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"If my calculations are correct, we should be there very soon. Within half an hour. " said a
somewhat bleary eyed Victor Bergman as he stared down into his own scanner. "In time for an
early dinner." he added, wiping the moist scanner screen with his thumb.

Helena smiled. Good. They all appeared less than well, Victor particularly, and needed to
feel as if something positive might come out of all of this. She looked ahead at Wilson, who
walked as if driven by an unseen force. More than even Victor, he worried her. Physically,
Carl seemed fine but emotionally he was a ruin. Helena could only go back to what Victor
spoke of. His wife, child and the war. Destruction and loss. Was he reliving it again with
Yarnell's passing and the possible danger they were all facing?

Bergman spoke lowly, next to Helena's ear - "He's been acting like a cadaver since
morning. I know Robert was his friend ..."

Helena hadn't mentioned what Carl claimed happened in the woods yet. She was still leery
of the assertion and there hadn't been time to explore or explain to Victor once they were up
and on their way. However, when she did finally tell him about the night before, Victor
didn't look at all surprised. If anything, what she said seemed to confirm something he
suspected.

"Doctor Russell, up here!" Wilson called out, waving an arm, exhibiting more animation
than he had for hours. "There's smoke in the distance. It has to be the city!"

Helena jogged and joined Wilson. The rain hadn't let up and the warmth of the fires that
smoke sprang from was just what they all needed to regenerate themselves. "Good, Carl."

"I have a feeling we're going to make friends here." Wilson said with a little of his old
energy, "When we move we may even join up with these people, encourage them to fight Ataun
and his followers. No world needs such a malicious dictator."

Doctor Russell's smiled slipped a little. It was a nice thought but she now doubted they
would have time to proceed with an Operation Exodus. There was still a chance, of course, but
they weren't even certain they had friends on Tri yet. Nor did they know if another Eagle was
capable of getting through to the planet's surface, let alone rescuing a three person crew
who, if one looked at the big picture, were as expendable as an Internal Revenue Agent on the
moon.

This brought on another thought that was both frightening and dismal. John Koenig would
try to rescue them but it was his function to methodically care for the people on his
moonbase. If there had to be a sacrifice for the greater good he would be forced to sit and
watch the planet, with all it carried, slip away from his grasp. This was his responsibility,
as harsh as it was, just as Helena had hers.

"Professor, are you coming?" Carl turned to look at the struggling Bergman, a few yards
behind them, as he followed the two younger people.

"Yes," He gulped a little air and straightened when he saw a concerned Helena's
expression. "I'm just not used to all of this activity." he said with a comical wave of his
hand, "Keep going. I'll be right behind you." he urged.

*********

The Taldrofian spacecraft had been moved to an Eagle launching pad. Alan Carter and Koenig
sat inside, outfitted in orange space suits for extra protection.

"Commander Koenig," Sandra Benes called over a screen the spaceship was equipped with. She
smiled at him, "Communications work. At least as far as Alpha to craft is concerned."

It was a small jest but John and Alan appreciated it.

Her face grew serious, "Please be careful, both of you. Mind your ribs, Alan."

"Anything for you, Sweetheart." Carter broke the connection. He then looked over at Koenig
who had settled himself into the co-pilot's chair. "I wish we could have conducted a few more
flight tests before we went all out like this." he murmured.

"I know." Koenig's expression remained determined, "We just don't have time." Then bracing
himself, "Fire her up, Alan."

The craft lifted off the pad easily but when Carter pulled back on the throttle the craft
began to shake and buck.

"John, it's not responding!"

"Secondary thrusters, Alan!"

Sandra and others watched what was happening over the Command Center screen, "God help
them." she whispered.

***********

Not one of them said a word. They didn't want to further vex the moment by verbally
admitting defeat. The forest right outside of the city had been burned. Recently. The trio
heard no bird song or even a gentle rain bouncing off fresh, green leaves. For all they knew,
this part of the planet was dead ... and suspicions were confirmed as they walked past a
huge wooden fort-like entrance into the one time colony. Destruction, death and abdication.

Helena whispered, "Oh God." as she looked over the hideously demolished village. The smoke
they saw in the distance, back when there was still hope, had been this entire area engulfed
by
flame. Buildings were burned beyond recognition and bodies were strewn about the streets.
Doctor Russell crouched down, deeply affected, and examined a few of the expired children. A
terrible battle had been fought here and the young paid dearly. It was monstrous.

"Why crush a city if you're not going to stick around to enjoy the spoils of victory?"
Carl broke the silence as they slowly, thoughtfully walked down what appeared to be the main
street of town.

Automatically, each Alphan drew their gun.

Helena reached forward and tugged at Wilson's tunic sleeve. "We have to get inside a
building. Someone might be spying on us." she whispered.

Initially, Wilson made no move but Victor heard and nodded.

It would be one of the Professor's last coherent actions.

********

Tony Verdeschi lifted the child, comfortable and slumbering in her light blue blanket, and
gently touched his lips to her pudgy-pink forehead. She was an angel. His little girl ... his
Moria. He placed the baby in his wife's arms.

Maya, still slightly flushed and a dot or two of perspiration on her cheeks, was all
smiles and joy as she lay in Medical Center bed. The Psychon was out of danger but Ben
Vincent wanted to watch her for a little while. If something were to happen to Maya he'd feel
responsible, especially since he promised Helena he'd take good care of her friend. "Isn't
she perfect?" Maya whispered. "I told Paula to bring me my camera. We must have some pictures
of our first born." and, at the thought, her smile faded. 'Our first and last.' she thought.

Yes, the baby was beautiful, acquiring her father's warm chestnut eyes and tufts of dark
hair. From her mother she received a creamy complexion, with just a shadow of sideburn
coloring and gently sloping brows.

For what she cost them, Maya's inability to have more children, the little princess was
worth all of the fear, pain and loss.

"Tony," Maya suddenly looked very serious, "I need to talk with you about her name."

"Moria." Tony stated, touching her auburn hair. "It's beautiful, Maya. I already told you
..."

"Yes but," Maya bit her bottom lip, tracing a little finger over the baby's right cheek.
"I've reconsidered." She looked up at her husband and took his hand, "I hope you'll
understand."

Puzzled, Verdeschi listened.

*****

He gasped first then lifted a hand to her, indicating he was in trouble and needed her
help, "I'm so sorry." Victor Bergman said, slumping forward and reaching for his chest as
Helena and Carl helped him over to the cot. They made him lay flat while Helena examined him.

"Oh, Victor." Doctor Russell was half angry but only because she was concerned, "You
should have told me you were in pain." But she knew why he didn't.

Until the sharpness in his chest became so bad he could no longer hide the discomfort
Victor didn't want to be a burden or admit to himself that it had been a mistake for him to
come down to the planet in the first place. On Alpha he was safe and protected during one of
these episodes but here, on a savage and uncaring planet, he was only a liability.

They found a building that didn't look as bad on the inside as the outside. The nearest
the Alphans could determine was that it had been an old fashioned saloon or bar. Broken glass
was littered over a long wooden counter and Helena spied the small back room with a cot. She
decided it was for those patrons who had had a few too many drinks. Tables and chairs were
all around the dingy room, either broken into pieces or clumsily over-turned.

"There's no liquor." Wilson said, examining the cupboards for medicinal alcohol. He was
alarmingly calm and looked a fish out of water as he wandered about the pub.

"When they burned the town they took it with them." Bergman offered weakly. He focused on
Helena now, "You should leave me. You and Carl still have a chance. I don't."

"Don't be ridiculous, Victor." Helena was almost harsh. The last thing she needed was for
her dear old friend to give up when it was obvious that Wilson already had, "We are going to
do this one step at a time." She spoke to both men, with some slightly forced optimism.
"There is open land about five miles from here. Our Eagle's beacon is gone so the only
signals for Alpha to trace are coming from our comlocks. We'll make for that open land since
a rescue is more than likely to come from there." Pensively, looking from Wilson to a cracked
window, she silently cursed the weather. "We better make tracks as soon as possible."

"When?" Carl asked, bluntly.

"As soon as we can get Victor on his feet." Helena replied, trying with great difficulty
not to make Professor Bergman feel rushed.

Sickly, he smiled, "Please, just give me an hour to get my second wind and we'll be on our
way."

All of Helena's best instincts told her this was no time for a breather and if Victor was
healthy he'd agree. They needed to leave immediately and pray there were no Tricians waiting
to ambush them along the way. Besides, a few of the soldiers that burned this village might
still be around, even watching them in this dilapidated building as they spoke. If it was
true about the young men Wilson said he dispatched (and Helena still wasn't too certain) then
the Recon party was being followed. Or, at least, at one time they were. Then, of course,
there was the obvious. The moon was leaving orbit all too quickly.

Victor coughed and closed his eyes.

Helena covered him with a rough blanket she found at the bottom of the bed. If he needed
time they would give it to him.

Wilson spoke in the same dull monotone since morning, "Doctor, I'm going to wander the
town and visually check things out." A pause behind her, "I'll be back."

"It's dangerous --" Helena replied, turning from the Professor's sick bed. "I don't think
you should ..."

But he was already gone, flipping double doors the only indication Carl had ever been in
the room. Helena thought of going after him, concerned by what Victor told her of the man
last night, but she stopped herself. Suddenly, Helena was aware of something quite curious.
Carl said he was only going to patrol but, for some reason, he felt the need to take his
heavy backpack with him. Why would he do such a thing, carrying something so clumsy, unless
he planned to be gone for a long while -- or never come back?

Wilson had been acting so very odd that she wouldn't put it past him. Yet, Helena hoped she
was wrong. She needed him.

Doctor Russell was startled out of her reflection by Victor's voice.

"During war time on Earth I was involved with an inexperienced six man scouting party, as
their science officer. It was a secret mission. We were sent to a jungle area where it never
stopped raining, much like here. For two weeks we walked through mud and were continuously
pelted by water. There was no shelter ..." Victor's tone was soft and unhurried. He looked
before him as if visualizing history. "For some it was uncomfortable and for others it was
torture. Eventually a couple of our party went insane. It was fascinating really. They just
sat on the ground and looked up into the sky, unblinking. Their expressions were so blank --
it was like looking into the face of a dead man."

Helena thought of how Carl looked as he sat upon the stones. She shivered.

"I don't know if it was true but I was later told those lads died like that, looking up at
the sky. The rain had drowned them." Unanticipated, Victor smiled - "A week later, after I
awoke in a hospital, there came the discovery that it was all a very carefully observed
simulation. The young men I was with were real enough but it had all been a training
examination which I willingly, as a scientist, took part in. We were programmed to forget the
test while we were in the simulator because it was the beginning of our deep space probes and
Lunar Commission needed to see how their astronauts reacted to stress, persecution and the
unknown. If I had been the actual focus of the experiment I would have passed but two of that
group didn't and as far as I know paid dearly."

'Why is he telling me this?' Helena wondered. Her nervous hands used a cloth to wipe at
Bergman's sweaty forehead. "Victor, you hush now." she said, wondering if she ought to give
him a hypo-shot. She felt strange. Ineffectual. What would John do at a time like this?
Certainly, he would have thought of something by now. "Just rest a little while and we'll be
on our way." she said but knew better.

Tears stung Helena's eyes as she watch her beloved friend.

Hours passed without any word from Carl Wilson.

It grew dark as night approached. They had until noon the next day to be rescued or there
would be no return to Moonbase Alpha.

*******

"Don't you dare leave me, Victor Bergman!" Helena had nearly screamed, leaning over his
body, massaging his heart, looking as if she wanted to beat her friend into submission. "You
can't do this! You can't! Not again!"

Helena didn't understand nor would she ever know why she had said the word *again* while
trying to resuscitate Professor Bergman. Why should she demand he not leave her *again*?

***

It was five am, early morning on Tri, as she found herself walking, ankle deep, in the
flooded gravel road outside of the small ravished city. It would lead her to a great opened
field where, if there really were an all powerful being watching over the grateful and meek,
an Eagle would be sitting. More than anything else in the universe Helena Russell wanted to
see the sterile old walls of Moonbase Alpha. She was a total failure as commander and wanted
to go home. She wanted to relax and fall asleep in someone's strong, reassuring arms. She
wanted laughter, peace and to feel she wasn't inadequate.

Robert Yarnell died, Victor died and Carl Wilson ... He might as well be dead.

After Victor passed away, Helena Russell had walked into the brisk night air. The rain, of
course, was falling but beneath the tarpaulin she allowed her eyes to adjust. She searched
for Wilson, at first visually then - when she became desperate - physically. Helena called
Carl's name lowly, for fear of being heard by a Trician. She moved in and out of the
structures, thinking the man possibly hurt in a fall. She did all she could think of yet,
after hours of futile inspection, determined he was no where to be found. He was gone,
perhaps wandering the planet in an unbalanced haze.

Helena came back to the saloon with a heavy heart. Earlier, she placed a blanket over
Victor's face and, when returning, she stared at his form. She fought valiantly with
depression yet could think of nothing but how she failed these men. She wanted to submit,
crawl into a hole and hide herself away from whatever was to follow. But, in the end, Helena
knew it wouldn't be done. She could not just give up like the people in Victor's simulation.
While there was still some thread of hope she would move forward.

With an effort, Helena picked up her back pack and unzipped a pocket. She pulled out a
pencil and tiny pad of paper. Then, she wrote a note to Wilson:

Carl,
I could not find you.
I am doing what we discussed.
Please follow.
-- Dr. Russell --

Helena thought of adding a line regarding Bergman but reconsidered. If the botanist did
return he would see what had happened. A confirming statement from her was not needed. She
only hoped that another death wouldn't cause Wilson to crack up further.

Her eyes were only half open as she continued to move down the pathway. It wasn't wise to
fantasize or think of anything other than the enemy when your life was in possible jeopardy
but Helena could not help drifting. She was thinking about the baby. But this time it wasn't
Tony and Maya's. It was her child. Helena could see herself holding the baby close, humming a
lullaby. And her name was Sarah, after the sister her mother miscarried when Helena was just
four years old. And John was so proud of his family ...

"Stop it." Helena commanded herself, as she had too many times in the past.

She heard a twig snap.

"Carl?" Helena twisted around, eyes wide, looking for the source of that sound.

"Good morning, Doctor Russell. How wonderful to finally meet you face to face."

The woman did not allow the panic or fear show. She calmly looked at the gold helmeted
alien and said, "Hello, Ataun." and watched as two of his soldiers came towards her.

********

"How did I know it was you?" he asked with a pompousness reserved for an idiot or the ill
informed, "We've been monitoring your failed transmissions to Moonbase Alpha for quite
sometime, Doctor. You have an attractive voice." he leered, "Beautiful woman. Beautiful
voice." Ataun lifted a hand to familiarly touch the underside of Helena's chin.

She was forced to allow the liberty. The guards were standing close behind her and, while
they were not restraining Helena, she wasn't fool enough to give them a reason to use force.

"And where are your companions?" Ataun asked, with a mild smile. Before she could answer
he said, "It doesn't matter, really. I am sure they are close by, possibly even ..."

"They're dead." Helena said, flatly. She was grateful Carl hadn't fallen into this evil
alien's clutches.

"I suspect you are lying. But then, we all lie, don't we?"

"Yes." Helena spoke sharply, "Like you who tell us one thing and do another. We came here
with purely peaceful intentions, Ataun, and we expected you to treat us with the respect we
des---."

He bellowed his amusement, not because he felt what Doctor Russell said was funny but
because Ataun knew it would irritate her. "Doctor, there is no use in reviewing the matter.
We betrayed you and your naive trust. You, the Commander and all of your Alphan friends were
fools to think we would react otherwise. This is, after all, a hunt be hunted universe.
During your travels through space you should have figured that out." he sneered.

"There is evil." Helena relented, "We have encounter other disgusting individuals, such as
yourself. But we have also found alien races who have been kind and willing to ..."

"Inferiors." Ataun turned his tall form about, glancing at some information that had been
passed to him on what appeared to be a clipboard. "My people do not tolerate rebellion and
that includes this spec of planet."

Helena was jolted by something he'd just said. She nearly laughed out loud because it was
so simple and ludicrous that she, and everyone else, should have seen it long ago. "We made a
mistake, didn't we?"

Ataun's head snapped up to look at her, puzzled by Helena's tone. Her expression was
nearly as arrogant as his own and this made him instantly feel as if he had slipped up
somewhere. In any event, his interest was piqued. "What do you mean?"

"When we called to you from Alpha, asking to colonize Tri, you weren't on the planet's
surface. You were answering us from another spaceship. This isn't your planet at all, is it?"

"What makes you ask this?"

"A few things. It's impossible to contact Alpha from here yet you were easily able to
receive our messages. Then rain came, where there should be none, and I blamed that for our
communication problems. But now, I think the clouds above us are a shield of some kind. The
lightening and thunder possibly electrical impulses. The rain itself is chemically treated to
slow us down, to cause hallucinations -- to make us drift and think of things better left for
another time."

And perhaps this was why Carl believed he had killed children, Robert could walk on his
broken ankle and why Victor told her that seemingly pointless story of his week long
simulated jungle expedition.

Helena stared Ataun right in the eye. She was pressing credibility but figured she had
little to lose. "I think you invaded this planet but the people here were more resilient than
you expected." She thought of the burnt out city, "They fought back. Men, women and children.
Perhaps you were even coming close to victory?" Helena smiled as another piece of the puzzle
came to light, "Or were you being defeated? When you fired your missiles at Alpha, what was
your reasoning? Did you think us part of this planet's defense? Were you testing our
strength? When you discovered us not of Tri did you hope to ally with us to conquer the
planet?"

Ataun did not appear as smug as he had earlier. Helena had hit more than missed.
Displeased, "We knew Moonbase Alpha was searching for a home but didn't know what you would
do to acquire your hearts' desire. We suspected your moonbase was powerful but had to be
certain. We found you could probably defeat us if we attacked. We then maneuvered our craft
so that Alpha could not pick it up on visual and presented ourselves as ruler of Tri."

"But why all of this? Why didn't you want Commander Koenig to come down to Tri?"

Ataun clenched his teeth and his hands balled into fists, "We knew if John Koenig didn't
come to Tri himself he would send his finest people. We intend to use you as hostages and,
when it is time, the Commander will act as a negotiator between the true Tricians and our
people. If he does not give us the military strength and verbal skills we require of him, we
will kill you." Ataun stood erect again, a superior expression returning to his beady eyes
and long, beak-nosed face. "Your presence here is truly fortunate, Doctor Russell. Not only
are you Commander Koenig's faithful companion, causing him the need to protect you from harm,
but the Tricans are much like you Earth people. Sympathetic. They will not want to be the
cause of a lovely woman's death."

Helena wanted to ask Ataun how it was he knew of she and John's personal relationship.
Just how closely were the Alphan being monitored by their spaceship probes? "It won't work,
you know." she said. Thinking quickly, "You may have our one Eagle but that is all you will
ever get because John Koenig does not, nor will he ever, bargain with a terrorist." This was
a slight exaggeration and Helena knew it. However, to put emphasis on her words, hoping
Ataun's monitoring system on the spacecraft hadn't delved too deeply into her lover's ways,
Helena laughed sharply - "The Commander will eventually make contact with the true rulers of
this planet and they will both destroy you! Even if these people are opposed to the thought
of my death, as are those on Alpha, Koenig will make them see sense. I may be cared for by my
loved ones but they know my death will have meaning, having protected a planet from the likes
of a monster like you!" Later, Helena would regret pressing her advantage, particularly when
recalling how badly battered Yarnell had been, but she couldn't deny the feeling she was
suffused with at this moment. She was actually enjoying Ataun's anger and suffering - "Ataun,
you are a failure!" Helena announced.

The alien's face grew an alarming shade of red as he looked just past the woman. His mouth
was nothing more than a thin line now as he pressed his lips tightly together in abhorrence.
"You should not say such things." he whispered tightly. Then Ataun exploded. His anger,
before suppressed, boiled to the surface and he struck out at the woman, fist connecting with
the hollow of Helena's right cheek. Ataun watched as she fell painfully to the ground, her
mouth bloodied. "You wretched, stupid woman!"

Even Ataun's soldiers seemed shocked by his behavior, two bending down to see if the woman
was all right.

Helena gasped and waved them away. Silently, she thanked God that the man, for his kind,
was over privileged and out of shape. If he'd been any more powerful Ataun could easily have
broken her jaw. To the standards of an Earth human he was physically strong but his own kind
were probably wondering why the blow hadn't killed her.

"I could easily slay you, Doctor." Ataun breathed heavily, once again attempting to subdue
his hatred for her kind. "But I still need you. Do not force me to discipline you again
because I will feel no pity while hearing your screams for mercy."

Shaken and still sitting on the wet ground, Helena looked up at the retreating form of
gold helmeted alien and allowed the rain to wash the blood from her lips.

*********

"I'm impressed, Alan." Koenig spoke confidentially, as if these very words might hex any
chance the twosome had of landing on Tri or, for that matter, making it back to Moonbase
Alpha.

For awhile their chances for survival seemed precarious, notably when the spacecraft
pitched and rocked just shortly after lift off. But Carter knew what he was doing, even if
the craft was unfamiliar, and soon he and John were slowly but surely approaching Tri -- only
to be stopped short when another unexpected insight took place. The force field activated
just
above the atmosphere of the mysterious planet was impenetrable. Carter did his best but with
no success.

"Son of a ...!" Alan cursed and slammed a hand on the console before him.

Koenig shared his frustration.

Neither John or Alan knew what to do, other than wait and hope they or Alpha could find a
weakness.

It was at a time like this that John Koenig wished he hadn't asked Victor to accompany
Helena down to the planet. They could use his brilliant mind and experience right now.

"Commander."

Koenig looked down at the communications screen, hearing a voice that wasn't suppose to be
there. "Maya?" She appeared tired and indisposed but her eyes were clear and she was ready
for work. "I should be shouting about now." Koenig commented, "Helena, if she knew, would be
very upset at you and me for allowing you back to duty so soon."

The blue pajama clad Psychon shook her head, fingers quickly moving over buttons on her
console, "We won't tell her." she said, half listening. If Tony knew she was up here and
doing this he too would be flaming. As it was he thought she was resting while he took his
turn bottle feeding the baby. Distracted, Maya glanced down at some readings and calculated,
"Sandra," she called off screen. "Program this into your computer then send it out at a wide
range."

"What is it, Maya?" Koenig asked.

"Commander, we've been receiving signals for quite sometime now. I sincerely believe it is
the Tagleons. I always have. You know how they feel about Helena. If they thought she was in
danger they would want to help her, by helping us." She sighed, aware of how iffy it all
sounded. "We are about the tell them in the best way we can that she is in danger and we need
their help."

"But can we trust them?" Alan asked.

"I don't think we have a choice, do you?"

Koenig nodded, "Do what you think best, Maya."

****

Eight o'clock am and she had a precious few hours to get to the clearing. Even then, the
woman wasn't entirely certain an Eagle would be waiting for her.

Helena asked for assistance as she sat on the damp grass, hurt and weary. She was shaking
from the cold, her hair laying in soaked bunches about her face. Fear was now replaced by
anxiety and a mild case of vanity. A soldier allowed Helena to have her backpack. There was
no need not to now. The men had already gone through it, throwing the First Aid kit and
specimen cases aside.

As Doctor Russell rummaged, she kept her eyes on Ataun. He was experimenting with her stun
gun. She should have detonated it when she had the chance but at least she was able to jam
the weapon on stun before he took it from her. The laser was inoperable and could cause no
harm at a distance, as a few of Ataun's 'guinea pig' troops could gratefully acknowledge.

She pulled a small oval mirror from a pocket in her pack and critically examined her face.
Horrible, she thought. What makeup Helena wore had totally disappeared, except for traces of
mascara which ran, causing dark circles under eyes. Or was it just fatigue? A purple bruise
was forming in her cheek hollow and the upper right side of her mouth, her lower lip was
swollen from a cut Helena received when falling to the ground after Ataun hit her. 'All in
all, Helena, you do not look too captivating.' She took a comb and pulled her blond hair
away from her face. More than ever those sterile walls of Moonbase Alpha were looking
surpassingly satisfying.

"Psst. Doc!" came an urgent whisper from behind Helena. "Don't turn around. It's me!"

Helena sat still, stunned. Carl? Was it possible?

"I'm hidden by this bush you are sitting in front of." he said, "I've seen to our rescue.
We have got to get to the clearing. It's only a couple miles away. If we can get past these
bastards we're home free!"

Never had Helena heard someone speak and it make her feel so mixed up inside. Carl had
abandoned she and Victor -- and now he was here. Where the hell had he gone in the first
place?

Helena stared at the backs of the three guards who were supposed to be watching her. They
knew she was too exhausted to attempt escape on her own so they ignored her for their own
conversation.

"No time to explain any of this." Carl said, as if reading her thoughts. "We'll be safe
soon." Carl reached through the opening between the two bushes, wrapping his well muscled
arms around Helena's waist, and hauled her through in one quick step.

Shocked by the sudden simple movement, Helena dropped her mirror and comb, leaving her
backpack behind.

A peculiarly smiling Wilson helped Helena to her feet and, grasping her left hand firmly
in his, pulled Helena in an unfamiliar direction. "I want you to remember something, Doc."
Carl said as they ran, "Everything is going to be all right. It may not seem like it -- but
it is."

He was talking gibberish and for a moment Helena wanted to protest his odd behavior and
childlike treatment of her. But she didn't dare. There were so many things she needed to ask
Wilson but they could wait. *Would* wait until they were in the safety of an Eagle.

They continued to run.

After many minutes Helena could almost feel her lungs expanding, pushing against her rib
cage, threatening to burst if she took another step. She was losing steam and Wilson was
relentless. Now, he pulled her along violently, using both hands. They couldn't stop, she
knew. Their lives depended on getting to the clearing. There she could rest. There ...

"You've got to get back to Alpha, Helena! More than one life depends on you!"

"We both must!" Helena shouted back at Carl, puzzled by something she felt but could not
see.

Naturally, Wilson was concerned and for good reason. It wouldn't take Ataun long to
realize his hostage was missing and soon he and his soldiers would be after them. Carl and
Helena were concentrating so hard on their destination that neither really noticed the rain
had stopped. Nor did they comment on the brightly rising sunshine and beautiful rainbow which
streaked the sky.

"There it is!" Wilson shouted, not bothering to hide the joy in his voice, "They said it
would be there and here it is!" he cried as they continued to sprint.

Helena didn't want to rationalize what Carl was saying. She was too delighted at the view
before them - the Taldrofian spaceship - to wonder who it was he spoke of. She didn't need
his help now. Helena, with wild surrender, nearly galloped on the path between two sloping
hills. Part of her mind picked up that they were traveling through a minuscule valley, but
that wasn't something she wanted to think too deeply about either.

Tears brimmed over Helena's eyelashes, splashing her cheeks, as she saw the hatch slowly
open. And there was John Koenig, wearing one of those awful orange spacesuits. Her fiancée,
her lover and the man she adored.

Koenig spotted her and smiled - waving - relieved to see her. Yet, obviously alarmed over
her haggard condition.

'I'm going home! I'm going home!' Helena's mind silently cried out for her.

Then -- it stopped.

Helena heard a scream from Carl Wilson, his body jerking violently away from her.

"Did you think it would be that easy?" came a ruthless shout.

Helena twisted around, only ten yards between she and John Koenig. At her feet Wilson's
body twitched but he was wide eyed and dead, she knew. As if one horror wasn't bad enough
Doctor Russell now saw Ataun and his men approaching.

Alan rushed from the craft, restraining John from any foolishly hasty gesture. The aliens
had an evil weapon trained on Helena and anything even remotely impulsive could push them
into using it.

Ataun moved in closer. His booted foot indifferently kicked at Wilson, making sure he was
no longer a threat.

'I'm next.' Helena thought. And in a way she didn't mind. She had come to accept it. Or
no, not accept it but understand it. But no, that wasn't right either ("Everything is going
to be all right ..."). She suddenly stood straight, her expression filled with a nearly
comical cognizance. Helena understood. She looked over at John who was still in the dark but
slowly grasping it himself. Even Victor, before his death, knew. He had tried to tell her
through his tale of jungle woe which took place so many years ago.

"Are you ready, Doctor?" Ataun asked, eyes blazing with revenge as he lifted her own stun
gun. At this range she would surely die.

Helena expected nothing less and nearly laughed. "I'm tired." she said. "Do your worst."

And he fired.

But Helena remained up right and just stared into his eyes, which were now confused and -
she thought - wounded. She lifted a hand to touch him but before contact could be made Ataun
and his soldiers faded away.