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A SECOND MOMENT OF HUMANITY
by R. Eisenhuth

*****

He's dead.

No, silly thought.

Helena scolded herself silently as she looked down at the handsome, motionless android. How could he be dead when he
was never alive? Yet, as she reflected deeply, it seemed to be true: In a brief moment none would ever quite understand,
Zarl had been human. He had fallen in love ... with her. It boggled the mind.

The atmosphere in the large brightly lit room was one of jubilation. After the initial shock, witnessing those who had been
their masters for so long eventually come to an end, The Numbers had gone rampant in celebration. Beakers of wine were
presented to the Alphans, the unselfish Earthlings who had saved their world. Music, both lively and slow, started to filter its
way to the party guests from a hidden amplifying system.

The Numbers had cast off their dull, gray tunics and frightening white plastic masks. All were kissing, hugging or dancing
with one another. "Freedom!" was heard through out the enclosed city, "FREEDOM!!"

Helena could only imagine the extent of the happiness they must be feeling. It was so good to see those who had been
without the simple wish of generous expression to finally shred the figurative outer-skin and reveal what lay beneath. Her
smile turned melancholy as, once again, she looked from the free humans to Zarl -- and the rest of the one time android
rulers. "Such a waste." she murmured, "They were so beautiful." Helena suddenly felt another pang of guilt. Beautiful but
cruel. They had enslaved their human masters.

"He's not human. Not even close." a voice came from behind.

Puzzled, Helena turned in the direction of the voice. She couldn't be sure who was that had spoke because the music was
booming loudly near her ear. Yet, she could guess who it might be -- and she was right.

John Koenig gently put his hands on her shoulders and turned Helena completely around to face him. "They weren't human,
Helena." he repeated, obviously disturbed by something he saw in her manner.

"Of course not. Did I ever suggest he ... they were?"

In a sense, yes. She had. She wept for Zarl as he lay "dying" in her arms.

Helena allowed a small smile cross her face in the form of an ice breaker. She was showing him that her gloom would
quickly pass. "Sometimes I think you worry too much, Commander." she cited and nearly laughed when his eyes rolled.

John decided it was his turn to brighten the situation. After all, she was doing her best. He stepped a few paces away from
her and rested a pondering, nearly critical, finger against his lips. John gazed at the lovely, revealing gown she was currently
wearing. It was the gown she was dressed in when Zarl tried to .... "I never got a chance to say this but I like it, Dr. Russell.
VERY nice."

Helena chuckled lightly, delighted she could still make him stop and take notice. "It's what I was going to wear to the party
last night. It was Saint Valentine's Day."

"I see." Koenig drawled, "But I must say that it was rather unprofessional of you to run into Command Center out of
uniform. You weren't even wearing a comlock." He then grinned at her expression and added, "I don't think I've ever seen
you wear anything quite that daring."

Helena smiled brilliantly at the approval in his tone. Then: "Daring?" she asked in mocked self-reproach, "Well, we can't
have that. I better just burn it once we get back to the moonbase. After all, I do have a reputation to maintain and also a few
potato sack versions if you prefer. "

John's retort was quick, "Now. did I say that?"

The couple laughed, amused by their game. Slowly, John moved in close to Helena and took her in his arms. He kissed her
very gently on the forehead then looked over her shoulder to the man approaching them. He was the one who was once
known as Number 8.

"Commander Koenig, are you ready to return to Moonbase Alpha?"

Maya and Tony had trailed the alien and were now standing, all smiles, next to the Commander and Dr. Russell.

Number 8 extended his hand to Helena and blinked when she reached out to grasp it. He gently met her eyes with a
combination of gratitude and sorrow. How lamentable it was that they who had saved their civilization now had to leave
Vega. "We have our auxiliary computer prepared and ready to transport you home to Moonbase Alpha. Just relax."
Number 8 then stood back from the Alphans as a few other Vegans came to join him. "Thanks to you we are now free
people. We will not forget you. Good-bye."

Helena glanced once more at the still, open eyed, eternally handsome form of Zarl as he lay on the floor near a few plush
pillows. He had had his one moment of humanity. Perhaps it really was worth it.

"Good-bye." Koenig whispered as he watched the older man disappear from sight.

A few moments later the welcoming walls of Command Center reappeared before him.

HOME!

Helena smiled and slipped her hand into John's.




THE END
written by R. (Becky) Eisenhuth
December 3, 1981
Revisions: January 30, 2002.


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