Shakedown Cruise Rating: PG

First sentence challenge.

Alarms blared throughout the vessel and as the ship was unexpectedly yanked from hyperspace they were placed in a position where the only choice was to pick a side and fight. An Imperial Mark III Star Destroyer at one time would have been the automatic choice to shoot at. But that was before the Vong came. Now, as the star destroyer's gleaming white hull is being riddled with plasma bursts from the rock-like ships of the Yuuzhan Vong, the choice is even clearer. Mara Jade pushes down and away on her flight yoke, causing the Jade Shadow to twist away from the incoming balls of plasma which the incoming flight of coralskippers peppers them with.

A flight of star fighters sweep out of the hanger of the star destroyer, vectoring in towards the cruiser analog Vong vessel. Jaina watches those blips of thruster light as they twist and turn from the Vong's fire, wishing that she could be out there, wishing that it was her in one of those fighters.

She stretches out with the Force, feeling the pilots, in their single-minded ferocity as they go about destroying the skips. For a split second, Jaina smiles. This is fun. Then she remembers that she isn't in her X-Wing, and slides into the weapon's station.

As soon as she sits down, the ship rocks and a decompression alarm sounds. As her aunt mutters a curse, Jaina tightens the restraints, and focuses on the weapons. She spares a single moment to glance at Mara down at the pilot's station. Smiling at her mentor as Mara engages the sublight engines; once more she turns her attention to the weapons array, activating the turbolasers and missile systems.

Mara's voice comes floating up out of the pilot's well. "Target those skips, I'm going to contact the star destroyer to see just who it is we're fighting with."

Jaina nods, and starts firing at the skips, her smile growing larger with each skip which she turns into a cloud of ionized gases and pieces of yorik coral. Absently she can hear her aunt talking to the star destroyer, but pushes it out of her mind, as another skip flashes past in an instant, just barely missing her sustained laser fire.

Hearing the stream of curses from the pilot's well, she starts to worry for a second. "What's wrong Aunt Mara?"

"Nothing. That star destroyer is just a part of the CEDF."

Jaina cocks her head slightly as she thinks where she has heard that from before. Then she remembers. Ithor. There was a squadron of Imperials who claimed to be a part of the CEDF, and they had the most infuriating squadron leader. Jaina tries harder to remember his name, her face scrunching up slightly as she focuses on the past. Jak? Ragged? Sighing she gives up trying to think of his name, and focuses once more on turning the skips into their composite atoms.

Jaina is tossed hard against her restraints as Mara throws the ship into a spiral so tight it overrides the inertial compensators. As Jaina rights herself, her aunt once more speaks from the pilot's well. "We're going into the middle of that fur ball to port. I'm designating one of those cruiser analogs as your primary target; I think it's the interdictor."

Jaina gives her aunt an absent-minded affirmative, and smiles as the cruiser analog gets bracketed by a priority icon. She looks at the number of missiles she has left, and arms the final two, hoping that will be all she needs. She starts peppering the cruiser with low-powered blasts, smiling as the larger coral vessel calmly absorbs them. Then she notices that her shots have begun to not be absorbed, that each strike causes a little puff of melted coral to rise out from the hull of the cruiser, and she flicks a switch sending full powered blasts at the other vessels, watching as chunks of coral are blasted free.

Then she fires the last two missiles, and once more starts blasting away at the cruiser. As the missiles hit, they rip most of the middle portion of the Vong ship away, leaving a dying hulk drifting in space. Jaina lets out a loud whoop of delight.

Turning her seat slightly so she can see her aunt in the pilot's well, she calls out, "Aunt Mara, the cruiser is down, and I really hope that was the right one because we're all out of missiles."

She sees Mara's head bob in affirmation, and turns back to her station, once more firing at the skips. There is a blossom of energy, as a bundle of plasma explodes against the shields, the explosion writhes around the Jade Shadow, coloring the view of space from the cockpit orange.

Then with a shudder, Mara pulls back on the flight yoke and the Shadow lifts and twists away from the battle. She pushes down on the throttle and the ship jumps ahead, leaving the skips behind. After a few moments, Mara reaches up, and pulls back on a level and their ship once more jumps into hyperspace, leaving the battle and the star destroyer behind. Silently Jaina wonders if she'll ever get to see that pilot again, whatever his name was.

Then she notices her aunt getting up from the pilot's well, her face pale and haggard. Worn out already by the battle they were just in. "You okay Aunt Mara?"

Mara nods her head slightly. "Yeah, just a little tired. Not quite what you were expecting as a shakedown cruise for my new ship was it?"

Jaina laughs. "That's the fun with flights with you Aunt Mara; they're never what I'm expecting."

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