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Dec 16, 2019 5:30 AM
Purple&White Firefly Fusion
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To those who survived it, the battle for Serenity Valley would always be the worst of the war.

It was worse for Erika than for some of the others. Not that there were many other survivors. But the planet Hera was where she had grown up, and to lose, ultimately, here of all places, was about a gallon of lemon juice in the wound. That Serenity Valley was nowhere near her childhood home, that her parents were alright, was--some comfort. Not enough.

They stuck everyone in prison camps, after, for underspecified "war crimes." (And what of the war crimes the Alliance committed? No matter, of course; history is written by the victors.)

(The others from her platoon were dead. She knew this. There hadn't been another living soul around, when the Alliance came for her, and she couldn't find anyone in her camp, and she had heard the whispers--)

(If the Serenity Valley had taught her anything, it was that hope was futile. If she had any to spare she might as well spend it on hoping that Anwar and Sargon got to see Cardea again in some kind of afterlife. That one, at least, she could never know the answer to be disappointed by it.)

She would almost have been grateful when the Alliance let them all go, not too long after they had mopped them up in the first place, if she had the capacity to be grateful to the Alliance for anything. Too much trouble to keep, she would have heard with some satisfaction, if she had been in any state to be actually making trouble, if it weren't just that the Alliance didn't want to bother feeding and trying them all.

The Dust Devils came recruiting not long after, and Erika felt less like a walking corpse than she had since the Independent High Command had ordered surrender. She could do something meaningful again, strike at the monsters in suits who played games with peoples' lives--

avenge her friends--

she could do something again.

Almost a year after the end of the war, she felt almost like a real person. Sitting in a bar with one's (not friends, not really, she hadn't had a friend since--) comrades attempting with futility to drown the cold and empty places inside, that was a human thing to do, right?

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A familiar voice calls out from the door.

"Erika! There you fucking are!"

Sargon is there, with a couple new scars but very much alive, darting between tables and ducking past patrons to reach her as quckly as possible.

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...Erika contemplates her drink.

On the one hand, if she's hallucinating dead friends, she's either too drunk or not drunk enough, and one of those is easier to fix than the other. On the other hand, this is only her second, so unless there's something really freaky in these she's probably not hallucinating.

"Well, sorry, I'd have made myself easier to find if I'd had any fucking idea you were still alive!"

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He stumbles coming around the last table between them, and half-falls, half-lunges into a bone-crushing hug. It would be difficult to hallucinate a hug of this magnitude.

"Missed you," he mumbles. "Everything's all fucked up."

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...She is. Not going to cry. In front of these people.

"I missed you too--a lot--is--anyone else...?"

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Sargon looks like he might cry, which is not very usual for Sargon.

"Anwar's - well, he's alive. He hasn't been taking it well."

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"What kind of not well?"

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"If we don't figure something out he's going to drink himself to death inside a year. That kind."

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"Have you tried physically preventing him from being in the same room as alcohol?"

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"What am I gonna do, chain him to a wall?"

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"That'd probably be difficult in rented lodgings, true, landlords complain about that kind of thing..."

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"And it's not what I'd call a sustainable solution!"

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"Does he regularly get drunk enough to pass out? We could kidnap him to my parents' place."

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"Don't need him to pass out for that, we can just drag him there."

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"Great. Mom can fix it."

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"If you say so."

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Shrug. "Edie Eisenhardt Lehnsherr has a better chance than two also-traumatized vets, regardless of being a mother."

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"Sure. C'mon then."

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She stands up to leave with him.

"Where do you think you're going?" asks one of the other Dust Devils.

"With my friend," she says firmly.

He moves to block their path. She punches him in the face. He goes down like a sack of bricks.

"Anyone else?" she asks.

No one gets up.

"Good."

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Sargon snorts and claps her on the shoulder.

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"I'm so glad you're not dead," she says as they leave.

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"Yeah, me too."

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"Where's Anwar?"

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"Left him sleeping in our hotel room."

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"Alright. Go back there or book tickets to Hera first?"

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"Mm... hotel room first."

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