PREVIOUSLY ON QUANTUM LEAP
Sam has leaped into Jim Kidd, a Thoroughbred horse ranch owner in
Virginia in 1977. On his arrival he finds one of the trainers is none other than Alia,
another leaper from Sam's past that he has helped free from her evil partners ZoŽ
Thames. Alia has leaped into herself, and living happily in this time. Before he reveals
himself to Alia, Sam must figure out why he is there.7y6
Meanwhile, Ziggy is under attack at the Project. Thames has leaped
into the Project and inserted a chip into Ziggy that contains a piece of Lothos, the evil
computer controlling Thames' leap. As part of the plan, Thames finds out where Sam has
leaped, and joins him in 1978 as one of the ranch hands. With ZoŽ as his Observer,
Thames' goal is to kill the good Dr. Beckett. ZoŽ is thrilled to find Alia at the same
location, and they plan to kill her, too.
Sam finally reveals himself to a horrified Alia, and they both
barely escape Thames. Ziggy is mostly incapacitated due to the infiltrator, and Gooshie
finally figures out what has happened. In his effort to disconnect the evil computer chip,
he is killed by a massive power surge.
It's up to Ziggy and the Project staff to stop and reverse the
interloper, and Sam is on his own until that happens. Can he help save the Project while
still in 1977?
Sometimes in a leap, when you think that there isnt a way to solve
a problem, Ive found that if you just sit down and rest for a moment that the
problem becomes clearer. Usually the solution appears right in front of you.
Sam sighed and sat down on a rock. It was tougher than he thought to find
the path Alia's horse had taken, especially since he was trying to be quiet about it. He
stretched his neck muscles by moving his head back and forth and massaged the tense
muscles of his neck with his fingers. He closed his eyes, then opened them and found he
was looking at the ground. He couldn't help but smile when he saw the hoof-print two feet
in front of him.
He followed the marks with his eyes and saw the broken and crushed path,
freshly turned from pounding hooves. He looked around carefully knowing that Thames was
after Alia as well, then started down the beaten down path. He hesitated when he heard a
noise ahead. Ducking low, he crept closer, finding that the trees gave way to a natural
opening protected by tree trunks. Lying in the opening was a large form with a person
bending over it. It was Alia and the horse.
When Al suddenly popped in beside Sam his heart leaped into his throat.
Startled, he placed a hand on his chest. "Al! You scared the life out of me! I
thought you were Thames!" He whispered sharply.
Als shoulders straightened uncomfortably. "Dont say that,
Sam. The possibility is more likely than you think."
Sams eyes widened. "What?" He hissed as he retreated back a
step into the brush, afraid hed scare off Alia. "Why?"
Al took a deep breath as he nervously looked around. "We know
whats wrong with Ziggy. Im afraid its not good."
Ziggy's sultry voice softly filtered down around him in the Imaging
Chamber, unheard by Sam. "Admiral, I cant hold him off much longer
Al looked up toward the ceiling. "Just hang on for a little
longer," he said almost pleadingly. Then to Sam, he said, "Were running
out of time here, Sam. Somehow, Lothos has infiltrated her and we are having a hell of a
time getting him out."
"Lothos? In Ziggy? Howd that happen? Cant Gooshie get him
Al reacted instantly. "I dont know!" Al shouted. Realizing
he had to get his act together, he exhaled loudly to calm himself.
Sam snapped his mouth shut, shocked at Al's reaction. It had been a
reasonable question to ask, and he didnt understand why he had snapped so harshly.
Softly, he said. "Al, you have to stop it. Gooshie has to stop it. This is
Al dropped his head at the mention of Gooshie and took a deep breath, held
it for a second, then said, "Were going to get Lothos out, Sam. But until we
do, we cant help you or Alia one iota. If we do, Lothos will find out our plans, and
youre both history."
The Imaging Chamber program shivered, reminding both Observer and Leaper
that time was running out for the both of them.
Sam fought down the growing fear by running down a list of possible
scenarios through his mind. It didn't take long for the scientist to come up with a
thought. "Alia!" Sam looked at Al with a crooked smile. "Alia can help! She
can get us to their Project, whatever its called, or at least get us a location. We
can get him that way! That's probably why I was sent here!"
Al nodded even as Sam spoke. Neither one could help but notice how the
reception was getting worse by the second. "Do whatever you can, Sam," he said
as he glanced up. "Damn it, Ziggy! Hang on!"
The holographic colors in the Imaging Chamber slowly began to darken and
Sam's world began to fuzz around the edges of the hologram as it ever so slowly dissolved
toward the middle. "Al
" Ziggy said weakly, trying to get his attention.
"Time all gone."
Al tensed at her choice of words. "I have to go, Sam." He started
pushing buttons like crazy. "Hang on, buddy."
youre getting all fuzzy
. I cant hear
you!" Sam said, his voice edged with panic. He reached out to touch Al knowing it was
futile, but the action seemed so natural. "Ill do what I can from this end!
This isnt the end, Al!"
Sam didn't think his friend heard him, but the two exchanged glances that
said everything. The image began to fade, turning into a fuzzy blur, then snapped out of
existence, leaving one friend in the woods and the other in a distant, metallic room.
May 29, 1977
Outside Reston, Virginia
"Oh, boy." Sam thought as he stared at the emptiness for a few
seconds, not wanting to believe what he just saw. He blinked, then turned to concentrate
on his last chance, lying there on the forest floor next to a dead horse. He took a deep
breath to control his shaking hands and stood.
When he pushed through the brush and entered the open area, he could
clearly hear her sobbing. He stepped closer, keenly aware of the crunching his feet made
on the dry leaves. With each step his desperation came more under control and he began to
feel empathy for her. He knew that she would not want to get back into this whole leaping
gig again. Sam felt a flash of guilt about asking her to go back, but this was his only
chance. He had already decided that he wasnt going to beg. He stopped a few yards
away. "Alia?" He said softly. "Are you alright?"
Alias head snapped up at her name. Without looking around for the
source, she jumped up and began to run away from the downed horse. She only made a few
steps before she fell down with a cry. Quickly, she tried to get up again.
"No!" Sam called fearfully. He bolted after her and grabbed her
arm. "Stop, Alia, youre hurt! Let me help you."
Alia jerked her arm away from him. "NO!" She tried to run again,
but fell again a few feet away, still crying. "No
. Theyll only hunt me
down and kill me. Leave me alone!"
Sam took a big step and grabbed her again, then pulled her into a bear hug
to calm her down. "Shhh, Alia. I know youre scared. So am I." He held her
tightly and she wiggled lamely.
She felt safe in his arms, but knowing that she wasnt safe anywhere
as long as ZoŽ was around. Shell get her revenge,' Alia thought, and shivered
at the memory of her last punishment.
Sam felt her shaking. "Its okay. Well be okay. Come on,
sit. Youre hurt." He loosened his grip and guided her to the ground. Her leg
was obviously injured. Sam could see the blood staining her riding pants.
She cringed as she sat down and jarred the leg.
Sam knelt down beside her and started a cursory examination, finding the
wound on her leg. "Is it a bullet, or from the fall?" He asked, tearing at the
hole to make it bigger.
"I think it was a bullet," she gasped. " Its been
stinging since Traveler jumped the ledge." Her nails dug into her thigh.
It was a bloody mess. He examined the whole leg carefully. "Well, the
bones intact, and theres an exit wound. I think its okay."
Alia clenched her teeth tightly as he probed the wound. "God, can you
hurt me more, Dr. Beckett?" she complained.
"A little sore, huh?" He laughed shortly, and ripped off his sleeve. "I was
always told I had a good bedside manner."
Alia looked at him through slits. "This isnt funny. You
dont have any idea about what's going on with Thames and ZoŽ, and youre
worried about this?" She asked motioning to her leg. "I didn't see her, but I
know ZoŽ's around too. Why can't I see her?" She gritted her teeth in pain.
He wrapped the leg firmly, then checked her foot for a pulse.
"I know exactly whats going on with ZoŽ and Thames. My guess is
that your brain waves have been altered somehow, so you and ZoŽ aren't linked
anymore." Sam paused. "Increased Theta waves could do it. Maybe the hypnosis
combined with the electrical surge from your last leap increased you Theta waves. That's
just a theory, but I do know that were going to stop them both. Again."
"Again?" Alia asked, distracted by her throbbing leg.
"Yes. Only this time, well both be free."
Without warning, Alia slapped him hard across the face. "I was already
and you brought them back to me!" She painfully struggled to her feet,
trying to avoid touching Sam.
"Me? I didnt bring them! I just showed up here!"
She twirled around to him, flailing her arms for balance. "And
Im supposed to believe that? Lothos placed me exactly where he wanted me. Surely
your Ziggy has that ability, too." She took a few jaunty steps forward testing the
He stood up and brushed off his pants, and took a big breath to control his
anger and fear. "We dont know who, or what, controls my leaps. But Im
always put somewhere for a reason, and youre it!" Sam grabbed at her, trying to
act as her crutch, directing her away from the lifeless horse. "And we gotta get out
of here before we both die!"
Alia jerked away from him. She wasnt going to argue with him about
dying. She knew all about that subject. "No." She said doggedly, shaking her
head in denial. "No
you arent here for me. I was fine and dandy before
you showed up." She continued limping away from him. "But Ill be damned
before I let ZoŽ or Thames try to do anything to me."
Sam stood in place, letting go on her own and knowing he couldn't force her
into anything. But she was his last hope. "Alia," He said forlornly.
"ALIA!" He couldnt hold the fear back any longer. "You dont
Alia quickly turned around to him and snapped, "I understand that if
you keep yelling like that that theyll find us."
He put his hand on his forehead, physically trying to calm his thoughts.
His hand was shaking visibly, and he tried to control it. "No," he said firmly
and calmly. "You dont understand. Im not here for you, Alia." He
took a deep breath and dropped his hands helplessly to his side. He stared at her directly
in the eyes, his desperation clear, and he knew he had her attention. "You are here
for me. I need your help."
Alia finally noticed his shaking and the edge in his voice. The Sam Beckett
she knew was strong and independent; this one was very scared and dependent on her. That
alone was enough to scare the daylights out of her. "What?" she sputtered,
almost losing her balance. "My help? I cant help you, Sam! There isnt any
way for me to help you. I cant get you home."
"Maybe not. But you can save my home."
"Your home?" She hesitated, then took a step toward him. His eyes
showed the fear he was trying to hide. "What do you mean? How could I help you?"
After a moment's consideration, he stepped to her and took her hands. She
felt the clammy hotness of his grip.
"Alia. Ziggys under attack from Lothos."
Alias face went white in an instant. She knew exactly what Lothos was
capable of. Her mouth opened and closed, wanting to say something but not knowing exactly
where to start. Finally, she looked away shook her head sadly. "Then, Ziggys
He gripped her hands tighter and pulled them to his chest.
"Alia!" He pleaded, "You have to help me! I refuse to accept that. I
wont give up on Ziggy. Never. I'll do everything in my power to save her, and I can,
with your help! That's why I'm here. The entire Project is in danger and all my friends
could die! You know that!"
Softly, she replied, "You dont understand me, Sam. Ziggy is gone
if Lothos was able to establish a strong enough link
He threw her hands down. "I will not lie down and take it! And neither
will you! You will never be truly free if you let this go, Alia, and you know that!"
His voice dropped to a whisper. "You know Im right."
Alia closed her eyes. He was right. He was always right. In resignation,
she took a deep, shaky breath. "Do you know if he established a physical link to
A flash of hope sparked in Sams mind. "I dont think so.
Theyve been able to work around whatever it is so far, but I dont know for how
Alia sighed. She had suppressed the memories for so long that she actually
wondered if she could recall them. "Well, you first have to realized who we are
dealing with here, Sam. Do you remember Nathaniel Lothoman?"
Sams brow furrowed. Asking for a memory from him was usually a hit or
miss affair, but that name was familiar.
"You must remember him," she insisted. He stayed current with all
of your experiments. Never wanted to be behind the genius of our time."
" Sam was thinking hard. "He was always asking
questions. I got the idea he was more than a fan. Almost a competitor."
Resigned, Alia nodded sadly. "More than you know, Sam. More than you
Even as she said the words, her mind began to flash back to when she had
been taken from the streets of Britain. She wished now that she had never run away from
home, had never said yes to a lunatic
but she had. Even as she told Sam her story,
she was reliving it.
Somewhere near the British Isle
The muscular man gently guided Alia into a large room, one of the many
rooms in his personal island cave. His jet-black hair gleamed under the fluorescent
lighting, accenting his glowing midnight blue eyes. His six-foot frame was formidable,
stunning both in elegance and power. His smile showed brilliant white teeth. "Alia,
do you know what real power is?"
"Real power? You mean, electrical or atomic, dont you?" Her
voice was full of wonder and awe at the machinery that filled the large room.
He shook his head at her naivetť, turning his smile towards a redheaded
woman working on one the machines.
The redheaded woman seemed to feel his look, and responded by turning her
head in their direction with obvious affection. "I have the power up and running like
you asked." She spared a glance at the young teen beside him, and her expression
turned to one of distaste. She snarled, "Whos the brat?"
Taken aback by the reaction, Alia frowned at the comment.
" She said nothing else, but took hold of Nathaniels arm,
gripping it tightly.
He patted her hand and chuckled. "ZoŽ, honey, be kind to our new
resident." He looked at Alia meaningfully. She smiled nervously in return. "You
are going to have to teach her."
rolled her eyes. "Oh goody," she said sarcastically.
"Let me go get her a tootsie pop to suck on."
He stepped away from Alia towards the cheeky woman Alia pegged as his
lover, and slapped her hard across the face. There was a look of anger in his eyes that
frightened Alia, and she took a shocked step back.
He grabbed ZoŽ by the hair on the back of her head, and pulled her face
towards his mouth. Then, in a voice too low for Alia to hear, growled, "Teach this
twerp like I tell you. She's expendable. Youre the best there is and Im not
going to risk losing you if this fails," then released her.
When she turned back to him, her face was void of expression. She knew
better than to show pain. Always keep them guessing, hon
thought to herself. "Yes, sir." She ran her fingers quickly through her blazing
hair and looked at the girl behind him. "Im ZoŽ. And you are?" She asked,
her eyebrow lifting lightly as she examined the young lady up and down.
"Alia," she squeaked, then coughed and repeated more loudly,
"Alia." Alia knew instinctively not to show fear to this one, and clasped her
hands together in front of her to hide the shaking. Shed learn how to hide her fear
when she was on the streets.
Nathaniel smiled at the introductions. It was a sickly, sweet smile that
was obviously false. ZoŽ took the grin as a gloat, and couldn't fathom why he was happy
to have this sappy little thing with him. But he obviously had a plan for her, and
ZoŽ knew how to stay on his good side.
"Shell do," ZoŽ grumbled.
"I thought that she might." The dynamic man put his arm around
ZoŽ's shoulders and walked her away from the girl. "Think of her as someone you can
mold." He stopped at a computer station, knowing he'd just tweaked his lover's
curiosity. Then, he then turned to Alia. "Come my dear, I want to show you
something." He showed the way with the sweep of a hand.
"Okay." She replied, not immediately turning away from ZoŽ
another effort to show she wasnt scared. Finally, she fell behind her leader.
stood her ground, watching the sickening pair one unbelievingly
ingenious and the other unbelievably naive. She shook her head as they walked away, at the
same time instinctively knowing that someone had walked up behind her. She knew exactly
who it was, and stated with a growl, "Hes one sick bastard, Thames,"
before the black man even made it to her side.
"Really? I hadnt noticed." He said sarcastically on his
"And you follow a close second," she said as she turned to the
tall slender man to her left. "When are you going to learn that you cant sneak
up on me anymore?"
Thames smiled widely. "Why dont you teach me how, then?"
leaned very close to Thames ear, so close that she could smell
the cologne that he was wearing. She lightly bushed her lips against his ear and
whispered. "Youd like it way to much, you arrogant, annoying, sexy thing."
Thames smile widened at her tease. "Well, then, love, why dont
you do something I wont like?"
It was ZoŽs turn to smile evilly as she leaned back away from him.
"Then youd be dead and of no use to me."
"Ooo! Ouch, baby! Ouch!" He winked at her, then feigned to go but
grabbed her roughly instead. The kiss he deposited was void of affection, and applied as a
challenge before he walked away as if nothing happened.
didnt know whether to enjoy the kiss or be revolted by it.
Licking her lips, she tilted her head as she admired the way his pants molded to his body.
She shook her head to stop the distracting thoughts, and left to find her boss and the
Nathaniel and Alia were in the deepest part of the cavern, inspecting a
large metallic box, which seemed out of place among the rest of the gadgets and gismos
scattered around the room. The simple-looking box gave no outer indication of the
complexity on the inside.
"Alia, do you know what this is for?" He asked carefully,
indicating the box.
"No," she answered. "I've never seen anything like it."
The streets of London were far dirtier.
"And you never will, dear. This odd box is going to change the world
as we know it, making one person greater than any other on the face of the planet."
"Really?" She was genuinely impressed and curious at the same
time. "What is it, exactly?"
"This is the start of the future, Alia. This is the beginning of the
greatest computer ever to exist."
"Oh. Im afraid I dont know anything about computers. This
isnt the whole thing?" She touched the box lightly, then pulled back.
"No, this is only one module. The computer itself will surround it.
Engulf it." He seemed ready to get into the box right then. "And, Alia, dear,
you are going to be a part of the future this computer will create."
She smiled. That sounded good to her. The present sure wasnt a rose
garden, and the idea of a future created by this man, with her at his side, sounded more
promising than anything she could ever hope for. "Sounds great!" She said
"Yes," ZoŽ smiled hauntingly as she heard what Nathaniel had
said as she walked up. "Our future." She slowly crossed her arms. "One of
which you will learn to trust me, Thames and Nathaniel. Well keep you safe from
Nathaniel turned to ZoŽ. "When will we be ready for
could read the excitement in Nathaniels eyes as he spoke of the
integration process. She approached him, letting her hand trace his jaw. "Anytime
youre ready." She replied in the sultriest tone as she kept her eyes on his.
His eyes narrowed slightly. "With the computer, ZoŽ. When will the
computer be ready?"
Realizing that the game of chase had been taken away from her because of
this little girl beside him, she looked Nathaniel in his dark midnight blue eyes and
smiled. "Like I said, dear, anytime youre ready."
He took a breath. "Well, then
lets get the module hooked
ZoŽs hand still lingered on Nathaniels shoulder and she leaned
up toward his ear. "Ill get it ready for you, darling." She lightly kissed
his cheek and turned to go.
Before she could leave his side, he grabbed her hand and pulled her back.
"Stay away from Thames," Nathaniel growled in her ear.
smiled at the hint of jealousy and wiggled up towards him again.
"But Thames is in charge of the module. What do you want me to do? You know that
Ill do anything for you."
He smiled a bit. "Dont even ask that, ZoŽ. I might take you up
on that. Now, let's get this module hooked up, shall we?" He walked away from her and
circled the box, brushing it with his fingertips in lustful desire.
Alia was taken aback by the interplay between the two, and realizing the
gist of the unsaid things. She wasnt stupid, just young. She had to admit she
admired the cheekiness of ZoŽ, and wished she could be more like her; she seemed so
sophisticated. And there was an attraction between ZoŽ and Nathaniel that she wished
could be solely focused on her. Alia caught herself staring at ZoŽ.
tilted her head and gave Alia a sideways leer. "Theres not
a chance in hell that youll ever have him. Hes mine." She snarled lowly
enough so that he couldnt hear.
Alias jaw dropped slightly, and she damned herself for blushing. The
woman knew what she had been thinking! She ducked her head and quickly caught up to
noticed the reddening cheeks as Alia walked away. There wasnt
going to be any little girl coming in to take her man away from her. He was her ticket to
power. She looked Alia up and down, well aware of her youth and better figure.
"ZoŽ!" Nathaniel called out, just as Alia came up to him.
"Help me with this. And get that idiot engineer over here!"
She smiled a tight smile of obedience, and searched out Thames with her
eyes. Leaning that direction, she raised her voice to a commanding tone. "Thames, get
Thames sighed as he looked up, then noticed she was heading to Nathaniel.
He knew better than to go against Nathaniel, so he went over without comment.
Alia felt awkward and useless and was relieved to see another person
joining them. Hopefully it would take ZoŽ's animosity away from her. She watched, staying
out of the way, as they unloaded the contraption from the box.
Silently working together, they deftly checked the module, making sure
everything was properly connected with the correct wires going through the proper holes,
and the biochips were intact. They handled the device gingerly.
"There." ZoŽ said, satisfied, as she looked up into
Nathaniels eyes. "Its passed beta testing, and ready for the real
Nathaniel stroked her chin slowly, a gleam in his eyes. "Hook me up,
darling," he ordered, a tinge of sexual excitement edging his voice. He stepped back
into a cubicle cut into the wall of the cave.
It looked like a space capsule to Alia; all steel and dials. Thick bundles
of conduit dangled from the ceiling and walls, all surrounding a chair that looked like a
Star Trek biobed. She watched Nathaniel step inside and stand, impatiently rubbing his
hands together. She could tell the anticipation was almost too much for him.
stepped in next to him, holding the module. It was a tight fit for the
two of them. "Is there anything that you want before we connect you?" She asked
in a sultry voice. She was feeding off his excitement, and had a glassy look in her
"Are you asking me if I want a blindfold?" He asked her softly
looking into her lovely blue eyes.
"No, my dear, more like a last request."
Nathaniel leaned over and kissed her firmly on the lips, making sure that
Thames saw his actions, reaffirming his claim on the woman. "Just make sure that
everything goes well."
"You got it, sweetcheeks." She lightly patted his hip then turned
around to see Alia standing to the side. ZoŽ smiled at her, but her eyes told another
story. She then looked at Thames. "Come on, Thames. Lets get this show on the
Alia felt like a fifth wheel. She stepped back, afraid of the look that
ZoŽ had given her. She had no idea what was going on, but if anything happened to
Nathaniel, she would be alone and at the mercy of those two deviants.
Thames sighed at his lack of control when it came to Nathaniel Lothoman and
stepped up to the portal opening. "Right. Dr. Lothoman, if you would prepare for the
hook up." He picked up the necessary connectors and edged his way in.
Nathaniel sat down in the seat, looking like a king settling on his throne.
The hungry expression turned into one of sheer ecstasy as the module was positioned on he
head. "Do it," he commanded.
"Thames, may I have those?" She asked with one eyebrow raised
ever so slightly as she reached for the conduit bundles he held.
Thames looked at her and smiled slightly, willingly handing the connectors
to her. "Be my guest." He said loudly. "I dont want to be the one to
blame if Lothoman gets fried," he thought to himself.
Taking the connectors in her hands, she inspected them carefully.
"Honey, these look fine. Im putting the connectors in place now." She
inserted the first connector into its port, then nodded at Thames, who adjusted some
dials on the wall of the cavern. A slight hum permeated the air.
Nathaniel Lothoman gasped as if he were in pain, or very excited. Alia
couldn't really tell.
He could feel the wires entering his body just as he had planned. The
power! Oh, the power! It was more thrilling than he ever imagined!
Thames stifled a smile, hoping Nathaniel was in pain and that the whole
thing would fail miserably.
Knowing the anger she would face if she stopped, ZoŽ continued on even as
Lothoman writhed in the chair. The next connector was slowly put in, and instead of
waiting she connected the rest of them quickly.
He could feel the power surging through him, making the pain of the
entwining wires fade away. His reach was enormous! The possibilities were endless! He had
mutated Dr. Beckett's theories to the point where he had made himself omnipotent! This was
so much better than being human!
Suddenly, Nathaniels eyes widened, as the pain became overwhelming.
Every limb stiffened and twitched; he breathing became ragged. His head jerked back and
his mouth opened in a silent scream. The observers realized that something was very wrong.
Alia stepped up to the chair and knelt by Lothoman's side, placing her hand
on his arm. His eyes were fixed and dilated, his breathing uneven. "Nathaniel?"
She said softly as she petted his arm.
Thames scowled at the gruesome sight. He could see the wires as they were
meeting under Nathaniels skin, how they disfigured his face and body, creating a
grotesque characature of a man.
simply stood back after finishing the last connection, her eyes glazed
with excitement. His power meant her power. It was thrilling.
"Whats happening?" Alia whispered out loud.
Thames turned to Alia and replied, "Nathaniel is gone, lady."
took one step towards Thames and slapped him hard across the cheek.
"Shut up. Hes not gone."
Thames glared at her in response.
Alia then knew that her worst fear coming true. She was here with these two
on her own. She gripped the writhing man's forearm tightly, begging. "NO! You
cant be gone!"
roughly pulled her away from Nathaniel. "Get away from him!"
She said menacingly.
Alia fell back. "Youve got to stop this!" Alia actually
stood firm, her fists clenched, not backing down from ZoŽ although she was scared to
death. "Stop this!" She looked at the woman determinedly, feeling her eyes
looked Alia up and down with a critical eye. "We cant stop
this, love. Its too late."
"It cant be too late. It just cant." Alia stared,
stunned. Trapped. She couldnt leave this place now; Lothoman had been her guardian
and the only way to leave the island. He had picked her up on the streets and promised her
better, then abandoned her.
With a tisk of her tongue, ZoŽ took Alia's place at Lothoman's side, and
placed the palm of her hand on his cheek. She could feel the biowires growing, expanding
under his flesh. She leaned over and lightly kissed his lips, then closed her eyes and
placed her head on his chest. The convulsing body finally became limp, his face blank.
Without warning, a deep, metallic voice rolled through the room. "Such
sentimental foolishness, my darling."
ZoŽ, Thames and Alia looked up and around the room, trying to locate the
source of the voice floating around them. It seemed to be teasing them.
"Nathaniel?" ZoŽ asked hopefully as she looked back to the limp
face of the man before her.
"He is here." The voice answered. "In part. Oh, ZoŽ,
darling! It is truly amazing!"
" ZoŽ bit her lip his voice surrounded her.
I knew that you werent gone
you wouldnt leave
"The Nathaniel Lothoman you knew is gone. I am no longer him. I am so
much more than him. I am perfection."
She frowned. "No." She said softly as she slowly raised to her
feet and backed away from him. "Youre still Nathaniel. You still
She hesitated, unsure, the stated, "You still love me."
The voice laughed. "Love? Bio-technical computers do not know how to
could have taken anything else that someone could have thrown at her
and brushed it off, but this? This crushed the only part of her that accepted Nathaniel as
a lover and as a partner. Thames was right. He was gone.
She locked down the emotions trying to burst through. She wouldnt act
like a blubbering fool. No one will treat me this way again and live to tell the
tale, she vowed. Her face carefully wiped clean of emotion, she said, "Fine,
"That is the name of my creator and companion," the rolling voice
boomed. "It is not me. I am
Unnoticed, Alia found she had backed towards the cave entry, an intruder in
this foreign world. But she didnt want to go back where she came from, either. She
was stuck between two impossible choices, and needed time to think. She dashed out of the
Hearing the footfalls, ZoŽ saw Alia running away. "Dammit," she
cursed hoarsely, still unable to leave the side of what remained of her lover.
"Ill get her." Thames spat, completely willing to get away.
He caught up to her easily, and grabbed her arm, pulling her to a stop.
Alia tried to jerk free of Thames. "Let me go! I cant live
Thames raised his eyebrow. "You have no choice, lady. In fact,
youre coming back to the Control Center right now."
"Why? Im of no use in there!" She again tried to pull away,
but Thames had a strong grip. She struggled fruitlessly as she was drug back inside.
"Surely, youre of some use or Dr. Lothoman wouldnt have
picked you up. He always has a plan."
Finally able to step away, ZoŽ made yet another check of the connections
and circuits as Thames dragged Alia back in the cave. She raised her eyebrow, impressed,
and looked at Thames in a new light. He was physically here, at least, and taking control
of that intruder. "At least hes good for something," she mused out loud.
She knew he was as much a part of Lothos plan as she was, and figured that the girl
must fit in that plan somewhere. She was deep in thought about the possibilities, annoyed
at the voice's interruption.
"ZoŽ." The voice commanded.
"What the hell do you want?" ZoŽ asked vehemently.
Without warning, a bolt of electricity hit her squarely in the chest. It
threw her back against the wall, and she slid to the floor, completely bewildered; her
breathing was labored.
"You will give me the respect you gave Lothoman. He cared greatly for
you and wants me to do the same. He is part of me and therefore I do have some interest in
you. Perhaps even feelings. You are important to the Project, but I will not put up with
vowed to not forget that lesson. "Forgive me?" She asked
softly, trying to retain her position in the Project.
Thames missed the attack, and when he dragged Alia back to the Control area
he found ZoŽ on the floor, gasping and definitely in pain. He stopped. "What the
hell happened?" He whispered more to himself than to anyone else in the room.
"Forgiven for the time being," the voice rolled. "I have a
task for you, ZoŽ. A very important task." The metallic voice sounded.
closed her eyes and tried to stand. She was very dizzy, and had to
shake her head to clear the fog. "And that would be?"
"Lothoman asked you to teach Alia. Do so and continue the work. When
we are ready, you will observe for her. Perhaps one day, you will even be favored for the
Project. For the moment, however, you are far too important to risk."
Looking at Alia, ZoŽ said, "Shes very
" She paused
wanting to choose her words carefully, "
very naÔve. Ill do what I can.
Ill teach her as you ask of me, Lothos."
"NaÔve?" Alia snapped at ZoŽ. "You dont even know
me!" She struggled in Thames' grip, not liking the sound of this conversation.
The voice agreed with ZoŽ. "Her naivetť makes her perfect for the
job. She should be easy to train."
Train? Alia thought, horrified.
"Forgive me, Lothos, but wont her naivetť be her downfall?"
"Thats is why I am relying on you. She will be the first in case
anything unexpected arises."
"So, if she fails, I fail
I fail you."
Interesting, ZoŽ thought as she put her hand to her chest wondering exactly
what kind of punishment to expect if she was disrespectful again.
Alia interjected loudly, "And what is this
this plan you keep
talking about? I sure didnt agree to any plan! And you two," she pointed at
Thames and ZoŽ, "have no claim on me!" She finally threw off Thames' grip, and
Another lightning bolt shot out from the conduit and hit Alia as it had hit
ZoŽ, square in the chest. Alias body flew back against the wall, knocking her out.
"She is far too insolent."
"Holy shit!" Thames cried, backing away from Lothos in obvious
snickered. "Far too insolent, indeed. And what of Thames, Lothos?
Is he important for the project as well? Am I to train him too?" ZoŽ wanted to make
sure of where she stood.
"Of course. Thames must maintain my electronic systems and my
biological systems as well."
Thames didnt like the sound of that. "Biological systems?"
"Yes, Thames," ZoŽ purred. "Keeping Lothoman alive so that
Lothos could survive." She turned to look at him so that he could see her eyes and
the emotions there. This scared her; scared her and made her mad all at the same time.
Thames wasnt much into caring for anyone but himself, yet the look in
her eyes made his heart go out to her, especially since it scared him, too.
"ZoŽ." The voice uttered again with authority.
Closing her eyes, she turned back to Lothos and physically humbled herself.
She bowed her head and went to her knees in front of the physical form left behind.
"Yes, Lothos?" She asked quietly as her fingers touched at the charred hole in
"Take Alia and place her in a cell. Humble her to obedience. If she
argues with you, I will punish her."
A small smile crawled onto her face. "Yes, Lothos. It shall be
done." She quickly stood, wiping the smile from her face. She motioned Thames for
assistance and moved Alia to another part of the Project.
Her nightmare was just beginning.
Alia shook her head to bring her back from the memories. She blinked back
the fear that she recalled. She gripped Sam's arm tightly. "Sam, you dont want
to be involved with this. Its best if you just walk away alive."
Sam held back his feelings of nausea and pity for her. "I cant.
There is no way I can turn my back on this. Everything I know and love is in jeopardy. I
have to stay with this to the end." He patted her hands. "Hes attacking
"And when he attacks, Sam, he attacks with everything he has. You
cant stand up to him. Believe me, Ive tried and failed! All have failed!"
"Hes never dealt with something like Ziggy, and Ziggy has me and
everyone in the Project. Hey, we win with numbers alone." He stood. "But you,
Alia dont need to give anymore. I have what I need; you can continue on here, like
you deserve. I just have to make sure youre safe."
Alia stood and looked into his eyes defiantly. "I am capable of taking
care of myself."
He looked her in the eyes as he put both hands on her shoulders. "I
know you are. I never said you couldnt."
"You assume the role of my savior, one that I dont need. And you
still dont understand. Hes out for anyone who is against him. And that
"Only after he gets me, Alia. Only after he gets me. And he
Alia turned her back to him and started to wobble away from him. "How
can you be so sure?" Alia asked as she looked to the ground.
answered softly, confidently, like there simply wasn't another answer. "Because I
am," he said.
the Imaging Chamber walls appeared once again, Al knew that the situation was getting
worse. He stormed out of the Imaging Chamber with a vengeance. There was no way in hell
that damned computer was going to take over this Project and leave Sam defenseless against
Thames and ZoŽ.
status!" He commanded.
hands were definitely busy on, under and around the console, and she didnt even look
up as she spoke. "Weve got internal meltdown everywhere, Admiral. Were
trying to locate the main system that the infiltrator is working from, but there are so
many false leads, its almost impossible. Donnas over in Section Four working
on leads. Were gonna need a LOT more power!"
began to pace as she spoke. When she mentioned the need for power, he turned and saw
Sammie Jo entering the room.
Jo bustled right to the console doing her own little modifications here and there.
"Just tap into another power source. Lets see
the biggest around here
Las Vegas." She mumbled not necessarily talking to anyone in
particular. Her mind was in chaos, and the only thing that she could do to calm it was to
talk things through. "Las Vegas. Hoover Dam." She said softly.
dont care where you get the power, just get it," Al told them firmly, pacing
once again. He turned to both of them. "Take the whole damn state," He ordered.
Jo looked up at Al in surprise. "Thatd do it." She said as she finished
her entry code without looking at the screen.
if it doesnt, try Los Angeles too," he added. "Ill be damned before
we run outta gas
" He almost smiled at the illustration. "Kind of like
siphoning gas from your neighbors car. You want the gas, but you sure as hell
dont want the neighbor to find out what youre doing."
had ducked under the console at the last sentence. Her words were muffled.
"Thats right. We dont want our neighbor here to know what were
doing. Hmmm. We may be able to run most of the lines into one area and trap it; but gee,
thats a lot of lines."
Jo looked down at a screen and typed in her command to execute, and smiled as she listened
to the Admiral and Tina. "We may have Ziggy back faster than normal," she
stood, looking blankly at the Admiral as her mind worked. Her lips moved, silently
calculating. "For this to work, we need power and we need Ziggy. We need her for just
a few seconds. If we distract the intruder, she can execute the command."
Jo glanced at Tina instantly understanding what she meant. "Oh
she said shaking her finger toward Tina knowingly.
grinned, her white teeth flashing. "If we can get the geometric processes of the
intruder going in a circle...like Mobius strip or somethin'...that might be enough for
Ziggy to get the job done."
crossed the Control room and yanked off yet another panel. She reached in, and began to
tweak the wires inside. "I need somethin sharp... wait!" She yanked off
one of her dangly earrings that looked like an ancient TV antenna, and stuck it in the
on you big bolts of junk. Talk to me." Sammie Jo whispered. Seeing how Tina had
tweaked the panel, she hoped that it would work. "Ziggy? Ziggy, can you hear
me?" Sammie Jo turned to the sphere and smiled hoping that they would hear that sexy
Ziggy purred her voice resonated through out the project. "What do you need Dr.
Al heard Ziggy's voice purring through the room, he grinned like the Cheshire cat.
"YES!" he exclaimed with a raised clenched fist.
Jo smiled at the voice.
we need to know how we can get that tin of metal out of your programming once and for all
and we need to know fast before Lothos can get connected again," Al spoke as he
started for the Imaging Chamber.
at the source. That is the only way to keep him out."
stopped and turned to look at the sphere. "You don't mean the source here, do
you." He stated, realizing what she really meant. He didn't wait for a reply. He just
hoped that Sam would be able to get that information from Alia. "Center me on Sam,
Ziggy." He stepped into the center of the Imaging Chamber and waited with baited
lights dimmed and Ziggy responded.
almost out of time, Admiral." Tina said as she looked at the panel in front of her.
"I dont know how long this diversion will last. Hurry!"
on, come on," Al whispered impatiently, knowing that Ziggy was doing the best that
she could given the circumstances.
entire project went to emergency lighting and power as the Chamber fired up. Tina ripped
off her other earring and jammed it in the portal alongside the remains of the first one.
Imaging Chamber slowly came online; the whirling sluggish for a brief moment as it tried
to connect. "Admiral
" Ziggy began. "There." Suddenly the link
connected and he saw Sam and Alia cautiously traveling along a deer path, well concealed
by the brush.
Al exclaimed seeing his friend, and grateful that he wasnt hurt.
Sam stopped. "Al?" he whispered, turning in a circle. "Al!" where are
waved a hand towards him. "Over here."
faced the voice. "I can't see you, but I hear you..." Alia also turned around as
Sam called out the holograms name.
Al complained, knowing it was a moot point. "Sam, we don't have a lot of time. Ziggy
says that you have to kill the connection at the source. Somehow, you've got to get to
reached for Alia's hand and gripped it tight. "I was hoping it wouldn't come to
looked at Sam wondering what he is talking about. "What? That it wouldn't come to
it's our only shot!" Al exclaimed vehemently. "We losing the battle here,
Sam." He looked around at his surroundings as they began to flicker and slowly vanish
inch by inch.
let them get Ziggy, Al. If it means destroying the whole Project, dont let them get
her. I'll do what I can. Al? Did you hear me?"
voice came to him in fragments. "I... ill... o... wha... ca.... jus... ang...
Sam...." The voice vanished.
dropped Alia's hand and stepped forward, turning around, searchingly. "Al? I'll find
Lothos, Al!" All Sam heard were birds chirping and wind rustling the brush. He turned
to face Alia. "He's gone." Sams expression was one of disbelief.
looked at Sam and shook her head. "Shes probably already gone."
ZoŽ said as she wheeled herself into the touching scene where she had finally found them.
She moved the wheelchair in a lazy circle, tossing her head back into the air.
"THAMES, DARLING! OVER HERE!" She yelled out happily.
took both of Alia's hands firmly in his. "No. I wont let it happen, Alia.
You're my only hope."
looked at him not understanding. "Your only hope? What? Hope for what?"
got to stop him at the source. Im going after Lothos. Tell me exactly where Lothos
glared at the two of them suddenly realizing what Beckett meant. "You wont be
able to stop him, my fine specimen. Youll be dead in a matter of minutes."
what?!" Alia shook her head and backed away from him. "Youre crazy,
stated to make his way through the brush quickly following ZoŽs voice. He finally
came close enough to hear the two talking as well. Raising the rifle, he took careful aim
with an evil grin. "Bullseye Beckett," he murmured as he fired.
saw a flash of metal out of the corner of his eye, and reacted without thinking. He
launched himself at Alia, knocking her flat, and heard the bullet whiz over his head. He
rolled her behind a downed tree and took off to circle around to Thames' back.
could you have missed? He was ten feet away from you!" ZoŽ yelled at Thames.
Thames angrily exclaimed. He leveled the rifle again, searching quickly for his prey
through the sights. "Find him, damn it, ZoŽ!" He ordered her.
looked at the hand link in her lap and began to point. "Hes making a circle
around there. Hes trying to distract you from Alia."
frowned. "Who give a damn about Alia right now!" He growled with clenched teeth.
"We get rid of Beckett, shes an easy target." He raised the rifle again,
seeing a sliver of Sam. Firing, he missed again.
was then that Sam pounced. He landed on top of the man and they tumbled to the ground. The
rifle flew off to the side and Sam started punching as hard as he could. They began to
roll back and forth, Sam trying to reach his neck. He struggled to his knees.
struggled against him like a wild animal. Sam believed he could rip him to shreds with
just his fingers.
pushed him off and managed to get to his feet and aimed a round kick at Thames' head.
Thames stumbled back at the kick and fell to the ground. He quickly got back on his feet,
a rock in his fist.
spun for another kick, but this time Thames dodged it and followed through to clobber
Sams head with the rock. Sam stumbled, stunned, and tried to fend off the blows with
his arms. He was forced down to his knees by the attack.
attack continued with vengeance, each blow opening a new wound on Sam's forehead and arms.
Thames grinned like a hyena
watched with an evil grin, excited with what she was witnessing. Finally, Dr. Samuel
Beckett would be no more!
backed against a boulder, weakly trying to fight back, but clearly stunned and unable to
find an opening in the wild mans attack. All he could do was protect himself and try
to stay on his feet.
two shots echoed through the valley.
felt wetness splash on his face and the blows stopped abruptly. He looked glanced over his
arms and saw Thames stiffen, the bloody rock slipping from his fingers and an astonished
look on his face. He collapsed forward on top of Sam.
ZoŽ exclaimed as she saw Thames fall. Thames was unable to see his holographic Observer
as she snapped out of existence in this time.
was a moment of silence as Sam felt Thames' last heartbeat against his own chest. A red
hue dissipated in front of him, and the undamaged body of one of the hired hands slid down
to the ground. Sam saw the innocent man was still breathing and looked up to see Alia, the
rifle still leveled, her hair blowing wildly around her face as the wind picked up.
Alia fell to her knees, the rifle's barrel falling to the ground but her grip still tight
on the weapon.
went to her and wrapped his arms around her trembling body. "Everything will be okay,
Alia. Trust me
" He felt the familiar tingling in his extremities and squeezed
his eyes shut, brushing her ear lightly as he spoke. "Trust me," he whispered
again as he leaped.
off of the British Isle
past was gone in a flash of red light. ZoŽ found herself in mid scream, and was moving
the wheelchair even before her surroundings settled into solidity. She moved frantically
to the Imaging Disc even though the pain in her upper body was excruciating. She had to
across the room she could see that he was down and unmoving. Wheeling herself up to him,
the frozen, startled look of surprise on his face confirmed her fear. Her shoulders
drooped and she lowered her head in shock as her eyes followed the trail of blood draining
toward the innermost part of the room.
single solitary tear slid down her face, but when her head finally rose, her teeth were
clenched, the snarl plainly evident as she looked up at the thing that she had once called
a lover. "How DARE you just let him die!" She accused through teeth clenched in
the mission." Lothos
voice boomed in a kind of staccato, strained from the energy drainage from Ziggy.
dont seem to get it through your thick
" ZoŽ stopped for a moment
thinking about what she was about to say. He wasnt human anymore.
Lothos supplied when she hesitated.
ZoŽ said vehemently. "You
my love," he replied. "I could
Thames death. It is
cringed at his endearing term. She wasnt his love anymore even though her love for
Lothoman did still exist in her heart. "Ha! Regrettable is right," she snarled,
dashing the emotion. "I cant do both Observing and Leaping. I cant even
walk, remember? I cant even
" She stopped and looked up at the
person/thing that he had become. "I can hardly breathe properly!" she coughed.
Lothos said as seductively as a biomechanical computer could. "You
important one to me
you will succeed
where all others
looked up at the thing that was still imprisoned there. "If I can't breath..."
she talked over him, "I will FAIL! ILL BE DEAD, YOU IDIOT!" The fear of
probable punishment for her outburst was overridden by a choking coughing fit. Lothos
waited until the fit subsided and she could hear him over her gasping.
response was less than friendly. "You think you are in pain now
" There was a long pause. "Dr. Beckett." Lothos said as if a
thought had occurred to him, distracting him from his intent to punish.
about him?" She whispered with a raw throat. "He doesn't matter anymore. Nothing
hes dead," Lothos corrected. "You will have
a chance again
She said softly, hoping that he couldn't hear her. "Don't call me that anymore."
be able to
accept the truth
" He let the sentence fade.
"He is coming," he stated firmly.
She asked, raising her head at the statement.
The name was spit out with tangible hatred.
smiled at the thought. "I welcome it." She said vehemently as she wheeled
herself toward a compartment carved in the wall. She unlocked the metal door by tapping in
a code, and retrieved a handgun stored there. She handled it thoughtfully. "I'll have
my revenge... my love..." she said, accenting his term of endearment. "And I'll
do it myself this time."
the tingling blue dissipated, the first sensation Sam felt was cold. Damp coldness all
around, especially in his nose as he breathed. He blinked, clearing the fog, only to find
that he was, in fact, in thinning fog, and began walking up the cracked and weedy path to
a reinforced opening of a tunnel in a mountainside.
had no idea where he was; there was nothing to give him an idea of time or place. No cars,
no people. Turning around he saw a dock and a small boat pushing off, and a
mainland in the distance. Mainland? Was this an island? He again faced the opening, and
then looked down at himself. He found a picture ID tag hanging from his neck and a white
lab coat on his lean frame. His last name was Gabriel, and his first name was Anthony. And
there was a 'LEVEL I" stamped on it. Curious, he continued up the path.
he had several flashes of what could only have been a bad dream... A familiar woman
Alia! He thought...a gun
an angry black man coming at him with a pitchfork... and a
mixing/melding of faces when he defended him and pushed the man.... Thames... away.
was in a cold sweat at this point. He was here for a reason involving those... two... what
was it? The memory was right there on the tip of his brain. And before he even thought
'where was Al? he already knew that he wouldn't be there to help this time.
he reached the top of the path, there was a small group gathered at a security gate. He
joined them, feeling like a fraud. A very scared fraud, and glanced at a security camera.
The security gate was waiting to be opened at just a command; cameras aimed at the
entrance to record any and all interlopers.
guess there was a security problem," one man mumbled. "This gate is never
don't care if I ever come back, " a woman replied quietly, then looked around,
YOU THINK THAT I AM UNAWARE OF YOUR WORDS?" A loud voice demanded viciously from
inside the cave. "ENTER IMMEDIATELY AND REMAIN SILENT!"
it was quiet and the crowd cowered as one. Sam tried to fade in, oblivious to any
consequences. The guards were thick as the gate slowly opened. The group moved as one
through the opening, Sam feeling safe in the center. He looked at some other tags worn by
nearby people, and found another Level 1, and tried to look inconspicuous as he followed
him. Everyone's ID was checked before they were allowed in the cavern.
the voice boomed as Sam entered the cavern, his ID having already been checked.
"Gabriel, you are required on Level 1 immediately."
hesitated, then looked up at the speaker. "Uh, yes, sir." Great. Where was
when he got inside, the cave sections were clearly labeled and painted. Each level had a
color, and his tag was yellow. He headed to the yellow area up and toward the back of the
corridor. He passed through three more checkpoints before encountering the entry guards
with "Level 1" stamped on their tags. They regarded him carefully as he stepped
through the portal to the yellow section.
walked back to a group of white lab coats crowding behind a tall cabinet. They were trying
to keep out of sight from something, or rather, someone. Sam peered around the corner and
saw a red-haired woman in a wheelchair next to a black man crumpled on the floor. His
heart jumped into his throat as he recalled the man: Thames! That's who he fought
with...when? Then the pieces went together, and Sam was horrified to realize where he was.
The voice that seemed to come from everywhere must be Lothos!
aura of the place suddenly struck him. Although Ziggy was also in a cave of sorts, the
atmosphere of his Project was cheery and professional, camaraderie high. This cave had a
lot of natural light that his Project didn't, but even the sunny brightness failed to
bring any cheer to this place. Sam could feel the tension and the stress all the way to
his bones. Where PQL was run with eagerness, this place was run by fear. Sam suppressed a
shiver from the perceived chill.
voice that had ordered him this level was speaking in a very low tone to the fiery-haired
woman. "Be cautious, ZoŽ. He is here somewhere."
no! Ive been detected! Sam thought, alarmed.
Sam froze, he realized that he hadn't been singled out yet when the voice commanded,
"Step forward!" to the rest of the technicians. He ducked his head and blended
in to the sea of white coats as he stepped from behind the cabinet with the crowd, trying
to ignore the crew cleaning up the remains of Thames in the background.
Project status," Lothos ordered firmly.
happened to be the woman who had talked out of turn at the gate. She cowered at the
console as she read the information. It wasnt good news, and she cringed at being
the messenger. "Sir, we know that Dr. Beckett is here with us, but we dont know
what level he leaped into."
perked up. He feigned interest in a clipboard and walked up behind her and read the screen
himself. The energy spike that had announced his arrival was obvious, but not localized.
I ASK ABOUT DR. BECKETT?"
voice made it impossible not to jump. Another technician walked up to Sam and passed him
some papers acting like nothing was going on. Only the dampness of the papers where his
fingers had been gave him away.
bowed her head and clasped her hands together in front of her. "No, sir. You... you
sir... I'm sorry." Carpenter knees were visibly
knocking. "May I try again?"
found it difficult to ignore the poor woman's trial, but everyone else didn't seem to have
that problem. This must happen all the time. Sam forced himself to look at the papers
containing power consumption charts, relay inspection tables and interface junction
performance levels. He could use all this, he realized. Now if he could only find their
version of the Accelerator Chamber there was a way to mess things up. And where was the
central mass? At PQL, it was the orb that hung above the console. Was there a similar
was a long pause, as if the voice was considering the poor woman's request. "You may
try." It was obvious there was doubt Carpenter could succeed by the way the other
workers distanced themselves from her.
glanced up and noticed the horrific smile and glowing eyes of the chair-bound woman as
poor Carpenter was grilled. Sam let his eyes wander above and beyond her, and was shocked
to see another set of eyes behind small window in a door recessed in the cave wall. The
eyes were unseeing, and the body appeared to be in a comatose state. Sam was drawn to the
eyes, not knowing why, and realized the face was surrounded by inter-twining masses of
wire, which gave the head a Medusa-like quality. Sam felt his hands grow cold when he saw
the major conduits running from the very portal where that person was. He'd found the
central mass, and the idea of it made his sick. Where he'd used a few human brain cells,
Lothoman had used and entire human. Sam couldn't help but wonder who the poor victim was.
blinked and swallowed as she moved to look at the grid once more. Sam's attention was
again drawn to her, and she nervously licked at her lips. "Status on the
infiltration, sir, is..." she was hesitant to answer not wanting to be punished.
WHAT?!" Lothos demanded.
Ahm...is" She jumped at his demand. "Is unsuccessful, sir." She finally
supplied knowing that this information wasn't what he wanted to hear.
did you say?" The voice was low and incredulous, as if Lothos wasnt sure he'd
heard the right answer. Then, a low growl filled the room, and ZoŽs smile widened
as she focused her attention on the woman.
chin quivered as she locked eyes with ZoŽ, but she stood up straight, already accepting
whatever the punishment would be not going to have someone say she wasn't brave. She
closed her eyes in resignation.
felt the hair on his body rise as an overdose of static electricity built in the air. He
heard a grotesque laugh from the woman in the chair, and his eyes were locked on the eyes
in the portal when lightning struck from somewhere. Sam dropped to the floor as
Carpenter's body flew back and slammed into the wall behind her.
is incorrect." Lothos said calmly.
chest was a smoking, black hole. It became quite evident when a trickle of clear fluid
began to flow down from her ear that the electricity had been sent not only to her chest,
but also through her to a specific area in her body her brain.
he stared at the down at the smoking woman, black, crispy burns making up her torso as
another clean up team appeared from nowhere and prepared her for removal. The brutal
murder was secondary in his mind when he realized that the lightning had come from the
portal. Then it hit him, and he realized in an instant who it was behind the protective
door: Lothoman himself. Alia's story came back to him in a flood, and he was glad he was
on the floor. He wasn't sure his knees could have held him. This monster had to be
the only one...who
will not fail
me, ZoŽ?" The mechanical voice
twisted her head to look up at the portal that contained the bioparts of Lothos. "I
will succeed or kill myself for you," she murmured actually surprised at the
depravity of her devotion to the one she knew as Nathaniel Lothoman. She also knew that he
was gone forever, and that nothing mattered anymore -- nothing except killing that
arrogant, bold, all loving Dr. Beckett, the cause of all her losses.
the clean up going on before her, ZoŽ laughed lightly. "Love," she said softly.
"Now, we need a new assistant. Or shall I say contestant?"
sickening mechanical chuckle emanated from all around. It was a chilling sound that caused
the workers to hunch their shoulders in an effort to grow smaller. "Yes. But
know he is here," ZoŽ said firmly. "I can sense him just as you can." She
studied each face in the area, her hand lazily fondling the gun in her lap. "I will
find him, Lothos." She said softly, squinting at one technician in particular.
man called Gabriel was just rising to his feet as Carpenter's body was carted off like so
much trash. He looked rather dazed, and was studying the wiring around the portal with
interest. His eyes dropped immediately when he saw her studying him and returned his
attention to his clipboard. He had just flagged another technician over to look at the
board when ZoŽ called to him.
she spoke sharply.
looked up quickly. "Yes?" he replied carefully, his tone casual.
Lothos addressed him sternly.
eyed Sam suspiciously, one eyebrow arching up, and glanced at the portal as Lothos spoke.
looked up at the ceiling, his eyes widening. "Yes, sir?"
will give her
. the respect
.she is due." His voice was intensely
shall I give you
sir. Ah, no, sir. A reminder is not necessary, sir."
" ZoŽ addressed him again.
faced her again, his expression grim. "Yes, maam?" He dropped his head and
shoulders in a submissive manner.
exactly are you reading that is so interesting to you?" She asked softly wheeling her
chair toward him. She'd never seen him so curious before.
er, some performance charts. I was wondering if the levels would ah... indicate
the interloper: the one Carpenter saw on the monitor. If the interloper was moving around,
I was trying to figure out a way, using the existing power cables, to rig up a tracking
device. I'm not sure how to do that quite yet. I
I was just trying to come up with a
interrupted him. "So
you were actually using that precious little thing that
God gave you
your brain?" She asked sarcastically.
maam. Just trying to help. Maam." Sam kept his arms by his side,
appearing innocent and somewhat relaxed. Could she see me in Gabriels eyes? He
thought. He could see she was suspicious. "Well, maam, like I said, it was an
idea, but I'm not sure how to implement it, or if it's possible. I'd have to do some
measuring of the ambient power levels in the different parts of the cavern to see if
there's even a sufficient field to be interacted with and tracked..."
nodded looking at him warily. Something wasnt setting right with this. Gabriel
possibly could have a brain, but she had never seen it being used unbidden. Why would he
start now? She asked herself. "What do you think about his idea, my dear?" she
said out loud to Lothos, but continued to study Gabriel. "Shall we let him try his
was a silence from Lothos for a moment as he considered the theory. "I am
wary.. of anyone making any.
.adjustments ...to my system." Another long moment
passed. "Allow it
. But...watch him carefully."
eyes glanced in the portal's direction. "Thank you, sir. I'll do my best."
.. thank me, Gabriel," Lothos told him firmly. "If
. one mistake, you're
sir." The technician glanced at the black spot where Carpenter had collapsed. "I
warily looked him over once more. Something still felt very wrong about this. She traced
the gun with her fingertips as she looked from Gabriel to Lothos. "Where do you want
him to start first, my pet?" She asked lovingly, using the endearment for show for
the others around. She didn't want Lothos to know about her revulsion to what once was her
lover, because she didn't want to face the consequences.
decide." The tone made it clear that he was giving the technician enough
rope to either save or hang himself. Quietly, and only for ZoŽ, he whispered,
trust ..him. Watch him...my dear."
the same hushed voice she soothed, "Ill take care of it. You trust me,
I not?" Lothos voice responded silkily. "I
another time, those words would have meant everything to her. Now, it was a time nearly
forgotten. She sighed sadly, resigned to her fate. "Same here, love."
interplay between ZoŽ and the cyber-man made Sam queasy. He didn't hear most of it, but
could tell the content by her face. He knew he was being scrutinized, and his life
depended on appearing completely non-threatening.
tucked the board under his arm and opened a tool chest near him. He picked out a hand held
meter for measuring the atmosphere, another meter for checking wire bundles, and managed
to slip in a pair of wire cutters to his coat pocket. With a calming breath, he stepped up
will you check first?" She questioned, her eyes locked on him.
would be best to start at the main entrance and work my way in," Sam replied, turning
cocked her head to the side. "Stop. Since the intruder is already in the
complex," she said slowly, "wouldnt it be best to have the most precious
need to record a base line, ma'am. It's like drawing a spider's web. I can tell by the
warping of the 'web', where the initial impulse went. Like a dent in fabric."
whisper from the ceiling drifted towards ZoŽ. "He is speaking
I can start here," Sam interjected quickly, sensing the suspicion. "It doesn't
taking her eyes from him, ZoŽ picked up the weapon leveled it at his chest. "You
protect the one that you serve first," she stated, eyes glimmering.
looked down the barrel of the gun and nodded tightly. "Yes maam. Protect the
one you serve first."
laid the gun back down on her lap and watched him go to work. She was determined to
protect Lothos; it was all she had left. He was her last chance for a normal life. Someone
could still leap back and keep Calavicci from shooting her, and maybe Thames would still
soon tired of Gabriel's mundane activity. She couldn't really blame him for being so
cautious, checking every wire around the portal, but she knew the amount of wiring there
and steeled herself for a boring time. Physically, she felt exhausted, and part of her
welcomed the break. Her weakened body couldn't take the activity of her former lifestyle,
and even now she required many rest breaks. She hadn't had one for awhile now, and her
body was growing fatigued. She could tell by the difficulty she was having concentrating.
Her mind began to wander.
Sam himself was having difficulty keeping the mundane repetition going. He saw ZoŽ's
scrutiny falter, and took a chance. He slipped the clippers from his pocket and snipped a
few colored wires here and there, and put it in his routine. Read meter, record numbers,
snip. Read meter, record numbers, snip. He checked the clipboard to confirm his proximity
to the main power bundles, and continued on.
tried to pull herself back into awareness. "Are we winning, Lothos?" She
crooned, shifting the gun in her lap. The delay in his response broke her dreamy spell.
"Lothos?" she queried sharply, grasping the gun tightly.
power!" Lothos hissed. "Its Beckett! Kill
She screamed as loud as she could, fumbling for the gun, and raising it with weary
shoulders towards Sam.
acted instantly, flipping the clipboard towards her face. When she jerked aside, Sam moved
his feet. The kick was aimed at the gun, but ZoŽ's being in a wheel chair made the kick a
bit higher than it should have been. He caught her hand with his heel as he spun;
out a grunt at the contact, and her hand cracked into the chair's arm. Sam realized he
hadn't made full contact, and followed through the spin by reaching out and grabbing her
wrist. He forced her sideways in the chair, spinning the device in a tight circle as they
grappled for the gun.
the loud report of the gun going off didn't break their grip, and ZoŽ emitted an animal
growl as she continued to pull the trigger and fight. Sam was amazed at her strength, and
lost count of the shots. He wasn't sure if the ringing he heard was from damaged eardrums
or damaged equipment in the room. At this point, he was thinking of survival only.
continued to fight for the gun. Sam could hear her winded wheezing, but she was still able
to make Sam see stars when she butted his cheek with her head. Sam continued to twist the
woman's deceptively strong grip, feeling each blow to his face, then simply yanked her
from the chair. ZoŽs lower body was limp, but her grasp on the gun and Sams
arm was impressively strong. He could hear her struggling to get her breath, and knew she
was functioning on pure adrenaline. The chair flew out from under her, and Sam heard a
collision then smelled something electrical burning.
It was an inhuman, mechanical voice, wrought with static and pain echoing off the walls.
There was another noise, too, that took Sam several seconds to identify, as his ears were
still ringing from the shots; it was the thundering sound of retreating feet. The other
technicians had grabbed the opportunity to flee from the cave and the raging, possessed
woman. Security had joined the retreat.
went down from the weight and struggle, and rolled the furious woman under him. He
repeatedly smashed her hands on the floor until the gun flew from her grip and skittered
across the room. Sam left her writhing on the floor and fell on the portal. He had to act
before lighting struck.
scream was high-pitched and tinny. "ZoŽ!"
around the edges of the portal door, Sam found the source keeping the airlock engaged, and
yanked it from the wall. The sound of escaping air hissed by his ear and the door loosened
in its jamb. He pulled the clippers from his pocket and pried at the crack. He could hear
the sound of the seals popping as the door grudgingly cracked opened.
Lothos and ZoŽ screamed in unison.
felt the hair on his body raising as electricity started to build up in the air and knew
he was running out of time. The door popped out a few inches and he grabbed the edge and
pulled. It opened slowly, reluctantly, not used to the motion. The air inside was sour.
had dragged herself across the floor to get to him, but the struggle for a full breath
made her woozy. She watched helplessly from where she lay on the floor, hoping to kill
Beckett with a look.
..will die.. with me!" Lothos' voice was weak with static, but Sam could still feel
the energy building.
in the cramped portal, Sam scanned the wires around the emaciated seated form. The eyes,
which had appeared unseeing, now had a slight glow and Sam was sure he was being observed.
The face surrounding the eyes could hardly be called human. Sam could see the wires just
under the skin of the skull, and it made his skin crawl. Recalling human anatomy, he
gripped the bundles that appeared to lead to the most active parts of the brain, and
pulled. They were stuck fast, skin adhering to the cables. He braced his feet and pulled
again, starting trickles of blood. The room was hot with building energy, and Sam knew
time was gone. He gritted his teeth and pulled hard, and two bunches of cables pulled free
with a sucking sound. Blood spattered the portal walls
The scream was more like a deafening feedback squeal, and Sam automatically clamped his
bloody hands over his ears.
ZoŽ gravely plea was barely heard above the inhuman shrieking.
Sam reached and pulled, desperate to stop the painful noise. Four cables later, the noise
began to dwindle. Sams hands were sticky with blood. He felt around the atrophied
human form looking for more cables, pulling them as he went. There was no resistance. When
he thought he had the last one, he leaned back and looked Lothos in the eyes defiantly.
didnt feel anger. He didnt feel hate. All he felt was pity, and he was sure it
was clear in his eyes. There wasnt anything he could do for him; there was nothing
human left to work with. He wondered if his Project was safe now.
gleam in the eyes faded, and turned milky. Fixed and dilated, they stared at nothing, and
the body slipped into a pile of disjointed limbs with his last hissing breath.
at the sight, Sam stepped from the portal and gulped in great breaths of fresh air as he
wiped his sticky hands on his pants. He watched as ZoŽ slowly removed her hands from her
ears and forced herself to look at the open portal behind him.
cords that were once connected to Lothos were now dangling, dripping with dark blood. The
once commanding form of Nathaniel Lothoman was now a shriveled, shrunken pile in the
She growled, knowing her love was gone forever.
not of the woods yet
I can't leave her here. She can't take care of herself. And I
doubt that any of the former employees would be willing to help. Now what? Sam thought as
he watched her.
dropped her face into the crook of her arm, and was quiet for a moment. "Please, help
me," she said weakly.
plea for help caused the hair to raise on the back of his neck. Alarms were going off in
his head and the first thing he thought was, 'Al will kill me, but I can't just leave here
there.' Cautiously, he stepped towards her, very aware of the sticky blood on him was from
been trapped here for so long. I'm finally free of him!" ZoŽ whimpered as she looked
up into his eyes.
as if he were in the room, Al's voice seemed to go through Sam's head. 'She's evil! Don't
always called me a Boy Scout,' he thought, ' and he had a right to.' Against every little
voice screaming in his head, Sam approached her. After all, he hadn't leaped yet; there
had to be something else to do, and she was the only possible candidate.
coughing fit overtook ZoŽ, causing her to double up in pain. Sam knelt next to her, but
not too close, and saw that her lips were slightly blue. He went to the chair and had a
time untangling it from the wires that left scorch marks on the metal frame. As he gently
separated the chair from the mass, he saw the bullet holes in the wall panels that had
been the beginning of the end for Lothos. As he pushed the chair over to her, Sam tried to
note any other main relays he should put out of commission.
parked the chair next to her and locked the wheels. Then he walked around to the other
side and kicked something that slid away. The gun! He felt around for it with his toe,
retrieved it, and placed it safely in his pocket. He pulled the woman into the chair.
Sitting up helped her breathing, and her color returned slowly.
you," she whispered.
at the thanks, Sam went even more on guard. This woman has a knack for doing that to him.
Carefully, he leaned down and unlocked the wheels. He could hear her wheezing and felt her
trembling arms. He was trying to decide if the trembling was from shock or anger when the
sound of the Imaging Chamber door greeted his ears.
frantically rushed in. "Sam! Sam, are you okay?" Al looked around quickly,
noting the chaos. He squinted at what remained of Nathaniel Lothoman and gasped. "Ew!
I hope that's the nozzle that was attacking Ziggy!"
Al!" Sam greeted, panting as he stood up from the chair wheels. "Boy, am I glad
to see you! How is Ziggy? Is she functional now?"
hologram's eyes widen in shock as he turns to his friend and takes in his actions.
"Sam, what the hell are you doing?"
I couldn't just leave her there on the floor!"
the hell not?! That bitch tried to kill you! Not to mention my own daughter! Or did you
forget that?" Al noticed the stains on Sam's shirt, and figured that the blood wasn't
his. He wondered what had gone on here.
looked at Sam in a daze and realized he was talking to his hologram, the very same
hologram that had put her in this chair. She placed her trembling hands in her lap and
dropped her eyes, not wanting to give away the hate she felt for both of them. Sam was
bringing Al up to date on his actions, both of them momentarily distracted and unconcerned
about the disabled woman. She slipped her hand to the edge of the seat cushion, and felt
in the crevasse for the knife she always kept there. Being disabled didn't mean she was
helpless; any worker here could have told the unsuspecting men.
Beckett?" she beckoned quietly, her head tilted in a coy manner.
broke off his conversation and turned his attention to her. "Are you all right?"
he asked, starting to crouch down next to her.
eyes locked on to her, suspicious. He saw the movement of her hand. "SAM! LOOK
pulled out the knife in a jabbing motion, and it caught his shirt, ripping open the side.
It was a clean miss. "NO!" She shrieked, blindly stabbing at him. She knew she
didn't have much left. The hope of killing Beckett in front of his best friend was fading
as quickly as her strength.
Al reached for the knife to get it out of her hands, but his image passed frustratingly
slammed his hand down in a blocking motion and kept the knife from drawing blood. His next
grab was for her hand. She moved fast, faster than he thought possible, and she managed a
few shallow cuts on his forearms before he had both of her wrists firmly in his grip. He
was amazed at her strength. He bent her wrist into a painful position that loosened her
grip, and the knife clattered to the floor.
are you doing this?" He breathed.
exhaled with relief seeing ZoŽ was now unarmed. "Because she's evil, Sam," he
told him firmly.
you see that you're free now?" Sam insisted.
doesn't give a damn about that!" Al exclaimed.
looked up into Sam's face. "I'll only be free when you're dead," she wheezed.
glared at her. "Then you're going to be a prisoner for the rest of your life, you
bitch, because I am NOT going to let you hurt him." The words were spoken with
conviction. Sam knew Al would follow through with them, even if it meant his own life.
released her hands and stepped back. The chair wheels were still locked; her arms were
lying limp in her lap. She wasn't going anywhere.
don't see the point in this," Sam reasoned. "There's nothing left to fight for.
You have a chance to change your life. You can't throw it away!"
was a short silence, then Al said, "You can't save her, Sam."
why haven't I leaped, Al? Is Ziggy fixed or what?"
pulled out the hand link, and tapped the keys. "Uh... yeah. Ziggy's pretty much back
to normal, or at least as normal as she can be given the circumstances. As for why you're
still here...." He shook his head. "I don't know."
then, if Ziggys fixed and everythings OK, and I haven't leaped, she must be
the reason for me being here!" He insisted, pointed at the chair bound woman.
looked at him sadly. "She doesn't want to be saved."
maybe Im here to change that."
really doubt that, Sam." Al couldn't believe it but he almost felt pity for the
pushed the lever that ran the chair and tried to move, but the wheels were locked and the
motor hummed uselessly. ZoŽ continued to hit the button, making the chair jerk each time.
"Nathaniel." She said in a defeated whisper. She continued to hit the button,
trying to will the chair to move.
the sound of her voice Al and Sam turned to her in unison. "Let her go, Sam. It's
time to leap," Al said quietly.
saw what she was trying to do. Her eyes were locked on the portal. He moved behind her and
unlocked the wheels. ZoŽ moved away before he could push her, so he stood and watched her
wheel to the form of her dead lover.
took a few steps towards her, wondering what she was up to, worried that she might have
something else up her sleeve. She did, but he didn't know what exactly it was. When she
got as close as she could to the lifeless form, he saw her take out two metal objects from
her pocket, and pop one in her mouth. The other she fit into a receptacle in the portal
Al warned. "She's up to something!"
turned and looked blindly into Al's eyes. She grinned a wolfish grin, and Al swore she
could see him. "Perhaps another day, Tonto," she sneered. She twisted a ring on
her finger around so the circular design was in her palm.
Sam yelled, starting to make his way to her.
moment Sam moved, Al raised his hand to indicate that he should stop. Seeing what she was
planning, he turned his head from the sight, and look directly at Sam. "Turn around,
Sam!" he barked. "Go back!"
saw Sam hesitate. "One last handshake, Dr. Beckett?" she crooned crazily, as she
placed her palm over the chair's arm, fitting the ring key into the chair's matching
receptacle. With the other hand, she reached for Sam in a lady like fashion. The hate was
now clear in her burning eyes.
now!" Al pleaded, waving his arms and bouncing up and down. "You don't want to
knew better than to touch her, but he got down on his knees as close to her as he dared.
Her extended fingertips were just beyond his nose, one lunge away.
Al begged his friend.
regarded Sam, playing the emotions to the end.
this, ZoŽ. You don't have to do this. There's so much more out there!" Sam tried to
saw the instinct in his eyes to try and stop her, and she grinned at him. Her hand wavered
in front of Sam's face.
for her, there isn't," Al said snapped.
paranoia had managed to imbed itself into his brain, and Sam realized that she was waiting
for him to touch her, to kill both of them. 'Could anyone be that soulless?' he thought,
a moment, her eyes flickered. For a moment, Sam thought he saw her accept the reality of
her life, that she was responsible for her actions every step of the way. And for a
second, he was sure he saw the idea of redemption cross her mind. But as her hand dropped
to her lap, he saw the hopelessness that replaced the fear.
you want to die Dr. Beckett, you'd best get away from me."
was shocked. She was letting him go! She was actually letting him go! "Do it,
Sam!" he insisted. "Walk away now and don't look back!"
coldness of ZoŽs voice made Sam back off, incredulous.
is the only way I'll be free," she said, indicating her palm hovering over the plug
with a nod of her head, a crooked grin on her lips. "Ah, the good Dr. Beckett. Always
getting his wish." She turned away from him with a throaty chuckle, and slammed her
palm on the receptacle.
body became rigid from an electrical punch, and smoke started coming from her ears. Sam
jumped back and turned away, smelling the burnt flesh and hearing the crackle of an
electrical overload. He stumbled from the portal, then from the room, sickened.
joined up with him as he strode from the cave.
was shaken. "Some people cannot be saved, I guess," he said simply.
exhaled slowly, just wanting this leap to finally be over. He walked by Sam's side, not
looking at him. If there was one thing he would never be used to, although people would
expect it from his experiences, it was seeing someone die. He'd watched ZoŽ until he was
sure she was dead, and was surprised that all he felt was pity. "Its over
glad," Sam said tiredly as he felt the familiar tingling in his limbs.
leap was instantaneous. Sam didn't recall any floating, any fading in of details, any blue
haze. It was amazingly quiet and peaceful. A warm breeze tickled his cheek and he heard
trees rustling softly overhead. Birds sang cheerily, and Sam knew instantly that it was
springtime. The smell of freshly mown grass made him look down, and he saw that his feet
were in brown work boots sunk in a luxuriously thick lawn. Glancing to his hand he saw he
held a rake. Cautiously, he looked around and admired the well-trimmed landscape of a
park. A very peaceful park and he realized that he was the gardener. Relaxing, he tilted
his face to the sun and closed his eyes with a smile. Behind him he could hear the distant
laughter of children playing.
he heard murmuring. He opened his eyes and looked around recognizing the sound of
someone's muted talking. Following the sound, rake in hand, he rounded a tall hedge and
saw a white park bench under a beautiful, full tree which overlooking the grassy, rolling
hills of the park. The scenic beauty was lost on the two men whose backs were to him as
their heads were bent together deep in conversation. The taller man's hands were animated
excitedly as he spoke.
frowned. A very strong feeling of deja-vu washed over him as he watched the men. Just
then, the sound of the Imaging Chamber door distracted him.
been here," Sam said softly out loud, knowing Al would hear him. He couldn't take his
eyes off the men on the bench.
know." Al replied just as softly.
was a sinking feeling as Sam felt the last of the peacefulness drain away. His head began
to spin, and the whole scene became surreal. "That's me," he said
matter-of-factly, nodding towards the taller man.
I know." Al replied.
the memory came back. "And that's Gooshie!" Sam whispered, unable to move. Why
didn't he see that before? No one had hair like Gooshie.
heard Al shift uncomfortably. "Sam," Al said after a moment. "We need to
Al told him of the events at the Project and the loss of the brilliant programmer. He told
the story softy, in an even, unbroken voice, clear in every detail. He'd already said his
good byes, he said, and it was time for Sam to do the same.
vision was blurry from tears as he watched himself pull out the familiar string from his
shirt pocket. The wild-haired programmer was rapt attention as Sam saw himself talking and
tying the string's ends together. Then he crumpled the string in his fist, and Gooshie's
eyes lit up as he took over the conversation. Sam saw himself lean slightly back from the
halitosis Gooshie was known for.
bye, Gooshie," Sam whispered, raising his hand is a small gesture of farewell.
"I'm so sorry." He couldn't hold back the feelings of guilt that washed over him
at that moment.
he felt the blue fog engulf him, his last sight was of a laughing Gooshie and a smiling
Sam shaking hands forever sealing a successful partnership.
Beckett found himself holding what his mother used to call a compact. One of those
hand-held mirrors that film stars of the sixties were always seen preening themselves in.
reflection looking back at him was a sallow skinned woman, perhaps in her thirties. She
was quite nice looking, certainly enough to make Al come out with half-a-dozen Calavicci
classics when he arrived.
looked up and around, and decided he was in the middle of an industrial or business park,
with tall buildings all around him. He could see many people walking around; some carrying
small paper bags emblazoned with what looked like the logo of a baker or a deli.
must be lunchtime, Sam thought.
wasn't sure whether he was hungry, or whether his host was hungry. Either way, Leaper or
host, man or woman, he was going to have something to eat.
leaped in to a woman for perhaps the sixth time, Sam was relieved to find he wasnt
fazed by the event this time. He had an inkling of what to expect. Calling up memories
within Swiss cheese parameters, he decided certain things were a given. Longer lines for
the john, accusations of bad driving and that his host would be carrying a handbag. He
felt under his left arm, and true to form, there was a handbag. Sam observed a bench near
by, and went and sat down at it. He opened a handbag, placing it on the bench, and looked
in his host's purse.
of seeing the features of various American presidents, he saw an image of Florence
Nightingale on one note, and of (of all things) a cricket match, from a novel by Charles
thought about this. He ought to recall which currency this was, without any trouble.
Initially, he couldnt. Swiss cheese. He hated it.
this time, he was only served up with a small piece of Swiss cheese. He put the two images
together, and recalled that British currency stemmed from Roman coinage, and that the
"L" in "L.S.D." had been converted into the symbol for the British
out onto the nearby road, Samuel Beckett realized that for the very first time, Swiss
cheese permitting, he was in the Capital of the World; Sam had made another transatlantic
Beckett looked up at the skyline, and recognized something from the back of his memory. He
was looking up at 50 stories of tower block. He was looking up at Canary Wharf.
was in England. In London, no less. In the East of London, the home of the Cockney.
the temptation to speak as Dick van Dyke had once portrayed the indigenous population,
(Gor Blimey, Mate!) Sam settled for an Indiana twanged rendition of his regular