Soraa and Ja'Ina were in absolute awe as they climbed higher and higher through the atmosphere of Galathu. Neither of them had ever even been in an airspeeder, let alone a starship. Occasionally, they would see one high in the sky back in Sim Katall, but now they were actually in one. Their excitement was incomprehensible.
Gradually, the choppiness of the ride smoothed out until they were out of the atmosphere and entered the vacuum of space. The women had an incredible view of Galathu and the gas giant Viinn around which it orbited. The views of space spanning around them were more than anything their wildest imaginations could come up with.
As Galathu grew more distant, they could make out the single continent on the moon's surface. Due to the gravitational influences of Viinn, the vast oceans were constantly rocked by violent, powerful tidal currents. The coastlines would repeatedly recede and advance by hundreds of kilometers, leaving the population to reside well inland.
Soraa and Ja'Ina looked around the cockpit. They could not even begin to comprehend all the controls and instruments that lined the consoles. The young women each found a comlink headset at her station and put them on.
Soraa spoke first. "Ina! Get a look at all of this! It's awesome!"
"Yeah, I agree." Ja'Ina was a little more dazed than Soraa was. "I can't believe we finally achieved our dream of leaving Galathu."
"We just need to figure out where to go."
Ja'Ina excitedly turned around to face Soraa behind her. "I know, let's go to Krrad and surprise Raelin and the others!"
"That would be great! They'll be happy to see us. How do we get there?"
"Umm, that's a good question, Soraa."
Soraa pointed out her viewport to the astromech droid protruding from the neck of the ship behind the cockpit. "Ina, we could ask our rescuer if he could take us!"
Waving out the aft viewport, Ja'Ina tried to talk to the droid. "Little friend, can you hear me? Thank you for helping us!"
The droid broke out in a long stream of clicks, buzzes and toots over the comlink. The young women couldn't understand it, but Ja'Ina remembered the display on the pilot console and turned around.
It read, "You are welcome. Am I really your friend?"
Ja'Ina was excited that the droid could hear them through the comlink. "Of course you're our friend! I'm Ja'Ina." She turned back around to see the droid.
Soraa's console also displayed the textual translation of the droid's noises. "And I'm Soraa. We're glad to meet you."
The astromech made a happy-sounding noise. "I am Industrial Automaton Astromech R2 series, R2-T50."
Soraa turned toward Ja'Ina. "He's got a strange name, doesn't he Ina?"
"Yeah, it's not very personal."
The astromech listened to the young women as they discussed his name. It panned its domed head back and forth in a jerking manner.
"I don't like just having numbers and letters for his name. He should have a nicer name."
Ja'Ina thought aloud, "Artoo Tee-fifty... Tee-Fifty... Fifty... I know, how about 'Fitty'?"
"I don't know. It seems kinda silly to me."
"Well Soraa, you have any ideas?"
Soraa grunted. She had none.
"Alright then, his name is Fitty," Ja'Ina declared. "What do you think of that, Fitty?"
The astromech beeped and whistled and the translation display read, "I do not understand this designation, but if you prefer it I will modify my software routines to respond to it."
"Thank you, Fitty! It makes it easier for us to talk to you."
Fitty whistled. "You want to talk to me?"
"Yeah, why not?" Soraa answered the confused automaton.
Fitty beeped and booped. "Because I am just a droid."
Ja'Ina didn't understand. "So what if you're a droid? We can still be friends, right?"
The droid crackled and buzzed. "I have never had a friend before. Master In-Dee made me stay with the ship and do nothing but maintain it."
"Well that's just plain terrible," Ja'Ina answered. "You're very valuable to the ship, and you're part of its crew."
"Ina's right, Fitty. You are a part of the ship's crew, not part of the ship."
Fitty whistled and tooted, sounding embarrassed. "I have never had any organics regard me in that manner. Thank you. I am happy to have you as my new masters."
"Can you take us to Krrad, Fitty?" asked Soraa. She really liked the idea of seeing Raelin again.
"That is within my capabilities, Mistress Soraa."
"Just 'Soraa', please."
"That is within my capabilities, Soraa. Krrad is presently on the opposite side of Viinn. The trip will take approximately one standard day by sublight velocity."
Ja'Ina was excited. "That sounds just fine to me! Though, we don't have anything to eat or drink until then…"
"There are human-consumable rations in the second compartment on the port side of the cockpit."
Soraa took a look. Sure enough, there was a small amount of food and drink in the compartment.
She drew out some of the rations. "Thank you, Fitty! You're a life saver!"
"My sensors indicate no distress to either of your physical systems."
Ja'Ina grabbed a small pouch of food and gratefully munched on it. It wasn't very flavorful, but for rations it was just fine. "Soraa, we need to name our new ship."
"You know, Ina," Soraa said between bites, "You're right. We've been really lucky getting out as far as we have so far. Maybe the name should reflect that."
Fitty beeped with confusion. "Why must you organics name everything?"
Ja'Ina looked at Soraa and took a drink of a strange-tasting, nutrient-enriched drink. "Fitty's got a point, at least from his point of view." She chuckled.
"Well Fitty," Soraa replied, "it helps people to relate more to things. I don't know what this ship's actual designation is, but I'm sure it's hard to remember."
Fitty took her statement as a request for information. "This ship is a Koensayr BTL-S3 Y-Wing fighter, modified for greater cargo capacity, thereby diminishing its combat capabilities. The torpedo-"
Confused, Ja'Ina interrupted him. "Alright, Fitty. We don't need to know all of that stuff. We wouldn't understand it anyway."
Soraa blurted out, "Lucky Star! This ship is our lucky star after all."
The astromech booped in a condescending tone. "That does not compute."
"It doesn't have to compute," Soraa retorted with a smile. "It works for us."
"That is not logical. However, I will update the ship's registry for the designation 'Lucky Star'."
With that, the newly-christened ship continued the trip to Krrad.
Fitty began to school Soraa and Ja'Ina on the basic operations of the ship. He was capable of taking care of the majority of the operations, but wanted his new masters to learn for themselves before the need arose. Still, it would take quite some time before the women would be able to operate the main functions from the cockpit. The young friends were excited to learn how to fly the ship. Soraa wanted to be the weapons officer and learn to operate the turret gun since she already had excellent ability with ranged weapons, albeit only personal ones. Ja'Ina wanted to be the pilot because she felt she could apply her reflexes to maneuvering the ship.
After spending nearly half the flight learning how to operate the Lucky Star, Ja'Ina and Soraa were exhausted. They unbuckled their harnesses and reclined back in their seats to rest.
Several hours later, Soraa and Ja'Ina were rudely wakened by the blare of warning alarms. Fitty was squealing and beeping frantically.
Ja'Ina quickly fastened her harness and donned her headset. "Fitty, what's going on?!"
The translator display read, "Proximity alert! Warning! Large vessel approaching from the aft direction! Commencing evasive maneuvers!"
Ja'Ina called back to Soraa, who was still scrambling to get her harness buckled, "Hang on-"
She was just able to get those words out as the Lucky Star suddenly banked port-side.
Soraa tumbled over her seat. "Owww! What the-"
"We've got company! Strap in, Soraa! Fitty, give me control!"
Fitty screeched in protest. "I advise against it, Ja'Ina! You have not been trained for such a situation!"
"Trust me, Fitty!"
"Negative! Your current skill level is insufficient for evasive maneuvers!"
"Suit yourself!" Ja'Ina quickly searched for the emergency manual override switch. After a tense moment, she found it and flipped it.
The ship shuddered as control was transferred to the pilot's station. Fitty squealed in protest. Ja'Ina tightly gripped the hands on throttle-and-stick and jerked it starboard. She relied more on her feelings and instinct than on Fitty's limited tutelage.
Soraa tumbled back over her seat to the other side. "Hey! Let me buckle up!"
"I can't wait for your slow choobies!"
"You're too funny!"
"I find nothing humorous about our situation!" Fitty responded.
Soraa managed to strap in. Suddenly, a cannon blast shot past right in front of them. Both the women screamed and Ja'Ina pulled up hard on the HOTAS.
Soraa looked out her rear viewport and caught a glimpse of what shot at them. It was a ship much larger than the Lucky Star. Most of what she could make out behind them was the characteristic cylindrical hammerhead bow of a Corellian C-90 Corvette. Another blast flew over them and Ja'Ina reacted by putting the fighter into a steep dive. As soon as they dropped below the ventral plane of the pursuing ship, the Lucky Star jerked violently and the engines protested with terrible straining sounds. Several warning indicators flashed bright red on both women's consoles and alarms sounded in their headsets.
Ja'Ina yelled out, "What happened?!"
The droid reported, "We are caught in a tractor beam. I am shutting down the main drives to avert an overload."
The young women could hear the engines winding down.
Scared, Soraa asked the astromech, "You mean we're stuck?"
"Affirmative. There is no way to break free."
The Lucky Star was being pulled back towards the large ship. The fighter rocked nauseatingly in the invisible grasp of their pursuer's tractor beam. As they drew closer the young women began to see just how large the other ship was.
Ja'Ina was in fearful awe of the vessel. "That thing is much larger than Mehar's ship!"
"We are receiving a communication signal."
"Let's hear it Fitty," Ja'Ina commanded.
The audio came through their headsets and a female voice broke through the static. "…This is the pirate ship Queen Valkyrie. Prepare to be brought on board. As long as you cooperate no harm will come to you."
Soraa grabbed the controls of the turret above her. "Like hell! How do you shoot this karking thing?"
Ja'Ina called back, "Soraa! Now's not the time!"
Fitty also squeaked a protest. "The ion turret is defensive only and has limited effect on a ship that size. Given the available data, the odds of successful resistance are 5,398 to 1."
This made Soraa even angrier. "Don't tell me the odds!" She grabbed her blaster.
"That's enough, Soraa! We can't do anything else for now. We'll leave our weapons in the ship. We don't even know what they want yet. It could simply be a case of mistaken identity."
"That's all!" She turned back to face Soraa. "Look, I'm scared too. But we need to trust that everything will be okay. We're in this together. Remember that."
Soraa put her blaster down. "You're right. I'm sorry, Ina."
Ja'Ina turned around and smiled to her friend. "That's okay, Soraa. Really, we'll be alright."
"I wish I had a Nimu ale right now."
Fitty chimed in again. "Consuming an alcoholic beverage at this time is not recommended. Your physical and cognitive abilities would be compromised."
Soraa groaned as she read the display. "Even a droid gives me a hard time about drinking…"
Ja'Ina couldn't help but chuckle in spite of their dire situation. "Fitty's right, Soraa. You'll just have to try to relax without the ale. Try to remember the techniques I taught you." Ja'Ina looked back at Soraa, who nodded in reply.
The Lucky Star was pulled to the belly of the Queen Valkyrie where an open hatch waited for them. Slowly, the fighter was brought through the hatch into a small hangar bay. Fitty extended the landing struts as they floated into the only open spot in the bay. Much of the space was already taken up by a number of other craft – a couple of landspeeders, a few speeder bikes and a small shuttlecraft. The Y-wing took up nearly all of the remaining hangar space. The invisible beam gently lowered the craft to rest on its landing gear and Fitty shut down the rest of the ship's systems.
Ja'Ina took a deep breath. "Here goes nothing..."
She opened the cockpit canopy and the two young women cautiously egressed. Fitty rose out of his socket, but had no way of getting down. He squealed and chirped.
Ja'Ina faced the nervous droid. "Don't worry Fitty. Just stay and guard the ship for now. We won't leave you behind. I promise."
The astromech beeped back in a way that suggested a proud 'Yes sir!' response.
Just as Soraa and Ja'Ina stepped down to the hangar's deck, they were greeted by a group of six females of a number of different races. They were all dressed differently, but most wore some kind of skimpy outfit. All of them had their blasters raised and they displayed unwelcome expressions on their faces that unnerved the young women.
One of them stepped forward. It was the Togruta from In-Dee's hangar in Jum Katar. She smiled at Soraa and Ja'Ina, showing her sharp canine teeth. "Well, well Pretties. We meet again! You're coming with us. The Captain's looking forward to meeting you."
Soraa stepped up, trying to keep up appearances of strength. "Well that's good. We'd like to meet him too."
"Her!" yelled the Togruta. "Let's go!"
Some of the other pirates surrounded their captives and shackled their wrists. Soraa and Ja'Ina were led off while two of their captors walked over to the Lucky Star. Fitty could be heard letting out blats of protest as the pirates started climbing onto the ship.
Ja'Ina called back to him, "Don't worry Fitty. Just let them do what they want for now." She turned to their captors. "Do what you want to the ship, but don't touch the droid. He's of no good to you."
A human pirate standing next to the prisoners got right in Ja'Ina's face. "You're in no position to be making any demands!"
Ja'Ina kept her cool in spite of being unnerved by the situation. "It wasn't a demand, just a request."
"We'll do what we damn well want!"
Ja'Ina shrugged. "Well, I had to try."
The friends were led out of the hangar as the other pirates searched inside the Lucky Star.
No one said anything as Soraa and Ja'Ina were led along the corridors to meet the captain. The friends saw a few other crewmembers as they walked along. They were female as well.
The group arrived at a room that appeared to be some kind of conference room. At the center was a large U-shaped table with chairs all around. All but two of the pirate escorts left. One person stood at the far end of the table – a purple-skinned Twi'lek female. She also wore a skimpy outfit, skimpier than any of the others Soraa and Ja'Ina had seen on board so far, which left little to the imagination. It wasn't obscene, but still they were a bit embarrassed by the sight.
The Twi'lek was athletic with well-defined muscles that suggested she had exceptional physical strength. She would have been considered attractive like most female Twi'leks if it weren't for the seemingly permanent scowl on her face and the large, nasty-looking scar that ran along the length of one of her lekku. She looked like she could go ballistic at any moment. Soraa and Ja'Ina chose to remain silent to avoid any provocation.
The Twi'lek walked over to the prisoners and looked them over one at a time. They broke out in a cold sweat as her steely gaze seemed to pierce right through them. She stood silently for a moment with arms akimbo then slowly spoke.
"These are the ones who fled Mister Johlo's hangar in his own ship, eh?"
One of the escorts answered, "yes, Myrrna."
"So, how long have you been working with him?" the Twi'lek asked the young friends.
Surprised, Soraa answered, "Us? Working with In-Dee? We're not, I assure you."
Myrrna smiled. "I'm sure. We'll see about that."
Ja'Ina spoke up. "It's true! In fact, we were hired to capture him for someone."
"Interesting... So you're bounty hunters, then?"
Soraa fought to keep from trembling. "Uhh, yeah."
The timid young women did not strike Myrrna as real bounty hunters. "How long have you been…bounty hunters?" she asked sarcastically.
Ja'Ina took over for Soraa. "Well…"
Then a booming voice filled the room. "Myrrna! That's enough!"
Soraa and Ja'Ina turned to see the newcomer. She was a human woman, rather tall and hefty but still somehow kept a feminine air about her. Her head was topped with short reddish hair and she wore a flashy outfit that vaguely resembled some kind of naval officer's uniform completed with a large custom blaster pistol. She was considerably older than the young friends.
She spoke to the prisoners with a strong voice. "Pardon my first officer here. She's not the most tactful person." The imposing woman walked up to Soraa and Ja'Ina. "The name's Berini. Queen Berini, captain of the pirate ship Queen Valkyrie. And you're going to be my guests for a while." She punctuated her greeting with a smug smile.
Author's note: Thanks for reading so far! This is the end of Episode II.
You can find Episode III at: www fanfiction net/s/8647198/1/The-Best-Laid-Plans-Episode-III (just add the missing periods)