Chapter Ten

"Captain, we're losing sublight velocity! We took a direct hit to one of the engines," Mylyn called out.

"Dammit!" Berini yelled back. "Can we make the jump yet?!"

"We need a few more minutes to finish the calculations! The nav computer sustained some damage and processor power has been diminished!"

"Those sithspawn! Bank hard to port!" Berini commanded.

With that, the pilot veered the Queen Valkyrie toward the port side. Ja'Ina and Deoni traded worried expressions as they held on in the jump seats against the rear bulkhead of the small bridge. They could see several more shots from the Star Destroyer streak past the starboard side of the ship, but it lurched again and lost more speed as it took a direct hit to another engine.

Berini slammed her fist on the console. "Those skragging scums are trying to cripple us, not destroy us! At this rate they'll soon have us! It'll be a cold day on Mustafar before I let that happen!"

Just then, a mental pain shot through Ja'Ina's being, which nearly caused her to fall out of her jump seat. "Oh no…" Her face turned pale, and Deoni noticed it.

"What is it?" the Zeltron asked.

"I gotta go! Soraa's in trouble!"

"What? How do you know that?"

"I just know!" Ja'Ina jumped up from her seat and ran for the exit.

"Wait!" Deoni called out.

Ja'Ina ran as fast as she could through the corridors to make her way to the dorsal cannons, following Soraa's presence through the Force. As the ship rocked, she was tossed into the bulkhead. She rolled with the impact and nearly fell, but she was agile enough to keep on her feet and continue her run.

She made it to the upper deck and the forward turbolaser turrets. They were armed life ships in the stock-standard configuration, but Berini had them converted with more powerful cannons for increased defenses. Ja'Ina ran into Spiaré, who was already at the door of one of the forward turrets. He was not wearing his cloak, displaying his simple tan tunic and pants.

Over the cacophony of combat, she yelled to the Jedi, "How'd you get up here?!"

"The same way you did!"

Ja'Ina growled. "What're you doing here?!" She was in no mood for his smart-assed comments and her sour expression made that well known to him.

"Your friend Soraa is in there, but you know that already! Her turret took a direct hit, but I sense she's still alive!"

"Well, open the door then!"

"It's jammed. Stand back!"

The Jedi pulled out his lightsaber, which he retrieved after the fighting started, and activated it. He thrust its bright amber blade straight into the hatch and slowly cut a large, circular hole in the middle. Ja'Ina stood aside and nervously watched him work. In any other situation she would have been fascinated by the sight, but now it was just nerve-wracking. It seemed that Spiaré took forever, but she knew he had to be careful.

When he completed the cut, the hatch piece was sucked into the turret chamber, indicative of some atmospheric decompression within. Ja'Ina leapt through the hole before Spiaré could stop her.

The turret was a mess – panels were blown out, smashed circuitry and severed live wires spit out bright sparks and the viewport and controls were smashed. The chamber's thinning air was filled with a lung-stinging smoke. Somehow, the turret was more or less still intact however there was a breach through which the atmosphere was quickly escaping out with an audibly ominous hiss. It was getting harder to breathe as the air grew thinner.

Ja'Ina crawled her way over the debris to Soraa, who was still harnessed in her chair. She was slumped over in the seat, unconscious and bleeding from wounds torn into her body from head to toe. Ja'Ina struggled to get Soraa out of the shredded harness as Spiaré climbed into the turret.

"Hurry, Ja'Ina! The turret's integrity is critical!"

"I know, Spiaré! I know!"

Ja'Ina struggled to remain calm and focused. She knew that if she were flustered, she'd never be able to get Soraa out in time. The hiss of the leak grew louder as the breach progressed. The turret's durasteel shell began to groan as the rate of decompression increased. Ja'Ina could feel her eardrums push outward with the rising pressure differential.

Ja'Ina managed to undo the last buckle of the tattered harness and Soraa tumbled forward lifelessly into Spiaré's arms.

"Ja'Ina! Go!"

The young woman did not question the Jedi. She knew to trust him and his ability to save her friend.

Ja'Ina quickly climbed out of the hole into the corridor. The corridor lights flickered as the ship sustained another direct hit. Moments later, Spiaré lifted Soraa out the hole to Ja'Ina and then crawled out.

He picked up the unconscious woman and hefted her over his shoulder. They ran back down the corridor just as the turret broke apart like an eggshell, causing explosive decompression through the now-door-less hatch.

The two fought hard against the pull of the decompression that threatened to throw them out into the vacuum of space and certain death. They barely made it past a blast door that automatically closed right behind them to seal off the corridor section exposed to the hull breach. They collapsed to the floor, out of breath. Spiaré gently laid Soraa on Ja'Ina's lap, and she held her in her arms.

Ja'Ina gently rocked Soraa back and forth and wiped the blood from her dear friend's face. "It's okay, Soraa. I'm here. Everything will be okay. Everything will be okay…" Tears streaked down her honey-brown cheeks.

The Jedi put his hand on Ja'Ina's shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. She looked at him and he gave her a knowing smile.

A few moments later, the Queen Valkyrie jumped into hyperspace…

Author's Note: Here we are at the end of yet another episode of Soraa and Ja'Ina's epic adventure!

You can find Episode V at: www fanfiction net/s/8904872/1/The-Best-Laid-Plans-Episode-V (just add the missing periods)

And, as always, thank you for reading this far!