Coda for DEATHS OTHER DOMINON.
Communication with Ultima Thule was no more. Living there had never really been an option. Taking their chances in space was better then the bitter cold and mad covetousness of the inexplicable planet, never allowing its people an escape from its jealous hold.
Koenig's mind pondered this notion as he watched Helena Russell turn, briefly smile at him, and say goodnight to Sandra. She then quietly made her exit from Main Mission. He had been observing her from the desk in his office after their final transmission from the ice planet. He had scaled the stairs, Professor Bergman following him, then sat down and watched Helena at her medical console as Victor prattled on about how the Thulians would make good their promise to help the Revered Ones, their honored and shamed.
"Do you think she's okay, Victor?" Koenig asked after Dr. Russell had gone.
Bergman, interrupted from his train of thought, looked into Main Mission but was unsure of whom Koenig spoke. "Hm?"
"Helena." Koenig's tone did not quite convey his concern, "Cabot Rowland melting …. It was harrowing for all of us. But she was right there and watched it happen. He was touching her at the time. He trapped her." Koenig paused at the memory and his voice had somehow become strained by more then just unease.
Pulling Helena's hand free from what had become a monster had been traumatizing for himself as well. He could not even take comfort at the time that he was holding Helena in his arms as she sobbed in his protective embrace. It had been too horrifying.
"I think they became close. She must be feeling grief and shock." Koenig said, pensively.
"Helena and Cabot Rowland?" Bergman thought about it a moment, "If there was an attraction I'm sure it was because both, for a brief time, had become visionaries, John. I truly don't think there was a forthcoming romance."
Koenig looked up at his friend and his countenance became severe, "Who the hell said anything about a romance? We weren't there that long."
Bergman had hit a nerve and he could not prevent a small, indulgent smile at the Commander. Koenig often took himself too seriously and not always about the right things. "Of course we weren't, John." Victor said, but could not help what he added. "Still, if we had decided to colonize Ultima Thule it might have been interesting to see what emerged there. The man had a wonderful way of speaking and I'm sure some might have thought him handsome."
"I wouldn't know about that." Koenig pulled a sheet of paper from a stack on his desk and began to jot down some random figures.
Professor Bergman smiled yet again but this time Koenig did not see the amusement since he was so determined to appear as if his friend's words were not disturbing him. Victor had thought long ago that John Koenig should have professed his deep affection for Helena Russell. It was obvious to the Professor and others that something was there. But Koenig had never made a move. At least, nothing that was noticeable.
Of course, if Victor had ever asked him about it, John would have given a pat answer. He was the Commander and had to deal with worries far too important than what happens between a woman and a man. He really had no time for such things. Besides, Koenig would say, attachments and relationships like the one Bergman was suggesting would only cause problems. Having allowed himself to fall in love, what would he do if her life ever became endangered by aliens or anyone with a vendetta? He would act emotionally, wanting to keep her safe, thus endangering all of Alpha. He could not allow himself to be that selfish, too caught up in tenderness and passion to do what is best for Alpha.
No, John Koenig could not get entangled in a love affair until he and his people found a home. Then and only then would he consider relaxing and allowing nature to take its course. And if they never found a home? It was the price he paid for being dedicated to his Command and to the inhabitance of Moonbase Alpha.
"I'm going to bed, John. Goodnight."
Koenig watched the older man walk down the stairs and exit through Main Mission.
Sighing inaudibly, Koenig laid down the pen. When he sat like this, alone with his thoughts, he had to admit that he did care. Actually, is was more than simply caring. Victor had seen, months ago now, what Helena's absence had done to him when they were preparing to enter the black sun. Koenig could not let her stay yet he ached to hold her close. Who knows what sweet secrets they might have shared during that event; thinking there would be no other time for such an intense revelation.
Then, how he tried to keep composure when the Tritons had kidnapped her. He was in hell, stressed beyond all measure, not knowing if she lived or had died. The elation he felt upon Helena's return was infinite, despite the fact they had turned her into a living computer.
Many such instances of fear and tenderness on her behalf and the two were not yet even lovers … Koenig sat back heavily in his chair, allowing his fingers to grip the hand rests. Was he merely fooling himself?
Then again there was that nagging thought … Jealousy.
Certainly the lucid words of Jack Tanner and the deception Koenig found on Ultima Thule was enough to make him not want to give up just yet on Moonbase Alpha. However, Koenig had noticed, as Victor suggested, how intrigued Helena was with Cabot Rowland. Or, at least, how fascinated she seemed to be about his ideas; eternal life and a vision of the future that would take them off the frozen planet to spread the gospel of immortality to other planets ….
And perhaps that was where the resentment had manifested.
She had been lead from him, from their friendship and a potential for something more, by another man with pretty words. Certainly Rowland had been charismatic and self assured but he also appeared over-confident and somewhat pompous. It was this arrogance, Koenig thought, which had proved his undoing.
Why hadn't Helena, Victor and the others seen the dangers? Why had only he pictured the impending devastation such a decision, to leave Alpha for Thule, could cause?
Perhaps because he wanted to find fault with the man and what he was offering.
There it was.
He was jealous of Cabot Rowland's hold on his people - especially Helena Russell. Koenig had come to rely on her, had expected Helena to always be there by his side, agreeing with him and automatically understanding his position on any matter. They seemed to always be in sync and the Commander appreciated it more than he realized.
Then, for not the first time (because she was an independent thinker), Helena had turned a corner and went off on her own - personally - and found appeal in another human being. Rowland had been an alpha male much like Koenig himself and John resented him and his persuasive powers, which appeared to have eclipsed his own.
Yes, Koenig had to admit it now, he had been jealous over another man's influence on Helena Russell. And, privately, he disliked himself for it. What a hypocrite he was!
"John." her face unexpectedly came up on his monitor.
"Yes." Koenig replied, startled and nearly feeling that she had read his thoughts.
"I know it's late and you're probably ready to turn in but, if you can, do you think you could come to my quarters before you do? I would like to talk with you about something …" She hovered a bit, her low-throaty voice disguising trepidation. "I suppose I just need to get some clarity."
She is in pain and needs me. Koenig gazed at Helena for a moment and nodded, "Me too." he said, softly. "I'll be right over."
Helena smiled gently and the screen blanked.
'But not before,' he thought, 'I shower and shave.' Koenig amused himself with his silent wit. He then stood, lifted his comlock, and exited out of the backdoor of his office.