When Julianna suggested
to Al that they go visit her mother for a short time, Al couldnt say no. After all, Julianna was his daughter and it had
been years since he last saw Lisa Sherman. Plus,
Beth wasnt going to let him break his promise that he had made over a month ago.
Sweetheart, Al called out to Julianna as he grabbed the suitcases that were
sitting beside the couch. Both of them
were Juliannas. One was for the trip to
her mother's, while the other was packed for a hasty trip to the hospital to deliver her
little baby boy if needed. "You ready?" Even
as he thought about the child in her womb, Als chest swelled with pride. Hed have another grandchild a
grandson. He glanced down the hallway,
knowing that she had to make one last stop before getting into the car. Let's go! Daylights burning.
The bathroom door opened
and Julianna emerged. She was supporting her
back with her right hand as she wobbled down the hall toward her father. She smiled at him as she met him in the entryway. Im ready when you are, but I really
wish you would let me bring Hanson with us.
saw the stubborn set of her fathers jaw but continued. "Youre still not as safe as you think
you are. You know what happened with
Congressman Black. That sniper is still out
Julianna, you worry
too much. Besides, I can take care of
Now, I didnt
say that, did I? Julianna gave him a
smile and started toward the door. Come
on, Dad. Moms waiting and any drive
with a very pregnant woman is a long drive. You
have your hands full.
Al sighed then gave her a
smile. Okay, okay. Youve made your point, babydoll. He opened the door for her and allowed her to step
through first before turning to lock the door behind him.
Through the gun sight,
the woman clearly saw the man who had put her mother through hell. Although two men had
killed her parents, this one had first paralyzed her mother all by himself then, much
later, had helped kill her with the help of his accomplice. It was time he was paid back
and payback was going to be as slow and painful as she could make it.
Lying low on the ground
with the rifle in her arms, she took careful aim at the door. It was only a matter of time before
Calaviccis oldest daughter would come strolling out of there and when she did...
BAM! Her plan would be in motion. All she had to do now was wait just a little bit
longer . . .
Seeing a movement from
inside the house, she grinned as she centered the gun sight on the front door. She caught her breath in anticipation when she saw
the door open. There you are, you
bitch, she whispered lightly as she aimed at a spot high on her victim's torso. As Julianna Calavicci hesitated on the steps, the
woman squeezed the trigger, smiling victoriously as she watched Julianna collapse and
Admiral Albert Calavicci rush to his daughter's side.
The report of the rifle
and Julianna's collapse were almost simultaneous. Caught completely by surprise, the
Admiral hesitated only a moment before rushing to her side.
Jules?" He brushed a loose lock of hair from her forehead as her eyes,
wide with shock, met his. "Whats... he started, then glanced over her
body and saw blood blossoming like a flower from a spot just above her abdomen. Oh... God... Jules? Instantly, tears blurred his vision but he
wasnt about to lose control when his daughter needed him most. He reached deep inside and pulled out all the
stops. He glanced around desperately, cursing the isolation of the house in the country.
! Julianna breathed, her clenched teeth attesting to
the pain. Her attempt to sit only resulted in
her body rolling to her side, as her body didn't seem to want to obey her mental commands.
Trying to sort the multitude of inputs her body was struggling to deal with, her hands
clutched at the oozing wound as she barely recognized the signs of shock. Squeezing her
eyes to the cacophony of brain impulses, all she could whisper was, Oh...
daddy! in a feathery voice.
Al asked her as he knelt beside her. He
didnt know what he could do. He pressed
his shaking hands over hers as he tried to think.
changed to panting, and Al felt the muscles under his hand tighten. Something wasn't
right; he moved his hands off of hers, and lightly laid them on her protruding abdomen. He
tried not to notice the bloody handprints he was leaving, but quickly forgot about that
when he felt the muscles under his hands harden. "You're having contractions,
he said lowly. When his daughter cracked her eyes open in acknowledgement, he also saw the
pain and anguish there. Im going to call 911, he told her as calmly as
he could, knowing that they needed to get to safety.
As he started to get up, a flurry of movement in his peripheral vision caught his
attention, but before he could react, he felt pain everywhere.
No... Julianna called weakly as she helplessly watched
two men rush up onto the porch and subdue her father with what looked like a
wanted to help him, but was too weak; her vision was darkening around the edges and she
knew they were in deep trouble. The men
grabbed her downed father, punched him, kicked him, and then bent his arms at impossible
angles. She cringed at her fathers cries as they pinned him against the floor and
tied his hands behind him, punching him twice in the kidneys when he uttered a curse.
With a surreal view
through fading sight, Julianna watched as a woman strolled confidently up to them, a rifle
cradled lovingly in her arms. The vision smiled at Julianna, then dismissed her with a
flip of her head and focused on the subdued Admiral. She reached down with a chuckle and
lightly caressed his cheek. Oh, my God. Is it really you?" The woman crooned.
"Is it really the Ex-Rear Admiral Albert Calavicci? she said in a
What do you
want? Al growled at her. "Let my daughter go and we'll talk."
The woman motioned for
the men to haul him up. They did so, ignoring his grunts of pain, and slammed him against
the wall. Then, she leaned in close and kissed him hard, enjoying his feeble attempt to
disengage her lips. She pulled back and held his chin with her hand. I just want my just reward, she told
him softly. She traced her finger down his
neck, his shoulder, his back, then lightly patted his butt.
My just reward, she repeated softly, looking into his eyes with a
mischievous grin. She ignored the glare he
gave her in return, and she glanced at Julianna lying on the steps a few feet away.
Why... if it isnt his daughter the illustrious Captain Julianna
Contessa Calavicci, she said as she strolled to Julianna's side and knelt down, her
head tilted to one side as she observed the injured woman.
Its a little early to be having those contractions, dont you
think? But then again, it's amazing what
shock can do to a body, the woman said as she glanced back at Al. Bullets do tend to bring on other
You leave her the
hell alone! Al yelled out as he struggled vainly in his captors' grip.
The auburn-haired woman
turned her attention back to Julianna and laid her hand on the rounded abdomen, ignoring
Als statement. She felt a contraction
heighten, heard Juliannas panting moans and looked into the stricken woman's pain
filled eyes. Well! Things are moving
along quickly, aren't they? How nice for me! Focused solely on the variety of pains
shooting through her, Julianna's brain barely made out the words. The woman continued,
"I was going to carve the little darling out myself, but it looks like nature will
take care of it for me!"
The sniper signaled the
men with a flip of her free hand. Raul,
take her inside the house. Darren, take the
Admiral into the house as well. Keep him
quiet." She frowned at the blood on her hand, then wiped it on Julianna's sleeve "I dont want to hear his foolish
ranting and raving.
The blond-haired minion
gathered up Julianna, carrying her inside roughly. Take
her to that bedroom, right there, demanded the woman.
As he moved Julianna down the hall, the woman grinned at her good fortune and
followed, the rifle still cradled in her arm like a child.
She stopped just inside the door, enjoying the sight of her man dumping the
pregnant woman on the bed and the scream of agony that followed. She wondered which hurt more: the bullet or the
From the living room, she
heard Al demand, Let me go! Dammit, she needs me! followed by the sound of him
struggling in his captors hold. "Stay here," she ordered the blond as she
stepped in the hall and swaggered towards Al's voice. Once in the living room she saw Al
struggling in her mans grip. Take
me to my daughter! he immediately demanded of the woman.
She looked him over once,
and then stepped up and slapped his face so hard his head snapped back. You will not tell me what I will or
will not do. She stepped back and
leveled the rifle, pressing the barrel under his chin.
She tilted his head up slightly with the barrel to look into his eyes. Shut this piece of trash up. I dont care how you do it, Darren, but do it
Tala, the man said curtly. He dragged Al by his now swollen arms to the other side
of the room.
Moaning down the hall
caught her attention and she returned to the bedroom. Tala paused in the doorway to look
at her victim, hardly noticing the blood soaking into the comforter. Calling out to
your precious daddy wont help matters dear. Hes...
busy at the moment." She strolled to the bed and sat down beside Julianna, whose pale
face was lined in pain as another contraction hit her.
Julianna's voice was barely audible.
questioned back. Please what? Put you out of your misery? Thatll come soon enough. I just want you to know, she said as another
contraction began to ache in Juliannas abdomen, that Ill take good care
of your child as if he were my own. She
gazed at Juliannas stomach as if she could see the baby inside, fighting to be born.
Even through the pain
Julianna felt the wave of fear come over her when the realization of what the woman had
said hit her. Youre going to
steal my baby, she whispered weakly.
Tala shook her head
almost adamantly. Oh no. Im not going to steal your baby from
you. You wont be here to take care of
it. Hence, someone needs to. She blinked at Julianna as she moved to stand at
near the foot of the bed. And from the
looks of it, my son will be here shortly. Tala calmly walked out of the room
and grabbed a couple of towels from the closet. Going
into the bathroom, she searched it and found some essentials that would help her with the
birthing process then headed back into the room.
Tala knew how weak
Julianna was, but she also knew that when focused, Calavicci determination would get the
job done. "You have two choices," Tala said sharply as she positioned herself on
the bed for the birth of the baby. "You
can help me help you get this child out alive, or you can not help and kill your baby.
It's up to you. Just remember that I want this child alive as much as you do."
Julianna's eyes burned with anger between contractions, but her demeanor told Tala her
choice; she knew the priority here was the safety of her child.
Tala coached Julianna
through the contractions telling her when to bear down and push. Julianna was fading fast, and the blood from her
wound had soaked the bedding thoroughly. Her total focus being on saving her child, she
pushed the pain aside and worked to get the job done. Finally, she felt the end of her
struggle coming near.
With a final order to
push, Tala cradled the crowing head and turned the wrinkled face sideways. Taking great
care, she helped the baby out, cleaned his mouth and nose and heard his first cry. With a satisfied smile, she snipped the umbilical
cord and tied it tightly close to the child with a shoestring, and left the rest to fate. Moving the baby to the other side of the room and
carefully laid the crying child on the table, she cleaned him off in an extraordinarily
gentle manner, shushing his cries with motherly coos.
From the bed, all
Julianna knew was that she couldn't feel her body anymore. The infant's cries reached into
her clouded mind like a piece of distant sunshine. Her head lolled to one side, and she
fought to open her eyes. My baby,
she whispered, her own voice sounding very far away.
Tala smiled at the little
boy lying on the table as she wrapped him up in a large, soft towel. She picked him up and held him close to her. Walking to the edge of the bed, she looked down at
the boy in her arms and smiled at him then looked up at Julianna. Hes gorgeous. Hes absolutely perfect... and, hes
Jules swallowed hard at
the words, too weak to lift her arms. No,
she said with as much determination as she could muster. She felt detached from her body,
and waves of sorrow and heartache washed over her unfocused mind. "No."
Tala watched as
Juliannas body seemed to sink deeper in the bloody mattress. She snuggled the child close. Well, goodbye, Jules, Tala said with a
smirk. Thank you for my son.
Turning away from the
failing woman, she walked out of the bedroom, leaving Julianna to bleed to death.
Al had been struggling
from time to time to try and get back to Juliannas room but the two men held tight. It had been very quiet for a long time before the
weak sound of a baby's cry was heard. The Admiral's eyes were locked on the hallway, his
ears straining to hear and indication of his daughter's welfare. When Tala entered the
living room carrying the baby, he was struck with awe and despair. Julianna! he called, dragging his eyes
away from the sweet child and struggling with a fierceness he didn't know he had, even
though every movement caused unbearable pain. He
knew that he had to get his grandson and daughter away from this crazy woman. Julianna! Again, silence met him. Get your fucking hands off of me! he
spat at his captors.
"I don't think she's
up for visitors," Tala said in a light voice, her eyes on the child. "In fact, I
don't think she's up for much of anything anymore. My condolences, Admiral."
Who the hell are
you? roared Al, fighting to keep the worst from his mind. "Where's
Tala smiled down at the
baby in her arms and lightly kissed his forehead. I
have always wanted children, especially a son. And
now I have one. I think you owe me that much
since you killed my parents, dont you think, Admiral Calavicci? she asked, a
steely look in her eye. She positioned
herself so that he could see his grandson clearly. Isnt
my son gorgeous?
He is not
your son! Al told her angrily and began to struggle again in his captives' arms. You murdered my daughter to kidnap her son
my grandson! Im not going to let
you get away with this!
Tala pulled the baby
closer and looked at Al oddly, as if he had said something outlandish. I did not murder your daughter! She had problems in child birth, Tala
reasoned with a grin. Im just
doing what any other person would do in my place. Taking
the baby and being the mother to it.
smiled at the little boy in her arms. Anyway, you cant do anything to stop me. Its already done. The baby began to cry and she quietly rocked him
back and forth in her arms. Its
okay, Nathaniel, she crooned at him. Its
His name is Francis
Xavier Calavicci, Al spat with contempt, managing to jerk one arm free of the men. A
moment later, though, he found himself face down, his cheek pressed hard into the carpet
as one of the men stepped on his head.
"His name is
Nathaniel. After my father." Tala bent down with the child in her arms then turned
her head to look at the struggling captive. Admiral,
I would think that you would know better than that. But
then again, you did just lose your daughter and your grandson all at once, now didnt
you? Just like I did when I walked in to find
my parents dead. Looking down at the
child, she nodded slightly. Yes, this
child will suffice for my loss nicely.
What do you
want? Al demanded, wincing in agony as
the blond-haired man jerked him to his feet by his ever-swelling arms. If the baby is the only thing you want, then
why are you still here? Who are you? Al
demanded again, wracking his brain to find any clue as to who this madwoman was.
Settling down in a
comfortable chair before him, she began to speak to the child as if she were telling a
bedtime story. My name is Tala if you must know. Im one of two who were born in a project far
away from here. My sister, Siren, is waiting
for us in the car and acting as lookout." She paused, and turned her eyes on Al.
"We are the daughters of Dr. ZoŽ Malvison and Dr. Nathaniel Lothoman." Her
voice now had a hardened edge. "Do you remember them, Admiral? Do you remember shooting my mother in the back? And how she was paralyzed and in a wheelchair the
next time you saw her? And how you and Dr.
Beckett murdered my father in the Control Center of his project, then fried my mother
along side him? Her words became crisp
and clear as her anger grew. When I
found them, there wasnt anything that I could do to save them, you bastard! So I have no pity for you when you lose family
members. In fact, I think that your family
tree might need some more thinning! The baby began to fuss as the words
became angry. Tala stopped her story to console the child.
Lothomans daughter? Al thought with a frown. Her words were so filled with hatred and
self-righteousness that he knew that there was nothing that he could say to change her
point of view. She would never
believe that her mother committed suicide or that anything that Sam and I did was
self-defense, he thought sourly. Her
comment about thinning his family down caused red flags to go up. What do you mean? he growled at
her, pushing the growing sorrow at Julianna's loss aside in his mind and trying to keep
hope. His heart, though, was another matter.
Tala touched her chin
thoughtfully as she rocked the baby. I
mean, she said softly as she leaned closer to him,
that perhaps your
remaining four daughters, or better yet maybe even Beth, need to die as well. She looked down at the baby in her arms once more. As far as Im concerned, your family
still owes me a death. You took both my
parents, so I'll take two of yours. And
Im keeping the baby for me. Hes
mine. Nathaniel Lothoman the Second.
Al's jaw pumped in anger,
his teeth clenched. No, he told
her firmly. If you have to take your
revenge on someone, if you have to take a life, take mine.
Leave my family alone and release Frankie.
He knew he might as well be talking to a wall.
She was completely unmoved by his pleas and he watched helplessly as she flicked
her hand at him and stood up.
Gag him. Tala said softly as she walked the baby out of the
living room and went to the back rooms in search of clothing for the baby. Darren and Raul pushed him back into the chair and
promptly shoved a balled handkerchief into his mouth.
Then they ripped off a piece of duct tape and covered his mouth so that he
couldnt even whisper a goodbye to his beloved daughter.
Siren glanced at her
wristwatch as she walked up onto the porch of the Calavicci house. She stopped and looked
at the blood that had spilled there and sighed before continuing on to enter the house. When she pushed the door open, she saw her
sister's back receding down the hallway and then glanced to her right to see Darren and
Raul gagging whom she suspected to be Admiral Calavicci. She pursed her lips for a
thoughtful second, and then followed the trail of blood that led to the back bedroom. When
she looked in the room, the woman on the bed appeared to be dead.
Frowning, she entered the
room and shut the door quietly behind her. Moving
quickly, she went to Julianna's side and felt for a pulse at the neck, avoiding the bloody
mess surrounding the body. When she felt a
very weak throb, she quickly rolled up her sleeves. Tala wanted her dead, but Siren knew
that Julianna Calavicci would suffer enough knowing that Tala had taken her child. She quickly tied the umbilical cord with a
remaining piece of string to stop the blood from continuing to seep out of her. She glanced around the room and found a large
white blanket to place against the bullet wound, and applied pressure. With her teeth she tore strips from the blanket to
keep the dressing from slipping. Siren looked into Juliannas face as the woman
weakly and amazingly opened her eyes. Shhhh,
she said softly. Everything will be
okay. Ill call someone as soon as we
leave. I wont let you die,
Julianna's fuzzy vision
saw the woman who stole her son. It was an
unreal feeling that this woman was helping her and telling her that she wouldnt let
her die. Yet, Julianna saw something
different in her eyes. This isn't the same
woman, her fuzzy logic realized. Frankie...
she whispered up to the twin.
Siren shook her head. I cant get to him and I dont
want Tala to have him anymore than you do. Ill watch over him, and if possible get
him back to you. Siren leaned down and
lightly kissed her forehead. Please,
dont say a word or shell kill you for sure.
Close your eyes." She stroked Julianna's cheek until her eyes floated shut.
"Someone will be by soon to get you. I
promise. She rose and hurried to the door, straightening up as she opened it. She
squared her shoulders as she saw Tala coming out of a room further up the hall with the
baby cradled in her arms. Shes
gone, Tala. Nice work. She shut the door with a click. I just hope that she remembers what I
told her, she thought and then followed her sister to the living room.
Of course I did a good job. I dont do shoddy work. Here, she said as she shoved a diaper bag
over to Siren. Fill this. Were leaving. She snuggled the infant
closer and strode to the door. "Bring him," she ordered the two men sharply.
"I need to put you in a baby seat!" she said with a happy coo to the child.
"The Admiral's car
out front," Siren said, "with a
baby seat ready to go. The guys can follow in the van." Siren indicated the departing
men with a nod of her head. Siren watched from the top of the porch stairs until Tala was
busy loading the child and the men were unlocking the back of the white van with Al in
their grip. When she was sure they were occupied she ran to the back room and stuffed the
diaper bag full. Quickly, she glanced in at Julianna, whispered, "I promise to get
him back," and left her door ajar hoping she was still alive. In the living room, she
grabbed a quilt from the couch and snatched up the phone, dialed 911, then laid it down on
the table. With one last glance down the hallway, she stepped outside.
With the baby secured,
Tala watched happily as her goons stuffed Al into the back of the van. She then looked
back up at the house and saw Siren coming out with an armload of things. Smiling in victory, she stepped around to the
Admiral's sport utility vehicle and slipped behind the wheel, and then signaled Siren for
the diaper bag. After putting on her
seatbelt, she started the car and revved the engine. Siren quickly tossed in the bag and
said, "I'm going to cover the Admiral with this quilt so he can't be seen from
outside the van."
Tala noted with a grin. "Maybe he'll suffocate!" She giggled giddily as she
turned and tickled the infant's cheek.
Siren moved quickly to
the back of the van as the two men were getting in the front. As they argued about what
radio station to listen to, Siren leaned over and threw the blanket over the prone
Admiral, who was having difficulty breathing. He watched her with burning anger in his
eyes; she leaned close and started to peel off the duct tape. "Don't talk. I'm taking
out the gag so you can breathe. Listen carefully," she said lowly as she peeled off
the tape and fished out the balled up handkerchief from his mouth. "I don't have a
vendetta like my sister. Help should be here soon for Julianna; I called 911."
The Admiral blinked in
surprise and whispered, "Thank you," with a glance to the front of the van. The
anger still burned in his eyes and his thanks sounded tentative.
don't worry about those idiots. They can't recall what they did five minutes ago. I have
to put the tape back on, though." Quickly she did so. "I'm going to try and get
the baby back to you and your daughter. Just realize that I'm not like Tala."
Al's eyes looked skeptical. "Just try to believe me." She stepped back and said
louder. "OK! He's covered!" She winked at him and slammed the back hatch of the
van as the engine turned over. When she trotted to Tala's car and jumped in, the pair of
cars sped from the house.
When Siren had dialed 911
from Julianna Calavicci's home, the call didn't go to where she had intended. With
security as tight as it was at the Project, the phone lines of all the employees were
tapped into Ziggy's system. When a 911 call was made it was automatically intercepted by
Ziggy and handled by in-house Security. This time, no one was more satisfied with that
system than Beth Calavicci as a team of plain clothed Security and medics arrived at the
house in an unmarked pair of vehicles. A 911 from Julianna's house could only be bad, and
Beth was determined to be among the first in. When they arrived and she saw the spilled
blood on the porch, Beths heart leaped into her throat and her step paused.
Al?! Julianna?! she called worriedly, forcing her feet to move again.
Beth rushed into the
house right behind the armed guards and followed the trail of blood down the hall.
"Here, ma'am!" a security man called, waving her to come. She thundered down the
hall with her team behind her and gasped when she saw a very pale Julianna lying on a very
bloody bed. "Oh, God," she
whispered as she quickly set the medical team to work.
She concentrated on trying to wake Julianna. When
her eyes finally cracked open opened, Beth breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh, Jules... baby... I'm here... mommy's
here," she said, softly stroking her cheek and trying to read the faces of her team.
whispered as she blinked at her stepmothers worried face.
your father?" Beth asked with a forced
calm. All of this pointed to something bad
and evil, and Beth could feel the cold tendrils of panic beginning to rise in her heart.
Julianna gasped, trying to keep her emotions in
check. "Gone," she said quietly, her voice cracking. She winced in pain as she
turned her head away to hide the tears slipping from her eyes. "Oh... God, they're gone." She began to
"Beth, she has a
wound over here. It looks like a gunshot," one of the examining medics said quietly.
Beth's eyes grew huge, her eyes asking about the baby. "It's gone," the medic
said so quietly that Beth barely heard it.
The medic leaned close to
Beth's ear. "The baby is gone, Beth. Between that and the wound, Jules has lost a lot
of blood. She needs to be stabilized and transported immediately!"
course," Beth stammered, now seeing the wisdom of handing the case over to another.
She was simply too emotionally attached, and stepped back in shock. The medics swarmed
Julianna as she wept weakly for her loss.
Mentally, Beth tried to make sense of what had
happened here. The blood on the porch must be from the gunshot wound, she reasoned.
But where's Al? And who took the baby? She
felt herself grow cold with fear. There were three lives on the line here, but only one
she could do something about. Quickly she turned on her heel, pushed her fear aside, and
helped to ready her stepdaughter for transport while the security team tried to put the
pieces at the scene together.
When awareness came to
Julianna Calavicci once again, it came at a painful price. Every part throbbed in pain;
breathing hurt, moving hurt, and the light hurt her eyes. Thinking even hurt when the
events began to coalesce in her mind, and the physical pains became secondary.
gasped, hissing at the searing pain speaking caused. Tears began to roll down her cheeks.
"My baby!" Her hands clutched at her stomach, and all she felt was the thick
wrappings of bandages. Her attention was drawn to a motion at her side, and she began to
bat at the swaying IV bags and lines in her way of getting up.
"Julianna, lay back
down, honey," a firm but gentle voice commanded from her other side. She rolled her
head to face the speaker. It took all her concentration to focus on the concerned face.
"Please..." Beth looked into her eyes and finally caught Juliannas
attention. "Don't move, honey."
"Have to... find
them," Julianna's voice dropped to a whisper as she fought to control the surge of
inputs her body was sending her brain.
Beth nodded in agreement. You're right.
We will find them. But you, my
dear, arent leaving these quarters for a while.
Youre too weak and if I have to, Ill tie you down, young lady.
The look she gave Julianna was one she hadn't used since her stepdaughter was a teenager.
Juliannas mumbled, a bit perturbed.
Beth raised her eyebrow. Listen, Julie, Im only going to tell
you this once. I dont want to sedate
you, but if I have to, I will. And quit
looking at me like that, Beth told her firmly.
To me you are a young lady, so there.
Beth stuck her tongue out at her.
The surprise of that act, and Beth calling her
Julie a name she hadnt gone by in years - had its effect and Julianna choked
out a laugh, much to her chagrin at the stab of pain it brought. It was so Beth.
Sorry. Scared." She gulped some
more air, finding it hard to breathe with the bandages wound tightly about her. "...
couldnt ... do ... a thing! Her eyes again filled with sorrow at the memory of
Beth knew exactly what
she was talking about. Taking a deep breath,
she leaned toward Julianna and lovingly brushed her hair back away from her face. I know, Julie. Its going to be okay. Beth paused, gauging her strength before carefully
asking, Did you call 911?
"Then who did? Was it Al?" Beth asked. It was a mystery all team was
wondering. The prints on the receiver had been too smeared for any identification. The
whole scene had been a complete mystery, and more than just Beth was carefully monitoring
"Don't know... who... she was." Her
forehead furrowed as she tried to recall the name. It was difficult to concentrate on
anything. "Siren. Said her name was Siren." Julianna worked her mouth, annoyed
by its dryness as well as elusive coherent thought.
Beth pulled a chair up
closer and sat down beside Julianna. "Okay.
Honey, you need to start from the beginning. I
know you're in pain, and it's hard to think, but we have to know what happened." Beth
hesitated to calm her voice before continuing. "We need something to know where to
start looking. Tell me what happened, baby. Ziggy,
you better pay attention here."
"With my capabilities I can do multiple tasks
and still have my attention where it needs to be, Mrs. Calavicci," Ziggy purred.
Beth rolled her eyes at the computer and shook her
head. "Go ahead, Jules. Tell me what happened."
It took her a minute to put her confused thoughts
in order and control her breathing for a minimum of pain. "Um, Dad and I were
leaving the house," Julianna began. "I
stepped out to the porch, and I
" Her eyes grew hard. "Someone
shot me, I think!"
"Did you see
them?" Beth asked, squeezing her hand.
"No. I don't
remember much after that. There were other people; two men... they had Dad..." her
voice cracked and she felt tears building in her eyes again. "They hit him, tied him
up," she stopped to control her breathing and the tears. "There was a woman... " Julianna was
unable to stop the tears and gasped from the realization of what happened next.
and took him!" She again tried to sit, and
Beth had to hold her down. "She took Frankie, Beth!"
OK, honey. Please, Julie, you
have to stay still." Inside, Beth was horrified. Her worst thoughts were coming true,
and hot anger flooded into her body. "Oh
baby, I'm so sorry, shhh
" Her stepdaughter finally collapsed under her hands as
she gave in to the tears of sorrow. She stroked Julianna's cheek and kept her voice calm.
"We'll find them, honey. We'll find them." Then a thought struck her.
"Julianna, honey. Help me, here. Was Siren the woman who took Frankie?"
Julianna shook her head.
Tala? She said the name Tala, I think." Talking
and grief had taken a toll on the usually vibrant woman. Her face was ghostly pale, and
her voice barely audible.
Beth knew she was at the
end of her strength right now. "You need to sleep for awhile, Julie, and get your
strength back. Close your eyes and sleep. I'll be here if you need me. "
" she started as her
voice trailed off and her eyes floated closed.
"Then I guess that you should just lay there
and stare at the ceiling. Rest. You need it." With a final touch to her
sleeping face, Beth stood, finding her legs shaky. My God. I hope Al can protect
Frankie until we find them. She bit her lip and stepped from the room to find Dr.
Beeks and Donna Elesee-Beckett waiting for her. She met their worried eyes, and that was
enough to start the tears.
The van ride was long and
bumpy, and Al felt every sore spot that had been inflicted on him. That was secondary,
though, to the visions he had of his daughter and grandson. He tried to imagine their
plight, and his thoughts kept coming back to the woman that had covered him as they left.
Every feeling told him she was one of them and not to be trusted, but his instincts were
telling him that she would be their only link to escape. He mentally began to set his
priorities; it was difficult to put his daughter second on that list; he commanded himself
to not think of her right now, as the baby was the only possibility within his reach at
The van finally stopped
and the engine turned off. Al struggled to sit, but was barely there when the door flung
open and the bright sunshine caused temporary blindness. Rough hands grabbed him by the
scruff of his shirt and yanked him outside. Al
didnt even have time to balance himself and he wound up face down in gravel grunting
slightly in pain. He blinked and saw a pair of women's boots by his face.
You know, you could
at least wait until you have him inside to treat him badly," another woman's voice
Al saw the boots twist
slightly then heard a loud slap. Dont you dare tell me what to do," the
familiar voice of the Evil Sister barked. "I run this dog and pony show. Don't tell
me what I can or cannot do. Understand?
There was a heartbeat of
silence, and then who Al surmised was Siren said in a low, threatening voice, Lay a hand on me again, and itll be
your last, Tala. Al could see the sisters in his mind's eye glaring at each other. 'You tell her, sister!' He thought, a seed
of trust now planted in his mind for the defiant woman.
Finally, Tala spoke
coldly. "Take Nathaniel inside." He heard footsteps retreating, and rolled his
eyes to see a stately house some yards away. Al slowly sat up, his body throbbing in pain.
He watched Siren's backside retreating toward a house that looked like an old Southern
plantation. He wondered where on earth they
could be and looked around for some sign to give him a hint to their location, but a kick
in his gut brought his attention back up at the woman standing over him.
Get up, Admiral. Now. Tala's eyes were steely cold and her
hands defiantly on her hips.
Al sneered at her and
then somehow made it to his knees. His bound arms were completely numb and useless. He
suspected his shoulders were dislocated, and a flashback of Vietnam made him lose his
concentration for a moment. As he tried to wobble to his feet, she grabbed his arm and
yanked him up impatiently. Hearing the scream
that Al let out only made her smile with apparent glee.
When his angry eyes met hers, she leaned toward him and said, Either you do
things right when I ask around here, or youll get punished. Do I make myself clear, Admiral? A flicker
in his hateful glare was all the response he gave her.
Receiving the glare with flashing eyes Tala proved
her point by jerking on his bound hands. The flare of pain almost made him pass out, and
he swayed drunkenly in her grip. I want
to make myself perfectly clear here, Al," she sneered. "If you dont
follow instructions, well kill the baby. One way or another, I'll get what I want.
The baby is negotiable. She yanked on
his arms once more for good measure before pushing him toward the house. Walk.
Al stumbled roughly as
the two men flanked him, and somehow managed to keep his feet. The thought of Frankie's
survival drove him forward, up the stairs and onto the porch with Tala right behind. One of the men opened the front door, and he
stumbled in, blinking in the sudden darkness. "Stop." Tala barked, walking in
behind him. He stood, puffing, and trying not to move his arms as any movement from them
caused sharp pain. Tala stepped in front of him and pulled out a shiny automatic from a
table in the entry foyer. She pointed it directly at him and he met her eyes with a steady
glare as she spoke. He wondered where Frankie was. "The gentlemen are going to untie
your hands and sit you on the couch. If for
you try to get up, I'll shoot your knee out." The
men shoved him to the sitting area just off the foyer and pushed him down on a small couch
as he heard her call, "Siren!"
Tala stepped into the
sitting area, with Siren appearing a moment later with the baby. Tala moved to her
sister's side and calmly pointed the gun at the little baby in her arms. "I've changed my mind. You can keep your
knees. If you don't cooperate, Nathaniel's the first casualty." Glancing to the Admiral, she gave him a small
Sirens eyes widened
at the proclamation. What is wrong with
you? Point that away from him! Siren
said as she stepped back and tried to cover the baby with her arm.
"Move back one more
step and I'll shoot out your knee, Siren."
Tala told her menacingly, lowering the gun to take aim on her threat. "I won't have my own sister working against
me," she said so lowly that only Siren heard her.
Siren stopped, shocked, and Tala repositioned the gun back on the child. Then she
gave Al a smug look.
Al kept his eyes on Tala
as the men untied his hands. Slowly, he
worked his stiff arms around to his lap. His anger was hot and ready to explode but he
wasnt willing to take the risk and let her hurt his grandson. Besides, he wasn't sure if his arms even worked
yet. He divided a glance from the astonished Siren to Tala and swallowed hard, biding his
"It looks like you
are willing to cooperate after all." Tala
said lightly. "Take off that tape."
Slowly and painstakingly, Al took off the tape, not
even wincing at the sting that it caused. "You haven't given me much of a choice.
Killing my daughter. Holding my grandson hostage...."
"My child," Tala corrected, interrupting
him. "He's my child, remember?" She looked at the baby with a smile, the gun still
poised at his tiny body. "It would really hurt me to shoot him. And when I hurt,
everyone hurts. Got that?"
Every fiber of his being
was telling him to correct her and tell her that Frank Calavicci will never be her son,
but he knew that he needed to think through this rationally and not emotionally. He ran his tongue along the inside of his cheek
letting a moment of silence pass between them before he decided to speak again. What do you want? he asked.
There's more to this than revenge. What
do you want, Tala? He kept his voice
calm and collected, trying to keep a lid on the situation. When Tala didnt answer
immediately, Al glanced at Siren and then back to whom he'd mentally tagged 'The Evil
Sister'. "Besides wanting a son to raise..." he said plainly but he
couldnt hide the clear hatred that he harbored for her.
"Well, since you are
so in tune with the circumstances here, Al
" Tala said as she tapped her foot,
never taking the gun off of Nathaniel. I
want to know the secrets of Project Quantum Leap. Thats
Al exhaled slowly. After
a moment he swallowed and asked, Is that all?"
Tala gazed at the
Admiral. "That might save your family,
yes." She nodded slightly. "But then again, it might not." Dropping any emotion from her face except for the
pure hatred of the man before her she added, "And if not, watching them die would be
a pleasure. I'd do it myself."
Al suddenly felt weary to the bones. How can you
fight someone who would shoot a newborn? "What
do you want to know?" he asked, resignation clear in his voice.
Signaling Siren to sit in a chair close to Al, Tala
settled down across from him and smiled. "Everything. Start at point one and go to the end. It may take you a few hours, but I think that in
the end everyone may be alive. Don't you
think so too, Admiral?" Tala motioned
for Siren to give her the child.
When she had the sleeping
child in her arms, she laid the gun on his stomach, the muzzle aimed toward his head.
Siren glanced nervously from Al to the baby. Looking
from the Admiral to the child, Tala smiled. Keeping her eyes on him, she murmured softly,
Mommy will take care of everything.
In that moment, Al's confirmation of Tala's
insanity was set. He had no choice from this point on; there would be no reasoning and no
negotiating. Biting his lip, he leaned back. Betraying everything that he had ever
believed, he started telling her everything that he knew about Quantum Leap; at least
everything that they would expect him to know. Of
course, there was quite a bit that he knew that he wasnt supposed to, but he was
willing to wait and see if he needed to play those cards.
It seemed like hours before he stopped. His throat
was dry, and his voice raspy, and the baby had slept quietly in Tala's arms through the
whole recitation. Al sat calmly with his hands in his lap, waiting for a response. He
could feel a trickle of sweat running between his shoulder blades, and he unconsciously
flexed his fingers.
Tala sat there for a
moment, looking down at the child in her arms. The
air was thick with tension. Pity, she finally said softly. "It's a pity that you won't grow up to be the
person I could make you, dear one." She
lifted the gun from his stomach and pressed the barrel against his tiny head. Her lower
lip pouted as she spoke. "It's a pity
that your grandfather thinks I'm stupid. I
guess," she said calmly with a slow blink at Al, "I guess that I'm going to have
to take you away from this earth, along with your grandmother and your aunts. Say goodbye,
Al tried to stand when he
saw the gun put to Frankies head but the goons pushed him back down. He swallowed and closed his eyes, Dammit!
Dammit! DAMMIT! he thought to himself. I
know Dr. Becketts codes, he blurted. He
opened his eyes, and locked his eyes with Talas.
Dont hurt him, please.
he watched Tala slowly tilt the gun aside, Al gave a weak, sickly laugh in response. You cant blame me for trying," he
choked in disgust. He wasnt even supposed to know Sam's code, but he'd picked up a
thing or two in his time with his best friend. With
those codes, she could re-write enough of Ziggy's commands to end both Project Quantum
Leap and Sam Beckett's connection with this time at once.
She nodded at the men,
and Al found himself attached to some kind of machine out of his sight behind the couch.
"And they are?" she asked with a raised eyebrow and an excited gleam in her eye
when they were done. "Oh, and if you try
to bullshit your way through, Ill know.
motioned to the wires trailing behind the couch. That
machine will tell me. In addition, if you lie, he gets the first bullet." She gazed
at the small body. "I really think that's all it will take for the little darling.
After that, it will be one more family member per lie."
Her cold smile chilled
him to the bone. He tried to lick his dry lips with his equally dry tongue as he looked at
the black cuff surrounding the upper half of his right arm. The thing almost reminded him
of a lie detector. "And how will you know if I'm lying or if it's stress?"
Tala smiled in response. "Oh, my dear Admiral,
you don't know do you? This machine is one of
my father's own inventions. It knows stress. It's lived with stress... and it knows lies."
The smile dropped away from her face in a flash. I know this machine intimately. My
father did not approve of lying." Her eyes glazed momentarily. "I could never
fool that machine. I suggest you don't even try, Admiral." Her eyes cleared, and she
smiled that cold smile again. "The stakes are just a bit too high, don't you
think?" She indicated the sleeping child with a slight nod. "Now, shall we start
with something simple?
Al frowned, and he tried
to glance behind him. "You make it sound as if the machine is alive."
"Who's to say that it isn't?" she said
lowly. With a slight nod from Tala, Al was
grabbed from behind by one of the men. The second man injected something near his elbow
that had a line trailing over the couch back; Al cringed with pain as he felt the
nauseating crawl of the machine becoming a part of him.
"Like I said, let's try something simple. Your
wife's name. What is it?" Tala's voice swam in his head as he tried to get accustom
to the feeling of the machine invading his body. It took a moment to gather his thoughts
before he could answer the first question. The
feeling wasn't as nauseating as it was a moment ago, and he wondered what would happen if
he should lie. Elizabeth, he said
"Very good, Admiral. So far... so good." Tala leaned back in the chair again and looked
down at the baby as she swung her crossed leg nervously. She knew exactly what he was
feeling. "What is the name of your
grandson?" she asked knowing there was a good chance he'd get that one wrong.
Al glared at her furiously. No matter what she
said, his grandson's name was the one his mother gave him. Period. "Francis Xavier Cal...." he
couldnt even get the last name out as an intense wave of pain filled his arm and
part of his chest. He couldnt keep the scream from escaping his lips.
The scream causes the baby to wake with a jolt.
Tala rocked him back and forth softly shushing his cries.
"Shall we try that one again, Admiral?" she said as she looked up at him
with a look of satisfaction. "What is
the name of your grandson?" she asked again as she stood and handed the baby back to
Siren. With a wave of her hand, she dismissed
her sister from being in the room.
Tala moved to sit beside
him and she motioned to her men to restrain him tightly, making it impossible to move. You see, that machine knows the truth. It knows what's up here," she said as she
lightly tapped his forehead with her index finger. "And you know what? It knows exactly how much pain it can give you
each time you do tell a lie. And the
most interesting part about that machine is that with each successive lie it gets worse. So, keeping that in mind, what is the name of your
grandson, Admiral Calavicci? Say it. Don't take the pain again. Just say it."
Al looked down at his arm wincing as he saw what
looked like tentacles spreading underneath his skin. He swallowed tightly, glaring at her
with deep-seated hatred. My
grandsons name is F... he winced, biting his lip in response to the tingle in
his arm. "His... name
Tala nodded lightly at his words and before she
could stop herself, she leaned over and kissed his cheek lightly. When his eyes came back up at her action, she
couldnt help but smile back at him. See? Its not that hard when you stop and think
about it, is it? Hell be happy. Hell be in the best of schools. Hell be with me.
Returning to the chair
across from him, she crossed her legs and leaned back as she looked at him. "Let's try one more and then we'll get
started on the really heavy stuff, she said as she patted his cheek a little too
hard. "Name and location of Samuel
Beckett's mother, sister and brother.
Al gritted his teeth. Before he could even tell her to Go to
hell, hell came to him.
Seeing the pain that was inflicted on him, Tala
knew exactly what he was thinking. "Oh...
did I forget to mention that if you think of something to say and it's negative that
you'll be punished as well? I'm sorry. I must have forgotten that part. Now, name and location of Samuel Beckett's mother,
sister and brother."
Al swallowed. "I won't tell you," he said
as firmly as he could, anticipating the pain. If it hurts this much on the small
stuff, what'll I feel when she starts asking the tough stuff?' shot through his mind
as he writhed in the pain. This time, though, the pain was sharper. Much sharper. Al could
feel his body spasm, which increased as a rather nasty thought he had about Tala passed
through his pain wracked brain, and the fleeting memory of Alia's fear of Lothos became
With the pain finally
receding as he emptied his mind, Al Calavicci felt nothing but sorrow as he made his
decision to stab his best friend and colleague in the back. "His mother's name is
Thelma. She lives with Katie and Jim Bonnick in Hawaii. Tom lives in Colorado." The
only thing he allowed his mind to focus on was the safety of the baby in the other room,
and hoped Sam would forgive him.
Tala smiled at him.
"Ahhhh, Hawaii. What a wonderful
place to live... or die," she said then paused as she looked at him. "Well, Admiral, I think that we are
ready - don't you think? First and foremost,
Admiral, you will tell me the codes of Dr. Beckett's Project Quantum Leap. All of them. You may start when you are
Suddenly, Rear Admiral Albert Calavicci felt very,
very old and wondered if he would live to see another day.
The night had been longer
than any other she could remember. Beth
shifted in the chair to try and get the circulation back in her legs as she scanned the
monitors one more time in hope.
Julianna's decline was
gradual but definite. Her body was burning with toxemia, a risk always inherent in
childbirth, and with the unsanitary, unsupervised process she had experienced, not
surprising she'd be inflicted with it. Beth was sure other infections plagued her body and
the antibiotics were waging quite a battle; all they could do now was wait.
Beth, exhausted from
worry and lack of sleep, felt herself floating in a near fugue state, sometimes completely
detached from the happenings around her. She missed the strength of her husband and felt
once again like the helpless cruise wife from decades ago. Tiredly, she rubbed her eyes to
stave off weary tears of frustration.
Calavicci." The voice was soft and silky and seemed to emanate from everywhere.
she replied woodenly.
"I have received a
telephone call. I believe it may be important."
"Who is it?"
Beth asked without hope. The security teams were coming up with nothing, and it was hard
to be positive anymore.
"The woman had an
inside phone number to the Project. She also knew the Project D.O.D. UMBRA clearance
number and Admiral Calavicci's Navy serial number."
Beth blinked, her
attention piqued. Her tired brain was trying to fathom where all that information could
have been kept as public knowledge, and was drawing a blank.
"She also gave me
Dr. Beckett's personal clearance code. And, I detected something I've come to recognize in
her tone of her voice." The computer sounded smug at the last bit of information.
Ziggy?" She replied, distracted in frazzled thought.
seems to be very compassionate."
whispered, now alert and her heart pounding at the possibility. Could this be the little
bit of hope that she - that they all - had prayed for? "Ziggy, did she give her
name?" she said a bit louder.
"She said her name
was Siren." Beth leaped to her feet, knocking the chair to the floor. "Shall I
patch her through to you?"
"Yes, by all means!
And tell Security!" She grabbed the phone, holding it like a lifeline, and it rang
almost instantaneously. Punching the connection to life before the first ring even
finished, Beth tried to slow her racing heart. "Hello?" she breathed. "Who
are you? Where's my husband?!"
At first, there was only
the sound of breathing on the line. "I asked to speak to Julianna Calavicci,"
the voice said.
"She's not available
right now, so you got me, Beth Calavicci," Beth said firmly. "Where's my
husband? And my grandson? Are they all right? Who are you?"
"I... I wanted to
see if Julianna is all right. I'm the one that called 911."
"I know that.
Julianna told me. I also know that you were there when they took Frankie," Beth's
voice cracked. "And Al. What's going on? Are they all right?"
The sound of a sigh
crossed the phone line. "The last I saw they were both alive. What about
Beth said, but the statement hung in the air, thick with despair.
She can't die!" The voice sounded truly sorrowful, and struck Beth with a pang of
empathy. "Please tell me she won't die. I can't
sentence was not finished.
"Tell me," Beth
said more calmly. "Why do you care? How are you mixed up in this if you don't want
anyone hurt? What is going on?!" The
sound of Donna and Verbena entering the room barely registered with her, so intent on the
conversation was she.
Donna's finger hovered
over the 'speaker' button and she looked to Beth for the OK to push it. Beth looked up,
nodded, and Donna pushed it and adjusted the volume until she could hear the breathing.
"My name is
Siren," the voice began after a few moments. "My sister Tala is the one running
the show here, and she has a vendetta against Admiral Calavicci because he and Dr. Sam
Beckett killed our father and mother."
All three women looked at
each other, frowned and shrugged. It didn't make sense.
"Siren, who were
your father and mother?" Beth asked wringing her hands as she tried to understand.
"Their names were
Nathaniel Lothoman and ZoŽ Malvison. I guess they were better known as ZoŽ and
Three pairs of eyes
widened in realization, and Donna covered her mouth with her hand. Beth continued,
"Don't you want revenge, too, Siren?"
"No. I had other
parents. I mean, I lived with other people that I consider my parents and Tala, my sister,
lived with ZoŽ and Nathaniel. I guess it was pretty rough on her. They both were both
neglectful and cruel as parents. I don't think Tala's very mentally stable as a
result." Siren hesitated a second. "I just recently found out that my mom and
well, my biological parents. As far as ZoŽ and Nathaniel are concerned,
it's good riddance to bad rubbish."
"Then how can you
stand by and allow all this to happen, Siren?" Beth demanded. "Why didn't you
Siren let out a short
laugh. "You obviously don't know my sister. She's more vicious than her parents
combined. If I'm not careful, she'll kill me too, and no one will be able to help the
Admiral or your grandson."
sobbed, fighting to keep control. "Is he all right?"
"Yes. Tala wants to
raise him herself."
"No!" The weak
voice surprised all of them and they turned to find Julianna's eyes locked on the
speakerphone. "That won't happen as long as I'm alive!" Beth moved to her side
and placed her cool hand on her hot forehead, keeping her from sitting up.
Julianna?" Siren asked, her voice more animated.
answered, smiling at the mother and daughter, and then returning her attention to the
phone. "How are your going to help us?" she asked bluntly.
"I'm going to try
and get little Frank away from Tala. I dont know how, but I'll try."
"You don't try, you
do it." Julianna's feverish eyes burned with determination. "Do it, you hear me?
If you don't, then I'm looking for you after I finish with your sister." Beth was
alarmed at the heat emanating from her skin. She glanced at the monitors: 103 degrees.
"I'm not the enemy,
here!" barked Siren. "Can't you see that?"
"All I see is that
my child and father are gone, and you are our only connection." Exhausted, Julianna
sank deep into the pillow, her strength gone. "Please. Get them back." Her eyes
rolled up in her head and Beth watched helplessly as all the monitors began to fluctuate.
doctor!" Beth called out, and Donna slapped her wrist communicator. Beeks moved in to
Julianna's other side and began to lower the bed. "Jules! Stay with us!" Beth
yelled frantically. "JULES!"
"Her systems are
shutting down, Beth! It must be the infections!" Beeks put a breathing mask on the
ghostly woman's face and started the oxygen flow.
On the other end of the
phone, Siren clutched the payphone until her knuckles were white. She dared not to speak
and interrupt the drama playing out on the other end of the line.
infection!" "Arrhythmia! Get the paddles! Code Blue!" "Jules! Come on,
The ruckus of activity
over rode the voices, and Siren heard more voices than she could keep track of.
whispered, tears building.
She's bleeding out!" "Bicarb and epinephrine!" "JULES!" The sound
of a flat-line heart monitor sang in the background as she heard the words,
"CLEAR!" more than once, each time followed by a heavy silence. The third charge
was edged with sobbing. After hearing the hard thud of heart paddles six times, Siren
dropped the phone and slid down the wall, crying as if her heart would break. "JULES!
NO!" "Oh, my God, no!" The receiver swung back and forth like a pendulum
against the wall next to her head, the sounds of angry disbelief and grieving sounding
small and tinny to her ear. Gritting her teeth to stop the tears, she vowed out loud to
save the rest of the Calavicci family.
Get up and move!
her brain told her. If you bring in the troops, everyone dies! Siren struggled to
her feet and forced herself to walk away. PQL Security would be here as soon as they
traced the call, and if they showed up at Tala's hideout, Al's and Frankie's death
warrants would be signed, sealed and delivered. She still couldn't get herself to hang up
the phone, and let it swing by the wiry cord.
Siren jumped in the van
and wiped her eyes again knowing this wasn't her fault, but feeling the guilt nonetheless.
She took a deep breath and vowed to stop this somehow. She started the engine.
It was just past midnight
when she had slipped out of the house under the premise of getting supplies. The baby had
been asleep and the Admiral had finally passed out. He'd already given up more information
on the Project than she thought he knew; Tala's eyes had been bright with excitement.
Siren had observed her sister's glow and wondered if it was a sick high from watching her
enemy tortured or if the information was really what she wanted. Sickened, Siren had a
difficult time keeping an outward cool. When the Admiral had finally passed out, she had
to get out. He needs a reason to live, she reasoned. I have to find out about
Now, Siren gripped the
wheel tightly as she followed the path of the van's headlights, not relishing the news she
knew she had to tell him. Frankie had to be his sole reason for living now: Frankie and
the rest of his family.
When she arrived at the
house and killed the lights, she sighed a sigh of determination and gathered the grocery
bags. The house appeared quiet; the two goons were napping on chairs in the entry foyer
and Tala was not in sight. Siren put away the groceries and decided to take a chance.
She crept into the living
room and knelt next to the Admiral, who was lying on the couch with his hands still tied
and in front of him. His feet had been secured together with tape, and she wasn't sure if
he was asleep or unconscious. Deep, torturous
lines etched his face and his cheeks and eyelids twitched as he lay there in total
abandon. The damned machine had left raised, spidery bruises on his arms where it had been
Softly, she touched his
cheek and felt the stubble of a beard and the leathery toughness of his skin.
"Admiral," she whispered. "Wake up. Admiral?" His eyes snapped open
and she immediately covered his mouth to keep him quiet. "Shhh. You have to be quiet
or Tala will hear. Do you understand me?" His eyes, which had shot about wildly,
settled on her eyes but were still wide and filled with suspicion. He struggled to sit up.
"Hold on. Let me undo your feet." She released his mouth and ripped off the tape
on his legs. Immediately he moved to sit, but she had to help him. "You're very
weak," she whispered. "Water?" He nodded, and she poured a glass from a
pitcher on a corner table. Kneeling, she helped him to drink. "Better?"
He nodded again.
"Why are you helping me?" he rasped quietly.
She smiled a sad smile.
"You sound like your wife," she said. "Suspicious."
His eyes widened.
"You spoke to Beth?" he asked hoarsely.
"Yes. I called the
Project. One of the inside numbers you gave earlier."
His eyes burned again as
he squinted at her. "Are they coming for me?"
Siren dropped her head,
ashamed. "No. If they come anywhere near here both you and Frankie will die."
She looked at him again. "You have to believe that, Admiral. Tala has a vendetta
against you for killing her parents."
He studied her for a
second. "But you don't? You look just like her. You have to be sisters."
She nodded. "We are,
but I was raised by a real family that I only recently found out had adopted me. Tala was
raised by our biological parents, ZoŽ Malvison and Nathaniel Lothoman."
His eyes grew hard.
"Look, I'm not like
her. I know ZoŽ and Nathaniel were not good people. It didn't take me long to figure that
out. I just want this all to stop, but I can only do so much."
"Like get help for
Julianna after she was hurt?"
alive?" he asked, point blank with hard eyes. When she looked into his eyes, she
could tell he knew the answer already. The brown of his eyes softened and he looked much
older than his years. Still, he held his head up and ignored the tear that began to run
down his cheek. "Tell me," he demanded softly, and Julianna relayed what she had
heard on the telephone. She could see his hands clenching and unclenching, and the muscle
in his jaw flexing as he worked to keep the tears back.
"I am so
sorry," she said, laying her hand on his. "I'm so sorry." The words were
completely inadequate, she knew, but was all she had to offer from her heart.
Finally, he dropped his
head and took several minutes to collect himself. "Thank you for telling me," he
finally said with a gravelly voice as he lay back down. After a few minutes longer he
asked quietly. "Are you going to help me?"
"I'm going to
try," Siren said. "I haven't figured out how yet."
"Do me a favor and
focus on helping Frankie, will you?" His voice was flat and defeated, the wind
completely taken out from his sails. He seemed to visibly shrink in stature right in front
of her eyes
Siren knew it was a huge
step for him to ask that. She also realized that he knew his chances for survival himself
were very low. "I will," she replied quietly. "I promise."
His silence was the cue
she took to leave him alone with his grief. Wrapped in her own remorse, Siren did not
notice the shadow watching her from the top of the staircase.
Al had no feeling of the
night passing. He barely noticed the shapes in the room becoming visible with the creeping
daylight; he didn't really hear any of the night noises that faded into dawn awakenings.
Al Calavicci had been reliving his life in his mind, and didn't really know if he'd been
awake or asleep. All he knew now was that he was weary, deathly weary, and it was the
start of another hopeless day. He chastised himself severely for that thought and tried to
work up some feeling, any feeling, that would help him to save his grandson. It was all he
had the power to do right now.
So ingrained in thought,
Al didn't even hear Tala enter the room until she cleared her throat dramatically. He
winced before he could stop himself, and he heard her bark at the two musclemen to sit him
up. Trying to make himself as heavy as possible, he let them do their job. Tala's face
broke into a huge grin.
"Well, Admiral, I
can honestly say you look like hell!" Chuckling, she checked her nails and waved the
men off. "Too bad you slept through breakfast. I bet a good, strong cup of coffee
would do you some good."
"Only if I could
burn your face with it," he grumbled, working his ankles to get his circulation
Tala snorted a short
laugh. "Hmm. I see your legs became mysteriously un-taped last night. Gee, I wonder
how that happened?" She rolled her eyes upwards in innocence then yelled.
"Siren! Bring Nathaniel down!" Then she fixed her burning eyes on Al. "I am
surprised, Admiral, that you haven't realized that I know everything that goes on here.
Really, you treat me like such an amateur." She indicated the men to attach Al to the
machine once again as the soft footfall of someone coming down the stairs blended into the
Al winced, the pain of
the injection making his empty stomach turn nauseatingly. He was vaguely aware of someone
entering the room, but didn't look up immediately.
"Ah, here's my
little man!" Tala cooed.
Al looked up disgustedly
as his nemesis gathered up the tiny bundle from her sister. Then Al's eye's fell on
Siren's face - it was a mass of bruises, with dried blood around her nostrils and one
corner of her mouth. She guiltily glanced at Al and dropped her head, ashamed, as she
tried to cover her similarly bruised arms once the baby was taken from her. She stood,
Tala cuddled the baby and
watched his expression change from indifference to shock. "Oh!" she said
lightly, "I see you noticed my lovely sister! Well, I can tell you that she noticed
you, too. If she had removed more than the tape around your legs, or if you would have
escaped, she would be in a lot worse shape." Now her voice was hard, and the baby
shifted in her arms. "Let that be a lesson to both of you. I run the show here."
With a nod of her head, Al was held firmly on the couch by his shoulders by the two men.
Als eyes focused on
Frankie in her arms. It was wrong. All wrong. He
swallowed down his vehemence and tried to keep himself calm. He knew that hed have to admit defeat when
it came to his family. He was totally
powerless against her while she held Frankie in her arms.
He couldnt help but fear what she might do to him. What do you want, Tala? he asked
quietly, almost meekly, feeling incredibly sick.
Oh, Al, she
said softly as she looked down at the baby in her arms.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate all the codes and things you gave me
yesterday, but you and I both know that those codes have probably been changed by now. You
know, to prevent access to your precious Project. No, what I really want to know is how
Dr. Beckett made Ziggy, and I know that you know how he did it." She bounced
the baby boy calmly as she spoke. "Tell
me and we wont lose something that we both want to keep, she said as she
raised the baby up toward her head and lightly kissed his forehead.
Al closed his eyes and
exhaled. Its not as easy as that,
Tala. You cant just tell someone how to
build a hybrid-computer, he sighed painfully. And
if you think that you can just learn how to build one overnight, then, he swallowed
tightly. Then my grandson is already
dead. Al looked at Tala firmly. And
Im telling you as plainly as I can that its not something you can just
describe. You have to see it. He watched as she slowly switched her hold on
Frankie the kind of hold where she could easily break his neck in a heartbeat. Al closed his eyes and pursed his lips as he
pondered what he was about to do. God,
Im sorry, Sam. But youd do the
same if you were in my shoes, he thought miserably. Sam was the brains behind Ziggy. Not even I understand exactly what he did,
he said softly.
Tala raised an eyebrow at
him. And you expect me to believe that
you have no idea.... when you are the one who handles all the budgets, all the
details... all of everything that goes on in your precious Project? I think not.
I know. Ive done the research, Al. Its
not just a part of Sam. Its a part of
you too, now, isnt it? Tala
shifted her hands again this time making Siren nervous enough to take a few steps toward
Tala but a single glare in her direction stopped her.
Okay. Okay... Al said as he tilted his head
downward. Get your recorder ready. Ill tell you everything that I know about
how Sam built Ziggy, he glared at her. But
if you harm even a hair on his head, Ill kill you.
Tala looked at Al with a
grin as she motioned to the recorder. Then
I guess you should start talking. Now.
First... give F.
." he twitched at the jolt of pain the machine warned him with. "
Nathaniel to Siren, he said
Nodding to him, Tala gave
the baby to Siren then looked back at him. Satisfied?
Feeling that Frankie was
safe at least for the moment, he took a deep breath and proceeded to betray his best
friend. It took him hours to tell them everything that he knew about Ziggy. By the time he was finished, he could hear
Sams voice in his head asking "Why?" over his own mind reminding him again
and again of the betrayal that he had just committed. From this point on he knew his time
was very short, and he tried not to care; death would almost be better than having to face
the disappointment of his best friend. But inside, somewhere, was still that small flicker
of hope fighting to be fanned into a flame.
Leaning back on the chair
across from him with her legs stretched out before her, Tala smiled at him. Well, now, that wasnt so hard, now,
Als heart clenched
at her words and he swallowed with great difficulty.
Ive told you what you want. Now,
let my grandson go. Even as he asked,
he knew the hopelessness of that demand.
Tala indicated the men to
release Al from the machine. The invasiveness of the device didn't seem as horrible today,
he realized. Mentally, however, he knew he had been deeply invaded. Mentally detached, he watched Tala lean toward one
of the men and whisper in his ear. Then she turned to the Admiral and smiled. Oh,
you'll be going free, Admiral, or so to speak.
She watched with glee as
they lifted him, struggling, from the couch and out the front door to the waiting van.
Siren had been crying softly, and Tala shoved the child into her arms. "Let's go,
sis!" she yelped maniacally, jumping off the porch and clearing the stairs happily. Once they climbed into the van, she twisted around
and smiled broadly at the man in the back. Lets go, gentlemen!" She
ordered the driver. "Lets go
toward Project Quantum Leap. Then,
while smiling at Al, she then gave explicit directions.
Her words eventually sunk
in and Al looked at her in shock. How she
even found out where exactly where Project Quantum Leap was, was a mystery to him. He'd never told her any of that. Howd you find it? he asked,
Tala smiled at him.
I have other sources other than you, Admiral. Many sources, including those in
Washington. Some would say that my sources were the cause of the action in the underground
tunnel that happened not so long ago." She grinned and watched another expression of
shock cross his face. "I must say that they did an excellent job, dont you
Al's look was cold. The mercenaries, he stated plainly. The ones the Chinese hired to take the
Congressional subway. I figured there was a rotten fish in that roll of newspaper."
The events of that particular hostile takeover were very clear in his mind, as he had been
on the front lines. He never would have
connected that with this. "You went through all of that just to get revenge for your
Tala shook her head and
wrinkled her nose. Oh, no, that wasnt for revenge," she laughed.
"That, my dear Admiral, was just for fun. Oh, and by the way, I remember Dr. Beckett
being there, too! Don't you? He just
frowned at her. Oh, you forget so quickly, she said with a sigh. Must be your age. It was Lothos, dear
Lothos. I was the one that watched many of
Dr. Beckett's leaps.
You had a leaper
there? In that subway? Al asked,
Tala smiled at him
evilly. And why wouldnt we have
someone there? she asked raising an eyebrow. With
a sigh, she nodded. Yes, we did. Unfortunately, he was one of the ones that got
shot in both timelines. We couldn't save him.
Al huffed slightly. Im so sorry to hear that bit of
news, he said sarcastically. Tala
dropped her smile. So, are you going to tell me why we are going to the Project? A
direct attack, or is it a surprise? Cause
you know how much I love surprises, he finished with all the sarcasm he could
Tala didnt answer. Instead, she turned her back on him and they
continued in silence for a good while before they stopped.
The men jumped from the van, followed by Tala as Siren began crying silently. The
back door opened and the men dragged Al from the car towards a lonely shanty that looked
like it had been beaten down by the elements.
As he was dragged inside,
he saw Siren slowly climbed from the van and turn to look at his face. She held Frankie
close, and her cheeks were shiny with tears.
Al was dumped
unceremoniously on the crumbled wood floor, causing him to tumble onto his side. The goons up-righted him using his hair, causing
him to grimace in pain. He didnt say a
word as Tala slowly circled him like a vulture, speaking to him in sonorous tones that
dont match the intention that was clear in her eyes. Finally, she spoke softly.
Is your wife as
safe as she can be, Admiral? Tala
continued to circle him. He followed her with hard eyes, breathing heavily. And what about little Christa? Is she going to be able to go to college? Or what about Elizabeth, Victoria or Jacqueline? Are any of them safe? Before he had a chance to respond, Tala pulled out
a syringe from her pocket and displayed it like a prize in front of him. There was
finality to her expression that made his heart leap in alarm. She motioned the men to hold him and bare a
forearm. Then she kneeled, stroking the exposed part of his arm lovingly with her cold
hand. With a smile as icy as her heart, she injected a yellowish serum into his arm.
Al struggled as best as
he could. The serum burned as soon as it left
the needle, and only increased in its intensity. He gasped loudly, closing his eyes to
keep himself from cursing and screaming out in pain. What... was that? he
gasped out loudly.
concoction of my own doing," Tala said lowly, stepping back. "I know exactly
what its doing to you. First, it lights up your veins like liquid fire," her
eyes began to glow as she described the effects just as he was feeling them. "Imagine
your veins expanding, wider and wider to let the nasty stuff in it flow through
easier." As Al writhed in pain, falling to the floor, she got on her knees and
whispered hotly in his ear. "Then, nasty stuff moves in." She wielded another
syringe. "Its a form of arsenic, you know, and you will die, but slowly and
painfully. She pecked him on the top of
his head, and trained the needle on his subdued arm. He gasped, the burning feeling
getting impossibly worse and spreading through his limbs. Even though his vision was
growing blurry and dark, he saw Siren step into the frame of light made by the shanty
doorway and felt a rush of amazement and hope as if she was stepping from the Accelerator
Chamber itself. He ran a litany of apologies through his mind, and kept his eyes locked on
Tala grinned as she
watched him writhe and behold his grandson. Listen
carefully, Albert, Tala said plainly, leaning in close to his ear. I will put him in the finest schools, give
him everything that he wants and be the mother that he deserves, just like mine was. I so want you to know one thing, Admiral: he will
hate you, your family, your friends. Hell never, never know them like you do, and he
will eventually kill your family one by one until there is no one left. Interesting, isnt it, that your own grandson
will be the downfall of the Calaviccis?
With great effort, Al
tore his eyes from his daughter's son and promised Tala one last promise, fighting through
white-hot pain with every word. "Calaviccis... never... die; they
get revenge." With that, Rear Admiral Albert Calavicci's heart finally gave in to the
pain as the infant began to cry at precisely the same moment.
Tala's icy eyes glared at
the corpse of her victim. One final sigh had marked her enemy's passing, and with the
infant's cry, her head snapped up to Siren cuddling the child close. She ordered her
sister to get back in the van and dismissed the two goons with a sharp glance. Looking
down at the form Admiral Albert Calavicci growing cold at her feet, Tala smiled once more. She stood, still looking down at the body, and she
gave him one hard kick in the gut before turning to leave. Before stepping through the
rectangle of light, she turned and whispered, Goodbye, Admiral Calavicci. Ill see you in hell.
Project Quantum Leap
Stallion's Gate, New
It hadn't even been two
full days since Juliannas death and a pallor of despair still hung in the air. Dr.
Beeks had gotten little sleep, putting everyone's grief ahead of her own, and told herself
for the millionth time that this, too, will pass, and it was her job to get everyone on
that next step in the grieving process. So focused, it was easier to take the next step
and avoid looking at the whole picture. She shook her head and smiled at her own
deflection of thoughts.
The Admiral and his grandson were still out there. The stress of
waiting was getting to them all; this dynamic bunch didn't do well with waiting, even
though that is all they seemed to do. The wait for Dr. Sam Beckett to return home was now
another hope in a line of hopes waiting to be fulfilled either by hard work or by God,
Time, Fate or Whomever. She rubbed her burning eyes as she pushed herself away from her
desk and stood, her thoughts interrupted by the silky voice of Ziggy.
Ziggy said softly. She had admitted to Beeks earlier that she was learning much about
humans by watching them grieve, and was even feeling
interesting it was. Ever since, her vocal tones had been softer and more respectful, which
Beeks noticed even now.
Yes, Ziggy, what is
Ziggy paused a moment
before replying, as if searching for a way to relay the information. The pause gave Beeks
a chill. Dr. Beckett has leaped
again, Ziggy informed her. We
have a visitor in the Waiting Room. I will
inform Dr. Fuller immediately.
Verbena nodded, but had a
feeling there was more. "Then do so. Is there anything else?" Again, that
said quietly. Right now, Verbena missed the normal, sassy attitude of the computer, and
she tried to keep her pulse from racing and her hands from suddenly feeling so cold.
"I have been monitoring police frequencies ever since the Admiral has been missing. I
regret to inform you that they are at the scene of a found body." Verbena sank into
her chair as her knees suddenly turned to Jello. Ziggy's words washed over her, barely
heard. "The body is that of a Caucasian male was found in an abandoned building
thirty miles from here. The description
matches that of Admiral Calavicci. I am
sorry, Dr. Beeks.
"Thank you, Ziggy. I
will inform Mrs. Calavicci." A feeling of total exhaustion enveloped Dr. Beeks as she
mechanically stood again and pushed her chair in. Step by step she made her way out of the
door and down the hall to sickbay, where she knew Beth was trying to keep busy. Her
daughters were sequestered in various quarters within the Project for security reasons
while they all waited.
When the door slipped
open and Verbena stepped inside, she only acknowledged with a smile the various greetings
from the regular staff. They all grew quiet as she passed through the room to the office
in the back. Beth's voice could be heard giving orders, and Verbena stopped in the doorway
to wait to be noticed. After handing off a clipboard, Beth turned her head and saw
Verbena. Verbena assessed the dark shadows under her eyes and the faint quake in the
timbre of her voice and mentally braced herself.
froze. This scenario had played in her mind numerous times in the past, but she had been a
young nurse and Al a young pilot, and years since had retired the scenario to the recesses
of her mind. Now, even with new players, the vision snapped forth and she felt herself
sway. "They found Al," she whispered. "I've had this feeling for a day or
two, Verbena." She began to cry softly as she slowly sank to the floor, Verbena
quickly kneeling by her side.
"I'm sorry, Beth.
But it hasn't been confirmed," Verbena said soothingly.
"It doesn't need to
be," Beth cried. "I know. I felt it. I dreamed it. I just know." And she
cried, heartbroken, as she tried to imagine life without her soul mate.
Sam Beckett's descent
into another life was as pleasant this time as he could recall from anytime in the past.
That wasn't saying much, however, taking in to account the Swiss-cheese effect that
reduced his memory to bits and pieces, and the parts he did recall might not necessarily
be his won life but one of some other person he had helped.
But at this point, it
didn't matter what he recalled because right now he had to figure out where he was. He
immediately realized he was on an airplane; that much was evident from the seat, the tray
table attached to the seat in front of him and the steady drone. In another second he
realized that his was First Class due to the legroom, the clothe table cover on his tray
and the crystal glass of wine on the tray table. Sam had to keep from beaming; finally!
Some comfort on a leap in! Gratefully he noticed the sole seat next to him was currently
vacant, and moved his hand to take the glass. Suddenly the tray bounced and the glass
teetered off to the side, sailing to the floor. Sam tried to grab for it, but the table
leaped again, knocking the tin of Macadamia nuts to the floor in the wake of the
It was then that he
realized what had happened: Around his wrist was a shiny handcuff! He froze in shock as
his eyes followed the chain that lead from the cuff to something below the tray. The chain
had upset the tray table.
"Oh, dear! Here, let
me help you!" The cheery attendant had appeared instantly at his side even before the
last nut hit the floor.
sure," Sam stammered as the attendant squatted down and gathered up the glass and
"Lucky you! The
glass didn't break. I'll get you a clean one. And I'll just wipe off your case for
you." She began wiping down an object at the end of Sam's wrist chain. It was a steel
briefcase with impressive looking locks on the top.
Sam said with a tight smile, trying to appear like this happened all the time. The
attendant had everything scooped up in no time and was off with a wink.
back!" She chirped. Sam smiled in return, and when she was gone he leaned down and
dragged the case to his lap. 'Whatever's in here must be pretty valuable because this case
looks like it would take a bomb to open it.' He inspected all sides of it and fiddled with
the locks. It had two keyholes, and Sam flashed back on an old movie about launching
missiles from some secret Military base where two very professional looking soldiers with
separate keys kept their cool and averted a false launch. Or did thy launch it by mistake?
Sam shook his head in annoyance. Some lost details were enough to drive him nuts. 'Al will
know what movie I'm thinking of,' he thought. His reverie was broken by the arrival of his
beautiful woman said. "Looks like we had a little accident while I was gone!"
Her smile was dazzling, and Sam momentarily forgot to speak. He was saved by the arrival
of the attendant.
"Your seat is fine,
Miss Swint. Mr. Bell just dropped his wine on the floor."
Miss Swint settled in her
seat and Sam mentally noted her expensive, well-fitted business suit and hairstyle to try
and place the decade. The lines were so classic it could cover both the 1980's and the
90's, possibly even later. The same could be said for the attendant's uniform, and Sam
decided again to wait for his Observer before getting too deep in conversation.
"Well, we can't have
that, now can we?" Miss Swint replied. "Seconds, Mr. Bell?"
"Um, sure," he
responded. He sure hoped he wasn't supposed to know this woman. The attendant handed Sam
his clean glass, which he gave to Miss Swint, and backed off so a second attendant could
pour the wine. His seatmate thanked her as the first attendant returned with a second
glass and more nuts.
As Sam's glass was filled
his seatmate raised her glass. "Let's see; we need a little toast. How about 'to
strangers meeting on airplanes'?"
Relief washed over him as
he raised his glass. "Perfect. To strangers." They clinked glasses and took a
"Now that we're
introduced and stuck on a three hour flight together, would you like to chat a
"Actually, I was
going to nap a bit. Long day." He hoped that didn't sound as lame to her as it did to
she answered, patting his arm and settling back in her seat as she pulled a magazine from
her bag. Sam turned to the window and looked out at the clouds knowing the lady-killing
Admiral would be chastising him relentlessly at this point if he were here.
'I sure could use your
company now, Al,' he thought, a bit miffed. 'How can I do this without you?' He
mentally settled down to wait for his friend and Observer.
As they raced gracefully
over the banks of brilliant white, cottony clouds that reminded him of Heaven, Sam
wondered when Al would arrive to help him. He figured nothing could really happen in three
hours, and let the serene cloud-filled horizon carry his mind away. He found himself
reflecting on how lucky he was to have a friend like Al Calavicci to help him find his
To Be Continued