Being so far out of range of any part of Known Space had been a nerve-wracking prospect. Even the Qyaari homeworld of Zinuthra, which had once been considered to be part of Unknown Space itself, was too far away to receive anything other than white noise on any attempts made to communicate. While it had initially been worrying, this anxiety that she felt was soon replaced by the mind-numbing boredom that came from being stuck in a confined space with not very much entertainment, for an extended period of time.
Of course, that didn’t mean that they weren’t able to find...other ways, to amuse themselves when playing cards or flicking through the same old holomovies got tiresome. That was one thing she couldn’t complain about, and the fact that they could sleep in afterwards. Or at least, as far as her mind would let her. Aria still found, even after all these years, that she operated closer to the Korriban time-schedule than she would have liked. Meaning, she was often awake at least an hour or two before her husband; today was no exception. Her eyes fluttered open to find Yerbol snoring peacefully beside her, his arm draped loosely over her torso.
Not wanting to disturb him with the light from her datapad’s screen, Aria gently wriggled out of his grip (something she’d also become rather accustomed to in the mornings), re-dressing and trooping out into the main hold of the ship, where Chwuq and Taral had commandeered one of the lounge chairs to sleep on. As she approached to join them, however, the Tuk’ata lifted their heads and began to chortle at her in a quiet, but no less insistent tone.
“Outsideee?” they prompted, headbutting into her knee as she crossed one leg over the other, balanced the datapad on her lap, and leaned across to pat their flanks soothingly.
“Yes, yes, you gotta pee, I know!” the Champion sighed. “Can’t you hold it for like, two more days? I’m sure it’s not far.”
Chwuq’s beady red eyes fixated on her, and she was rewarded with a reluctant grumble of “Yesss.” from both hounds.
“Good dogs.” She muttered absently as she began to scroll through the news feed on her datapad, though even that was becoming a challenge now - the signals were spotty at the best of times and it was good luck if she managed to get through half an article before it dropped again. Dimly, she could hear Ethan and Neta conversing in the cockpit on the level above them, but wrote it off as routine chatter and didn’t even bat an eyelid as she heard one of them clambering down the ladder that led to the slipspace room. Again, this was just a routine check-
This was not routine. She felt something in the Force shift at the same time as Yerbol awoke, the eerie sensation causing the Champion’s heart to drop into her stomach.
“...Aw, craaaaaaap!” she groaned, as seconds later, Ethan bellowed.
“GUYS! GET UP HERE!”
Here we go….
She could have almost sworn she’d jinxed it with her earlier musings. Wouldn’t be the first time.
Aria was on her feet and matching Yerbol stride for stride as they raced for the cockpit.
“Oh, of course someone’s shooting at us. When are we NOT being shot at?!” the Champion hissed as her feet crossed the threshold into the cockpit. She had no idea WHO in Force would be trying to gun them down all the way out here, but neither could she honestly say she was surprised. “I don’t think we’ve had a single smooth trip in the last five years since all this started!”
They’re not in the cockpit long before she, Yerbol and Kytra are sprinting for the CIC to perform what was pretty much a standard Qyaari maneuver at this point (seriously!). The Champions and the apprentice arranged themselves in as stable of a triangle as they could manage with the way the ship was already teetering every minute or so.
Though it was easy to pick out the Selonian’s rapidly thundering heartbeat when she focused in on the Force, Aria was pleased to find her apprentice seemed to be keeping her anxiety under control to focus on the matter at hand. Between the three of them, extending a shield around the ship’s hull was doable, but required some effort. Aria had to fight the urge to wince as she felt an electric current jolt through the Force when a quadlaser beam struck one end of the shield’s surface. Ethan and Neta work frantically to keep the nose of the ship level, but they’re breaking the atmosphere of the nearest planet at an alarming speed.
Of course this would be another crash landing. As the moment of impact grew alarmingly closer, Aria couldn’t help but reflect that it may as well have been a requirement for the Qyaari job description, considering how often it seemed to occur.
Thanks to their efforts, the impact with the ground wasn’t as bone-shattering as it could have been, but it was certainly enough to throw them all off balance and induce some temporary whiplash. She cracked one eye open to survey the damage, glimpsing Neta and Ethan somewhere just off where the cockpit would have been. Kytra and Yerbol were a few feet away from her in either direction. She could hear Chwuq and Taral snuffling around in the nearby foliage and deduced that they, too, were largely unharmed by the crash.
The same could not, sadly, be said for their poor ship.
“Awww man, that’s going to take WEEKS to fix!” Neta groaned. “Poor bird!”
“You know…” Aria groused as she pulled herself into a sitting position, rubbing the sore spot on the back of her neck, “just this once...I’d like it if we could land on a LANDING PAD. Like NORMAL people!”
Despite the situation, her complaints drew a ripple of muffled laughter from her companions. Yerbol offered her his hand and she greatfully took it, letting him pull her feet back underneath her again. As the Champions dusted off their clothes and gave their companions each a quick once-over for any serious injuries (mercifully, there appeared to be none), Kytra stood up on her hind legs to squint into the sky, her nose twitching warily.
“Those don’t look like any kind of fighters I’ve ever seen.” she muttered. Ethan raised one hand over his brow to shield his eyes from the sun, chipping in.
“Kytra’s right. Those aren’t regulation X-wings, TIEs, OR Dustmakers.”
Double check both kids for a concussion. They were clearly seeing things.
“How in Force would you know that from this far awa-” Aria had begun to snap at them, taking about half a minute longer to turn to follow the Selonian’s pointing paw, and register that she was looking at a squadron of fighters in attack formation.
“Oh, shit.” the Champion cursed, “Shit, shit...run, RUN!” She’s scrambling to find a point of cover, ANYWHERE that will scramble their targeting computers so they can’t get a lock on. “INTO THOSE TREES, NOW!”
No-one argues with the suggestion, and they narrowly manage to cross into the canopy before the fighters pass overhead. At least they weren’t stupid enough to try firing blindly into dense cover (or so Aria hoped). “Force-damn it all! Can we go ONE trip without being shot at?! Just ONE, is that too much to ask?” the Champion's head hit the tree with a dull 'thunk' as she sagged against the trunk, feeling a sharp stab of pain race down her ribcage. She could only hope it was just a pulled muscle and not a broken rib.
“You don’t think they’ll circle back, do you?” Ethan frowned warily.
“They might.” Neta admitted grimly. “So, now what?”