The Box

It was a box. About...so big.... made from a silvery sort of metal...it was just a box!

There was nothing really unusual about it.

It was just a box.

The box had been listed on the itinerary as item 75 and should have been sent to Professor V. Bergman – c/o Alpha Science Laboratory but sometimes things go wrong and in this case, a mix up had happened. Supplies were flown up to Alpha on a regular basis and this flight was no different, even though the new Commander was aboard the Eagle. The journey up from Earth had been uneventful and the new Commander had disembarked quickly leaving behind the maintenance crew whose job it was to unload supplies, reload cargo, due to be sent back to earth and prepare the Eagle for its return flight. It was a normal 'turn around' duty, something that took place several times a week.

The metal box had been packed inside a non-descript white plastic package crate for transit. The white package crate was marked with a small stamp indicating its Science Lab destination along with a large label which had been attached to the crate, clearly indicating the item number and Alphan facility to which it was to be delivered. The label also contained the information barcode. When this barcode was scanned by main computer, it would give access to all data relating to the item in the crate, such as background information, user instructions, set-up data, everything. Somehow the label had become detached. This is where the mix-up happened. Without its label it didn't get taken off the Eagle and sent to the Science Labs as should have been the case. Instead it ended up in the small group of items brought up to Alpha by the new Commander and that's how it found its way onto a shelf in the Commanders quarters.

For a long time it sat on the shelf undisturbed. Waiting!

The Commander

It was late and he knew he should try to get some sleep but he also knew he wouldn't be able to. Sleeping was becoming harder as time went by. He was tired...no doubt about that. Sometimes bone weary tired and yet he had difficulty sleeping. There was so much responsibility. It never ended. The last few months had been difficult. Coming to terms with their situation after Breakaway had been hard for everyone on Alpha. Life was a daily battle, a struggle for survival in the vast empty confines of Space. He turned away from the viewport, no longer in the mood to appreciate the beauty of the view from his window.

Today had been one of those days when nothing happened. Nothing! On days like this he sometimes thought he'd go mad. Stark raving bonkers! Not that he wanted problems. They'd had enough of those since Breakaway. The last contact they'd had with a planet has caused no end of problems. Life Support mal-functions, radiation worries. It had taken a concerted effort by everyone to get the base back on a level footing when the Moon finally moved away from the threat. Days to stabilise the base and recover. No, he wasn't complaining about the fact that things were quiet at the moment.

They were in no danger at the moment, which was something he should be thankful for and yet he felt on edge. A part of the problem was boredom. There was only so much you could do on Alpha. It was a well equipped facility, state of the art in fact. A large base built to hold more than the several hundred that had found it suddenly their home as the Moon was blasted away from Earth. If you didn't allow yourself to think about the events and implications of Breakaway you could probably be quite happy on Alpha. There was a gym and various fitness rooms allowing you to exercise. The pool complex and solariums allowed for a certain amount of relaxing down time. A library housed a limited and yet quite eclectic supply of books and movies and music. Most Alphans had brought a little of themselves to Alpha when they had taken up their position on the base too. You could normally find someone to play chess or backgammon with and the collection of puzzles and games now stored in the recreation rooms was quite large. Only recently a music group had been formed as another attempt to make life on Alpha more normal. But even allowing for those things you were still trapped on a moonbase with no end in sight to your predicament. Sometimes he couldn't stop a feeling of claustrophobia from surrounding him.

Boredom wasn't his real problem though! If he was honest, most of his problems were caused by his CMO. Dr Helena Russell. The problem was not related to her in her professional capacity...oh, she was good at her job, excellent even. The problem was with her... as a woman! He seemed to have an intense physical reaction to her presence and seeing as how they worked together most days it was becoming something of an issue for him. He'd found himself attracted to her from the first moment he'd met her but professionally they'd clashed and had had somewhat of a stormy beginning. The last few months had gone some way to repairing the damage and they worked well together now but their relationship was that of Commander and Doctor. The situation was becoming harder each day. Something about Helena called out to him on a very primitive level and he found her to be a distraction to his command, which was something he'd never experienced before. Frustration had been building in John for weeks. That was probably the major causal factor of his inability to sleep.

Tonight he'd completed a workout in the gym after leaving Main Mission. It was quite late when he'd gotten there and relatively quiet so he'd been able run for miles on the treadmill, hoping to wear himself out. It hadn't worked. After a shower and a light meal he'd gone to his quarters. His body was weary but his mind refused to stop churning. He couldn't get her out of his mind. He thought back to his conversation with her earlier in the day. They hadn't even been in the same part of the base. He'd been in his office she'd been in Medical. They'd spoken via a communication link only and yet he'd felt his body stirring, growing hard and he'd almost drooled as he spoke to her black and white image on his monitor.

It was getting bad.

He knew that if he allowed himself to visualise her now, to think about the things he'd like to do...to her...with her...he'd never get any sleep. Another night would be spent tossing and turning, imagining her naked in his arms and in his bed and then he'd be lost and he'd find himself taking another bloody cold shower at some ridiculous time of the night before finally managing a few hours rest before the day started again. This had been the pattern for weeks now and it was wearing thin.

Maybe he'd try reading...no...not reports, he needed something that would take his mind off Alpha...what did he have? He began rummaging around on a shelving unit above his desk. There were still things he hadn't bothered to unpack since he'd arrived on the base. Breakaway and the following months had thrown things all over the place, figuratively speaking as well as literally.

He noticed the plastic storage box and pulled it down from a high shelf. Not recognising it he lowered it down to his desk, curiosity piqued. There was no outward sign telling of the contents of the box, it was just a plain white storage container with a Science Lab address stamped on the outside. He opened the lid and peered in. A box within a box, he smiled at his little joke! John lifted the silver metal box from the outer packaging and placed it on his desk. He wondered how it had come to be in amongst his things. Obviously some sort of mix-up had seen it sent to his quarters instead of the Science lab. As he lifted the box to repack it and pass onto Victor, he must somehow have pressed something, because tiny lights started to flicker and the unit began to hum ever so slightly. Intrigued he set it back down on the desk and looked more closely. There was nothing to see. The lights that had begun flashing stopped, leaving just one small green light visible. He turned it over in his hands. No marking of any sort. He placed the unit onto his desk and resumed his search for something to read to take his mind off Helena.

"Hello...hellooooooo"

John nearly jumped out of his skin! He picked up his commlock, tapping it firmly as the screen remained blank.

"Hello...come on talk to me...where am I?"

John looked around in suprise, fully expecting to find someone behind him, not sure where the voice was coming from. He was alone.

Ok...this was weird...obviously sleep deprivation was having an effect! John turned to move away from his desk thinking that maybe he should try to get some sleep when the voice spoke again.

"Why is no one talking to me?" the voice sounded just a little upset.

John rubbed his temples biting back the urge to respond to the voice! What the hell was going on here?

"Please talk to me...I've been alone for so long...I'm lonely"

There was a plaintive quality to the voice that John couldn't resist. "Who are you?" he found himself asking...oh my god, now he was talking to himself!

"Hello...oh I'm so glad you're there...who are you?" the voice answered.

"I asked who you are! Answer me!" was John's curt reply.

"I am me...who are you?" the voice sounded a little confused.

"I am John Koenig, Commander of Moonbase Alpha and I demand that you tell me who you are and...where you are" John was no longer amused. Something had managed to breach Alphan security and he had no idea what was going on!

"Hello...John Koenig...Commander of Moonbase Alpha. That's a long name if you don't mind me saying so! May I call you John? Oh...it's so good to have someone to talk to. So good! Can't tell you how I've missed having someone to talk to..." The voice began to babble... "I knew it would happen but I'm not very good at being patient...are you? Well I've been waiting and waiting and here you are...brilliant...I'm so pleased to meet you...so where are we? Tell me everything...so I can update myself. Hang on a minute. Why haven't you synchronised me yet?"

The voice began to get agitated. "I don't like not knowing. I don't know anything yet! Why haven't you synchronised me?" the voice was cross now and John began to think he must be dreaming! "I must be synchronised...I need my updates. What use can I be without updates!"

"I demand that you tell me who you are!" John found himself looking around empty quarters expecting someone to materialise right in front of him. He was fully prepared to call security and yet the thought of explaining to anyone that he was hearing voices, stopped him.

The room was quiet and everything seemed as it should. He was alone BUT he didn't feel alone. It was as if he could feel a presence in the room and...it was upset...he could tell! This was getting stranger by the second!

"I'm sorry" the voice was back. "I'm sorry...I don't know why you're so mad at me but I'm sorry. I was just so excited to be talking again. I've been waiting for a receptive for so long. I'm sorry"

Now John was feeling bad. He checked the compost. It was well after midnight and here he was talking to 'something' and obviously upsetting 'something'...what was going on here? He tried to analyse the situation. There didn't seem to be any danger but after recent events he trusted nothing. Where was the voice coming from? Was he imagining it? He'd been rummaging around, found the box, been looking for a book...opened the box...could it be the box? He turned back to his desk. The silver box sat on his desk, one light on, the humming had stopped.

"Is it you?" John asked.

There was silence so he asked again "Is it you?"

The tiny green light blinked and the voice replied "Is who me?"

God this was confusing. Shaking his head and taking a deep breath to hold onto his temper, John tried again. "Is it you?"

The box replied "I am me and you are you. You are John Koenig, Commander of Moonbase Alpha and I am me!" as it spoke the little green lights blinked.

John was fascinated. He was talking to the metal box! The voice was coming from the metal box. The voice must be some sort of computer and yet it seemed so...he looked for the right words...and yet it seemed so...human!

"Okay...let's start again" John found himself trying to be nice to the box! "I am John Koenig. That is correct. Now who are you...tell me, what are you? Do you have a name?"

The lights flickered on the box and then it spoke "I am me...AI prototype 1...that is my name."

John was intrigued. Up to now Kano was the only person on Alpha who seemed to have a rapport with a computer. In fact Kano was often the butt of people's jokes because of the way in which he spoke to Main Computer. People said she was the closest thing he had to a girlfriend! But Main Computer was a computer...no getting away with that...with a mechanical robotic voice and absolutely no personality.

This computer box thing on his desk was completely different. John couldn't really put it into words but it seemed very 'real'...sort of! He wanted answers.

"Tell me what you are?" he re-phrased his question and this time there was more information.

"I am AI prototype 1. I am a final stage Artificial Intelligence device, a prototype from Newcastle University and awaiting final initiation stage on Moonbase Alpha. My designer was involved in the creation of AI companion units for use in Space Missions. I am awaiting final testing in zero gravity conditions. I have been waiting for synchronisation to take place to allow initiation stage to be activated. I was expecting this phase to happen sooner. It should have happened before I met my Receptive. Why haven't I been synchronised?"

God! John was amazed...it was like having a conversation with a real person. Okay...maybe someone who didn't have a clue what had been happening in the last few months but a person, none the less.

For the next hour John found himself having a conversation with the AI unit. He discovered that the unit had been programmed to interact with humans and provide companionship on long space explorations. It was designed to relieve the boredom of Space travel by becoming friends with its Receptive. The unit seemed desperate to be 'synchronised' but John explained that it was late and that he didn't want to get people from the science sections out of bed. Was it ok if they waited until morning and then John would take 'it' to Victor...They would then consult main computer...it would know about synchronisation...John was sure about that. The AI unit accepted this, but seemed sad that it needed to wait a little longer before it could be synchronised. Although it didn't have a notion of events post Breakaway, it had a remarkable, almost encyclopaedic knowledge of everything else relating to Earth and humans and was eager to 'talk'. Still slightly on guard John didn't want to give too much information to the little box until its story had been verified by main computer. None the less they 'talked' for a long time until eventually it told John to go to bed. A little startled by this, John was about to say that he wouldn't be able to sleep when he realised that he was in fact very tired. The unit had provided just the distraction he'd needed to take his mind off Helena! He couldn't help a wry smile at himself as he said goodnight to the unit before getting into bed.

"Goodnight John" said the unit.

John didn't respond...he was asleep!

The Professor

The next morning, Victor was as fascinated as John had been the night before. He had a vague recollection of correspondence from Newcastle University. They had received Space Commission funding to assist with their AI programme. This small unit was the result. Victor was able to access a file on Main Computer relating to AI 1 and made the little unit very happy by initiating synchronisation. The unit was very perturbed to learn about Breakaway and all that had happened since that fateful day. It spent a good part of the day 'chatting' away to Victor who enjoyed its company immensely. It was really quite astounding. Artificial Intelligence was something that intrigued Victor and this unit was an excellent example of where this science could lead. To be able to give a computer, human traits such as reasoning, knowledge, planning, learning, communication, perception and understanding seemed impossible and yet this little unit seemed to encompass them all. Its main use was to have been a way of maintaining a healthy human mind and relieving boredom for the astronaut when they faced months of space travel on long missions. Well...the irony of that was not lost on Victor. They were on an open ended journey now and Victor looked forward to getting to know the unit better. In fact it was Victor who gave the unit a name.

"We can't keep calling you 'the unit'...now ...can we?" he'd said after he'd introduced 'the unit' to everyone in Main Mission. 'We need to give you a name...don't you agree?'

"I am 1" said the unit.

Muttering absentmindedly as he pondered Victor suddenly grabbed a marker and gave a chuckle.

"That's it!" exclaimed Victor, cleaning a space and writing a word amongst equations and diagrams on his work board in a large scrawling print. "We shall call you DIZI...what do you think...do you like it?"

"I like it Victor" said the unit. "I have a name. I am DIZI."

Victor took DIZI with him on his travels around the base over the next few days and everyone was intrigued and entertained by the little box. Kano's reaction had been the funniest. He'd been nice to 'the unit' but he hadn't made much of an effort to make friends. He made it quite obvious that his loyalties lay with Main Computer and there was no way he would allow anyone to forget that 'his girl' was Alphas. Kano took his relationship with main computer very seriously and seeing Kano slightly ruffled amused Victor no end.

DIZI was certainly going to liven things up on Alpha, of that he was certain!

DIZI

DIZI was glad that she had found herself amongst this group of humans. Their lives were always a struggle and more often than not there was some drama being played out around the base or on some planet that they happened to come into contact with, but after spending so much time waiting in that boring storage container she was glad now to be free and able to play her role in the group dynamic.

DIZI soon became accepted on Alpha. She spent some of her time in the lab with Victor. He was always busy with some new project and DIZI was happy to be used as a sounding board by him about some new theory or other. She did enjoy being part of Alpha but she was happiest when she was with the Commander. AI units such as DIZI had been programmed to 'bond' with their allotted astronaut, their Receptive and in this case it seemed that the Commander was the recipient of DIZIs affection. Maybe it was because he was the person she had first spoken to...the first Alphan she'd come into contact with when she'd been initialised. Whatever the reason she was most comfortable when she was in John's office. She would sit quietly on his desk in his command office and most of the time people forgot she was there. It was an interesting place, John's desk and from her unique position she was privy to all that went on in the upper echelons of the base.

Alan Carter was one of her favourite Alphans. She could just tell by his voice that he was a nice person and she enjoyed having little chats with him. They'd gotten into the habit of telling each other jokes whenever they met. The concept of 'a joke' was new to DIZI but she learnt quickly and she'd been quite pleased with today's attempt.

A polar bear walks into a bar, sits down and tells the barkeeper, "I'll have a Scotch and............Coke." The bartender asks "Why the long pause?"The polar bear responds, "Dunno, I've always had them."

Alan had cracked up at that one so it had obviously been funny. DIZI thought that Humans were strange sometimes but enjoyed the friendships she was making.

Other than the Commander, Victor and Alan were her favourites. Sandra was sweet but a little shy and didn't communicate much with DIZI. Paul was a little aloof but then he was always busy and Kano...well that Alphan was seriously uptight! DIZI synchronised with Main Computer on a regular basis and knew of its special bond with Kano...but still...there was no excuse for being rude...was there! DIZI decided that Kano would come around eventually, when he realised that DIZI was no threat to his beloved computer, and hoped that one day he would accept that there was room on Alpha for two computers!

There was someone else on Alpha who DIZI had noticed was a little uptight sometimes.

Dr Russell.

She was relaxed with Victor, often stopping by his lab for coffee and talking like old friends. She had a good relationship with Dr Mathias too. Although she was his superior officer, they communicated well together and there was a strong sense of respect and an underlying friendship there that DIZI was able to pick up on. With the rest of the Alphans DIZI sensed a reserve from Dr Russell, as if the doctor was keeping something of herself back from them. Obviously being in charge meant that you had certain responsibilities and yet it worried DIZI to think that Helena had so few close friends. DIZI had thought that the Commander and Dr Russell would have made great friends but this is where it got interesting!

Dr Russell seemed to have a problem with John. No...no...no...too be correct they both...seemed to have a problem with...each other. DIZI was a metal box...A METAL BOX... and she could feel the tension between them! It was something that puzzled her a lot. Whenever they were together the air became charged with electricity. Sometimes DIZI knew when Dr Russell had arrived for a meeting before she'd even spoken because the air started to sizzle. These odd sensations obviously affected both John and Helena because their voices changed and they became quite...DIZI didn't really know how to put it into words...short and tense with each other...was the best way she had of describing it.

DIZI had mentioned it to Victor. He'd chuckled and told DIZI not to worry...he'd said that they were intelligent people and would eventually 'see the wood from the trees' and things would 'sort themselves out'

This had confused DIZI! What did that mean? There were no trees on Alpha...were there?... and how could 'things' sort themselves out?

Not for the first time did DIZI mutter to herself that humans were strange sometimes!

The Command Conference

Talking to Victor had not helped and DIZI worried about John. He worked himself very hard, had a huge responsibility on his shoulders and seemed unable to rest. Most evenings he spent hours in the gym and then slept badly. When he did manage to sleep he tossed and turned and seemed restless. Sometimes he would wake up in the middle of the night and for some reason felt the need to take a cold shower...even though he had showered before bed...his behaviour puzzled DIZI. It did not seem to comply with her programming. Humans worked, had social time and rested. John Koenig had no such routine.

DIZI was worried about the Commander!

Alan and Paul made matters worse. DIZI had been on John's desk on day while the mornings command conference had taken place. The tension between John and Helena was there as normal but today it seemed even stronger. There had been a lot of issues to discuss since Alphas inadvertent involvement in the war between the planets Betha and Delta. Repairs to the damaged base structures had been completed and no real repercussions were evident. Salvage crews had been busy working on the damaged spacecrafts that had crashed on the lunar surface. Security procedures were being restructured to incorporate issues that had arisen during the alien encounter. There were a lot of matters to be discussed. DIZI sensed that Helena was even more restrained that normal with John. As she gave her casualty briefing she was clipped and brusque. John returned her coldness with clipped tones of his own and from her position on John's desk DIZI could not understand what was going on accept that their behaviour toward each other was more strained than normal.

The meeting broke up and John left his office quickly with Victor. Helena excused herself to return to medical and Kano disappeared back to his computer, leaving Paul, Sandra and Alan to mull over the strange meeting.

DIZI's presence was forgotten.

'Well...that was bloody awkward!' Paul stated as he began to collect reports together

'Oh Paul...do not talk like that...' Sandra chastised. 'They are in a very difficult position.'

Who were they talking about, DIZI wondered...who was in a difficult position?

'And they put us in a difficult position too!' Paul muttered, frustration with Alpha's two most senior personnel making him short with Sandra.

'I think she was jealous of Dione' said Sandra. 'I think that is why she was so cold to John today'.

They were talking about Dr Russell and the Commander! DIZI immediately concentrated on what they were saying...she didn't want to miss anything!

'I think its bloody brilliant!' DIZI heard Alan enter the conversation, his aussie accent easily discernable, humour flowing from him.

'So entertaining!' He was laughing now. 'And come on Sahn...They usually smoulder when they're in the same room. We're normally expecting spontaneous combustion when those two get together! A bit of a chill makes a change from red hot! Struth...why the hell John doesn't give her one I'll never know!'

'Alan...how can you be so...crude!' Sandra squealed. 'They are in love...but they do not see it. It is so romantic...I cannot wait for them to realise their feelings for each other. But I am afraid that this will take some time'

'It's been going on for months as it is...' Paul couldn't stay quiet. 'Why can't they see the obvious and put us all out of our misery?'

Sandra got up to leave, pausing to make one last comment. 'I am enjoying their love affair...' she smiled. 'Even though they do not realise they are in love yet. It is sweet. Is it any wonder they have not had time to understand how they feel towards each other, with all of the things that have been happening on Alpha in the last few months? You boys do not understand.' She made her way to the steps leading down into the heart of Main Mission, leaving Paul and Alan with big smiles on their faces.

'Bloody hell...what's to understand!' exclaimed Alan. 'She's gagging for it and he's horny as hell...'

'Alan, that's the Commander you're talking about,' Paul warned.

'I know mate, and if he asks my advice I'll tell him to pull his finger out and give the lady a night to remember!' Alan seemed pleased with himself.

For the rest of the day DIZI thought about this conversation a lot. It had been quite a confusing conversation and she wasn't sure that she'd understood everything that was said but she did feel that she'd got the gist of it. The Commander and Dr Russell...well...well...well! She would ask John about it later.

Dr Russell

It hadn't been a good day. In fact as far as Helena was concerned most days seemed to be a struggle lately. Since Breakaway life had become unpredictable and they never knew what to expect from one moment to the next. As Alpha's most senior surgical physician Helena was confident that she had everything under control from a professional point of view. Medical facilities and Life Support were all functioning well and she was confident in her position on Alpha.

It wasn't problems with Medical or her role on Alpha that made her feel so down or gave her sleepless nights. No! John Koenig was her problem. The Commander of Moonbase Alpha! He was in her head all day every day. He was in her head all through the night. She couldn't get him out of her head! She didn't know or understand how it had happened but she was totally, completely infatuated with him. From the very first moment he'd introduced himself to her on the day he took command of Alpha, she'd been attracted to him. Despite the fact that, initially, she'd found him to be arrogant and over bearing, she also found herself crazy about him.

Now there was an emotion she would never have believed herself capable of feeling until recently...BUT...John Koenig made her crazy!

Crazy with longing...crazy with desire...crazy with lust!

And being crazy about the Commander was driving her crazy!

Very funny Helena, she mentally scolded herself!

It was probably breaking every rule in Space Commissions 'Rules of Conduct' manual. In Section 5, entitled - 'Professional Relationships', there was no mention made of how to handle the situation if you found yourself infatuated with your boss! Helena was pretty sure that 'falling in love' with your Commanding Officer was not listed as appropriate behaviour for a Space Commission employee, but no matter how she tried to ignore the feelings, they refused to go away.

It was simple. She didn't have a clue how it had happened. She'd not been looking for it or expecting it...but she had fallen head over heels in love with him. He was darkly handsome, she loved the way he smiled. She loved his eyes, his butt! She loved the way he looked in his black sleeved uniform, the way he paced when he was tense. She loved the way he commanded Alpha, his devotion to duty, his ability to see the humour in things and inspire and motivate his people. She understood the weight on his shoulders and felt sympathy for his responsibility. He had a short temper and could be easily irritated and yet his dark and moody side only added to his attraction. She loved him good and bad. She loved him and didn't know what to do about it!

He obviously didn't know any of this. It wasn't the sort of thing you could drop into the conversation. Yes Commander, I'll make sure that report is with you by 14:00 hours...oh and by the way...I think you're gorgeous. GORGEOUS! Helena was finding it harder and harder to spend any time with him. Her heart would race and it would take incredible self control not to throw herself at him. She managed to work alongside him on a daily basis by keeping her feelings well and truly hidden. She tried to be cool and composed when she needed to be close to him, her brusque, impersonal attitude, an attempt to hide the raging emotions that were just beneath the surface whenever he was near. Helena knew that most people on the base thought her to be reserved, maybe a little cold. This was so far from the truth it was laughable but she allowed this misconception to stay in place because it helped to disguise her true feelings for John.

So much had happened to them since Breakaway and on several occasions it seemed to her as if the universe was trying to send her a message...trying to tell her that they were meant to be 'together'. On the planet Retha she had...so obviously been...Johns mate. Hearing from Sandra that the caveman leader and his medicine woman had made no attempt to hide their physical union from the rest of the tribe had outwardly shocked and inwardly enthralled Helena. In their encounter with the 'other Earth' they had met themselves in the future where she and John had been deeply in love and married. This revelation intrigued Helena but John had never so much as intimated that he was aware of this connection they seemed to share. Unable to imagine the embarrassment of expressing her feelings to a man who seemingly saw her only as a work colleague, Helena hid her feelings away as best she could...but as the days went by she was finding it more and more difficult.

One of her favourite past times lately had been to imagine them, locked together in a wild passionate embrace. It was an exquisite form of torture. They were always hot and sweaty and naked and he was always doing wonderful things to her with his hands, his lips and his tongue. These day dreams were getting more and more erotic and Helena was getting more and more frustrated, longing for something that could never be. To him she was Dr Russell, his highly skilled CMO. He saw her as a doctor...not a woman!

Today she was mad at him. Well not really...mad at him...more, mad at the whole situation. He didn't know, of course, because she was very good at hiding her feelings but the last few days had been very difficult. Being caught up in the war between the two planets had been unfortunate but they'd managed to come through that experience none the worse for wear. Dione had been the cause of Helen's disquiet. Striding around Alpha in her skin tight leather cat suit, fluttering her long eyelashes at John, who the hell did she think she was! Helena would never have described herself as the jealous type but she had been overcome with a jealousy so intense that she could cheerfully have choked Dione with her that stupid black scarf she'd been wearing. For a split second Helena had believed in John's attraction to the alien, though he meant to abandon them...and then...her trust in John had told her that he was merely looking for some way to outwit the warring aliens. It had happened days ago but Helena was still wracked with guilt by her lapse of faith in John and shocked by her jealousy toward Dione.

Today's command conference had been so awkward. She knew she'd been short with him...it was a sort of defence mechanism to protect herself. Although they had left Dione and the war far behind, Helena was still annoyed that she had felt such intense jealousy over a man who didn't even know she existed. She had seen confusion in his eyes as she'd snapped at him in front of the rest of the command team and then he'd become cold and abrupt with her too. It must have been impossible not to be aware of the tension between them today and she didn't know what people must be thinking. Hopefully they would assume that there was some professional matter that they were disagreeing over...to have people know how she felt toward John would be so humiliating. Poor Helena...crazy in love with the Commander...a man who didn't even call her by her first name!

DIZI

It was late in the day when DIZI was finally able to 'talk' to the Commander. She had replayed the conversation she'd overheard, over and over in her head for hours, searching through her memory bank to try understand the phrases that Alan had used and finally, after an in-depth analysis of the facts had come to the conclusion that Alan, Paul and Sandra were indeed right in their assumption.

The Commander and Dr Russell were attracted to one and other.

John and Helena should be a couple.

To a computer it was logical. All factors pointed to that conclusion. DIZI could not comprehend how two such intelligent people were unable to see what was obviously 'meant to be'. DIZI now understood John's weird sleep pattern, his need for frequent cold showers. Sexual frustration was making John irritable and moody. These facts had come to light as she had searched through her basic human biology logs, the human behavioural databases installed during the AI 1's creation. Having spent a large part of the day delving into human relationship downloads, DIZI was quite certain that Dr Russell's attitude toward the Commander also related to suppressed sexual attraction. To a computer this all made perfect sense. DIZI did not understand how the humans involved could fail to see the solution and act accordingly.

DIZI was very pleased with herself. Tonight she would explain the situation to John.

He would then be able to explain things to Helena and they would have sexual relations and release their built-up sexual tension together. It was quite clearly documented in the database. DIZI really did not understand humans sometimes!

DIZI and the Commander

It was an interesting conversation during which John had been very quiet. In fact at one point DIZI had thought that he'd left his office and she was alone, but he'd reassured her that he was still there and she'd continued with her recommendations as he continued to pace.

DIZI had wanted John to know that it wasn't just the advice of a computer that he should act on...but also the opinion of three of Alpha's key personnel too. But he'd not been particularly happy when she'd related the conversation between Alan, Paul and Sandra...word for word...to him. She didn't know why it made him so angry...she thought that it was good that they cared so much about their Commander!

She explained everything she'd researched about sexual frustration telling John that his feelings toward Helena were most likely the cause of his sleepless nights and then she explained how she'd witnessed similar traits in Helena behaviour, along with a recent example of female jealousy.

Finally DIZI made her recommendation. John should explain everything to Helena and they should embark on a basic human sexual relationship. DIZI told John that she was sure this would make them both feel better!

John

When John felt able to talk...he thanked DIZI for her concern and, careful not to hurt the little computers feelings, suggested a break from the command office might be in order. He dropped DIZI off with Victor and then sought refuge in the gym, allowing his mind to absorb and assimilate each observation DIZI had made, as he pushed his body to the limit of its endurance on the treadmill. A hot shower soothed his tired muscles but did nothing for his troubled mind. Alan's words kept going around and around in his head.

'We're normally expecting spontaneous combustion when those two get together! Struth...why the hell John doesn't give her one I'll never know!'

Could DIZI be right? Did Helena have feelings for him? Dare he trust the opinion of a computer!

Okay...there had been a few events recently that had made him wonder about them. It seemed that they were sometimes linked together as a couple in alternate realities but he hadn't realised that this fact had been picked up by his friends. He also hadn't been aware that both he and Helena were the subject of so much gossip and speculation. But if this was the case surely it must mean that there was something to gossip about. Could it really be true! Could it be that both he and Helena were the last Alphan's to know that they were meant to be together!

DIZI had really brought things to a head. John knew that he would have to act in some way because DIZI had made it impossible for him not to.

How could he continue as they had been, not knowing...

John and Helena

John was alone in his office, mulling over how he should approach Helena. Known for his strength of command he was very rarely unsure of the way forward but as soon as Helena was introduced into the equation he became bogged down with doubts. Maybe, just maybe he should throw caution to the wind and just ask her how she felt about him!

Helena had been regretting the way in which she'd treated John that morning. It wasn't his fault. He hadn't asked to be the subject of her unrequited love! Feeling awful for being so hard on him earlier she decided to pay him a visit and apologise.

What the hell! That's what she'd do. Go see him, be herself!

Maybe, just maybe he would like what he saw!

John paced around his office, debating when and where he should talk to Helena. He finally stopped pacing to move down the steps and sit on the couch in the sunken seating area, leg crossed he was trying to make a decision on an appropriate time and place when the side door swooshed open and as he turned to look over his shoulder she was there, walking toward him, smiling a nervous smile.

She settled on the arm of a chair quite close to him, leaning forward and then apologised for snapping at him during the meeting. He accepted her apology. They briefly discussed a few matters relating to the war they'd left behind. What would life have been like on the planet? What would it be like living in a permanent state of war?

John tried to keep himself in control but she was so close and he needed to feel her softness so badly...

Then John raised his hand and cupped her face. He couldn't help himself. His touch was...oh so gentle. Her skin was...oh so soft. Their eyes locked and timeless moments drifted by.

It was now or never!

He had to make the first move.

Open himself up to her.

Find out if DIZI was right!

'They've got their war and we have all of Space in which to find a home...somewhere...'he gazed up into her eyes. 'Anywhere...as long as you're there with me...' he waited, allowing his words to sink in, holding his breath and praying that DIZI had not messed up.

Helena had scarcely been able to breathe from the moment he'd moved his hand to her face. She was sure he must be able to feel her skin, burning from his touch, her body shaking from the sheer effort she was exerting not throw herself at him. His words slowly permeated her confused brain. Making no sense...unless...

She stared into his eyes willing his words to mean what she longed for them to mean.

'John...' his name sounded so good on her lips that he was lost.

He rose slowly from the sofa, his hand never leaving her face. Time stood still. His fingers traced the contours of her face, slowly, reverently, their eyes locked together. His hand moved to cup the back of her head drawing her to him, closing the gap between them. His other hand moved to her shoulder, traced the outline of her arm, her back, all the time bringing her closer.

He was aware of her breathing, shallow little gasps that made her breasts rise and fall quickly, tantalisingly!

They were so close and yet they were still so far apart. Neither could find the words to breach the gap.

Time moved and they stood close...together...and yet still so far apart...waiting!

Their minds seemed unable to comprehend what their bodies had already accepted.

They were two halves of a whole.

'You want this?' he asked provocatively, dipping his face to brush his lips lightly across her mouth.

The tension mounted and delicious slivers of excitement sparked between them as, ever so slowly, they began to understand what was about to happen between them. The wait was over. There was no need for explanations. They could read everything they needed to know in each other's eyes!

Her moaned response finally did it! 'Yes John...oh yes...so much...'

The kiss was exquisite...everything they'd imagined it would be in their separate fantasies. Lips and tongues, tasting and caressing, nibbling and delighting...deepening into a passionate embrace as their arms wound around each other and finally closed the gap between them. The kiss ended any doubt and answered every question that they could possibly need to ask. It went on and on...and on...

Until it wasn't enough! Breaking apart, desperate for more than just kisses, they moved in unison, both aware that they could wait no longer. With shaking hands John used his commlock to seal the doors to his office, while Helena grabbed cushions from the couch and adjusted the lighting, allowing starlight alone to illuminate the room.

Then they were together again and every erotic dream and intimate yearning came true as they finally became one. Months of longing and frustration dissolved away as their naked bodies did crazy, wonderful things to each other!

And afterward...starlight illuminated their entwined bodies as they lay locked in a tight embrace, neither ready to let the other move too far away.

'Do you have any idea how much I've longed to make love to you...Dr Russell?' John whispered, nibbling lightly at her neck trailing gentle kisses along her shoulder and breast, finally taking her nipple into his mouth and using his tongue to make her squirm with delight!

Taking hold of his head between her hands and bringing his face close to hers she kissed him deeply, loving his taste and her taste, intermingled on his lips. 'I don't know how the hell this happened but I can't begin to tell you how glad I am that it did...' she spoke against his lips. 'I've wanted you so much...' she shuddered, remembering the long months spent fighting her attraction 'I had no idea...no idea...you saw me as anything other than Dr Russell...'

'Oh Helena...we've been so stupid...you and I...' his hands were moving down her body, exploring once again, unerringly seeming to know just where to touch to make her gasp with passionate longing.

No more words were spoken as again they got caught up in their desperate need for each other...a need that would take a lifetime to assuage.


It was a long time later, after they'd dressed and crept quietly out of John's office and made their way to her quarters that they managed to talk.

Suddenly after months of keeping each other at a distance they were finally able to talk and share and understand what they each had been through, in their separate attempts to hide their feelings from the other. Snuggled close together, both enjoying the sensation of being close and not wanting to waste a moment with sleep, they talked everything through. Helena could hardly believe that it had taken DIZI, an Artificial Intelligence unit, to bring them together.

How long would they have continued to hide their feelings from each other if the little computer hadn't stepped in and made them see things clearly?

John said that they would need to go see DIZI in the morning and thank her...

He then decided to take Alan's advice and... give his lady... a night to remember!