U.F.O: Meltdown

© April 18, 2015

By Regina Zdrojkowska.

Based on the series by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

Quotes from the series may appear in this story and characters settings etc from the series are the property of the owners and creators of the series.

Straker woke after a restless night. There was nothing unusual in that. Just in the way he felt this particular morning. He was aware of it having a dreamlike feel, as though he hadn't yet dismissed sleep.

'He'd woken up hadn't he? Yes he had.' He could feel the cool floor beneath his feet. - But as to what day and time it was right now he couldn't be sure.

Asking himself those questions - In his mind that was a sure sign something wasn't quite right. It wasn't like him to wake slowly. Years of discipline and training had made certain aspects of his behaviour practically an autonomic reflex. He may just have had one of the toughest weeks going but who in s.h.a.d.o. hadn't! He tried to rationalize his vague worries away. The last few months he'd felt more under pressure than usual but that was nothing new. It wasn't even surprising that he'd misjudged the situation and ended up in hospital for a few days after an alien capture had been successful but unfortunate for him. Another particularly tough week had followed. He'd been through tough weeks and months before. It was part of the job.

Well he'd had some time to recover in the hospital and Dr.s Jackson and Schroeder had declared him fit for duty. So whatever he was feeling now couldn't be too serious could it? he told himself. Then with startled realization,

'but it isn't like me. Well nothing a cup of my favourite coffee couldn't put right. What do I expect after the hrs I've put in this week?'

If he'd been thinking as rationally as usual he'd would have been aware that his judgement in this matter was way off. Later that morning near the start of his journey…

There was a squeal of brakes as an oncoming driver slowed down to avoid Strakers' car. Ed hadn't been aware that his mind was elsewhere. He was shocked back to full awareness - the driver had swerved to avoid a stray horse and had narrowly avoided him. He hadn't noticed at least not on a conscious level. Then realised he'd not taken any avoiding action either. He flashed his lights in acknowledgement. The other driver being in a magnanimous mood slowed, acknowledged with a concerned look and indicated that he should slow and roll down his window.

Straker did just that

"Are you alright?"both the driver and he said in unison.

The driver of the other car replied "Sure, no problems. But you look as though you've seen a ghost."

"Fine, Fine, thank you" He sounded uncharacteristically hesitant but quickly covered it up.

You're sure? "Here take my card."

It read Brian Spence G.P. his contact details were underneath. Straker gave the Dr. his studio Business card. After all, it had been a close call, a narrow escape.

By the time he'd reached the studio entrance he'd shaken off his rather lethargic start to the day, or so it seemed. He certainly hoped he had. Reaching his above ground office reception he was about to greet his secretary Miss Ealand when she replied,

"We weren't expecting you in today. Are you alright Sir?

A little surprised at this he responded

"Anything wrong Miss Ealand?

"It's just that you look rather unsettled if you don't mind me pointing it out Sir. We weren't expecting you on duty until later tomorrow. You are also for hours early and in the wrong place to meet General Henderson. If you recall you were expecting Alec at your house. You were both to wait for Henderson and then go to the golf course. They are not expecting you to be here. Besides which you usually inform us if you are coming back to H.Q."

There was a questioning but concerned tone to her voice.

"There isn't anything I need to know is there, Sir? General Henderson is in your office with Colonel Freeman. They will be expecting you later. - Shall I let them know you are here?"

"Four Hours? – I didn't..."

He trailed off but not before Miss Ealand had caught his expression. He hadn't been aware of the time. He didn't realise. In fact he'd skipped ahead a whole day.

Did Miss Ealand Just say that they were expecting him; she'd just said that they weren't?

He seemed a little confused just now as though she had said something contradictory.

"No Miss Ealand there hasn't been anything you've missed. Yes, let them know I am on my way down". "And Miss Ealand..."


"Thank you, I've just, well I just had a bit of an unusual morning".

"Unusual in what way, Sir?" her curiosity for once getting the better of her seeing as though the commander was being more open than usual. He also seemed rather preoccupied, and not his usual self.

"Nothing much it just that I-"

He gave a small sigh –

"Most people have trouble waking up in the mornings at some time or another. I just haven't been able to shake the strangest feeling that I haven't quite woken up yet. It's probably nothing to worry about Miss Ealand. It's just that it's not like me that's all."

He gave her a slight tight smile.

To hear him admit to worry over such a slight thing and to admit to how he was feeling was unusual. For him to mention it, it must really be worrying him. Or else it was more serious than he admitted. He sounded as though he was trying to reassure himself more than her. How many years had they worked together? –Long enough to know each other pretty well. Not as well as Alec Freeman but well enough. She would keep as close an eye on him as it was possible for her to.

"Miss Ealand has any more studio business come up since I've been away? "

Miss Ealand checked although she already knew the answer.

"No, there is nothing new on your schedule Sir. You checked just before you left last night".

He should have been aware of that already. He had quite a tough few months from what she'd gathered. He seemed a little more like himself than when he came in a few moments ago.

"Ah yes I did." Well that's all. I will see you later."

"Sir you've had a tough few weeks; things are probably just catching up with you. As Alec would say go easy on yourself."

"I'll be as good as new after some decent rest is that it? You are probably right. I'll try."

He' didn't sound certain that he would succeed but he was certainly sincere.

Walking through to his inner office, he went through the voice print identification procedure, sat down heavily in his chair, almost composed himself, and waited while his office descended.

The commander entered the underground headquarters of s.h.a.d.o. passing the two female guards on duty at security.

"Commander." They greeted him.

His usual composure in place by that time they hadn't noticed anything amiss.

"Lt. Johnson, Lt. Paulson, good morning."

He walked on and entered control, which at the present moment was quite quiet. He had the distinct feeling that he'd forgotten something but couldn't quite recall what. Straker exchanged greetings with the operatives in control and was about to enter his office when a red alert sounded. The S.I.D.s strident tones echoed

"U.F.O. Sighting four million miles, speed sol three, lunar intercept four minutes. Confirmed one u.f.o. speed sol three, lunar intercept four minutes".

Alec Freeman and General Henderson were leaving his office. Alec to take over the alert. The General to speak to Straker. Alec nodded a quick greeting and took over in control. Henderson indicated to Ed that he should join him in the office.

"Ah Miss Ealand said you were in. -Ed we weren't expecting you until later."

The general replied taking a good look at his 'most vital piece of S.H.A.D.O. manpower' as they entered the office. He seemed –How could he put it? A bit out of place, not something he would have ever normally attributed to the commander.

"But I am glad you are here. I wanted to tell you the good news myself. You're organization has passed its yearly special internal audit. Freeman filled me in on all the latest details while you've been recuperating. Since then he's done a passable job of keeping me informed in that regard. Having him take some of the load of your shoulders sounds like a good idea. Schroeder tells me you could do with another month off. Why don't you think about it? I believe that you feel Alec would do a good job in your absence."

"Why do I get the distinct feeling that's not a request General?"

Straker said as he sat at his desk and opened his briefcase taking out a few more items to add to his already growing pile of work. He'd forgotten the report on the interceptor crash he was going to forward to the maintenance crews. –' When was he going to have had it ready by? Should it have been Yesterday? Was it tomorrow?'

"The bad news is that there's going to be another cut in funding."

Henderson was still studying Straker but not obviously.

"Why does that not surprise me General"?

Irony and more than a hint of exhaustion clouding his voice.

"Why don't we discuss it now? It could help. Freeman's reports were quite useful, and yours were thorough as usual."

The general was trying his hardest to help Straker.

"Will you join me for breakfast General?"

It was a rare request but offered with friendship. The general accepted.

Two hours later General Henderson left the commanders office. The breakfast had only taken ten minutes at most. Quite a few matters regarding the funding had been discussed. It had been a productive meeting for both of them. There were just a few things that Ed was still concerned and irritable about, though Henderson tried his best to placate Ed without being patronizing. Ed was going to accompany him to his car. Obviously trying to be his polite self as opposed to his irascible one. The General appreciated the gesture but could tell that he was unusually preoccupied.

"No Commander that won't be necessary I shall not disturb you any more than necessary and I can see that you are busy".

By now he would have been on duty anyway - if it had been the next day. Everyone at H.Q. was  aware that he would have come in two hours early as he had all that week just to make up for being away recuperating. But why he'd come in much earlier and in at all today was a mystery. It wasn't necessary but the commander obviously had his reasons.

The General, Alec, and he were scheduled to have met at Henderson's I.A.C .office and then gone golfing. It wasn't often they met up for golf after a meeting at the I.A.C. but the general had wanted to see Straker in a less formal setting and thought that his friend Col Freeman might be a welcome presence there too. Commander Straker was due at the International Astrophysical.Commision, or the astronomical commission as it had been renamed, not his house – His secretary and s.h.a.d.o. operative had said as much but that wasn't what the commander had heard, it was a memory of another meeting he had.

The commander of S.H.A.D.O. had felt like the walls of his office were closing in on him in the last thirty minutes. He badly needed to get out. Just into control would do. He sought out Alec who was just coming over to update him with the latest on the u.f.o they had tracked earlier.

Henderson had come to check on their Commanders progress and was secretly there as head of the I.A.C and an independent 'member of s.h.a.d.o.' to gauge the levels of stress the commander was working under. It was the reason he'd organised the golfing break for later in the day. He'd heard reports from all the senior staff at h.q. who worked closely with him and even then, he hadn't quite believed them, not until he'd been invited to see for himself. That had been three months ago. Since then he'd been making visits to s.h.a.d.o.  Mostly when Straker wasn't on duty, to gather information from staff who worked with him without adding undue stress. Jackson had informed him of the affects his usual visits normally had. Normally associated with bad news the most recent ones had sent Straker stress levels sky rocketing. Occasionally he'd visit whilst Straker was on duty careful not to bring bad news.

His initial reply to those facts had been "Straker, stress we're all under stress. He's seen more action than most people and is certainly stronger than most. He's also more determined than most. If the medical department can't persuade him to take leave and Jackson is at a loss I don't see what I can do. A week after his first visit, after the senior officers - Alec Paul and Ginny had presented their findings to him he had said:

"I need first hand proof before I can take any action and that will take time. The I.A.C committee will need to approve any prolonged change of command however temporary that may be."

Since then things had seemed to calm down at least on the surface, apart from the last week. Straker being adept at hiding things had seemed to be doing fine. Henderson had agreed to submit a request to the I.A.C. for Freeman to take over for the period of time Jackson recommended but it wouldn't be implemented for at least another three weeks much to the chagrin of all involved. It seemed that although more than usually stressed, Straker would last out until Henderson had enough proof the take to the commission and take subsequent action.

Alec came up to him just outside control and asked

"How'd the meeting with Henderson go?"

"Oh, not so bad Alec, not so good either, more budget cuts…"

He rubbed his temples.

" Thanks for those reports Alec They went down well with Henderson. His was actually pleased."

Ed was in a good mood." The commander had stopped near the middle tracking and communications console and had shifted the focus of his attention to the bridge of his nose and squeezed tightly.

"That the latest on the u.f.o. sighting?"

He indicated the data in Alec's hands.

"Will you leave that in my office, I'll be back in a moment - just going to see Dr. Jackson."

His voice was lightly dusted with pain and more than a little strained. It was an abrupt change.

Ed. Jackson's not on duty at present do you want to call him in?" 

" No",

Ed snapped at him.

"Just put that in my office! Sorry, Alec."

His apology was immediate. With that, he stalked off to med centre in search of Schroeder.

Alec looked at his back as he walked out, he felt for his friend.

"I don't think were going to be in for a good day today,"

he said to Lt Ford who was at the station nearest where he was standing.

"I think the commander has a grade one earthquake going on inside his head. See if you can speed up the link to the other incoming data would you Ford, It'll help."

Ever mindful of what would lead to a more efficient and therefore pleasant working situation for his colleagues and or course their commander.

"Put me through to Foster on Moon base in a minute would you. I'll just put this in the commander's office first."

He replied  while removing a packet from his internal jacket pocket and walking to the office. Whilst he was there, he removed and switched some containers of the commander's favourite beverage as requested by Jackson and Schroeder. -They too had been informed that the commander had come in to h.q. unexpectedly today.

Commander Straker walked over to medical, opened the doors, and asked one of his colleagues if Dr Schroeder was available.

His request was relayed by the efficient secretary. Dr Schroeder duly appeared.

"What can I do for you commander?–Take a seat."

He sat, Dr Schroeder remained standing.

"Do you have anything for a migraine like a Mount .St Helens eruption? And..." He sounded irritable and hesitant.

"And  commander?"

His tone encouraging as well as showing clinical interest.

"I can't explain it but I have this strange not quite their feeling. It's as though I haven't quite woken up yet  and I'm not sure if I'm dreaming or awake. I can't shake it." 

"Commander Its exhaustion catching up with you. Physical stress  and mental exhaustion. You really need to rest." "How long have you been on duty today?"

"I was with Henderson earlier that was –uh about...?"

"Lethargy, irritability, forgetfulness. I think we can confirm a few of those symptoms already commander." He paused before asking, "When did you first notice this?"

"This morning" Around 6am . I was with Henderson at eight."

"You should have called in sick commander. Is there anything else I should know:  Any accidents, lack of co-ordination or awareness of your surroundings , waking dreams , seeing  or hearing things that aren't there?" 

The commander thought for a moment.

"Other symptoms might be : Aches, pains, increased heart rate, and lower sugar levels-shivering."

"I did have a close call on the way in this morning."

"How close was it? In truth commander?" Prompting him not to hold back.

"There was this escaped horse on the road on the way in, the first I was really consciously aware of it was when I heard screeching tires. The car on the other side of the road swerved and avoided hitting me too. Here, if you want to confirmation. Here's the driver's card."

Schroeder had noticed his repeated 'here',  the commander didn't waste words, his irritability, hesitancy, his slower than normal answers to questions and of course his migraine and unusually open admittance of the earlier near miss. The indicators were not encouraging. He had half expected the commander's visit once informed of his presence at H.Q.

Some things even with s.h.a.d.o.'s commander in chief could be predicted.

Straker handed him the card. The Dr read it.

"Ah Dr Brian Spence G.P. he's a good friend of mine. We were at school together. If I need to check anything I can always  contact him.  - He'd be good at s.h.a.d.o. assuming circumstances came up that encouraged him to join. He's highly observant  and an excellent  Dr. Anyway back to the point commander. I can do one of two things right now."

"These are:  give you some thing for your migraine, give you some multi vitamins and minerals, a mild sedative and order you to take some rest right now,  in your quarters here, for at least twelve hours."


"The same with a slightly stronger dose of everything mentioned and orders to sleep  at the end of an eight hour shift! Avoid coffee Commander  as you are so near the edge right now that it would impact badly on you. - Come back immediately if you experience any of the other symptoms I mentioned or anything that is at all unusual."

"Well I think I can do the second."

"I would prefer that you would take the first option  and follow medical advice more often."

"Dr Schroeder I know you would, but at this present time there is too much to do that needs my personal presence. I've been out of action for a while as you know Dr."

Straker rose from the seat.

"Yes commander "he said kindly  his next sentences more forceful. " You would have more time to spend constructively if you took our advice more often and let yourself recover properly. Discipline and duty can be taken only so far. You need to refocus some of that discipline and duty on getting well. Not using it as a reason to cut corners with your health."

He paused to let that sink in while he gathered the required medications.

"It's another form of discipline and duty commander and an equally valid one. There is no reason to think you're shirking your responsibilities by concentrating on those to yourself once in a while. I know yours is not an easy job by any means. But I am asking you as a physician and a friend to take more care of yourself." What I am giving you is  at best just a quick and temporary solution. You are doing yourself no favours commander. At worst it will just prolong the inevitable and make your symptoms more severe when its effects ware off."

Another pause, Schroeder hoping his long warnings would make the commander back down just because of the effort  involved in curbing his obviously growing annoyance. – No luck so far so he continued.

"Given your present state it's highly likely that your body will just override the treatment. The only way of knowing for sure when that would happen would be to do a blood analysis and hormone  level test to see how out of kilter you are. The results would take some time to get back."

Straker was doing his best  to not snap at Schroeder. He seemed to succeed but more due to  the effort required to be annoyed being too much than anything conscious on his part. Straker didn't really want to snap either. Schroeder could see it in the almost apologetic look in his tired and preoccupied eyes. 

Straker left having taken the multivitamins and minerals and a mild timed-release sedative  that should relax him without putting him to sleep until the end of eight hours. If he fell asleep before then the Dr warned, it would be because his body had forced him to. He would take the migraine meds given him in his office with a good swallow of water. At least he was now aware enough to follow the Drs advice in that regard.

A short while later the commander appeared back in the H.Q control centre Where Col Freeman was waiting for him.  He was feeling a little better.

Free man updated him

"Ok commander the reports in your office. There's an alien on the lunar surface. Paul's out there with a team of two mobiles crews. Col. Lake will be due in soon. Paul has things under control there  and there's no other activity at the moment. Ford has also sped up the data link."

That elicited a smile from Ed. Ford received a brief pat on the back and a "Good job Lt".

Straker re entered his office and few hrs later he had almost cleared the backlog of work on his desk. By then Freeman had left replaced by Col Lake.

Before Freeman left  he had called Lake aside.

"Ah Colonel a word or two in your ear before you take over. Shroeder just contacted me. Would you keep a friendly eye on commander Straker. He has been in with Henderson for most of the morning, he went straight to med centre after the meeting."

 Freeman had not missed Ed's subtle signs of tension –the loosening of his jacket and intakes of breath, as though the walls were closing in on him.

"Dr Schroeder has given him some relatively mild medication but warned the commander not to touch any coffee as It could cause his symptoms to get worse  and interact with the sedative.  Ed is that  exhausted he might just forget. He's also shot him full of a multi vitamin and mineral supplement. The amounts of the stuff he had to give makes it a quite potent combination. There's more Ginny."

"I've let the operatives here know that if they bring the commander coffee it has to be decaf. They don't know the details of why but can guess. Even they have picked up on the fact something's a bit off. - I managed to switch the supply in his office before he came back but there's still a chance he'll go to the studio refectory."

"There is also still a chance something might happen even if he does avoid caffeine as he's close to the edge of tolerance for being given preventative treatment according to Dr Schroeder. He was quite annoyed with the commander apparently but out of the two options he gave him he'd only accept the least medically effective."

"And if you need to speak to General Henderson he's in my office trying to be unobtrusive. He's working on a solution but with bureaucracy it nearly always to little too late." He could tell Ginny knew that, they all did. Ginny took it in her stride but her micro expression  betrayed her  concern for him. It was the same expression that had crossed Alec's face.  And Paul's and Nina's when he'd found time to go to his office and informed them of the situation to keep them in the picture. Henderson was  still there too.

Forwarned Col Lake called into the commander's office to inform him personally of the change in duty officers. Also to get up to date with u.f.o. related events from the commander's point of view.

The commander came out of the office around midday to take a break. Lake Ford and some of the other  operatives had also done so and gone to the s.h.a.d.o refectory at the same time as the commander. He avoided any coffee as asked but it was obvious that all was not well. Ed was that tired that he bumped into Ford when collecting his meal. It was slight but enough to make the commander nearly drop it exhausted as he was. Outwardly the commander had been doing quite well apart from the occasional lapse. To all intents and purposes he looked unaffected. Had it not been for Fords quick and fully awake reflexes things would have been rather embarrassing as there was deep red sauce on the commander's Italian dish, which would have caused quite a mess had it left the plate and landed on the commander and the floor, which it had almost done at one point.

"Lt. Sorry." The s was beginning to slur. The exhaustion and medications beginning war against each other within Straker.

"It's alright commander can I take that to your table for you?"

There was a considered pause "Thank you Ford" I'll sit with you and Col. Lake. - I guess that I am not firing on all thrusters today he smiled." Lake and Ford had exchanged glances.

"Sir If you don't mind me saying so we are all rather concerned. You don't sound so well."

"Oh Ford, I think I'll manage until the end of my shift. I -s only another  three, no  four hourz." Isn't that Right Col-Virginia.

Their breaks passed smoothly with no further tell tale behaviour from the commander and they all walked back to control when an alert sounded. Commander Straker snapped fully awake alert as usual.

"Ford Get me sky one and two, Virginia Contact the mobile teams and send  them to these grid references he pointed to two areas on the display. This one is coming in fast and there's another on its tail. Lt Johnson Where's that data? Matheson where's that printout I asked for?" Straker was working at his usual fast pace.

"Five minutes Ayesha ok in my office in five. I'll be in my office."

That's where he was when Ayesha Johnson came in but the commander having cleared his desk earlier had not managed to bring much order to the papers now in front of him or fully formulate a coherent strategy. It was a far cry from his usual organization.

Freeman had come back in on a split shift and when he called in just ten minutes later with more information for the commander he noticed the relative disorganization and that half his comments on the situation had gone seemingly unheard.

From the commanders point of view he was just putting his thoughts together prior to replying but every thing seemed to be drifting in and out of focus and taking place in double time. It was very disconcerting ,he thought about leaving to see Dr Schroeder but couldn't follow through on the thought. He couldn't quite focus on what was going on around him. With Herculean effort Ed forced himself back to some semblance of normality. Alec and he were co-ordinating search activity and other strategy. Papers maps and various data were spread around the conference table and Ed's desk.

"Alec, put that down, sorry" He indicated he didn't mean the data. Another slip. "Put that map down here".

"What about here if they've landed here and here."

" Yes, that will work. Paul's teams have dealt with the last one of that group and I want him to get the interceptors re launched and prepared as soon as possible. Lunar interception for the last one –let see those figures."

Alec passed him the figures.

"Get on this, Alec , call Major Grey and his team and have them rendezvous here and here. Circling the areas required on the map of Southern England-

"This one. " Meaning the ufo. "here" pointing to a lunar diagram a course trajectory diagram and data.

" We need Nina and Paul to co-ordinate the strike and they'll have to use the defensive cannons . Thank you Alec – Get Lake with that comparison chart in here. Ok good."

So far the commander had dealt with everything that had come in and more than adequately responded. It was in the short break between Alec Leaving and Lake entering his office that the world began to lose its coherence. He was flashing back to earlier events of the day. He couldn't sort out which order they had occurred in and as a result his replies to Col. lake were hesitant, sometimes confused referring to earlier tactics and methods and he took a little while to sort out what he should have been responding to and how to respond. Luckily she had understood what was required.

Straker still trying to sort out the work in front of him  said "Colonel –I-I don't seem to – be –able –to –thi-nk –its. What is. It- have.  –Paul – Nina-Major Grey- have they? Mobiles deployed? All ok? Alec where?  Get..please.

Col Lake Placed a reassuring hand on the commander's shoulder Looking straight into his eyes .

He looked exhausted and to coin a phrase she'd heard the younger operatives use on occasion frazzled. He was valiantly endeavouring to hold it together but biology had won out. He'd closed his eyes for a second.

"Ok , Commander  I'll get Alec ok?"

Lake left the commanders office and sought out Alec.

"Alec would you come hear please"

Her voice was authoritative but indicative of something serious having taken place.

Whilst Lake had gone to get Alec from control the commander with what was left of his energy had managed to write, It was like the time he kept a journal entry during the sub smash incident but a little less coherent. He felt totally and utterly drained physically and mentally and knew he'd be unable to function soon. The realization was sudden but effects had been gradual until then with a sudden extreme deterioration. He'd not experienced anything like it before.

"THE note read sudden . Alec, Lake, TAKE OVER comnd  NOW E.I. Can't …  – infm HENDERSON,SCHROEDER  Alec in charge, Virginia deputise. Paul to assist whn bk. Wk it out btywn yours

Should have known..done better strike diffrntl! Srry all. sd hv trusted u all more Known wt happen + would b ab take over now at t time!!

Straker cmdr.(today's date) (time) thnk you.

When Alec returned with Lake the commander was motionless unable to move. The pen still in his hand. Alec snapped his fingers and waved his hands in front of his friend's eyes. There was no response. Lake removed the pen from his hand and the note from underneath.

She showed it to Alec reading between the lines he read:

It was sudden, ALEC AND LAKE TAKE OVER command NOW. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY  I cant… INFORM HENDERSON  SCHROEDER. Alec is in charge, Virginia deputise. Paul to assist when back. Work it out between yourselves.

I should have know and done things differently. Sorry Everyone. SHOULD HAVE TRUSTED MORE THAT YOU ALL KNEW WHAT WOULD HAPPEN. And would be able to take over now at this time.

Strakers' signature today's date and time.

Freeman called Schroeder and Henderson who both arrived at the same time. Henderson couldn't believe what he was seeing.

Straker was frozen in place in his chair. The only sign of movement his breathing. He was deathly pale and his eyes were focused on what only he could see.

"How could he have carried on for so long like that!  How could he have fooled himself? I don't believe it I mean.. How could it have developed this fast? I Mean..?  How Dr?"

"General his ability to persevere was his undoing. The more you fight against something like this the faster it gets you. He needs at least three months total rest and a year on light duties here. I would refer to it as a melt down as it was a gradual one, speeding up exponentially just like a melting reactor core or boiling kettle of water. Its burnout.  Exhaustion, stress, long hours. If you haven't experienced it before its unlikely you'd know what was going on as it impairs judgement amongst other things. It symptoms affect people in different ways but the results are nearly always the same. Touch should bring him out of it." Dr Schroeder touched the commander gently but firmly on the hands saying softly.

"Commander come with us we'll help you to your quarters here and send you home when you're ready. It's ok Freeman and Lake understood your letter."

Henderson added

"I approve commander. Take over Col Freeman."

Dr Schroeder indicated that he should stand.

Straker blinked and stood ever so slowly. Lake took a blanket from Schroeder and draped it across the commander's back and shoulders. He'd begun to shiver as physical shock and exhaustion had caught up with his mental exhaustion. He placed one hand lightly on Lakes and his other lightly on Freeman's arm for support as they lead him out through control. The commander said four words on leaving control Albeit weakly "thank you ,everyone. Carry on". At that he passed out completely and was carried to his quarters by all four of them.

He began his well-earned and well-deserved rest. His highly competent Cols taking charge for the entirety of the time Schroeder and Frazer had recommended.

Regina Zdrojkowska

The Library Entrance