September 2018

More than just 'survival'.

Based on the Season 1 episode, "Black Sun". An expansion of the scene where Helena Russell & Sandra Benes are talking in the 'survival ship'. ...

Helena glanced over once again at Sandra. She hoped her comment about being 'afraid of doctors' was strictly in her past. Then again, perhaps Sandra was a little intimidated by her. She was CMO and one of the senior staff who held the fates of everyone in their hands whenever they sat around that circular conference table. Sandra was a sensitive soul and one who kept thoughts and feelings to herself most of the time. It was ironic, but at this moment in time, it was Helena herself who envied Sandra what she had.

Although Mike Ryan had been 'sweet' on Sandra for a while and there had been rumours around the Base that the two if them had recently started dating, she knew that Paul Morrow held a torch for her too. And even with the tragic events of less than forty eight hours ago, Paul had made a point of accompanying them all to the Eagle docking port. Of ensuring that his was the last face Sandra saw of those being left die.

She was sure of it. It was obvious from what John had told her - in the strictest confidence - of his and Victor's reckless 'morale boosting' display that he held out very little hope that the forcefield would save them. Everyone bar the six souls on their Eagle were hurtling towards oblivion and John had kept his distance! She knew that he was still angry with her for attempting to defy him and substitute Bob Matthias in her place. Helena knew full well that computer had not made the final selection. If it had, neither she nor Angela Robinson would be aboard now. This was supposed to be a "survival ship" so where was the rationale in having two women in their mid forties, rapidly approaching menopause, to continue the human race? Logically the only woman amongst them able to reproduce would be Sandra! It didn't take a scientific genius to work out that the odds of success using that strategy were 1/infinity i.e. absolute zero.

No, Professor Angela Robinson was here because the two of them were colleagues and friends. She was the second best option to Victor Bergman for Helena, but there was no way that even John could have passed off computer as the decision maker if he had sent a sixty year old man with a mechanical heart! Sandra made sense, as did Alan Carter. As for the other two well, yes they would need a decent engineer...perhaps a communications expert would be handy if they encountered any intelligent aliens...

Hopefully Angela knew them a little, all she knew about them was from their medical files on the odd occasion when they had appeared in Medical Centre for routine screening. She felt sure that they were strangers to Sandra and Alan too. Probably also to each other as they worked in entirely separate departments at different ends of the Base. So their ship was composed of four reasonably close colleagues and two strangers. They were headed out into the middle of nowhere with enough supplies for only five weeks...

Trying to shake off that train of thought, she forced her mind back to replay the last hour before they departed. After John had - in a very obtuse manner - declared his feelings for her, and the fact that he would not be swayed from his decision to include her amongst the 'chosen few', she had had barely fifteen minutes to hurry back to her quarters and pack the few personal items they would have space for aboard the Eagle. She had packed just a few essential clothes and toiletries along with four of her most precious books and ...the one photo she had of John Koenig. It was an official portrait of the new Base Commander for the database and somewhat formally posed, but it was still him. All that she had of him now it would seem...

She felt a tap on her arm and turned to see Sandra watching her with concern written all over her face. "Doctor Russell...are you alright?"

"Please Sandra, call me Helena from now on. After all there are only the six of us aboard..." seeing understanding dawning in Sandra's eyes she rapidly attempted to reassure her. "I'm fine. Just a little tired after the hectic events of the last day or so. We should try and get some rest."

Sandra was not buying it for a moment. She knew how she felt about leaving everyone behind, leaving Paul behind. Yet she and Paul were only colleagues and tentative friends but Dr. Russell and the Commander?! She was sure their feelings went way deeper than that. So why had he sent her away? She had been aware that Helena had stayed behind when the commander had dismissed them all and she had heard raised voices as she hurried away towards the residential area of the Base. It didn't take a genius to realise that Helena had tried to get out of joining them on Eagle 5. Obviously John Koenig had put his foot down. Sandra also strongly suspected that computer had chosen four of the names at most. If the criteria was survival of the human race then the three youngest women on Alpha should be aboard. Both Helena and Angela were amongst the oldest.

Deciding that if they couldn't be open and honest with each other now, then they never would be, she voiced what was on her mind. "So now at least you know for sure...that he loves you."

Helena fought back the tears as she struggled to find a reply that she was comfortable with. It was all so raw just now.

Sensing her companion's struggle Sandra confided, "I didn't realise that Paul cared so much for me, until today. I'm glad he came to say goodbye, even though I had to rush through the Eagle doors before he saw me cry."

So Sandra did understand, and although it was not quite the same situation as herself and John, she could do with a friend and confidant. Let's face it, they would all be dead too in a few weeks time at most, so it was now or never. "How I wish John had accompanied us too. Victor came and saw me off as I left my quarters...I ...I'm not sure whether John sent him in his a peace offering. I was just so angry. It should have been my choice if I wanted to die on Alpha alongside him. This crew will not ensure the survival of the human race, even if Alan does come across a planet we can safely land on before we run out of fuel. Angela is forty four and I'm forty six so that leaves just one woman to carry on humanity singlehandedly." Helena grimaced at her. "Sorry Sandra, but you'll need to have at least four babies with each of the three men aboard to stand a chance of fulfilling the Commander's mission brief!"

Sandra burst out laughing and quickly tried to suppress it as she saw Professor Robinson and the two men looking curiously in their direction. She certainly didn't want to share the joke with them! But really it was no laughing matter. The six of them had been marooned in space to slowly suffocate as the Eagle ran out of resources to keep them alive, unless poor Helena resorted to euthanising them all in the final hours. Meanwhile what remained of humanity in the form of their loved ones on Alpha were going to be crushed to death by the pressure within the Black Sun. She just hoped it would be swift and painless for them all.

"You are right Helena. I'm sure all of us on board have come to the same conclusion by now. The six of us are the people John Koenig could least face watching die in front of him. Alan Carter is a close friend going way back, Angela is your friend, I'm probably here as a favour to Paul and you... as for the other two...perhaps David Kano chose them. They are both his friends I'm sure of it. They are the only two men he ever speaks to when off duty."

Helena just sighed her agreement. Then, after a brief silence that seemed to last an age Sandra whispered "Do you think we could talk Alan into turning around and heading home to Alpha?"

Helena was torn. There was nothing in the universe she would rather do but John's only dying hope rested on his belief that maybe, just maybe, the Eagle six would survive. If they followed them back now it's possible that Alpha would see them crushed just before the Base itself succumbed to the gravitational forces. After all, Eagle 5 did not have a Bergman forcefield to shield it. They would be crushed like a tin can in milliseconds as soon as they came within range of the gravitational corona of that star. "We can't Sandra, however tempting the thought is. We'd never catch them up now and if they were briefly aware of us, they would have to witness our Eagle going the same way as Mike's only minutes before they succumbed to the same fate. We can't let that be their last memory of us."

Sandra felt the tears openly flowing down her cheeks now but she no longer cared. Helena was right, they couldn't even try to go home. They just had to go through the motions of survival until... No. It was a little better than that. Now, she and Helena had each other. Bound together by the same sacrifice, the same pain of loss...

As if sensing her thoughts she heard her new friend whisper "We have each other and...all our memories. I'll share mine if you're willing to do the same. We may only have a few weeks left but let's all share our memories of Alpha and keep our friends alive, with us, as long as we take breath."

Staring out of the side window at the cosmos beyond Sandra extended her hand and felt Helena shake it.


6 6