“Oberon, are you listening?” Lieutenant Stratta’s voice cut across the static of his thoughts. He looked over at her.
“What?” He said as he blinked his eyes several times.
“I said, are you ready?” Her voice carried a weight of impatience to it and he was sure she had an annoyed look on her face, but couldn’t see her face behind the mirrored visor of her helmet.
He flexed his armored fingers on the grip of his rifle. “Yeah, sorry… just lost in thought.” He was glad she couldn’t see his face behind his own helmet, but was concerned that his voice would give away his uncertainty. The yearning inside of him to be done with this life was a preoccupation he had tried hard to overcome as the end of his enlistment drew near.
“I need you to be with me on this one. I know it’s your last one, but you can’t afford to get sloppy. It’s just another mission. We drop. We do our job. We go home.” She put her gloved hand on his shoulder. “Roger that, soldier?”
“Roger that.” He knew she was right, that it was crucial for him to keep his head about him. The mission is what mattered and having those malignant thoughts getting stuck in his head could cause him to doubt, to hesitate, to be safe. He couldn’t afford that. Too many others died just because of that.
“We’ll be over the drop in 15 seconds. Prep for infil.” The pilot’s voice cut in over their helmet comms and Oberon, thankful for the interruption, quickly adjusted his pack and checked his status board to make sure he was green all the way across. He looked over at the lieutenant and gave a thumbs up. She did the same and they both got into the descent position by hunching over and flexing their knees.
“3…” Came the pilot’s voice. The lights in the cabin went red.
“2…” Oberon started to take a deep breath and tried to fight the fact of how much he hated this part of every mission.
“1…” He clenched his teeth and gripped his rifle tight, then held his breath.
“GO!” The floor underneath them dropped away. As it did, both of the armored warriors fell into the atmosphere and Oberon let out a curt profanity as he exhaled all the air in his lungs, made his body as aerodynamic as the suit would let him and then watched as the orange brown land beneath him grew in size as he plummeted toward it.