Jedi Destiny I: Hate of the Jedi

Chapter 24

Three days later, on the last rest day that Pravus had granted them, Zak and Jaina were free. It was as yet unknown to the rest of the station, as far as they knew; one of the subroutines Jaina had written into the station’s mainframe blinded the security stations on the command and control deck from registering the lowering of the ray shields in all the detention blocks.

Their plan started with the most simple of actions: Zak plunging his newly finished lightsaber’s blade hilt-deep into the wall. He struck roughly where they had worked out—from the station’s schematics they had been provided for the repairs—the ray shield circuitry lay.

Then he’d taken out the guards outside the cellblock with the swiftest of strikes, knocking them both unconscious. Jaina picked up one of their dropped blaster rifles and, after checking its power reserves, followed him down the corridor to the lift tubes at the end.

The rest proved to be a little more difficult. Using a remote device constructed by Zak when needed along the way, they triggered a series of temporary changes, such as opening doors and conveniently arriving turbolifts that would otherwise hinder their progress. Behind them, they secured doors and blast doors alike, and on several decks they had cut off all access to the lift tubes.

All the while, they had to keep a constant vigil, lest they run into security patrols that would report the escape straight to the command deck. They didn’t want Pravus to know, at least not until it was too late.

The sooner he responded to their disappearance, the less time they had to make the escape, and the more mistakes they would make under the pressure.

Zak suggested blanketing internal communications entirely, but Jaina pointed out that if the command deck lost contact with its crew, suspicions would rise instantly and Pravus would go to the detention block to check on them.

Both of them had memorised the plans of the station in their analysis during the repairs, and both had agreed on the easiest route to take. Their plan was to reach the nearest hangar—upper hangar three, which they had been to before during repairs—and steal a ship from the bay, if there was one there. If not, they would find their way to the next, and the next, until they did find a ship. Zak chuckled internally at the thought that there might be none—just his luck.

Zak peered around the corner ahead of them and saw a pair of stormtroopers walking down the hall away from them. Jaina was behind him, pressed against the wall hugging the blaster rifle to her chest. Zak kept his lightsaber in hand, ready to use should the need ever arise.

He was surprised in fact that Jaina’s patch to disable the ray shield activation sensor on the command deck had actually worked. He had thought that they would have a redundancy somewhere that would pick up on the deactivation of the cell’s shield and that the escape would have been alerted to the Imperials right away. That there was little resistance thus far had them both a little on edge.

Jaina had refrained from using the blaster when they had come across patrols that needed elimination. Both of them were hesitant to kill, even though the stormtroopers were the enemy. Zak himself had never taken a life before, and he planned to keep it that way for as long as possible.

It was entirely possible, he reasoned, that there were troopers or officers within the Imperium that had been misled into service, and that given different circumstances they would prove to be decent people, and potential allies.

Certainly, Jaina’s story about the Imperial TIE pilot—a relic of the first Battle for Yavin—that had held her and Jacen captive on Yavin 4 years ago while they fixed his fighter then turning around during their incarceration by Pravus on his Shadow Academy and letting them go proved that some Imperials were capable of some good, regardless of motive.

Zak turned his head and nodded to Jaina and they both skipped around the corner and padded silently down the corridor after the patrol. They were gaining ground on the troopers, and when they had caught up, Zak and Jaina raised their weapons and brought them crashing down hard into the back of the troopers’ heads, knocking them unconscious.

The double doors ahead of them were closed shut, and the keypad on the wall next to them indicated that a pass code was required to open it.

Easily rectified, Zak thought to himself with a grin of triumph.

Jaina crouched low to check the consciousness of the troopers as Zak stepped over their immobile bodies. He glanced back over his shoulder at her to see her pull a couple of thermal detonators from their belt packs and a second rifle which she slung over her shoulder before he pressed on, forcing his legs into a dead run.

He wanted to get to a ship quickly. The quicker he and Jaina got to one, the quicker they could leave the station.

He could visibly make out the keypad halfway down from where they left the troopers, and he started to slow down his approach. The footsteps he heard behind him were careful, but an uneven shuffle, as if Jaina was running backwards to keep an eye on the corridor they were leaving behind.

When Zak reached the door, he stopped aside it and tried the control pad. Nothing happened, and he tried it again, attempting various codes with the same lack of results. He pulled the remote device from his pocket and tried that, touching the wireless to the keypad.

Still nothing.

“We’ve got company!” Jaina hissed beside him. He could hear it too; the steady shuffle of stormtrooper armour somewhere behind him.

“Blaster bolts, that means casualties!” Zak hissed. “Here, take—” Zak started, reaching behind to hand his lightsaber over to Jaina.

“I don’t need it,” Jaina hissed. “Use it to open that door. We haven’t got time to waste on the keypad.”

Zak nodded and thumbed one of the activation switches. A red-white blade of plasma shot out of the stabiliser ring at the end, and without hesitating he plunged it straight through the middle of the blast door, just above head-height. He brought the blade down in a wide arc around the left side and down to ankle-height, fighting against the resisting metal as the plasma burned through it, ignoring the sharp sounds of rapid blaster fire behind him.

Then he withdrew the weapon, and plunged it back into the door where he had started the first cut, dragging it down and around to the right to meet the end of the last arc.

When he took the blade out, he switched it off and shoved against the cut-out section of the door with his shoulder. It budged a little, grinding against the rest of the door around it. He stepped back and rammed his shoulder against the door again, shoving it further out of place.

“Again!” Jaina shouted at him, firing her blaster again and again, and then stopping. “We’re fine for now; they’ve retreated, but they’ll be back with friends. So much for a clean getaway, huh?”

“Give me a hand,” Zak said, and got ready to try again. He and Jaina pressed their shoulders against the door and, after a quiet countdown, both of them shoved as one.

The door fell away and Zak dived through it almost instantly, rolling across the deck to trip up anyone that was waiting inside for them.

But there was no one there, and Zak came up on his feet, looking around for signs of resistance that just weren’t present. He looked to Jaina, who was getting to her feet from her own diving-roll, and shrugged to convey his confusion and suspicions.

Temporarily free from pursuit, they took the time to look around the hangar for the most accessible ship. There was only one there, and it caught his interest immediately, though not because it was alone.

It was on the far side of the hangar deck, the nose facing the closed hangar doors and the ray shield just inside it. He pointed it out to Jaina and they both raced over to it as fast as they could.

Zak kept his eyes on the ship, examining it closely as they approached, while Jaina took the time to look around their surroundings for possible threats. Without the Force, they both had to rely on their natural human senses to warn them of trouble.

The ship was something that could have been stolen from a starship museum. Zak remembered reading about it in his studies years ago on Alderaan. The X-70B Phantom had been a prototype ship used by intelligence operatives within the Sith Empire millennia ago; minimal cargo capacity, high tech stealth capabilities and standard weapons.

Ordinarily, they were far outstripped by even modern Imperial-standard Lambda- and Sentinel-class shuttles in terms of interior space for cargo or passengers. Even modern weapons would have been superior in installation, if not actual use, as well as shield and drive technology. But despite having outdated weapons, the sheer number of those weapons and the rapidity of their operation could outgun some modern transports.

The cockpit’s transparisteel viewing ports were toward the front of the ship, on the underside and slightly back from the forward-most point. The main hull stretched back quite a ways before flaring out at the sides into slightly downward curving wings. Each wing was tipped with a dual blaster cannon mount, and Zak could see the tell-tale signs of missile launchers on the struts.

Zak felt the deck become uneven under his next step and he backtracked to look down at it. It was that same melted scar in the durasteel he and Jaina had noted with varying degrees of sadness when they had last been here repairing the power conduits. The conduits looked brand new—as well they should with the work that Zak, Jaina and Nathanial had put into replacing it.

When his gaze drifted over Jaina, she was looking up at something, and Zak followed her gaze to see a circular slice in the ceiling above them, a temporary seal welded to the topside. Neither of them had noticed that before. Had the duel between the Jedi Okras and Darth Pravus begun up there? It appeared that one of them had cut their way through the floor in an attempt to escape from the other. And the slice through the steel by Zak’s feet seemed to indicate that they had tried it a second time.

Zak felt Jaina’s pang of horror and sadness at the thought, though not through any means of the Force. Though they had not spoken of it, he could only guess that Jaina had known the Jedi well.

He shook the thought out of his head and clasped Jaina’s hand, pulling her closer to him. He squeezed her hand gently. “Let’s go,” he said, forcing a smile.

They unclasped hands and approached the boarding ramp, quickly boarding the ship. Zak stopped at the top of the ramp, just for a moment, and hit the retraction controls. The ramp slid up into the deck of the ship, and a double-hatch sealed shut behind.

“Zak!” Jaina called from somewhere further inside the ship.

He walked forward up the stairs to the main deck and looked to the right and saw a short hall leading past an alcove housing a hatch and into a larger room. He walked around the holocomm equipment in the centre of the room and down a second corridor leading past a second hatch and another, smaller room to the cockpit where Jaina waited. She had already initiated the pre-launch start-up sequence.

He noted that the cockpit was quite spacious, and yet utilitarian. Braces split the viewing portal into seven, consoles were set directly in front of those viewports with a central navigational unit down the middle in front of a central chair. One additional chair was set on either side of the nav unit. A life support operations unit was half-in, half-out of the rear wall behind the co-pilot’s seat.

“Jaina …” he started. “Have you noticed—?”

“No time to talk about it now,” she continued hurriedly. “Look.”

She continued with the sequence as Zak glanced through the transparisteel viewport. He saw a number of stormtroopers rushing around the front of the ship from Zak’s makeshift entry point. They spaced themselves out, some dropping to a knee, others standing with feet spaced evenly. Every one of them was training weapons on the viewport.

“What do we do about that?” he asked Jaina.

“See if this ship has point-defence weaponry.” Jaina pointed to the controls slightly to the right of the co-pilot’s position.

Zak nodded and stepped around the central chair to the station she indicated. He slipped into the chair behind the console and glided his hands back and forth in the space above it. “Weapons … weapons …” he muttered quietly to himself. His eyes darted from corner to corner, looking for some indication of what he was after. “Aha!”

He flipped a switch and heard a single-chime alarm, followed by a confirmation of the command popping up on the status screen in the middle of the board. Another quiet alarm went off, with a sensor readout pinpointing the positions of the stormtroopers that had just started opening fire on them. A button lit up to his left, and he pressed it. A message indicated that the defence lasers were charged and ready.

He looked outside just in time to see brilliant slashes of green laser fire stripping through the armour of the stormtroopers. Each of them was felled swiftly, but even after the first few were killed, the others remained steady. But the lasers, designed to shoot down incoming missiles and torpedos from other ships, made short work of them. Zak soon found that he couldn’t bear to see the damage being done to the men and women sent to apprehend them, it was that horrible.

“Shields?” he asked Jaina to distract himself.

“Um,” Jaina replied hesitantly.

“I’ll find them.” Zak eyed a different section of the controls he’d found the weapons on before he started pressing buttons randomly. Eventually, he hit the right one and he heard a static sound, followed by a gentle hum. “I’m good,” he said, self-praising.

“Now see if you can charge the main cannons and open us up a way out,” Jaina instructed.

Zak returned his attention back to the section of panel which he’d identified as weapons control. Then he turned in the seat and opened his mouth to speak. “I’ve got remote access to the ray shield. It’ll be down in a second,” Jaina cut him off.

“Right,” Zak replied. He nodded and flicked a switch he was sure would power up the main weapons.

When they were on, he positioned the crosshairs on the display so that they were only just overlapping one another and waited for Jaina’s signal that the ray shield was down. When she gave it, he hammered down on the firing controls. Again, he saw the representations of the weapons fire.

On the targeting screen, they seemed to dissolve into the door, but were soon followed by a flashing section of the door Zak knew to mean the weapons had blown a hole for them to escape. Furthermore, he heard the explosion and saw the bright flash from the corner of his eye.

“Hang on,” Jaina said.

Zak understood and abandoned the weapons for a superior grip of the co-pilot’s main console instead. Jaina hadn’t activated the stabilisation thrusters in time, and the ship was sucked out into space with no further warning.

He turned his head to look out through the viewport to see Imperial bodies and debris zipping past them as they too were sucked into the vacuum.

The ship tumbled for some time, with only the inertial dampers keeping them from bouncing off the walls and breaking bones. But Jaina soon regained control and fired the stabiliser thrusters, and then the sub-light engines.

And then Zak could feel again. It was like someone had let the air back into the room. Now that they were in open space, some distance from the effects of the Ysalamiri, the Force was open to them both again.

Zak closed his eyes and let it wash through every fibre of his being. Jaina couldn’t keep back the gasping breath of relief that she could feel again.

“We can’t stay like this for long,” Jaina pointed out, looking over her shoulder. Zak nodded. “I’ve set the autopilot to take us out of range of that Interdictor”—she pointed through the viewport at the distant Imperial ship—“but we’re still going to need hyperdrive capability.”

“Why not just fire up the engine then?” Zak suggested.

“Amateur,” Jaina said with a smile. “I want to check the ’drive systems first—make sure that Brakiss didn’t tamper with them in anticipation of an escape.”

“Fair enough,” Zak said. He pushed himself out of his seat and approached her. “Want me to come with you?”

“No, it’s okay,” Jaina said, waving him off. “I need someone up here to pilot the ship.”

“I thought you had it on autopilot?”

“Minimal autopilot,” Jaina corrected. “The basic course is pre-set but we can still perform evasives if we come under fire from one of those monstrosities,” she added, nodding her head to the ships outside. “And it shouldn’t take them too long to react to—”

The ship shuddered around them and they braced themselves against nearby consoles for support. “Okay, so they obviously saw that little light show we put on while escaping. I need to check the hyperdrive, so keep us from getting hit as much as you can. Set the weapons and point defence to automatically fire on any pursuing fighters.”

“How do I do that?”

Jaina sighed. “Okay, okay, so I forgot that you’re a couple of decades out of date. Watch and learn,” she ordered.

He watched as she leaned over his shoulder to the weapons command console and entered a series of commands on it. Zak, who had the Force to guide him again, used it to keep track of her movements, as her hands flew over the controls quickly so that she could get it done and out of the way.

“Now you know for future reference,” she said. Then she kissed him on the cheek and darted down the corridor. “For luck,” he heard her call back.


Maybe I underestimated the determination and stubbornness of the Jedi,” Pravus snarled. A miniature hologram of the Sith had appeared above the holo projector in front of the central chair when contact had been established from the station.

Jaina was still down below working on the hyperdrive engines and Zak was alone in the cockpit, sitting behind the navigational controls. So far, no TIEs had been sent to apprehend them, but the Star Destroyer nearest them had opened fire with a fierce barrage ion cannon fire. Obviously, Pravus wanted them both alive.

“How so?” Zak asked, diverting his attention for but a second as he dipped the ship under the blue glow of an ion discharge. He didn’t even know why he was bothering to respond to the Sith—it wasn’t as if Pravus could force him to.

I predicted that you would have surrendered or been captured by now,” the Sith replied, amusement colouring his tone. “Jaina is not with you?

“She’s busy,” was the only reply Zak would give.

No doubt trying to ascertain if I’ve sabotaged my own ship,” Pravus guessed. Zak didn’t reply. “I have no desire to damage my own ship, Zak, for I had not truly expected an escape attempt to succeed—though the method of your escape does … merit praise.

The hesitation indicated that Pravus thought differently. Or maybe he didn’t, but was not pleased to admit it. “And incidentally, I had no idea you could fly so proficiently.

Neither did I, Zak thought quietly to himself. He assumed that touching the Force had something to do with it.

Jaina returned at that moment and Zak slipped out of the seat to allow her to take his place. He saw her frown disdainfully at the hologram miniature of their captor before she slapped her hand down on the controls to shut the comm. unit off and slipped into the pilot’s seat that Zak had kindly vacated for her.

Zak smiled inwardly to himself. Jaina had as much gall and defiance as he did, although she had not shown much during their time on the station, no doubt in fear of her life.

“Watch this,” she said to him, smiling.

She settled herself into the pilot’s seat and flipped a switch.

Nothing happened.

“Watch what?” Zak said smugly. Jaina looked down at the controls in front of them, and then back up through the transparisteel as the ship barely avoided another ion blast, the deck shuddering beneath their feet.

“There was nothing wrong!” she exclaimed. “Nothing!”

I’ll go see what I can do,” Zak said. He turned and started towards the back of the cockpit.

“Piece of junk!” Jaina cursed behind him, and Zak heard her hit the controls in frustration.

Suddenly, the deck lurched beneath his feet, the sudden jolt sending him off-balance and crashing into the rear wall of the cockpit. He hit hard and slumped to the floor, gasping for breath.

“Ow!” he complained as he forced himself back to his feet.

“Are you alright?” Jaina asked apologetically. Zak threw a sarcastic look at her. “Okay; that was probably a stupid question.”

“Uh,” Zak started, his eyes going wide as he looked past Jaina and out through the viewport. Cradling his shoulder awkwardly, he stumbled to the front of the cockpit and leaned over the consoles to take a protracted look around. “Jaina …”

“What’s up?” she replied behind him. He felt her turn around, heard the gasp of shock. “That’s not possible!”

Zak nodded as he looked down at the spider’s web of lights and the heavy traffic travelling to and from planet of Coruscant.

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