Aboard the USS Argama, Captain Drake Tungsten was a mess. He’d hardly slept in a few days. Aside from the diplomatic mission that had brought him aboard the Argama on the first place to make second contact with the Shinari, he’d been hiding out in her Captain’s quarters mostly.

If he had to be anywhere other than his own ship’s bridge while the Sol system suffered a more terrifyingly violent repeat of the V’Ger incident from a prior century, it may as well have been here. Captain Serah Grant had a ship to run, but she was doing her best when she could to console and reassure Drake as he had received the news his ship was MIA, presumed destroyed, in one of the successive waves of Operation Roadblock to defend against The Other, and an accompanying Terran Empire fleet.

Still, he felt guilt and worry in equally horrible measure. “If those damned Shinari had just not insisted on sending a smaller ship, it probably would have been the Dragon to head there, and my crew would be alive!” he thought to himself. A smaller voice inside him knew that wasn’t entirely fair to the Shinari, but cold, Vulcan, logic wasn’t on the menu today. He knew he was damned lucky to be on his girlfriend’s ship right now, but that almost made it worse. Like he had abandoned his crew. Never mind the orders. He entertained the dark fantasy that he had been on his own ship, and gone down with his ship like a Captain should, with his crew. His friends. He knew that was stupid, and yet, most Captains would probably entertain the same mental self-flagellation in the same situation.

He oddly hadn’t even been drinking much. Alcohol felt like going through the motions more than an even temporary comfort. He’d been through similar situations before, especially during the Iconian War, but it wasn’t his command. He was on the ship with them, getting people to the escape pods. Waiting for rescue on one. With his people. This was different.

He was laying on the couch in Serah’s quarters, playing mostly the same song on repeat, in a cloud of despair, when a console in her quarters beeped. He found this unusual, as surely the crew knew where there Captain was, and she wasn’t there at the moment. After the third beep, he slowly rose from the couch to answer it, straightening his uniform as he did, running a hand over his hair, to mostly put it back into neat arrangement. Not that anyone would miss the bags under his eyes, or his expression.

A Lieutenant he felt he’d seen there before, but wasn’t completely familiar with got on the screen, and Drake could see Serah behind them, and some commotion, but not of the type that signals danger. The Lieutenant spoke before Drake could really get out a “Hello?” or “Captain Grant’s Quarters, how may I help you?!” or anything like that he might have done in better spirits. “Sir, Captain Grant wanted to let you know, we just found out a moment ago: They’re back! Everyone is back, including the Dragon! The Earth! I’ve cleared a channel for you to contact them as ordered, Sir. Subspace frequencies are pretty crowded, so we’ve been asked to keep messages short.”

“I… whaaa… Oh my God… thank you, Lieutenant!” Drake stammered out almost in disbelief. The LT nodded, and the line closed, as he almost fell into the chair at Serah’s desk in her quarters, after moving a mostly-assembled part of a model off her chair to an empty part of the desk. “Computer, open a subspace channel to USS Dragon.” He could feel himself by turns excited, apprehensive that this may be a hallucination, and maybe beginning to finally let go of some of that weight he’d been carrying all weekend as the computer beeped in acknowledgement.

Next thing he knew, he was looking at the bridge of his ship, Commander LaSalle in his chair, his crew at their stations. It was weird seeing them from this angle, but very welcome.

“Captain!” came an excited cry from the Commander. “You look like shit… sir.” she smiled at him, clearly also relieved to see him.

Drake cracked a small if very tired smile “I feel like shit, Commander. I’ve been worried sick about you all. It’s good to see some of your faces, and hear your voice.”

Evette replied “We seem to all be in one piece, including the ship. It was…strange. But we’ll talk more about that when we pick you up, Sir. We’re heading back to DS13, and will probably get there the same time as the Argama.”

“Yeah, I imagine subspace frequencies are almost jammed right now, so I’ll clear some bandwidth. I can’t wait to see you though, and I’m proud of you all, and so happy to see that you’re alright. Tungsten out.” he closes the communication, getting a brief nod from some of his bridge crew as he does.

He gets up, and doesn’t bother resuming the music, as he flumps down on the couch on his stomach, an arm hanging over the edge, almost feeling like the battery acid of fatigue and worry is draining out of a hole in that arm, and onto the floor. He takes in a deep, jagged breath as he’s overcome with different emotions now, and utterly exhausted.

He finally finds some rest there in an undignified position, awaiting a reunion with his ship and crew.

OOC This is following “The Shinari Contact”, and more recently, the summation of Operation Roadblock, and this post: GNN: Terran Invasion Thwarted.