21. Lilja Sjasaris
Birthplace: Rabanastre, Dalmasca
A new recruit to Garlond Ironworks, Lilja first awakened to her talents as an engineer while receiving an imperial education in her native Rabanastre. Her academic accomplishments won her acceptance to the prestigious Magitek Academy in the imperial capital, but ere she could relocate to commence her studies, resistance forces launched a large-scale offensive that transformed Rabanastre into a battlefield. The young Viera was forced to seek refuge in Doma, where she sustained herself by repairing machina and designing custom contraptions. Word of her uncommon expertise chanced to reach the visiting Jessie, who offered her a place at the Ironworks. Having been an admirer of the organization due to its part in the liberation effort, she accepted without a moment's hesitation.
Despite her cheery and optimistic facade, Lilja was a conflicted soul. Like no few Dalmascan orphans, she was taken into imperial care and underwent schooling intended to instill a sense of allegiance to Garlemald. And while most of her peers remained fiercely loyal to their homeland, only giving their tutors lip service, Lilja could not muster up the selfsame passion. For though she could not approve of Garlean rule, it seemed to her that the alternative, a Dalmascan monarchy, would not improve the lot of the common man.
Further blurring the lines of her loyalty was the respect she came to hold for the occupying IVth Imperial Legion, which did not forcibly conscript civilians to its ranks. During a public address, its commander, Legatus van Gabranth, proclaimed that it falls to each man to use his talents to forge his own way in life. Lilja was among those present when these words were uttered, and they spoke to her more than any nation's standard ever could. Nevertheless, she could ill turn a blind eye to the many wrongs the Garleans committed against those they subjugated.
All of this served to make of Lilja a woman who opposed the Empire, yet not strongly enough to take up arms against it, the seeming contradiction giving rise to a storm of self-doubt. In joining the Ironworks, however, she was able to quell her inner turmoil by focusing on a new objective: to simply be herself, a free spirit unburdened by whatever chaos may unfold around her. Witnessing the likes of Cid and Jessie devoting themselves to their work, she recalled the words of van Gabranth─and duly set about using such knowledge and skill as she possessed to the best of her ability.
“Hm, perhaps I'm overthinking it...but what if we were to─”
“Ahem. You're definitely overthinking it, Lilja. Let's actually make the thing, shall we?”
“Yes, I suppose you're right, Jessie... Ah! There was one other idea I had...”