AFTER EFFECTS

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John Koenig had never been so close to beating a woman into a bloody pulp in his entire life.

Victor had once warned Koenig about his temper and the Commander was forced to agree that anger management was not his strong suit. However, in-between disasters, the Commander practiced breathing techniques and took his aggression out in physical exercise. Also, when he had the time, he would partake in martial arts. He and Luke Ferro had spent a great deal of time practicing kendo. It energized him, soothed him, and made him think.

Koenig was not an animal, of course, and preferred to talk a matter through rather than fight physically but every so often his disposition would get the better of him and he would want to lash out, both verbally and with his fists.

This situation had blind-sided Koenig and his hand was very close to knocking the woman's exquisite head off her creamy white neck and shoulders. Perhaps if she had been less gorgeous or forth-coming and had not seemed so sincere and honest when she spoke he might not have felt betrayed.

However, it all came crashing down around Koenig when he discovered that Helena Russell was a victim of the Darian's vile deception.

If they hadn't reached her when they did, had forced Kara to bring Dr. Russell out of whatever drugged coma they placed her under, Helena would be dead. Her lovely body and all its parts, inside and out, would have been used to further the Darian's lives by artificial means.

The thought was enough to make Koenig physically unwell and it was a scenario he could not, would not, and did not accept. The notion of Helena, or any Alphan, ending so badly had terrified him and disturbed Koenig so deeply that for days after returning to Moonbase Alpha he could not look Helena in the eyes.

Even after her full recovery, while he was kind to her and said the right things, Koenig did not stay with her for any length of time. Nor did he talk about the disastrous Darian encounter with Helena.

He simply couldn't.

Helena was not certain who had been more traumatized, she or the Commander. It was sobering, wondering what John might do if ever faced with the same circumstance as the Darians, but she suspected there was more to his evasiveness than the potential future of humans from Earth.

To the casual eye Helena was initially fragile and he was aloof.

Those who had been there on the Darian space-craft knew better. They had seen their Commander nearly lose it. If Helena Russell had not recovered none of them were entirely sure what Koenig might have done. He was so irate that Carter and Morrow entertained the notion that Koenig would have torn each "pure" Darian apart with his bare hands.

His comlock beeped. Koenig lifted it and looked at her.

"You're avoiding me, John." she said.

"Not on purpose, Helena. Honestly." he lied.

She told him she would be in his office in five minutes.

He had shut the sliding door which connected him to Main Mission and stepped down into his common area, the sunken lounge that managed to be both professional and comfortable. Often he would sit on the white sofa, cup of coffee in hand, and just stare out the window at the stars. It seemed odd that they still fascinated him after all these months in space.

Helena came in quietly through the office's back entrance and looked at him from behind as he sat there, thoughtful and silent. "John, I really am fine. I had a few sessions with Doctor Mathias, who is quite a good psychologist, and I'm in no danger." She then thought aloud and came around the sofa to look at him, "Maybe you should talk with him."

"Seriously?" he asked, appearing a man slightly insulted.

"I'm sorry." She sat beside him on the sofa, "I find myself forgetting that our Commander is an iron-man."

Helena took his hand and was relieved when John chuckled.

They both looked up at the stars for awhile.

He then gazed at her hand, her flesh soft and warm against his own. It felt right being there. He watched as she instinctively laced her slender fingers with his own. Very nice, he thought.

"When I consider all of the dangers we face here in outer-space I often times wonder how we've survived."

"You sound like Victor." he commented.

"A very wise man." she said and continued, "I sometimes feel the disasters we face make us stronger and more resilient. Eventually we will find a home, John, but only when we are worthy. Only when we've faced enough terror and wonder will a rest on a perfect home planet be looked upon as a true prize, not just someplace where we merely settle."

"When will that be, Helena?" he asked.

She was warmed by how young and hopeful he sounded, "I'm not sure, John." she said truthfully and, like Koenig, looked down at their hands. "Maybe we have something to do in space, a special task that we have yet to fulfill. Once that is done we can rest."

"I wonder how many of us will be left to rest when the time comes."

She smiled and spoke low, "Enough."

Helena looked up at him just as Koenig looked down at her. They were very close and stared into each other's eyes. There was a moment and slowly she leaned forward and he moved downward to claim her lips.

No sooner had the touch happened, had their lips pulled and tasted, when Morrow called to the Commander. He reported that an odd gathering of objects, possibly a graveyard of spaceships, had appeared on their long range sensors.

Helena, the moment broken, pulled back and quickly stood. "It's okay, John. I have to get back to Medical Center." Halfhearted, she shook herself out of a the amorous mood which had developed. No doubt if they had been left to their own devices their closeness would have culminated in an act that threatened to put both of them in a compromising position.

Although she stood, Koenig had yet to release her hand.

She waited patiently.

Suddenly aware, his fingers opened and he carefully freed Helena from his hold. Koenig felt strangely deserted when her hand slipped from his.

Helena also felt something enigmatic that caused her to pause, "Maybe we can get together later for coffee?"

"All right." he said and watched her go.

That evening Tony Cellini had his first nightmare, an encounter with a monster from his past.

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THE END

June 2012

Reference:

MISSION OF THE DARIANS

DRAGON'S DOMAIN

(This fiction is part of the fan zine, THE CORRELATION SEQUENCE, now available on CD and hardcopy)