Arnold's internal clock woke him.

He knew he had but one chance to strike.  He steadied his biorhythms and prepared to launch himself at the drone as it passed overhead.  He knew the underbellies of these wretched things had a couple of weak points, and all he needed to do was to jam his weapon into one of its unarmored parts and prime it before he fell to his death.

The rest would be history.  A blow to the fascist oppressors who enslaved them all.

Arnold looked above him and counted.  Timing would be critical.

He gripped the weapon in his hands with tightly balled fists, then exhaled.  His muscles needed to be relaxed if he were to make this leap.  He looked up and waited until he could see the soft glow of the weak point -- a seam in the armor through which Arnold intended to strike.

There it was!  He needed to jump in the next five seconds or the angle would have changed enough to preclude him from completing his task.  5...

He crouched low, steadied himself, and waited for the perfect moment.

4... 3...

His focus was clear, his timing was good.

2...

His legs were about to explode forth with immeasurable power.

And then Arnold's head snapped up from his prone position on a slab, his eyes bulging as they searched for stimuli.  An enormous, coughing gasp twisted in his gaping mouth as he sat upright, rigid and trembling.  He was human again.  From somewhere close by, voices called to him, "Arnold, Arnold!  It's okay, calm down.  Nice, easy breaths, Arnold.  Can you hear me?"

His world spun, his stomach lurched.  A stabbing pain pierced his brain from ear to ear.  He was inside a dark room, but filled with electronic equipment that hummed in the blackness.  Various L.E.D. lights dotted the gloom around him.

A sharp pain stitched through his right side and he slumped to the slab.

Someone slapped his face, not in anger but none too gently either, "Hey, hey!  Breathe, breathe.."

There were words on his tongue that needed to be vocalized, but when he opened his mouth he was able only to emit a loud empty retch that echoed around the entire room.  An oxygen mask was placed over his face but he managed to push it away.  He also waved away the people crowding around him.  He had done this before; he needed space to clear his head.

The people in the room had done this with him before as well, they knew to hang back.

After a bit, the room began to stabilize in his eyes and the queasiness passed.  He still gasped for air and he spent the next few moments regaining control of his breathing.  A murmured voice said, "BP 204 over 120 and descending."

He lay on his side, cold but sweaty, unable to move to his back.  Breathing was difficult for him, but it always was after one of his "Trips" as he liked to call them.  It felt like drowning.  He closed his eyes.

Another minute passed before someone addressed him.  A woman's voice, soft and full of concern, "Arnold?  How are you doing?"

Preena, the chief medico and Arnold's main contact.  Still unable to speak, he simply nodded at her.

He felt her delicate hands touch his neck as she checked his pulse.  She leaned in close and whispered, "How'd you do?  Can I get you anything?"

Arnold opened his eyes, smiled, and said in a husky dry croak, "I was there!"

The End

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