Reuben thought he was going to be sick. His C.O. had drilled the safety and tactical instructions into his head until he was muttering them in his sleep. But nothing could prepare him for... the view.
The transport shuttle had taken Reuben up to the topmost layer of atmosphere and then opened the cargo doors.
"The first jump is the worst," Reuben heard Sargent Bamtrob say in his suit's earpiece. "Then it becomes easer once you know what to expect."
"But... it looks like a planet!" Reuben blurted out.
This wrung a rare laugh from Bamtrob. "You're doing a high altitude drop. What did you expect?"
"I don't know... like I was flying really high in the sky? But I can see the curve of the planet! What if I miss?"
Reuben had no idea why seeing Tabor from what seemed like space scared him so. But it did. All the confidence in his abilities that he had painstakingly acquired were swept away in one quick second.
"It just looks that way," Bamtrob assured. "We're still well within the planet's gravitational pull. You won't miss. Don't think. Just jump."
Reuben took a breath and then ran out the cargo bay doors.
For one perfect moment he was suspended above his home planet. He felt an unexpected sense of peace wash over him. There was no one to fall back on. It was only him.
Angling his body downward, he began plummeting toward the distant ground with increasing speed. High altitude jumps such as this were done for the sake of speed and secrecy, not sight seeing.
His jump suit regulated his air but seemed to do little for the massive force against his body as he continued his decent. Reuben tried to relax his breathing as best he could. If he started hyperventilating as this altitude, there was a good chance he would pass out.
Carefully watching the coordinates displayed on the corder of his faceplate, Reuben aimed himself toward the landing site.
Just a few more seconds and he would have to engage his landing gear.
He spread his arms and legs, activating the superfine material on his suit that connected them. It almost felt as if he slammed to a halt as the material did its job catching air and slowing his decent.
The view had gone from terrifying to spectacular. If only he wasn't doing a training exercise and getting marks, he might actually be enjoying himself. Reuben relaxed a little, allowing the currents to catch him and help direct his movements.
The landing site was close.
He allowed himself to drift and then used the repulsors in the feet and hands of his suit try and complete the job. He felt himself wobble as he struggled for balance and then dropped to the ground just a little too soon.
Reuben landed on his back with a thud and tried to blink away the stars that were dazedly floating before his eyes. "Ow...."
"Good work, cadet," Bambtrob's voice said over the earpiece. "You landed right on target. We'll wait a few hours and then attempt a nighttime jump."