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********

She wore her blue silk off the shoulder gown and stood in Marcia Gilcrest's living room,
glass of white wine in hand, displaying what she thought had to be a very unconvincing smile.

Bruce had run off, dogging Commissioner Simmonds. She watched from a distance as her date
laughed at the politician's unfunny jokes, agreeing with his pompous opinions. But Helena
stayed away. She disliked Gerald Simmonds at first sight. Yet, she really didn't know why. He
hadn't actually said anything offensive to her personally, even complimenting her on what he
heard of her medical achievements. But Doctor Russell had a bad feeling about him. Odd images
flashed through her mind. She saw him shooting at people with a laser gun and threatening
others with something she couldn't fully understand. It was ridiculous, a vision created by a
vivid imagination, but not a prophecy she could ignore.

Helena knew a few people here in the crowded apartment and spoke with them fleetingly as
her acquaintances were being ushered someplace else. But most of the time she stayed distant,
taking a few trips out onto the balcony to get fresh air. She found herself looking up at the
crescent moon and feeling oddly nostalgic. Helena wasn't well and occasionally her head
swam. Her thoughts wandered, looking out at all those bright night lights. Tall buildings,
auto mobiles and general big city activity.

"Helena."

She knew that voice and smiled. "Victor." Doctor Russell turned and hugged her friend,
Professor Bergman, kissing him gently on the cheek. "It's been almost two years. How have you
been?" she asked, genuinely pleased and somewhat relieved to see him.

Holding a brandy and wearing a coat and tie, Victor seemed less comfortable than usual but
happy to see her. "I ventured a trip to Vienna." he said, "It took a beating during the war
and my presence was requested, among other men of note. I hope we did some good but I'm
afraid I made few friends, particularly with Lunar Commission. I started to speak of
responsibility and the steps that needed to be taken to prevent war from ever happening again
and was quickly hushed." Victor looked off a bit, "They were very polite, our hosts, but I
got the impression they didn't want to hear anything other than how well The World Peace
Committee was cleaning up in the aftermath of this mess. And, of course, how much progress
was being made on Moonbase Alpha. "

Helena nodded her understanding. Victor was a brilliant British scientist and a deep
thinker. World War Three had taken such a toll - as most did - but the fact that no one
really understood what the fighting was all about troubled many. It was called "The War of
the Prejudices" but there was a higher political agenda behind it. There always was.

The battles had been devastating for most countries but The United States and a few parts
of Europe, Africa and Japan were relatively untouched.

The United Kingdom despite there own internal battles over the years, pulled together
during the war and were somewhat lucky. King William, the youngest monarch to be crowned in
recent memory (after the horrible bombing deaths of much of The Royal Family and a good
portion of Parliament) was fervid in his demands that the human race look ahead into the
stars. It wasn't an entirely popular decision but William was so certain of his vision that
he pledged the bulk of the royal treasury, most of the capitol funding The Alpha Project.

In the news, if you didn't hear about masses for the dead, destruction and hunger the
world over, you heard about the United Kingdom and the United States and how they were
instrumental in the resurgence of the space program. Both war and space exploration were
expensive and they were on everyone's mind.

"You're looking lovely," Victor said, taking her hands - "but a little pale. Are you
well?"

She knew his distress rested with more than her health. "Victor, I'm fine. Lee's been
missing for nearly a year and I'm coping."

"Bruce tells me you've been working hard at New York World Hospital. Too hard, he says.
He's very concerned about you, Helena. Tell me, are you and he ...?"

"Victor!' Helena laughed and squeezed his hands. It felt odd to her. Laughing. She hadn't
had a good chuckle in a long time. But the thought of she and Bruce was funny. He was keeping
it hidden, concerned with the consequences, but there were really only a few people who
didn't already know Doctor Ripperton was not interested in women.

Suddenly overcome, Helena leaned forward, touching her lips softly to Victor's forehead. A
sadness had inexplicably crept in. Helena felt she was remembering something from long ago
... and it was about this man. A death. Perhaps she was thinking about Agatha, the woman
Victor was going to marry, who died quite suddenly in a car accident. Helena felt as if she
ought to be grieving for Victor Bergman.

"Professor!" Marcia Gilcrest stepped onto the balcony, lovely red hair spilling over her
creamy bare shoulders. The lime colored gown she wore was snug and strapless and she looked
beautiful. "When did you arrive, Darling?" she gushed, "You walked right by me and you know
how much I adore you."

'She's insincere.' Helena thought but felt immediately ashamed.

"Helena, do you know Marcia?" Victor asked after pecking their hostess politely on the
lips.

"Only by reputation." Helena nodded graciously and tried hard to make her words sound
warm. "Your family is well known in society and I can see the newspaper reports aren't
exaggerating when they tout your impressive parties, Miss Gilcrest. Everything is just
lovely."

Marcia's eyes took in Helena Russell, estimating her age, I.Q. and social position.

Victor said, "Doctor Russell was last years recipient of the Briggins Award." Then, at
Marcia's blank stare - "In medicine."

"Oh yes, of course. Such an honor to have you here, Doctor. You came with Victor?" The
willowy redhead unexpectedly asked, her smile phony and calculating. She didn't know Doctor
Russell but she was certain she didn't like her. The blond was too successful and smooth. It
didn't occur to Miss Gilcrest, and she never would have admitted to it if it had, that she
was jealous. Helena was easily one of the most attractive and accomplished women at the
party. Marcia saw how the men reacted to her when she and Bruce first arrived. The
appreciative smiles, looking out of the corner of eyes and the not so subtle gawking.
Gilcrest women didn't need that type of competition. "How wonderful to have a medical doctor
here amongst the beautiful people. I love contrast." Her laugh was sly and she purposely
looked from Helena to Victor, as if unaware of the insult.

Helena refused to be baited and tittered along with her hostess. "Actually, I came with
Doctor Ripperton. I was just lucky enough to run into Victor ... and now you."

Marcia looked about when she heard other footsteps on the balcony, "Oh, and here comes
Bruce now ... with my John." She reached for John Koenig's arm, pleased to be able to throw
something dazzling at Doctor Russell, whether she knew why or not.

Helena stiffened a moment when she saw him. How utterly ironic to have read about this
man, dreamed about him and now to suddenly see him in person at a party she really hadn't
wanted to attend. She was a little amused to see that, like Victor, John Koenig seemed
uncomfortable. He wore a fashionably snug tuxedo as were most of the men, and Marcia Gilcrest
was leaning into him as if her bones had left her.

Bruce stood beside Helena as Victor and John exchanged pleasantries. Apparently Bergman
and Koenig were also well aquatinted. "Isn't this great." Bruce whispered into Helena's left
ear. "Simmonds was telling me that Koenig may be Moonbase Alpha's first Commander when it
goes into full operation. There are a few other candidates but if Koenig does become
Commander -- just think of the possibilities! Our Medical Center will be fabulous."

Helena met Koenig's eyes as he was being spoken to. A little self-consciously, aware of an
odd electricity in the air, she looked down at her hands. She wondered what was important
enough to pry Bruce away from Simmonds. Koenig could do it.

Yet, looking up again at him - as Marcia directed his attention somewhere else - Helena
had a feeling that all would not go well for this man. She felt he would end up on Alpha some
day but ... but not as its Commander. At least, not at first. But there was going to be
trouble and he would return, taking command. Then something ... something .... horrible would
happen! Over lapping revelation came to Helena. One mental picture after another. She tried
to shake the image of terrified, screaming people from her mind but couldn't.

**It wouldn't be John Koenig's fault .... He would try to fix things ...**

Then, another vision came to Helena and it startled her to the point of actually making
her physically jump -- just as its sister did in the shower.

"What is it, Helena?" Alerted, Bruce took her arm.

Doctor Russell had grown deathly pale, "Excuse me." She nodded nervously yet politely to
the attentive group and quickly made her way into the lush apartment, to a washroom. The
moment she closed the door Helena was sick. But it was an illness born from realization as
well as a physical ailment. Tears came to her eyes as she leaned her warm forehead against
the cool of the bathroom wall tiles.

She understood. She'd been sent back. "Oh, God." Helena remembered everything now. Alpha,
John, her friends, her Medical Center, the horrors and joys experienced while on the
moonbase. She was back on Earth! An Earth of the past! What was she going to do? Would she
be able to return? Should she?

"Helena, are you all right?"

She could hear Bruce's gentle voice outside. Helena raised her trembling hands and placed
them over her ears. She allowed the tears to fall.

*********

It took Helena the weekend to pull herself together.

Friday evening Bruce took her home, glancing now and again at her glassy expression and
knowing he should never have pressed the woman into going out. Helena had warned him in the
Taxi, on the way to the party, that she wasn't well but he thought she would feel better once
they got to Marcia's and the evening moved along. Bruce now saw he was very much mistaken.

Helena winced when recalling how he apologized over and over again as he walked her up to
the apartment. It wasn't necessary, she kept telling him - with strained patience.

Then, once in the apartment and by herself, Helena fell completely to pieces. She
collapsed on her bed and cried for a solid hour. She attempted, all in vain, to call to the
Tagleons. At first she demanded then begged them to take her back to Moonbase Alpha -- but
they were gone. Helena finally grew convinced she would never go back to the life she knew.
Alpha was gone or, as yet, hadn't happened! She was lost in confusion.

Around midnight, still wearing her blue gown, Helena fell into a fitful sleep and dreamed
of those precious last minutes on Alpha. She stood there, wearing pajamas and feeling the
floor shake beneath her feet. John's protective arms were wrapped around her as chaos erupted
about them. She felt at ease. Certainly, there was threat of harm but they were together.
Even if they died, they'd still be together and there was comfort in that. But then, things
became distorted. She could feel him slipping away from her -- and she reached for his hands,
desperately trying to hold onto what was familiar and loved. And that was when she heard him
cry out her name. One loud, broken hearted "Helena!"

Later, awake, in the early morning hours as she sat on the sofa with a light blanket
covering her, again wearing pajamas but not the style issued on the moonbase, Helena nursed a
mug of tea and recalled two interesting items of note: She did remember Marcia's party from
her past and how she *did not* go to it in her original timeline. Bruce asked her repeatedly
to attend but Helena was stubborn and stayed at home with a good book. He didn't speak with
her for weeks afterwards and she felt bad, knowing it meant a lot to him. The whole incident
amazed Helena now, knowing that she missed a first meeting with her future love, John Koenig,
because she wanted to read the last chapter of a murder mystery.

Helena also thought back on the visions she was experiencing while on the balcony back at
the party. She'd seen more than Koenig's future on Moonbase Alpha. She saw them. She and
John. They were walking and arguing, laughing and kissing and finally - and this was what
tipped it over the edge - she saw John Koenig and herself making passionate physical love. It
was just too much. That was when she jumped and Bruce asked her if she was all right.

And that was when her memory fully returned.

Helena wasn't certain if this was what the aliens intended but it happened and now she
felt entirely alone and completely confused. Perhaps the Tagleons felt they were giving her a
second chance to change what it was that was making her so unhappy on Moonbase Alpha. They
had probed her fevered mind, sensing her need for calm and control and understanding she
might have this on her home planet - before disaster. An Earth before Moonbase Alpha ... and
before John Koenig. Yet, they had made arrangements for even this. She had opportunity to
reach out for him if she chose to do it. Unfortunately, the Tagleons failed to understand, as
probably she had until now, that Helena Russell had a good and in many ways *better* life on
the moon than she had while on Earth. She made wonderful friends and fell in love with an
incredible man. A man who only had her best interests at heart ...

And suddenly Helena felt a new wave of nausea threaten her calm. She was such a fool! She
and John's arguments of the last few weeks were so petty. Why couldn't she see that poor John
was feeling as confused and insecure as she? Helena understood she was acting indifferently
and this caught him off guard. So, why did she continue to bait him? Why didn't she just meet
her lover head on and explain that it wasn't him. He had nothing to do with her unusual
behavior. It was time. It was pressure. It was the not knowing ....

.... It was the fact that Maya - her cherished alien friend - told her that she and Tony
were expecting a baby! Yes, Helena was happy for them, even forgiving the couple for not
coming to her first for the diagnosis. She would be the child's godmother, Verdeschi
promised. But the news had enhanced Helena's own private yearning. It was selfish, she knew,
but - oh - how Helena wanted a child of her own! But John had said ... and she totally agreed
....

Yet, without realizing she was doing it, Helena took her grief out on John anyway. Poor,
miserable man. Thinking she didn't love him anymore. And now they were parted and he would
never understand ...

Wait. Helena sat up a little straighter on the sofa, suddenly inspired. Why not? John and
Marcia, even at this point in their relationship, weren't talking marriage. He was up for
grabs and, Helena reasoned, she and John would eventually get together anyhow. Why did it
have to wait until 1999? Didn't she and the Commander have conversations regarding what it
would have been like if they'd known each other on Earth?

And ...

Now that she was back and knew what to expect ... Perhaps she could prevent the moon from
leaving Earth orbit! Just think of all those lives! Earth wouldn't be devastated! The moon
would remain above ... But no. She couldn't do it on her own. She would need John and --
Victor Bergman!

Wonderful, living and breathing Professor Bergman. She would watch over him, making sure
his mechanical heart beat as it should. He would have check ups and on that day, that
horrible hour when - on Alpha - his heart finally gave out, she would have him here on Earth,
in a hospital, where they could reach the defect and put him in good working order before his
body and mind failed.

Helena was motivated now. She had a purpose. It was only a weak outline but the way would
eventually come. Her heart beat like a falling sledgehammer in her chest. She would take the
weekend to get over her pain, to know her situation. But starting Monday, she would be back
in action. And she would make things right.

***********

"Now, tell me what is really going on here." she demanded from her bed. The woman was
attired in the same blue pajamas she wore when disappearing from Command Center. Yet they
knew something was wrong. The hair, eyes, figure, voice ... Everything was the same, but
different. "Is this an experiment? Are you purposely trying to drive me out of my mind?"

Koenig watched her from behind a one way glass. As did Tony and Maya.

She was not fooled. She couldn't see them but knew someone was there - "I don't know who
you people are or what this is all about but I want to go home! I'm through being your guinea
pig!" came a shout.

Verdeschi suggested, "Could it be a relapse of amnesia?"

Koenig considered that hours ago, when Security called to Command Center and Sandra
reported Helena Russell found near the medical department. She was acting strangely. Lost and
incoherent, she wandered the moonbase aimlessly in her pajamas, until security took her into
Medical Center.

Doctor Vincent examined Helena and slowly she came out of her stupor to reveal a woman who
was Doctor Russell but very different.

"Who's in charge here!?" she cried from her bed. The woman was being held in leather
restraints. Panicked by the explanations of what had happened, strange tales of an alien race
of beings and living on the as yet unmanned Moonbase Alpha, causing fear and trepidation.

"No," Maya answered Tony when John seemed unable, "Months ago, when Helena had amnesia,
she was still reasonable. This woman is ... strange. Erratic."

"The Tagleons have done something to her mind." Koenig suggested, "I'm going to talk with
her." he said quickly and stepped into the room. John closed the door behind him, before
either Maya or Tony could say another word. If this wasn't his Helena he had to know who she
was.

Calming, she looked at him, some hope and a little recognition in her eyes. "John
Koenig?' she asked, as if hazarding a guess. "I've read about you ..." she murmured, a bit of
awe in her voice. Then, "Why am I being held prisoner? What is all of this about?"

John stood next to her bed, attempting to be gentle as he spoke, "You tell me. What is the
last thing you remember?"

"I was laying down on my sofa. I needed to rest before going to a party." she said, with a
little irritation in her tone, "I told that to your Doctor Mathias an hour ago. Just before
they did this to me!" She shook her wrists, indicating the heavy straps holding her arms and
hands down. "I'm not in a sanitarium, am I?" Helena suddenly looked afraid.

A reasonable question under the circumstances, "No." If it was an amnesia relapsed what
else could she think? It hurt John to see her like this but they didn't know what else to do.
She lost control when Vincent and Mathias tried to tell her the situation and, for awhile,
they didn't think they'd ever calm her. Also, the doctors and Koenig didn't want to give
Helena a sedative -- not until they knew what they were facing.

"You know, you can't keep me like this forever." she pressed. An odd gleam was in her
eyes.

John nodded, "I don't want to." he said honestly, "If I try to explain it all to you
again, will you promise not to scream or get over excited? And - if I tell you all you want
to know - will you start answering our questions? Rationally?"

"I can't promise I'll believe a word you say ..." she said, " ... but I'll listen. And
I'll be a good girl." and she smiled, warmly.

The woman's familiar expression impacted Koenig and he returned her favor. Of course this
was Helena. He was sure of it now. The aliens had done something to her but this was his
love. They would work through this and her memory would return, as it did before. All would
be well.

Inside of the observation room, Tony and Maya looked at one another. Both were plagued by
doubts.

***********

The first few days at the hospital were trial and error but, in no time, Doctor Russell
was easily seeing her way clear. The biggest problem Helena faced was knowing all of her co-
workers from a past life. She often had to bite her tongue when overcome with an urge to hug
and kiss someone she hadn't seen in years. Helena continually reminded herself that although
it had been an eternity for her, for them it was only a few days!

And the things she'd forgotten! Sherry's dry wit, Clarence's hyper-active nervousness, and
Nick's charm. But then there were anomalies which confused Helena. She didn't know Mahalia,
her personal assistant, had a child or that Martin, the coroner, was fired six months
earlier. She was also not aware of the hospital lawyer's divorce. Always light hearted and
friendly, Max was now bitter and unresponsive. How is it she'd forgotten these things? Could
the way she was brought back to Earth caused a memory lapse?

Then, there was John Koenig. She thought long and hard about him, picturing the man
wrapped in her arms. Thinking of their love. Or, at least, a love which would come to him
some day.

Helena was not devious but she realistically knew a chance meeting between them wouldn't
happen again unless she arranged for it. Using her weight as a high ranking doctor with a top
secret security clearance in New York World Hospital, Helena ordered all prospective Moonbase
Alpha personnel, American and European branches, to have immediate physical check ups. She
also made a special note that all top ranking officers should be seen by either herself, a
specialist in Space Medicine, or Dr. Ripperton.

Commissioner Simmonds was curious about her sudden interest but seemed satisfied when
Helena told him - via monitor phone - that she just wanted to be certain all was well now
that final preparations were being made. Space Commission couldn't afford a sudden outbreak
of measles on the moon, closing down the base completely before actual space exploration
could start. Simmonds agreed but Helena would never forget that rather trapped look he gave
her. The Commissioner was wondering if - some how - she knew about their ulterior motives.

As yet, the general populace of Earth knew nothing of those thousand ton cans of nuclear
waste being deposited on the moon for safe storage. This had been going on for months and the
news would come out later in the year, with a full press report telling all how economical
and secure the storage compartments were, when it was too late for anyone to do anything
about it.

Just one more bit of information to pass along to John and Victor.

When the connection broke between Helena and Simmonds, the doctor sat back in her office
chair and relaxed. The sunshine, streaming through a nearby window, streaked gold and silver
across her face and hair. Utter bliss.

********

Two weeks passed. Doctor Russell sent a memo but Koenig had yet to show for his physical
examination. Helena was becoming a little worried her orders would not extend to him because
he was thought to be the prospective Alpha Project Commander. However, her fears were put to
rest when spotting his name on an appointment check list for the following day. Ten am on
Thursday. A good omen, she thought. It was on a Thursday evening, while holding one another
in an intimate embrace, when John first told Helena he loved her.

"Sentimental."

"Hunh?" Helena swiveled in her chair, startled by Bruce's voice.

White coated, a stethoscope around his neck and swinging over his barrel chest, Doctor
Ripperton walked from the opened entryway into Helena's office, over to an oak cabinet. He
liked Helena's office, open and warm, but this bothered him. Bruce picked up a framed
photograph, "You still have Lee's picture here." he said, "The one with his dog." He returned
it to the shelf, paused and turned. "Helena, we once spoke about getting on with your life.
All work and no play. It's beginning to show."

"In what way?" Helena was honestly curious.

Bruce searched for words, not wanting to hurt his friend - "In little ways --" And in some
not so little ways. He'd been wanting to speak with her about this for sometime. "Helena,
sometimes you can seem cold and ... I'm sorry ..." He faltered.

Doctor Russell stood and crossed to him. This was actually a little frightening. "What
Bruce? Tell me."

"I've heard things from Doctors Standish and Yamoto. Both told me a relapse was
possible." He spoke in a manner which implied confidentiality, "Now, I understand how you've
allowed yourself to become obsessed with work. It happens when one is trying to bury a deep
pain but you've become - well - rather ..."

Helena's eyes narrowed. She didn't know either a Standish or Yamoto. And what did Bruce
mean by relapse? "WHAT?"

"... ruthless."

"Bruce ..." Helena stepped backed, shocked. "And you agree with this?" She'd been called a
lot of things in her lifetime. Ambitious, clever and even unrelenting but never ruthless.

"No, of course not." He straightened, deciding it was a mistake to do this to her. Helena
Russell was a good woman and brilliant surgeon. She'd had some problems. After all, she
wasn't made of stone. Only recently - since Lee's disappearance - did she appear to steer
towards the abnormal. Perhaps he should have reported it to the board but she seemed to be
getting so much better ... and he owed Helena so much. His personal orientation did not
bother her in the least and he could tell her things he told no other person. Bruce would
watch her and if she seemed to be turning into *that* woman again he'd take care of matters,
as he had a few months ago. That's what friends were for. "Oh, never mind Helena." He smiled
and shook his head in a dismissing gesture, "One of these days things will get back to
normal. You might even marry again."

Nodding herself, wanting to ask questions but worried she might just make matters more
difficult if she did, Helena slyly said: "The only man I'm truly interested in isn't for
me." She took one of his hands and caressed it, "Oh, why won't you marry me Bruce?" Her tone
was a falsetto.

For a split second Ripperton appeared nervous then, recognizing the old joke he chuckled:
"If the hair on your head was a shade darker and you shaved your upper lip occasionally I
might take you up on that." he tossed back in good humor, "But really, Helena, you need to
get out more or you just might end up a lonely old lady." Bruce bent at the waist to look
into her eyes, a lock of sandy hair falling across his somewhat sunburned forehead. "You
don't deserve a reputation as an untouchable."

Helena remembered a conversation a bit like this, with Bruce, in her past. Her grief over
Lee was still tender and all consuming. Perhaps she should tell him how things were now. She
wanted him to understand. But no. She wouldn't burden dear Bruce. He just was not in her
plans. "All right, Doctor." She let go of his hands, "I'll try to loosen up a bit more,
okay?" Then thought, And you'll just see how loose I can get when I finally get my mitts on
John Koenig.

"You can be stubborn, Helena, and I'm not sure how much of it I believe but I'll take it
for now." He put his long, deceptively strong arms around her and they hugged. Bruce parted
from Helena and was almost out of the office when he turned and said, "I meant to tell you -
Don't worry about that appointment with Koenig tomorrow. He came in today and I examined him
myself."

"What?" Helena tensed, feeling as if she was just slapped.

"He came in while you were on break. Alluded to visiting a friend in Pre Op and wondered
if he could just get his own exam over with. I obliged. He's probably on his way out to the
parking garage now."

Eyes fixed and scarcely breathing, Helena clenched exasperated hands behind her back.

*************