CHAPTER 5

Thomas cried every night that first week. He wanted his mother very much, he called for her, but she never came. Gwent tried to explain her disappearance to the boy but it was too confusing and Thomas became irritated. How could she be there all his life then, one day, suddenly cease to exist?

At least Thomas had his Daddy - almost. His father, at first, also tried to clarify what had happened to his mother but he gave up, his voice trembling and his eyes misting, when it became too painful for him to go on.

Thomas felt he had lost both parents.

Each night in his bed, after an hour of fruitless crying, Thomas would slide off then walk groggily over to where father slept. He would climb in and hold tightly onto his arm, trying to snuggle, but Thomas never experienced the same warmth and softness as he did with his mother, which made the boy all the sadder. He would sob until he fell asleep.

In the morning Thomas would always find himself in his own bed. He knew that his father had carried him back again, when he had fallen asleep, and that angered Thomas. He felt rejected. Why didn't he just let him stay? In his child's mind he felt he knew the answer. Daddy did not love him as much as Mommy had and now that she was gone his father loved him even less.

The boy spoke often with Gwent during the day as John Koenig slept, which he did a lot of these days. Thomas saw his father take medicine "to help him manage" which Gwent freely offered. Thomas thought it candy at first, the pills so round and colorful, and he wanted some. But his father crossly told him no, it was medicine for: "Daddy only"

Gwent told Thomas to be patient, his father would eventually over-come his sadness and feel better. It would take time.

()

She sat at the edge of their bed, looking down at him, smiling gently. She wore a silky, luminescent white gown and appeared to glow with an ethereal light. She was an angel. He knew she would be an angel. What else would his beloved Helena be in the afterlife?

"Where is the man who commanded Moonbase Alpha, he who over-came adversity, the man I fell in love with?"

"Helena." He was always so happy to see her ...

Be there for him, John."

"I'm trying, Helena."

"Not hard enough. You need to be both father and mother to Tommy now."

"I'll try harder."

"See that you do, John. You really don't want Gwent raising our son, do you?"

Koenig felt drained as he lay on the bed. It had been three weeks since her death and everything was a struggle. He hadn't been eating well. Often times Gwent had to remind him that his meals were waiting, ready to be consumed. Thomas never went hungry. His father made certain of that, as did Gwent. Yet, for Koenig the effort to feed himself, when his stomach churned and the food tasted so bitter, was too much.

"John you must eat more often and sleep less. You have to be there for Tommy. You would never forgive yourself if you left him to Gwent's mercy."

Koenig grimaced in his sleep. Helen was right but … "When I rest like this I see you. I don't want to stop seeing you." he whispered.

"You see me because it helps you to cope, John. You need to return to reality, my darling."

"Will you come back to me if I need you?" he asked, "Say you will."

"Of course. Just look for me and I will be there. But now you must be strong again. I will be watching." Her hand reached forward and stroked his hair and forehead.

Koenig opened his eyes and swore he had been touched. He felt the space just above his brows then his hand dropped to lay where she had been sitting on the bed.

He could almost feel warmth and smell her perfume.

()

Gwent tried to converse with Koenig, even said things sure to make him angry, but Koenig did not bite. He refused to be engaged by his heartless master.

However, with an effort, Koenig got up and moved, attempting to connect with his son. He was constantly exhausted from the numbing medication he was taking and spoke very little. But he took time out to sit on the polished floor and helped the boy stack blocks. They then put a puzzles together and talked about his toys.

Thomas smiled at him during these times, when they were together, but it was mild and half hearted. John was trying but Thomas had already seen the difference in his father since his mother went away. He was kind to him and even ruffled his hair occasionally but it wasn't the same. They never really laughed anymore and he stopped telling Thomas stories before bed, like he once did. Thomas miss the days when his father would be funny and make sounds like choo-choo trains and various entertaining monsters.

Sometimes his father just seemed very unhappy, a mere shadow of the man he once was, and Thomas wished, as a nearly three year old would, that he could do something to make him happy again.

As a result, a frustrated Thomas - experiencing emotions he could not understand - started wetting his bed. His father was patient, telling the over-wrought boy that all would be well. They would both stop drinking water before bed and he would be fine, he promised.

"It's all a part of growing up, Tom-boy."

Thomas merely looked at his father and wished they could truly be content again.

()

Gwent had both disturbing and potentially hopeful news for John Koenig. Yet, in his present disposition, Gwent hesitated telling him. His companion, while making every attempt to bond with his son, was not doing the same with his master. Gwent could not truly find fault in him. Koenig blamed him for her death and, in all probability, Gwent contributed to her demise.

But her mortality might have come far sooner than either thought possible anyway.

Gwent always felt there was something neither of them knew about Helena Russell, that her death had been too abrupt, under the circumstances. Certainly her punishment should have hurt but, despite injury, if she had been healthy in the first place the woman never should have died. Had she known about the infirmity? As a doctor, should she not have known?

It was a mystery.

Gwent needed to change course and he nearly told the Commander he was doing so but decided he would wait, let him figure it out for himself, then eventually reveal something that would either be devastating or, if he had been told the truth, a new beginning for them all.

()

Almost a year had passed since her death. Koenig strived to be a good father whilst grieving every day for his loss, the two human males living in the machine that killed the woman they both loved.

Thomas reached out often but never quite connected with his father. He finally stopped trying.

"I have a gift for you, Thomas, on your third birthday."

The boy looked up and about, "Gift?" he asked, suddenly excited.

"Yes, follow the light." Gwent shown a yellow beam on the floor and moved it slowly as the boy followed. "It was a toy my original companion made." it said. The beam stopped on a door and it slowly opened for the boy to enter.

Thomas vaguely remembered this room. He would sit on the floor and play, often watching someone … his Mommy? … doing something.

"Look on the table to your right." Gwent said.

The boy turned, unsure. Thomas saw the desk Gwent spoke of but it was too tall.

Gwent could hear the boy's dejected whine. "Get a chair, Thomas." it advised.

"Oh." He moved a chair, scraping the floor with its four feet as he pushed, then climbed. He looked atop the desk and spotted what Gwent wanted him to see. It was a small wooden mock-up of Gwent himself. Companion had fashioned it during his younger days, carefully whittling the wood, adding texture and dimension with skill and concentration.

"What … is it?" Thomas asked, curious.

"That is Gwent, Thomas. A model. That is how I look on the outside. You saw me once, do you remember?"

It was a long time ago. Thomas remembered. He was with Daddy and Mommy, they were on a planet, walking away from Gwent, and Thomas looked back and saw his friend in the distance. It looked like this - yes. Thomas smiled and felt the smoothed wood. He had felt something like this on that planet. Daddy had called it … a tree.

"Come now, Thomas. You need to leave. Your father does not like this room to be disturbed."

Thomas slid from the chair and was about to approach the door when his curiosity was aroused. He rounded the potter's wheel, wondering what it did, seeing a flash of memory with his Mommy, looking down at him and smiling. He then eyed the many pots and sculptures on shelves.

Then he saw something that frightened him and made Thomas cry out.

Koenig heard Thomas and, suddenly fearful, he opened his eyes and raised himself into a sitting position o his bed. He had meant to just take a quick nap but had obviously slept far longer than expected. He had to stop taking those damn pills. Had to.

He could hear his son whimpering and this spurred Koenig into springing from the bed. He ran to Thomas, entered the room, then knelt beside the boy. The replica of Gwent lay at his stricken son's feet. "Tom-boy, what is wrong?"

Thomas lifted an arm, his little finger pointing at a life-sized sculpture of his mother's head.

Gasping ever so slightly, Koenig tried to hide his own surprise. He had never seen it before, never recalled Helena making it. "Let me check." he said, gently, then stood to take a closer look. When he approached he saw a small piece of paper laying beside the marvelous piece. Helena's handwriting explained: "For John. I know you are probably already sick of seeing my face but this will remind you that I am always watching over you, darling. Happy anniversary. Love, Helena."

"Anniversary." Koenig whispered, thinking. He recalled Helena declaring, after their first year on Gwent, shortly after Thomas birth, that the first night they made love would forever be known as their "anniversary", the closest thing to marriage they would ever experience aboard Gwent. This piece had been on the shelf for over a year, Helena having finished it probably just before they left for Neera. It must have hurt knowing she could not present it to him after all her hard work but they were traveling with just those things they would need to survive.

Koenig felt a tightness in his throat and chest and he looked once again at a transfixed Thomas. "Your Mommy made it." he said, lightly. "She made it for us to find, Tom. It looks just like her." He lifted a hand and mimed the boy to come to him.

Thomas picked up his Gwent-toy then walked forward slowly. When he got to his father he was lifted up into his father's arms.

Koenig said, "How clever you are to have found her, Tom-boy."

Thomas looked from the head of his mother to his father and smiled, pleased at his approval. Things were going to get better, he thought. Thomas reached forward and touched the hair and the face of the sculpture, "Pretty." he said. "Mommy."

"Yes, she was." Koenig nodded, gulping ever so slightly, but still managing to smile.

"Happy birthday to me." Thomas said, blue eyes twinkling, and his mouth lifting in a pleased smile. He held his toy in his hand and stroked it gently as he gazed at the sculpture.

Koenig looked at the replica of Gwent and his smile disappeared for just a few moments then reappeared when he saw Thomas' sudden concern. He let the boy down. "You take your toy and I will take this." He picked up the sculpture, "And let's go have lunch."

Hungry, Thomas raced to their dinner table.

Koenig approached the door after Thomas had walked out, heading to the common room, then - holding the sculpture with both hands and looking back into the room - he said, "Thank you for this, Gwent." he indicated Helena's head, "But it does not make a difference. I will never forgive you."

"I know, my companion. I know."

()

Two days later Koenig heard an odd bleep from Gwent's computer console and, after investigating, realized the unfamiliar sound was a communications advisory.

"Is someone trying to contact us, Gwent?" Koenig asked.

"Yes."

"Is it urgent?"

"Yes."

He and Gwent had barely exchanged a five words over the past few days and Koenig understood the apparatus was purposely being acerbic. "If whomever is calling is in trouble maybe we can help them."

"We could. But I do not believe they are in crisis, Commander. As a matter of fact, I believe they want to help you."

Koenig said nothing for a moment. Gwent was being cryptic as always. He said, "I don't see how they could possibly help me but, in that case, I insist you let me talk with them."

"Well, if you insist …" Gwent's tone was nearly humorous. "Look at the screen, Commander."

Koenig looked up and, after a period of static, he saw a face he did not think he would ever see again.

"Commander Koenig." he said, "Do you remember us?"

Koenig stared stunned, at the man with long white hair and elaborate facial markings. "Captain Zandor." he said, nearly breathless. He could not believe it. The Kaldorians should still be in stasis, journeying to Earth on a nearly eighty year voyage to find a home.

"Forgive the intrusion, Commander, but we thought it important to speak with you."

"Captain, why are you awake and in this area of space? What is going on?"

"It is difficult to explain in the interval of a few minutes, Commander. Let us just say we received a distress signal which awoke us. The trajectory of our craft had been altered. It was then that we discovered Commissioner Simmonds had passed away ..."

Koenig nearly told him Moonbase Alpha had been privy to Simmonds last moments of life aboard the Kaldorian craft, but decided against it. Instead, he said: "It wasn't your fault, Captain. That space had been programmed for Dr. Russell and …" Koenig hesitated when he saw the mention of Helena causing a clear reaction in Zandor.

Despite the circumstances, knowing there had been a closeness between Zandor and Helena, Koenig felt a brief pang of jealousy. He thought it better to change the subject. "Do you understand why I am on this craft?" Koenig asked.

"Yes." Zandor appeared sorry. He did understand. "Gwent homed in on our signals, sought us out, aware of our findings. It asked us to make you aware of them."

"Aware of what, Captain?" Koenig was confused. Zandor appeared uneasy - as anxious as a quietly laconic Kaldorian could appear - and he glanced behind himself at something hidden. Turning back to the camera, he said: "Prepare yourself, Commander."

The focus moved from him to a different area of his spaceship.

She sat in a chair, appearing pale and confused but exquisite, being fussed over by a Kaldorian woman, and she was wearing the gown she had been interred in.

Koenig might have fallen if there hadn't been a console in front of him to grasp.

She was alive.

HELENA!

()

The End

August 2012

()

Hunh?

Yeah, I know what I said and I had honestly thought to have a totally different ending than this … but after finishing the story from my outline, I looked on it and was not happy. I slept on it for a couple nights, reconsidering a couple things, and a thought came to me …. A sequel. Not just a sequel but something that might just give John, Thomas, Helena … and the rest of the Alphans the happy ending they deserve … Maybe …. maybe …Hm.

Keep an eye peeled for: GWENT GIVETH 2 - Reunion.