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

Doctor Russell wasted no time. It was nearly noon, when a good portion of the hospital's
staff would be leaving for the dinner hour. She raced out into the garage hoping to catch
John before the glut started. She wanted to cry.

Helena could see no one as she stood next to her own car. Despondent, looking down at the
blue nineteen ninety six DeVille, she shook her head back and forth. It took her a day to
get used to driving again, not having to worry about such an Earth-crucial mode of
transportation while living on the moon. Yet - as they say - you never forget.

Okay. Plan B. She would call John up, explaining that his original tests were somehow
contaminated. He would have to come in again and report directly to her. Concentrating,
thinking about how she was going to implement such a thing, Helena stared into the passenger
side window of her car and was suddenly shocked at what the reflection unexpectedly
revealed.

"Are you all right?"

She twisted around, "Fine." Helena nearly squeaked, knowing she probably looked and
sounded ridiculous.

John Koenig stood before her, slightly amused. A dark wind breaker hung over his left arm
and a computer-chip key ring extended from his right hand. "I hope I didn't frighten you but
you looked depressed. Thought you might have locked yourself out."

"No," Helena straightened, "Just wondering where to go for lunch." she improvised,
quickly. When Helena felt he might soon move away, she swiftly asked, "Are you John Koenig?"

He looked into her eyes, "I thought I recognized ..."

"From Marcia's party a couple of weeks ago." Helena prompted, "I'm afraid I made a rather
bad impression, leaving so early. I have to apologize for that."

"Not at all." John relaxed and smiled, "Marcia's get togethers can be a strain. I wish I
would have come down ill. I hate those ..." He stopped, thinking he had probably said too
much to this virtual stranger. "Well, Marcia enjoys throwing them and I'm sure there will be
more. The least I can do is show up when she asks me." He was looking a little past Helena
now, disheartened.

Helena chuckled at his expression, "You're a friend of Victor's?" she asked, knowing the
answer but recognizing it as a bond between them. On Earth and on the Moon.

"We've been friends for years."

"He's a wonderful man. I met him through my husband."

"Oh." John said quietly and seemed disappointed.

"My husband was Lee Russell." Helena added, folding her arms and leaning against the car
door. There weren't many people in the space program who didn't know about the ill fated
Astro Seven Mission.

"Oh, I'm sorry." Koenig said respectfully but his expression, despite the gravity of what
she just said, began to brighten again. "Doctor Russell ... would you like to go to lunch?"

Helena nodded.

********

"You have to tell me John isn't serious." Alan Carter made his opinion very clear as he
plopped down in a chair across from the Verdeschi's: "John's crazy, letting that woman roam
freely around Medical Center. I was just there, seeing if I could help in some way." He told
Tony and Maya as they chewed absently on their lunches in the cafeteria. "She's weird and
she's not Helena."

"What convinced you?" Tony asked, noting the Australian pilot's agitation.

"To be honest, mate, I'd rather not tell you. Let's just say Helena did something while I
was speaking with her that proved to me it couldn't be her. At least, not in my mind."
Carter couldn't tell them that this woman, who might still be Doctor Russell although he
doubted it seriously, a lady Alan thought he was (secretly) in love with at one time, had
propositioned him. Actually, if it had been a mere flirtation he probably would have felt
flattered - whether she was the real Helena or not - but this creature openly leered and
spoke vulgarly. "She has mental problems."

"I agree." said an immersed Maya, picking through a salad.

Tony, usually the spoiler, sighed, "You know I feel the same but our opinions mean
nothing. Scientific tests conducted by Mathias and Vincent prove that she is Helena.
Fingerprints, tissue, hair samples and even D.N.A. corroborate. If it wasn't for her mental
state John probably would be totally convinced."

"But she's not Helena." Maya stated, not looking at either man. "It's not just the way
she's acting or her lack of knowledge regarding Alpha. It's her manner. I've listened in on
her conversations with the Commander and doctors. She has an entirely different take on
matters that our Helena would never even consider. I don't know why John Koenig can't see it
but she's evil."

Verdeschi glanced at Alan and sighed. Slowly, he lifted a hand and placed it gently on
his wife's back, carefully rubbing up and down.

Emotionally, Maya was not taking to all of this. She was pregnant and, in her own words,
needed Helena. Her friend and doctor. The woman who was there for her when she started to
have doubts about the baby and whether she and Tony should keep it. Granted, that was only a
momentary panic (and one she never told her husband about) but Helena was there, gently
biased and thrilled for her friend.

Tony touched Maya's hair. Depression was getting the better of his Psychon Princess.

Lifting his 'tuna' sandwich, Alan asked: "Does John still have Command Center searching
space for the Tagleons?"

Tony nodded, "Yes, but it's beginning to look hopeless." He felt Maya tense beneath his
hand. He added, "But how many times on Alpha have we thought something was concrete and it
came back to visit us in a variety of surprising ways?" Gratefully, he felt her relax again.

Carter bit into his sandwich. He always ordered it but he hated this artificial fish. It
looked and smelled the same but was patently unreal. Just like the woman who was pretending
to be Helena Russell.

******

"Please forgive me." She said, stepping back from him. She put fingers to her mouth,
trying unsuccessfully to hide her simpering smile. "I don't know what made me do that."

It was a kiss. And what a kiss.

John stared at her, slightly astonished. He came to visit Helena, bringing a video disc
for her inspection. Doctor Mathias advised, as before, to take it slow. Don't rush the
recovery. Koenig thought the best idea was what partially brought her back to them last
time. Alpha on video. Then, when he presented it to her, Helena jumped forward, threw her
arms around him and pressed her lips full on his mouth. The experience was pleasant but such
a demonstration, where doctors and nurses could clearly see them, was so unlike Helena,
whether she felt she knew him or not.

And the kiss itself was also strange. Unfamiliar is how he would term it later.

Immediately, she saw her mistake, "I suppose it's your trust, Commander. Allowing me up,
walking around and now trying to familiarize me with Alpha." she shrugged, "It's wonderful
and a little overwhelming. Am I forgiven?" she asked, appearing somewhat impish.

John nodded but a sudden nagging doubt was making itself known.

Yet, he wanted to believe it was Helena. The others were suspicious and blatantly against
her but John Koenig was her champion. Couldn't they see she was manipulated by aliens? This
was causing her to act strangely. Bob Mathias seemed to think along the same lines, saying
he felt Helena had cracked under the stress of her illness and the alien probing. The
Commander was grateful for at least one ally and spent more time than he should in Medical
Center. Every spare moment he could find he was with her. Helena would come back to herself
soon. John Koenig was certain of it.

********

He sat and stared at her from his location on the sofa. "Oh, Helena. I just don't know
..." he started, leaning back on the lavender cushions. "You're asking a lot from me." He
was uneasy, never expecting Doctor Russell, of all people, to bring up something so
fantastic. He had come to her apartment, a friendly bouquet of flowers in one hand and a
bottle of wine in the other. He was there for dinner but knew Helena had much more on her
mind. She wanted to talk with him about something important, she had said so, but this was
totally beyond what he expected.

"Victor, I honestly have not gone insane." She paced in front of him, wearing an elegant
cream-colored summer dress that managed, on Helena, to be unpretentious. "I'm telling you
this because, of all the people I know, I thought you the one to accept it with an open
mind." Also, he was to leave for Switzerland in a couple days and Helena knew this would be
the last time she could bring it, the improbability of the Moon leaving Earth orbit, to his
attention. "Nuclear waste, Victor. I know it's being taken to the moon, and has been for
months. I was there to see the results. I know it sounds crazy ..."

Actually, she wanted to tell John Koenig first but their new relationship was getting off
to a slow start. Two weeks passed since their promising meeting in the parking garage and
although she and John lunched often and he was now calling her at both work and home, he
hadn't extended himself beyond the boundaries of a gentle kiss. Of course, he had much on
his mind. Helena understood Alpha was taking up a lot of John's time. And then there was
Marcia ... Koenig was conflicted over what he was feeling for Helena and she didn't want to
push him too hard. She would give him a little time and soon, Helena trusted, John would
come to her openly and without indecision. And Marcia ... Well, it sounded cold but she
would learn to live without him.

Professor Bergman scratched his forehead, "What do you want me to say?"

"I want you to believe in the possibility, Victor, that I could be speaking the truth."
Helena told him selected portions. She was from the future, a future where the moon left
Earth behind. He, John and herself were amongst the base's inhabitants in 1999. She wouldn't
- couldn't - tell him that he would eventually die after a year out in deep space. The mere
thought of it was enough to derail Helena and she couldn't afford to appear anything but
earnest in front of the Professor now. "I haven't been over-working or any of those other
explanations you're forming in that clever head of yours. Ask me anything, Victor, about the
future. I can tell you ...'

He watched Helena closely, considering what she said. He briefly recalled a rumor he'd
heard about her. He never believed it, Helena always having been a strong minded individual,
but someone told him that she spent two months in an institution after Lee's disappearance.
'It's
all very hush-hush.' that person had said. "I think I believe you, Helena." he finally said.

She stopped pacing, stunned. "What?"

"You are right about the nuclear waste. Since you already know, I'll admit to it. I was
one of thirty scientists who thought the whole idea a mistake. But we were voted out by the
committee in charge of the storage facilities." He lifted a hand when Helena started to
protest, "Don't get me wrong, Helena. I have my doubts but I think you're as sane as you
were on the day you were born." He stood, "And you wouldn't be telling me such a story
unless you genuinely knew it to be true."

"Thank you, Victor."

"However, the only thing I can promise is an open eye. I'll keep my thoughts unimpeded
and silent. I'll watch what is happening to the space program - Alpha most certainly - and
make a few discreet inquiries. Then, when I'm satisfied that all you've told me is accurate,
we'll take action ... Somehow." He smiled when Doctor Russell gave him a 'what if it's too
late by then?' look. "I'm not without influence in the scientific community, as you well
know, and if I can make a bunch of old men and women believe our world is being threatened
with destruction, maybe we can prevent the disaster from ever happening."

Helena wanted more from him but understood this was as good as it got. At least Victor
was receptive to the possibility of the horror and that was more than she would get from
anyone else. She reached for a glass and handed it to her guest as she got her own. Quietly,
Helena lifted and tilted the bottle of wine and smiled when the Professor eagerly lifted his
glass for the spirit. "Here's to ... the future." she said, just before they clinked.

*****

"I want to see you tonight. Dinner?" he asked softly, over the phone monitor.

"Yes." she replied. And maybe more?

"I'll pick you up at seven thirty."

****

It was a lovely, elegant restaurant hidden in the outskirts of the big city. Helena was
reminded of a dark, private grotto where married presidents of major companies might come
and bring their beautiful, compliant secretaries for more than just business luncheons. When
she whispered this to John he chortled quietly and told her there was a motel just down the
street.

They were escorted to their table by a tall, lean man with a thin mustache and French
accent. "I hope this is to your liking." He said to Koenig, pulling a chair out for the
lady. Currency was discreetly passed to the waiter and menus were hastily presented.

There was quiet between them for awhile as Helena dreamily listened to a violin player
off in the distance. It was all so romantic and perfect. In her dreams Helena pictured she
and John on Earth, happy in each other's company, visiting a place such as this just before
an amorous tryst. But first they would set the mood. Dining. Dancing. Romance. She wore her
best slinky gown for the occasion. With a smile, Helena said: "I hope you didn't have
anything illicit in mind, John. You brought me here on a Thursday ..."

He didn't know what the day of the week had to do with it but he simply replied,
"Maybe." looking over his menu at her. She was just so lovely he couldn't stop. Then, with
reluctance, he laid the food listing down. He could no longer hide the real purpose of this
rendezvous. "I'm to report to Alpha next week, Helena."

She looked up from reading, "Next week?"

"Unhunh. Monday. I was asked to be Commander."

"Commander." Wait. This couldn't be. Helena looked closely at his expression to be
certain he wasn't teasing. "Commander of Alpha?" She asked again to be sure.

He was puzzled by her expression, "Yes, it's not a secret I was being considered for the
position."

"I know but ..." You never became Commander until 1999. Helena held her tongue but
searched her mind for answers.

"I wanted to spend more time with you." Koenig said, anticipating what the woman was
going to say. He could read what he thought was discouragement on her attractive face. "This
restaurant has special meaning for me. I don't bring many people here. The last person was
my late wife."

Helena laid her menu down and reached for his hands. She smiled. He was being so sweet,
caring and open. Far more open on Earth than he ever was on Alpha. Just for a moment Helena
was able to forget that something was incorrect; this situation was somehow wrong. "Are you
trying to tell me you want me in your life, John? Is that what all of this is about?" She
always felt they were meant to be together. Their coupling hadn't been an accident, evolving
simply because they were stranded on the moon together.

The waiter brought them champagne then discreetly left.

Helena spoke as he uncorked the bottle, "Well, at least we have the weekend." They could
work through this, she was sure.

"That's the tough part." John poured. He had hoped to hold off telling her this until
later, or the following morning if all went as planned, but he now knew the truth quickly
told was the best strategy. "I'm off to Fiji for three days after tonight, Helena. That's
why I wanted us to be together.'

"Fiji?" She asked, confused.

"I'm going with Marcia."

Helena couldn't believe it. "MARCIA?" Her eyes widened and not for the first time Helena
began to feel something was very wrong. "You're still seeing Marcia Gilcrest? John, I
thought
this dinner was to announce you and Marcia were no more and you and I ..."

Koenig stopped what he was doing. "Helena, I care for Marcia. I admit to having feelings
for you, very strong feelings, but Marcia was there for me when matters were really bad. For
a time I really didn't want to go on and ... I owe her more than a phone call, telling her
we have no future together. And to be honest," he added, "I'm not all that certain about us.
I think about you every day, unlike any woman I've ever met, but maybe my feelings aren't
rooted in reality. Perhaps I'm just lonely and you ..." He almost said 'are filling a void'
but he couldn't bring himself to that. She was more than that to him but, as yet, he just
didn't know what.

Stricken, Helena's hands dropped to her sides as she looked directly into his eyes,
expression strained and attempting calm. 'Remember, this is John Koenig before Moonbase
Alpha. He doesn't know you now like he did on the moon. Right now you're close but not yet
that close. Think, Helena - Think.' - "I can appreciate and admire your efforts. You want
to be fair. If we work out, you want to bring Marcia down easy. That's nice and very
considerate. But John, believe me when I say I do *not* want you to go away with her.
Perhaps you think I'm being selfish and unfair but I just can't accept something like that.
Not if you are really interested in a relationship between us."

John squirmed awkwardly. How to make her understand? "This will probably be our last
hurrah, Helena. Things haven't been quite right between Marcia and myself for awhile and
this weekend we're going to do some serious talking." He spoke in his most persuasive voice,
"Then, while on Alpha, I'll have time to think. When my tour of duty is over I'll know for
sure."

Again, Helena's eyes widened. Did he actually use the term: 'Last hurrah.'? "What did you
hope to do, John? Try me on for size before making a commitment? Did you want to make a
personal comparison between me and Marcia while the two of you were in Fiji?" She could feel
raw emotion well up within her. Maybe she was being a little unreasonable, wanting him to
love her without compromise here and now, but her John - on Moonbase Alpha - was always so
certain about nearly everything he did. It was this strength in character, Koenig's
absoluteness, which made Helena stand up and take notice in those early months.

Now, she was heart broken. Not just because of Fiji or the fact John would be out of her
life and on Alpha in four days -- but because she had a dreadful feeling. She missed
something vital.

"Helena, that's not it at all." Staggered, he leaned quietly forward and spoke
forcefully.

She wasn't going to make a scene but he had to know how she felt, "It's amazing to me,
John. Our relationship has barely gotten off the ground and I don't think I'm being
unreasonable when I say I don't want you and Marcia going off to Fiji tomorrow!"

"And I don't think that's up to you." Koenig suddenly snapped, immediately sorry for the
comment. This was no way for them to get started.

"What?" Helena's heart skipped a beat. This wasn't her John Koenig. It couldn't be. Even
during the earliest weeks on Moonbase Alpha, just shortly after Breakaway, when she and John
disagreed on nearly everything that had to do with the moonbase, he never made her feel so
unimportant and immaterial. Visibly shaking, Helena only knew two things for certain. She
wanted those relationship secure years on Alpha to return and, right now, she wanted to
leave this restaurant. Helena couldn't restrain herself this time. She pushed herself out of
the chair, ignoring his words of repentance.

"Helena ..."

Doctor Russell retrieved her wrap and headed for a pay telephone. She would call for a
cab, go home, and reconsider her options. She would cry and curse -- but in solitude. Helena
wouldn't do it with him or others watching. She never could.

Stepping up behind her, Koenig gently took Helena by the arm and whispered, "Never mind.
I'll take you home."

They didn't speak or look at one another during the trip back into New York. Helena
pressed her head against the passenger side car window, at first looking up longingly at the
full moon then out at the rushing pavement. This was insane. Could it really end like this?
Helena sincerely believed she and John Koenig's love was strong enough to draw them together
and hold them together forever, on Earth or the Moon. Was their romance really only
something that happened because of what could still transpire in 1999?

A tiny tear slid down her cheek.

**********

Always it came back to medicine. When she was frantic and grieving, as she was after
Lee's disappearance, she worked. She labored also after Breakaway, mending broken bones and
giving sound medical advise. And her career was also what kept she and John at odds,
recently, while on Alpha. Whenever she was in crisis Helena found refuge in charts, X Rays
and text books. It was her escape. It was her way.

Yet, this time - as she looked at him - she knew her sanctuary assailed. Uneasy, wanting
her past-future even more now than when she first arrived on Earth, Helena steadied the
clipboard in her hands. From her position behind a one way observation mirror, Doctor
Russell gazed at the handsome young man as he sat on a hard, flat examination table. He
looked about him, unaware of her scrutinizing stare. Earlier, Helena was told he was the
last of the expected moonbase personnel and she was grateful, until she saw the name written
on the chart.

Anthony Verdeschi.

Shaken, Helena had no idea he had been aquatinted with Alpha this early on. Taking a
calming breath, she closed her eyes for two seconds then, composed, walked into the
examining room. "Well, Mr. Verdeschi, how are we today?"

"You did that very well." he said, with a warm smile.

"Excuse me?" Helena stopped in her tracks, afraid she had already slipped up somewhere.

"My last name. Very few people can say it correctly the first time they read or hear it."

Helena half laughed in nervous relief. She listened to his heart and did the typical
eyes, ears, nose and throat inspection which was anticipated during such visits. "You are in
very good condition." she said honestly, scribbling on her clipboard. Then, Helena sat back
in a tall swiveling chair and began the part of medical analysis she dreaded most. She was
required to pry into the man's personal life. "Tell me a little about yourself."

Leaning back on his hands, Tony kicked his feet gently back and forth like a mischievous
school boy, "I come from a big Italian family and was educated in England. My father is a
banker and my mother is a police woman. I still have brothers in high school and my life's
ambition is to settle down with a nice girl and have children of my own."

Helena looked up from her clipboard and suspected he was only half teasing, "Children
..." she whispered, recalling Maya and the situation left on Alpha.

"My problem is I'm not attracted to just any woman. She'd have to be special. Beautiful
and smart to start." He then smiled, "You know, someone like you."

Helena yielded a smile of her own, "Are you flirting with me?"

"Is it doing any good?'

"No, not really."

He shrugged, "Then I'm just trying to prove my virility."

With a chuckle, recalling Tony's wit, Helena shook her head back and forth and went on to
another subject. "It says here you will be entering Alpha as a student of ... botany?" she
unintentionally grimaced, confused by what was written.

"You have something against botanists, Doctor?" Verdeschi stopped kicking and looked
concerned.

"Oh no. Not at all. I just ..."

"Well, it's not my idea. My true love is defense. I was working a security detail for
Lunar Commission, to help get myself through school, but the powers that be said Alpha
needed Botanists. That was my major ...."

Helena blanked out on Tony as he spoke. Something had suddenly occurred to her. MAYA. She
was going to have a baby. But it wasn't going to happen. Maya would die when her planet
exploded, due to Mentor's maniacal ambition. Alpha wouldn't be there to rescue her. Tony
wouldn't be there to fall in love with her -- because Helena had arranged for the moon to
stay where it was.

"Doctor?"

She blinked out of her trance, "Tony, I'm sorry." Helena softly cleared her throat, "I
haven't been myself lately."

Never had a truer statement been made.

********

"Did you think me an idiot, unable to come to my own conclusions?!" she wailed, watching
him fall.

He made a huge mistake, turning his back on her when all his years of pre space program
combat training taught never to underestimate what you are unsure of.

John was on his knees, a hand pressed to his right bloodied temple where she had hit him.
His eyes, with now blurred vision, took in the shattered remains of a glass beaker as it
rolled on the stark white Medical Center floor. Where did she get that beaker?

The woman was ill at ease when he entered a few minutes before, pacing and rubbing her
hands together. She didn't even notice him until he spoke to her.

Previously, Koenig asked Mathias what seemed to be the matter and the doctor tapped a
folder on his desk. "I've been giving Helena a very mild sedative since the day we had to
strap her on the bed. I took her off of it last night and she's having a negative reaction."

"Depression?"

"Not quite. Anxiety I'd say. She's asked me twice in the last half hour if she could
leave to see the rest of Alpha. I reminded her of your orders. She's ansy and I can't really
blame her for that." Mathias wasn't condemning, just stating facts.

"Do you think it would be safe to take her for a walk?"

"No, not by yourself." Mathias didn't elaborate and Koenig didn't ask him to. "I have to
check on the children in the nursery. I've been falling behind on their coordination testing
since Helena's ..." He paused, looking over at her with Koenig. "Commander, could you stay
here until Paula and Herbert come back from their breaks. I usually have a bigger staff but
it's the dinner hour. You two should be all right here in the security of the Center."

"Go ahead, Bob." Then, he approached her as Mathias left the room. "Helena."

She stopped the repetitive motion, "What?" She appeared not pleased to see him.

Koenig wasn't entirely sure what to make of it. Especially considering the way Helena
threw her arms around him yesterday. "How are you?" He asked, attempting to vanquish those
doubts that were coming back to haunt him.

She paused, thinking a moment. Then smiled, "I'm fine, John. Just terribly bored. Please,
could we just go out into the hall. I need different scenery. Anything new would make me
feel so much better."

"I can't do that, Helena. Doctor's orders."

"Doctor's orders!" she almost spat. "Commander's orders! Is that all you people do?" Then
calming, Helena's expression warmed and she moved in a little closer to him. "Of course
you're right." Her hands touched his jacketed arms and moved up to his shoulders. "If I have
to be in a prison I suppose it could be worse."

Uncomfortable, feeling nervous at her touch but not really knowing why, the Commander
said, "Be patient, Helena. A few more tests and you will be able to leave. We just have to
be sure of a few things."

"You have to be certain I'm sane, you mean." Her arms fell away in a defeated gesture and
she slowly turned from him. "I know how it is. I was told that Tony Verdeschi put an armed
guard outside Medical Center because he doesn't trust me."

It tugged at his sympathy. Later, Koenig would mentally beat himself for his own naiveté.
"He did, Helena. But I had the guard removed. We all want to help you. None of us think
you're crazy -- just having problems that need sorting through." The way she spoke sounded
very odd to him. It was as if she felt she hadn't a prayer in the world. She needed
encouragement like this.

"So you do trust me." she murmured, almost to herself. Helena had yet to turn in his
direction or look up at him at all.

"You need rest." John decided and took one of Helena's hands. He led her to the bed she
had been sleeping in. John wasn't looking very carefully at her as he steered the woman in
the right direction, in an awkward way. And that was his 'fatal mistake', as he would later
call it.

Now, struggling to regain his footing and stay conscious, he could hear her shouts.

"You've been lying to me all along! All of you! This isn't Alpha! It's an asylum!" She
viscously snatched the comlock from Koenig's belt and, in his already weakened state, pushed
him away. She ran to the door, aimed the device, and was out of Medical Center.

John balanced himself against her bed and walked unsteadily to the nearest compost. He
made a base wide announcement that Doctor Russell had escaped the medical area and all
should be on the look out for her. He also said, although it nearly broke his heart to do
so, that she was to be considered dangerous and the Alphans needed to be extremely cautious.

********