Star Wars: Cruise Control | Scene 15.9

JT spends a little time on the shelter idea but soon determines it will not work out. She is wasting time that the others, lacking sealed jumpsuits, do not have. The hull breach is now wide enough for her to fit through, so with an encouraging farewell, she heads out into the Maelstrom. It is dangerous, yes, but facing danger is what the Blue Streak does. She stays as close as she can to the sides of Dame Metropolis, skirting around the edge of the large ship. The escape pods on the observation deck are not big enough to hold all the citizens who need rescue, but the fancy spherical rooms are, and JT knows they can detach. For the second time this voyage, the Blue Streak enters the Dame via Lo Strimm’s airlock. After letting it cycle through, she emerges into the common space, where an anxious Quarren is pacing back and forth, arms crossed tightly below her chin tentacles. Lo’s manager Ana Franil turns to face the Blue Streak, startled. The ship is shaking, and the Maelstrom casts its red glow into the room through the enormous viewport. Despite the late hour, Ana is alone. Lo was probably out partying when all this happened. Ana must have no idea what is going on. Still, JT wastes no time on politeness; Tcho and the others are running out of air. “Ana Franil, can you fly this ship?” the Blue Streak asks. JT knows how to fix starships, not pilot them. “We need you to save a dozen injured people.”

In addition to managing Lo Strimm’s career, Ana also serves as what passes for her roadie. Lo is wealthy enough to have her own shuttle but self-absorbed enough to let other people worry about it. “W-what?” she stutters out, confused at the sudden entrance of this stranger. Then, once she processes all that was said, she offers a tentative, “Yes?”

“All right! Let’s get to the consoles! Let’s go! A part of the hull has been breached—a section near yours. The captain himself is in danger!”

“Oh!” Ana steps over to the cabinet that tastefully conceals the control consoles and launches the routine to detach the entire suite from the ship. Following the helmeted figure’s directions and egged on by her encouragement, Ana guides the craft around Dame Metropolis to a long, thin crack.

“You’re doing great, Ana. Thank you so much. These people are counting on you. They’re counting on us!”

The Maelstrom is not easy to navigate, and these rooms are not designed with the best handling. Ana gets them where they need to go, but their arrival scrapes them along the side of the Dame and then they bounce off a bit. Ana tells the Blue Streak that this is as close as she can hold the ship. She suggests that the jet-packed hero will have to ferry the injured people across the gap between the crack and the airlock.

JT hops the short distance across and slips through the crack. It is a little wider than before, but not much. The unconscious people are all gathered in one place, and Tcho is still attending to them, swapping breathing masks to try to keep them all alive. JT lets him know that help has arrived and then jets up to get an aerial look at the room. If I could just find some sort of trash tube to serve as a connector, we won’t need to cycle the airlock every time… There is nothing immediately obvious, though, and they are running out of time.

She drops back down next to Tcho. “You can survive in the vacuum of space for about a minute,” she says without preamble.

Tcho understands the implication. “You’re going to have to fly these people over really fast,” he tells her, and JT can hear the exhaustion in his voice. “Even then, some of them aren’t going to make it.”  

Tcho and the captain—who will not abandon the ship just yet—provide support, lifting each person up for JT to catch under the arms and jet across. Each delivery requires careful negotiation of the crack and then a cycle of the airlock once at Ana’s suite. After just a few such deliveries, JT returns to find the captain sprawled on the ground now as well. This process just is not fast enough. What they really need is for Ana to be able to park, and that will require a much, much larger hole. 

JT glances over at Tcho, the only conscious witness since Ana’s attention is on her ship controls. It doesn’t matter what he makes of this, she tells herself. It’s what I have to do. I have to get this done now. That’s more important than this secret. She takes out her fancy hydrospanner and ignites the lightsaber blade. She will deal with having outed herself as a student of Jedi later. 

Many things require Tcho’s attention right now, but he does notice the brilliant light that extends from one of JT’s tools. Huh, never seen that kind of mode on a hydrospanner, Tcho thinks, completely unaware of what a lightsaber is. Is that one of those fusion cutter things I’ve heard her mention?

JT presses the tip of her lightsaber through the hull and cuts out an enormous swath of plating. The hole is large enough that Ana can back her flying suite partially into the room. With that done, JT and Tcho work in what thin atmosphere remains, dragging unconscious people, including the captain, into the airlock. It cycles through one final time, and when the door to the main suite opens, JT steps out into the common room for the last time, worn out. “Thank you so much,” she breathlessly tells Ana at the controls.

The captain is sprawled on the floor nearby. Though exhausted and wheezing himself, Tcho continues to move from patient to patient. Tears cut dark blue trails down his dust-covered cheeks as he gives up on one and then turns to administer CPR to another. Seeing how distraught he looks, JT wonders whether hooking him up with the Rebellion’s medical forces really is the right call. She had been thinking of talking with Renci about it, but maybe she will not, after all.

“Take us out,” the Blue Streak tells her pilot. “Hard to port, please.”

“Yes,” a tired and delusional sounding drawl agrees. JT turns to the captain and sees that his eyes are open a crack. “I could use a glass of port.”