Episode 1119

Eternal Shadows: The Supremacy

by: M. J. Cogburn 


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Finding himself back in Hope Springs, Virginia, Sam leaps into several people only to find out that Paige Ilene Arlyss has been trying to crack a virus that landed on her computer.  As her interest in the virus continued, Sam as Isaac Lane took her to Project Liberty.  Upon reviewing the project, Sam has come to the realization that General Hawkins has stolen his project out from under him – even going as far as using Ziggy as his own parallel-hybrid computer and a few members of his family against him.  Sam even finds out that General Hawkins has programmed Ziggy to lie.





Sam wrapped his arm around Paige as the lights in the conference room dimmed and slightly blinked before coming back on in full force.  A hum began to fill the room that seemed extremely familiar to the good Dr. Beckett. 


Al turned his head to Sam with another frown.  “That…sound…” he began.


Lexia Stafford stood and smiled warmly.  “It sounds as if Omega, our parallel hybrid computer, is coming online.”


“Omega?”  Al asked incredulously. 


As the hum became a constant sound and feeling that seemed to permeate the room, Sam began to feel the tingling sensation of the leap begin to pervade his senses.  He didn’t want to go.  He felt as if he hadn’t done anything for anyone.  Sam did his level best to keep hold of his current host.


“Good morning, Dr. Beckett,” a familiar voice filled the room, making its presence known to all in the room.


Sam opened his mouth, wanting to respond as he heard Al say something incomprehensible then felt the leap pull him away from Project Liberty.


The Imaging Chamber went from its brilliance of the conference room to the light blue that surrounded the walls and Admiral Albert Calavicci stood in the midst of it in complete and utter shock and surprise.  He couldn’t believe what he had heard.  He had heard Ziggy’s voice.  Ziggy’s voice.  Ziggy’s voice without being connected to the holographic matrix.  He blinked incomprehensibly at the implications at what this meant to the project. 


Al’s hand came up to pinch the bridge of his nose.  He was getting a headache that resembled Mt. St. Helens before it blew its gasket.  Sam had leaped again, without doing – it seemed – anything.  He didn’t understand how any of these leaps were helping anything.  Shepherd Jameson.  Lorraine McPherson.  Isaac Lane.  Now who?  Who would he leap into now?  Al shook his head, frustrated, not getting how the leaps were interconnected.


Al dropped his hand back to his side and started toward the Imaging Chamber door.  As the door swooshed open, Al’s mind reconnected back to Project Liberty as he stepped out of the Imaging Chamber and saw Ziggy’s mainframe some twenty feet before him.


Immediate anger flashed in his eyes as he started toward the center of the Control Room.  “Ziggy!?” Al commanded heatedly, but as Dominic Lofton came into view at the mainframe’s side, Al’s anger at the parallel-hybrid computer transferred to the deception that Dominic Lofton had obviously given into.


Walking directly up to Dominic, Al’s eyes flashed with an intense disgust.  “All this time,” Al said as he came up to the head programmer, not caring who was in the room at the time, “we trusted you.  We trusted you with everything that was in this complex and you turned around and sold it to the highest damnable bidder!” Al spat at the man now standing in front of him as the two most important people in both men’s lives came into the Control Room.


Dominic Lofton, usually a calm, serene person who bent over backwards to avoid confrontation, turned to face what he knew he had coming.  “Al…” he began.  He wanted to explain what happened – how General Hawkins had blackmailed him – held him like a puppet and all the general had to do was play with the string to make him dance.


“The name is Admiral Calavicci.  My office – now!” Al barked heatedly as his chest heaved with the intense desire to smack the man before him for his dishonesty. 


“Al?” Beth asked, concerned, knowing that her husband was giving Dominic a look that he only issued to those he deemed non-deserving to be in his life.


“Dominic?”  Aurora called out to her husband as he turned to head toward the Admiral’s office.  Although Aurora’s face was bright, shiny, even full of love, her eyes showed her concern at the fact that her husband was now being ordered to the Admiral’s office.  Whatever it was, she could tell that the Admiral was hot, but she had to tell her husband the news that she had found out not ten minutes ago.  “I need to talk to you.”


Dominic stopped at the doorway as he turned to his wife. He knew that he was about to get chewed out from one end of the spectrum to the other, and he didn’t need any more stress at the moment.  “Yes?” he asked softly.


Aurora glided over to her husband, slid her arms around his waist, kissed him, then whispered into his ear softly, “We have cause to celebrate, Dom.”  Seeing the slight frown come onto his features as he wondered to what she was referring, Aurora blurted out, “I… I’m pregnant.”


Although the news was wonderful to his ears, Dominic met the Admiral’s gaze over his wife’s shoulder and cringed.  He just hoped he would have a job by the end of the day.  “We’ll celebrate tonight,” he told her happily as his hands came to rest on her abdomen.  “I love you.”  As long as he heard his wife’s loving words back, Dominic knew that everything… it didn’t matter where they were… rich or poor, with or without a job… he knew that things would be okay.


“I love you, too, Dominic.”


Only with those words carrying him, Dominic kissed his wife lovingly then turned his attention back to the Admiral who was talking quietly with his own wife.


“What’s wrong with you, Al?” Beth asked her husband as she watched Aurora Lofton flit over to tell her husband that she was carrying his child. 


“Nothing,” Al growled.


“Albert Calavicci,” she said lowly as she reached out and pinched his arm.  “Don’t lie to me.  What’s going on?  Why are you acting like something crawled into your shorts and died?”


“Because I have cause to, Beth,” Al hissed at his wife as he rubbed at the area on his arm where Beth had pinched him.  “Dominic did something that was unscrupulous.  He had blatant disregard for this complex and everything that it stands for.  I trusted him.”


“Al…” Beth said softly, trying to calm him down.


“No, Beth.  No,” Al said, then turned and walked away from her as he saw that Dominic had finished talking with his wife.


Stalking down the hallway after Dominic Lofton, Albert Calavicci thought about what Dominic had done.  He was quite prepared to fire the man from the project, but then Al thought about the liability of the project being at stake.  He couldn’t believe what Dominic had done… what he had handed over to General Hawkins.


Slamming the door behind him, Albert Calavicci took a little satisfaction in seeing Dominic Lofton cringe.  Without a word, Al rounded his desk, barely sparing a glance at the new stack of paperwork that awaited him in his ‘in’ box.  Ignoring the teetering pile completely, he faced the man who stood before him.  “What I want to know is what kind of addle-pated moron lets the opposition have the one thing that no one else is supposed to have?” Al asked coldly as he eyed the man standing before him.


“Al… let me explain.”


“There is no rationalization for giving Ziggy to Hawkins!” Al said as he flung a hand up in the air.  “Hell, you handed everything over to him on a silver platter, didn’t you Dominic?” Al demanded as his eyes flashed with the anger that was beginning to rattle his frame.  “You literally gave him the plans!  Then Ziggy!  God, Dominic, isn’t anything sacred to you?”  Dominic Lofton opened his mouth to answer that but Al kept going.  “Obviously not.  What was this?  Were you working with him all along?  Giving him detailed information…”


Dominic’s mouth dropped open at the implications of what Al was saying.  “No!”


“… about the program or did he sweet-talk you into giving everything to him with a ‘Please, Dom.  Would you mind giving me the complex?  I’ll pay you good.’”


“No, Al!  That wasn’t it.  I would never…”


“Bullshit, Dominic, you did,” Al replied coldly, giving the man a look that he hadn’t used since he had been repatriated.


“Yes, he has Ziggy--or a copy rather, but,” Dominic tried to defend himself, “he blackmailed me to get that information.”


Al looked at Dominic then nodded his head slightly.  “Oh.  So, that makes it all okay, then doesn’t it?” he asked a bit sarcastically.  “We can just shove this under the carpet and forget it all happened, right?” Al watched as Dominic’s frame somewhat wilted as his eyes dropped from Al’s gaze.  Al slammed his hand down on his desk, startling the programmer.  “Why!?” he yelled at the man standing before him.  “Why in the hell didn’t you come to me?!  I could have…”


Dominic’s eyes flashed with heat and anger as he looked back up into the Admiral’s face.  “Dammit, Al, I screwed up.  He… he had presidential authority and he was threatening my family.  If you had intervened…”


“This wouldn’t have happened!” Al bellowed back at him.  “All you had to do was come to me.  I‘ve wrestled with bigger asses than General Hawkins,” Al said frankly.


“Well, what’s done is done, Al.  It can’t be changed,” Dominic said with a shake of his head, his left hand coming up to rub at his chin.


Al opened his mouth ready to retaliate but he stopped himself.  Al looked at his desk, his eyes flitting to each object when he spied his coffee mug.  Picking it up, he turned it from side to side in his hands as he considered what to say to Dominic.  Not coming up with anything, Al threw the mug, taking satisfaction in the way it shattered on the far wall.  “By all that’s holy, Dominic,” Al said directly as he leaned down slightly to place his hands on his desk to support his frame, “it will be changed.”


The head programmer’s mind was racing.  “I… I’m assuming that you want me to gather my things.  I’ll be out of here by the end of the day, Admiral.”


“No,” Al said plainly, making Dom’s head bob up.  “No, Dom, I’m not asking you to leave.  The proverbial milk has been spilt, but someone has to clean it up.” Al moved around his desk to stand before the programmer.  “Sit down and let’s talk.”


Relief flooded over Dominic and he sat down at the Admiral’s request. He melted into the chair then turned to Al, who sat down in the neighboring chair.


“Dom, we need to work together to set this right, but I need to know.  Were you ever working with Hawkins in any way, shape, or form?”


Dominic was already shaking his head adamantly no.  “Never, Al.  It was all done against my will.  Dammit, I would never put my family at stake, especially now with Aurora pregnant.”


Al nodded.  “Okay.”  He frowned, and then bit at the inside of his lip before he rubbed his chin thoughtfully and sighed.  “Something happened while I was in the Imaging Chamber, Dom.  I don’t understand it, but Ziggy lied.”


Dominic’s eyes widened in surprise at the news.  “She lied?  What about?”


“She was contacted by Hawkins and when I asked her why she gave him the information, she said that she hadn’t done it.”


“Are you sure that he was talking to her?”


“He said, ‘Thank you, Ziggy.’  He called her by name.  I don’t like being lied to.”


Dominic nodded, then frowned as he thought for a moment.  His conversation with General Hawkins came flooding back into his mind.  A dawning recollection made him tut, irritated.  How could he have forgotten so easily?  “Al, Hawkins did that.  He’s somehow got Ziggy’s ear and she will defend him.  If there is anything that he has her doing for him, she’ll lie about it to us.”


“How do you …”


“He told me.”  Dominic then told Al of the conversation that he’d had with General Hawkins.  “I guess he thought that if anyone really wanted to know about what he was doing, that they’d ask him.”


Al shook his head again then glanced up at the ceiling.  “Ziggy?”


“Yes, Admiral Calavicci?” the parallel-hybrid computer answered back with a purr.


“Why did you give General Hawkins the information about Jimmy LaMotta?”  If Dominic was correct with his assumptions about what General Hawkins had done, Al was expecting the same information he had received in the Imaging Chamber.  He wasn’t disappointed.


“I did not do such a thing, Admiral Calavicci.  You must have been deceived.”


Al looked to Dominic, one eyebrow raised suspiciously.  “I was there, Ziggy.  I saw him ask you for information about Jimmy LaMotta.  Why did you give him that information?”


“I have not given out such information, Admiral,” Ziggy pronounced to him.


Al slowly stood up.  “Alright you uppity, thick-headed, bolts of junk, if you tell me again that you didn’t give the information to General Hawkins when he used his DOD UMBRA Clearance Number, I am going to take you apart piece by piece!  Now… why did you give him that information?”


“That is classified information, Admiral Calavicci.  Unless you…”


The Italian in Admiral Albert Calavicci was definitely coming through in full force as he slammed his hand down on the arm of the chair. “DOD UMBRA Clearance Number 567-234-515.  Now answer the damn question!” A moment of silence passed over the room and Al glanced at Dom to note the distressed look on his face.


It almost seemed as if the parallel-hybrid computer had to ‘think’ up an answer or decide how to answer the question posed to it.


“Ziggy?” Al warned.


“He,” Ziggy paused yet again in her answer then simply said, “he asked.”


Al’s slack jaw expression was almost comical.  Glancing over at Dominic, Al found that the other man was wearing the same shocked expression.  Al blinked as his body settled back in the chair.  Gradually, his composure returned and he shook his head with a snort. “He asked?  He asked?  How in the hell is that classified information? What did he do to you, Ziggy?  Why are you acting so… so…”


Ziggy’s voice slid into a low whisper, haunting both men at the same time.  “It may be wise to shut down my programming.”


“Why?” Dominic asked, alarmed, as he thought about what this would mean to Project Quantum Leap.  If Ziggy shut down her programming, as far as the project was concerned, Sam would be lost in Time.


“Between the command input I've been receiving from General Hawkins, my normal operating procedures of keeping Project Quantum Leap running systematically, and receiving Admiral Calavicci’s orders, my program is conflicted."


“Conflicted?” Dominic asked trying to grasp what Ziggy was telling them.


“Directives entered by General Hawkins’ supercede all other directives.  To give Admiral Calavicci the information that he required, I had to reroute all information through to his DOD Umbra Clearance.”


“I was afraid of this,” Dom said softly.  “Can you re-route all other programming around the commands that General Hawkins placed in your system?”  Dom asked as he stood up and began to pace in front of the Admiral’s desk.


“I cannot,” Ziggy replied.


“Okay.  What about…”


Al watched Dominic as he paced before him, listening to the conversation between the parallel-hybrid computer and the head programmer.  He comprehended most of the conversation.  It wasn’t too over his head.  From what he understood, Hawkins was in control not only of Project Quantum Leap, but his own project in Hope Springs, Virginia.


As the head programmer began to rattle out strings of commands to try and re-route the system so that Ziggy wouldn’t have to shut her system down, Al’s headache grew in massive proportions.  After five minutes of listening to them, Al finally stood up and held up his hands.  “I hate to interrupt, but can this conversation be taken elsewhere?”


“Yes sir,” Dominic said as he started toward the door then stopped and returned to Al.  “If I haven’t said so, Al, I’m sorry that this happened.  It won’t happen again.”  Dominic then held out his hand to the Admiral and waited only a moment before the Admiral shook his hand.


“Go fix her,” Al said simply with a nod to the door.


“Yes sir.”





Hope Springs, Virginia

Project Liberty

February 13, 2006


“Good morning, Dr. Beckett,” a familiar voice filled the room, making its presence known to all in the room.


General Hawkins immediately straightened as he glanced around the room at his employees.  “Dr. Beckett?” he asked suspiciously.  “Dr. Beckett is here?” he asked warily as he scanned the room once more looking at each person in turn.


The voice that permeated the room flooded back almost purring.  “I apologize, General Hawkins.  It seems that I have an echo in my calibrating cycle.  That is seemingly what was kept in the programming every time the program is initiated.  Ms. Stafford, your assistance is required.  I’m finding an anomaly in a subsystem.”


Paige looked around the room trying to figure out where the voice was coming from.  “You know, that’s pretty cool.  I wish my computer could tell me what was wrong with it sometimes,” Paige said as she saw Lexia Stafford turn toward her.


“Ahhh, but sometimes that could be a bad thing too.”  Seeing Paige’s frown, Lexia said, “A programmer’s work is never done. It was a pleasure to meet you, Paige.  Thank you for showing us the virus.”


“It was nice to meet you, too,” Paige said shaking the blonde’s hand.


Lexia smiled warmly as she turned to see the men waiting for them to say their goodbyes, then exited the room.


Paige glanced back at her father who was frowning, blinking, and looking bewildered.  “Are you okay, Dad?”


Isaac Lane blinked then answered, “Yes, I’m okay.  I’m just still a little baffled at that… virus,” he said as he glanced down at the computer to see that it was still at an early stage in downloading FBI files. “Since everything is finished, I guess that I’ll be taking you to school.”


Paige nodded as J. T. Beckett stepped in front of her.  “It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Beckett,” she said with a smile. 


J. T. smiled at her then winked.  “J. T.,” he corrected her.  “And the pleasure was mine,” J. T. said as he took her hand in his and met her gaze.  “Perhaps if your family wouldn’t mind, we could…” A throat being cleared behind him cut off the sentence that J. T. wanted to finish.  Turning his head, he saw his father give a subtle shake of his head.    Turning back to Paige, he said, “… we could discuss more about how you broke the code.”


Paige slightly blushed under his gaze.  “One doesn’t give away their secrets,” Paige replied, then added, “but if I do happen to find another virus on my mainframe, then I might give you a call, J. T.”


Before J. T. could respond, his father stepped forward and reached out a hand toward Paige.  “It was nice to meet you Paige.  I’m sure that you need to get back to school, so we won’t keep you.  J. T. and I have some programs to work on.  Come on, Jon.”  Putting his hands on his son’s shoulders, Captain Tom Beckett turned away from the teen before him and pushed J. T. lightly toward the door.


Paige watched the pair leave then turned back to look at her stepfather leaning slightly on the table looking at the laptop and slightly shaking his head.  Before she could approach him, General Hawkins appeared at her side. 


“Ms. Arlyss?”


Paige turned to the man she had called a pompous, egotistical, patronizing, sorry son of a bitch and swallowed.  “Yes, General Hawkins?”


General Hawkins looked as if he had just put something in his mouth that was a bit sour.  He offered his hand to the young woman then said, “I apologize for my words earlier.  I also want to let you know that I’m sorry for your father’s death.”


“Thank you, sir,” Paige said as she took his hand in hers.


Turning his attention to his head security officer, General Hawkins said, “Lane, I’ve got a plane to catch this afternoon to New Mexico.  I have something down there that needs my attention.”


Isaac looked up from the laptop, scratching the back of his neck then nodded.  “Yes sir.  I’ll take precautions until you return.”


“Glad that you’re on the job, Lane.  Ms. Arlyss,” General Hawkins nodded his head to the teen then left the room.


Isaac Lane nodded then turned back to his daughter.  “Let’s get you back to school,” he said simply as he watched the General leave.


“Dad, I’m sorry.”


Isaac frowned, not sure what to make of his stepdaughter’s apology.  Before he could ask her why, words were fumbling out of her mouth as quickly as she could form them.


“I know that I shouldn’t have addressed the General the way that I did.  It was wrong, but it wasn’t as wrong as what I’m sure that I did to you when I said that Dad would be alive.”  Paige stepped up to her stepfather and took his hands in hers.  “You have been nothing less than perfect for mom and a wonderful father to me.  If Mom hadn’t chosen you to be in her life, I don’t know exactly where we’d be.”  Paige’s eyes misted over as she opened her stepfather’s arms and stepped between them, hugging him closely to her.  “You have always been there for me when I needed someone.  I wasn’t saying that I don’t want you in my life.  Please, don’t think that, Dad,” Paige said softly against his shoulder.


Isaac Lane wrapped his arms around his stepdaughter and smiled warmly.  “I don’t, honey, not even a little bit.”  Leaning her back, Isaac kissed her forehead then peered down into her eyes.  “Come on, let’s get you to school.  I’m sure that there’s a young man who’s concerned about your well being.”


“Ohh Dad… don’t start,” Paige said as she saw him pull out the blindfold from his pocket.  “Not you too.  You’re as bad as Mom is.”


“Did he ask you yet?” Isaac asked.


“Who asked what?” Paige questioned warily.


Isaac smiled as he turned her around and began to fasten the blindfold.  “Did Shepherd ask you to the dance?”


“I swear, Dad.  You and Mom are co-conspirators.”


Isaac Lane laughed heartily as he began to move his daughter toward the doors of the conference room.



Stallions Gate, New Mexico

Project Quantum Leap

7:00 P.M.


“What!?” Al demanded as he looked up at the ceiling at what Ziggy had just announced.  He couldn’t believe what he had just heard.  “He’s back?  Why in the hell is he back here?”


“Je ne sais pas pourquoi il est retourné, amiral,” Ziggy replied.


“Ziggy, this isn’t the time for a language change.”


“I don’t know why he’s returned, Admiral.”


Admiral Calavicci rolled his eyes as he stood up from his desk.  The teetering paperwork that he had begun over eight hours ago had only dwindled by two inches and he still had more to accomplish.  Stretching his arms over his head and lightly twisting out his back, he pursed his lips.  “Have you and Dom figured out what’s going on with your system?”


“No, Admiral.”


Al placed his hands on his hips for a moment then said, “Has Sam leaped yet?”


“Not yet, Admiral.”


“Let me know as soon as you know something.”


“You’ll be the first to know.”  Ziggy paused for a moment then added, “General Hawkins is on his way to your office, Admiral.”


“Perfect.  Just perfect.”  Straightening his shoulders and sliding his hands down the front of his multi-colored shirt, Al had barely taken a breath before a knock sounded on his office door.  Taking in a calm steady breath, Al then let it out just as slowly and said loudly, “Enter.”


The door opened and General Hawkins glanced around the room, his eyes finally falling on the Admiral.  “Your office never changes, does it, Calavicci?” he asked a bit dismissively with his eyebrow arched lightly.


“Well, some of us don’t feel the need for change, General.  Some things are better how they are supposed to be.”


“My thoughts exactly,” General Hawkins said simply as he motioned to the building around him.  “Especially when it deals with Time as it pertains to your project.”


Al shot him a look that told him exactly how he felt about that.  Al knew that he couldn’t say anything about what he had seen in Hope Springs, Virginia with the man before him.  If he did, then General Hawkins would know that Sam had been there.  “To what do we owe this… visit, General?” Al asked as he watched the man pick up one of the funding forms from atop the stack of work he still needed to do.


“Oh, there are a few loose strings that I needed to tie up here.  No worries, Al,” he said with a grin as he put the paperwork back on the stack.  “I won’t be here too long.  I should be out of your hair by tomorrow afternoon.”


Al nodded to the man’s words but he wasn’t sure if he was going to bet the farm that he would actually be leaving that soon. 


“Well, I won’t stop you from… ah… your work,” Hawkins said with a glance down at the paperwork with a sarcastic grin.  “I know my way to my own office,” he said innocently then exited the room without another word to Al.


As Al watched the General exiting his office, the steam that had accumulated and intensified by this point could have started a locomotive steam engine with no problem at all.



Somewhere in Time


In the instant that he felt himself in the infinite abyss where he normally waited for his assignments, Dr. Sam Beckett wanted to cry out in frustration.  He knew that he wasn’t finished in whatever was going on in Hope Springs, Virginia.  Something was keeping him there.  What… or who… and why were the questions that he so desperately wanted the answers to.  Yet, he never could stay long enough to ascertain the reason for the multi-leaps into one place.


He remembered leaping once into a family repeatedly, but he understood the reason for leaping into the Millikin family.  It was to strengthen the family bond and for their family to be together during the Christmas season.  Even the leaps after that, Sam seemed to remember them as well – all of them making sense to him: leaping in to save a group of kids from an F-5 tornado; overcoming a prejudice that a Russian student had to go through just because of his heritage; then leaping into an identical twin to save her sister from being murdered by a psychotic, jealousy-filled boy.  Those leaps made sense.  Maybe not at the time, but looking back on it, each of them made sense to him.  However, these leaps into Hope Springs didn’t connect to any logical reasoning.  It just seemed to be a variety of leaps into the same place in the present time.


Sam’s mind reviewed over the last few leaps into Hope Springs, Virginia.  His first leap was Shepherd Jameson, a teenager who had talked with a young woman who had decided to crack the code on a virus that had been sent to her.  Before he had done anything, he had leaped out.  He had then leaped into Lorraine McPhearson, whom he’d first met and saved on an earlier leap.  Lorraine had grown up to become a police officer and she had been sitting in front of a computer.  He and Al had been able to talk and then, immediately after their conversation, he had leaped into Isaac Lane.  Sam had frowned as he thought about his last leap into the Head of Security at Project Liberty. 


Between the computer virus that he had watched Paige Arlyss working on and finding out that General Hawkins had stolen his project out from under him, as well as knowing that someone had placed some files on this virus about him, Sam didn’t know what to expect next.  His brain was twirling and his emotions were running high.


His anguish finally couldn’t be squelched any longer.  “What!?” he yelled into the abyss.  “What am I there to fix!?  How can I put right anything when you keep bouncing me in and out!?”


Silence followed Sam’s questions and he saw the cerulean blue surrounding him change slightly to a darker hue.  He waited for a response but when nothing came back at him, he said simply, “Help me help them.”


Still silence surrounded him then the tingling sensation of the impending leap permeated his body sweeping him up into a whirlwind that caught him off guard.





Stallions Gate, New Mexico

Project Quantum Leap

7:10 PM


Leaving Admiral Calavicci’s office, General Hawkins strode through the complex as though he had the world in his hand.  He knew exactly how to push that little Italian’s buttons and he was going to do it every chance that he got.  With a satisfied gleam in his eyes, Hawkins was glad that he had changed the lock to the office he had been using as his personal office.  He didn’t need any prying eyes to see what he was dipping into.  Getting his keys out of his pocket, he unlocked the door that still had a nameplate on it that read, “Gushman.”  Rolling his eyes at the name, he pushed open the door and entered.


Flicking on the light, General Hawkins went to the desk that held his personal link to the parallel-hybrid computer.  He sat and pursed his lips, wondering exactly what he was about to learn about Project Quantum Leap this time.  His fingers skimmed over the keys entering his password, his gaze fixed on the screen as he watched as the code was accepted.  The screen changed, revealing a list of files now available to him. Hawkins didn't need to wonder which one to open; he saw it and clicked.  Instantly a document appeared and he began to read, his eyes scanning quickly over the detailed report of Jimmy LaMotta.


As he was reading, his eyes blurred for a moment and he closed them and shook his head lightly.  The dizziness persisted another moment and he leaned back in his chair and covered his eyes with his hands. When he removed his hands from his face after a few seconds, the dizziness was gone.  Carefully, he looked around the room and finally his gaze fell upon the document on the computer screen and he sat up, his focus intent as he resumed reading.


The document held most of the information that he had recently been told.  Jimmy LaMotta was a mentally retarded man that Dr. Beckett leaped into to mainstream into society.  Scrolling more down the page, his eyes scanning the document intensely, he found a name that made his eyes brighten.


"Alia," he said her name softly then continued to read about how Alia had caused havoc with the timeline, so much so that Dr. Beckett had to leap into Jimmy LaMotta's life again to settle things back into place. 


Intrigued by what he had read thus far, he searched further on this mysterious woman.  He was rewarded when he found that Dr. Beckett had met up with her again when he leaped into one Arnold Watkins – a Superman wannabe.  Clicking on the next reference for Alia, Hawkins saw that the pair had leaped into Mallard Correctional Facility for Women.  Scrolling down further, a sentence caught his eye.


"What?" he asked aloud as he actually put his finger on the screen.  What he saw made him shake his head slightly as he read aloud, “… Ziggy said she didn’t know where Alia was, but that she was free…”


Hawkins settled back against his chair for a moment.  "Free?" he asked himself before he leaned forward to click on the next reference for Alia.  His fascination about the woman grew as he found out that the duo had met up again, this time in 1977, when Dr. Beckett had leaped into Jim Kidd, a thoroughbred horse trainer.  He skimmed through all the less interesting sections of the leap until his eyes caught another familiar name - Thames. 


After noting the unusual name, he was about click on the next reference when a small phrase seemed to jump out at him, causing him to straighten up in his chair and peer closely at the screen as he read, "Thames was killed when he was shot by Alia."


"He was killed," Hawkins murmured, his expression thoughtful. "I wonder..." He dismissed the thought and resumed his perusal of the reports available to him, now keeping an eye out for any reference to Alia or the man named Thames.


He scrolled through several more pages, his eyes roving quickly, picking out certain items of interest here and there as he went along.  He was about to turn his attention elsewhere when a name he hadn't seen since he began reading snagged his attention and he stopped scrolling and quickly reviewed the entry that contained the name 'Zoë'.


The entry itself seemed to be the same as that of Alia.  Zoë was the name of the holographic observer that followed Alia on her quests, much like Al did with Sam.  As Hawkins continued to scroll through the references with Zoë, he found that when Alia seemed to be free, her observer, Zoë, had in actuality become a leaper.  As he read, he shook his head as he found an entry, which told of how Albert Calavicci had shot this Zoë in the back.  "What a way to win friends and influence people," he uttered softly.


Moving to the next reference, he found himself leaning forward again in his chair, his mouth opened slightly as he read.


"...and Dr. Beckett leaped out. His next leap was almost instantaneous, this time, however, when a neural lock was made with him, we discovered that Dr. Beckett had leaped into this Lothos' complex. He also discovered that Zoë was there as well.


The only conclusion we could come to for Dr. Beckett being there was to destroy this Lothos—if successful, according to Ziggy's calculations, Dr. Beckett would end, once and for all, Lothos' continued attempts at manipulating time to achieve his goal.


Dr. Beckett managed to get to the portal after a wrestling match with Zoë.  The portal was where the body of what was once the man Nathaniel Lothoman was located. Apparently, Lothoman had himself integrated into the supercomputer he had constructed. He was, simply put, the literal human brain of the computer.


Dr. Beckett was able to achieve his objective of destroying Lothos by pulling out several bunches of cables that had been implanted into Lothoman's skull.  It was a grisly sight but it was effective.  Within moments Lothoman/Lothos was dead.


There was one obstacle left for Dr. Beckett to overcome in order for him to succeed, namely stopping Zoë from escaping and possibly carrying on Lothoman/Lothos' goal of ultimate global control.  However, his efforts were aided by none other than Zoë, herself, as she deliberately electrocuted herself...."


Hawkins sat back in his chair in utter shock, his mouth open, his eyes blinking as his eyes went back over the last two words they had read.  He had barely wrapped his mind around what he had just read before the door came flying open and he turned his attention to the figure now standing there, looking as if they were ready to kill.


"You.  What are you doing here?"



After Hawkins left his office, Al had just sat and glared at the door for a solid ten minutes, his anger building over the man's monumental arrogance until he had to do something or explode.  Glancing at the papers on his desk, he was supremely tempted to sweep every paper off the desk but that would only mean extra time in recollecting the several sensitive reports and then finishing them.  Instead, he got to his feet, moved around the desk and grabbed hold of the doorknob of the partially opened door and slammed it as hard he could, with the unconscious intent of knocking it completely off its hinges.  He had to settle for the loud slamming sound.


A moment later, a knock on the door was followed by a Marine opening it, and inquiring respectfully, "Is there a problem in here, sir?"


"No, lieutenant," Al snapped at the man.  "Nothing that ramming my foot as far up as it will go in a certain person's ass wouldn't cure."  He glared at the man and for a second could have sworn he saw a suspicious something that could have been a twinkle in the Marine's blue eyes, but when he blinked and looked again, the man's eyes were unreadable.


"Yes, sir," the Marine lieutenant replied before stepping back and closing the door.


Al listened to the sound of the man's steps retreating as he turned to go back to his desk, then went to the coffeemaker on the credenza. He muttered under his breath as he reached automatically for the cup he kept handy, remembering only then that he'd shattered it on the wall earlier.  It didn't help his frame of mind any when he also realized that the coffee in the pot was cold.


"Just great!" he fumed as he set the half full pot of cold coffee down with a thump.  Tossing another glare at the paperwork waiting patiently for him, Al thought a moment then headed for the door.  "I need coffee," he muttered as he grabbed the doorknob and twisted it. Stepping into the hall and pulling the door closed he turned to stare balefully down the hall in the direction of Gooshie's former office. "If I wasn't on the wagon, I'd stiffen it with something," he said under his breath and turned. Al had only taken a couple of steps when he heard a sound coming from behind him and turned around again, his gaze going automatically to, as he privately termed it, "The Asshole's Place".


He waited, listening, but didn't hear anything else and once more started to go in search of the strongest coffee he could find outside his office. It was common knowledge in the project that no one brewed a stouter or 'meaner' pot of coffee than Al Calavicci.


This time, however, Al wasn't mistaken; this time he heard definite sounds coming from Hawkins' office, and as he marched briskly toward it, the muffled sounds suddenly became a thud -- a heavy thud.  He dashed the last few feet to Hawkins' door and without thinking, hit the door with his fist and opened his mouth to demand that the General open it and let him in, but Al never had to say a word, as the door swung wide open at the initial touch of his hand. 


It took another moment before Al could put the words together that finally came out of his mouth as his gaze went from the sight of General Hawkins standing in a defensive posture, the standing office flagpole held like a bayoneted weapon, blood dripping from the military spear point atop the flagpole.  The general stared balefully down at the two bloody bodies on the floor near his desk.  How the two men died was obvious. The bloody spear point on the flagpole would, he suspected, perfectly match the hole in each man's blood-soaked chest.


"What in the hell happened in here, General?" Al demanded.


General Hawkins’ chest was heaving as he stared at the two dead men lying on his floor.  "Self defense," he said simply.  "These men were trying to kill me.  They..." he paused to try to catch his breath, "... they are... were spies."


Al blinked, not believing a word of what the man was saying.  Looking down at the men, he recognized them.  David Henderson and Mark Stend couldn't have been spies. He remembered specifically hiring them about the same time that Dominic Lofton had entered PQL.  "Ziggy," Al called out to the computer, hoping that this time he'd get a straight answer from her.  "What happened in here?" he demanded.


Hawkins gaze didn't waver from Al's face as the computer responded emotionlessly, "Exactly what General Hawkins, said, Admiral.  Mr. Stend entered first and threatened the General's life.  General Hawkins was forced to defend himself.  Approximately a minute after defeating..."


"You mean killing," Al interjected darkly.


"...Mr. Stend,” Ziggy continued as if Al hadn’t spoken, “Mr. Henderson entered and also made an attempt on his life.  The General again defended himself." The computer paused and added, "If you wish, I will provide you with a tape of the incident for your review, Admiral."


Al's gaze narrowed as he watched Hawkins return the now besmirched emblem of freedom to its place behind his desk as if nothing had happened.


"As soon as you can," Al said. 


Al’s head came up almost at the same time as the hair on the back of his neck stood up when Hawkins turned to face him, lightly brushing his hands together as he told Al, "Get someone in here to clean up this mess.  And Admiral ... this is off the record."


Al could hardly believe what he was hearing.  "Are you telling me to…”


"I gave you an order, Admiral Calavicci," Hawkins snapped, his eyes darkening as he glared at his adversary.  "And since I have presidential authority, you'd do well to do as you're told and keep your mouth shut!" He stared, unblinking, at the other man.  "I trust I was clear enough, Admiral?"


Al wanted to tell the man exactly what he thought of him, how atrocious it was that he had used an emblem of liberty and equality to kill members of his staff, and how he just wanted the pretentious ass out of his project ASAP.  The only thing that stopped him was exactly what General Hawkins had just said – ‘presidential authority’.  “Perfectly clear,” Al said.  With one last look at the whole situation to place it in his memory, he turned and left the room.


Licking his lips then brushing his hands off on his pants, General Hawkins looked at the dead bodies in the room and shook his head slightly.  It’s going to have to be more difficult than that,’ he thought to himself before he felt a wave of dizziness overcome him.  Grabbing hold of the side of the desk, he steadied himself then frowned and blinked several times, as the room seemed to settle around him once again.  Looking down at the men once more, a disgusted look appeared on his face.  “Damn,” he muttered to himself and headed out the door, his intent to get away from Project Quantum Leap for good.



Standing at her post in the Control Room, Samantha Josephine Fuller’s brow furrowed in intense thought as she stared at the program running before her.  She clicked her teeth together then pursed her lips.  What she had just seen, she hadn’t seen in some time.  Saving the information so that she could look at it again, she pulled up a file that she hadn’t looked at for several months.  The last time she had seen that type of schematic in the program algorithms and sequencing it had been….


“No, it can’t be,” she muttered.


“Did you, like, say something to me, Sammy?” Tina Martinez-O’Farrell asked.  Tina blew a bubble with her gum, popped it then walked over to Sammy Jo, her five-inch high heels clicking on the tile floor.


“No, Tina, I didn’t, but…”


“But what, hon?” Tina asked as she peered easily over her shoulder to look at the file Sammy Jo had up on her screen.  “Why do you… uhm… why do you have that up?  You reminiscing about how they came here or somethin’?”


Sammy Jo laughed nervously.  “Not reminiscing.  Look, Tina.  Do you remember this?” Sammy Jo pressed the enter button on her keyboard; the schematic of a leap sequence that belonged to one of the evil leapers that they had been able to detect in the past appeared on her screen. 


“Unfortunately.  Why?”


Sammy Jo glanced over her shoulder.  “I found this.”  Sammy Jo went back to the original screen she had been looking at and pressed the return button once again, showing Tina basically the same form they had just seen. 


Tina’s face fell.  “When was this?”


“The leap in was at seven fifteen and it seems that the final leap out was at seven forty.”


“Wait.  What do you mean final?”


“I mean, Tina, that there was more than one.  There were three.  Three leaps in and three leaps out of the project and none of them were Sam.  We’ve had a breach, Tina.” 




Hope Springs, Virginia

February 13, 2006

7:45 PM


Sam already knew at what point in America he would be leaping.  He knew it more than he knew his own name.  The question was who he was going to be portraying this time.  He had not a clue.  Sam, nonetheless, let the seemingly sinuous sensation take him to Hope Springs, Virginia.


Sam opened his eyes, blinking slowly to focus them, glanced around the room, and recognized it as he heard the music on the radio playing yet again.  The tune was of a rock and roll band, and as he reached over to turn off the radio, he heard the band singing: ‘So, take me away, I don’t mind, but you better promise me, I’ll be back in Time…’ Sam blinked as he sat up on the bed, and softly shook his head waving off the dizziness that had followed him from the leap.


Sam gaze flitted around the room; the posters of half-naked women made him shake his head good-naturedly.  He glanced down at himself.  He was wearing a pair of gray sweatpants and a blue T-shirt.  Standing up, he started toward the door but was startled when someone knocked lightly. 


Moving to the door, Sam opened it and saw a young lady standing there, looking up at him with a slight glare. 


“You know, I don’t like being your personal assistant.  I do have a life of my own, Shep.”


“What?” Sam asked as a grin began to spread across his face.


“You know, if you would turn on the ringer on your phone, then you could take your own flipping calls,” the young brunette said as she handed him a sheet of paper that had a phone number scrawled on it.


Sam glanced down at the phone number on the page then back at the young woman as she turned her back on him and started away from his bedroom.  Before she got to far, Sam said, “Thank you.”  The only response that he got was a backwards wave from the retreating form.


Retreating back into his host’s bedroom, Sam went back to his bed as he grabbed the small phone that sat on the bedside table.  Picking up the receiver, he dialed the number and listened to the phone ringing through the other line.


“Lane residence,” a male voice replied.


“Hello, Mr. Lane, this is Shepherd.  Could I please talk with Paige?” Sam said automatically, his mind already working on why he had leaped back into Shepherd Jameson.  Even as he listened to Mr. Lane giving him a warm hello as well as telling him to hold on for a moment, Sam wondered when Al was going to meet up with him on this leap.


“Hello?” Paige Arlyss answered the phone cheerfully.


Sam smiled as he thought of the young woman that had told an arrogant general exactly what she had thought of him.  “Hey.  I was told that you had called.  I’m sorry that I missed it.”


“Ah, so, Millicent gave you the message.  You know, if you turned the ringer on your phone…”


“I know, I know,” Sam said as he lightly laughed.  “I’ll turn it on as soon as I hang up with you.  All right?”  Paige giggled softly on the other end of the phone.  “So… what’s up?”


“I was going to ask you about that email that you sent to me the other day.”


“The e-mail?” Sam questioned not sure exactly what she was talking about.


“Yeah.  Were you serious about asking me to The Enchantment Under The Sea Dance?” Paige asked cautiously. 


Sam frowned.  He wasn’t sure what the answer would be, but he decided to go with his gut.  “Of course, I was serious about it.  It… it wasn’t particularly a great way to ask you out on a date.  Let me rectify that.”  Pausing, Sam licked his lips.  As a grin spread out over his face, he asked, “Paige, would you go with me to the dance?”



Project Liberty

February 13, 2006

7:45 P.M.


The door to the conference room opened and closed immediately afterward softly.  The light remained off as a figure crossed the room stealthily.  Once at the conference table, the figure moved the mouse that was connected to the laptop that had been set up earlier in the day.  The screen slowly lit up and cast its ambience in the room.  Seeing that the download of the assumed FBI files had completed and another download of assumed CIA files had begun, a small smile appeared.  “We are finally on track,” came a whispered response as the figure lightly caressed the top of the laptop then crossed back over to the door, a small victorious smile plastered on their face.  “This is just too perfect for words.”


To Be Continued…


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