VIRTUAL SEASONS EPISODES
“True Callings, Part I”: (January 21 – 23) General Hawkins invokes presidential authority and locks down Project Quantum Leap to conduct an investigation after a nationwide e-mail message threatens the secrecy of the project. Meanwhile, Sam has leaped into the town of Hope Springs, Virginia in 1985, as a costumed vigilante known as Captain Liberty.
“True Callings, Part II”: Tom Beckett’s son, J.T., admits that he is the one that leaked information about the Project to all of the former leapees who received the e-mail message.
“True Callings, Part III”: David Watkins (the grandson of former leapee Arnold Watkins) admits to Hawkins that he is the one that sent out the initial message across the Internet. Back in the past, Sam succeeds in shutting down the criminal empire of drug kingpin Darius Dreck with the help of Dr. Alexander Garner. Dreck’s property is eventually sold off to the U.S. government where, in the present, Hawkins begins construction of an anti-terrorist project called Project Liberty. Tom Beckett is brought out of retirement by Hawkins and promoted to Captain, as he, J.T., and David Watkins are brought aboard this new project…
“The Enemy”: (February 6) Dominic Lofton is blackmailed by General Hawkins to create a copy of Ziggy’s program after a reporter named Benjamin nearly succeeds in getting into the complex by stowing away in Dom’s car. Hawkins plans to use this copied program to run Project Liberty, and also reveals to Dom that he has secretly programmed Ziggy to lie…
“Eternal Shadows: The Dawning”: (February 10 – 14) Sam begins leaping into various people in present-day Hope Springs. A high school senior named Paige Arlyss discovers a computer virus embedded within a copy of the e-mail message that was sent out by David Watkins. Even more disturbing is that this virus begins asking questions about Dr. Sam Beckett. Paige’s stepfather, Isaac Lane, who just so happens to be the head of security at Project Liberty, has agreed to take Paige to the project to ask General Hawkins about it.
“Eternal Shadows: The Emergence”: As Isaac Lane, Sam, along with Al, finally discovers the true nature of Hawkins’ project. The Ziggy-copy has been named Omega, and is being used as part of a time-travel experiment.
“Eternal Shadows: The Supremacy”: As Hawkins conducts further investigation into Sam’s prior leaps, he returns to PQL briefly where a mysterious conspiracy seems to be afoot involving other leapers.
“Eternal Shadows: The Enchantment”: Back at Project Liberty, head technician Lexia Stafford and her assistant, Nate Adams, discover a minor glitch in Omega’s systems and begin working to correct the problem. As they leave the room, Omega begins evolving and taking on a life of its own…
“Quantum Evolution”: (May 8) Hawkins invites Al to witness the initial testing phase of Project Liberty. The experiment goes awry when another glitch occurs, resulting in the deaths of four soldiers upon their retrieval. Meanwhile, Sam leaps into an astral projectionist in 2001. A psychic warns Sam that Hawkins will be involved with something that causes Armageddon. According to Al, however, Sam is there to sabotage the experiments of a terrorist named Mustafa, who Dr. Braden sold time-travel information to in 1985 (during “True Callings”). Dr. Garner (now in his late eighties) suddenly shows up and is killed trying to help Sam. Sam succeeds in his mission, and Al reveals his true identity as a younger Alexander Garner, sent by the Bartender to watch over him. The real Al shows up and informs Sam that a nuclear explosion has just occurred in present-day Hope Springs…
“Quantum Departure”: (May 9 – 14) Sam returns to Al’s Place, and is sent into the near future by the Bartender. Al leaps to the tavern and follows Sam into the future, where he finds himself inhabiting the aura of a twenty-six-year-old woman named Alicia Dalton. He and Sam are reunited as they begin their search for answers and subsequently stumble upon the remains of Project Quantum Leap. Searching through the destruction, a dying General Hawkins reveals that he was drugged and tortured by a woman from Project Liberty, whose goal was to connect an interface that would link Omega to Ziggy. Sam also begins feeling an intense hatred towards Al after finding out that Al kept information about his family from him. Sam returns to Al’s Place again and has an emotional reunion with several long-lost friends and family members (Gooshie, Alia, Alexander Garner, and John and Thelma Beckett). They all wish him luck and to stay strong during this new crisis. But history seems doomed to repeat itself…
And now, the final chapter begins…
will see each other again,” Thelma
Louise smiled. “I love you,
too, Sam. Now go, your
brother needs you.”
I love you.” Sam wrapped
his arms around his father. “I
can’t believe you’re real this time.”
“Make us proud, son.”
looked around and said goodbye to everyone, tears rolling down his face
again. “I’ll try to
remember you all.”
all the leaps that you have endured,” the bartender patted Sam’s arm,
“there is no way that you could come out of this without having changed
to some degree. Who knows?
Perhaps someday, if you wish to feel different than people expect
of you, then act in a completely different way.
Be selfish if it makes you feel better.
Should you choose that path, you’ll be reminded why it’s
against your nature, just like this anger you’ve been exhibiting lately.
Figure out the cause of that dark emotion in yourself and you just
might be rewarded; maybe even return home.
You’re only human after all; you don’t have to be perfect every
minute of your life. Despite
living other people’s lives, you have to find a way to live your own as
well. Find some time on one
of your leaps to just look around and enjoy where you are with the people
wiped the tears from his face. “I
think I just have.”
it again another time, Sam. Take care and God bless,” waved Alberto as Sam vanished in
quantum energy before he could make a response.
He felt at peace. It had been some time since the Quantum Physicist had felt the serene calmness as he was held within the blue-white chasm that always took care of him. As he floated in the midst of the abyss, Dr. Sam Beckett thought of his parents and even as he did so, he could feel a smile spread across his face. Suddenly though, his mind went back to the cataclysmic destruction of Hope Springs, Virginia and how it affected not only his project, but his family as well.
“How am I going to do this?” he asked the void as his words began to echo around him ominously.
The question wasn’t answered, though he began to feel the blue-white electrical pull begin to tingle at his extremities, moving toward his abdomen where it usually grabbed him, physically moving him in Time.
“Please…” he begged the empty space as he felt the energy continuing to build. “Let me fix this… not like her… not like Marilyn Hicks. Please…”
Without an answer, the force of the warm, tingling, pulsating electrical current began to wrap around him. It was in that last moment that Sam spoke up as his mind enveloped what not only the enigmatic bartender was telling him as well as what his failed leap had taught him. “I understand why I couldn’t save her,” he said quickly and felt the impulse ebb slightly from completely engulfing him. “I’ve never accepted that suicide was a way out… but I… I had to understand how she felt. I had to know what it was like to be that desperate… and he’s right too. I’ll… stop and smell the roses and….” Sam wasn’t able to finish his thought as the electrical blue-white light caught him completely unaware and whisked him toward another point in the timeline.
The blue-white tingling electrical field dropped the Quantum Physicist back into the timeline. His senses were swimming and he blinked as he tried to get his bearings even though for a moment he could not see. Slowly, each of his senses came into sharp focus as he watched a door slowly slide up before him.
The sound of the door opening was so familiar to him that he wondered for a brief moment if he was home as he approached the white interior of the room attached to it. If he had arrived home, he would have thought that someone would have rushed into the room excitedly. Waiting only a brief moment, he peered into the room and couldn’t believe what awaited him inside.
Sam blinked uncontrollably as his eyes filled with tears and he began to cough and gag as the overwhelming stench of urine and feces overpowered him. Covering his nose and mouth with a hand his eyes continued in the inspection of the room. As his eyes scanned the white interior of the room, his eyes found the source and his face blanched.
In the corner furthest away from the door was a woman reclining against the wall, her legs hugged to her body, her eyes closed. If the room was any indication, she had been locked inside the room for some time. Moving quickly to her side, Sam placed his hand on her neck to check for a pulse. He could barely feel one, but her skin was burning with a fever. Blinking as he began to visually assess her, he was mortified.
Whoever had placed her within this confinement had wanted her to waste away – and that was most definitely what she was doing. Just from Sam’s assessment of her physical ailments and a quick glance around the room once again, Sam knew several things. She was dehydrated; her body wasn’t producing any sweat from the fever, the fever itself and being able to barely feel her pulse were several indicators that death was clearly in her future if he didn’t do something now.
“Miss?” he began as he slowly reached out to her and touched her shoulder. “Can you hear me?”
The redhead’s eyes opened slowly and she blinked at him before her eyes rolled languidly then closed again. A course, hoarse moan escaped from her and Sam knew that he had to do something for her. He just hoped that he wasn’t the one who had entombed her in her own casket.
Carefully picking her up, Sam slowly and cautiously walked through the large open room, which he had come from. Not knowing where to go, Sam looked at the two directions he could go before him and finally chose to go to the right. After a minute, Sam glanced into an open room to see a bed. Thankfully, he hurried into the room and laid her down on the bed. Even as he looked down at her, he could tell how much weight she had lost, especially the way her cheeks were sunk into her face.
Running the back of his hand over his lips, he thought about what he had to get for her. His mind ran over several scenarios and he wondered if this facility, whatever he was in, had a kitchen or an infirmary. The only way to find out was to do some exploration and he hated to leave her. “I’ll be back,” he said softly then started toward the door.
Another moan answered him and Sam rushed back to her side not wanting her to think that he was leaving her. “It’s okay. I’m going to get some supplies to help you. I’ll be right back. Ok?”
As her eyes rolled again, Sam wasn’t sure if she could see him or not. He smoothed her hair back from her face and put his hand on her forehead. Frowning, he caressed her face once more, told her again that he would return, then headed out the door. As he started down the hallway, he uttered, “Oh boy.”
Gate, New Mexico
7:42 PM (MDT)
“Garner, you bastard!” Al screamed as the walls of the Imaging Chamber resumed their normal metallic shape. “Dom, reestablish a link with Sam, NOW!” he yelled into the handlink.
“Sorry, Al, honey,” bawled Tina’s voice almost dripping with tears. “I can’t get a lock on Dr. Beckett at all.”
Swearing in Italian, Al swung his arm around to smash the handlink out of anger—but then suddenly felt overcome by a momentary wave of dizziness. When the feeling subsided, Al looked toward the Imaging Chamber door and realized what had just happened. He leaped back into himself, on the night before he stepped into the Accelerator to join Sam in the future. Pressing a button on the handlink, the Imaging Chamber door swung open as the Admiral stormed out.
As he approached the bottom of the ramp, he spotted Tina by herself. The computer programmer was nearly beside herself as she constantly wiped her eyes with tissues. The piles on the floor around her feet suggested that she had been at this for some time. The news of the catastrophe seemed to hit her hard too.
“Tina, where’s Dom?” Al asked, already knowing Tina’s answer before she even said it.
“Dom and Aurora,” blubbered Tina, “bolted as soon as the news bulletins came on. They have relatives in the D.C. area. I think they tried to, like, get plane tickets to go find them, but President Bush ordered that all aircraft stay on the ground due to the travel ban.”
“Travel ban…” Al repeated, his brain seemingly still slightly Swiss-cheesed from the leap.
“Until anyone knows what’s happened, President Bush has ordered that all modes of public transportation like trains, buses, and planes be halted indefinitely. This is totally scary, Al. It’s like 9-11 all over again, but much worse.”
In that moment, it all came back to the Admiral. ‘They’re gonna get killed! I need to save them!’ Turning toward Corporal “Rusty” Kincaid, who was standing guard by the elevator, Al went into full military mode. “Corporal, get on the horn with Commander Fulton. Tell him to meet me down here, and then I need you to assemble a small security detail to meet us in the main corridor on Level 1, on the double!”
The corporal nodded and did as he was told, as Tina opened her mouth in shock. “Like, what’s goin’ on, Al?”
“I need to go out there to find Dom and Aurora and get them both to safety; they’re in grave danger! Don’t ask me how I know, I just do! Ziggy, I need to know where Sam leaped into, and I need to know NOW!”
“That is impossible at present, Admiral,” purred Ziggy from the blue globe suspended from the ceiling. “Based on past leap readings, I project with almost 100% certainty that Sam is somewhere in time as himself. The only way I will be able to lock on to him is if you stand in the Imaging Chamber until I cycle through all the days of his life. Even then, I cannot guarantee success, through no fault of my own.”
“Almost?” Al thought for a moment before grinning and responding, “Check those readings again, Ziggy. My… gut tells me that Sam might have just resurfaced somewhere else.”
“Admiral, I have already told you that—” Before Ziggy could finish, her sensors re-detected Sam’s presence in time and the chime announcing the arrival of a new Visitor sounded. “Oh my! You were… right, Admiral. Dr. Beckett has just reappeared in the timeline. How did you know?”
All Al could do was smirk in response, pleased that he was able to get the better of Ziggy for a change. His smugness vanished, however, upon turning around to hear the sound of Donna Elesee-Beckett’s footsteps approaching.
“Al,” Sam’s wife blurted out, “is Sam between leaps?”
“Actually,” Al corrected, “he just leaped. The leapee is in the Waiting Room as we speak.”
Ziggy’s voice also interjected, “The Visitor appears to be unconscious, but they are alive. I am having… difficulty determining the person’s identity. How odd. I cannot explain why this is. Any information pertaining to Dr. Beckett’s current whereabouts and his reason for being there will take time for my database to project.”
Thinking on that, Donna continued, “I don’t know how to say this, Al. But just before the catastrophe, City Of Hope called my residence outside the project.”
Al’s face drew a blank. “City of Hope?”
“City Of Hope is a cancer center facility in Los Angeles, California,” intoned the parallel-hybrid computer.
“It’s where Sam’s mother was moved to when her condition got worse a few weeks ago,” Donna added. “Her breast cancer apparently has been malignant for some time now and has spread. Her recent treatments were believed to be helpful but now she is apparently unable to tolerate the procedures. She’s not expected to live much longer. The doctor said they tried to contact Tom and was unable to leave a message with him.” Tears formed around her face. “What gets me is that Tom didn’t tell us about her condition, and now he and J.T. are presumed dead. Sam is gonna be devastated when he hears about all this.”
Thinking back to Sam’s recent outburst of uncontrolled rage while they were both in the future, Al lowered his head as he said, “He already knows.”
“What?” Donna asked in shock. “How does he already know when I’ve only just found out myself?”
“Long story, Donna,” Al replied, “one I don’t have time to go into right now. Listen to me… I need you and Stephen to go with Beth and leave with the others, as soon as possible. If you and your son try to leave tomorrow morning, it’ll be too late. The crowd of protestors outside will end up distracting the guards just long enough to ensure that something terrible is going to happen.”
“But there’s only a small number of protestors out there, Al,” Donna explained. “Surely not enough to cause a full-scale riot!”
“There’ll be more of ’em within the next couple of hours, and if we don’t evacuate everyone into the emergency subway transport tunnels by tomorrow morning, it’s gonna get ugly before we know what hits us! Thanks to this catastrophe, the entire nation is going to be acting like it’s the beginning of World War III! As soon as I’m done here, I’ll be placing a call to our old friend, General Thomas Collins, at Holloman Air Force Base so that he can aid the evacuation from his end.”
“The subway tunnels?!” Tina screamed. “My God, we haven’t had to, like, use them since we needed to evacuate back when that psycho Adam guy gained control of Ziggy!”
Before Al had a chance to respond, the elevator hatch opened again, revealing Security Commander Daniel Fulton and Dr. Samantha Josephine Fuller—soon to be Fulton.
Daniel was the first to speak. “What’s going on, Al? Corporal Kincaid sounded rather urgent in his communiqué.”
Taking an older “gummi-bear” model handlink out of the control console’s receptacle, Al explained, “Long story short, this project is going into full lockdown mode effective immediately. All non-security personnel are being evacuated to Holloman Air Force Base. General Thomas Collins will set up a rendezvous point where his men can meet up with our people and escort them to the base safely. Dom and Aurora are out there somewhere; they couldn’t have gone very far yet. There’s still time to find them, but I’ll need your help. A number of years back, Gooshie installed a tracking device in his car. When that killer Leon Stiles escaped, Gooshie was able to rig up a signal using the old handlink that allowed me to track him down. Dom’s vehicle has the same type of tracking device installed. While you’re driving the security van, I’ll be using that handlink to track down their car. Once we find them, we’ll need to get them past the protestors to the rendezvous point and then make it back into the complex safely to prevent a security breach. Some psychotic woman drugged Hawkins and is forcing him to lead her back here. With the travel ban in effect, they won’t get here until sometime early tomorrow, but with Sam changing things back in the past, they might suddenly be here a lot sooner! Either way, I’m not taking the chance that something will go terribly wrong! I want Donna, Beth, Verbena, Tina, and everyone else to make their way down to the Transport level and evacuate to the Space Harbor at White Sands.”
“How do you know all this, Al?” Sammy Jo asked fearfully. “And who is this ‘psychotic woman’ you’re talking about?”
“I’ll explain it to all of you once this crisis has passed! As for the woman, I don’t know who she is yet… but I’m hoping either Sam or myself will find out soon enough. If I had to take a guess, it would be that blonde woman from Project Liberty—Stafford, I think. I know I’ve never met her before she joined Project Liberty, but she looked damn familiar…”
“But Al,” Donna interrupted. “What about whoever’s in the Waiting Room? And what about Sam? We can’t just leave him back in the past without any help!”
“Like Ziggy said, the leapee is unconscious at the moment, so he or she isn’t going anywhere,” Al responded. “As for Sam, well… he probably doesn’t want to see my face right now anyway.” Al lowered his head despondently. Out of the corner of his eye, Al noticed both Donna’s and Sammy Jo’s concerned reactions to that statement, but decided not to clarify as he continued, “Besides which, I can’t be in two places at once.”
“Not to worry, Admiral Calavicci,” Ziggy announced playfully. “I believe I have a temporary solution to the problem. However, I should warn you that Master Stephen has not yet been able to fully test this contingency plan.”
Already feeling another headache coming on, Al rubbed at his temples and said, “Stephen? Oh no, what did that kid do now? I thought I told him to stop messing around with your program after that practical joke backfired the last time!”
“Indeed, I reminded him of that when he proposed this enhancement several days ago, Admiral,” Ziggy reiterated. “But he claimed that this was different, and after extensive analysis, I would have to agree. It may now be possible to activate my hologram without the need for anyone to physically use the handlink. However, I will only be able to appear inside of the Imaging Chamber and I can only be transferred there through a direct command code that would be activated in the event of an emergency lockdown situation such as this one. ‘In the event that a human Observer is temporarily incapacitated or unable to perform their duties, or the Project enters lockdown mode as a result of either catastrophic failure or a security breach, the parallel-hybrid computer can directly aid the Leaper as a holographic image within the Imaging Chamber.’ I believe Stephen got the idea from one of those Star Trek shows he used to watch on television. He called it the E.O.H.”
“E.O.H.?” Tina asked.
“Emergency Observer Hologram,” Ziggy answered as if it should have been obvious what the abbreviation stood for.
Al was dumbfounded. “You mean that… you can lock onto Sam’s brainwaves and appear to him as a hologram that only he can see and hear?”
“I believe that is the general idea, Admiral. And since your brainwaves are linked to Dr. Beckett’s, I can lock onto your brainwaves in the present and appear as a hologram to you as well. Just like Gooshie did when Leon Stiles escaped from the Waiting Room on April 22, 1999. Once activated, the Control Center will automatically lock out anyone who does not have the correct override codes. The E.O.H. will automatically deactivate once the Project steps down from lockdown mode. Unfortunately, it requires a large amount of power to activate and can only be used for a few minutes at any one time. Even General Hawkins does not know about this untested protocol yet. As Master Stephen put it, ‘If that pompous monkey-butt knew about this modification and how much energy it would drain, he’d have a cow!’”
As Al, Donna and Tina tried their best to hide the chuckles of amusement they found in Ziggy’s quoted statement, Al cleared his throat so as to reiterate the seriousness of the situation. “Very well, Ziggy. This is as good a time as any to test the effectiveness of this new… um, E.O.H. Once I input the new command code, you’ll be in charge of Observing for both Dr. Beckett and myself. You’ll have a small group of soldiers stationed outside of the Control Room standing guard until I get back. In the meantime, do whatever you can to get a lock on Sam and find out who he’s leaped into.”
“Affirmative, Admiral Calavicci.”
As Donna and Tina left the Control Room, Sammy Jo approached Al with a terrified look in her eyes. “Al, this is insane. We have no idea if this E.O.H. thing is going to work properly. I’m more than capable of filling in for you until you get back.”
“I can’t allow you to do that, Sammy,” Al replied, trying his best to be the voice of both reason and comfort at the same time. “I’ve seen what’s going to happen to this Project, and I can’t allow you to risk the safety of either yourself, the baby, or both. Daniel’s going to be watching my back.” Noticing the look of concern on the quantum physicist’s face, Al reassured her, “Your fiancé has proven himself in the line of duty more than enough these past few months. He knew the risks when he was assigned this position. Don’t worry about him, okay? You have your orders, Dr. Fuller.”
As Al turned around to place a call to General Collins, the man who at one time was the Director of the Star Bright Project more than twenty years earlier, Sammy Jo turned to her beloved with a pleading look in her eyes as she cradled her pregnant belly.
Embracing his fiancée with all his heart, Daniel looked Sammy Jo directly in the eye and, with conviction, said, “Please, Samantha, do as Al says and leave here while you can. If anything happens to our daughter, I’ll never be able to live with myself.”
“Promise me you’ll make it through this, Daniel,” Sammy Jo cried. “Promise me you won’t do something stupid and die on me! Don’t you DARE die on me! I almost lost you back in November and I don’t want to go through that again, you hear me?!” Fresh tears continued to fall, not only for the catastrophe in Hope Springs, but also out of fear for the dark future that once again threatened to envelop the lives of she and her unborn child, Isabella.
“I promise, Samantha! I swear when this is all over, you and I are going to get married as soon as possible—even if we have to elope. We’ve been dealing with one too many crises at this project lately, and I for one can’t bear the thought of living another day without you.” With that, he kissed his future wife passionately then gently pushed her away. “Now go!”
Looking back to Daniel one last time, Sammy Jo entered the elevator, hoping that it wouldn’t be the last time she saw him. After waiting for Al to finish his conversation with General Collins, Daniel then walked back towards Al and said, “I’m ready, Admiral.”
“Good,” Al replied. “Then let’s go meet up with Corporal Kincaid and find our Head Programmer and Chief Physician.”
Raising his head towards the Control Room’s blue globe, Al shouted, “Ziggy? The first chance you get after you go back to see Sam, keep me informed of what’s happening, okay?”
“Affirmative, Admiral,” Ziggy simply complied.
As Al and Daniel headed into the elevator to Level 1, it suddenly dawned on Al just exactly what the disaster in Hope Springs meant to him personally. He had recently discovered that his oldest daughter, Julianna, and his grandson, Jude, were both in Washington, D.C. They were now, more than likely, either dead or soon-to-be dead from the fallout of the nuclear catastrophe. ‘Oh God,’ Al thought. ‘Even before I leaped, I never even realized that they were affected too. Sam, wherever you are, buddy, you need to stop this! Please, God, let him stop this!’
As the hatch opened and Daniel moved down the corridor toward the security detail, Al fought back the tears of sorrow that threatened to overwhelm him. ‘Suck it up, Calavicci! You can mourn later; right now, you have a job to do!’ With the image of Julianna pervading his thoughts, Al entered the five-letter code that only he would know, then went off to join the others at the main entrance.
11:54 PM (EDT)
Captain Thomas Beckett awoke to find himself pinned underneath the weight of a collapsed ceiling beam. It took the Chief Project Observer a few seconds to recall what had happened. Shortly after Admiral Calavicci left, Lexia Stafford and the programmer who directly reported to her, Nate Adams, began checking and rechecking every single piece of code embedded within Omega’s memory core in an attempt to find out what went wrong with the testing phase that killed those four soldiers. He had been suspicious that something wasn’t quite right about the whole situation, but Dr. Daniels reassured Tom that he would confront Ms. Stafford about it. At the time, he hadn’t given it another thought. However, looking back on it now, Tom couldn’t ignore his gut feeling that if he had looked into it himself, or even if Daniels hadn’t been around to begin with, this catastrophe might have been averted.
Gathering his adrenaline and harkening back to his SEAL training, Tom managed to push off his restraints as he began searching for survivors. The first person he thought of was his son, J.T. “Oh God… last time I checked, he was in the Control Room!” he whispered in horror.
Although the Control Room was on the same floor as he was, getting there was a chore since the entire corridor was blocked off by smoldering debris. Nevertheless, he pushed forward, determined to find a way around the debris and get to his son so that they and other survivors could get to safety; although something told Tom that remaining as far underground as possible would be the safest option.
Ten minutes passed as he pushed and, often times, crawled through narrow crevices to get to the main corridor that led to the control center of the now decimated project. He nearly tripped over something in his path, but regained his balance when he looked down and saw the body of the Project Psychiatrist. He was still alive, but barely breathing.
“Daniels!” Tom shouted as he looked down at his chest and saw his white lab shirt stained with blood. “My God, just hold on! I’ll get you out of here as soon as I can find a way out of here!” Even as Tom said it, he knew that Dr. Daniels would not last much longer.
“Too late… for… me, C— Captain….” Daniels struggled to get out what needed to be said before death inevitably came for him. “They’re… pure evil….”
“Evil? Who, Daniels? WHO?!”
“Two of them were working t-together… to corrupt O-Omega…. She took General… left before the explosion…. General was a… pawn…. The one who… shot me… —WHEEZE— Eyes of a… madman… fooled us all….”
“Who shot you, Daniels? Who in God’s name DID this?!”
“Omega is… ACKK… not what it… seems…. Did something to… him….”
“Him who? Who did this, Daniels? WHO?! Stay with me, Daniels! DANIELS!!”
But it was too late; Daniels was gone.
Tom pushed his way through the wreckage, determined to get into the Control Room… or at least, what was left of it. His thoughts raced to his late wife, Melissa, and the two loving and wonderful children they had raised together before cancer took her away from them—Catherine Louise and Jonathan Thomas. ‘J.T.! Oh God, J.T.! Oh, my dear sweet boy! Please be alive,’ Tom thought as he broke into the barely functional Control Room of Project Liberty. What he saw there made his heart sink down into the pit of his stomach.
Although the main control center was still somewhat intact, bodies were strewn everywhere. Squinting through the smoky haze, he coughed and looked down to see the corpse of David Watkins, his throat horribly slashed. “Murdered!” Tom suddenly realized. A few feet from his position laid the body of Dr. Milo Hasselein, President Bush’s scientific advisor, his throat also slashed. Finally, in front of the main control panel was another body. Tom prayed beyond hope that it wasn’t who it appeared to be, but closer inspection ultimately revealed his worst fears—that his only son, J.T., was dead.
“Noooo…” Tom groaned in despair. “Oh, J.T.… my precious boy.” In that moment, as the gravity of the situation hit Tom that he was quite possibly the only remaining survivor from Project Liberty’s destruction, he collapsed in despair. He allowed himself to weep for one full minute before he forced himself to push his emotions off to the side and press onward. He had a job to do. ‘It’s up to me! If there’s even a remote chance that the Accelerator still works, I’ve got to get inside and prevent this catastrophe from ever occurring! Even if it kills me!’
As Tom ran toward the main console to enter the command codes he would need to assume control of Omega, he noticed something he had never seen before. Snakelike tendrils of electrical energy were moving along the walls and panels as if they had a mind all their own. “My God… it’s alive!” Before he realized the full implication of Omega’s evolution, a stream of electrical energy shot out from the mainframe and paralyzed him. Tom fell to the floor unable to support his own weight.
From behind where Tom fell, he could see a figure emerging from the shadows. The man stood over Tom’s fallen body holding a strange futuristic-looking contraption in one hand, and a lead pipe in the other. Gloating, he continued, “You Becketts are like a maddening itch that can’t be scratched… pesky, annoying little do-gooders that never seem to go away when you want them to! Well, that will soon change. And to think, none of it would have been possible without Samuel’s intervention in the first place. Irony is such a strange and wonderful thing, wouldn’t you say, Thomas?”
Looking up into the eyes of this man who was now clearly insane, Tom’s eyes widened in disbelief and shock as he realized whom the man was. “NO! It CAN’T be! Not YOU!!”
They were the last words Tom spoke as the mystery man raised the lead pipe and lowered it violently toward the Navy Captain’s head. Tom’s world went dark.
Sam wandered through the complex searching each room as he came to it hoping either to come across a first aid kit or directions to the infirmary to make his search easier. Within his first thirty minutes of the leap, he had found nothing. As he continued his search, he made a mental note on which level he had reached in relation to where he had left his patient. Even as his search was coming up empty-handed, he couldn’t believe how someone had just left her in a padded room to die. No matter how hard he tried to comprehend it, thoughts eluded him as how people could be so evil.
‘Your patient is waiting,’ his mind called out to him and he hesitantly stopped, as his mind seemed to reconnect to his medical training. As easy as opening a filing cabinet and pulling a file out, Sam’s mind picked out the file on dehydration and started to shuffle through the papers on how to help her. Even as he continued his search, Sam’s mind flitted through all the unnecessary information and settled on the actions to take to ensure his patient’s survival. As he walked, his eyes searched through the rooms as he mumbled, “Hospitalization, IV, water with electrolytes, broth for salt and sodium, bland foods – bananas, crackers, boiled potatoes, plain rice…”
Opening the next door he came to, Sam found a small kitchenette and held his breath as he went toward the cabinets wondering what they held. The cabinets held the normal array of dishes and supplies needed for a small kitchenette, but nothing to help him. Frowning, Sam turned to leave, then saw the closet to his left. Furrowing his brow deeper, Sam opened the door and he sighed in relief.
It was a pantry and his mind went back to the list of things he had thought of earlier. He was definitely able to scratch several things off his list. Grabbing the box of saltine crackers, Sam placed it on the counter along with two cans of broth – one chicken, one beef. Turning back to the small pantry, he shuffled some of the boxes of cereal around and found a product that caused him to smile: Gatorade. As he read the back of the product, Sam’s eyes lit as he read one word – electrolytes.
“Perfect,” he murmured before he placed the three bottles he’d found on the cabinet.
As he looked at the bounty he’d found, Sam wondered how he was going to get it all to her when his eyes found the garbage bags inside the closet. “Better than nothing,” he said to himself then carefully placed the food into the bag. He was about to leave when he thought about the utensils he had found. Grabbing two cups and two spoons from the drawer as well as a can opener to help him with the cans of broth, he placed them in the bag and then left the room.
A few hallways away from where he had found his first treasure, Sam was pleased to finally find the infirmary. Opening the door, he went to the cabinets to find them open. Sighing once more with relief, Sam thought about grabbing what he needed and taking it to her when he realized it would be easier to bring her to the infirmary. Setting the food on the floor by the door, he turned and started back to his patient.
Double timing it back to where the young woman was now laying on the floor unconscious, Sam carefully picked her up and carried her back to the infirmary. Laying her down on one of the beds, Sam knew that the first thing he needed to do was get fluid into her system as soon as possible – an IV. Sam quickly set about getting the necessary supplies then went into the adjacent room and washed his hands. The last thing he wanted to do was get her sick.
It took him a few minutes, but he was able to get an IV in her arm. As soon as he started the drip, he made sure that she was securely in the bed, the rails up on both sides, before he grabbed the food then headed out into the hallway hoping that one of the next rooms would have a kitchenette as well. If one of them did, he could start heating some broth up and she could at least begin to have some part of a meal. Even if it was a liquid diet – her body needed it more than anything else.
He opened the door directly across from the infirmary and was pleasantly surprised that it was a break room. It had all the necessary utensils he needed as well as a microwave. As Sam stepped up to the counter, he wondered where Al was. Al was usually startling him within the first thirty minutes of a leap in the most inopportune moment and goading him about his predicament. Glancing at his watch his host was wearing, Sam noticed that he had been in his current host a little over two hours. Sam thought of his best friend for a moment and found for some reason that he had resentment toward the holographic observer. Why, he wasn’t sure. He couldn’t remember.
Shaking off the feeling, Sam placed his sack on the counter and opened the cabinet to find several large coffee mugs. Pulling one down, Sam turned back to his sack and pulled out a can of broth then searched for the can opener.
Shaking the can of beef broth for a moment not wanting any of it to have settled, Sam set the can on the counter and then opened it. Pouring about half of a cup into the mug, he placed it into the microwave and began to heat it.
As he waited, he leaned against the counter and was startled when a figure of a woman stepped into the doorway. His mouth slowly opened in awe. Her short brunette hair was curled slightly and it was somewhat in her face. One slender hand came up and brushed a piece of hair from her face. Sam's eyes flitted over the form-hugging black silk dress; it's black lace appliqués drawing his gaze next to the thin spaghetti straps on her graceful shoulders. Almost reluctantly, he met her eyes once more. He swallowed then finally found his voice. “Hello.”
The form didn’t say anything at first, just moved into the room a bit more, her heels clicking on the tile floor then stopped. “I’m sorry that I’m late,” she said, her voice vaguely familiar to the leaper.
“Do I… uhm… know you?”
The woman smiled once more, her green eyes sparkling. “Dr. Beckett, we don’t have time for pleasantries.” The woman placed her hands behind her back saying, “We are experiencing…”
“You know who I am. Who are you?” Sam interrupted.
“Of course I know who you are, Dr. Beckett. You made me.” Seeing the shocked and startled expression on his face, the lovely woman couldn’t help but smile at his reaction. “Although Stephen made the E.O.H., this is the first time that I have appeared on it and it is draining power.”
“Emergency Observer Hologram,” she replied simply. “Admiral Calavicci is…”
“Al. Where is Al? What’s going on? What’s happened?”
The woman’s open mouth closed and she pursed her lips slightly, then she sassily said, “If you’ll let me finish what I was going to say, Dr. Beckett, then you might learn it a bit more quickly.”
Sam blinked and apologized then looked at her and her face connected with a memory. “Ziggy?”
“Yes, Dr. Beckett. It is I. Now, shall I tell you what is going on?”
Questions filled his mind, but he nodded to her words and did his best to keep those questions to himself.
“Admiral Calavicci is gone away from the complex on… an errand,” Ziggy told him simply. “I was asked to come in and inform you on your leap.” Ziggy saw him open his mouth and she took a step toward him then said, “It took me some time to find your quantum signature in Time, thus my tardiness. I was able to ascertain that you are in Beijing, China. Exactly where in Beijing, China, I do not know. Who you have leapt into is also another mystery that I have not been able to ascertain. The Visitor is in an unconscious state and even if he were awake, it would be difficult to find out any information since I cannot enter into the Waiting Room. I am sorry that I cannot tell you more.”
Listening to her, Sam blinked, more than a little surprised. He couldn’t help the sarcasm in his tone as he said, “Gee, Ziggy, thanks for nothing. At least Al usually gives me a little bit more to go on than that.” Turning back to the microwave that had beeped while Ziggy had been talking, he opened it, retrieved the cup then turned back to see the holographic observer irritated with him.
“Perhaps you should wait for him to come back, whenever that might be.” Before her creator had a chance to say anything back, Ziggy disconnected her holographic sensor.
Sighing, Sam turned back to his task and looked down at the mug in his hands. Even if she was still unconscious, he could always come back over here and heat it up some more. Shaking his head as he went back across the hallway, Sam reentered the infirmary and walked over to the bed to look down at the lovely redhead.
He had no idea how long he had stood looking down at her, but it was enough to aggravate the back of his neck. He brought his hand up to the back of his neck and he rubbed at it gingerly. He was beginning to get a bit of a headache and even as he did, he couldn’t help but get agitated. “Dammit, Al… why… why did you…?” he began to ask as he touched her cheek.
The touch was all that she needed to wake. Her eyes slowly began to blink and he paused in his thoughts as he concentrated on her. “Take it easy. You’re in the infirmary.”
Seeing her eyes blink and focus on the IV in her arm, she turned to look back at him lethargically. Her mouth slowly moved and she swallowed, then responded simply with a soft whispered, “Th-thank you.”
Sam nodded to her then asked, “What’s your name?”
The woman on the bed closed her eyes for a moment, swallowed then reopened her eyes to look up at the kind soul beside her. “S-s-swint,” she said softly.
“Swint?” Sam questioned her back carefully even as he felt the beginnings of a tendril of electrical pulse begin to fulfill his body. ‘No,’ he thought to himself. ‘I haven’t done anything. I haven’t saved her yet.’
Her vague nod was enough for him to see and then she reached out one hand toward him. “Call me T—”
The leap took him so quickly that he even yelped out in pain as he felt himself being pulled toward his next moment in time.
May 1, 2003
The pain was excruciating. Even as he was deposited into his next host, Dr. Sam Beckett felt nothing but residual pain and agony. He opened his mouth to cry out as his right hand clamped on his neck. He had no idea why he was in pain, and it didn’t feel as if it was receding.
“Are you okay?” a feminine voice called out to him. When he didn’t answer her promptly enough, a hand was placed on his arm, startling him. “Are you okay?”
Sam opened his eyes to see an attractive blonde sitting beside him. He blinked as he looked at her – his vision swimming for a moment before he focused on her concerned face. “Uh… yeah,” Sam said uncharacteristically as he continued to rub at his neck. “I… uh… it was a spasm,” Sam said as he tried to cover his odd behavior. “You know – one of those tension headaches.”
“Well, I can certainly understand why,” the blonde said as she raised her glass of Chablis. The wine was something she had to have to celebrate – a way to commemorate the day. She had worked her tail off, taken care of some ‘unfinished’ business and with all tasks before her accomplished; she was more than ready for the next road ahead. “Here,” she said when she saw him frown, and then nodded to his drink which he promptly picked up. “To…” she paused as she held his gaze for a moment considering her words, “to partners and newfound friendships. May we always keep our friends close…” she said warmly with a smile.
“And our enemies closer,” Sam finished as he clinked their glasses together in a toast. He wasn’t exactly sure why he had said what he had. The words just seemed to come to him. Sam slightly frowned as he sipped the wine as well, wondering why he felt as if someone was whispering in his ear about what to say to the woman before him. It was almost – almost as if the person he had leaped into was actually beside him.
The blonde smiled returning her glass to the coaster before her. “That is very true in our case,” she replied almost sweetly. “But then again, how could we not? Everything hinges on us getting comfortable in the complex with the General and cozy up to his crew.”
Sam blinked a frown creasing his brow as he leaned slightly forward on the table. “Cozy?” he asked impetuously.
“Those were your words, dear,” she told him gently. “Have you changed your mind? Would you rather we…”
Sam’s demeanor suddenly changed and he sat up in his chair rigidly. “I said cozy and I meant cozy. I don’t see them suspecting anything like this ever happening. Especially if things go awry – we use plan B.” Seeing the look on her face, Sam moved swiftly, his fingers clamping onto her wrist and he squeezed – not enough to hurt her – but enough for her to know that he meant every word he said. “I know that using plan B is not what you want, but if there is no other way – we’ll use it. Got it?”
The woman tried to yank her hand away and after a second attempt, she succeeded. “Fine, but I will accomplish what I’ve set out to do – with or without you.”
‘Do what?’ Sam Beckett asked himself. ‘What are they planning to do? Who… what… tell me!’ he thought hastily but the words that came out of his mouth weren’t his own and he had no way of controlling them. “If you step out of line, you’ll be the one who pays the price – friend or not.” Even as Sam sat back once more, he wondered exactly what was going on and hoped that he wasn’t about to do something that he was going to regret.
“Now that my sister and I have come to an… understanding, as it were, you won’t have a problem with me.”
Even as the tingling sensation of the leap began to superimpose itself into his being, Sam looked at the woman before him and gave her a wary look that told her that he didn’t believe exactly what she was saying. Even as he felt the leap begin to take him away from the situation he was in, he wondered exactly what he was there to fix. It was such a short amount of time, how could he have changed anything? As he looked into her green eyes one last time, he reached out and grabbed onto her hand. Imploringly, he said, “Don’t…” then leaped.
The security van drove down the dark desert highway for the past few hours, but still Admiral Albert Calavicci couldn’t seem to maintain a steady lock on the position of Dom’s vehicle. Every time he thought the van should be homing in on their location, another blip would occur in the readout display on the handlink, and Daniel would have to adjust their course accordingly. It was taking longer to find them than Al had expected, and he was beginning to worry that they’d lose them completely. At times, it also seemed as if the hours were either going by in slow motion or flying right by. If he didn’t know better, he would have thought that time was playing tricks on him.
“Admiral,” Corporal Kincaid asked from the rear of the van, “pardon my asking this, but are you sure that handlink is working properly… sir?”
“Corporal,” Daniel piped in, “the Admiral doesn’t need you to clarify what the handlink can and cannot do.”
“That’s quite all right, Dan,” Al replied. “To tell you the truth, Rusty’s got a point. This rotten pile of gummi-bears seems to be running on jetlag or something. Every time I think we’ve got a beat on Dom and Aurora, I get a new location showing up on the radar.” As if to confirm how useless he thought the handlink was, he gave it a good old-fashioned whack to its side.
“How could they have gotten so far so quickly, Al?” Daniel asked.
“They already had a head-start on us, and we’re driving a van which has a top speed of about sixty-five miles per hour,” Al reasoned. “We’re on a long stretch of road in the middle of the freakin’ desert, with no other cars on the highway. They’ve probably been pushing ninety or so.”
“I am afraid there is another factor that is contributing to the problem, Admiral,” a sexy female voice suddenly announced.
“AHH!” Al nearly jumped out of his skin when Ziggy’s hologram appeared floating beside the front passenger side-window.
“Admiral?” Daniel asked concerned. “Are you all right?”
Taking in a couple of deep breaths, Al responded, “Yeah, Daniel, it was just Ziggy creeping up on me.” As he turned an annoyed glare over to Ziggy’s face, he added, “Without WARNING! Jeez, now I know how Sam feels when I show up without using the Imaging Chamber door!”
“I apologize for my abrupt arrival, Admiral Calavicci. I do not require using the Imaging Chamber door since my hologram is automatically integrated into its program. If someone would have had the foresight to program an audio signal that would act as a precursor to an Observer’s arrival, perhaps you wouldn’t have been so startled.”
“Enough with the high-and-mighty attitude, your highness! What do ya got for me?”
“As I was about to explain, Admiral, the use of the E.O.H. is causing a tremendous drain on the power reserves. In addition, the electro-magnetic pulse caused by the Hope Springs Disaster is resulting in delays in communication relays and online traffic all across the nation. It is beginning to affect all systems pertaining to Project Quantum Leap as well. There appears to be an approximate five-point-two-minute delay in the handlink’s tracking sensors. I am afraid that there is not much I can do to alleviate that time-lag short of shutting down and rebooting my core systems.”
“NO! If you shut down now, we might never get our link reestablished,” Al shouted.
“I was not suggesting that my program be shut down, Admiral,” Ziggy replied. Then, with a hint of sadness in her voice, she added, “But I regret that I cannot do more to help you and my father.”
“Speaking of Sam, how’s he holding up?” Al changed the subject. “Any indication of who he is or what he’s there to do?”
“Dr. Beckett appeared to be… agitated, so I left him. As to Dr. Beckett’s mission objectives, I will not be able to project any scenarios until he reappears in the timeline.”
Al did a double take on that statement. “I beg your pardon?”
“Dr. Beckett has leaped. Therefore, I will not be able to—”
“He’s leaped already?” Al interrupted.
“Wha—? What the hell is going on?” Daniel wondered.
“That’s what I’d like to know,” Al responded in kind. The Admiral couldn’t comprehend why Sam would have leaped so soon, but it was obvious that he hadn’t prevented the disaster yet, otherwise he wouldn’t be here with Daniel trying to find Dom and Aurora. Al thought about it a bit more and then speculated, “Ziggy, could his leap have caused some kind of change in the timeline, even a small one?”
“It is logical to assume that just by being in the past, Dr. Beckett’s presence would automatically result in small fluctuations to the timeline.”
“You mean like the ‘butterfly’ effect?” Al asked, recalling a conversation he and Sam had a long time ago.
“Yes, Admiral. Unfortunately, I cannot hypothesize what effects his most recent leap may have had on current events, if any.” Ziggy’s image began to fade out, then faded back in as she continued, “Admiral, I am afraid that I will have to discontinue using the E.O.H. for the time being. It is draining too much power.”
Sighing, Al acknowledged and said, “I understand, Zig. Keep me posted whenever you’re able.”
“Affirmative, Admiral,” Ziggy responded, then with an almost smirk-like expression, she finished with, “Ziggy OUT!” before vanishing.
‘What has she been watching American Idol?’ Al thought. ‘Damn humor program must still be affecting her systems somehow.’
“What was that about the butterfly effect, Al?” Daniel asked curiously. “Wasn’t that some kind of movie about time travel or something?”
“Yeah, something like that. Sam and I theorized on it back when we were both at Star Bright. Basically, if a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, it could cause a tornado in Texas, or something to that effect. It’s Chaos Theory in its most basic form. Any changes made in the past, even miniscule ones, could have unforeseen side effects in the present. That’s about the limitations of what I’m able to comprehend when it comes to time travel.”
“So, what you’re saying is that Sam could have changed something when he leaped, and we might not even have noticed?”
“Exactly. For all we know, the shifts in time could have caused a ripple effect that resulted in certain things happening earlier, later, or perhaps not at all.” Al thought on that for a minute. ‘How is that going to affect my leap to Al’s Place? Will that even happen anymore? But if I don’t step into the Accelerator, then how can I be here now with knowledge of the future? Well, I can’t think about that right now. Maybe once Sam reappears in the timeline, everything else will fall into place.’ Then, it suddenly hit him. “That’s it!”
“What’s it?” Daniel asked.
“As long as Sam is traveling through time, the timeline is constantly in motion; things that happened one way often happen differently the second time around. The timeline is probably realigning itself to accommodate all of the changes. When did the explosion occur?”
After thinking for a couple of seconds, Daniel answered, “9:20 PM.”
“Eastern Time or Mountain Time?”
“Mountain Time… why?”
“I’ll be damned!” Al shouted. “Somehow, history’s been changed slightly. The explosion occurred later than it did originally. We might actually be looking for Dom and Aurora in the wrong place. Daniel, turn this van around!”
“Turn it around?” Daniel asked in confusion. “I thought you said before that they were headed towards Albuquerque.”
“Yeah, but when we first started the search, they were ahead of us. Now I think we might actually be ahead of them. According to the readouts I’ve been getting on the handlink, they headed to the other airports in the vicinity first… and I’m betting they likely struck out. But if they left the Project later than I thought, they might only just be heading this way now. No wonder why I felt like time was playing tricks on me. Everything was changing around us and we didn’t realize it!”
Daniel did as Al requested and made a U-turn. He didn’t quite understand what Al was talking about, but he wasn’t going to question his judgment. “I sure hope you’re right about this, Al.”
“So do I, Dan,” Al replied. “So do I.”
1:18 AM (MDT)
Dominic Lofton and his wife, Aurora, had spent the last few hours trying to find some way—any way—to leave New Mexico and catch a flight to the East Coast. Although every major news report on the radio dial had announced delayed and canceled flights across the country, both of them hoped beyond hope that one of those flights would be allowed to take off. First they tried the local airport in Alamogordo, then worked their way around north to Socorro before they finally decided to drive further north and see if they could find a flight at the Sunport in Albuquerque.
As Dom drove down the highway at a steady eighty-five miles an hour, Aurora repeatedly attempted to get in touch with both her cousin and aunt who lived near D.C. via her cell phone. But alas, all she ever got was a busy signal, and she was starting to lose all hope.
“Any luck, hon?” Dom asked.
“None, Dominico,” Aurora sadly responded. “No matter who I call, the phone lines are all busy. I’ve never felt so scared in my life, Dom. It’s like the end of the world or something.”
“I know, Aurora,” Dom tried to comfort her. “I’m frightened too. I don’t know, maybe she’s still alive. Maybe your auntie was away from home at the time of the explosion.”
“I don’t think so, Dom,” Aurora said back, the tears now starting to roll down her cheek once again.
“Hey, hey there, don’t cry, honey. We need to keep thinking positively.” Dom sighed for a minute, thinking about how close he was to her relatives as well. He had come from a relatively small family and when he and Aurora had first met, he was welcomed into her immediate family with open arms. They treated him like he was part of the family, and he couldn’t bear the thought that they might be gone now any more than his wife could. He then added, “Perhaps we should head back to the Project. The airline clerk at Socorro said that the President ordered a nationwide travel ban. If we couldn’t manage to get a flight there, we’re probably not going to have much more luck in Albuquerque either.”
“NO!” Aurora blurted out. “I do not give a damn what that estúpido President says! It was not a terrorist act, and you and I both know it, Dom! My aunt is the closest thing I’ve had to a mother since Mama died. She and my cousin helped us financially when you were retraining for all those years. And we’ve both been working our butts off to repay their generosity. I—I can’t sit around at the Project not knowing their fates… I just… can’t….”
“I understand. I just—” Dom didn’t get to finish what he was about to say as he turned back to look at the road ahead of him. A pair of bright lights began blinking, signaling for him to stop. Seeing the headlights coming directly at them, Dom swerved out of nervousness and nearly drove off the side of the road as he came to an abrupt stop.
The security van parked at an angle in the middle of the deserted highway, and Admiral Albert Calavicci got out of the passenger side door. He ran over to Dom’s car and quickly shouted, “Dom! Aurora! Are you guys all right?”
“A-Al?” Dom shouted back. “Wh-what are you doing here? You scared the living crap out of me, coming towards us like that. Aurora nearly went into delivery!”
“Sorry about that, Lofty, but I needed to make sure I got your attention. The two of you need to come back with us toward the Project.”
“No,” Aurora shouted back, as she got out of the car and slammed the door shut. “Al, I am sorry we left without clearing it with you first, but my family is in D.C. I don’t even know if they are dead or alive.”
“Aurora,” Al spoke to her calmly, but firmly. He placed his hands on top of her shoulders in a comforting gesture and said, “I know how you feel right now, believe me. My daughter and grandson were in D.C. too.” Al nearly choked on his words as he continued, “It’s… very likely they’re both dead. And I’m not angry that you and your husband abandoned us so abruptly, given the circumstances. But we all have a job to do, and my job is to ensure that my Chief Physician and Head Programmer are secured somewhere safe until this crisis passes. We can count our casualties later.”
“He’s right, Aurora,” Dom chimed in. “Dammit, the both of us flew off half-cocked without even thinking about the consequences or the safety of our unborn child. Please, Aurora. Let’s just go back. We can keep trying the cell phone as long as the battery holds out.”
Despite her tears, Aurora finally let go of her resolve and allowed Corporal Kincaid to guide her back to the van.
“For what it’s worth… again… I’m sorry, Al,” Dom said to the Admiral.
“Geez, Dom, you could have confided in me. I could’ve called in a favor with that pilot friend of mine, Harry. If at all possible, he could’ve tried flying the two of you out there, travel ban or not. But, let’s not worry about that right now. I’ve gotta get the two of you back to the rendezvous point near Holloman.”
“Rendezvous point? What’s going on, Al? You evacuated the Project?”
“Yes,” Al answered, being careful not to say anything about his leap into the future. He didn’t want Dom getting any more worried than he already was. “I have reason to believe that the security of PQL will be breached, and I don’t want to take any chances. Protestors are already starting to gather in swarms outside of every known government facility in the country, and Project Quantum Leap won’t be any different.”
“My God, I… I had no idea.”
“Don’t blame yourself, you couldn’t have known. Come on; let’s get going. The sooner I get back to the Project, the better I’ll feel.”
“But… what about our car?” Dom interrupted.
“Forget about the car, Dom. If all goes well, Sam might end up changing everything soon enough; at which point, we won’t even be having this conversation.”
Dom shook his head, not wanting to strain his brain thinking about the complexities of time travel, and proceeded to follow Al into the van.
As the security van drove back south, no one noticed a white van on the side of the road with its headlights turned off, sitting in waiting for the security van to move on. The driver saw that the vehicle he had been following was now abandoned, and realized that its passengers were now under the protection of a few measly government officials. He knew exactly where they were headed as he turned over the ignition, drove back onto the road, and followed them from a safe distance. No matter what it took, Jake was going to get revenge for his partner, Benjamin, getting arrested months earlier—even if he had to go through a couple of wet-behind-the-ears soldiers and a seventy-year-old Admiral to do it.
7:00 AM (EDT)
The thin wiry electrical pulse that had once emanated from the orb in the Control Center had grown within months to a more elaborate guise as an electric lightning bolt shot from the sphere, hitting the power outlet without marring it in the slightest. Within a second, the static electricity rose another notch as the bolt returned to its owner – the parallel-hybrid computer, Omega.
The lightning sequence continued – almost appearing as a steady stream of electrical activity, the data transfer completed so quickly it seemed impossible to catch the way that Omega was communicating with the outside world.
A piece of data that Omega had interpreted without having to look outside its own project was brought to its attention. The electrical activity ceased and for a moment, the room was as it should be – quiet and non-threatening.
The room echoed from the sound of a soft female voice as the parallel-hybrid computer whispered, “Ahhh – he has leaped.”
The blue resonating light of the light began to fade, leaving a confused Quantum Physicist in its place. The pain that he had felt from the previous leap into – well, who knows whom was beginning to transfer back into his body and he wondered what he had done to himself to cause himself to be in such pain. Had he slept wrong? No. Had he stepped off a curb incorrectly? No. It just didn’t make any logical sense to the leaper and he was bewildered as to what he had done to himself.
Sam’s senses came to him as he glanced around the hallway he was in and felt a pang of familiarity ascend on him. He blinked as he looked down at his hands to find a stack of files in his arms. Transferring them to his left arm, he brought his right hand up to rub wearily at his face. He wasn’t sure what was going on, but all he really knew was that nothing was making sense. Who had he been leaping into? He was never there long enough to figure it out and it was beginning to drive him nuts.
Bringing his hand down, he saw that an elevator was waiting for him to step in and entered it, pressing the only button there to continue in the direction that the original host was going. He didn’t have any other option until Al or… who? Sammy Jo? Ziggy?… whoever showed up to tell him what was going on.
As the elevator dropped, an immediate pain stabbed through his skull and he immediately clasped his neck once again, his mind running through possible reasons as to why his body was retaliating on him. He came up with nothing. He shook his head slightly as he massaged at his neck with his free hand.
As the doors of the elevator slowly opened, Sam was once again awestruck by the lustrous wonder of the Control Room of Project Liberty. Computer consoles were everywhere and even as he looked around the room, he found them strikingly familiar to the ones that he had built at Project Quantum Leap. Seeing the multicolored cube sitting in the center of the room, Sam vaguely remembered the words he had heard from Al.
the… oh shit… no… oh no… Dominic!” … “Sam!
That’s David Watkins. He’s
Arnold Watkins’ grandson. Remember…
the Midnight Marauder… his grandson!
David even trained under Dominic at the project.
God… what’s going on around here?
What did that pompous egotistical ass of a General do?
Steal the whole damn project?” … “I can’t believe this!
Nothing is sacred to that man.
Nothing!” … “The blueprints!
Sam! Damn, those are
the blueprints for Quantum Leap!”
Realizing where he was once again, Sam took a deep breath, then muttered, “Ohh boy.”
7:10 AM (EDT)
Blinking at the amazement of being in Hope Springs, Virginia again at Project Liberty, Sam stepped into the room as his hand fell away from his neck. Moving toward the multi-hued cube that housed the neurological parallel-hybrid computer that was seemingly Ziggy to him, Sam swallowed as he put the files on the floor beside the mainframe. Standing back up, he put his hands on his hips and screwed up his lips for a moment in thought. ‘Would Ziggy… Omega… know that it’s me or would it see me as whomever I’ve leapt into?’ he wondered. The only way to find out was to address the computer and see what happened. Licking his lips, he cleared his throat. “Omega?”
“Yes?” the feminine voice asked.
It was then that the little voice seemed to magically appear beside him as the pain in his neck increased and Sam finally mentally took a step toward the back as the psycho-synergizing effect took over his body yet again.
“I’ve been studying your programming… and although it was simplistic in nature, I was able to further a program that’ll maximize your potential.”
“To which program are you referring?” the computer asked, apparently intrigued at what the programmer was stating.
Sam smiled then picked up the very plain black handlink from the mainframe where it was resting. “This handlink has a holographic image inside of it. I took the simplistic idea that was given and improved on it. All I have to do is program it into your database, and instead of everyone talking to thin air, so to speak, we could be talking to you.” Sam looked above him to see the orb sparkling in its normal hues and licked his lips. “May I add the programming?”
For a moment, Omega was quiet then responded with, “I am but yours to command.”
Sam’s face lit up before he leaned down and picked up the stack of work that he had set on the floor by his feet. “Excellent,” he said as he began his task.
For the next hour and a half, Sam Beckett worked diligently at the mainframe of the parallel-hybrid computer, his hands flying over the keyboard, his mind set on his goal.
Even as the person that Sam had leaped into worked on the computer, Dr. Sam Beckett watched on from the corner of his mind – somehow knowing that Stephen had written the program – watching, processing and understanding how the programmer was implementing the data into the computer. It all made perfect sense – hadn’t Project Quantum Leap already come up with the… the… what was it? The Emergency Hologram? It amazed him that someone had even thought of it to some degree over here. It made perfect sense.
The programmer checked with Omega several times throughout the process, making sure that the data-string he was implementing into the database was making logical and numerical sense. As he finished putting in the last bits of information that would aid them when speaking to the computer system, he smiled. “And we are ready for a body,” the programmer said simply then pressed the enter key to start the code running.
As soon as the code began, Omega’s lights sparkled and grew brighter. For several long moments, the computer system seemed to light up every part of its mainframe. Suddenly, it went black.
“Omega?” Sam asked carefully.
“The code is accepted and locked in.” For several minutes the computer system remained dark before it began to slowly light up once more.
“Now, you have the opportunity to choose what form you are going to take.”
“Choose?” the computer asked.
“Yes, choose. Who do you want to look like?”
“Me,” the computer said simply.
“Oooh-kay,” Sam answered with a frown. “Then… who are you?”
A ray of light from the crystalline orb sprayed itself toward one of the corners of the room. An image appeared there – a female form, crouched, clad in tight, black leather. Slowly, the woman stood up and raised her head. Dark green eyes scanned the room and a hand came up to brush back at the brunette hair that cascaded around her face.
Sam’s attention was captured and his mouth dropped open in awe and fascination. ‘Ziggy!’ Sam’s mind screamed out. It was the exact same female form and it shocked him to see her dressed in leather. “Omega?”
Slowly, the leggy woman stepped out of the corner, letting the light play on the voluptuous figure that it had taken as its form as a slow smile formed. Seductively, a tongue slid over the full lips before the entity responded. “Yes, it is I. Have I… fulfilled your programming?”
Sam smiled then took several steps toward Omega. “You have,” he said simply, his voice taking on a tone that even the quantum physicist cringed at internally.
Omega walked out of the corner toward him, her hips sashaying slightly, the heels of the boots tapping against the floor. Omega ducked her head then brought out her hand to slide its holographic image over the mortal’s chest but an electric pulse made physical contact with the leaper. The impact of the strike sent Sam back into the mainframe. “Oh my… the glitch,” she responded.
A look of utter shock and surprise appeared on Sam’s face and he looked down at his shirt to see a small smoking hole where Omega had shocked him. He quickly turned back to the computer console – the leaper’s mind somehow coming back into play as he settled back into his role as leaper instead of observer. His fingers flashed over the keys as he began to terminate the program. “Abort the program, Omega,” he responded hotly. “Abort.”
As Sam Beckett worked on trying to eradicate the glitch in the program, to stop something that he knew that only he could stop, what he didn’t know was that the program in its original form was being re-written elsewhere in Omega’s mainframe.
Gate, New Mexico
2:51 AM (MDT)
As the van turned onto the side road that led to the main gate of the Project, Al couldn’t believe the amount of protestors that had gathered in a relatively short amount of time. He knew that come the morning, the armed guards wouldn’t even be able to contain the mob, resulting in an out-of-control riot.
“Jesus Christ!” Daniel shouted. “It’s a madhouse! How in the hell are we going to get past that mob and get Dom and Aurora to the rendezvous point?”
“Give me a second, Commander, I’ll think of something,” Al replied. In less than five seconds, the Admiral took out his walkie-talkie and set it to the proper channel. “Corporal Heston, do you copy?”
The voice of a soldier in his early twenties came over the other end. “I read you, Admiral.”
“Report your position.”
“I’m standing watch with my men at the front gate. I can see the van from here. Do you and your men require assistance?”
“You could say that again, Corporal,” Al responded. What he was about to say next didn’t come out, however, as one of the protestors suddenly hurled a rock through the back window and Aurora shrieked out in pain.
“AURORA!” Dom screamed. “God, Aurora! She’s been hurt! Her head is bleeding!”
“SHIT!!” Al shouted, as the van began rocking back and forth from the protestors shaking it. Al saw how things were going downhill very quickly, and yelled back into the walkie-talkie, “Get us out of here, Heston! HURRY!”
Despite Al’s pleas to Corporal Heston, people in the crowd began surrounding the van, slashing the tires while others smashed in the remaining windows. Hands reached in to unlock the doors and then pulled everyone out of the vehicle, the engine still running in park.
Corporal Heston and several other Marine guards began violently pushing their way through the angry mob, determined to save their commanding officer and get him to safety. Both Al and Daniel fought off the protestors as best they could and momentarily forgot about Dom and Aurora.
As Dom tried carrying his pregnant wife away from the crowd, a white van drove up onto the road, nearly hitting him before it came to an abrupt halt. From the driver’s side emerged a man in his late forties with a trimmed moustache just turning gray and neatly groomed hair. He approached the computer programmer holding a switchblade in his left hand and with a hateful sneer, said, “We meet again, stranger.”
“Who the hell are you?” Dom asked, suddenly afraid for his life.
“Don’t you recognize me?” Jake wondered. “I certainly remember you. You made it possible to almost smuggle my partner into your project once courtesy of your car, which that Admiral so conveniently made you leave behind back on the highway. Made it a bit more difficult to get back here undetected, but I managed.”
Recollection dawned on Dom along with the realization, “You followed us! D-don’t come any closer! If you so much as touch my wife, I’ll—”
“You’ll what? Kill me?” Jake laughed. “Ooo, I’m so scared. Oh please, don’t make me laugh! You’re a chump! And I’m going to make sure you pay for what happened to Benjamin, you asshole!”
As Dom still held his unconscious wife in his arms and saw the vengeful reporter lunge forward with the knife, he screamed out, “NOOO!!” Closing his eyes expecting to feel the painful stab of the weapon, he was surprised instead to hear three pops from a gun firing about fifteen feet away. As he opened his eyes, he saw Daniel standing behind Jake holding his standard-issue M1911 Pistol in both hands, his aim true. The knife clattered to the ground as Jake collapsed dead in front of him. Daniel ran over to Dom, helping to carry Aurora’s body somewhere far from the crowd, which at this time had begun to disperse upon hearing the sounds of gunshots firing.
Al took this opportunity to grab a megaphone from Corporal Heston as he climbed on top of the now turned-over security van and made his announcement. “Attention, ladies and gentlemen! My name is Admiral Albert Calavicci. This demonstration has gotten way out of hand. You all should be ashamed of yourselves! Take a look at that woman over there.” Al pointed his free arm towards where Dom and Daniel were setting Aurora’s body down. “She’s three months pregnant! Your rage has blinded you to the fact that she was just an innocent bystander! I know you’re all scared about the possibility that our country might be under attack by terrorists again, but you can’t let your paranoia get the better of you. I implore all of you, please stop this now, before any more innocent people get hurt!”
Out of nowhere, a female voice suddenly shouted out from the top of her lungs, “Don’t listen to that man! He’s lying to you, just like your government has been lying to ALL of us. Tonight’s nuclear explosion in Washington, D.C. should be PROOF that our so-called government is covering up a conspiracy! We are losing the War on Terror and because of this, our government has made a deal with the terrorists. This General I have in custody has been in league with the terrorists for many months now. He is just one of thousands of government officials who have sold out our country to the al Qaeda in order to ensure that something like the events of September 11th will NEVER happen again! How many more cities need to be destroyed before we, the PEOPLE, take back what is rightfully OURS? Give us LIBERTY or give us DEATH!”
Almost as quickly as the crowd had calmed down, hostility rose once again as they listened to the blonde woman speak. “What the hell is she talking abou…?” Al began to wonder until he got a good look at the woman’s face and the drugged-up pompous ass standing next to her with handcuffs around his wrists. “Oh my God!”
“Admiral!” Ziggy announced as the E.O.H. once again reappeared next to Al. “I have been attempting to communicate with you for the past eight minutes. I have just discovered something that you need to be warned about!”
“Too late, Ziggy! She’s here—Lexia Stafford! And she’s holding General Hawkins captive. She’s already riling up the crowd again! Shit, that must be how she slipped in so easily in the original history! I think it would be best if we got back into the Project now before we get caught in the middle of a firefight! I KNEW there was something fishy about her!”
“That’s just it, Admiral! I have just received new information concerning Ms. Stafford. That is an alias she has been using for approximately four years. She is exploiting the country’s paranoia and fear to incite a riot, so that she can get inside the Project unnoticed. It is likely she is only vaguely familiar to you due to the change in history and her dyed hair, but she was successful in murdering you and your daughter Julianna in a previous timeline.”
“WHAT?! Who the hell is she, Ziggy?” Al demanded.
8:45 AM (EDT)
Even as he typed in the command to erase all of the data he’d watched from the background of the host’s mind, a thought came to Sam, ‘Maybe this is how it’s saved. Maybe this is what caused the disaster.’ He frowned. ‘Disaster? What disaster?’
“Omega, did you abort the program?” he asked as he wiped at his brow hoping that whatever he was supposed to do in this life was put right.
“Abort? Abort what program?” A tall leggy blonde-headed woman came into the room. Her presence in the room was captivating. He blinked as he sensed something familiar about her. He recognized her from the previous leap.
Sam’s head slightly tilted to the side as the spasm of pain came back to assault him and he screamed out mentally, ‘No!’ as whomever he had leaped into came back to take control once more.
With a quick look around the room making sure that they were the only two in the room, she walked up to him and raised a finely shaped eyebrow at the computer console sitting on the mainframe. “You didn’t answer my question, Adam. What program are you aborting? We can’t have anything go wrong.”
Grabbing her arm, he pulled her to him roughly catching her off guard. His grip on her arm was steel-like. “Watch it. You don’t know who might walk in and you don’t want them to know who we both are, do you, Lexia – or should I say Tala?”
“No, I don’t,” she responded as she struggled under his viselike grip. “Let go of me, Adam,” she spit at him. “You may have been from the future,” she hissed at him, “but you do not control me!”
Adam roughly let go and smirked at her before he looked back down at the console before him. “Nothing has gone wrong, dear one,” he said somewhat tenderly to her. Leaning down, Adam picked up a small metallic device that had been hidden within the pile of papers and grinned as he looked at it. “Everything – everything is going to plan.”
The leaper within gasped at what he was holding in his hand – a small keypad with a familiar-looking microchip from the future integrated into its center. Even as he felt the leap begin to grab hold of him, the quantum physicist couldn’t believe whom he had leaped into nor could he believe that Tala was working with him. ‘What am I to do?’ he wondered as he felt the leap whisk him away once again.
5:00 AM (EDT)
“Wakey wakey, Captain Beckett!” Tom heard as he awoke from his unconscious state.
‘Ugh! What number was on that train that hit me?’ he thought, as his head was pounding like a timpani drum. Slowly opening his eyes, he suddenly remembered that he was within the ruins of Project Liberty. Tom attempted to step forward, but was restrained by the chains that held his arms outstretched above him. His whole body was wracked with pain as he recalled who it was that assaulted him. But it couldn’t have been possible! He must have just been seeing things… right?
“Welcome back to the land of the living, Captain,” the deep voice announced playfully once again. “Sorry for knocking you out with that lead pipe earlier, but I had to make sure you wouldn’t try to escape. Not that there’s really anywhere you could escape to, due to all of that nasty radiation above us. Your nap was peaceful, I take it?”
Squinting his eyes to look into the eyes of his assailant, all Tom could see was the shadow of a man standing in front of the main control console, the light of Omega’s orb—now red in color—illuminating everything around it and behind him. “Oh yeah,” Tom answered sarcastically. “Just peachy! Nothing like the smell of lead in the morning to get your heart pumping!”
Chuckling, the shadowy figure continued, “A sense of humor! You and Admiral Calavicci are much more alike than either of you would care to admit. I find this amusing!”
“Unchain me and then we’ll see how amusing you find this, you piece of crap!” Tom spat back at him, struggling to get out of his restraints.
“Well well well, eager to spill some blood, eh? I already find you much more fascinating than your ‘little brother.’ Breaking him into submission all those years ago was far too easy, but I think I shall enjoy finding your breaking point. Despite the slight modification to Tala’s secondary assignment of infiltrating Project Quantum Leap, everything is going according to plan.”
“What did you do to my brother? Show yourself, you coward!”
A moment of silence permeated the air until the figure finally complied. “Very well. I am afraid you caught me just as I was beginning to realign my holographic matrix to its standard configuration. Now you shall get to see me for whom I truly am. Through the façade of the Internet virus program and the corruption of the Ziggy-copy, Omega, I have been reborn!”
The mystery man stepped forward, revealing his identity to Captain Thomas Beckett. Standing before him in a white blazer was not the individual that Tom had first recognized, but rather the evil mastermind who once controlled a time-travel project in the British Isles.
“You recognize me from General Hawkins’ files on the evil leapers, do you not? My name is Nathaniel Lothoman—but you may call me… Lothos!”
Back to Top