Gus was at a terminal trying to help decipher the new programming language of the world below when the call to report to battle stations commenced. He immediately dropped what he was doing, his work saved, and he exited the terminal with a handful of keystrokes. The terminal shut down in a strangely reluctant fashion, not that Gus noticed. He had already left and had joined the stream of troops exiting into the corridors. He quickly made his way to his assigned armory and began loading up. He'd only done ground fighting in virtual simulations and small-scale practice battles in the gyms.
That being said, equipping his gear had become like second nature to him. His squad Sergeant was already there in full gear, barking orders and checking loadouts. He quickly switched over from his onboard casual battledress to his tactical loadout. According to what the Sergeant was now barking out, they would be landing on the planet via shuttlecraft ahead of schedule. Their mission would be to insert themselves near enough to production facilities to be tactically viable, but not so close as to get shot out of the sky.
Their mission would then be to create chaos and, if the opportunity presented itself, seize control of enemy assets. The mission profile was a familiar one that they had trained on fairly extensively, and Gus was confident not only in his own abilities but those of his squadmates to get the job done. They'd done a lot of training to get this far and had worked their asses off to be ready for this assault. Less than thirty percent of the recruits from his planet had already met the requirements to advance to Private, but both he and his squad had managed it with days to spare.
Gus finished getting his body armor on and grabbed his equipment. His pack was light due to passive anti-grav systems that were fed from the energy of the micro-entropy reactor contained within. This allowed him to carry tens of kilos more than what would normally be considered combat effective. He grabbed his EW Deck and slapped it to the side of the pack. The final pieces of equipment were his rifle and sidearm. Both of them were the standard for soldiers of the Avalon Fleet. Miniaturized railguns that magnetically accelerated tungsten jacketed rounds of various munition types.
Gus's primary role was Electronic Warfare, so he carried a more limited range and quantity of ammunition in favor of more 'toys.' But he still packed the standard High Energy Armor Piercing rounds as well as his personal favorite. Delayed Explosive Armor Piercing rounds. There was something about shooting a target and having it explode from its insides moments later that was just so satisfying.
Sergeant Dunnings walked by Gus, his hands moving in a blur as he tightened a single strap that Gus had missed and moved on without a word. Gus felt proud of himself as he moved along with the rest of the squad. It wasn't so long ago that he could barely put his kit together. Let alone have the Sergeant not say a word after inspecting him. They all loaded into the Assault Shuttle, the hangar bays being the pinnacle of organized chaos. Mechanics were doing last-minute safety checks on the shuttles as fighters that had just gone through that process were loaded into launch tubes.
The pilots of those dagger-like craft would clear the air of enemy aircraft and perform near-suicidal attack runs on enemy anti-air to make sure they had a clear run to the surface. Gus couldn't imagine being in the shoes of those pilots. From his limited interactions with them, they all seemed to be borderline insane adrenaline junkies who got off on the idea of constantly being on the edge of death.
Though according to them, it was much safer than it had once been. After all, for every human piloted fighter craft, there were four drones piloted by limited AI's escorting it. The AI themselves were tailored to each pilot using learning algorithms that had been fed information from the simulations the pilots were constantly engaged in.
Even with all of that, it still seemed crazy to Gus. Which he supposed was why he'd be riding in the relative safety of an Assault Shuttle rather than piloting a fighter craft, he thought as he strapped himself in. The rear ramp retracted, sealing the shuttle shortly after the Sergeant stepped aboard and began strapping himself in at the rearmost seat of the shuttle.
The shuttle intercom flicked on, and the pilot's voice filtered through the internal speakers. "Welcome aboard gentlemen. I am your pilot, Private First Class Petrov, and I will be keeping you alive for as long as you're in the air today. After your boots touch the dirt it's on you, but until then, just sit back and enjoy the ride. We will be exiting The Saratoga at a gentle mach three, so make sure you're strapped in and ready to feel nothing due to our wonderful gravitational damping technology.", the pilot's droll tone and dry wit pulled a few chuckles from Gus's squad, including himself.
The pilot continued his monologue after his joke had time to settle. "After our launch, we will begin a slow atmospheric insert to give our fighter jocks time to clear the air and to minimize our entry profile. After that, it might get a bit rough and tumble, depending on how well the jocks have cleared the path. With any luck, I'll be able to drop you dirtside with only minor bumps and bruises. We will be launching in exactly sixty seconds." A timer popped up in the Heads Up Display of Gus's helmet as Petrov finished his spiel. He used his tongue to manipulate a few buttons, adjusting the setting of his display to temporarily enlarge the countdown. He wanted to see if he could feel the launch when it happened.
All too soon, the countdown finished, and Gus felt the lightest whisper of motion as the shuttle was launched at three times the speed of sound away from The Saratoga. Soon they would be upon the planet, and that was when his fight would begin.
Gus used his HUD to pull up information on the primary coding language of the planet below. He wouldn't be working on cracking its secrets anymore, but others were, and he wanted to know what they had found. Luckily some of the rebels had experience and had uploaded large amounts of documentation to the fleet. It was mostly just a matter of assimilating and applying that knowledge now. If all went well, new attack programs would be autoloaded into his deck an hour after he reached the surface, according to the current estimate.
He breathed a sigh of relief. He had plenty of other things to do on the Electronic Warfare side of things, but not having all of his tools available to him made him nervous. He gave thanks to those in orbit who would be supporting him from above as the Sergeant began reviewing their immediate ground objectives. He switched his focus to the Sergeant as they cruised through space towards the planet as fire began to erupt across its surface.