Han heard a low growl escape Leia's lips as Jaina soared into the asteroid belt. He draped his arm about his wife's shoulders.

"She heard me," Leia remarked quietly and coldly

Han tightened his grip, pulling Leia closer. Of course Jaina had heard her, and of course Jaina had pretended differently, had gone after the run that had consumed her thoughts these last days. Leia would get over it, Han knew, but if Jaina had acceded to her mother's demand, had lost the challenge she had so desperately wanted, the chill between mother and daughter would have been lasting.

"She'll be all right," he remarked, but even he winced as Jaina's TIE, clearly visible on the great screens in the central control room, broke into its three-quarter roll and burst out at the very last instant. "She's the best flyer of the three."

Beside the pair, Mara's green eyes glowed with excitement. "Fall into it, Jaina," she whispered. "Let the Force be your guide."

Behind her, Luke kneaded her neck and shoulders and smiled warmly, remembering similar advice from the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi, when old Ben had gone with him on his race down the channel of the Death Star. Don't try to register all the input from your eyes and other senses. Don't listen to your instruments at all-turn them off, if possible. Let the Force show you the patterns before you, the twists, the turns, the target.

Jaina was more into that flow now, they could all see, her turns coming hard but less drastic, as if she was anticipating the next twist she would face.

Luke glanced at the timer clock hanging above them. Four minutes.

On she went, spinning and rolling, plunging suddenly, then swooping back up to a clearer region. But, looking ahead of her, Luke recognized a seemingly insurmountable problem. Two thick clusters of asteroids were converging, the trailing group catching up to the other, and they seemed as if they would form a wall of stone the TIE simply couldn't slip through.

"Unbreachable pattern!" one of Lando's observing judges cried out, and those very words blinked off and on across his monitor, for the computer calculating Jaina's flight saw no way around the forming barrier without clearing the borderlines of the asteroid belt.

"Tough luck," Lando remarked. "Happens every once in a while."

"She'll get it," Mara insisted.

"Come on, Jaina," Leia whispered beside her.