Dr. Sam Beckett shook his head to clear the last of the fog from his vision. The
first thing he saw was toes, his toes, in comfortable tennis shoes, then he noticed the
comfortable jeans. There were calm voices murmuring in the background.
He held his breath for a second and continued to study his toes while using his peripheral
vision to see if anyone was addressing him. He issued a slight sigh when all he saw
were T-shirt clad backs to him, the wearers all huddled over something he couldnt
see on a low table.
Sam continued his self-examination and
discovered he was leaning casually against a wall with his arms crossed against his
chest. Slowly, he looked around and took in the surroundings. There was a
dirty wood floor, a cheesy looking bed and a dilapidated table that the other occupants
were crowded around, illuminated by a thrift shop lamp. It was impossible to
determine the era by this room; everything appeared to be used, hand me downs. Only
his shoes gave a hint of the time because they were a very complicated style of Nike
shoe. Sam was impressed and confused at the same time by an expensive shoe owner
being in such a tacky room.
He stood up straighter, making the
decision to move closer to the crowd and listen in when one of the men stood up and faced
him. It was a younger man, in his mid to late 20s, trim and athletic. He
was holding a telephone receiver to his ear, his hand over the mouthpiece blocking the
next question from the person at the other end. He looked right at Sam with a perplexed
"He wants a helicopter, twenty-five
thousand dollars cash in unmarked bills and a pizza! What do I do?" The young
man appeared to be as stumped as the four other clones, all of which were staring at Sam
and obviously expecting an answer.
Caught off guard and completely
unprepared, Dr. Sam Beckett, time traveler, froze, then replied softly, "Oh,
I really have no idea exactly how long I've been Quantum Leaping. If I sat
down and tried to think it out, I'd probably not be able to come up with a number. I
could, however, come up with a list of skills I have picked up. One of them being
'deflecting attention', which gives me the precious time I need to figure out what I'm
supposed to be doing. It works most of the time. Sometimes it comes right back at
men were obviously expecting an answer, so Sam gave them one. "Ask what he
wants on it."
There were confused looks exchanged among them, as well as
"On the pizza. What does he want on the
pizza?" Sam clarified verbally as he scrambled mentally to come up with
something else to say. He heard the man with the phone ask repeat the question into
laughing, sir," the young man reported, turning to face Sam again. The team was
now totally stumped. "And he's asking for you." He held out the
Sam hesitated, then stepped forward and
accepted the phone. "Hello?" He said tentatively. The laughter on
the other end died down only slightly.
"OK! That's it, Billy! I think
we've tortured them enough!" Sam heard more chuckling then the phone went
A couple of the half dozen young
men checked their watches then looked expectantly at Sam.
A training scenario of some sort?
Sam wasn't sure what he was supposed to do, and got the feeling he was in charge
here. He was just at the point of dismissing all of them when a powerfully built man
burst into the room, a smile on his rugged face. "OK, troops! Short lunch break
then back here in an hour. Field PT is next, so wear your fatigues. We'll be
doing some recon. Get outta here."
The group talked amongst themselves and
started to file out of the room, discussing where the closest lunch could be had.
One man broke off and approached Sam.
"Sergeant, I'd like to thank you for
this opportunity. They don't come around too often," and he stuck his hand
Sam shook his hand and murmured a
response, as a thought ran through his head. 'Sergeant? In what army?' The big
man was gathering up the radio equipment, and tossed two portable radios to Sam.
"Here. I don't know where the box
went. Whatcha want for lunch?" Arms loaded, the man followed the group
out the door. Sam was the last one to leave, and gave the room a last, puzzled look
as he closed the wobbly door. He followed the big guy down a narrow, dark set of
wooden stairs that opened out into a very short street. The others piled into two
separate cars and zoomed off, and Sam noticed that the paved road turned to dirt just a
few buildings away. In fact, the whole 'town' stopped just a few buildings
Sam stopped and took in the whole
scene. It was a fake town! Something you'd see on a Hollywood back lot, except this
little grouping was set in a clearing between two long hills that were covered with trees.
There was nothing else around.
"Hey! Bill!" The large man
called. Sam, still a bit stunned, looked up. "You ridin' with me? No
sense in taking two cars."
"Uh, yeah, OK," Sam
Sam's partner opened the trunk of a
plain, brown sedan parked close to the building they had just exited, and tossed in the
radios. Following suit, Sam walked over and put the radios he was holding in the
same trunk while the man got in the driver's seat. The contents of the trunk were
fascinating; there were metal ammo boxes galore and canvas bags with batons and handcuffs
spilling out. There was one long, metal box that Sam suspected must hold a rifle of
some sort, figuring that all this stuff had to do with law enforcement in some way.
Or so he hoped. As he closed the trunk, the car started up. Sam had to trot to
the passenger door or be left behind.
He was barely seated when the car took
off. The motion of it shooting forward made the door close and Sam scrambled to hook
the seat belt. They left the 'town' in a cloud of dust.
The big guy whistled tunelessly as Sam
inspected the car. There was a police radio bolted low on the dashboard, and a
laptop computer on the floor, along with several empty fast food restaurant cups.
The driver was fast, but good and Sam relaxed a bit as he smoothly took the curves. Soon
the dirt road joined with a paved one, then a security gate. The others had left it
open for them, and after they passed through the driver got out to shut and lock the
gate. Sam took the opportunity to move the rearview mirror over so he could see what
he looked like this leap.
The eyes of a man of Asian descent looked
back at him. His hair was military short, black and glossy. His skin was a
medium tone, and Sam guessed Japanese. He was a good-looking man who kept himself in
shape. The mirror was re-adjusted before the driver returned, and Sam had enough
time to quickly slip the wallet from his back pocket. It was black and flat, and
when he opened it up Sam saw an FBI shield on one side and a photo ID on the other for
William Takeshta. Sergeant William Takeshta. Sam slipped the wallet back in
his pocket as the driver jumped in.
The car shot forward once again.
"So, how about sub sandwiches?
It's the closest. And we do want to get back in time to set up some booby
traps!" He obviously enjoyed his work.
"Uh, sure," Sam
"Hey, I forgot to congratulate you
for making the Lieutenant's list again. I hear you're number one. That
"I think so, " Sam guessed,
wishing his holographic Observer would arrive soon to fill in these details.
"That's great! Are you gonna
take the bars this time? You can't keep refusing promotions and get anywhere in this
Department. How may times have you turned it down? Twice?" The man laughed out
loud, making Sam smile. "I can't even get on the damn list and you're turning
them down! You must have huevos the size of coconuts, bro!" He laughed
again. "Hey! You must know that written test pretty good by now."
Sam took that as a rhetorical question
and just smiled as the man rambled on, talking and whistling. Apparently Bill
Takeshta wasn't known as a conversationalist, or this guy just liked to talk.
Looking around, Sam saw a notebook on the
back seat and reached back for it. "Elements of Hostage Negotiation" was printed
on the front cover. He only had time to leaf through a few chapters before his
partner spoke again.
"Hey, the class schedules are on the
floor back there. We gotta make sure they get passed out when we get back.
Grab, 'em will ya? If they're up here, I'll see 'em. Give 'em a look over, too, see
if there are any typos. Can't trust Vicky sometimes."
Sam exchanged the notebook for the fat
envelope he saw on the floor. He slipped out the papers, stapled together in
pairs. On the top was "Hostage Negotiation Team Training" just below the
Federal Bureau of Investigations letterhead. Looking for a date, Sam was
disappointed to see only "February 5 - 9" with no year. He quickly glanced
over the program, not noting any typos, and slipped them back into the envelope. At least
he knew what he was in for for the next few days.
For some reason that didn't make him feel
better. He glanced at his watch as they pulled into a small strip mall, the first
civilization since they had left the training ground. It had been almost an hour and
no sign of Al. The car bounced to a stop in front of a small sandwich shop. The
others were already there milling around inside, and the driver hopped out and cheerfully
joined them. Sam sighed and reached for the door handle. It was going to be a
Gate, New Mexico
"He's leaped, Dr. Elesee." The wild-haired programmer found it hard not to
fidget, and rubbed his hands together while he shifted his feet. He knew what had to
be done, but wasn't exactly sure who had the authority to approve the action. In a
groundbreaking project like this, there were always times when rules were made on the fly
during seat-of-your-pants actions. This was one of those times.
"This had to happen sooner or
later," Donna Elesee-Beckett mused. "The Admiral can't be expected to be chained
here. It's a good thing we kept Sammy Jo available. We have to include this
scenario in the procedures manual."
Gooshie raised his eyebrows.
"We have a procedure manual?"
Donna couldn't help but grin.
"Yeah. It's up here," and she tapped her temple. "Writing it
down is another item on my things-to-do list. A physicists' work is never
done," she sighed. "Ziggy?"
"Yesssssss?" the feminine
parallel hybrid computer drawled.
Although she was a machine, Donna thought she
noticed a tone of distraction in Ziggy's response, and her brow wrinkled for an instant in
a frown. She also knew the computer tended towards emotional fits and almost human
concerns based on whatever she was inputting at the moment, and made a mental note to ask
her about it later. God knows what she was scanning at this moment.
"Ziggy, please call Dr. Fuller to the Waiting Room for briefing."
There was a slight hesitation. "All
right, Dr. Elesee. And may I ask where you will be?"
That made Gooshie and Donna glance up at the
glittering orb suspended over their heads, then back to each other. Gooshie shook
his head and shrugged, indicating he had no idea what was going on in Ziggy's
'mind'. She usually dismissed Project staff as necessary pests, and didn't inquire
about their plans. She could talk to them anywhere in the catacombs of the
"I'll be in the Project, Ziggy. I'm
not going outside, so you can find me at any time. Is that what you wanted to
Again, a hesitation.
"OK. And I've notified Dr. Fuller."
"Ziggy?" Donna asked.
"Is something wrong?"
The artificial intelligence
sniffed. "That is a subjective question, Dr. Elesee. Bosnia is wrong.
Bigotry is wrong. Those shoes with that skirt is wrong."
Donna couldn't help but glance at her
feet as Gooshie stifled a laugh, then clamped her lips shut as she looked at the
ceiling. "What do you know about fashion?" She snapped, putting her hand
up in a stop motion. "No, don't tell me. Sorry I asked. Is Dr. Beeks with
"Yes. And everything is fine
in the Waiting Room."
Donna Elesee wasn't a mother, but she
recognized the awkward way a child would try to direct someone away from something, and
Ziggy, being akin to a stepchild, was doing just that. She was immediately
suspicious. "That's good, because that's just where I'm headed."
She spun on her heel and headed to the
door. Ziggy was oddly silent.
Admiral Albert Calavicci sighed as he flipped the suitcase shut, zipped it, and locked it
with a chuckle. 'If anyone really wanted in this thing, that piss-ant lock wouldn't
stop 'em', he thought. It gave his wife peace of mind, though, so he was happy to
oblige. Her makeup was safe from thievery for the time being.
"Hey!" he called out cheerily.
"Yeah, yeah, cool your jets,"
came the lilting reply from the bathroom. Beth Calavicci stepped out, tugging at a
stubborn earring and smiling.
Al couldn't help but marvel at her. Even
after four children she was beautiful as when he first met her. They rarely had time
together apart from Project Quantum Leap, and she was the reason these budgeting junkets
were even bearable. He stepped up and circled his arms around her waist and drew her
She wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Did you call the bellman?" She asked coyly.
"Why? Aren't I enough?" He
teased, nibbling at her pearl-dressed neck. His hands drifted down to her rump.
She giggled softly in his ear.
"Back for more, sailor?"
His voice was muffled. "I'll
take as much as I can get!"
She rubbed his back and tossed her head
back. He was kissing her adam's apple when there was a knock at the door.
"Bellman!" a voice chirped from the
Al hesitated for a second. "I didn't
Beth laughed and gently pushed him
back. "Sorry. Reality rears its ugly head, dear."
He tugged at his beltline.
"Ahem," he coughed. "I'll let the interloper in."
As Beth smoothed her blouse, Al opened
the door and allowed the bellman in, pointing out the suitcases on the bed. The
worker loaded them onto the brass cart and Al slipped him a tip.
"And hail a cab for us, will
"Yes, sir!" the man
replied. "Are you all checked out?"
Al gave Beth a sly smile,
The bellman nodded a quick acknowledgment
and disappeared down the hall. Beth collected her purse and coat, and helped her
husband on with his dress blue jacket. She retrieved the white cover from the
closet, handed it to him, and he tucked it under his arm. He offered the other arm to her,
and she took it with a smile. As they left the hotel room, Beth snatched Al's
briefcase from a chair by the door. The door clicked shut on their heels.
Waiting for an elevator, Beth brushed
some lint from Al's jacket. "Ah, a man in uniform," she sighed. It
was their private joke. "Always good to turn the ladies' heads."
He smiled at her, and took her
hand. His military bearing was second nature, and he refrained from any physical
demonstrations of affections (PDA's, he called them) while in public. Beth knew this
and endlessly tortured him with her teasing. She got a kick out of watching him
He grinned. "I only care about
one head," he said quietly.
Beth's face lit up like a summer
sunrise. "You don't say?" Her hand dropped low, hovering in the area of
his crotch. "And what, exactly, do you mean by that, hmmmm?"
Al was saved by the ding of and arriving
elevator. The occupants behind the parting doors saw a dignified couple step into
the car, no idea of what was going through the heads of the uniformed Admiral and his
Al cleared his throat as the doors
closed. Beth bit her lips to keep from laughing. He spoke while studying the
lighted, descending numbers over the doorway. "So you'll be picking up that
coat for Liz while I'm at Weitzman's office, right?"
"Right. Do you think there'll
be a problem with the flight?"
"Nah," he finally dared to look
at her and grinned. "I checked with my Pentagon contacts, and the jet is just
sitting there, ready to go. I'm glad we got all this budgeting ca-ca straightened
out early. Can't wait to get back to someplace warm," he covered his mouth with
his hand so only Beth could hear him, "so I can rip your clothes off and run
Beth feigned a coughing fit to cover her
laughter as her husband looked innocently up at the indicator just reaching 'L'.
This was one beginning to be one of the weirdest leaps I could
remember. Well, that's not saying much; with my mind being so Swiss-cheesed from
leaping, it was impossible to rely on any of my few remaining memories. But I did
know that I had been here for quite a while, and it was weird that Al hadn't checked in
yet. I really needed to talk to him. Although I had the name of my host, I've
been unable to figure out where in the past I was. It's like the Land That Time
there was nothing here to tell me the date!
boys, as Sam thought of them, had tossed back lunch in a spirited fashion. The
conversation centered around terrorists, weapons and negotiating techniques. Sam
picked up a lot, so it wasn't a waste of time for him. Whenever a student asked him
a question, he did the instructor trick of asking, "What do you think?"
Worked every time. Eventually, they directed their questions to Chuck, Sam's burly
After lunch, they all headed back to the
fake, Hollywood-style town that made up part of the training grounds. The 'boys'
scattered and donned green fatigues stored in their cars. Meanwhile, Chuck shoved a
hand drawn map into Sam's hands and pointed out red 'Xs' scattered around the roughly
sketched training area.
"That's where we'll gas 'em,"
Chuck said happily. "Put about a half dozen canisters at each site. I
love this part!"
Taking the map, Sam oriented himself and
looked around for the canisters. Unable to locate anything remotely resembling a
canister, he tapped Chuck on the shoulder. Chuck was pulling on his camouflaged
shirt. "Uh, where's the canisters?"
Chuck looked at him like he sprouted a
third eyeball. "You didn't bring 'em? You said you'd get 'em!"
Sam stepped back, "Oh, yeah! I did,
huh? Never mind. I know where they are."
Chuck looked relieved. "OK,
Sam went back to the scattered cars and
played a deduction game. Which one of these cars was his? He fished keys from
his front jeans pocket, and zeroed in on another bland looking sedan. How come all
company cars look alike? He wondered, not at all surprised when the key fit in the
trunk. He popped it and found a case of canisters labeled 'CS Tear Gas'.
Eureka! He said to himself and pocketed the keys. He glanced around the interior and found
a metal gun case similar to Chuck's, and two duffel bags. One had green fatigues in
it, so Sam took it out. The other had radios, manuals, pads of lined paper and an
extremely dog-eared map book. 'Hey!' he thought. 'Those map books are updated
yearly. I can get an idea of
' A hearty thump on his back nearly took the wind
out of him as it derailed his thoughts.
"Hurry up, Billy! I wanna get outta
here before dark!" Chuck started loading canisters in every available pocket
and an empty duffel bag.
Sam shrugged on the fatigue jacket, and
filled his pockets, too. Chuck handed him the duffel. "Here. Drop
those off and I'll get them started. I'll meet ya at Point 1." He slammed
the trunk with a beefy hand and trotted off, whistling for attention. Looking at the
map, Sam located Point 1 and plotted the route there via all the red 'Xs'. With a
sigh, Sam jogged into the woods.
March 15, 2000
Donna had tried to go directly to the Waiting Room, but was stopped by a couple of
technicians while enroute to sign off paperwork. 'Better now than piled on my desk,' she
thought as she glanced over the papers and scribbled a signature. Routine
stuff. She was almost to the Waiting Room when the lights dimmed, then returned to
their normal level.
"Ziggy?" she asked,
slowing. "Why did the lights dim?" They dimmed again, and she
stopped in the hall. "Ziggy?"
"I don't know, Dr. Elesee," the
voice replied. "I'm running a diagnostic of basic systems now.
There. It seems to be located in Section 15. A power coupling
"Well, get the troubleshooters over
there." Donna started forward again, noting that Section 15 was in the complete
"I don't trust them, Dr.
Elesee," Ziggy pouted. "One of them used a hammer on my relays last
week. Could you check it?"
Donna hesitated, eyes narrowing at a
point in the ceiling. She got the distinct feeling she was being stalled. But
if there was a failing coupling, there was always the danger of fire, and fire in an
underground complex was a serious matter. She sighed. "Fine." Let Ziggy
win this one, she thought. "But if this is a ruse to keep me from the Waiting
Room, I'll fry your relays myself."
"Yes, ma'am," Ziggy replied
That's when Donna knew the computer was
covering something. Ziggy was never polite. She started back to Section 15 at
a ground eating pace.
Dr. Verbena Beeks had been playing verbal volleyball with the latest Visitor ever since
he'd leaped in. He was skilled at saying a lot without saying anything, using a
minimum of words. She was skilled in reading all that wasn't said. It was
quite a match.
She could read his body language, too,
and saw that he was a lot more scared than he indicated; obviously a man used to being in
control. They were insufferably polite to each other, and Beeks felt they both came
away with a mutual feeling of distrust, apparently something they were both used to. The
only time that she felt the Visitor knew he had the edge was when Beeks asked him the
date. It was impossible to cover her shock, and she saw him repress a smile when he
realized he got her.
The conversational sparring was
tiring, and Beeks was thrown into mental turmoil as to her next course of action.
Thoughtfully, she perused the personal information she had obtained: Name: William
Takeshta. Age: 34. Occupation: FBI Investigator, currently working as a hostage negotiator
in the Virginia area. It wasn't much, but she'd worked with less before, and she
knew that Ziggy had started researching the instant the information was available.
But the date issue had taken Beeks by surprise. She hated to admit it, but she was stumped
for the moment.
She knew Ziggy had digested the
information, and was surprised the parallel hybrid computer hadn't commented already.
Beeks looked at the ceiling thoughtfully. "Ziggy," she asked.
"Did you see the date Sam's leaped into?"
"Yes, Dr. Beeks, I noticed it
immediately. I'm currently running scenarios as to how this could adversely effect
"That was my concern, also.
Normally, we'd tell the Admiral. The circumstances have made that well,
problematic." Beeks mused.
"The Observer needs to be informed, but
Dr. Beckett should not. And also knowing the entanglements of human relations, Dr.
Elesee should not be informed, either." Ziggy's tone was one of regret.
Beeks thought a second, arms crossed over
her chest. "The Observer will no doubt be Sammy Jo on this one, at least for
now. Hopefully she can hold the fort until the Admiral gets here later
tonight." She tapped her lower lip with a well-manicured nail. "And
Dr. Elesee is a professional, Ziggy. I think she would be fine with it, but we may
have to make the date available on a need-to-know basis only. And right now, she
doesn't need to know."
"All right, Dr. Beeks. But I want to
inform you that Dr. Elesee is on her way here and should arrive in 1.25 minutes. And
I think she may be very
Verbena raised her eyebrows at that one.
" 'Curious'? Is there a reason she would be 'curious'?"
Ziggy hesitated a second. "It's time
to run system diagnostics. I will answer your inquiry later, after I research human
emotional responses in a bit more detail."
Beeks laughed shortly at the obvious
dodge. If her feelings were right, it would be the only laugh she would have for
The cab dropped off Al in front of the Senate Office Building on Constitution
Avenue. He gave Beth a quick peck on the cheek and said he'd meet her at the airport
terminal. He stepped out into the brisk, spring day feeling very content. He
gripped the briefcase and smiled at Beth throwing him a kiss through the cab window as she
He entered the building and automatically
removed his cover from his head. He easily passed through the metal detectors, and
was picking up his briefcase when he felt his pager vibrate on his wrist. He knew what it
meant, and also knew Sam would be annoyed at him arriving late in the leap; Sammy Jo did a
good job, but Al felt that Sam was more comfortable with him.
When he entered Weitzman's office the
receptionist smiled and immediately lifted the intercom to inform Weitzman of Al's
arrival. "Hi, honey! Tell Wietzman I just got paged, so I'll be in the
conference room." She nodded and passed on the message as Al slipped into the empty
room. He opened the briefcase and flipped open the small computer inside, turning it
on. When it was ready, he typed in his password and "What's up?"
The cryptic reply, "Target has
moved, your presence is requested," made him grin. The non-information wouldn't
be of any help to any hackers.
"I'll be there as scheduled, exact
time to follow," he typed in, then logged off. He just finished securing the
case when Weitzman breezed in the room, followed by his two aides.
"Admiral," he greeted with a
phony grin, offering his hand. Al shook it in an automatic response.
"Senator," he replied.
"Just got a message that I'm needed out West, and taking up your offer for the
"Actually, that works out well,
Admiral. I'm hitching a ride to Chicago, then it's all yours. The crew's already
prepping for departure."
Well, Al thought. That works out well; it
makes the wait at the terminal shorter for him and Beth. "Great," he
replied. "So can I hitch a ride to the airport?"
"Yep, just on our way. I just
have to drop some papers off at the Capitol Building, and the car is waiting there
already. Let's go."
Al picked up the case, pleased at the timing of
all this. True, he was stuck in the jet with a windbag politician and his bean-counting
aides, but it wouldn't be for that long. He and Beth would have the bird to
themselves from Chicago to New Mexico. He couldn't help but grin at that thought.
They left the office, aides following
like trained dogs, and went down to an underground level where the Senate subway would
take them directly to the Capitol Building. Another Senate perk, Al thought.
Never have to worry about parking. But then again, that was never a problem at the
The open-sided rail car arrived as soon
as they got there, and soon they were whisked away from the platform, en route the Capitol
Building at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
It had taken a lot less time than Beth had anticipated picking up the coat for their
daughter Liz. She arrived at the small airport terminal way ahead of her
husband. She tipped the driver, and had the bags taken to the jet, then settled into
the comfortable chair in the VIP lounge that overlooked the tarmac. She got a cup of
hot chocolate, and pulled out a novel. She rarely had time to read, and settled down
happily. The room was empty except for the host behind the small bar.
Absorbed in her book, she hardly noticed
that she'd finished the drink and the amount of time that had passed. She'd read
more than expected, felt how stiff her lower back was, and thought that Al should have
been here by now. Glancing at her watch, she stood up and stretched. There was
a wall-mounted television over the small bar, the volume off. What caught Beth's
attention was the jiggly picture of the White House, obviously taken by a hand held camera
at the scene. A harried looking reporter was talking directly in the camera, and
Beth could see scores of uniformed Police scurrying in the background.
A very bad feeling hit her. "Turn up
the sound!" she ordered, eyes glued to the screen. By the time she got to the
bar, the host had turned on the sound.
"Right now, officials tell us a
negotiating team is being called in, and the identity of the suspect is unknown.
Clark," the TV screen reverted to a studio, with the live feed displayed on the
"Thank you, Doug, for that
update. We will check in with you as the situation changes." The dapperly
dressed talking head turned to the TV audience. "For those just tuning in, an
unknown man has taken the White House gate guards hostage, claiming the truck he is in
contains a bomb. The scene for five blocks around is in the process of being
secured, and the President, who is inside the White House, has been notified." Beth
gasped, and the host's eyes widened in shock. "It is unknown where the
President is inside the White House right now, but the situation is considered critical,
and not yet secure. Everyone in a ten block area is advised to stay inside and lock
The host snorted. "Lotta good
that's gonna do if it's anything like Oklahoma City." Beth had to agree.
The camera, obviously a long distance away, showed a shaky image of a white van next to a
guardhouse, outside the White House fence, but within a stone's throw to the building. If
that van were packed with explosives as the driver claimed, it would do a lot of
She pulled out her cell phone and called
Weitzman's office. The line was busy, and stayed busy for quite awhile. Patiently, she
kept trying. She knew Al wasn't going near the White House, but it was odd he wasn't
here. She felt more concerned as time passed, and no Al. Finally, she got through to
Terri, the receptionist, who told her the whole area was locked down and secured, and
Weitzman and Al were probably stuck on the subway. "At least, being
underground, they're safe if that thing goes," Terri reasoned, trying to calm herself
and Beth. "If they were in the Senate Building they would have called, but in the
subway, nothing works. I guess we just have to wait it out." Beth thanked
her and hung up, only a little bit comforted.
Her next call was to the Project.
When the subway screeched to a stop, the lights flickering, the first thought that entered
Al's head was, 'That's what they get for using low bid contractors.' It was several
minutes before a pre-recorded message came over the intercom.
"There has been a Security breach.
Service will resume when security protocol has been re-established." The
message was repeated in four languages, twice.
Weitzman, meanwhile just sighed.
"This happens a couple of times a month. It'll get started up soon," then he
turned to talk to his aide.
'Great,' Al thought. 'And I didn't even
bring a book.' He settled down, and let his mind wander. Everyone else on the
trolley car was as unconcerned as Weitzman.
Al was pulled out of his mental vacation by the
uneasy shifting of the other passengers. He glanced at his watch. It had been
about twenty minutes, and now everyone seemed to be growing edgy. He loosened his collar,
as it was growing a little warmer in the closeness of the tunnel. Al noticed
Weitzman checking his watch, too. Several passengers were poking at their cell
phones, and obviously perturbed at their uselessness.
"Something's not right," Weitzman
mumbled. He sent an aide forward to the next car. Just as the aid disappeared from
sight, the whole car was rocked by a loud noise. Everyone shot to their feet.
"That sounded like an explosion!" Al
snapped, his heart racing. Instinctively, the occupants crowded to the back of the
car, away from the perceived direction of the noise. It was several tense minutes
before another, smaller explosion was heard, and a large puff of smoke wafted over the
cars. The aide shot back into the car, just as faint popping noises were
"I heard gunfire up ahead! Everyone out
the back!" The aide was followed by a wide-eyed crowd attempting to put
distance between themselves and the explosions.
Al joined them as they moved to the back car to
escape, as the tunnel was too narrow to exit out the side of the cars. He didn't
like feeling trapped in the crowd; he studied the cars and the tunnel, looking for any way
out. He grabbed the aide by his sleeve. "Keep these people calm. They'll
trample each other!" The Admiral's demeanor left no room for argument and the
aide moved to obey.
The cars emptied out quickly. Al could
hear footfalls in the tunnel, and headed to the exit himself. Just as he reached the
doorway platform, the sound of gunfire came from the tunnel, and he hit the floor in an
automatic reaction. The lights in the tunnel flickered, then went out, and screams
echoed in the darkness. When the gunfire stopped, he jumped out of the car and
started grabbing people.
"Back in the car!" he ordered,
shoving the dark forms behind him, towards the vehicles. He could feel smoke
stinging his nostrils as he helped as many people as he could. His eyes adjusted to
the darkness enough to see a few forms on the ground, and he heard someone barking
orders. He stood between the rails, trying to focus on the speakers, when someone
roughly grabbed his arm and shoved him backwards.
Al glanced over into the eyes of a masked man, and knew
they were all in big trouble.
After Donna received the call from Beth, she immediately had Ziggy check out all the
resources at her disposal, knowing they would be more timely and accurate than CNN.
Ziggy briefed her, and she told the parallel hybrid computer to update her immediately
with any changes. Then, she headed to the Control Room.
On her way there, she reflected on what
she knew so far.
Earlier, when she had finally made it to
Beeks' office, she demanded answers to Ziggy's elusiveness. After being calmed by the
annoyingly cool Beeks, she had finally gotten the information on the Visitor, and almost
wished she hadn't asked.
Her husband had leaped into the
present. Today, in fact. He was a mere few minutes behind them, somewhere in
Virginia! The idea had made her giddy and breathless. She could call him on
the phone! As her fingers twitched at the idea and she felt her body tense at the
urge to strangle a phone number out of the Visitor, Beeks had to grasp her shoulders and
bring her back down to Earth. The doctor made her see that there weren't enough facts on
this Leap to give them any direction of action, and under the circumstances Sam shouldn't
be told how this information related to the Project's timeline. In fact, they had to
find out if he already knew, so it was time to send Sammy Jo on a fact-finding
When Donna left Beeks for the Control
Room, she had to fight the urge to stop in the Waiting Room. This was when Ziggy had
alerted her to Beth's call, and after speaking with her and getting the news updates from
Ziggy, Donna was convinced this Leap wasn't a coincidence.
It was Fate. And Fate wasn't done
When she got to the Control Room,
Gooshie, Tina and Sammy Jo were at the console, huddled over a slightly re-designed hand
link like a new toy. They all looked up when she entered, the link instantly
"Dr. Elesee," Sammy Jo
greeted. "Ziggy has been very mysterious about some complications with this
Leap?" They all gave Donna their full attention, their faces etched with
Donna didn't know where to start. She
managed to explain the Visitor's information, the skimpy information on the White House
bomber, and Al and Sam's proximity to all this in a clinical, professional tone, but knew
that her internal turmoil was visible in her eyes. He was so close, but so
far. And other than Beeks, she told them no one else was to know this information,
including Sam, Al and Beth, until Ziggy could narrow in on Sam's mission.
They all nodded in agreement as Sammy Jo
readied herself for the Imaging Chamber.
Sam had about as much 'fun' as he could handle on this leap, and wiped the sweat from his
forehead as he grumbled once again about the lateness of his Observer. He'd better have a
good excuse, Sam thought as he readied another tear gas canister for launch. The
only good thing about all this was that at least he wasn't on the receiving end of the
Chuck, his partner in applying this
torture, was grinning ear to ear. He'd thrown twice as many canisters as Sam,
yelling "Geronimo!" each time and cackling like a crazed man. Sam had to
admire him for his enthusiasm.
"OK, now let's try to get them to split
up. You stay here, I'll go over there," Chuck pointed north. "If
they do split up, let's see if we can get 'em to shoot each other!" He smiled
Sam hesitantly smiled back, "OK, sounds
like a plan, I guess. Go."
No sooner had Chuck departed than Sam heard the
welcome sound of the Imaging Chamber door. He dropped his head momentarily in
relief, then threw the canister towards the unsuspecting team crawling through the brush
below. Then he spun towards the noise, ready to chastise his friend for his
lateness. The words stalled on his tongue when he saw a woman step through the
He was speechless for a few seconds, trying to
dredge up a memory about her. She was familiar; he knew she was connected to the
Project somehow. But her name escaped him for a few seconds.
"Dr. Beckett," she smiled, a hopeful
thought crossing her mind. Would he remember her as his daughter?
forehead creased. "Fuller, right? Is that right?"
She nodded, her face carefully neutral as she
disguised her disappointment. Instead, she smiled. "Right." She
looked around. "Where are we?"
Sam glanced at the cursing in the brush below
him as the gas he'd administered spread to its target. "Er
Actually, gassing a bunch of students."
Sammy Jo looked a bit confused, but nodded.
"OK, that fits, I guess."
"Where's Al?" Sam asked, trying to
seem curious and not demanding.
"He's on a budgeting assignment." She
shrugged. "It happens at the worst times, as you know! Ha, ha." She
regarded the link to distract Sam from that train of thought. "Well, the Visitor did
say he was an instructor."
"So why am I here? I haven't got a clue,
and I've been here for hours. What's Ziggy say?"
Just then they heard and enthusiastic
"Geronimo!!" from across the narrow valley, the hissing of a canister releasing
its fog, and scrambling noises from the bottom of the rift. Sam ignored it and held Sammy
"Ah, well, we think that
Jo was interrupted by the sound of a pager.
Sam looked at her blankly, then realized it was
coming from his own pocket. He fumbled and recovered the device, which continued to
beep in his hand.
"Actually, that's probably why you're
here," the pointed at the pager. "There's a negotiation team being
assembled for a barricaded suspect with a hostage."
Punching buttons until the object ceased
beeping, Sam read '10-89 CP Constitution and Third' on the tiny message window. He
read it out loud. "What does that mean?" he asked her
She punched in the information.
"10-89 is code for bomb threat. CP, hmmm. Ziggy says that means Command
Post. The streets are the location of the Command Post."
The words were no sooner out of her mouth than
Chuck came crashing through the brush. "That's us, pard. I guess these
guys lucked out." He put his hands around his mouth. "CLASS
DISMISSED!" he bellowed. Several heads appeared in the brush below. "CHECK
THE NEWS TO SEE IF THERE'S CLASS TOMORROW!" Then he turned and grinned at Sam.
"Saddle up!" and he was off towards the car.
Sammy Jo looked after him with her mouth
hanging open, which made Sam smile. "He's a little over enthusiastic. Come on,
follow me." He started down to the mini Hollywood town. "So, what
happens? What am I supposed to do?"
Sammy Jo was grateful that Dr. Beckett had to
concentrate on making his way thorough the brush, distracting him from her. What should
she tell him? Since it was practically present time, they had no idea what was going to
happen, either, but she couldn't let him know that. He obviously didn't know the
date, being out here in the boonies, and she hoped it would stay that way.
"Ziggy's not sure," she hedged.
"She hasn't checked on all the involved parties yet."
She could tell by the way Sam's neck
stiffened that he was upset. "What?" he breathed, continuing his hike down the
narrow path, swatting brush out of his way. "She's had a couple of hours!
What's her problem? And don't tell me she's pouting."
"Good question! We've had a problem
with the, ah, you know. The interface junctions. It seems there's so much
information, that she's having trouble figuring out what pertains to you." Talk
about double speak, she thought, frantically tapping the link. "I'll get back
to you on the details." The door opened behind her and she happily stepped back
through the doorway. Sam just had time to free himself from a spiky branch, spin
around in disbelief, and watch her go.
"Hey!" was all she heard.
Sam stood there and watched the door
shut. He had no more information now than before she arrived! He didn't even
know if the bomb was real, or ever exploded, or anything! Acting on his gut instinct was
something he did naturally, and he knew he'd probably do all right, but the way Dr. Fuller
had acted was weird. What was going on, and where was Al, exactly?
He pondered those thoughts, as well as others relating to hostage negotiations as he
finally emerged from the brush and headed to his car, right behind Chuck.
March 15, 2000
Sammy Jo emerged from the Imaging Chamber a bit shaken. She hadn't liked lying to
Dr. Beckett, and felt like a rat leaving like that, but she'd found out what they needed
to know; Sam wasn't aware of the exact time he had leaped into. Not yet, anyway.
That was sure to change once he got to the scene of the incident. She had almost let
the fact that they didn't know what was going to happen slip out. Everything she said had
to be carefully worded, and that hadn't been an easy job, and she hoped Al would get here
before Sam realized where he was. She didn't want to handle that at all.
"He doesn't know," she said to
Dr. Elesee, Tina and Gooshie as she dropped off the hand link. "Now what?"
"Well," Dr. Elesee
"Dr. Elesee," Ziggy crooned
There was a slight pause.
"There's a problem at the incident scene. The police tactical radios are
reporting that there is a secondary hostage situation, and they now believe the White
House bomber was just a diversionary tactic." She sighed.
They all looked at each other, knowing
instinctively that this was about to get a lot more complicated.
"Where's the secondary situation
located?" Dr. Elesee asked, dreading the response.
"It appears that the Senate subway
that runs from the Russell Senate Office Building to the Capitol Building has been seized
by unknown terrorists. I don't think Admiral Calavicci will be making it back
Dr. Elesee's stomach sank, and she placed
her hand on her chest to settle her heart, and closed her eyes.
"Oh, no," Sammy Jo whispered,
covering her mouth.
Gooshie and Tina simply stood with their
mouths open. There were several seconds of shocked silence.
Dr. Elesee took a deep breath.
"OK. We have to decide what we need to do. We can't tell Sam."
Her voice cracked slightly, but she continued to regain her composure. "He'll focus
too much on Al, and we don't know if that's why he's there. Ziggy, what's your
probabilities on scenarios?" She paced, studying the floor as they listened to the
"That Dr. Beckett is there to save
the White House from being bombed, 35.67%; to take the bombing suspect alive; 17.21%;
dead, 42.87%; to negotiate a release of the subway hostages, 72.44%; to allow the hostages
to escape, 85.59%. Those are all the scenarios I can calculate with the information
"What more information do you
need?" Gooshie asked.
"Well," the computer sniffed.
"Who exactly these terrorists are would help. And who, exactly, are the
hostages, as well as the training and experience of both the negotiators, the terrorists
and the hostages. I can only work with what I have, you know."
"Yes, Ziggy, we know. But
you're the only one who can find all that out in a timely manner right now. Let us know
what you find?" Dr. Elesee was starting to feel helpless about this whole
leap. "I've got to update Verbena. The Visitor is the only source of
information we can get our hands on now. We can't go to Sam yet, not until we have
something that can help him. Sammy Jo, don't go far," she flashed a weak smile.
"I think this leap is going to keep us on all our toes. Poor Beth; I hope she's
all right." The others nodded solemnly. "Ziggy, could you continuous
feed the news channels to the screens?"
"Yes, Dr. Elesee. And I'm
sorry about Admiral Calavicci. I'm quite fond of him, you know."
They all grinned slightly as the moved
off to get busy.
"Yeah, we know," Dr. Elesee
responded. "We know."
Beth was glued to the small television screen when she saw the news flash, and all the
feelings that she'd had when Al had been reported as Missing in Action in Vietnam came
crashing down on her again. She collapsed on a chair in the small terminal, and the
host came rushing over.
"You OK, lady? You're white as a
sheet!" He helped her get settled.
"My husband. He's in that
subway," she whispered, dreading that she had to tell her daughters and the Project
staff. "I have to make some phone calls." Her hands shook so badly she had
to punch in the first phone number several times before she got it. "I need to
get to the scene when I'm through." She turned her beautiful, brown eyes, shiny
with unshed tears, on the host. "Can you figure out how I can get there,
He couldn't refuse. "Yes,
ma'am," he replied, giving her shoulder a pat. "Don't give it a second
thought. I'll drive you there myself if I have to." And he scurried
I had a gut instinct that something about this leap wasn't right. Al was missing,
the stand-in Observer, Dr. Fuller, had given me nothing the one time I'd seen her, and I'd
been here for hours and was still without a clue as to why I was here. My gut
instinct told me that this incident I was responding to was my reason for leaping here,
whenever this was. I felt so unprepared for what lay ahead; I was glad I had at
least perused the 'Elements of Hostage Negotiations' notebook in Chuck's car. Thanks to my
photographic memory, I at least had some of the jargon available and the organizational
chart in my head. I just hoped I wasn't the one listed at the top of the chart as
the 'Incident Commander'; that sounded more like Al's place. I could only hope I'd
see him soon.
Sam kept as close to Chuck as he could, but Chuck was as enthusiastic about driving as he
was about teaching. They pastoral surroundings gave way quickly to city streets, and
Sam finally saw a city he remembered: Arlington. He knew they were in the beltway of
Washington DC at that point. Chuck had one of those detachable red 'bubble lights'
on his dashboard, as well as a siren, and broke every driving rule in the book to get to
the Command Post. Sam wasn't sure he could pry his own knuckles from the steering
wheel when Chuck finally parked.
Chaos reigned the streets where they
stopped. Cars were everywhere, and everyone in sight had a uniform, badge, gun, or
bulletproof vest over their clothes, or any combination of those items. Sam had
tried to listen to the police radio, but it was all gibberish to him; too many codes, too
many voices. He didn't even have a car radio to listen to the news.
Chuck had pulled over a curb and slammed
on his brakes on a patch of grass not meant to be a parking lot. He was completely
professional as he got out, donned his fatigues and vest, and clipped his badge to his
belt. Sam followed suit, always feeling like he was playing catch-up with the big
man. He also couldn't help but noticed the large number of officers that
respectfully acknowledged them. Sam hoped he wouldn't damage Sgt. Takeshta's
They strode off together towards a large,
white bus bedecked with antennas and satellite dishes in the distance. They had
parked as close as they could get in all this mess. Sam saw a large contingent of
military men patrolling the area; he couldn't see the White House yet, but could tell the
direction it was in by the increasing numbers of soldiers. Nervously, Sam licked his lips
and wiped his sweaty hands on his pants. He sure could use some help, here; the
closer he got to the Command Post, the less sure he was about pulling this off.
When they arrived at the bus, there was
little backslapping and hearty greeting; everyone knew the bleakness of the
situation. When their number reached about a dozen, a man with great command
presence raised his hand and they were all quiet. The only noise he couldn't control
was the 'whup-whup' of the helicopters overhead, distant sirens and muted police
"OK, troops, I'm your Incident
Commander, Captain Burroughs."
Sam let out a big sigh, and relaxed slightly.
"I'm passing out a sketch of the
area, and the blocked off streets. We have commandeered the lobby of that building
behind you," everyone turned and noted the office building, "and it will be the
Command Post. I've penciled in some unit leaders at the bottom. If your name is
listed, follow me to the lobby now. The rest of you stay here until you're called to
your particular unit. There's no big surprises here, folks. I'm not taking
this time for training, so you will all be in familiar units."
'Yeah, right,' Sam groaned to
himself. He looked at the paper and wasn't surprised to see Takeshta's name written
on the bottom. He whispered softly to the heavens, "Al, where are you??"
The lobby of the Command Post was a busy
place. Tables were being set up around the perimeter, and loaded with
equipment. Captain Burroughs herded them to the quietest corner.
"OK," he started. "Most of you probably got the low-down on your
radios on the way over, but I'll go over it again to clarify our part in this.
"Since we paged you, another
situation has arisen, and the first thing we have to do is verify a connection. At
approximately 1425 hours, a dark skinned male believed to be of Iranian descent drove up
to the northeast White House guard shack in a white panel truck, and took the two guards
there hostage. He claims the truck is loaded with explosives. He appears calm
and in no hurry at all, and had duct-taped the guards' hands and feet. They are
still in the guard shack, and the suspect is sitting in the truck. As a result,
Level 1 security measures were enacted with shut down all access to the White House, the
Capitol Building and all the Senate and House office buildings. This includes the
underground trolley that runs between the Capitol Building and office buildings.
"At approximately 1500 hours, word
came me that the Senate trolley line, which is underground, has also been seized by an
unknown number of suspects in the section that connects from the Senate Building to the
Russell Senate Office Building. I have that area noted on your maps.
"We believe that the first event was
a diversion for the second event, allowing the armed suspects to move about freely in
public, armed to the teeth, so to speak. There have been no demands made
He paused to allow the group to chat
amongst themselves for a few minutes. Sam was shocked at the news, and tried to
absorb what he could from the people around him. Chuck was very animated in his
discussion, and Sam tried to hear every word. Sam saw the Captain consult with
another man, who handed him a paper, then he motioned for silence.
"OK, here's the line up: Incident
Commander, me. Negotiation Supervisor: Chuck Crossman." Chuck raised his hand
so everyone could see him. "Tactical Supervisor, Bob McMartin." A
man near Chuck raised his hand. "Primary Negotiator," Sam felt butterflies in
his stomach. "Tom Williams." Sam sighed. "Secondary Negotiator, Sandy
A short haired woman yelped, "Here!"
and everyone laughed briefly.
Burroughs continued, "Dr. Carlson is here
for Mental Health and brought his team, and Communications Center Lieutenant Axall will
head up Support, and the Intelligence Officer will be, of course, Sergeant
Sam didn't say anything, but many heads turned
his way. He felt himself blush, and tried to find his position on the chain of
command diagram in his head. He was pleased to find he was in the third row from the
top, and exhaled gratefully.
"Refer all press inquires to Lieutenant
Dann; No press inside the inner perimeter on you maps, and I want updates in one-half
hour. If you have any questions, ask me now. Dismissed."
Project Quantum Leap
They all watched the scenario unfold before them on the television screens, narrated by
Ziggy as she relayed the police radio traffic. Everyone felt helpless and useless.
Donna's mind was flying beneath her calm
fašade. 'How can we help Sam?' she thought. 'What can we give him that he can
use?' Finally, a thought occurred to her. "Ziggy, ask Dr. Beeks if our
Visitor is usually assigned to a particular position on the negotiation team, and what
that job entails. Maybe we can do Sam's work for him."
There was a slight pause before Ziggy
replied. "I've already researched Mr. Takeshta's records and have deduced a
pattern. There is a 95.22% probability that Dr. Beckett will be the Intelligence
Officer. The Intelligence Officer gathers and assembles all background and
information on both the hostages and hostiles. The information is used to bargain with,
and to determine who will be the strong and weak links in the hostages. As they say,
there can never be enough information."
"True," Donna smiled.
"I also assume Sam will have his own computer terminal at the Command Post?" she
At this question, all heads raised and
faced her, realizing what she was building up to.
"Yes. That assumption is
Donna burst into a huge smile. Finally!
Some way to help! "OK, Ziggy, we're going to be Dr. Beckett's own, personal
information source. We get the radio traffic a few minutes ahead of Sam, so let's
gather our list. Tap all sources. I know the Senate office buildings have
cameras all over the place, so let's review those from the subway platform. We need
names and backgrounds on all of the hostages, including the guards at the
guardhouse. Check the license on the box truck. We need to find out who the
terrorists are. Any ideas, anyone?"
"If I had fingerprints I could check
Interpol and all other fingerprint data bases," Ziggy suggested.
Gooshie's frowning face was replaced with
a bright expression. "I can refigure the hand link to project a light that can
enhance a print. The Observer just needs to shine it on a print we know to be one of
"Do it," Donna said, starting to
pace. "Sammy Jo, get ready to center on Al and check that out. Ziggy, find Dr.
Beckett's station at the Command Post and hack into his line only. We're going to be
his sole source of information. And be sure to delete any references to Al for
now. He can't get focused on one person. We need to make this as easy as
possible for him."
"Nothing about this leap has been
easy so far," Tina quipped as her fingers flew over the console.
"Tell me about it," Donna
mumbled in response.
Sam got swept up in the hustle of setting up stations at the command posts.
Computers! Something he knew something about! Although it was simple work, and didn't
recognize some of the components he was working with, he figured everything out and
savored the time. He'd already had a half dozen investigators report to him and he
sent them out on fact-finding missions. The job of Intelligence was collecting
information; he felt he could do that, especially with such a good team that worked with
little supervision. His scribe, a pinch-faced man called Scanlon, recorded
everything for him instantly, and gave him updates regularly, and even had a report ready
for Sam to give the Commander at the requested time.
'This is almost too easy,' he thought.
That idea made him especially cautious, and he looked carefully around him as he
worked. Still nothing stood out for his attention, and he went back to his setting
Finally, he was able to sit at the computer
station and fire it up. Scanlon placed a list of stations and their network
locations next to Sam. As soon as he logged in, information started rolling
Scanlon gave the screen a double take.
"Wow! Dispatch sure is on the ball today, Sergeant. But then again, with a high
profile incident like this I guess they have to be."
"Yeah," Sam agreed. He was just
sorting through the list of known hostages when a man in fatigues walked over, a hand held
radio on his ear.
"Sir? The tactical field team is
ready to feed the camera into the subway. The rest of your team is in the field, so they
want to confirm that you'll be there."
Sam blinked for a second, having no idea what
that meant. "Yeah, sure. Now?"
"Yes sir. I'll take you there."
The man confirmed the information on the radio, the slipped it in his holder.
Sam glanced at Scanlon. "Cover for me
As they walked out to the bustle of the
outside, camera flashes went off by the dozens. Reports, held in a certain area
outside, had erected scaffolds and platforms by the score. Vans with satellite
dishes were everywhere. Questions were being thrown at him, dozens at a time, and he
couldn't hear any one of them clearly. Sam's escort had ducked his head and grabbed
Sam's arm. "This way," he said.
They left the demanding reports behind as they
weaved their way between cars, using them as cover at the same time. Soon they were
at an intersection that was cordoned off with bright yellow tape that said "Do Not
Cross - Police Line". Sam saw a group of heavily armored men grouped together
over a manhole cover.
Sam's escort briefed him. "We
figured out that some of the suspects got access to the subway tunnel via the sewer.
We found an abandoned catering truck down the road, stopped right over the top of one of
the manholes. They staged a vehicle breakdown, and all the while were going through
a trapdoor in the bottom of the truck into the maintenance tunnels. From there,
getting to the subway tunnel was just like running a maze.
"We used sound equipment to pinpoint where
the people are gathered, and are making a hole to insert the fiber-optic camera.
Should be able to monitor what's happening, and get a good list as to exactly who's down
there for you. We have a feed set up to go to your station and the head negotiator's
station. We need you to approve the camera placement, but I think it's the best
location we'll get."
"OK," Sam acknowledged. When
the reached the manhole, the agents stood back and let them by. Sam carefully went
down the ladder into the dark, dank cavern, followed closely by his escort. It was
wet down there, and Sam's shoes were soon squishy with liquid. He tried not to think about
what he was walking in as he trotted after his guide, passing heavily armed stationed at
each intersection of tunnels. The smell didn't help, either.
They'd twisted through a few turns and passed
under an open manhole above them. "This is where they came in. The truck's
right up there," his guide stated as the cruised by.
Soon they met up with a cluster of five other
men who were unraveling what looked like cable lines. One man had a small video
screen in front of him which showed shades of grey and black lines. The man motioned
"OK, we're running the camera around the
various pipes hanging above the subway cars. It's a good thing those cars have open
sides, or we probably wouldn't be able to see inside. A lot of the tunnel lighting is
Sam wasn't sure if he was making sense of what
he saw, or his imagination was taking over. Eventually he was able to figure out
what he was looking at. The tunnel had pipes running the length of the ceiling, and
Sam could see the seats in the cars with a bird's eye view. The first two cars he
saw were empty, but there was movement in the car coming up. Identifying anybody
from the tops of their heads wasn't going to be easy, but if they could drop the cable
down, maybe the darkness would conceal its presence.
The technician seemed to read Sam's mind, and
the view on the monitor gradually changed to more of a profile image. "That's the
last car, sir. The hostages are being held in one spot, it seems. There could
be more of them further down the tunnel. I count three armed suspects so far,"
he touched the screen and Sam noted the masks and rifles. "And let's
at least eleven hostages." He adjusted some dials, which affected the
focus. "I recognize two Senators, at least. Four women. Hmmm..and I
think one guy's in uniform."
Sam squinted at the screen. It was
drifting in and out of focus as he studied it, but saw the dark patch pointed out by the
agent. Everyone was sitting on the seats, but this guy standing with his back to the
camera, his arms held out to his sides. The agent said it looked like a Navy Officer dress
blues uniform, and by the way his arms were moving, looked like he was talking to one of
the masked men standing just a foot or two in front of him. They watched as a fourth
masked man stepped up from the darkness, his mouth working furiously under the mask. The
Navy man did not back down. The agent gasped when the masked man suddenly raised the
butt of his rifle and jabbed the Navy man in the chest, sending him flying backwards
towards the camera. He landed on the floor, out of the camera's field of
"Whoa, that had to hurt! I hope he doesn't
antagonize the suspects any further," the agent commented, furiously working the
Sam was transfixed by what he saw on the
screen. All those innocent people! And where was the Observer to tell him what
"Is this view OK for you guys up there, or
do we need to run the cable to the other side of this group? We run the chance of the
fiber being detected if I try to keep going over their heads, but it could give us an idea
of who is in the tunnel ahead."
"No, no," Sam said distractedly.
"This will do. Go ahead and run it to the Command Post." He stared at the
monitor, watching the uniformed man slowly stand and brush himself off. His back was
still to the camera, and the suspect that had pushed him was pointing at him, his mouth
still working under the mask. Then he sharply raised the rifle to the level of the
Officer's head, and Sam saw the hostage slowly put his hands behind his head.
"Oh, oh. This doesn't look to
good," an agent whispered.
They all watched as the Navy Officer slowly turned
towards the camera. He stood straight, chin up and jaw set, not showing any
fear. His expression was one of defiance, the fire in his eyes clear even in the
Sam felt his heart leap up into his throat and he
instantly broke out into a cold sweat as he watched his friend and Observer prepare
himself to die.
To Be Continued