Quantum Backstep Part 3
By: Robin Margolin
A double leap of a different kind finds Leaper Sam Beckett leaping into Chrononaut Frank Parker where they both realize they have the same goal: Keep Project Quantum Leap from being destroyed and find the person responsible.
In the Imaging Chamber, Al had Sammy Jo bring him back inside the
bar while he checked on Frank. The current performer was destroying a wonderful song by
doing a truly awful rendition of it. Al touched Franks arm and pointed out the
performer. Sam will do a better job than that guy. So if youre worried about
your reputation, dont. the admiral said encouragingly.
Frank pulled himself together and checked out the performer.
Hes not so bad, Frank said about the performer.
Misunderstanding who the comment was about, Al agreed,
Hes not so bad.
The next group of singers was beginning the spiritual
Operator as Frank began to check out the scenery at the tables.
Laughter brought his attention to a large table in the corner of the room. About a dozen
people in their 20s were partying together, the men outnumbered the women three to
one. Frank brought Als attention to the table and they walked closer. The group
seemed to be in a discussion about which ones boss was the worst to work for. All
the women at the table were lovely. The first one to catch Als eye was Asian or
Polynesian with long dark hair, jet black eyes and a Marilyn Monroe figure. The second
woman at the table was a tall African-American with short natural hair. Her deep creamy
chocolate skin was set off perfectly by the pale yellow of her cotton top that stretched
just so wonderfully across her bosom.
Are you sure they cant see us? Frank whispered
Or hear us either so you dont have to whisper,
answered Al. Thats one of the
perks of being a hologram.
Wistfully Frank reach out to touch the long dark hair of the first
woman. His hand passed right through her head.
And that is one of the problems. Al added.
Both men laid eyes on the remaining woman at the table and gasped.
Frank was practically eating the woman with his eyes from her long legs to her tiny waist
and full breasts right up to the deep red curls on her head. While Al always appreciated
beauty, he definitely didnt like the way Parker was eyeing this woman. Then she lit
a cigarette and Al realized that he had almost made the same mistake he had made a few
years ago. This was not Tina, his Tina, but her
Wow Frank didnt realize he had spoken aloud.
Then a look of confusion crossed his face. Ive seen her somewhere
before, he said to Al.
Al gave a quick snorted laugh, Yeah, in your dreams,
No, Al. Im serious. Ive seen her somewhere
before, insisted Frank. I just cant place it right now, but I
Sure, whatever. Al dismissed the thought.
Elvis the emcee was back to introduce the next performer, Nate
Ramsey. Frank Parker spun around to face the stage so fast he almost knocked Admiral
Someone you know? Al asked.
Parker was grinning ear to ear. This is going to be
sweet, Frank said. Ill be able to lord this over him for a month,
The music began, a 25-year-old country tune made famous by Mac
Davis, and Nate began to sing. Oh Lord, its hard to be humble when youre
perfect in every way. That was when Frank Parker lost it. Laughter overtook him so
hard he lost physical contact with Al. The
bar disappeared and Frank found himself back in the Imaging Chamber at Stallions
Gate, laughing his face off.
Frank Parker had recovered from his giggle-fit, at least enough to
walk, and was escorted by Dr. Sammy Jo Fuller back to the waiting room under his own
power. Just before shutting
down the Imaging Chamber, Al Calavicci centered in on Sam and told him that hed
catch up with him later. As he went through the Control
Center, Ziggy reminded the admiral that Chief Reed was still waiting to speak with him. Al
checked Reeds location and went directly there.
Socorro, Backstep HQ
Having returned from making amends with his former student, Isaac
Mentnor went back to work with Bradley Talmadge on a suspect list. No one was jumping off
the computer screen and shouting, Im a bomber at them. At 2200 they
shelved the work until the morning.
Sam noted the increase in size of the crowd as he came back in.
The dining room had not one empty table and the bar was packed four deep. Surprisingly,
John Ballard was in that four deep throng at the bar in the company of three blondes. John
raised a glass to Sam as he walked past on his way back to the table.
Where were you, Mr. Parker? Olga inquired of Sam as he
reclaimed his seat at the table.
You missed my performance, Parker, Nate complained.
Ah, gee, Ramsey, Im heartbroken, Sam
sarcastically replied. I saw John found other entertainment at the
bar, he added in a neutral tone.
Par for the course, Ramsey answered matter-of-factly.
A couple on stage was doing a very bad Sonny and Cher imitation.
The crowd loved them anyway. The rapidly firing synapses in the genius mind of Sam Beckett
were still working on picking a song to sing. The duet reminded him of another duet, one
by Barbra and Neil that was on an album that Katie played over and over ad nauseum one
summer when he was home on a break from school. There was another song on the album; a
song Katie liked but said had been done better. Sam scanned the music menu again.
Good, its there he thought. Sam wrote down his selection and flagged a
waitress to give it to.
After Sonny and Cher left the stage, the parade of
performers continued. A young man sang Peggy Sue reminding Sam of the gentle
boy who worked at the Veterinary Clinic after school. Another man sang Smoke gets in
your Eyes and after a few country tunes, a thirtyish man sang the King Thunder hit
Rock the Redhead. Sam sorta remembered having sung both Smoke and
Redhead but the memories were very blurry.
came from her table. Nate Ramsey was saying.
What? Sam questioned.
The rocker up there came from her table, Nate
repeated, the word her dripping with disdain.
The little tease from Quantum Leap, Dr.
Martinez-OFarrell. Shes sitting right over there with that group, Ramsey
indicated the large table in the right corner of the room.
Now really, Nate. Olga began to chide him. I
heard you practically dragged that woman off to interrogate her.
Salivating all the way Im sure, Sam added dryly.
He was looking at the large group in the right corner. He recognized no faces at that
table as being PQL personnel and neither of the two women at the table resembled Tina.
Time passed and more singers sang, some were actually quite good.
Elvis appeared between performers doing intros and jokes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been told that the next performer has changed her mind. The crowd called out a huge Aawwe. Elvis put up his hands to stop them. She has decided to do a more upbeat number. The crowd cheered. Again Elvis put up his hands for quiet. We just need a moment to cue the tape. A beat of silence passed, then Elvis began his intro, OK, lets put our hands together and show a little Respect for Bobbie Finklestein.
recognizable Motown music filled the room as the large nurse Sam had comforted outside
took the stage. Sam was glad she had decided to do the song he suggested. She sang out
strong and sure, picking faces out of the crowd to sing a phrase or two to. Although her
pitch wasnt always on, she strutted and shimmied commandingly on and off the stage.
In the middle of the song, she shimmied up to Sams table. He smiled radiantly at
her, conveying his pride in her courage. But she did not come over to him. Instead she put
her ample bosom right in Nathan Ramseys face as she spelled it out for him.
R*E*S*P*E*C*T, find out what it means to me. She turned away from his
reddening face with a bump of her hip and flirted with the next man in her sight. The
entire room was clapping along in rhythm. When
she returned to the stage and finished, she received a standing ovation, begun by Sam
Beckett. During the ovation Nate made a beeline for the mens room.
As they sat down Sam turned to Olga and asked, Whats
She smiled brightly at him and said, Hes probably
embarrassed. Sam questioned her with his eyes. Earlier this evening, he made a
comment about her
appearance when she sang back up for a friend.
So hes the jerk, Sam replied under his breath.
Olga caught the comment anyway and questioned him with her eyes. Sam chose to leave the
question unanswered and directed Olgas attention to the next performer on the stage.
As Nate made his way back to the table he ran in to John Ballard
at the bar. Ballard commented about it being pumpkin time for him and asked
Nate to make his good-byes to Frank and Olga for him. Nate agreed and watched his coworker
and friend wheel out the door with the three blondes. Shaking his head he returned to
Parker and Vukovitch.
So, Parker, when is it your turn? Nate said as he sat
Whenever they call, I guess, Sam answered with a shrug
and another long draw from his beer.
Elvis was back. Our next performer is a newcomer to our
stage. Lets give it up for Frank Parker.
I guess its now, Sam said as he stood and walked
onto the stage.
Olgas forehead began to tense as her body prepared for the
assault her ears were expecting. Frank
Parker is a multitalented individual but singing is NOT one of his fortes.
The music began and violins filled the air. Soft sleigh bells
began a faster tempo than Sam had remembered but he began to sing anyway. I may not
always love you, But long as there are stars above you, You never need to doubt it,
Ill make you so sure about it. God only knows what Id be without you.
Most of Olga Vukovitchs fears melted away as she watched and
listened to Frank sing. He had chosen a song written and recorded by her favorite group,
the Beach Boys, and was doing it rather well. Whatever was going on with him, he was
sending her a message that he would be all right.
Sammy Jo Fuller walked with Frank Parker to the Waiting Room in
silence. She was always a bit cautious
with Guests at first meeting. This Guest seemed to be in a world of his own, perhaps
processing what had happened to him in the Imaging Chamber.
Frank Parker was racking his slightly swiss-cheesed brain trying
to remember where hed seen the redhead from the bar. The silence in the hallways was
a welcome change from the noisy bar hed just come from.
Here we are, Sammy Jo said as they approached to
Waiting Room. She used her card key to open the door.
Thanks. Frank stepped into the room. When Sammy Jo
didnt follow him in he turned to her and asked, Arent you going to tuck
me in? Dr. Beeks always does.
No, Ive got work to do with Ziggy yet tonight,
Sammy Jo stated.
Ziggy?! Frank exclaimed. I thought that was the
Admirals nickname for you.
Sammy Jo was surprised. Ziggy is our Hybrid-super-computer.
Im merely a Ph.D. Would you like to speak directly with Ziggy...?
No, no, Frank cut her off. Ive had as much
contact with self-aware computers as I want in this lifetime. He shot Sammy Jo the
Parker smile. Ill just say good night then Dr. Fuller.
Good night, Sammy Jo said as she closed the door and
locked the Waiting Room down for the night.
The Backstep trio at the Karaoke bar was calling it a night. Olga
and Sam were heading out the door for some fresh air while Nate paid the bill with the
company credit card. As they passed through the bar area Sam saw what he thought was Tina
with one of the women from the table Nate had pointed out earlier. He had to stop himself
from greeting her with open arms, the brilliant but ditzy redhead was always one of his
favorite people at the Project, but she wouldnt recognize him with Franks
The air outside was bracing, the desert having cooled down without
the sun shining. A conversation drew their attention.
I cant believe it took you so long to get dressed.
Honestly, Gooshie, its not like this is a date or anything, Tina
Martinez-OFarrell whined at her companion.
I . . . I did not have a whole lot of warning, Irving
Gershowitz shot back, equally whiny. Ive never met your sister. I want to make
a good impression.
Tina sighed. Oh, Gooshie, she said in her sweet
breathy voice. Dont let her make you nervous. Shes just a woman.
The geeky techie swallowed hard. Thanks for the
reminder. he replied nervously as they walked past Olga and Sam into the bar.
Olga Vukovitch studied the expression on Frank Parkers face.
He had gone from happy to crestfallen to amused in a matter of seconds as they had passed
the redheaded couple entering the bar. Olga was sure Frank had no idea how badly his poker
face had slipped. She was not going to be the one to tell him.
Sam had gone from delighted to see Gooshie and Tina, to
crestfallen that they would not know it was him, to amused at their conversation. The more things change, the more they stay the
same he thought. Then it dawned on him, he had just seen Tina inside the bar
with someone and outside with Gooshie in less than a minute. Hed heard Al complain
that they looked too much alike but until now, Sam Beckett had never realized how much
Delilah Hobkirk resembled her sister, Christina Martinez-OFarrell.
Wednesday, February 9th
Verbena Beeks arrived in the level 1 cafeteria, poured herself a
cup of coffee and claimed a table near the windows. Spending so much of her working day
underground, she enjoyed looking out on the morning sun capturing the desert in its glow.
This was the calm before the storm.
Hey Girl, Tina Martinez-OFarrell greeted Verbena
as she sat down at the table with her mug of herbal tea.
Hey yourself, Verbena greeted back. How was the
Karaoke? And Delilah? she asked her friend.
Before Tina had the chance to respond Donna Elesee sat down at the
table, her cup of hot chocolate in hand. What report were you talking about last
night? she asked Verbena.
A fabrication, Bena admitted, I just
wanted to put as much distance between you and Craig Donovan as I could as quickly as I
could. You seemed quite upset last night and judging by the chocolate in your cup, you
still are. Dr. Beeks job also included looking after the mental health of PQL
Speaking of Craig Donovan, Tina chimed in, How
did the date go? Comon, dish.
Verbena looked at Donna. She watched the physicist take a long
draw from her cup and nod in acquiescence before speaking. He was cute, bright,
funny and like a bulldog on the subject of the Guest. He just would not accept that I
couldnt tell him anything more than he already knew.
The whole date was just an elaborate interrogation?
Tina questioned in surprise.
What a shame! Tina sounded more heartbroken than
Its O.K. Bena consoled her friend,
What use would I have for an NSA agent in my life anyway? As soon as the words
were out of her mouth she glanced at Donna. Sorry, she added with a grimace.
Thats all right. Donna responded. I was in
Socorro last evening...
I thought you were in Alamagordo? Tina interrupted.
I was, earlier. I ran into your sister there, by the
way, Donna returned.
In Alamagordo. Donna took a breath and a sip of cocoa,
and then continued. I went to the hotel last evening to get some answers from Isaac
And did you? the psychiatrist prompted.
Yes. He admitted being part of the NSA reconnaissance team.
He said he volunteered to protect me, Sam and project personnel from undue
suspicion, Donna stated.
And you believe him. Verbena said. It was a question
phrased as a statement.
Yes, I believe him, Donna assured her.
That topic exhausted, Tina changed the subject with a question to
Donna. How did Dee seem to you yesterday?
Whos Dee? And can I join you? Sammy Jo Fuller
asked standing at the table, a glass of orange juice in hand.
Sure, the more the merrier, Tina answered. Dee
is my sister. She works for Congressman Martinelli.
She seemed a bit nervous yesterday, Donna answered
Tinas question from before the younger physicist sat down. She practically
jumped out of her skin when the Congressman interrupted our conversation during the break.
And when did she start using the nickname Lyla?
Lyla?!? Thats a new one on me, Tina admitted
with a laugh of surprise. But nervous around Angelo might help explain why she got
so wasted last night. She was so out of it that I brought her home with me,
Here? Verbena questioned.
I know its against the rules but I didnt have
much choice last night, Tina defended herself. I had Gooshie drive her car
here so she would have it when she got up this morning.
So shes gone now? Donna questioned.
Yes, she left by cab just before I came to breakfast.
By cab? Didnt you say her car was here? Sammy Jo
Yeah, but she couldnt get it started. Said shed
have it fixed later. Tina explained. I hope she can pull it all together by
tonight. I was looking forward to partying with my sis.
Party? Sammy Jo asked. What party?
Oh, thats right. Youve been on vacation for the
last two weeks, Bena reminded herself aloud. You dont know about
the big formal party here tonight for the finance committee.
On vacation, lucky you, Tina teased, then asked,
So hows your mom?
Verbena noted that Donna stiffened ever so slightly as Sammy Jo
talked about her mother, Abigail Fuller. Dr. Beckett had leaped into Abigails life a
couple of years ago. First as her father, then as her fiancée and finally as her lawyer.
Although Donna had never said so, Verbena suspected that she knew what even Sammy Jo
herself didnt, that Sammy Jo Fuller is Sam Becketts daughter.
So tell me more about whats been happening around
here, requested Sammy Jo.
Its been a laugh a minute, Donna replied dryly.
Along with all the congressional personnel to worry about we have the NSA breathing
down out necks, a bomb threat to contend with and a psycho in the waiting room.
Oh, just another normal week at PQL, Sammy Jo joked.
After the laughter subsided she quickly asked, Whats this about the Guest? I
met him last night. He seemed rather nice.
All three women began to answer her at once. Nice?
escaped from the waiting room.
called the NSA ...
Hanson Island ...
had to Taser him...
by his name ...
in my quarters
Dr. Fuller was just overwhelmed by all the information her
coworkers were relating. She put up her hands in defense. Whoa. Whoa! I got it. I
think, Ive got it, she said as her tablemates quieted down. So this
Guest came from Hanson Island, escaped the Waiting Room, called an NSA agent by name from
Tinas rooms, started an investigation of us by the NSA and had to be Tasered by
you? She addressed the last phrase to Tina. All in a matter of two days?
Three heads nodded in agreement.
You got it, Tina said.
More or less, Donna added quickly.
Lord have mercy, Sammy Jo prayed. Now about this
formal party tonight?
Actually, Verbena began, I was going to ask you
a favor, Sammy Jo. As Wednesday is Dr. Conrads usual day off, I was hoping you might
see to the Guest this evening. I need to be at the party. Ive been appointed NSA
liaison and theyll be there tonight.
Sure, no problem. I hate those things anyway, Sammy Jo
After a brief meeting to update everyone on the situation at
Stallions Gate, the Backstep crew all went their
separate ways in search of appropriate formal wear. Nate Ramsey left his formal wear to
the discretion of Isaac Mentnor and left immediately after breakfast with a dozen men to
begin security integration of Backstep and Quantum Leap personnel. Sam declined Olga and
Johns offer of a side trip to White Sands opting, as Donovan did, to use a rental
from the formal wear shop in town. Bradley and Isaac went to White Sands. Sam had been
hoping for some time alone to make contact with Al and Ziggy but Craig appeared to be
glued to him.
Admiral Calavicci was looking forward to a quiet breakfast. As he
rounded the corner he heard the pleasant sound of feminine voices coming from the first
level cafeteria. He stopped in the corridor enjoying the euphonious sounds within the
And when did she start using the nickname Lyla? he
overheard Donna ask.
Lyla?!? Thats a new one on me, came Tinas
On me, too, Al thought to himself
figuring that they must be speaking about Tinas sister. He peeked in the door
quickly. It was so gratifying to see the members of his staff enjoying each others
company. Knowing that his presence would put a damper on a seemingly harmonious breakfast,
the admiral opted to eat elsewhere in the compound.
Sam had been unsuccessful in prying Donovan from his hip all
morning. He had even tried casual teasing
insults aimed at Craigs obvious failure with Verbena Beeks. No dice.
Craig Donovans suspicions had been raised when Frank turned
down that trip to White Sands. Frank never
turned down a chance to get out and about. Something
had definitely changed about his friend after that last backstep and Craig was going to be
there for Frank, no mater what.
It was late morning when Sam and Craig were in the formal wear
shop getting fitted in their tuxes. Craig had
insisted that Frank be fitted first. He
wanted to observe his friend at a short distance. He
couldnt be sure, but Frank even seemed to move differently lately.
Sam stared out the window of the shop letting his mind wander
aimlessly while Craig was being fitted for his monkey suit. Across the street the health
center had a mass exodus of workers in search of lunch.
Sam was beginning to lose hope in being able to touch base with Al before the
affair this evening when he saw his deliverance. Craig
was pinned and chalked, unable to follow Sam as he made his escape from the store.
The nurse, Bobbie, was among the myriad of lunch goers. Sam made his way to her just in case Donovan was
watching him from the shop. He reached out
and touched her arm.
Yes? she said as she turned toward the touch.
Hi, remember me, from last night at the bar? I wanted to let you know how wonderful you were. And to apologize again for my, well, coworker is
probably the best word, Sam said as he began to walk beside her.
I cant believe you were sitting with that jerk,
Bobbie almost snarled.
Im really sorry he said what he did. Sam said
apologetically. You really put him in
his place. Just think, I have to put up with
him every day.
She laughed. Oh,
you poor baby. she teased.
Well, I just wanted to say again how great you were. Bye now, Sam concluded as he turned the
corner. He broke into a sprint and found a
pay phone a few blocks away. From there he
Albert Calavicci had not risen to
the rank of Admiral without taking part in his share of pissing matches, and
winning most of them. From the moment he met
Nathan Ramsey Al knew he was in for another one.
I want complete control over security for 24 hours: 1200 on
2/9 to 1200 on 2/10. Ramsey demanded. This
didnt surprise PQL Security Chief Jim Reed, in whose office they all were.
You know I cant allow that, Calavicci countered. Im not about to allow you to usurp
Chief Reeds authority. If only to protect Sam and Frank, Al
Admiral, if you had been here yesterday, Ramsey began,
You would understand...
There is nothing about this situation that I dont
understand, Ramsey. Al interrupted. Including
your attempted pick up of MY girl he added silently with a glare. He turned his attention to his security chief. Reed, for the party only, lets make
Mr. Ramsey your #2 man. Team his boys up with
yours. But I want you in charge, Al
Reed had worked with the admiral long enough to know what Al had
in mind. Since the affair takes place
on the top level only, with parking on levels 1 & 2, theres no need to use any
of Mr. Ramseys unit below level 3 of the complex, he stated.
Sounds good to me, Al said as Nate started to
complain, Now just a cotton pickin minute.
Jim Reed and Al Calavicci waited to see what was coming. Nate Ramsey sized up the situation and relented,
somewhat. For the sake of
interdepartmental relations I accept your offer. But
be very clear on this, Admiral, if push comes to shove tonight, I take my orders from
Bradley Talmadge, not you.
He couldnt be sure, but Nate thought he heard
Nozzle as the admiral left the room.
A few minutes later as Al settled down behind the desk in his
office when his phone rang, not the usual ring but the one he had added for private calls. He picked it up immediately.
Al, its me. Sam said from the phone booth in
Hi, you. Al returned affectionately.
Has Ramsey put all his security measures in place?
The NSA nozzle? Yeah, hes here working with Jim
Good. The man
has the personality of a sandpaper but is an expert in his job. Sam reassured his
best friend. So where were you last
night while Tina was making time with Gooshie?
Making time? Al laughed. I dont think so. Parker and I werent back from our road
trip and Tina was meeting someone in Socorro. Gooshie
went along for the ride.
meeting Delilah, her sister, right? Sam questioned.
How did you know that?
Now it was Sams turn to laugh. I saw her in the Karaoke Bar last night. I mistook her for Tina at first, but then I saw
Tina with Gooshie and realized it must have been Delilah I saw.
Als eyes lit up. Thats
really funny, Sam. Frank swears hes
seen Dee before, too.
Speaking of Frank, has he remembered anything new? Sam
No, just Dee.
In Socorro, Sams eyes searched the street for any sign of
Craig Donovan as he conversed with his friend. Ill
see you tonight. In the meantime, have Ziggy
keep scanning the project for Plastik. It has
to show up sometime soon. Damn, Sam softly swore
into the phone.
What? Al wanted to know.
Donovan just turned the corner. Gotta go. Sam hung up the receiver just as
Craig Donovan spotted him and began to advance on the phone booth.
Al had been running bombing scenarios with Ziggy most of the
afternoon. Although he would never say so
aloud, he was glad that NSA security was on the premises.
Both PQL personnel and the NSA group seem to be working under the assumption that
the bomb will explode in the early morning, tomorrow.
Given this scenario, its most likely that the bomber will use the cover of
the party to plant the explosive device at Stallions Gate.
Reed and Ramsey stopped by the Admirals office at 1600 to
present their security arrangements for the evenings festivities. The plan was as tight as could possibly be; with
NSA troops and PQL guards, paired, at the perimeter of the grounds and inside the
After the two security chiefs left, Al realized that he
hadnt checked in on Parker for a while. He
made his way to the Waiting Room before beginning his personal preparations for the
As Al entered the Waiting Room, Sammy Jo stood up in attention. For all its informality, Project Quantum Leap was
a military project Frank noted with both admiration and amusement.
Why dont you take a break, Dr. Fuller? the
Sammy Jo smiled and said, Thank you, Sir. Ill be back in ten.
Just as soon as the door slid closed behind Sammy Jo, Frank began
to fire questions at Al. Have you
located the bomb yet? Whats happening
with the congressional dance? Has Dr. Beckett
ruined my life yet?
Slow down, kid, before you hurt something, Al verbally
restrained him. Then he filled Parker in on
the security arrangements for the dance tonight and the status of the search for the bomb. He had barely finished the recap when the Waiting
Room door slid open yet again.
What is this, Grand Central Station? the Admiral
barked at the doorway before looking up to see who had entered.
Christina Martinez-OFarrells face clouded over, two
steps into the room. Excuse me,
Admiral, she said, I didnt realize you were in here. I was looking for Dr. Fuller. Her voice was strained and over-polite.
Shes on a break, Frank supplied.
Thank you, said Tina and she left the room quickly.
Frank Parker turned his attention back to Admiral Calavicci. So how long have you been in bed with
members of congressional committees? he asked the older man pointedly.
a moment Al thought the NSA man was talking literally about his affair with Tina.
Frank went on as if Al hadnt said anything, Why are
congressional aides roaming freely in your halls, Admiral, and fraternizing with your
physicists? What is Lyla Hobkirk doing
Warm relief flowed over Al as he realized that Frank had mistaken
Tina for her sister. How do you know
Lyla, Parker? he asked.
Shes the one person who survived, Frank replied.
Admiral? a disembodied voice called out.
You are needed in the Control Center. Dr. Fuller is on her way back to the Waiting
Thank you, Al spoke to the air. Then he returned his attention to Frank. That wasnt Lyla Hobkirk, he said
with a smile. That was Dr.
Martinez-OFarrell, one of our staff members. You
were in her quarters during your first escape attempt, he finished.
But she was in the bar... Frank began.
Sammy Jo breezed into the room.
Ill take it from here, Sir, she told Al.
Once again, confusion and frustration reigned in the mind of Frank
Parker as he watched Admiral Calavicci stride out of the room.
Wednesday, February 9, 2000
The upper conference room at Project Quantum Leap had never looked
so festive. Small round cocktail tables were
scattered around the perimeter of the large room, a jazz trio was playing in the far
corner, and a small dance floor had been designated in the center of the room. A buffet table was laid out along side the
bandstand and the bartender was very busy fixing drinks at the other end of the buffet.
Although less than fifty people populated the room, Nate Ramsey
had to look carefully if he was to locate any one person.
The four congressional members were there, each escorting or escorted by a member
of their staff. Admiral Calavicci, in full
dress uniform, was escorting Dr. Martinez-OFarrell.
She stood out most effectively in a flaming red tango dress. The only other bright spot in the sea of black
clothing was Olga Vukovitch in an electric blue metallic sheath so form fitting it
appeared to be painted on.
Nate watched the movement in the room. Admiral Calavicci and Dr. Elesee separately worked
the room, lobbying the congressionals for continued funding. Craig Donovan was going out of his way to avoid
Dr. Beeks and as usual, Frank Parker was at the bar.
He seemed unusually interested in the band. They
were doing all right for themselves seeing as they were all PQL staffers and not
professional musicians. Nate didnt
recognize all the band members but the bass player was none other than Dr. Gershowitz, the
From his vantage point at the bar Sam could observe the whole
room. He watched with awe how Al schmoozed
with the congressional brass and reminded himself how fortunate he was to have Admiral
Calavicci as his partner and friend. He just
wished his partner would meander over to the bar so they could chat. Then as if he heard the silent wish, Al came over
to the bar.
Welcome to Stallions Gate, Al said as he offered
his hand to Sam.
Frank Parker, Admiral.
NSA, said Sam reaching to shake the proffered hand, Nice band.
Yeah, theyre all right, Al agreed, but you
should hear them when Dr. Beckett adds his piano to the mix. Then they really swing.
Sam and Al drifted out the side door of the room. Al nodded clearance to the security on the outside
of the door and the men found a quiet room in which to talk.
Parker had a bizarre reaction to seeing Tina, Al said. He wanted to know why Lyla was roaming the
halls of Quantum Leap. He said quote she was
the one who survived unquote.
He must have confused Tina and Lyla, Sam interrupted.
My thought exactly, Al agreed. So I had Ziggy run some scenarios focused on
Lyla. I hate the thought but the one with the
highest odds had...
Lyla as the bomber. Sam finished Als sentence. The older man stared incredulously at his partner.
But, Sam continued, Why, whats her motive? Whos her target?
Each man considered for a moment.
Simultaneously they spoke.
Sam said, Tina.
Al said, Angelo Martinelli.
Huh? they questioned each other.
Jealousy, each responded. They stared at each other.
Weve got to stop doing this, Al finally said in
Why the congressman? Sam asked.
According to Tina, theyre lovers. Or at least they
were. Tina said they had some kind of huge
fight lately. He wont leave his wife. Maybe she figures if she cant have him, no
one else can either, Al reasoned. Why
Sibling rivalry? Sam fished. Tina is brilliant and beautiful. Al began to respond but Sam couldnt resist a
small dig at his friend, And has an unmarried lover.
Cute, Sam, real cute, Al complained. Our project is about to be blown to
smithereens and youre cracking jokes.
Ill do some more searching, Sam offered.
You cant. NSA
personnel dont have free access and youre wearing Parkers face, Al
O.K. then you... Sam began.
I cant either. If
I disappear from the party for too long it will be suspicious. After Sam nodded agreement Al continued, I
also cant keep Lyla in sight. If I pay
too much attention to her...
Tina will castrate you, Sam finished Als
That was her last threat, Al said.
Dr. Beckett? Admiral? Ziggys voice softly said. I can do the search of the facility and
grounds. Captain Reed has already asked me to
inspect everyone and everything that has arrived since 1800 hours.
takes care of the search, Al said, the relief in his voice plain.
And Ill keep an eye on Lyla, Sam promised.
Downstairs in the Waiting Room, Frank was getting bored and itchy. He checked the clock that Dr. Beeks had provided
for him, 2250 it read. Sammy Jo was running
out of light conversation and the ever-present threat of explosion was weighing heavily on
I wonder whats happening upstairs, Frank mused
for the fourth time this hour.
Me, too, intoned Sammy Jo, also for the fourth time. She sat bolt upright, as if struck by inspiration.
What? Frank questioned.
We can see whats going on upstairs, Sammy Jo
replied. A smile began on her face as she
added, Come with me.
Sammy Jo led Frank out of the Waiting Room and down the hall. At the junction leading to the elevator they were
met by nurse Ohara.
Dr. Fuller, I really must protest... he began to
Protest noted, Sammy Jo responded. This is on my personal authority, nurse. Back off.
He stood aside and allowed the pair to pass.
Level four? Frank questioned as he watched her push
the elevator button.
Security main office. Then seeing questions on the
Visitors face Sammy Jo continued to speak, Look Parker, do you trust me or
The elevator glided to a stop.
The doors opened. In answer to the
question Frank Parker stepped over the threshold first.
Sammy Jo lead him a few doors to the left and into the office.
Hola, Paulo, Sammy Jo greeted the security officer
behind the desk.
The young Hispanic man greeted Sammy Jo with a broad grin. Hi yourself, Esjay. Whats shakin?
Were bored. Can
we check out the party upstairs? she asked. Paulo
hesitated. Please, Sammy Jo
implored. Ill share my moms
oatmeal cookies with you.
Paulos eyes lit up. The
ones with the raisins? he questioned. Sammy
Jo nodded. O.K., he relented. Just for you, Esjay.
He led them to a side room with a wall of monitors, each showing a
different view of the compound. Then he
returned to his post.
Ramseyd wet himself to see this, Frank said
appreciatively. Sammy Jo shot him a quizzical
look. Just someone I work with,
Sammy Jo began manipulating the controls on the table in front of
them. Here, the conference room is on
these three monitors.
True to his word, Sam Beckett had spent the last three hours
watching Lyla Hobkirk. It hadnt been
easy. Lyla was a true social butterfly and
flirt, dancing with every man in the room at least twice.
In addition, Lyla and Tina were wearing the same dress in different colors; Tina in
red and Lyla in black. Olga Vukovitch, who
had been watching him watch Lyla, was intent on dancing with him as well.
The other main
distraction Sam was dealing with was Dr. Donna Elesee.
Despite being given the cold shoulder on Monday and the fact that she seemed to be
going out of her way to avoid him, Sam found himself following her every movement around
the room with his eyes. It was as if Sam
Beckett were a moth and Donna Elesee a flame.
Isaac Mentnor spent much of the evening looking dignified and
staying out of the center of attention. Helene
Mercer-Fuld, the senator from New Jersey, took notice that Isaac had arrived with Bradley
Talmadge, and tried to pump him for information while they had a fox-trot. Isaac was only too happy to let Olga cut in and
steal him away from the inquisitive senator.
After the dance with Olga, Isaac found himself alongside the dance
floor beside Admiral Calavicci. Lovely
party, Admiral, Isaac began the requisite small talk.
Thank you, Al responded. Offering his hand to shake Al asked,
Youre Dr. Isaac Mentnor, arent you?
Isaac accepted Als hand, Yes, I am.
I understand youre working for the NSA... Al
Im more of a consultant and advisor, Isaac cut
him off, downplaying his roll in Project Backstep.
You look too serious, honey, Tinas little girl
voice softly berated Al as she and Verbena joined the men.
Al made the introductions.
Isaac Mentnor? Verbena questioned. Arent you Dr. Elesees
Isaac smiled. Guilty
as charged, my dear.
Speaking of Donna, Tina interjected, have you
noticed that guy who keeps staring at her?
Who? Al questioned after a cursory look around the
Him, Tina nodded in the direction of the dance floor.
The dark haired one dancing with the painted-on blue dress. The three other heads all turned in the direction
of the dance floor to see whom Tina was talking about.
Oh, them, Isaac said when his eyes fell on Olga and
her partner. The woman in the blue
dress is my colleague, Dr. Olga Vukovitch.
Why would anyone look at Donna with her in his arms? Al said lasciviously,
looking Dr. Vukovitch from top to bottom. Then
said, Ow! as Tina punched him in the arm.
Verbena smiled at him as she taunted, You deserved
that. Turning her attention to Isaac
she restated the question, Who is that man?
Al began to nervously shift from one foot to the other.
Isaac had no choice but to respond to Verbenas direct
question. That is another of my
colleagues. His name is Frank Parker.
The music had slowed to a sensuous waltz. Sam returned Olga to her seat and scanned the room
for Lyla Hobkirk. There she is, he noted to himself as
Lyla approached the bar. Sams eyes
continued to sweep the room. Almost instantly
they landed on Donna Elesee, chatting and smiling with Congressman Ho, across the room. The urge to talk to her, dance with her, struck
Sam again. He didnt try to analyze it;
he couldnt rationalize it away. The
allure of Donna Elesee was inescapable and he wouldnt try to deny it again. Determined, Sam Beckett began to make his way
across the dance floor toward her.
Verbena Beeks almost choked on her white wine. Coughing and sputtering she repeated Isaacs
words. That ... is ... Frank ... Parker? she questioned.
Are you OK? Tina began fussing over Bena.
Fine, fine. Bena was more interesting in Frank
Parker than mopping up her dripped on dress. She
peered back over the dance floor. Al and
Isaac watched her gaze as it landed on Frank making his way across the floor
Uh-oh, both men said softly. Their eyes met and with a quick nod each realized
instantly that the other knew exactly who Frank Parker was. Verbena was only half a second behind them. The impending disaster was obvious to all three of
Verbena took action first. She
quickly crossed the floor and placed herself directly between Mr. and Mrs. Beckett. Isaac followed less than half a second behind her. He strode over to Donna and swept her on to the
Mr. Parker? Verbena asked the slightly dazed man in
front of her.
Huh? Yeah, Im Frank Parker, Sam said, shaking
off his near trance.
Im Verbena Beeks.
Care to dance?
Ah ... yeah, sure, Sam stammered as he started to
waltz with the psychiatrist. Bena took the
opportunity to dance closer to Sam than she usually would a stranger. As they placed some distance between themselves
and the other couples on the floor, Sam took the chance to ask a question. Bena, is everything O.K. here?
She leaned in closer still to whisper in his ear, Yes,
everything is fine, Sam. Then she put
more space between them and more loudly added, Despite what Craig Donovan told
Sam Beckett felt a warm hand clasp his shoulder and a familiar
voice ask, May I cut it, buddy? With Verbenas nodded assent, Sam left
Verbena in the care of Frank Parkers best friend.
During the hour that they had been eavesdropping on the party
Frank Parker continued to delicately pump Sammy Jo for information. After mentioning the matching dresses, Sammy Jo
passed along the fact that Lyla and Tina are sisters.
So which one of them did I see at the bar? In the Imaging Chamber, I mean, Frank
It could have been either, Sammy Jo replied. They were both there. Sammy Jo then relayed the story about Lyla getting
too drunk to drive, that Tina had brought her to Stallions Gate, and that Gooshie
had driven Lyla's car to the Project.
As Frank listened to Sammy Jo a hole in his swiss-cheesed memory
suddenly filled in. From his pre-backstep
briefing he remembered the primary was in the
parking deck. His eyes began to
scan for the monitors showing the parking facility. There
were four of them, each doing the standard 90-degree sweep over a set area. Frank was at a disadvantage, not knowing which
cars belonged to PQL staff and which were visitors. Then
he spotted the Admirals T-bird and another hole filled in.
Dr. Fuller, he interjected, I suppose Lyla took
her car home in the morning?
No, it wouldnt start.
She took a cab instead.
Then searching the cars arriving for the party wont
help, Frank thought aloud. Which
car is Lylas?
I dont know, came the reply. But I know how to find out, Sammy Jo
said with a sudden twinkle in her eye. She
went out to the anteroom and had a few words with Paulo, then after entering something
into a computer workstation she returned to the monitoring room carrying a remote control
Lets go to the video tape? Parker jokingly
questioned, his hopes high.
You got it, sports fan! Fuller replied in kind. She pointed the remote at the screen in the bottom
left corner of the monitor bank and pushed a button.
The image on the screen blurred and was replaced with surveillance video stamped
2/8/00 2137 hours. Frank watched as he and Al
returned from Roswell and Al parked his vintage T-Bird in his designated spot. The two spots to the left of his were empty as was
the one on the right. As the camera panned
left, Frank noted that Drs. Beeks, Gershowitz and Elesees spaces were all empty.
Speed it up a bit? Sammy Jo finished for him. Sure.
She hit the fast forward button. Over
the next several hours both Drs. Elesee and Beeks returned to the complex. At 2/9/00 0137 two cars entered the garage and
parked. Sammy Jo slowed the tape down again. A blue Saturn with rent-a-car tags parked in
the spot closest to the door while a white Mazda Miata pulled into Gooshies spot. Sammy Jo began a play-by-play for Frank.
Thats Gooshie, um, I mean Dr. Gershowitz, getting out
of the Saturn. Hes going over to his
Miata. Thats Tina coming around to let
Lyla out. It takes both of them to get her
Sammy Jo fast-forwarded the tape again. The next activity was noted at 1154 when Nate
Ramsey pulled into the open space between the Saturn and T-Bird.
That cant be right, Sammy Jo said. Lyla used a cab to leave in the morning
because she said her car wouldnt start, but she didnt even try to start
been here all along! Frank yelled. He
started to run for the door. Sammy Jo grabbed
his arm and he spun around to face her. Look,
Fuller; do you trust me or not?!
There was no hesitation in Sammy Jo Fullers response. Lets go!
February 10, 2000, 0002 hours
Frank Parker peered over the hood of the Saturn, looking for
security personnel. He motioned to Sammy Jo
to stay quiet and still. Two members of
Backsteps Delta Team security force passed by.
Once they were out of sight Frank asked, Have you ever stolen a car
Sammy Jo shook her head in the negative.
First thing we need to do is jimmy the door lock. Frank said.
Again Sammy Jo shook her head in the negative. The doors are unlocked, she
Frank thought but he tried the drivers door anyway.
It opened. He climbed into the
drivers seat as Sammy Jo was settling herself into the front passenger seat. He frowned at her but said nothing as he reached
under the dash for the ignition wires.
Youre planning to hot-wire this? Sammy Jo asked.
You got a better idea, sweet cheeks? Frank didnt
bother to mask his annoyance at her.
How about the key, stud? Sammy Jo matched his tone of
Where...? Frank began to ask when Sammy Jo handed him
the Saturn key.
Sammy Jo smiled sweetly at him as she responded to the unfinished
question. I noticed them at the edge of
the floor mat when I got in. Frank
heard an unspoken exasperated Men! in her voice.
Frank started the
engine, threw the car into gear and raced toward
the exit gate.
February 10, 2000, 0002 hours
The calendar changed seemingly without notice in the conference
room. The music played, people danced, people
drank and people laughed. The uniformed
Marine guards at each entryway stood still as Beefeaters at the palace gate. Nate Ramsey was beginning to sweat. He, and the rest of the Backstep team, were
acutely aware that the primary bomb had gone off at 0006 in the original timeline. His eyes scanned the room again. Craig Donovan was dancing with Dr. Beeks, Drs.
Ballard and Vukovitch were seated at a table sipping their beverages and Dr. Mentnor was
dancing with Dr. Donna Elesee. Frank Parker
was holding up a corner of the bar with his hip as he sipped a beer. Next to him, Admiral Calavicci was talking to his
TALKING TO HIS WRIST! The thought screamed through Ramseys brain
as a voice began speaking in his earpiece. It
was Chief Reed.
Ramsey. We have
movement on parking level A.
On my way. Nate
was turning toward the door as he spoke when a firm grasp stopped him. He looked up at Bradley Talmadges eyes; his
set jaw and hurried posture were all the communication they needed. Bradley nodded and fell into step beside Nate as
the two men rushed to the parking deck.
Sam Beckett was three steps behind Talmadge and Ramsey. He had started to run as soon as he heard Ziggy
report to Al that Frank and Sammy Jo had found the bomb in the rent-a-car in the parking
deck. He arrived, winded, just as the blue
Saturn crashed through the single-arm gate and raced toward the desert. From the corner of his eye he saw Nate Ramsey
taking aim at the fleeing car.
NO! Sam screamed as he threw himself at Ramsey.
the... Ramsey sputtered as they hit the ground.
Cant shoot ... the car ... bomb, Sam managed to
pant as Bradley gave both men a hand up.
The bomb was in the car? Talmadge questioned Sam.
We need to know who that car belongs to, Nate said. Reed and three of Nates men in
black arrived on the scene.
Its Lyla Hobkirks, Sam supplied to
Talmadge as Ramsey was conferring with Reed about pursuit of the vehicle.
The Saturn raced through the desert at breakneck speed, Frank
flooring the accelerator. His only goal now was to get the bomb as far away from
Stallions Gate as he could before 0006. He
checked his watch, 0004, and he was just two miles away.
We have about 90 seconds before this puppy goes up, he
turned and said to Sammy Jo. Get ready
to bail out.
Um-hum, Sammy Jo mumbled her comprehension. She was feeling around for something under the
seat. Got it! she said
triumphantly as she pulled a long handled snowbrush out.
Frank smiled broadly at her.
To jam against the accelerator, he stated, catching her drift. Good thinking. Frank positioned the snowbrush and checked his
watch, 0005. He scanned the desert for some
kind of cover. Pointing toward a small dune
he asked, Ready?
Sammy Jo nodded as she removed her seat belt. On three, Frank continued. One ... two ... three!
Doors flew open and two bodies fell from the speeding car. They rolled and bumped along the sandy ground in
opposite directions before stopping about 200 yards from each other. Neither one moved.
Talmadge looked at Sam incredulously as Sam began to head back
inside. He was achy from throwing himself on
Nate and tired from the stress of staying undercover.
As he passed through the entry door he asked the obvious question, Is this
place locked down?
A disembodied contralto responded almost immediately. Yes, sir, the female voice said,
as per Admiral Calaviccis order.
Talmadge gave Frank a sideways glance, noting how quickly Ziggy
had responded to him.
Bradley and Sam continued on to the conference/party room in
silence, the mind of each highly engaged in thought.
As they entered, they observed the party in full swing. Only a small handful of partygoers appeared aware
of what had happened. Surprisingly, Olga,
Isaac and John were huddled around a table quietly conversing with Al and Donna. Craig and Verbena were still on the dance floor,
as was Tina, who was dancing with Congressman Ho.
Sam and Bradley approached the table of their coworkers, moving
slowly so as not to alarm the rest of the party guests.
Nate Ramsey entered just as Bradley reached the table. As soon as the doors closed behind Nate, the room
shuddered violently as if a Mack truck had hit the building. A deep rumble filled the air mixed with screams
from frightened voices.
Admiral Calavicci immediately took control of the room when the
shockwave from the explosion hit the building. The band's music ground to an immediate
halt, and Gooshie made his way to Tina's side. The
once gay party was now as quiet as death, and everyone was moving cautiously in a surreal
Al had taken his place in front of the bandstand and made all the
right calm reassuring noises that he was supposed to.
Sam looked for Lyla. He had expected
her to be either huddled together with the Aides or in Congressman Martinellis arms. She was in neither place.
Lyla Hobkirk had removed her 3-inch heels and was moving low and
slow towards the side door of the room. She
had almost reached her goal when Sam Beckett spotted her and darted across the room in an
effort to catch her. Olga Vukovitch, however,
was much closer and faster. The Russian
grabbed the Taser from a surprised Marine, aimed, and fired.
DEE! Tina screamed as she watched her sister crumple
to the floor.
The loud blast and searing light of the exploding car were enough
to rouse Frank Parker into consciousness. His
body was battered and bruised but nothing was broken.
He made his way to the crumpled heap that he assumed was Sammy Jo
Fuller. Cautiously, he turned her onto her
back and wiped the sand filled hair off of her face.
Sammy Jo? he anxiously called to her. He did a quick injury inventory of the unconscious
physicist. Nothing was obviously broken and
she was breathing. Frank sighed with relief. He brought his face close to hers.
Sammy Jo, wake up! he called to her again. This time she moaned in response. Her eyes flickered open and attempted to focus. A handsome man, about 30, with dark hair and
worried eyes was hanging over her. She closed
her eyes in an attempt to focus. When she
reopened them the man with the concern on his face was in his late 40s and had
longer, lighter hair with a familiar streak of grey in front; Sam Becketts face.
Are you all right? he asked as he helped her to sit
She winced and stretched as she got up. Yeah, nothing a warm bath and some aspirin
wont fix, she bluffed. Her
attention was pulled to the flaming remains of the car and she smiled. Mission accomplished, she stated.
The unlikely pair turned their backs on the inferno that was the
Saturn and began the walk back to Stallions Gate.
They walked in silence for a while. Then
Frank began a conversation.
The security guy, Paulo, he called you Esjay. What does that mean?
Sammy Jo began to laugh. S.J.,
she replied. Theyre my initials,
S. J., like on my lab coat.
All of the department heads of Project Quantum Leap were gathered
in the secondary conference room located on the fourth level of the facility. That is, all except Sammy Jo Fuller, Tina
Martinez-OFarrell and Al Calavicci. Sammy
Jo was in the infirmary being monitored for a mild concussion along with other strains and
bruises sustained in jumping from a speeding vehicle.
Tina being late was not unusual, especially after a late night; but the Admiral
being late to a staff meeting he had called was unheard of.
An eerie quiet filled the room while they waited. Everyone had been at the party last night but no
one wanted to start the conversation about it; it seemed a taboo subject. The only sounds in the room were the tinkling of
spoons in coffee cups punctuated by an occasional swallow.
At 0903, Admiral Albert Calavicci entered the room. He was more comfortably dressed than last
evenings dress whites, wearing instead his favorite black chinos and matching cowboy
style shirt accented by a Bolo tie with a silver clip.
He found his customary chair at the head of the table and sat down.
Thank you all for being here so early in the morning,
the admiral began. I just got off the
phone with Dr. Martinez-OFarrell. Currently,
she is at White Sands with her sister. She
has been granted a short leave to see that Delilah is settled in at the hospital. Al paused as a murmur passed through the room.
The NSA has cleared everyone
else on the bombing. It seems that Dee was
acting alone out of a twisted understanding of love.
She felt that Congressman Martinelli was too conflicted about which project to
approve funding for, so she made the choice for him.
If Quantum Leap didnt exist he wouldnt have to chose.
And they were lovers, Donna Elesee interjected. It was not a question but Al responded to it as if
Yes, it seems that Miss Hobkirk and the congressman have
been, Al paused and cleared his throat, paramours for quite some time now. Anyway, the congressman has been cleared of any
conspiracy in the matter.
It sure was nice to have the Guests unexpected
help, Jim Reed threw into the conversation. Parker
was half supporting Dr. Fuller when my men picked them up in the desert after the
Although she tried to hide it, Donna Elesees attention was
grabbed by the name of the Guest.
Their injuries arent severe, Verbena Beeks
interrupted Reed and began her report. Sammy
Jo has a minor concussion, some contusions, abrasions and strained muscles. She should be back to work in a few days. Im going to release her from the sickbay by
Good, Gooshie said.
With Tina on leave, Im going to need Sammy Jo in Control.
As for our Guest, Verbena continued, his
injuries are even more minor and he is being moved back to the Waiting Room as soon as
Im done here.
So much for us. What
about Sam? Is he doing alright in his
leap? Donna questioned. She knew better
than to accuse Al of abandoning her husband during a leap but quite frankly, everyone was
so involved with the problem at hand that no one had mentioned the current leap at all.
Al read the concern on her face.
Im glad you brought that up, Donna, Al said. I am planning on checking on Sam as soon as
were done here. He looked around
the room as he asked, Are we done here? A
chorus of Yes, Sirs filled the
room. Al turned his gaze directly to the head
programmer. Gooshie, fire up the
Imaging Chamber. Thank you everyone, for your
continued grace under pressure and go back to work.
Chairs squeaked as all assembled rose to go about their jobs. Al caught Donna by the arm before she went out the
door and requested her to stay. They waited
while everyone else filed out. Then Al began
You mentioned being hit on by one of the NSA people,
he began very casually.
Yes, Donna replied, hope
growing in her mind. He was with
Isaac again last night. She tried not
to fidget as her mind put some pieces together. Funny,
he has the same name as
And you were wondering
I was thinking
Al made sure he had Donnas full attention before he spoke
again. Frank Parker did not try to pick
you up because he was in the Waiting Room.
The emotional clouds that had been building in Donnas mind
suddenly broke, and she visibly straightened as she verbalized her thought, That was
Sam! He gave me that same line at MIT.
Yes, Al confirmed.
He has no conscious memory of you. But
somewhere in that noggin of his, he knows.
Its not in his head, Al, its in his heart,
Mrs. Beckett replied as a tear of joy rolled down her cheek.
After making sure that she would be all right, Admiral Calavicci
made his way to the Imaging Chamber.
Sam Beckett threw the overstuffed gym bag that was impersonating a
suitcase on to Frank Parkers bed and began to unpack.
By the time the Backstep team had returned to the hotel in Socorro it was almost
2am and Sam acutely felt the lack of sleep. He
had just closed the bureau drawer when he heard the familiar metallic whoosh of the
Imaging Chamber door.
I hope youre here to explain why Im still
here, Sam pleaded with his Observer.
Will that make you happy, Sam? O.K., Ill tell you. Youre still here because we needed time to
treat Parkers injuries in the infirmary. Beeks
should have him back in the waiting room within the hour. Al Calavicci looked closely at his disheveled
partner. You look like you pulled an
all nighter. Sam, did you improve
international relations with that fabulous Russian? he teased.
Sam looked aghast at the suggestion. No. Lovely
as Olga Vukovitch is, she is not the reason I look this way, Sam explained. By the time we got back to Socorro it was
2am. Then Bradley Talmadge decides we need to
get back to, Sam stopped himself and took a breath,
our base this morning. So we get
up at 5am to fly back here to limit our exposure. The last four words Sam placed
within quotation marks with his fingers.
The whole NSA team is gone, just like that? Al
Yes, no, all but Nathan Ramsey, Sam replied. Ramsey personally escorted Delilah Hobkirk
to the military holding site at White Sands. Hell
be back later.
The corners of Als mouth curled up just a bit. Im sure Ill hear all about it
when Tina gets back. Shes with Dee,
too, he informed Sam.
Sam finished stowing Franks gear by tossing the empty bag in
the closet and turned back to his holographic friend.
So, Ill be out of here soon? he questioned Al.
Yeah, like I said, Verbena just needs to get him back to the
Waiting Room, Al repeated, within the hour, Sam. The admiral watched as Sam exhaustedly hurled
himself into the chair at Franks desk. As
much as he didnt want to add to his friends worries, Al felt he had to warn him.
Sam, theres something I need to tell you.
About Verbena knowing who I was? Sam asked.
Not Verbena, Al began, Isaac Mentnor was acting
hinkey last night. Suspicious, like he knew who you were.
Did he say anything ... ?
No, not specifically, Al said and was then interrupted
by a knock on Parkers door. Hang
in there, Sam. Youll be out of here in
less than an hour, the Admiral finished. Then
he keyed the handlink, opened the Imaging Room door and returned to New Mexico.
The knock came again, louder and more insistent.
Dont these people ever sleep? Sam growled softly
as he went to open the door. Two M.P.s were standing outside the door.
Several minutes later Sam Beckett found himself seated in front of
Bradley Talmadges huge oak desk. Bradley
sat behind his desk. His was not the face of
a man about to celebrate a mission well done. Quite
the opposite, his face was full of questions and worries.
Isaac Mentnor was in the office as well, looking relaxed. He was less concerned than Bradley but then again,
he knew something that Bradley Talmadge didnt.
Listen, Frank, Bradley began, You know Ive
always given you a lot of leeway in how you act, particularly on missions. Because youre such a vital part of this
project, I look the other way instead of coming down on you for things that would have
someone else court-martialed. That ends
today. I want explanations about your
behavior in New Mexico, Frank. He
looked into Parkers face and was surprised to see anxiety in his eyes?
Sam squirmed, trying to come up with a response, but Bradley
I didnt take Ramsey seriously enough when he
complained about your erratic behavior. It has been odd, even for you. I can see you ditching Craig at the formal wear
shop. Even singing Beach Boys songs to Olga. But I have to ask, how
did you get Sam opened his mouth to respond.
He was cut off by Isaac who had been sitting quietly in the corner from the
I think we need to look at what happened before Frank got to
Stallions Gate, Isaac said. He
doesnt often pass out following a Backstep. If
I didnt know better, I would swear that he wasnt Frank at all. Isaacs eyes twinkled as he stared at Sam.
Bradley continued, The artificial intelligence at Quantum Leap was way too
familiar with the personnel at Project Backstep. It
mentioned knowing about several projects that Ballard, Isaac and I have been involved in
and intimated that it knew about Backstep. And,
then that insufferable computer of theirs calls you, Sir, Frank. I want to know why.
Comprehension of the real question came to Sam in an instant. Now I see what has you so concerned. I understand.
A breach of security in a project this important, especially by a computer with an
ego the size of the World Trade Center
Frank, cut the bull. Bradley roared. How much does Ziggy know about us?
What does it matter as long as there is no reference to
Project Backstep in Ziggys memory bank? Sam
No reference to Backstep?
How do you know that,
Frank? Bradley challenged.
Sam stole a glance at his former professor before answering. Frank Parker wouldnt ...
But Sam Beckett would, Isaac finished.
Sam Beckett? Talmadge questioned. Now his face registered shock.
Yes, sir, Sam replied.
The integrity of Backstep has not been compromised. Believe me, I know how to keep a secret. The familiar tingle of an impending leap began in
the small of Sams back. as he stood up
from the chair. Turning his attention to
Isaac Sam said, Apparently, so can you. Thank
The professor smiled at his pupil. No, thank you, Sam! Isaac corrected as a blue light engulfed Sam, and he leaped.
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