Approximately 2.5km Outside Paradise Space Dock
"Lets go ya lazy fockin spunk bubbles, we're twenty minutes in and we haven't even reached the six kilometer mark!" Bellowed Gunnery Sergeant Antonio Freedmont, a hulking bear of a man assigned as the senior enlisted Non-Commissioned Officer to the Madame's detachment of Marines, clearly not pleased by the progress of his platoon on their eight kilometer shoreside run. His annoyance only magnified as he watched each young naval infantryman pass by, huffing and wheezing while their lungs struggled to supply the body with the sparse oxygen provided by the thin air on the recently terraformed planet. Gritting his teeth, the NCO fell in step beside one particular man, an officer of the ship. "You're lagging behind, Sir," the derision in the Marine's use of "Sir" was thinly veiled, the much larger man making his dislike for the young naval officer known. "You'll set a bad example for the men." Without ever making eye contact with the Lieutenant, the Marine NCO sped off, hollering at his platoon as he went.
Huffing and puffing as he slogged along the foothill paths surrounding the Docks, Lieutenant Junior Grade Jasper Gnash wheezed in misery before picking up his feet and pushing on towards the front of the column of Marines. He hated it, hated that he had been the officer assigned to babysit the meatheads while they were on the ship. The Corps didn't have officers of their own, they were given naval officers to lead them when underway while maintaining themselves as a security force for naval facilities when ashore. All because a few fanatical loyalist Marine officers had orchestrated an armed coup against the provisional government after it seceded from the Terran Hegemony. Their little stunt had almost ended the Commonwealth's bid for independence before it had even begun. Here he was, swimming in sweat and misery on some backwater barely worth mapping on a star chart, all because the stupid jarheads couldn't be trusted.
"Anyone who doesn't make it back before thirty five minutes is up is secured to ship without liberty!" Everyone groaned, Jasper included, even though he knew intellectually the man couldn't make him do anything he didn't choose to. However, the burden of command demanded he lead by example so if he failed to meet the Gunny's inane requirements he would have to endure the already laid out consequences. Damn dirty rat bastard knew he wasn't build for grunt work the way the rest of them were, he was being singled out in a way he couldn't reasonably complain about. Dammit all...
The last two kilometers were absolute hell on Jasper's lungs, back, and legs, the burning in all three making the young officer wish he would die of heat stroke already so that he didn't have to consciously suffer the waking torture of intense physical exertion. With the end in sight, Jasper could almost cry in relief, if the sweltering heat hadn't already sucked all the moisture from his body. He didn't finish in time.
It hurt to breath, it hurt to move. As the Officer in Charge of the Marine boarding detachment, he was required to train with them and had his quarters on their section of the ship, a long way off from the rest of his fellow junior officers. It was a lonely existence for the Lieutenant, not one of the Marines, no longer a standard member of the crew, and isolated by billet from both. Aside from the motivated gung-ho warrior types, Boarding Action Duty, while garnering extra pay, was the most despised and dreaded duty a Junior Officer aboard a ship could be assigned. As a line officer, a man destined for command posts, he didn't have the luxury of a specialized trade role like the Staff Corps officers of a ship. Because of this, he was of course a prime candidate for the worst duty aboard a vessel. "It builds character," they said, "You'll be a better officer for it" he was told. Horseshit, all of it. They weren't at war anymore, they rarely boarded an enemy ship and when they did, it was to capture the remaining crew of a disabled pirate vessel. A task like that hardly required an officer of the line to accomplish. He could be in a fighter squadron, or even a Naval Special Operations group, but no, he was here, with a bunch of muscle bound trigger pulling meatheads.
"Lieutenant Gnash, report to the bridge at once." Jasper felt his heart suddenly jump into his throat before it settle back down into the pit of his stomach. "Shit..." It had to be about the last boarding they had conducted. He had been given another junior officer to lead a separate strike group during the boarding and if he had heard right, she'd gotten herself shot during the ordeal. The man had no doubts he was finally about to get his ass chewing for the debacle, despite it not being entirely his fault. Shit ran down hill on a ship, and unfortunately for Jasper, he was on the bottom of that hill where it all just piled up.
Heaving a sigh of resignation, he straightened out his uniform and began the long journey from the aft section of the ship up toward the command deck. He was tall and thin, cut from all of the damn running and physical training he had to do with his platoon, short black hair cut in a high fade sat atop his lean face which framed dark hazel eyes. Unlike many of his fellows, he was in his late twenties, having gone to the Naval Academy after a foray on commercial vessels for a number of years. He was a spacer through and through. After the long climb and plenty of time to stew over why he might have been summoned to the command deck, Jasper came to the closed blast doors of the bridge. Stopping, he gave a sidelong glance to the woman who had already been waiting by the time he had arrived. Shi-t, this really was about the boarding, it had to be. The woman standing next to him was that other junior officer from the boarding.
He was absolutely fucked.