Zebadiah tries to relax yet again. A few minutes later he bounced out of his bunk. He was always far too nervous before a deployment to get any real sleep. He decided to go eat and exercise. He hit the mess hall and grabbed a light meal. He had loaded up on carbs the night before and they deployed in less than 5 hours. An hour on the treadmill and he could catch a cat nap. He chuckled to himself. He doubted Kenari was napping either. She did not seem to prefer command. She was good at it though.Zeb hit the treadmill and jogged. After about thirty minutes he was sweating lightly and he picked up the pace to a light run. His mind went into autopilot and thought nothing until the ship alarm went off. Zeb was drenched in sweat and he looked at digital.
“Shit!” No time for a nap now, he’d been running for 4 hours. He dragged himself to his quarters and took a stimtab. “Better living through medicine” he thought. He stuffed himself into his combat armor keeping a pulse on the battle in the black outside through his neural comm tapped into the ships systems. Chatter on the comms indicates one or more pirate ships but they appear to have been overcome in the first few minutes. Zeb jacks his astrophysics chip.
Listening in on the bridge channel Zeb breaks in on the conversation and suggests using the gas giant to conceal their ship. It’s within shuttle distance to the planet in it’s current placement and would remain so for several shipboard days. The assault on the planet shouldn’t take longer than a day. His suggestion is overridden and he continues to prepare.
Suddenly Zeb realizes he’s not alone and that his assistant was watching him waiting for instructions.Zeb grimaces “Doesn’t sound like any casualties on our side but get Doctor Denchabian on duty. I’ll be going down with the landing team.”
“Is that wise sir? You look as you didn’t sleep a wink.” His assistant observes.
“I just got off a jog to wake myself up from my sleep. I’ll be fine in a few minutes.” His assistant nods as Zeb straps on the rest of his gear. His breathing slowing Zeb checked his personal medical scanner. Everything normal. The Stimtab should last long enough to get down to the surface, perhaps a smidge longer. He’d see what the situation was before he decided whether to take another. The situation on the bridge continues to unfold and his suspicion is confirmed when Kinari accepts the Marine Captains offer of a drop planet side.
Zeb reports to the shuttle bay and is assigned a berth with the marine shuttle tagged for planet duty.
The shuttle ride is uneventful but takes a few hours. Zeb starts to feel fatigued but manages to stay alert. Hitting the atmosphere makes that less of a challenge as the shuttle appears to take up Irish Step Dancing. Cursing from the cabin attracts Kenari and the engineer. Ulfbert is on top of the problem with assistance from Kenari. The shuttle smooth’s out and the rest of the drop is piloted by Dayne. Zeb knows he is in good hands with Dayne. They’d been in a sticky situation back on Knebel XIV.
Zeb moves to look over the two marines that weren’t strapped in but the Sargent holds him back with a hand. “If they’d been strapped in per regs – they wouldn’t need checking. Jameson, and Johann, you got yerself shuttle guard and a week of KP back on board.” No protest except a grimace from one of the two.
“No injuries from what I can tell ma’” Her look stops the word in his throat “Kenari . . . Ma’am”.
Zeb looked around and to distract the others from his discomfort at her stare he pulled out his packet of stimtabs. “I have some stimulants here for anyone who needs a pick-me-up. All legal substances but in optimal proportions to give you alertness and a gradual drop in effectiveness.”
Now the marines were giving him dirty looks and he quietly put the tabs away. He needed another but frankly he’d weather the tiredness creeping in for now until he had a moment to himself. Kenari walked past and patted him on the shoulder with what looked like a . . . Smile? “No thanks Zeb – I’m wide awake and ready to go.”
The shuttle landed elegantly and the marines formed up. Zeb took up a position in the rear and sealed his suit visor so his growing exhaustion wouldn’t show. The marines fanned out and one made a comment about cats not being as sneaky as he thought.
“Because this cat prefers watching hairless pink monkeys scramble about as they shut their mouths and do their jobs.” said Kenari.
“Okay, THAT was a snarl!” thought Zeb not envying the young man.
Zeb had quietly slumped down against a wall when a marine came up to him.
“You alright doc? Your visors down but your body language says you’re damn near collapse.”
Zeb rolled his eyes. “I guess I wasn’t as subtle as I thought.” He sat up sighing. “I’m okay marine. I just lost track of time on the treadmill and ended up running for a few hours before the mission, rather than sleeping.”
The marine nodded “Well I doubt any of the others have noticed, I’m the medic and my job is to keep a finger on everyone’s pulse. You best find some energy or you ain’t going to make it.”
Zeb nodded and thanked the young man for his concern. While plans were laid he excused himself for a call of nature and popped a stimtab behind a tree. He also put another in the auto-injector in his combat armor.
As he came around the corner to rejoin the team, trying to keep the exhaustion from showing Kenari was giving the orders to move out. Zeb sighed and started out best he could.