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Chapter 16

Jaina and Anni were already halfway out of their beds when the red lights went on. Woken by the alarm, they hurried with other starfighter pilots to the docking bay.

Not far away, Jaina could see Kyp force-leaping into his X-Wing. Silently she wished him good luck.

Her own fighter was soon ready to take-off and she didn’t hesitate. Whatever danger may wait for her in the Ralroost’s red-lit corridors, somehow Jaina knew it wasn’t now.

She followed Rogue Squadron’s leader, Gavin Darklighter, into the fight.

Over Ithor hang the largest Yuuzhan Vong fleet Jaina had ever seen. Surely it would get tough, but she was confident. Her brothers and many more Jedi were down on Ithor’s landscape and would make sure to protect the beautiful planet and she was up here to do her part.

Together with Anni, her wingmate, Jaina rolled around and started to pursuit a pair of coralskippers, who had separated themselves from the big swarm that attacked the New Republic’s capital ships.

Surrendering herself to the force, Jaina let it guide her and blew the skips up quickly. The force allowed her to perfectly time her shots and she didn’t waste any time.

Whirling around, she hunted down more and more enemy ships, Anni keeping others away from her tail.

Soon, pictures flooded through her mind faster than she was able to analyze them. She had to completely rely on the force to safely lead her through the dogfight.

After half an hour flying with half-closed eyes and constantly concentrating on her task, Jaina slowly grew tired.

Firing her last torpedo, she blew the final skip in her direct neighborhood apart.

Exhaling, she relaxed slightly, only to find Anni in a desperate duel with another skip, too far away for her to be of any help.

But the other young woman wasn’t part of the Rogues without reason. The Vong pilot was breathing vacuum before he even knew what had happened.

Still, Jaina couldn’t wait being at her friend’s side again.

Having to fight her way through the middle of the space battle, she arrived just in time to see a plasma missile hitting the wings of Anni’s fighter.

“Jaina!” Anni screamed over the comm.

“Please, you have to live! Never give up!”, were her last words.

Her ship rolled out of control into endless space, where it exploded in a brilliant fireball.

Feeling numb for a heartbeat, Jaina started sobbing. She had to force her shaking hands to continue holding her stick and under great efforts, she managed to concentrate on the battle around her again.
Slowly, she could also see again through her watery eyes.

Just in time, it seemed.

Through the force, she received an alarm, calling her back to the Ralroost. An instant later, someone commed her on a private channel.

“Jaina!” Jaina recognized Admiral Kre’fey’s voice.
“The Vong are attacking the bridge! Thanks to your warning we were able to seal the doors, but they have taken over the ship. I don’t know if anyone outside the bridge is still alive.
We can’t hold on for much longer!”

Only now it was, that Jaina noticed the Ralroost’s guns had fallen silent.

“Admiral, I’m on my way!”
“Please, be careful. They have cut the main power supply to the bridge. I’m not sure the hangar doors will open for you.
I’ll send someone to open it from the hangar controls and let you in.”

“That’s suicide!” Jaina cried.

“You’re our only chance and besides, everyone here is willing to give his or hers life for yours.”
“Me included.” Kre’fey added.

Tears threatened to fall again when Jaina heard these words coming from her superior.

I don’t want anyone to die for me.

“Jaina?” The Admiral asked over comm.
“Yes, I’m here. I’m coming.” Jaina said soundless, pointing the nose of her X-Wing to the flagship.

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