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*******

"I want to see Maya!" Verdeschi shouted and tried to push past Nurse Paula as she blocked
his way. He could still hear the baby wailing.

"NO." The Asian woman was stern and despite their height and weight differences he did
stop at her sharp tone. "The doctors are doing all they can for Maya and your child but they
are not yet ready for you to see either! Now, stay still!" Her arms folded themselves in
front of an ample chest and her expression was stern. The long black hair on her head was as
straight and uncomplicated as her manner

Tony's expression was almost pleading, "Paula, she could be dying! I need ..."

"And if she is do you think she really would want you to see it?" There was no sympathy in
the nurse's tone yet her expression did seem a little less harsh. "Now, go back over and sit
next to Alan. When Doctor Vincent wants you to know what is happening he will call for you.
Better yet ..." She took Verdeschi gently by the arm and lead him over to the sitting Eagle
pilot, "... take him to the cafeteria, Alan. Make him relax and keep him away from here --
please."

Carter smiled at Paula and, with a sigh, nodded his head. He watched the small nurse turn
on her booted heel and exit out of the opposite door. She was cute and he had been surprised
that Paula even remembered his name. They didn't talk much but he liked her take-charge
manner. He would have to ask her out for coffee sometime.

And she was right.

"Come on, mate." he steered his dazed, anxious friend out of Medical Center. Tony needed
to be anywhere but here.

*********

They walked for miles and in that time the rain never stopped. Helena pulled at her jacket
in frustration and against the cold. Soaked, she and her crew looked as bad as they felt.
Reluctantly, because she wanted them to go another mile or two before stopping, Helena
allowed her backpack to fall on the ground and she halted their progress. The rain was going
to cause more problems with their journey than she originally anticipated. It simply did not
want to stop.

Wheezing slightly, Victor nodded gratefully and collapsed on a patch of grass.

A powerfully built man, Wilson also appeared authentically relieved. He watched Helena as
she, quite lady-like, climbed and sat on a large boulder. She took a swipe at her waterlogged
blond hair and lifted the somewhat useless scanner to examine something she was calculating.
For Carl's money Koenig couldn't have picked a better commander for this mission. Doctor
Russell had always impressed him with her strong will and character. And yes, he wouldn't be
a man if he hadn't recognized her feminine charms as well. She was no Karen but Helena
Russell was no slouch in the looks department either.

With little urging, Carl sat under a wet sloppily dripping, long limb tree. He leaned
against its trunk and closed his eyes. There was something odd about this storm. It made him
reconsider things he thought finally buried deep into his subconscious. There was a time, a
long while ago now, back during World War Three ... At first it hadn't been so bad. He had
Karen and their eleven month old baby and the bombing missions, although devastating, were
becoming common. Sometimes he could fly and shoot and never think about the people he was
destroying. Then, other times ....

Wilson opened his eyes wide and looked over at Victor Bergman. The old man didn't look
well. He'd paled considerably and a hand lifted to touch his chest, as if he might be in
pain. Was he? Could his mechanical heart be malfunctioning? Certainly he would tell Dr.
Russell if he thought so. Wouldn't he?

A loud alarm was heard from the instrument in Helena's hand. Startled, her eyes darted
upward and looked about the wooded area. "Intruder." she whispered.

Both Victor and Wilson were on their feet and walking toward Helena, looking about.

"Somebody is here. Close." she stated, lowly.

"A large animal?" Victor suggested, nervously. He and Wilson took an arm a piece and
helped Helena slide off of the rock.

"No." Helena got to her feet, warily. "It's human and not too far away." She flipped the
sensor shut and shoved it into a pocket in her pack. Slowly, as were the men, she reached for
her stun gun and held it cautiously.

"The bastards are finally showing themselves." Wilson concluded, only partly aware of an
inquisitive look from Professor Bergman. Kicking into a latent security training mode, Wilson
lifted his gun and circled Bergman and Doctor Russell, his back to them, watching the woods
with an animal-like cunning.

A moment later they heard the cracking of a twig and saw it. The creature was about a half
inch shorter than Helena, with a fresh bloody gash across its black and blue forehead. It was
thin, with dark hair and possessed searching, red streaked eyes -- framed with cracked, gold
wire-rimmed glasses.

They were looking at Robert Yarnell.

Wilson ran to his friend and watched as he coughed, a trickle of blood escaping his lips.
He caught Yarnell before he fell to the slick, muddy ground, "What happened to you?" asked
the startled botanist.

Robert managed to say, "Ambush." as he was turned on his back.

Doctor Russell was by Robert's side only a few seconds after Wilson. She ran the medi-
scanner over his body and determined there was some significant damage. A broken nose and
ribs, abrasions, a fractured ankle and internal bleeding to start. "Report, Robert." she
said, not unkindly, reaching to take his pulse and checking his pupils.

Yarnell breathed heavily but his voice, although soft, was clear. Despite his injuries he
appeared happy to be with his colleagues. "Not more than fifteen minutes after you left, the
Tricians showed up. When I spotted them coming out of the woods I tried to contact you but
the weather made it impossible. So, I rechecked the beacon, for Alpha, and opened the hatch.
I saw
six men, including Ataun, wearing gray rain gear. Soldiers actually. There's no doubt about
that now." He coughed again and Wilson passed him a damp handkerchief, which Yarnell took
with
nervous fingers. "I greeted them, raising my hands as I noted their weapons trained on me. I
could have made an issue of this then but I knew how important it was for us to make a good
impression so I didn't want to seem aggressive in any way." He paused, taking a little time
to think. "I guess that was my first mistake. Ataun asked me where you were, Doctor Russell,
and I told him the truth. I said we got tired of waiting and had gone off in search of him.
The next thing I knew, my hands were tied behind me and I was thrown on my face into the mud.
The soldiers were laughing and kicking me. I could feel my ribs snapping ..." Yarnell craned
his neck a bit as Helena applied a bandage to his bleeding forehead, "Then, I did something
really stupid." His eyes closed and opened at the memory, "I cursed at Ataun. I don't even
know if he really knew what I said but he knew it was blaspheme of some kind and didn't take
well to the disrespect. That's when he came over and broke my nose with his heel. When I
regained consciousness, and it couldn't have been too long that I was out, I saw Ataun and
his men taking apart our Eagle." Yarnell shrugged, the motion causing him a great deal of
pain but not as much as when Helena splinted and bandaged his ankle. "I'm beginning to think
the only reason the Tricians allowed us down here at all is because they wanted to
cannibalize our Eagle. And --" He looked steadily at Helena, "I think Ataun wants you for
some reason, Doctor."

"I bet I know the reason." Wilson said, angry and still looking about them as if he
expected Trician's to attack at any moment. "And it's not something I can talk about in front
of a lady. The damn animals!"

Bergman, crouched and bent forward, lifting Yarnell's tunic to examined his external
injuries, "There is probably more to this than that, Carl." Victor summed up with a mild, dry
humor. "Going through all of this would be a rather far fetched way to obtain women, don't
you think?"

"I agree." Helena said and, with Carl's help, lifted Yarnell so she could wind a heavy
bandage about his ribs. "We have to find shelter." she said. It was getting dark and the
landing party needed some place where they could sit and study their options. Besides,
Yarnell needed rest. It would be nearly impossible for them to continue on while he was so
weak. As it was, Helena feared he might not make it through the night. She could see that
Victor thought so too. It was the internal bleeding that concerned them most.

"Maybe we could build a litter ..." Wilson started.

"No," Robert spoke, trying to steady himself. A broken ankle equaled agony. "I made it
this far. With a little help I'll be all right."

As they walked, Wilson holding his friend upright, they all did well in hiding their
disappointment. The Alphans really wanted Tri to be the one. Their new Terra Firma. A place
where they could finally rest and raise children. But it was looking unrealistic with each
and every minute that passed. They had very little time and now it appeared they truly were
not welcome.

"You never told us how you escaped, Robert." Bergman said, thoughtfully.

Helena heard a lilt to his tone that wasn't normal. No one else seemed to notice.

"The Tricans had me out of sight as they were going through the Eagle. I don't know
whether they thought you might return or they just didn't like the looks of me. I worked on
my restraints, got free and came after you."

Carl smiled, still holding Yarnell up in his arms - "I'm surprised you found us, buddy."

"It wasn't easy. But I made good time"

"Yes, you did." Bergman agreed, lifting an oblivious hand to touch his own chest.

To Helena, Victor seemed preoccupied and she wondered what was on his mind.

Yarnell looked seriously at Helena, "I don't think anyone followed me to find you but I'm
not sure. What are we going to do?"

"And what of Alpha?" Wilson questioned.

If the circumstances weren't so grave Helena might have laughed. She felt more like their
den mother than the leader of a well trained crew of specialist. "We still have our comlocks
and when the rain clears - and it will eventually - Alpha will pick up our emergency signals.
If I know John Koenig he's already prepared and Eagle just for such an eventuality."

Thunder was heard from up above. An ominous sign.

"In the meantime, we're going to rest then find that village Victor spotted. Not everyone
on Tri can be like Ataun. Maybe we'll find some friends." Helena waited for an objection but
none came. She walked speedily to the front, as a commander should, and allowed the men to
follow.

*********

On purpose, Helena did not look again on Yarnell. At least, not while they walked. She
allowed Bergman, who was very quiet and thoughtful, and Wilson, who never stopped talking
(and was now carrying Robert, like a baby, across his arms) to watch over him. There was
nothing she could do other than give the man a hypo-shot and, in this, the doctor was
disinclined. Drugs in Yarnell's system were probably the last thing he needed. It would knock
him down rather than strengthening his will. As it was, Robert did not look long for this
world. It pained her to think this but she had seen too many dying men not to be certain of
his fate. Perhaps, when they found a place to rest, she would allow him a comforting hypo-
shot. It would be a kindness. But *not* while they were on the move.

Memory flashes assailed her. She, John and Alan. They had journeyed back to Earth, and
ended up in a plague ravaged Scotland of 1339. She had come down with a horrible viral
infection and nearly died. John didn't give up on her, even when it seemed they would all die
in a final blast of fire and smoke.

And no, she would not give up on Yarnell. She would find a way out for ALL of them. She
had to. John was counting on her and so was their future child ("John, we have to talk ...").

*John*.

Helena was unexpectedly thrust into a moment of despair. *At least he had been with her on
Earth in 1339*. In his comforting embrace, as bad as she felt, there was still the warmth of
knowing that if she was to die she would be with the man she loved. Melodramatic nonsense,
Helena later thought when regaining her wits. Yet, such introspection had carried her through
overwhelming fear and delirium. What would she do now if faced with calamity? Worse scenario:
What if they were never rescued by Alpha? Could she really manage on her own in a strange
land without her best friends or the one man she had sworn to love and spend the rest of her
life with? Helena felt her defenses splintering.

No. She was in charge and had to remain calm.

Doctor Russell tried to direct her thoughts away from the problems at hand by thinking of
her new charge. Already Helena had a far more intimate knowledge of the child than even its
parents. The Verdeschis were going to have a girl. However, both had asked her not to reveal
to anyone, including themselves, the child's sex. Maya said it was a Psychon custom and bad
luck was assured if the parents knew ahead of time. Oh, and how Helena had been itching to
tell someone! But not even Koenig knew the secret and this was and would always be her
confidential bond with little Moria. *Moria - named after Maya's mother*. Beautiful, Helena
thought, and much better than Morith (after her brother). Helena had to smile when recalling
Tony's
expression when Maya, all smiles and radiant, presented the male name to him. He said nothing
but it was obvious to all but the Psychon he was hoping for a girl.

"Look ahead!" Wilson called.

Helena spotted it at the same instant. A small, wooden shack and it couldn't have appeared
at a better time. They were all tired and the rain, which had dwindled to a sprinkle over the
last ten minutes, and was now pouring again. "Inside!" she called.

Victor, under firm instruction from Helena to keep it small, built a fire with his laser in
the middle of the dirt packed floor. They had to be careful. Any bright light could alert the
Tricians to their whereabouts.

She then instructed Carl to lay Yarnell on the floor so she could take another look at
him. His pupils had dilated and he was shaking like a leaf. The best they could do was make
the man more comfortable. Helena pillowed Robert's head on her back pack and watched as Carl
withdrew a blanket from his, covering his friend's lower body. "I wish we could do more."
Helena told the half listening security guard, "But tomorrow we'll set off again and find
some help." she assured. She then gave Yarnell a hypo-shot.

Robert nodded his thanks and slipped into a troubled sleep.

"Doc," Carl studied his friend for a moment then looked up at her. "We're going to need
more than what is in our backpacks to sustain us. Particularly Rob. I'm going to look around
outside and see if I can find something in the local vegetation."

Helena nodded ("Fungoids ... It's rudimentary but it could stave it off until Doctor Logan
can recalculate his error ...."). "Just be careful and if you sense danger of any kind come
back."

"No problem." Carl pulled a large Bowie knife from its pouch and waved it at her, as well
as patting his side, to indicate his stun gun was on hand. He then got to his feet and walk
from the cabin.

Victor's eyes followed him, troubled. Out of sight from a detained Helena, he lifted a
hand and touched his chest again. He took a large, ragged breath.

**********

Koenig met with Carter in the Eagle hanger, looking over the craft and pondering the
possibilities. "Do you really think it can be done Alan?" His hands were clasped together,
rubbing in a gesture of nervous thought and apprehension.

"Positive. John, I've been looking over the schematic Rafta gave to me and I'm sure it
will break right through the force field."

It had been almost two years since their encounter with the evil Councilor Duaor and the
good leader of Taldrof, Rafta. Carter had been in heaven when, as a parting gift, Rafta left
a spaceship for him to examine and, in his own words, play with.


"We've never tested it for space flight. It crashed on Alpha." John's eyes shifted from
craft to Carter. "Alan, if your repairs are at all faulty four people are going to die." Two
of which are very close to me, he thought but didn't say aloud.

Staring at the craft and leaning against a compost as they spoke, Carter said , "If we
don't try, we still might lose them." Then, "I wish I could give you more assurance, John,
but I just can't."

Koenig paused, but for only a moment. He was falling back on one of his less commendable
characteristics. Reluctance to trust in something he had no control over. His people knew
what they were doing. He had to believe in them. They were what kept Alpha alive for so long.
"Okay -- prepare things, Alan." Then, just before he turned to leave, "How's Tony?"

Carter nearly laughed, "He finally got in to see Maya and he's a proud Papa. If we had
cigars to pass around he'd be doing that."

John laughed shortly and walked from the hanger. Cigars. Victor was fond of them ...


**********

"He's not going to make it, is he?" Bergman asked Helena as they huddled together in a
corner, near the fire. He was looking over at Yarnell and seemed partially perplexed by
something. "For awhile I thought ..."

"What, Victor?" She could tell something was bothering him. Had been ever since the Eagle
landed.

"I wasn't really sure Yarnell was himself. I thought for awhile Ataun had replaced him
with one of his men somehow."

"A duplicate?" Stunned, Helena looked from the sleeping Yarnell back to Victor, "What
made you think that?"

"The way he was able to get to us so quickly with his injuries as bad as they are."
Bergman lifted his hands to warm them over the fire, "Helena, he has a broken ankle."

She nodded but also smiled, "Victor, it's amazing what you can do on a broken bone if you
are absolutely driven. I knew of a man who fell off a horse during a polo game. He was badly
hurt but continued to play because it meant a title of some kind ... Later, he was diagnosed
with a broken back. The last I heard he was in a wheel chair paralyzed from the waist down.
Miraculous but explainable" But there was more. Helena could tell.

Both quieted when they heard Yarnell groan and shift positions in his sleep.

Bergman continued, "When we were in the Eagle, while you and Carl were up front, Robert
and I talked confidentially. He said he didn't think it was such a good idea that Carl was
off Alpha, going to explore a new planet like this. Especially since it was such an
important reconnaissance."

"Why would he say such a thing? I thought they were friends."

"They are. Close friends. Close enough to know secrets." At Helena's confused expression,
"Carl Wilson had a mental breakdown in 1997, shortly after the war."

Helena was surprised, "His medical records say nothing of ..."

A flash of lightening and the rumble of thunder was heard from outside.

"He was a hero of sorts Helena, if you recall, and the powers that be decided not to
advertise that he had fallen completely to pieces. I guess there were just too many bombing
mission, being forced to kill innocent people. And, of course, it didn't help that his wife,
Karen and their child died during an enemy sweep into New Zealand. As a matter of fact,
Robert told me that during the last of the bombings, in Jamaica I think, Carl came back and
they had to drag him from the plane kicking and screaming. He was in a straight jacket for a
month."

"But what does this have to do with ...?"

"Helena, didn't you have an inkling of discomfort while we were in the Eagle, just before
we left? When Carl tried to get chummy with Robert? Yarnell was distancing himself from his
friend, telling him to be careful, because he was worried and a little nervous being around
him. I think he was nervous for our sakes. But then ..." Victor looked off, recalling. "...
when we found Robert, it was as if he and Carl were old pals again."

"Well, you did say they were friends. Perhaps Robert is trying to make amends because of
the earlier distrust. He's injured and ..." She glanced from the unconscious Yarnell to
Bergman, "I think he knows he's sinking, Victor. That's enough to change a man."

They settled back against the wall and stared into the fire.

Victor was silent, afraid he might say something that could tip Helena off to another
worry he did not yet want to reveal.

***********

During the few hours she lay dozing nightmares came.

Helena dreamed of being alone in a black abyss. Suddenly a man appeared to torment her.
Brad Immekus? He held a gun and she ran from him and he called after her: "Send Kollin my
regards!" before he fired upon her. But why Brad? He recovered from his murderous breakdown
and was now working beside his wife, Amy (Garcia), in her hydroponics lab. He would never be
trusted with a gun again and was issued only a limited use comlock but still managed to carve
out a niche for himself after many long hours of soul searching, years of therapy and, most
of all, receiving the forgiveness of Kollin's sister, Sohalia, whom he once loved.

Unexpectedly, as she ran, Helena realized she was on the moon's surface, where she could
breath, looking in on Alpha. She saw images in random flashes. First, Doctor Vincent wheeled
a young alien child (Duc/Koo?) into an operating theater. The child sat up on the bed and
pointed, almost accusingly, at her. Ben also looked but, uninterested, wheeled him on.
Second, she spotted Maya and Tony embracing in their quarters, obviously thrilled over some
good news. Then Alan - bemused and perhaps even a little troubled - stood in a hallway, not
really knowing if he should turn left or right. And finally, John - with tears in his eyes -
staring up at the stars. "John dearest, why do you cry?" Helena heard a voice ask and when
he turned Marcia was there, wearing a sleek gown and looking gorgeous. She put her arms
around him and laughed in that sophisticated and throaty manner of hers, "Oh, Darling! She's
gone but I'm here and I shall never leave you as she has done!" Then, they kissed and John
seemed happy .... and Helena's heart broke, body and mind shattering into non existence.

That was when Helena awoke, shaking and breathing heavily. A dream. Thank God, only a
dream.

It was daybreak.

Victor slept peacefully, his head positioned on a raised arm near their now dead fire. It
was still early and he did not stir.

She could hear the rain bouncing against the cabin's less than sturdy roof and sighed. At
least it didn't leak, she thought absently.

Helena, on hands and knees, crawled over to Yarnell and examined him closely. It was as
she expected. He had departed. At least there was some semblance of peace in his last living
hours, she mused. Helena looked over to where Carl should have been sleeping and - with a
start - discovered he was not there. Did he ever come back last night? She took the blanket
from underneath Robert's chin and pulled it over his face, then got to her feet and headed
for the rickety wooden door. Helena considered waking Victor but decided against it. He
needed rest and she didn't know how long it would take to find Wilson.

Gently, gun cautiously drawn, Helena pushed open the door and saw the soft, steady rain.
She also saw Carl Wilson, off in the distance, sitting on a large group of tall rocks. He was
looking up into the heavy clouds, into space, his eyes dull and demeanor lax. Helena knew
immediately that something was wrong. Carl was normally very alert and, like a certain
Commander she knew, overly energetic. Taking one last glance at Victor Bergman Helena turned
and walked out of the shack to where Wilson was sitting.

If he heard her approach he paid no attention. Carl's crumpled navy blue jacket lay in a
wet heap at the bottom of the stones, in front of him. His uniform was soaked clear through
but the man seemed oblivious. Wilson's complexion shown an unhealthy pale and his eyes
exhibited dark circles underneath. Surely, he hadn't slept all night.

"Carl, what is the matter?" Helena asked, quietly breaking the morning silence. She looked
about them, rubbing her arms against the cold.

Wilson did not look at her as he spoke, "I killed them. Last night."

"What?" Helena stopped moving and stared at him, "Killed who?"

He continued in a monotone, "I went further than I should have last night, in search of
food. They attacked and I had to defend myself."

"Tricians?" Her eyes briefly checked his body for signs of injury but she saw nothing.

"They're laying out there, dead in the woods. Two of them. I killed them both with the
knife. I was already holding it and didn't have time to reach for my gun." Tears sprang to
his eyes, "I killed them, Doctor, and they were nothing more than teenage boys. Children!"

The Tricians recruit their soldiers very young, she thought and winced at her coldness.
Helena was reminded how powerful Wilson was and, at that moment, she almost believed him. Yet
- "Where are they? Maybe I can ..."

His inanimate eyes turned to look at her, "Too far away, Doctor. They're dead, believe
me."

She wanted to believe him. She should believe him. Odder things had happened.

Still, if Carl had killed two young Tricians soldiers last night wouldn't the woods be
infested by now? Other soldiers would have picked them up hours ago. Besides all of that,
Helena saw no evidence of physical fight or injury to Wilson. Still, something changed the
botanist and she was determined to find out what. Helena took a breath and leaned forward to
pick up his jacket.

"Leave it!" Wilson commanded with verbal force.

Doctor Russell was so astounded by the sound of Carl's brutal tone that she stopped in mid
grasp and looked up at him.

Carl backed off a little, "It's wet and has blood on it." he explained, calmer. "I won't
ever wear it again."

Helena lifted the jacket up anyway and examined the material. There were no stains that
she could see but the alien rain could have washed them away while they were fresh, she
reasoned. "You'll need something, Carl. It gets cold when the wind blows." Helena realized
she was making little sense but she felt something needed to be expressed.

"I'm fine." Wilson uttered without emotion and slid off the stones, "We better move."

"Wait, Carl." she touched his shoulder and he immediately stopped and turn to look at her,
"I'm sorry but I have to tell you ..." she started.

"Robert's dead?" The tone was calm and eerily matter-of-fact.

"Yes," Helena said, surprised as she watched him. "How did you know?"

He did not answer her. Wilson merely turned and walked back to the wood cabin.

Once there, Helena and Carl awakened Victor. There was no time to deal with Robert
Yarnell's body so they elected to move on and perhaps, if there was time, come back later to
pick him up for a proper burial. If not on the planet then Moonbase Alpha.

***********