THIS IS A SPACE: 1999 FICTION. The characters are being borrowed but I do not own them. Enjoy!


THE BYGONE ORDEAL


Introduction:

"Where is the Eagle?! Where is it?!"

She heard his desperate voice before she saw him.

Helena was on that border between semi sleep and being awake, where sound was heard but not necessarily understood. She inhaled deeply, taking in crisp clean oxygen, an agreeable but odd sensation. She then grasped and felt something beneath her hands as she lay on the terrain. Helena's fingers were touching grass and a vague part of her mind wondered what it was. Fescu? Rye? Zoysiagrass? It was soft but also slightly prickly. No, typing grass right now did not really matter but it did give her something to focus on.

A small buzzing insect flew past her ear and she waved it away.

"I don't know, Commander. I have no idea what happened. We were hovering one moment and now we are here!"

Who was that speaking? Alan Carter? No, not this time. He wanted to come but John decided that Sean Bassy, a good but underused pilot, should have the privilege. He was an affable young man with auburn hair and an easy smile. Everyone liked him.

"Is that Helena?"

'Victor.' Helena thought, and opened her eyes. She was looking up at a blue sky and the underside of trees, heavy with green leaves. The sun was warm and comfortable but there was also a slight bite to the air, indicating it was morning just before the true heat of the day. There was a nice breeze that touched the leaves, creating patterns on the earth below. Helena lifted her hands and looked at the shapes the shadows made.

"Helena!"

She heard John again.

"Thank God. Are you all right?" He knelt by her side, helping the woman to sit up as she looked about, confused.

Helena's mind quickly switched to doctor mode, "Is anyone hurt?" she asked and at the shake of his head: "What happened?"

Professor Bergman came up on her other side and took an arm as he and John helped Helena to stand. "That is exactly what we are trying to figure out." he said, resting a palm on her shoulder as both he and the Commander, appearing a bit more at ease now that all team members were accounted for, looked about their surroundings.

Bassy approached and pointed his yellow sleeved arm east, "There is a river over there. Fresh water. And I saw some trees, a few with odd fruits, close by. Wish we had canteens and knew if the fruit was safe."

Helena softly shook her head back and forth, attempting to shake loose a few final cobwebs. The last thing she remembered was a loud crackle over the monitors and a shaking in the passenger module of their Eagle. She then looked at Victor as he seemed to … dissolve. Then there was blackness.

The men had obviously been up a little longer than she and, at least partly, had gotten used to their surroundings. Helena looked up at Koenig, "John, we were coming close to entering into this planet's atmosphere, weren't we? We were having communication problems with Alpha …"

Instinctively, they all looked up to the sky, trying to see if their moon was visible. There was a moon but it seemed too close. And there was yet another, further away. They were seeing the planet's two moons but not their own.

"Yes," he said, "And the next thing we know we are here, on this planet, with no Eagle and no sense of how we got here."

"It was as if some unseen hand reached out and took us then gently laid us down here." Bassy commented, nearly poetic. He then said: "It's the damnedest thing."

Helena pulled her comlock from her belt and pressed a button, "Alpha, do you read me? This is Dr. Russell."

"We've all tried that." Victor said.

With a low voice Koenig said, "I think Alpha, like our Eagle, is gone." He placed a hand on Helena's arm as she looked up into his eyes, stricken. They had come into contact with space warps and even floated into a black sun that had carried the moon into different space. Could the same have happened again? It did not explain what happened to their Eagle but odder things had happened to the moon people. The cosmos had a lot to answer for, Koenig thought.

Professor Bergman seemed to understand. "Before we left Alpha our probes told us there were life forms on this planet. We need to find them and get some answers."

Helena wondered if when they found the inhabitants they would be able to help them. There had been no communication and computer concluded the people of this world were far less advanced than themselves. Computer reasoned if the people of this world did not communicate they did not possess the means and were therefore underdeveloped. It was an unusual situation because the Alphans were so used to alien civilizations that were far more advanced and wanted nothing to do with them for that reason.

Yet, how could such a civilization tear the reconnaissance team from their Eagle? Whoever they were or whatever was at work on this odd world, they had left them with nothing. No supplies, no weapons, and useless comlocks.

A scream was heard. "Help! Help me, Momma!"

It came from near the river and what met their eyes, when they got there, was a scene out of a parent's worst nightmare. A girl, no more than twelve years old, was slightly upstream from them and clinging for her life against a large boulder. An overwhelming torrent of water was continuously pelting her thin frantic figure. On the edge of the river was a dark cloaked woman, hysterical with worry, crying out to her to hold on. Her father would be there soon … but the girl could grasp the big rock no further. She was dragged under and into the river, sinking and bobbing to the surface, moving with the rush, she gasped and wailed.

Bassy had seen enough and the young pilot leapt into the water. He swam as far as he could and managed to snag a hand on a large fallen limb. As the girl came near he scooped her up and, holding firmly onto the limb and its branches, he made his way to the river's edge.

The woman had seen this and ran to the Alphans, standing near Helena, sobbing. "She's my baby!" she grieved, "We lost her sister last year to the fever!" Then, as if to explain her inaction: "I can't swim!"

Helena held the woman briefly then left her to Victor as she went to her new patient. The girl was gently deposited into Koenig's arms. He laid her on a patch of flat grass. The girl was cold and still as a stone. Helena push the wet dark blond hair from her face then touched her cheek and mouth. "She's not breathing." She said grimly and quickly began resuscitation, breathing into the girl's mouth, unbuttoning her blouse and massaging her heart.

"Oh, no!" the woman screeched, held by Victor when she tried to run to the girl.

"She's a doctor." He told the woman who suddenly stood still and looked at Victor as if he were a madman. "Helena will do her best."

"A doctor? But how …?"

Before another word could be said a man, short but impressively built with a dark suit, salt-pepper mustache and beard, and what might be a rifle in his hand, appeared from the surrounding forest. He looked the type that might be imposing during a barroom brawl but the air of fear in his soft brown eyes at the sight of his daughter laying still on the ground, as Helena worked on her, shone ample vulnerability. "What happened to Charity?" he called to his wife, his voice cracking slightly. She left Victor to rush into her husband's arms.

"She fell into the river." Bassy said, still wet and exhausted from his effort. He was bent over, hands on his knees, and breathing heavily.

The girl suddenly coughed and spit out water.

Dr. Russell pulled Charity into a sitting position. She then patted and gently rubbed her back. The girl continued with a series of sputters, gasps and coughs. "She's going to be okay." Helena announced, as relieved as the rest of them.

"Thank you, friends, thank you!" The man stuck out his hand and shook Koenig's with abundant gratitude, "My name is Jophery Mount and this is my wife, Abigail." He watched as his spouse departed from him and sat beside her recovering daughter, holding her. "We are on holiday." He said. "I was hoping to get in some hunting." He indicated the rifle. Mount then took a good look at his daughter's rescuers, at their odd clothing, and his expression grew incredulous. "You are not from around here?" he asked.

Koenig shook his head no.