Jaya Kassis was born 7 BBY, in Coronet City on the planet Corellia, to Vrin and Taya Kassis. Her parents were members of the Corellian Resistance led by Garm Bel Iblis against the New Order. The Corellian Resistance eventually folded into the Alliance to Restore the Republic, but before then, they were their own movement fighting against Imperial control. Having a daughter during some of the darker days of the Empire’s reign on Corellia had never originally been in the cards, but Vrin and Taya chose to believe it was a portent of good to come. That good might have taken eleven years to manifest itself, but compared to the length of time the Empire held the galaxy in its cold, brutal fist, eleven years seemed almost nothing.
Jaya’s eleventh birthday came the same year as the Alliance to Restore the Republic’s victory at the Battle of Endor, which saw both the end of Darth Vader and the end of Emperor Sheev Palpatine. Even further than that, it saw a fracturing of the Empire into fragments of warlord-led bands that were chased down into destruction or into hiding as the Alliance transitioned from being a movement of rebellion to a legitimate government in the form of the New Republic.
Most of Jaya’s childhood years were spent on one ship or another, since the Corellian Resistance’s presence as a thorn in the Empire’s side led them to crack down and forced a chunk of the group off planet. She grew up watching starfighter pilots, and her father was counted among them. After the establishment of the New Republic, Vrin and Taya decided to try and give their daughter some stability and returned to Coronet City, where they hoped peace would come at last. Influenced by these early events in her life, Jaya pursued an interest in flying like many Corellians. When she reached the age of majority, she signed up for CorSec and attended the Corellian Security Force Academy.
Her natural talents led her to be selected for CorSec’s Tactical Response Team, which was a commando-pilot unit that served as a Quick Reaction Force for both aerial and ground-based threats of a severe nature. Many likened CorSec’s TRT to the New Republic’s Rogue Squadron, though they were more a precursor. What they did and didn’t do was sometimes the subject of debate, but two things were obvious: they taught her how to fly and how to handle a blaster. Jaya’s service with CorSec lasted a full twenty years. During that time, she was most famous for stopping a plot by remnant Imperial dissidents who were attempting to smuggle explosives into government buildings as retaliatory attacks for Corellia’s status as one of the initial founding members of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. For her efforts, she was awarded one of Corellia’s highest honors: a right to wear the first-class Corellian bloodstripes.
When retirement came, Jaya left CorSec as a Captain and commanding officer of the Tactical Response Team. But like all who have devoted their life to service, retirement didn’t sit well with her. She took some time to travel and see other parts of the galaxy in 27 ABY. No matter where she went, though, the story was always the same: the First Order was on the rise. Jaya recognized it for what it was the second that she saw it, and hated it as certainly as she’d hated the Empire in her youth. Jaya was a proponent of the system, however, and despite her disagreement concerning how the New Republic was handling things, she also believed the Resistance to be little more than a group of vigilantes making things worse.
That changed in 34 ABY, when the First Order used Starkiller Base to destroy the Hosnian system and a large fraction of the New Republic government. Despite her age, Jaya knew she’d been right when retiring from CorSec had felt wrong. Knowing they wouldn’t have her back and also knowing that CorSec was not going to be on the front lines, Jaya began to hunt down the Resistance to join them and add another gun to their arsenal. She didn’t realize how crucial that would be after the evacuation of D’Qar and the Battle of Crait, but got a good taste of it when she finally found the Resistance and its barely existent fleet. Even with the odds, Jaya immediately offered her expertise as a skilled pilot to their diminished Starfighter Corps.