angry about her “breaking and entering” his house?

“So I hear you’re going off to Endor tomorrow,” Leia said, turning her attention to Jaina. “I’m a little surprised you didn’t run it by me.”

“You want someone to check out the system, don’t you?” Jaina said, irritation quickly filtering into her tone. It was obvious they had a similar discussion earlier.

“Yes, of course, but I’m not sure I want you going out there just yet.”

“Well, I think my squad could handle it better than any of your other teams the Alliance has,” Jaina said, keeping her voice calm.

“Leia,” Gavin said, and Lilliya was surprised he addressed her so informally. “If there is something dangerous out there, we should be the first group to investigate. You already lost one team. You know what our specialty is…and I can promise you we’ll bring your daughter back safely.” Gavin smiled, knowing that that was Leia’s main concern.

Leia kept a pleasant smile on her face, but her dark eyes were saying something else. “Thank you, Gavin. But I’d still rather send Squad 9 out before—”

“Mom!” Jaina interjected, already losing her cool.

“Listen to you mother, Jaina,” Han said, this being the first time Lilliya heard him speak. His voice was low and coarse.

Instead, Jaina spoke before Leia could. “Couldn’t we discuss this later,” Jaina said, gritting her teeth and her brown eyes glistening stubbornly at her mother.

Leia closed her mouth and seemed to agree with her daughter. “Later, then,” she said. Then she turned to Lilliya. “So, were you able to meet any of the squadron generals, yet?”

“Not really,” Lilliya answered, a little wary of the tension between Jaina and Leia. “I kind of just got here.”

“And what would be the fun of looking for a job when you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself?” Another person joined the group, surprising even Gavin and Han. It was a man this time with a deep, gentle voice.

“Ah, Luke, there you are,” Leia said, smiling brightly.

Lilliya turned to see who it was standing behind her and she caught her breath. It was the same man in black, the one who was staring at her from across the room. Now that he was closer, she felt like panicking.

The man named Luke stepped up right beside her, but didn’t glance in her direction.

“Lilliya,” Leia said, “this is my brother Luke Skywalker.”

Luke turned his perceptive blue eyes onto to Lilliya now and smiled warmly.

“I’ve been looking forward to meeting you,” he said. “Leia’s told me so much about you.”

Lilliya’s glance flickered between Leia and Luke, as the shock began to seep in. This was Luke Skywalker, probably the most famous and well-known person in the entire galaxy. And Leia was speaking of her to him. Maybe that would explain the reason he was staring at her before. She then was beginning to wonder if Luke and Ben were related, but when she turned to look for him within the group, she noticed he’d gone.

“Luke! You better find time to come out with me before you leave for Ossus,” Han said, slapping him on the shoulder. Han was much taller than Luke, making the Jedi Master look quite small in comparison. “You owe me one, buddy.”

Luke laughed. “That I do. But it might have to wait for another night. I leave for Ossus early tomorrow morning.”

“We’ll see about that,” Han said. “Looks like I’ll have to send Threepio to disable you’re ship. You are staying here.”

“I don’t think his metal brain could handle sabotaging a Skywalker ship,” Luke said. “I have a feeling my father had him programmed that way from the beginning.”

The music suddenly changed to a slower waltz and many more people joined the dance floor.

“Well, since Luke doesn’t want to spend time with his old friend,” Han smirked, then turned to his daughter, “Jaina should dance with her father—you know, to help me plan a different attack.”

“Oh, Dad…” Jaina grumbled, rolling her eyes, but allowed Han to dramatically swing her onto the dance floor.

“Mistress Leia,” Gavin said, humor rolling off his tone. “Would you be so kind as to have this dance.”

“Why of course, Gavin,” Leia smiled wryly. “I would be honored.” The two of them entered the dance floor while the HDs stood aside, watching.

Lilliya was left with the other pilots and Luke, making her feel very awkward. She hoped no one was planning on asking her to dance. As far as she knew, she had two left feet.

“Lilliya.”

She grimaced, feeling it coming, and not wanting to look up from the floor.

“Come and dance with me.” It was Luke’s voice, she knew it. So she forced herself to look up in response, if only to be polite, and met Luke’s glistening blue eyes. Again, she shivered.

Lilliya forced a smile and shook her head no. “I don’t know how,” she said meekly.

Luke smiled wide and suddenly his hand was upon hers, a warm, firm grasp. “Nonsense,” he said, and his voice was like silk. Before she could object, he pulled her onto the dance floor along with everyone else, and she could have sworn she heard the other pilots snickering.

As soon as they found a big enough clearing on the floor for the two of them, Luke stopped and turned toward her. Lilliya was in too much shock to really know what to do, so Luke bent down and picked up the train of her gown, placing it gently in her right hand.

“You may want to hold on to this,” he said, his voice so soft it nearly put Lilliya in a trance, if she wasn’t in one already. Luke then placed her left hand in his, pressed his other hand against the small of her bare back, his fingers sending thrilling waves up her skin, and pulled her to him.

Lilliya had to concentrate on not shuddering as every nerve-ending in her body seemed to be firing sporadically all over. She had never felt this way, nor had anyone ever come close to affecting her like this. There seemed to be no explanation for it either.

The two of them began moving to the waltz, slowly at first, and then more up to speed once Lilliya felt more confident.

Finally, she was able to recover her voice. “This isn’t really my area of expertise,” she said, trying to hide the shy quiver in her tone.

“It isn’t mine either,” Luke said, smiling kindly. “But don’t worry, I’ve got you.”

Lilliya allowed a little nervous laugh to escape. She figured that comment might have had a double meaning.

“So you’re the daughter of Admiral Tentle?” Luke asked.

Lilliya nodded, trying not to think about it.

“I think I met him once,” Luke said, his voice soothing. “He was a good man and a good leader.”

“Yes…” Lilliya said, her voice barely a whisper. “He was.”

“If I remember it correctly,” Luke continued, “he didn’t have any other children.”

“No,” Lilliya responded. “My mother died when I was very young and he never remarried. I suppose he was too busy bringing up a stubborn little girl like me.”

Luke smiled again, and Lilliya was enchanted by it. It was strange that the feeling of fear she felt before now seemed a distant memory, as though it had melted away and reformed into a bizarre attraction. Despite the age difference, Lilliya found herself oddly drawn to the Jedi Master. There was a magnetic desirability she sensed but couldn’t describe.

Lilliya forgot she was holding her breath and forced herself to let it out slowly, all the while knowing other people were watching them intently, especially the young TwinSuns pilots.

“Do you have any other family?” Luke spoke again, his breath warm and inviting, caressing her mouth.

Lilliya blinked, hoping she heard what he said. She had lost her concentration just a minute ago and all she could think of was the hot pulsing she felt deep inside her. He was so close, she could barely breathe, and his blue eyes were looking at her with such fierce intensity that she was getting dizzy just looking back.

“What?” Lilliya mumbled. She could have sworn she felt something burning against her chest, but couldn’t seem to tear her eyes away from Luke’s to check what it was.

As if reading her mind, Luke glanced down and frowned.

“That’s an interesting crystal,” he said, his gaze glancing back up at her.

Lilliya looked down too and frowned as well. Her crystal charm was glowing brightly against her sternum. That must have been the heat she was noticing. She knew her crystal glowed from time to time, but they were rare and always seemed to signal something coming—usually danger. Suddenly she wasn’t feeling so good.

Without really aware of what she was doing, Lilliya leaned into Luke and laid her head against his shoulder.

Luke tensed in surprise. “Are you okay?” he asked.

Lilliya squeezed her eyes shut to stop the spinning. The whole room was swirling in a sickening, dizzying mess. She hoped it wasn’t her concussion. The MD droid told her she’d be fine.

“I don’t think I feel so good…” Lilliya moaned, trying to work moisture into her mouth.

Luke’s grip tightened on her if only to keep her from falling to the ground. Suddenly, he felt her whole body weigh onto him, her hand going slack in his, and she collapsed, her head snapping backward.

Luke heard the people watching gasp in surprise. He balanced his body with hers, placed his hand behind her neck in support, and lifted her into his arms. Leia, Jaina, and Han were already there at his side. He saw the other pilots pushing their way towards them as well.

“What happened?” Leia said, a little astounded.

Luke shook his head. “I’m not sure.”

“Maybe she’s exhausted,” Jaina said. “She’s had a rough couple of days.”

“Could be the concussion,” Leia wondered.

“Or maybe Luke was a little too hot for her to handle,” Han smirked, winking at Luke. “You’ve got a blonde-bombshell in your arms, kid. That doesn’t happen every day—”

Leia punched him in the arm and Luke rolled his eyes. A crowd of curious people began to gather around them.

“Well, if anything, someone should get her back to her room,” Leia said.

“I’ll do it!” Both Wess and Kenalle exclaimed fervently.

Right,” Jaina said, pushing them both back. “I’ll take her back. I’ve had my fill of the party anyhow.” She turned to look for the GP guard droids, but they were already on their way. The first one reached Luke and he slid the unconscious Lilliya into its massive, bulky arms. Jaina followed the droids out of the Crystal Ballroom, random people cheering sarcastically as they left.

Leia looked at Luke, a worried expression on her elegant face.

Luke’s expression was a grim mix of confusion and worry, his eyes staring at the floor.

“I’m not sure what happened,” he finally said.

“Maybe she really is still sick,” Han pointed out.

Luke shook his head, but didn’t say anything. People were watching them and that was making him more aggravated.

“Were you able to detect her?” Leia asked. “Or at least figure out what she is.”

Luke’s expression grew darker. “I don’t want to talk about,” he said, then suddenly stormed off into the crowds.

Leia’s mouth dropped in confusion as she watched him disappear.

“What was that all about?” Han said, a little irritated at Luke for leaving them so abruptly.

“That was weird,” Gavin said, and the other TwinSuns pilots standing by him agreed. “And where’s Ben? He just up and disappeared earlier too.”

Leia was still staring where Luke left off, her brow furrowing in concern.

“There’s a lot of weird things going on,” Han grumbled. “Remember what I said about wanting a little adventure? Well, I take it back.”

***

 

Lilliya woke up in utter darkness. Her hands felt around the soft cushion she laid on and assumed she was most likely on a bed.

“Lights,” she said, and the room lit up immediately. She winced at the brightness and shaded her eyes. She realized she was back in her bedroom, still dressed in the white gown Jaina had given her. She couldn’t really remember what happened or how she got there, but her sternum felt sore. Lilliya glanced down and noticed a tender red spot in the shape of a tiny oblong object—her crystal. But it wasn’t glowing anymore. She fingered the crystal lightly and noticed it was cold.

Rubbing her eyes, irritated from the bright light, she said, “Lights dim, shades off.” The lights dimmed down to a soft glow and the windows went from opaque to clear, allowing more city light to glitter against the bedroom walls. It was still night.

Someone must have placed her in the room and activated the window shades. Lilliya didn’t remember doing any of it.

It was then she noticed a steel black box laying next to her on the bed. Cocking her head to the side in curiosity, she picked up the box—it was heavy and cold—and placed it carefully in front of her. There was an old New Republic emblem engraved on the cover of the box. She recognized it as her father’s private safe.

Lilliya held her breath as she realized this must have been restored from the Raider base. At the moment, she didn’t seem to care how it got in her room or how it was able to be sent from Endor to Coruscant.

Her fingers traced the outside of the box lightly until she found the latch to unlock it. Inside, she found her father’s personal documents, a few expensive credit chips, a carbon photo of her and her mom—that made her stop for a second. She held the photo in her fingers, peering at it in the dim illumination, the city lights twinkling against it. Her mother was young and beautiful holding a five year old girl with long curly gold hair. The two women in the photo were laughing.

“Aw, Dad…” Lilliya murmured, absentmindedly brushing a tear from her cheek. She placed the carbon photo on the bed and continued searching through the box. She came upon a smaller case, only a couple inches wide, and opened it. It was black velvet inside and was mainly empty except for a tiny silver, rectangular object. Lilliya frowned, marveling at the thin metal, carefully picking it up with her fingers. It was only about a centimeter long, very small. There was a hook attached to it as if it could be attached to a chain of some sort. She rotated it letting the dim light reflect off of it softly. She thought she saw something written on it.

As she peered closer, she did indeed see a script of some kind, but it was in a language she didn’t recognize. She thought of Jenar, wishing he was with her. He would have been able to translate it. She smiled wryly to herself remembering their little conversation about the point of learning more than five languages…

And then she stopped herself from thinking any further. Blinking the burning tears away, tears she hadn’t even noticed building, she carelessly balanced the metal charm on her finger. Then, without giving it much thought, she hooked the piece of metal onto her necklace, letting it clink against her crystal.

Lilliya piled everything back into the metal safe, locked it, and placed it on the floor next to her bed. She stripped off her dress and buried herself into the covers.

“Lights off,” she grumbled as she threw a satin pillow over her head. The lights immediately plunged the room in darkness, only the city lights making soft, glowing orb-like shapes against the bedroom walls, and Lilliya willed sleep to take her.

The Revolution: Chapter 6 part 2

Lilliya was a little lost. She knew she took one of the lifts when she left the gardens, and it shot further up the palace till she reached the top. Now she was in a much more elaborate and lavish corridor with more wide windows looking out towards Coruscant’s cityscape. Noting the expensive looking décor, she assumed she must have ventured into a much more wealthy living area.
Rather than returning back down to the lower levels, Lilliya was compelled to explore the richer apartments. She found herself wandering down the brightly lit hallways until she reached the end. She was about to turn back around, but the apartment at the end of the hall had its door wide open. Lilliya cocked her head to the side in curiosity. Who would leave their door open, she wondered.
She stood alone in the hallway; there wasn’t much traffic up in the higher lofts compared to the lower ones. In fact, the hallway she stood in was completely empty. Lilliya waited to see if someone would come out of the apartment and close the door. She couldn’t explain why she cared, but she had the itching feeling to explore inside. She moved closer to the open door, trying to make her walk look casual just in case someone decided to show up.
“Hello?” she called into the apartment, barely leaning in an inch.
No answer.
“I noticed your door was open…” she called again, a little more timidly this time. Still, nothing. Lilliya glanced behind her to see if anyone was coming, then slinked into the entrance. She held her breath as she went through.
There was nothing really spectacular on the inside other than the vast amount of living space. Lilliya descended down a few steps into the circular living area. Everything was very clean, almost untouched. The room had a spectacular view of the city and Lilliya found herself staring out the window for a few minutes. In the corner of the room, the sunlight glinted off something silvery. More curious than ever, she turned to where the reflection came from.
A silver object stood elevated on one of the mantels by the holovid projector. It was oblong and obviously made out of a silver metal material. It floated in the air and must have been held up by a type of magnetic field. Lilliya thought she recognized the object as she got closer. Carefully, she wrapped her fingers around its cylindrical shape and pulled it away from the magnetic field. It was surprisingly heavy in her hand for how simple it was, and very cold, though the room temperature wasn’t any colder.
Gripping it tighter, for fear of dropping it, she noticed a small knob on its side. She touched it.
Suddenly, the object came to life. A deep blue laser-blade shot out of the topside of the cylinder, humming and vibrating loudly. Lilliya nearly dropped the thing in shock, but thankfully had a tight enough grip on it that her hands were shaking from the vibration.
And she knew exactly what it was.
Her heart began to race as she quickly began to realize who’s room she was in, but before she could plan her hasty escape, the lightsaber was yanked out of her hand by some unseen force, the blade disappearing back into the hilt, and landing in the hand of a man.
Lilliya swore under her breath as she slowly turned around to face whoever was behind her. There stood a young man, probably in his early twenties, with dark blonde hair that seemed to shimmer with red in the sunlight, deep blue eyes shaded by thick, curled lashes, a straight nose and chiseled jaw, rosebud-shaped lips that were definitely curved into a frown. He wore a blue flight suit, academy rank, Lilliya recognized, black gloves and black knee-high boots. The man hooked the lightsaber onto his utility belt.
He was very good-looking, and very irritated.
“What are you doing?” he said, his voice deep and annoyed.
Lie! Lie! Think of something!
“I didn’t realize the apartment was occupied,” Lilliya said, her voice shaking nervously. “I saw the door open and it didn’t seem like anyone lived here. Until I saw that.” She pointed at the lightsaber.
The man didn’t say anything, but his hand reflexively rested on the lightsaber’s hilt. He continued to stare at her, frustration becoming very obvious in his blue eyes. This made Lilliya even more nervous. Not only did Jedi and their mysterious power called the Force make Lilliya feel very vulnerable, but their mere presence made her uneasy.
Feeling frozen in place, Lilliya stared back at the man, waiting for him to say something else. The two continued to stare at each other, not moving, as though two highly dangerous predators faced each other for the first time, not knowing what to do, whether they should attack or run.
Finally, he said, “This isn’t something to mess around with.” He gestured to his lightsaber.
Lilliya broke away from his blue-eyed stare for a second to glance at the silver hilt.
“I’m sorry about that,” she said, looking back up at him. His eyes were scrutinizing, almost invasive. It made her feel exposed. She could feel her cheeks warming. “I was curious…” She shrugged.
“You could have killed yourself,” he said, “if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Lilliya nodded, glad to know that the man cared somewhat about her well-being. That was a good sign.
“Well,” she said, “it definitely won’t happen again. I’ll be going now.” As she side-stepped the man to leave the room, she noticed other figures in the door way.
“Mr. Skywalker,” a deep mechanical voice reverberated. Her GP guard droids now stood in the hallway, their glowing red eyes zeroing in on Lilliya.
“Oh, great,” she muttered.
Ben Skywalker glanced at the droids, the only non-organic droids allowed as legal by order of the Advisory Council, and then back down at the disgruntled girl. His feelings were a mixture of shock, anger, paranoia, and amazement. First, because he had no idea someone would be in his apartment. He had only been gone for a few minutes. Second, because he found someone intruding on his privacy and this “someone” was undetectable by the Force. Thirdly, because she couldn’t be detected, and that made him feel threatened by her. Fourthly, because she was not only beautiful, but fascinating to look at.
Her skin was a soft ivory color without a blemish or a freckle. Her hair was bright gold and curly past her shoulders. She was tall and slender, her curves perfectly proportioned. A sparkling crystal glittered in the sunlight and reflected against her breasts, which Ben didn’t fail to notice. Her lips were pink and full, and her face was of a gentle, elegant structure.
But it was her eyes that really caught Ben’s attention. Her right one was a sparkling, sapphire blue while the other was an emerald green. And within the green eye was a strange, diamond-shaped scar. When Ben stared at her, he saw the scar flash different colors, from light to dark. He’d never seen anything like it.
“Mr. Skywalker,” the main GP droid spoke again. “We apologize for the interruption, but we are ordered to escort Commander Lilliya Tentle back to her quarters.”
Ben cocked an eyebrow. He wondered why heavy duty military droids were assigned to someone like her. At least, she looked safe enough. Then again, she did have his lightsaber in hand. Who knows what she would have done with it?
“Who’s orders?” Ben asked.
“President Organa Solo,” it said.
Ben looked over at Lilliya curiously. He supposed he’d have to talk with his aunt Leia to get any answers about this strange girl.
“You‘re not an escaped convict or anything like that, are you?” Ben asked Lilliya, a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“No,” Lilliya frowned.
“Well, then I guess you’d better go with them,” he said to Lilliya, a wry smile tugging at his lips.
A flash of disappointment crossed her face. Maybe she was hoping he’d get her out of the situation, but why would he do that after she’d just intruded on his home.
Lilliya’s shoulders slumped in defeat and shuffled to the waiting guard droids. Ben followed her out and watched her disappear down the corridor with her intimidating entourage.
Commander, he thought. Ben decided he would investigate this commander and talk with Leia. Maybe she couldn’t sense the girl either. He slightly hoped that was the case and that he wasn’t getting rusty with the Force. He would talk with Leia as soon as he cleaned up and showered. He had a very long and irritating day at the Academy. Perhaps it was because he was distracted when sensing his father’s presence arriving in Coruscant City. He was not looking forward to seeing his father today.
***
The door chimed, snapping Lilliya out of her bored daze. Evening was approaching and Coruscant’s two suns were sinking towards the horizon, shrouding everything into a deep red-gold. Lilliya had been laying on her bed, head resting off the edge and staring lazily out the wall-length window, everything upside down. She wasn’t allowed to leave her apartment without the guard droids following her every move. This time the droids used their sensors in case the room ever registered as empty, which made it pointless to try to escape at all.
So Lilliya tried to sleep away the day. When that didn’t work, she tried to entertain herself with the holovid. That lasted for about an hour before she turned it off. When she refused to go out for dinner if the droids had to follow her, dinner was sent to her. She ate it, but hated it. She didn’t understand why she had to be a prisoner when she only did her duty by warning the Galactic Alliance.
Lilliya, then, noticed an atmosphere parade in the distance and watched it until it faded further down the horizon. After a while, there was nothing else to do. She laid in bed and let her mind wander. She thought of the gardens, of Leia and her in the science center, and then her thoughts were clouded with the young man she had met earlier. For hours, he proved to be the main topic of her thinking. She couldn’t get him out of her mind. Everything about him bothered her and attracted her. Though, she hated the way he looked at her, making her feel so disclosed.
Then the door chimed again and she wondered sardonically if this was dessert. Rolling out of bed, she dragged herself to the door and activated it, sliding open with a hiss.
“Hello,” a warm voice said. Lilliya was surprised to see a beautiful woman standing before her. Her long chocolate-brown hair cascaded down her back and her dark brown eyes stared at Lilliya warmly. She wore a form-fitting red jumpsuit, with flight rank insignia embellished on the collar. “I’m Jaina.”
“Hi,” Lilliya said. The two young women stared at each other for a moment, Lilliya standing in the doorway. Lilliya, however, seemed to tower over Jaina.
“Leia sent me,” Jaina continued. “She wanted me to meet you. I’m her daughter.”
Lilliya frowned. It was strange to be under house arrest and be greeted by the President’s family member.
“Can I come in?” Jaina said.
“Sure, why not?” Lilliya grumbled. She was becoming more and more irritated by the minute.
“Sorry about my mom,” Jaina said, as she stepped into the living area. “She just wants to take every precaution when concerning you.” It was like Jaina was reading Lilliya’s mind, knowing exactly how she was feeling.
Lilliya kept a distance from Jaina, standing near the kitchen as Jaina leaned up against one of the couches.
“I’m not sure why I’m viewed as a threat,” Lilliya said, crossing her arms in front of her.
Jaina’s lip twitched. “In any case,” she said, “I thought you might want someone to talk to. So mom told me to come see you. I hear you’re a pilot.”
Lilliya cocked an eyebrow in suspicion, but played along. This woman deftly avoided Lilliya’s comment. “Yes, I am.”
“I captain the TwinSuns Squadron,” Jaina continued. “I’m sorry to hear about the Raider base. I didn’t know much about them, but I assume they were one of the topnotch military squadrons on the outer rim.”
Lilliya glanced away from Jaina to focus her attention outside. She could feel a lump in her throat swelling, but quickly forced it down.
Jaina seemed to understand, but didn’t change the subject. “I’m actually bringing a squad out to Endor with me to investigate what happened to the first team later tomorrow. Is there anything you could tell me about the alien battleship you intercepted?”
“The President is sending out another team? Doesn’t she think that’s a bad idea since they lost contact with the first one so easily?” Lilliya asked.
“My squadron is a little…different,” Jaina said confidently. “We’re able to handle unusual situations like these. Most of my squad are adept in the Force. We can anticipate attacks better than other squads.”
Lilliya took a deep breath. “Well…the only thing I can tell you is that this ship was able to wipe out my entire team and the military base in only a matter of minutes. For some reason, they left me alive…maybe to give the Galactic Alliance a little scare. Who knows? They have technology that isn’t recorded in any of the Galactic Military logs. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Did the ship have any likeliness to the Yuuzhan Vong?” Jaina asked.
Lilliya thought hard. She had really buried this memory as soon as she could, so bringing back into focus was difficult. “No…” she murmured. “In fact, the closest resemblance the ship had was to the old Imperial Empire.”
Jaina frowned. The Empire had been long gone and the Imperial Remnant had joined their forces with the Galactic Alliance near the beginning of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. For the Remnant to be defecting now didn’t make any sense.
“During their first attack, they used old TIE interceptors,” Lilliya continued. “We thought it was a joke. We were able to wipe all of them out. But as soon as we did…they unleashed new ships. Fast and nearly impossible to fire on. Faster than anything we have…”
“The Galactic Raiders were using experimental ships, weren’t they?” Jaina said.
“Yes, V and Z-wings,” Lilliya said. “We had trained with them for a few years when they were given to us by the Alliance. They are supposed to replace all the older fighters. The technology is fantastic, but is nothing compared to what those alien ships could do.”
Jaina nodded in contemplation. “Seems like somebody was busy building a fleet behind our backs. Something stronger than us…”
“One more thing,” Lilliya said. “I remember that when the ship appeared, it gave no warning. Normally we can trace previous lightspeed coordinates, but this ship didn’t seem to have any. Our only warning was a…bend in space, so to speak. It’s something to watch out for. Maybe they have a cloaking device…”
“Maybe,” Jaina said. “It’s good to know, though. I’ll make sure we have our scanning sensors on at all times when we enter the Endor system.”
They were silent for a moment again. Lilliya was trying to remember if there was anything else important she could tell Jaina. Lilliya found herself already warming up to the woman, but maybe it was because of the common interest they had—both pilots, and pilots always knew how to get along.
“Oh,” Jaina spoke again, breaking the awkward silence. “I also came to tell you—or invite you to come to the YVA banquet.”
“I don’t think so,” Lilliya said, shaking her head. “I don’t fit in well in social gatherings like that.”
“Mom insists, actually. She said that you need to come in order to meet some of the generals and recruiters that could sign you up with another squad.”
“I’m sure I could do that another day,” Lilliya said. She had no interest in having  fun and hobnobbing with rich people.
“Yes, but not everyone gets an opportunity like this, where squads from all over would be in the same room together,” Jaina pushed. “You’d get your pick of the location.”
“Tempting,” Lilliya sighed. “But I’m not really in the mood to socialize.”
Jaina frowned. “Of course, I completely understand. I wouldn’t want to be going either, but I have to make a social appearance for my mother’s sake. You could always meet up with me once you arrive and I could make sure nobody unwanted bothers us.”
Why was Jaina trying so badly to convince Lilliya to go, she wondered. It didn’t look like Jaina was going to drop the subject easily and leave. So Lilliya chose to go the “excuse” route.
“Isn’t it a formal thing? I have nothing to wear anyway.”
“That’s not a problem,” Jaina perked up. “I have the perfect dress for you.”
Lilliya tried to hide the groan that emanated from her tight-lipped grimace. Why couldn’t she just drop it?
“Dresses don’t really suit me.” Lilliya tried one more time to get Jaina to give up and leave.
“Oh, this one will…” Jaina smiled, though Lilliya could have sworn she detected a note of sarcasm.
“I guess I don’t have much of a choice, do I?” Lilliya grumbled, but gave in to Jaina. She supposed the distraction wouldn’t be so bad and it might make the night go by faster.

Lilliya was a little lost. She knew she took one of the lifts when she left the gardens, and it shot further up the palace till she reached the top. Now she was in a much more elaborate and lavish corridor with more wide windows looking out towards Coruscant’s cityscape. Noting the expensive looking décor, she assumed she must have ventured into a much more wealthy living area.

Rather than returning back down to the lower levels, Lilliya was compelled to explore the richer apartments. She found herself wandering down the brightly lit hallways until she reached the end. She was about to turn back around, but the apartment at the end of the hall had its door wide open. Lilliya cocked her head to the side in curiosity. Who would leave their door open, she wondered.

She stood alone in the hallway; there wasn’t much traffic up in the higher lofts compared to the lower ones. In fact, the hallway she stood in was completely empty. Lilliya waited to see if someone would come out of the apartment and close the door. She couldn’t explain why she cared, but she had the itching feeling to explore inside. She moved closer to the open door, trying to make her walk look casual just in case someone decided to show up.

“Hello?” she called into the apartment, barely leaning in an inch.

No answer.

“I noticed your door was open…” she called again, a little more timidly this time. Still, nothing. Lilliya glanced behind her to see if anyone was coming, then slinked into the entrance. She held her breath as she went through.

There was nothing really spectacular on the inside other than the vast amount of living space. Lilliya descended down a few steps into the circular living area. Everything was very clean, almost untouched. The room had a spectacular view of the city and Lilliya found herself staring out the window for a few minutes. In the corner of the room, the sunlight glinted off something silvery. More curious than ever, she turned to where the reflection came from.

A silver object stood elevated on one of the mantels by the holovid projector. It was oblong and obviously made out of a silver metal material. It floated in the air and must have been held up by a type of magnetic field. Lilliya thought she recognized the object as she got closer. Carefully, she wrapped her fingers around its cylindrical shape and pulled it away from the magnetic field. It was surprisingly heavy in her hand for how simple it was, and very cold, though the room temperature wasn’t any colder.

Gripping it tighter, for fear of dropping it, she noticed a small knob on its side. She touched it.

Suddenly, the object came to life. A deep blue laser-blade shot out of the topside of the cylinder, humming and vibrating loudly. Lilliya nearly dropped the thing in shock, but thankfully had a tight enough grip on it that her hands were shaking from the vibration.

And she knew exactly what it was.

Her heart began to race as she quickly began to realize who’s room she was in, but before she could plan her hasty escape, the lightsaber was yanked out of her hand by some unseen force, the blade disappearing back into the hilt, and landing in the hand of a man.

Lilliya swore under her breath as she slowly turned around to face whoever was behind her. There stood a young man, probably in his early twenties, with dark blonde hair that seemed to shimmer with red in the sunlight, deep blue eyes shaded by thick, curled lashes, a straight nose and chiseled jaw, rosebud-shaped lips that were definitely curved into a frown. He wore a blue flight suit, academy rank, Lilliya recognized, black gloves and black knee-high boots. The man hooked the lightsaber onto his utility belt.

He was very good-looking, and very irritated.

“What are you doing?” he said, his voice deep and annoyed.

Lie! Lie! Think of something!

“I didn’t realize the apartment was occupied,” Lilliya said, her voice shaking nervously. “I saw the door open and it didn’t seem like anyone lived here. Until I saw that.” She pointed at the lightsaber.

The man didn’t say anything, but his hand reflexively rested on the lightsaber’s hilt. He continued to stare at her, frustration becoming very obvious in his blue eyes. This made Lilliya even more nervous. Not only did Jedi and their mysterious power called the Force make Lilliya feel very vulnerable, but their mere presence made her uneasy.

Feeling frozen in place, Lilliya stared back at the man, waiting for him to say something else. The two continued to stare at each other, not moving, as though two highly dangerous predators faced each other for the first time, not knowing what to do, whether they should attack or run.

Finally, he said, “This isn’t something to mess around with.” He gestured to his lightsaber.

Lilliya broke away from his blue-eyed stare for a second to glance at the silver hilt.

“I’m sorry about that,” she said, looking back up at him. His eyes were scrutinizing, almost invasive. It made her feel exposed. She could feel her cheeks warming. “I was curious…” She shrugged.

“You could have killed yourself,” he said, “if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Lilliya nodded, glad to know that the man cared somewhat about her well-being. That was a good sign.

“Well,” she said, “it definitely won’t happen again. I’ll be going now.” As she side-stepped the man to leave the room, she noticed other figures in the door way.

“Mr. Skywalker,” a deep mechanical voice reverberated. Her GP guard droids now stood in the hallway, their glowing red eyes zeroing in on Lilliya.

“Oh, great,” she muttered.

Ben Skywalker glanced at the droids, the only non-organic droids allowed as legal by order of the Advisory Council, and then back down at the disgruntled girl. His feelings were a mixture of shock, anger, paranoia, and amazement. First, because he had no idea someone would be in his apartment. He had only been gone for a few minutes. Second, because he found someone intruding on his privacy and this “someone” was undetectable by the Force. Thirdly, because she couldn’t be detected, and that made him feel threatened by her. Fourthly, because she was not only beautiful, but fascinating to look at.

Her skin was a soft ivory color without a blemish or a freckle. Her hair was bright gold and curly past her shoulders. She was tall and slender, her curves perfectly proportioned. A sparkling crystal glittered in the sunlight and reflected against her breasts, which Ben didn’t fail to notice. Her lips were pink and full, and her face was of a gentle, elegant structure.

But it was her eyes that really caught Ben’s attention. Her right one was a sparkling, sapphire blue while the other was an emerald green. And within the green eye was a strange, diamond-shaped scar. When Ben stared at her, he saw the scar flash different colors, from light to dark. He’d never seen anything like it.

“Mr. Skywalker,” the main GP droid spoke again. “We apologize for the interruption, but we are ordered to escort Commander Lilliya Tentle back to her quarters.”

Ben cocked an eyebrow. He wondered why heavy duty military droids were assigned to someone like her. At least, she looked safe enough. Then again, she did have his lightsaber in hand. Who knows what she would have done with it?

“Who’s orders?” Ben asked.

“President Organa Solo,” it said.

Ben looked over at Lilliya curiously. He supposed he’d have to talk with his aunt Leia to get any answers about this strange girl.

“You‘re not an escaped convict or anything like that, are you?” Ben asked Lilliya, a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

“No,” Lilliya frowned.

“Well, then I guess you’d better go with them,” he said to Lilliya, a wry smile tugging at his lips.

A flash of disappointment crossed her face. Maybe she was hoping he’d get her out of the situation, but why would he do that after she’d just intruded on his home.

Lilliya’s shoulders slumped in defeat and shuffled to the waiting guard droids. Ben followed her out and watched her disappear down the corridor with her intimidating entourage.

Commander, he thought. Ben decided he would investigate this commander and talk with Leia. Maybe she couldn’t sense the girl either. He slightly hoped that was the case and that he wasn’t getting rusty with the Force. He would talk with Leia as soon as he cleaned up and showered. He had a very long and irritating day at the Academy. Perhaps it was because he was distracted when sensing his father’s presence arriving in Coruscant City. He was not looking forward to seeing his father today.

***

The door chimed, snapping Lilliya out of her bored daze. Evening was approaching and Coruscant’s two suns were sinking towards the horizon, shrouding everything into a deep red-gold. Lilliya had been laying on her bed, head resting off the edge and staring lazily out the wall-length window, everything upside down. She wasn’t allowed to leave her apartment without the guard droids following her every move. This time the droids used their sensors in case the room ever registered as empty, which made it pointless to try to escape at all.

So Lilliya tried to sleep away the day. When that didn’t work, she tried to entertain herself with the holovid. That lasted for about an hour before she turned it off. When she refused to go out for dinner if the droids had to follow her, dinner was sent to her. She ate it, but hated it. She didn’t understand why she had to be a prisoner when she only did her duty by warning the Galactic Alliance.

Lilliya, then, noticed an atmosphere parade in the distance and watched it until it faded further down the horizon. After a while, there was nothing else to do. She laid in bed and let her mind wander. She thought of the gardens, of Leia and her in the science center, and then her thoughts were clouded with the young man she had met earlier. For hours, he proved to be the main topic of her thinking. She couldn’t get him out of her mind. Everything about him bothered her and attracted her. Though, she hated the way he looked at her, making her feel so disclosed.

Then the door chimed again and she wondered sardonically if this was dessert. Rolling out of bed, she dragged herself to the door and activated it, sliding open with a hiss.

“Hello,” a warm voice said. Lilliya was surprised to see a beautiful woman standing before her. Her long chocolate-brown hair cascaded down her back and her dark brown eyes stared at Lilliya warmly. She wore a form-fitting red jumpsuit, with flight rank insignia embellished on the collar. “I’m Jaina.”

“Hi,” Lilliya said. The two young women stared at each other for a moment, Lilliya standing in the doorway. Lilliya, however, seemed to tower over Jaina.

“Leia sent me,” Jaina continued. “She wanted me to meet you. I’m her daughter.”

Lilliya frowned. It was strange to be under house arrest and be greeted by the President’s family member.

“Can I come in?” Jaina said.

“Sure, why not?” Lilliya grumbled. She was becoming more and more irritated by the minute.

“Sorry about my mom,” Jaina said, as she stepped into the living area. “She just wants to take every precaution when concerning you.” It was like Jaina was reading Lilliya’s mind, knowing exactly how she was feeling.

Lilliya kept a distance from Jaina, standing near the kitchen as Jaina leaned up against one of the couches.

“I’m not sure why I’m viewed as a threat,” Lilliya said, crossing her arms in front of her.

Jaina’s lip twitched. “In any case,” she said, “I thought you might want someone to talk to. So mom told me to come see you. I hear you’re a pilot.”

Lilliya cocked an eyebrow in suspicion, but played along. This woman deftly avoided Lilliya’s comment. “Yes, I am.”

“I captain the TwinSuns Squadron,” Jaina continued. “I’m sorry to hear about the Raider base. I didn’t know much about them, but I assume they were one of the topnotch military squadrons on the outer rim.”

Lilliya glanced away from Jaina to focus her attention outside. She could feel a lump in her throat swelling, but quickly forced it down.

Jaina seemed to understand, but didn’t change the subject. “I’m actually bringing a squad out to Endor with me to investigate what happened to the first team later tomorrow. Is there anything you could tell me about the alien battleship you intercepted?”

“The President is sending out another team? Doesn’t she think that’s a bad idea since they lost contact with the first one so easily?” Lilliya asked.

“My squadron is a little…different,” Jaina said confidently. “We’re able to handle unusual situations like these. Most of my squad are adept in the Force. We can anticipate attacks better than other squads.”

Lilliya took a deep breath. “Well…the only thing I can tell you is that this ship was able to wipe out my entire team and the military base in only a matter of minutes. For some reason, they left me alive…maybe to give the Galactic Alliance a little scare. Who knows? They have technology that isn’t recorded in any of the Galactic Military logs. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Did the ship have any likeliness to the Yuuzhan Vong?” Jaina asked.

Lilliya thought hard. She had really buried this memory as soon as she could, so bringing back into focus was difficult. “No…” she murmured. “In fact, the closest resemblance the ship had was to the old Imperial Empire.”

Jaina frowned. The Empire had been long gone and the Imperial Remnant had joined their forces with the Galactic Alliance near the beginning of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. For the Remnant to be defecting now didn’t make any sense.

“During their first attack, they used old TIE interceptors,” Lilliya continued. “We thought it was a joke. We were able to wipe all of them out. But as soon as we did…they unleashed new ships. Fast and nearly impossible to fire on. Faster than anything we have…”

“The Galactic Raiders were using experimental ships, weren’t they?” Jaina said.

“Yes, V and Z-wings,” Lilliya said. “We had trained with them for a few years when they were given to us by the Alliance. They are supposed to replace all the older fighters. The technology is fantastic, but is nothing compared to what those alien ships could do.”

Jaina nodded in contemplation. “Seems like somebody was busy building a fleet behind our backs. Something stronger than us…”

“One more thing,” Lilliya said. “I remember that when the ship appeared, it gave no warning. Normally we can trace previous lightspeed coordinates, but this ship didn’t seem to have any. Our only warning was a…bend in space, so to speak. It’s something to watch out for. Maybe they have a cloaking device…”

“Maybe,” Jaina said. “It’s good to know, though. I’ll make sure we have our scanning sensors on at all times when we enter the Endor system.”

They were silent for a moment again. Lilliya was trying to remember if there was anything else important she could tell Jaina. Lilliya found herself already warming up to the woman, but maybe it was because of the common interest they had—both pilots, and pilots always knew how to get along.

“Oh,” Jaina spoke again, breaking the awkward silence. “I also came to tell you—or invite you to come to the YVA banquet.”

“I don’t think so,” Lilliya said, shaking her head. “I don’t fit in well in social gatherings like that.”

“Mom insists, actually. She said that you need to come in order to meet some of the generals and recruiters that could sign you up with another squad.”

“I’m sure I could do that another day,” Lilliya said. She had no interest in having  fun and hobnobbing with rich people.

“Yes, but not everyone gets an opportunity like this, where squads from all over would be in the same room together,” Jaina pushed. “You’d get your pick of the location.”

“Tempting,” Lilliya sighed. “But I’m not really in the mood to socialize.”

Jaina frowned. “Of course, I completely understand. I wouldn’t want to be going either, but I have to make a social appearance for my mother’s sake. You could always meet up with me once you arrive and I could make sure nobody unwanted bothers us.”

Why was Jaina trying so badly to convince Lilliya to go, she wondered. It didn’t look like Jaina was going to drop the subject easily and leave. So Lilliya chose to go the “excuse” route.

“Isn’t it a formal thing? I have nothing to wear anyway.”

“That’s not a problem,” Jaina perked up. “I have the perfect dress for you.”

Lilliya tried to hide the groan that emanated from her tight-lipped grimace. Why couldn’t she just drop it?

“Dresses don’t really suit me.” Lilliya tried one more time to get Jaina to give up and leave.

“Oh, this one will…” Jaina smiled, though Lilliya could have sworn she detected a note of sarcasm.

“I guess I don’t have much of a choice, do I?” Lilliya grumbled, but gave in to Jaina. She supposed the distraction wouldn’t be so bad and it might make the night go by faster.

The Revolution: Chapter 6 part 1

Lilliya woke with a start. Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, she peered out towards the window. It was daylight, but she couldn’t tell what time. She glanced at the chrono that stood by her dresser and saw that it was past noon. She slept the whole night away and then some.

And then she noticed the pounding. She couldn’t tell if that was her head or the door. She realized, now, that the brisk knocking was what had woken her up in the first place.

“Coming,” she groaned, knowing quite well that no one would hear her, and she rolled out of bed, rewrapping the disheveled dressing gown around her slim body, and dragged herself to the door. She caught a glimpse of herself in one of the mirrors and groaned again. Her hair had matted on one side her of head where the bandage was. There was still little clots of dried blood knotted on that side too. Her eyes were puffy from crying and her face was sickly pale. She was in desperate need of a shower.

This time a bell chimed inside the apartment. Whoever was trying to reach her, needed her badly, she surmised.

Finally, Lilliya made it to the door and opened it.

Leia stood on the other side dressed in a dark purple gown laced with gold.

“Good afternoon,” Leia said, though her expression didn’t reflect anything positive at all.

So it wasn’t a dream, Lilliya thought. “Find something?” she said.

“Actually, I came to tell you we lost contact with the investigation team,” Leia said, her voice hardened with stress. “The last time we heard from them was late last night. Their transmission said something about an alien spear, or weapon of some sort, on the Raider base ruins. Then nothing.”

“Humph,” Lilliya sighed, leaning against the door frame.

“Do you have any ideas?” Leia said, impatience seeping through her tone.

“I can only think that maybe—just maybe they were attacked by the same battleship,” Lilliya answered, though she hoped that wasn’t the case.

“Yes, but I keep wondering how you were able to get by without getting shot down as well,” Leia said.

Lilliya stared at Leia curiously, her brow furrowing. She was beginning to wonder if Leia thought she had anything to do with this.

“I found a way to activate the cloaking device on the shuttle,” Lilliya explained. It really was that simple.

“That’s interesting because the science team can’t even make a dent in the shuttle, much less get inside of it,” Leia said, cocking her head to the side to peer at Lilliya with a very critical eye.

Lilliya stared back, a little unnerved by Leia’s barely hidden hostility. Only then did Lilliya notice the same intimidating guard droids lurking a few ways down the hall.

“I’m not sure what to say,” Lilliya said slowly, trying to not get herself in trouble. “I was able to get inside with the medallions I found in the pocket of one the aliens that attacked me on Endor. They were taken away from me by the guards that met me on the docking bay when I landed.”

“Lilliya, I’m going to need you to come with me,” Leia said. “Please get dressed as quickly as you can.”

Lilliya frowned in concern, but did as she was told. She took a sonic shower, then donned a simple black jumpsuit and knee-high boots she found inside the closet full of clothes. She let her hair air-dry which resulted in a curly mass of gold waves, and her crystal necklace glittered brightly against the black. She was out and ready to go in fifteen minutes.

Leia had already left the corridor and the GP droids stayed to greet Lilliya at the front door. Their red eyes stared at her silently, which added to the eeriness. Lilliya stepped out of her apartment and followed them to the science center. It took them about half an hour of riding lift tubes and shuttles before arriving at GP’s science center, which was located far below the palace grounds.

Lilliya and the droids walked down a skinny corridor with low ceilings, giving a very claustrophobic illusion. The only light given was from simple florescent white lights nestled in the corners of the metal flooring. After a few minutes, they finally entered a large cave-like room where the alien shuttle lay surrounded by many scientists of different species, all donning white jumpsuits with glowing yellow piping.

Leia stood alone on a tiny walkway that led to the elevated platform the shuttle rested on, her purple gown billowing off the bridge’s edges. Leia turned to see Lilliya making her way over to the bridge, frustration clouding her already irritated thoughts as she still wasn’t able to sense Lilliya’s arrival. Leia was unsuccessful in hiding her disappointment.

“Thank you for joining us,” Leia called before Lilliya was able to reach the bridge, her voice echoing off the walls of the large metal room.

Lilliya stepped onto the bridge and was taken aback by the drop of the floor beneath her. She decided to keep her focus ahead of her and not below her.

“As you can see, the scientists are unable to activate the opening to the shuttle,” Leia said, once Lilliya reached her. The two women stood side by side on the bridge watching the scientists work around the shuttle like a swarm of insects. One of the scientists, tall, skinny and green-skinned, a species Lilliya didn’t recognize, walked over to the two women, the medallions in hand.

“When I was on Endor, I was able to kill one of the aliens that approached me,” Lilliya said. “I used its thumb and pressed it against one of the medallions. It not only disengaged the cloaking device, but opened up an entrance to the ship.”

“Give Lilliya the medallions,” Leia ordered once the scientist had reached them. The scientist looked willing enough to hand over the tiny items to someone else this time.

Leia turned to watch Lilliya has she balanced the two medallions in either hand. Lilliya pressed her thumb on one of the medallions, like she had the day before when she was inside the ship, and immediately the shuttle hummed and an entrance shot forward, shocking nearly all the scientists that were in the way.

Leia cocked an eyebrow in curiosity, then quickly became suspicious. “You see, those scientists had tried everything to open up some sort of entrance,” Leia said, her voice very quiet and controlled. “They even pressed their own fingers to those medallions with no response from the ship. I find it curious that you were able to open it up with one try.”

Lilliya didn’t say anything. She glanced from Leia’s critical stare and back to the ship, its entrance yawning open for everyone to see. Lilliya was just as confused as to why the medallions responded so easily to her. She had no explanation to give and was afraid to suggest anything; she could already tell she was walking on thin ice.

The two women watched as the scientists tentatively made their way inside the shuttle with their scanning instruments out and ready to use. The tall, green-skinned scientist pulled out a thin white scanning pad and held it out silent in front of Lilliya.

Lilliya’s brow furrowed in confusion and looked at Leia for an explanation.

Leia shrugged. “We anticipated the ship responding to you seeing as you were able to fly it,” she said. “The science team would like a copy of your thumb print in case they run into anymore situations like this.”

Lilliya hesitated, but it didn’t seem like she had much of a choice. She decided she’d better cooperate considering the heavy speculation she was under. She pressed her thumb to the pad and a blue light flashed beneath it. Once that was done, the scientist returned to the others and they continued their research.

Leia turned back around and began walking towards the cave’s exit. Lilliya followed closely behind.

“I’m surprised your personal aide didn’t greet me earlier,” Lilliya said.

“Mazy was apart of the investigation team sent to Endor,” Leia answered.

Lilliya nodded in understanding. That might have been why Leia was in such a sour mood, and Lilliya wouldn’t blame Leia if she thought Lilliya was the cause of all this.

The two made their way down the claustrophobic corridor and headed for the lift.

“I have a full day with my family arriving and the YVA banquet to prepare for,” Leia said as she stepped into the tube, turning around to face Lilliya and giving a hint that Lilliya was to not follow her inside. “You are welcome to attend, if you like. There will be military officials and diplomats from all over. It might be good for you to meet some of them and see what your options are career-wise. I will keep you informed if anything changes in the Endor system.” With that, Leia disappeared behind the rotating lift door and another one opened, empty.

Lilliya couldn’t shake the sinking feeling that she was not in the best of situations. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt so alone. And then she forgot the GP droids standing directly behind her, waiting for her to enter the tube.

“Guess it’s just the five of us, right, guys?” Lilliya muttered half-heartedly, in an attempt to lighten the situation. Maybe the droids could actually talk back.

But they didn’t, as they stared back at her with their cold red eyes, one of them pointing to the lift tube as if that was a hint.

Lilliya slumped in defeat and shuffled forward into the tube, the droids always close behind.

 

***

“She’s not giving in,” Captain Jorn said, as he made his way down the star-studded, circular hallway. Admiral Maurel’s private quarters were just a little ways down, but the only entrance was the small tube of-a-hallway made of thick glass that allowed the sensation of walking in space. Jorn could never figure out if this was an intimidation tactic on Maurel’s part, or if he was simply obsessed with being surrounded by billions of stars. “The serum doesn’t seem to be working on her,” Jorn continued when he knew he could see Maurel’s sinewy figure at the end of the hall.

Maurel remained silent even when Captain Jorn was only a few feet away. The tall, silver-haired man, with the brilliantly young face chiseled into perfect beauty stared out one of the large view panes, his sapphire eyes slightly glazed over. They didn’t seem to be watching anything and barely noticed Jorn’s arrival—except for the scar in Maurel’s left eye. That black-as-space, diamond-shaped scar always seemed to be aware on its own, always watching, absorbing…the scar glittered in Captain Jorn’s direction and he quickly looked away. Jorn never liked making eye contact with Maurel because of this.

“She’s a surprisingly strong one, for her species,” Maurel finally said, his voice soft and soothing. “Up the dosage.”

“If we give her anymore, her brain will reject it. It will shut down,” Jorn said, noticing how much his voice carried in the large chamber. There was no other sound, no air flow coming from the ducts, no gentle hum reverberating from the ship’s mechanical insides. The Diamond Denominator was already a shockingly silent ship, but Jorn marveled at how Maurel’s quarters were the quietest of them all. It was a dead silence. All Jorn could hear was his own breathing; Maurel never seemed to breathe.

“Up the dosage, but do it slowly,” Maurel spoke so quietly that if it weren’t for the echo bouncing off the walls of the massive room, Jorn would have had to strain to listen. “Her mind will reject it, but not until we get all the information we need. There has to be a very good reason as to why the President would send her own personal aide out to investigate an insignificant incident like this. The Galactic Raiders were not on the Alliance’s high-priority list.”

“Yes, but the escaped shuttle, the one we didn’t destroy…” Jorn muttered. There were plenty of reasons as to why that particular situation irritated him. Why allow an escapee warn the most powerful military force in the galaxy that they were being invaded? But what most irritated Jorn was that he was in the dark, running a battleship full of clones and enslaved humans.

“So she’s made contact with the President,” Maurel said, smiling grimly.

“Which means she’s on Coruscant,” Captain Jorn said. “Should we send a team out to capture her?”

Maurel was silent for a moment. Then, “No. Penetrating Coruscant’s security defenses would draw too much attention to us. She won’t stay there for long. Once she leaves the system, we’ll then make our strike.” Maurel turned to face Captain Jorn completely, making Jorn automatically step backward. “Continue your interrogation. Draw as much information out of the girl that you can. Then get rid of her.”

“Yes, Admiral.”

“One more thing,” Maurel said, as he lifted a black metal box into view. It seemed to be a safe of some sort. “This was going to be sent to Coruscant, to the Galactic Palace. Be sure that it gets there.”

Captain Jorn saluted, took the box, turned, and briskly walked back down the starry corridor, all the while feeling pity for the young personal aide and what was to come of her.

***

 

Lilliya jumped down from an air duct high above the ceiling and quietly landed into a crouch onto the soft red carpeting. As soon as the GP guard droids had taken her back to her apartment and stayed outside the entrance, Lilliya figured she was under house arrest. After exploring her apartment for an hour, she was able to disengage the hidden security cameras and climb into one of the air ducts to escape her apartment unnoticed. She had a little trouble finding a way into the hallways, but it didn’t take her long. Lilliya wasn’t going to spend the rest of her day being watched and followed by those nightmarish droids.

She didn’t know how long it would take for them to figure out she’d disconnected the cameras in her room, she assumed not too long, so she wasted no time giving herself a personal tour of the Senate Apartments free of the lurking droids. Lilliya dashed down the hallways, turning sharp corners, passing other luxurious living quarters, common areas, spa rooms—this made her pause for a second as she looked with envy at the beautiful women and men, rich Bureaucrats she presumed, going in and out of the spa seeming refreshed and relaxed. Lilliya wondered if her temporary stay at the Senate Apartments would allow her a visit to the spa. Probably not.

She then saw a group of kids, Lilliya guessed about eight to ten years old, disappear behind some cloudy-white glass doors, laughing, shouting, and running to play. As the doors slid silently behind them, Lilliya caught a glimpse of greenery and maybe some wildlife. She decided to follow the kids. She remembered a rumor that GP station had the most beautiful gardens filled with plant life from all over the galaxy including some original organic life grown during the Yuuzhan Vong occupation. Lilliya had always wanted to see this garden and she had a feeling this was the entrance.

Looking cautiously around the large window-filled room, sunlight streaming in from all sides, and once she determined the GP droids still hadn’t noticed she’d gone, Lilliya skipped over to the white glass doors and stepped through.

She was right. Lilliya stepped inside a massive dome-shaped room made out of reflective glass, which in turn, made the room’s size double in appearance. She could see Coruscant’s blue sky coming through the glass and reflecting back in an odd way. It made the ceiling appear bluer than it already was. Inside resided plant life collected from nearly every planet within the galaxy and all organized by color and shape. There were reds, deep greens, bright blues, oranges, vibrant pinks and purples, and some, Lilliya was certain, colors that even the human eyes couldn’t register. The smells surprisingly worked in harmony together considering they were all drastically different species growing up in very different worlds. Who ever was the gardener had their work cut out for them, Lilliya surmised.

She continued slowly down a stone pathway with a canopy of red-gold and green vines curling above her, allowing herself to breathe in the peaceful atmosphere. She could visit this place many times, Lilliya thought, during her stay there. She could find privacy and peace, try to relax and clear her head. Forget about the past couple of days and find away to move forward. The depression, she knew, was well contained and buried beneath more important matters that needed to be addressed. Lilliya was afraid of facing the black hole that seemed to be growing deeper, no matter how much she pushed it back. She couldn’t allow herself to think about it, not yet. Not when there were so many other things to worry about.

Children’s laughter startled her out of her reverie, but she was thankful for it. The sound was positive and reminded her of happier times when she was a child.

Her father always told her that she was a special kid, much more vibrant and full of life, than the others. She was a fast learner and matured quickly. Her physical appearance also grew at a faster rate than was considered normal for a human being. At two, she was as tall as a five year old and spoke Basic as fluent as an eight year old. At five, she towered above all her other classmates at about four feet. Lilliya’s father had to remove her from public school because of the harassment Lilliya received for her looks. She remembered being picked on by the other humans because of the strange, color-shifting diamond scar that was embedded in her left eye. She also remembered being attacked by the school bully, a powerful child who claimed he could use the Force. The boy had grabbed her crystal necklace because Lilliya told him he couldn’t borrow it, and he ripped it off her neck. Lilliya had suddenly gone into a panic attack as soon as the necklace was in the hands of the boy. She rationalized later that her panic must have been because of her emotional attachment to the item that was found with her when her mother and father found her abandoned inside an escape pod.

In any case, the boy was punished and removed from school. A week later, her father decided to take her out as well, not wanting to risk another strange incident like that again. Lilliya’s father home-schooled her for the rest of her youth and then trained her to become a pilot. As a child growing up in the House of Tentle, always at her father’s side, a blue and green-eyed girl with gold hair by day and silver hair by night, she was the happiest child she thought existed. Though her own appearance unnerved her, making her the most unique-looking human being, her father helped her accept and appreciate her looks. He said she was the “most beautiful girl in the entire galaxy.” That helped somewhat. Nonetheless, she revered her childhood years as her best years so far.

And the way things were looking for her now, they were probably going to be the only best memories she would have.

Lilliya rounded a corner, passing by an odd looking marble statue with glittering jewel eyes. She stopped and looked down at it. It was a frightening little creature standing on two very long legs, slender arms outstretched and clawing, a wide mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, and a long whip-like tail. It looked more like something out of a nightmare. It didn’t seem to fit in with all the other colorful beauty, luscious green foliage.

Then she recognized a voice not too far away. Lilliya’s heart rate jumped up a notch, and she leaned past a gray stone pillar to confirm the voice.

Leia stood a few meters away, still dressed in her elegant, purple gown, laughing and embracing a man in black.

Lilliya decided it was best to move on before Leia noticed she was without her GP escort.

 

“Luke!” Leia cried, lifting up on her toes to wrap her arms around her brother’s neck. “You have no idea how glad I am to see you.”

“I could sense your hysteria all the way from Ossus,” Luke Skywalker smiled, holding his sister tightly in his embrace. He hadn’t seen his twin sister in what felt like many months. Luke’s workload on Ossus had kept him quite busy to the point of not being able to see his family members in the flesh. Only through holo-transmissions was he able to keep in touch. “Is it the banquet that has you bothered, or something else entirely?” He meant his comment to be taken lightly.

Leia hesitated for only a second, but that was enough for Luke to understand something was very wrong.

“Let’s not talk about it now,” Leia finally said, loosening her grip on her brother. “There will be plenty of time to clue you in. Right now, I want to talk about you, the JedI Order, that sort of thing. Oh! And you have no idea how anxious Han is to see you. He’s been talking about you nonstop and all the things you two will be doing once you get here.”

Luke grimaced only slightly. He knew what Han had in mind: cantina hopping. “Doesn’t he feel old yet?” Luke said.

“Not even close,” Leia smiled brightly. “There’s nothing that can bring him down. At least that’s one of us…”

Luke stayed silent for a moment, wrapping his arm around his sister’s shoulder. They walked down one of the many stone pathways that wound like a maze through the gardens.

“How are you feeling?” Luke finally asked.

“I’m fine,” Leia quickly answered. “Being President isn’t really the easiest of jobs. I sometimes wish I could go back and change it all, continue planet jumping with Han, just the two of us and the Falcon. But we all know where that would lead.”

“Some major crisis would occur back at the capitol,” Luke said. “And you would have to fly back to talk some sense into most of the crazy politicians who want your job.”

“I hope you know that I only took this job back to protect you and the JedI,” Leia said, nudging Luke in the ribs with her elbow. “If it weren’t for me, you all would be marked as fugitives and hunted down. So, technically, it’s your fault I’m back on the throne.”

“Yes, and I will be forever grateful to you for that,” Luke smiled wistfully. A brief memory of the late Jacen Solo and his strike against the galaxy years ago flashed through his mind. If it weren’t for Jacen and his unexplained turn to the dark side, which resulted in the murder of Luke’s own wife, Mara Jade Skywalker, the JedI wouldn’t be so feared and hated by most of the galaxy’s inhabitants. His sister was the sole supporter of the JedI Order and she was able to keep the government at bay when concerning the JedI’s future.

But Leia had lost two sons in just a decade, her only surviving child being Jaina Solo. There was speculation on that being the only reason she was voted back in office, but Leia didn’t care if it was sympathy that got her in. After losing both her sons, she needed something to distract her, and being President was plenty distracting.

“How is Jaina?” Luke asked, almost as though he read her mind.

“Doing well,” Leia answered, though it was hard to say when she barely saw her own daughter nowadays. “She’s very busy flying around the galaxy with her TwinSuns Squadron. She’s just like her father. Jaina will be here in about an hour, actually. She will join us for dinner before the banquet.”

Luke nodded, but didn’t say anything. His mind was working hard to not think about his own estranged son and the distance that had occurred between them. Ben Skywalker and Luke Skywalker rarely speak to each other, one reason being that Ben lives on Coruscant, attending GP Flight Academy, and another being that Ben had renounced using the Force for reasons unknown to Luke, or anyone. Ben had also expressed his disapproval of the JedI Order, an argument turned-fight between Luke and Ben. Since then, the two hadn’t spoken to each other. But, everyday, Luke thought of his son and wished he knew what to do to make it right.

“He’s fine too,” Leia said, also reading her brother’s mind. “Ben’s very busy up there.” Leia glanced up at the shiny blue ceiling, referring to the Academy’s flight training in Coruscant’s space. “He has dinner with me and Han once in a while, so that’s a good thing.”

“I’m hoping to convince him to come to Ossus with me this time,” Luke said quietly, though he knew his wish seemed feeble.

Leia grimaced. She knew Ben hated Ossus and wouldn’t go anywhere near it. She had a bad feeling another fight would break out and ruin their small family reunion.

“Do you think that’s a good idea?” Leia said. “I know you want him to open up to the Force, but he rejects it so passionately. It hurts him, to use the Force. I’ve seen it in his eyes.”

Ben was an infant during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion and had felt many deaths through the Force. As a child, he also felt his mother’s death and his cousin/mentor’s death through the Force. Because of this, he had been traumatized and learned to block out most of the Force senses. Ben also blamed the Force for the demise of Jacen.

“He can’t hide away from it forever,” Luke said, his voice growing more frustrated. “Ben is incredibly strong in the Force. If he isn’t trained…” Luke let his voice trail off. He would have said, “if he wasn’t trained, then Ben might have no control over it, which can result in him turning to the dark side…like Jacen.” But Luke couldn’t bring himself to mention Jacen’s name. He vowed to never speak Jacen’s name around Leia or Han. Especially Leia.

Just then, Luke felt an odd tremor in the Force. It was brilliant, strong, and bright as a supernova. And in that instant, it was gone, lasting barely a second.

Leia had noticed immediately, as soon as Luke froze in place. She tugged on his arm to get his attention.

“What is it, Luke?” she said.

“Did you feel that?” he said, his voice barely a whisper.

Leia was silent. She retraced her thoughts, but came up empty. She felt only the wildlife and plant life within the dome…some kids, a few tourists…

Suddenly, something beeped at her side. She lifted her wrist and activated the comlink that was wrapped there.

“Yes?” she said into mic.

“The commander, Lilliya Tentle, is missing,” a deep voice resounded from the com. “We assume she had deactivated the security cameras in her room. They aren’t responding to our commands. The GP droids have entered her room and found it empty.”

Leia gritted her teeth. She wished Mazy was here to deal with these situations. Luke looked down at her in curiosity.

“Have the cameras search for her life-signatures throughout the palace,” Leia ordered. “She couldn’t have gotten too far and I have a feeling she isn’t planning an escape. Still, I don’t feel comfortable allowing her to roam the palace unattended. Have the GP droids trace her signature as well and make sure they bring her back to her room.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the voice reverberated, then the comlink clicked silent.

“What was that?” Luke asked, a little taken aback that there was someone on the loose, someone Leia hadn’t mentioned and obviously thought was important enough to be held in house arrest.

“This was the thing I didn’t want to talk about,” Leia grumbled. “Well, you might as well hear it. We lost one of our military outposts on Endor, the Galactic Raiders. Something had attacked and destroyed the base completely, or so we were told. A young commander named Lilliya Tentle had supposedly escaped and warned us of a battleship of alien design that had attacked them. I sent an investigation team out there, but then we lost contact with them.”

Luke nodded grimly. The idea of a new enemy was sickening. The last thing they needed was another war on their hands.

Leia’s expression was contorted in aggravation, and there was something else, Luke noted. “There’s more,” he said, encouraging her to continue.

“Yes,” Leia said abruptly, her dark eyes flashing up to look into Luke’s crystal blue ones. “The girl—Lilliya Tentle—she…she doesn’t exist in the Force. I thought maybe she was Yuuzhan Vong, an imposter, but security scans confirm her identity as Lilliya Tentle. Only that—the Lilliya Tentle, commander of the Galactic Raiders is reported as human on her medical charts. This girl…is not.”

Luke remained silent for a moment, trying to absorb all this new information. He was surprised he didn’t read it before. Leia must be getting more skilled at hiding her thoughts from him.

“You sure there wasn’t a mistake made by the MD droid?” Luke finally said.

“No,” Leia said. “I saw the DNA scans myself. They are very similar, but there is one part of it that is drastically different.”

Luke nodded.

“Wait until you see her, though,” Leia said, her tone taking on more of a positive meaning. “She definitely catches your eye. Yes!—you must meet her!” Leia’s enthusiasm surprising Luke, even.

“If you meet her,” she continued, “maybe you could figure her out better than I could. She’s an enigma and I don’t trust her. But you could investigate her, probe her mind, see what you can find. Maybe take her to Ossus—”

“Wait a minute, Leia,” Luke interjected. “We don’t know who or what this girl is. I am not prepared to bring her to the JedI Temple where she could possibly be a danger to the students there.”

“Understandable,” Leia nodded in agreement, though she was so certain her idea was flawless. “But just meet her. I’ll make sure she attends the banquet and then, then you can figure her out for yourself.”