The Mission 2: Dead Zone

Mandi Hall, July 2001

The dry cackling filled the blackness and for a
moment, that was all she knew. Then he fell on her,
his knees pressing into her chest. His twisted white
face laughed at her, mocking her. Cold wrinkled hands
wrapped around her neck, gripping. Then the Emperor's
cloaked head slowly transformed into Metieh. The
Admiral's long white hair fell into her face as he
continued to strangle hair. Jaina tried to struggle,
but the pressure against her chest was too much.
She watched with horror as the face changed to her
mother's. Mom was wearing the Sith robes and her hair
flowed free.

"Mom..." Jaina rasped. The face shifted quickly to
that of her own father, under the influence of the
virus. Tears formed around Jaina's eyes. Maybe it
wasn't the virus. Maybe that's why he sent her on a
suicide mission. Maybe he didn't really lo-

Her father's face changed into Nik-Vie's. She pressed
against him, sobbing loudly. Nik-Vie's hands tightened
around her neck, and his face started to decay,
blackening and peeling.

Jaina screamed and the sound seemed to catch for a
moment before jerking her back to consciousness. The
world blurred and jumped in and out of focus as Jaina
blinked. In her hazy vision, she thought she could
make out a white light. 

She gasped for air, but found something was still
pressing against her chest. She punched at the object,
squirming beneath it. After a moment, she realized she
was trapped under one of the recently installed Crash
Inflation Devices-An air bag.

Jaina let out a short breath and twisted around in her
seat. Her fingers wrapped around the multi-tool on her
belt and she snapped out her knife. She shoved the
blade into the air bag and white powder burst out and
sprayed over Jaina's face and chest.

"Back to the drawing board," she muttered. She
loosened her crash webbing and took off her helmet.

Rubbing a tender spot on the back of her head, she
leaned forward to send out a distress call. All she
got was static. The radio was useless. Jaina wrinkled
her nose and pushed the hair out of her eyes. After a
few moments of staring at the control panel, she used
her multi-tool to pry the cover off the radio. She
tried to rewire it, but nothing seemed to work.
She closed her eyes and tried to focus. *Help
me...This is Jaina Solo...If anyone can hear me...*

She frowned. She had a very bad feeling about this.
*Anyone?* But she knew there wouldn't be an answer. It
was as if her 'voice' had no echo. Then she remembered
crashing. She had tried to use the Force, but it
didn't work. It was if she was in a Force dead zone.

A chill ran up Jaina's spine and she started to panic.

She needed to get out of the cockpit, NOW. She slammed
her fist against the control to raise the canopy, but
it didn't work. She looked up and noticed the large
tree that must have fallen onto the craft when she
crashed. Her eyes rolled up and she leaned forward,
dropping her forehead against the control panel.

"Ow," she muttered. "What else could go-" she bit her
lip before she could finish. 

She took a deep breath and reached for her lightsabre.
She held it up close to the transparisteel canopy and
activated it. 

The violet blade sliced through the canopy as well as
the tree. Her hands shook a little as she pulled the
blade across the viewshield. When she'd sliced all the
way across the tree, she fumbled the lightsabre and it
slipped out of her hands. She jerked back and let out
a sharp yelp as the blade came within millimetres of
slicing off her legs. The weapon came to rest balanced
across her lap, her flightsuit burnt through and the
top several layers of skin on her thighs melting.
She tried to stay very still while she slowly reached
forward to deactivate the weapon. The lightsabre hilt
tumbled to the floor and Jaina let out a deep sigh.

She tried to hold back tears as she busied herself
with examining the burn-It didn't look too serious; it
was only a flesh wound. She pulled some bacta packs
out of her first aid kit and strapped them onto her
thighs. After securing the packs, she sunk down into
her seat and placed both feet against the canopy.
Gathering all the strength she had, she shoved the
glass. She winced and bit her lower lip as the searing
pain went through her legs, but she brightened as the
severed half of the tree slid off the X-wing.

"Now," Jaina murmured, rubbing the bacta pack against
her leg, "for the easy part."

A blunt edge snapped out of Jaina's multi-tool and she
forced it into the space between the hull and the
canopy. Carefully, she slid the tool along the groove,
searching for the latch. When she found it, she
unhooked the connection. Then she did the same on the
other side, so that the canopy was completely
unlatched. With a hard push, she was able to lift and
move the canopy enough to make a small opening. After
hooking her lightsabre and multi-tool to her belt, she
slipped out of the X-wing. 

For the first time, she really had a chance to look
around. Green plants were everywhere. Trees seemed to
head up into the atmosphere for miles. Somewhere off
in the distance she heard flowing water. It was

But it seemed so empty.

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