Chapter Eight "Lieutenant." As the word echoed across the room and disturbed the silence of the seventh-deck lounge, Deanna Calavicci stirred awake and opened her eyes, then lay still and stared at the vinyl couch cushions a few inches from her face. She knew who had spoken to her, and rather than respond to the woman's voice, she shut her eyes again. "Lieutenant!" This time, the overhead light snapped on to accompany the word, and bathed the room with white florescent light. There's that voice again, she thought. With a long intake of breath, Deanna stretched her arms and rolled over from her side onto her back, laying one arm over her eyes to block the light. She released a low groan as the muscles in her back protested the movement, and as the cold rush of air cleared away the pocket of body warmth she had formed over the past hour. "Doctor Trenton," Deanna muttered, "you are interrupting a fine, fine Navy tradition. It's called the nooner." She grunted and turned onto her side. Sammi Jo Trenton crossed her arms and leaned against the doorway, then gave her head a quick jerk to the right and tossed her long blonde hair over her shoulder. She brought one hand up to rub her neck, then narrowed her blue eyes and frowned at Deanna. Deanna yawned. "What do you need?" "I need an Assistant Observer with a better attitude," she replied sharply. "Well, you're stuck with me." "No kidding. Let's make the best of it, then, okay?" Deanna raised both hands and shrugged. "You mean, we're not making the best of it now?" Sammi Jo exhaled sharply, then uncrossed her arms and walked into the room. She stopped at the overstuffed chair against the wall, a few feet from Deanna, and dropped into the seat. She wore a brown-and-white lace top over a tan T-shirt-- an outfit which complimented her slim figure and gave sharp contrast to Deanna's relaxed dress uniform. Despite the responsibilities pressed on her as Engram's Project Leader, Sammi Jo was still only twenty-seven, just two years older than Deanna. "I was going over the project reports from last week," Sammi Jo said in a controlled, casual tone. "I don't have one from you." "St. John writes them, not me." "He went to Albuquerque last week for medical appointments. I left a message on Friday morning for you to write it." "I never saw it." Deanna swung her feet off the couch and sat up. "He never said anything about going anywhere, either. What's wrong?" "Why don't you check your messages?" Deanna pursed her lips. "I don't bother. The last thing I got from either of you had to do with the Imaging Chamber. Something about my lacking the ‘clearance' to enter it. That was seven months ago." "He's having trouble walking," Sammi Jo confessed with obvious concern. "He hasn't really said much about it until recently, but until his leg gets better, you'll have to take over the reports. "Anything else?" "No." Sammi Jo smiled coldly and stood. "You don't have the clearance for anything else." Deanna rose from the couch. She waited until Sammi Jo passed through the doorway, then she snapped to attention and tilted her chin up as she saluted. "Aye aye, ma'am," she muttered hoarsely. "Talk to me, Ziggy." Deanna glanced at the computer's speakers as a feminine voice floated out of their horizontal gray webs, then she leaned back and rocked in her chair. She recalled that one of the original scientists from Project Quantum Leap-- Doctor Tina Gushie, the wife of the former head programmer-- had altered the voice pattern and pitch of the computer from male to female. Both of them had been dismissed during the downsizing, and now the position of head programmer rested with another man, Doctor Eric McCarthy. "Good afternoon, Lieutenant," Ziggy said. "By the way, I wish to thank you for using the original name given to me by Doctor Beckett and Admiral Calavicci. However, I do have a question for you." "What?" "How is it," Ziggy asked, "that you chose to call me by that name prior to learning about the original history of Project Quantum Leap?" Deanna hesitated. When she received her orders, she had been briefed on the history of Quantum Leap and how it related to another failed experiment called Project Starbright; this made Engram the third phase of research. Those different levels of development, coupled with her first impression of the building itself, reminded her of a ziggurat, an ancient structure she had seen during a documentary. The image inspired her to abbreviate the word to "Ziggy," because for some reason it seemed right. But wasn't there more to it? "I don't know, Ziggy," she said at last. "I really don't." "It is unusual. After all, your father-- in the present circumstances, that is-- has had no connection to either Project Engram or Project Quantum Leap. His assignment as Observer was terminated by Doctor Sam Beckett on April 3, 1969, after Doctor Beckett saved the Admiral's first marriage to Beth Lynn Calavicci." "Their project wasn't built in 1969, though." "No, but the incident which altered the original history of the project occurred then." Deanna leaned forward and placed one hand under her chin. "So in changing my father's life, Sam Beckett trapped himself in time?" "Yes, Lieutenant." "What can we do to bring him back?" "Nothing, I'm afraid. The equipment at Project Engram is insufficient to retrieve Doctor Beckett." Deanna hissed through her teeth and stood, then began to pace the room. "That's no surprise. The equipment has been messed with so many times in the past few years..." She stopped and leaned over the back of the chair. "What if everything was put back to its original configuration. The plans are still around somewhere, I'm sure. Is there a chance of retrieving him then?" "Negative." The blue screen on the computer terminal dissolved to a picture of the Control Room, and showed the energized equipment with its random flashing lights. Deanna hardly recognized the room, which varied greatly from the cluttered, dissected chamber in its present state. "The particular wave pattern which I used to send Doctor Beckett back in time," Ziggy explained, "was different in this dimension from the one used in the original history. Another contrast between the two experiments is that no exchange of location occurred between him and another individual." "So he really did it? He sent himself physically through time?" Deanna whistled in surprise and sat down again. "Lock, stock and barrel. No wonder we never had visitors. We didn't need anyone for him to switch places with." "Correct. However, the system designed by Doctor Beckett and Edward St. John was insufficient to accomplish both a leap and a return." "You're kidding. Why didn't you say something?" "It was not my place to control the outcome of the project," came the emotionless reply. Ziggy took the picture of the Control Room and zoomed in towards an open panel in the far corner, and a series of lines appeared to represent the circuitry. "Doctor Beckett had no intention of returning, Lieutenant. The retrieval system was created solely as an option, but it was never an actual working unit." "Never real?" Deanna scanned the screen, then put one finger over the image of the dummy unit and traced the lines. Her finger rested at a gap in the line. "It's missing something, right here. But why would he do that to himself?" Once again, the picture on the screen changed. Ziggy showed her a video of a small church decorated with flowers and filled with guests in obvious anticipation of a wedding. The scene cut to a shot of a nervous Sam Beckett, just as someone whispered to him. Although Ziggy had cut out the sound, Deanna didn't need words to understand the circumstances. "I forgot." Deanna looked away from Sam's confused, pained expression on the screen. "His fiancee left him at the altar." "One month, three days and four hours prior to Doctor Beckett's first leap." Deanna reached for the stack of handwritten notes beside the computer and dropped them into her lap, then flipped several pages. "But you said he came home once, to his wife, Donna. Same woman?" "Yes." The description of the leap mercifully covered Sam's distraught face. "However, the situation remains the same as I described. Only a handful of the changes that Doctor Beckett made with Admiral Calavicci's assistance can be matched to those made with St. John's help. Sadly, this is one incident that did not change." Deanna scribbled down a few additions, then set the papers aside. Her body began to tingle, just as it had upon discovering the leaps, and she stared at the far wall as she tried to organize her thoughts. I think I get it now. I think... "Lieutenant, will you help me?" Deanna shuddered and turned her attention back to Ziggy. "Help you do what?" "If I were human," Ziggy said in a contemplative tone, "I suppose that I would feel guilt for allowing Doctor Beckett to accomplish his leap when I knew what the results would be. In that sense, I am responsible for what happened to him." "What did happen, Ziggy? I mean, in this time with St. John here. What happened?" "The life of Doctor Samuel Beckett was terminated when he leaped into the household of Abigail Fuller on October 16, 1976." "Sammi Jo's mother?" "He was stabbed to death by a woman named Leida Aiders, who afterwards committed suicide. Mrs. Aiders suffered nervous breakdowns following the deaths of her husband and daughter, and she blamed both incidents on Abigail Fuller." Ziggy paused. "Miss Fuller was executed for the murders of Leida Aiders and an unidentified man found in her kitchen." "Sam." Deanna tilted her head back and closed her eyes. "So what the hell did he accomplish? He goes through all those leaps with my father and fixes history, then messes it up and gets killed in a leap he succeeded in before. For what?" "For Admiral Calavicci, of course," Ziggy responded. "Might I remind you that if he hadn't reunited your parents, you wouldn't be here." "That's a hell of a price." Deanna let out a humorless laugh. "I mean, I'm flattered. I'm alive. But what about Sammi Jo's mother? And how many other lives did Sam fail to save by dying so early?" "Twenty-three, in comparison with the original project history." "Exactly!" Deanna exclaimed with a snap of her fingers. "And there's no way to measure the repercussions of those lost lives, either." "I take it, then, that you are in agreement with me? That something must be done?" Deanna put her little finger to her mouth and began to chew absently on the nail, watching as information scrolled down the computer monitor. Her gaze roamed over the screen restlessly, and after a few minutes of careful contemplation, she nodded. "All right, Ziggy. Whatever you want, I'll do it. For Sam Beckett." Chapter Nine Al Calavicci winced and lowered his right arm. He looked down at his hand, rubbed the side of it, then raised his other arm and pounded on the door with his fist. "I know you're in there, Sam!" he shouted hoarsely. "Leave me alone, Al," came the muffled reply. Al grit his teeth and gave the door a kick. "Open the door!" "I'm busy." Al delivered one last kick to the door. "Okay, Sam. You asked for it." With a grim smile, he pushed up his bright blue shirt sleeve to reveal a communication bracelet on his wrist. The bracelet's red, blue and yellow lights flashed to life when he touched it, and Ziggy's calm voice echoed out of a tiny speaker along the side. "Ziggy?" "Yes, Admiral. I am monitoring the situation between you and Doctor Beckett." "I need to get in there," he whispered. "That is a breach of Doctor Beckett's privacy," Ziggy replied. "However, if you would inform me of the problem, I will gladly open the door. He neglected to engage the mechanical locking device and activated only the electronic one, which is easy to neutralize-- that is, if you tell me what is wrong." "Only if you let me inside first, Ziggy." Although not in the mood for games, Al knew that Ziggy would do anything to satisfy her ever-present curiosity. "Very well," came the exasperated reply. "Thanks." The door handle emitted a soft click and the door eased out of its frame. Al didn't hesitate. He stepped quickly into the room, then stopped a few feet inside. Sam Beckett sat hunched over his desk surrounded by books, loose sheets of blank paper and his hand-drawn diagrams of Ziggy's systems. He looked up in surprise as Al charged into the room, then closed the book cradled between his hands with a snap. "Dammit, Ziggy!" he shouted as he tossed the book away. "I'm sorry," Ziggy replied, "but you were being unreasonable in refusing to speak to Admiral Calavicci." Sam combed his fingers through his hair. "That's my business, not yours." "I'm afraid you're wrong, Doctor," Ziggy insisted. "I am aware that Project Quantum Leap is being threatened by the presence of an outside influence. I am also aware that since your return, you have avoided extended contact with everyone on the staff except for Admiral Calavicci and Sammi Jo Fuller." "So?" Sam replied in a sullen voice. "I am in danger, Doctor Beckett." Ziggy paused and addressed Al. "Isn't that so, Admiral?" "That's right, Ziggy." Sam crossed his arms. "When did this come up? What kind of danger?" Al shrugged his shoulders and cocked his head to one side, his dark eyes studying Sam Beckett carefully. "if you hadn't locked yourself in here, maybe you'd have an idea." "I'm trying to re-design a couple of systems." "Well, excuse me!" Al snapped. "We've got more important things to worry about now. Do you have any idea who's here?" "The review board. I saw them." "This is no review board. There are seven people upstairs right now. Three of them are scientists and three are military, and the last one is a government agent." Al glanced away, then turned back to Sam. "I thought they were here to close the book on us, but now I'm not so sure." "They can't shut us down, Al." "Sam, wake up to reality, here!" Al took a few steps forward. "Denial isn't going to do you a damned bit of good." "I'm afraid it's useless, Admiral," Ziggy interjected. "Doctor Beckett is unconcerned about the outside world. He is preoccupied with my systems and the reconfiguration and improvements that must be made." "That's right," Sam agreed with a sharp nod of his head. "But don't think I'm not going to fight this, Al. I won't let them take my project." "It's our project, Sam, and there are a lot of other people involved in this thing, not just you." Al bowed his head. "Look, I've put up with you these past few days because I know you're not quite right yet--" Sam stared at Al with his peculiar bright eyes and remained silent. "--but if I'm right about these people, then we can't fight this committee. As a matter of fact, I think it would be a bad idea to show any resistance to them. They would label us as a hindrance to their investigation and shut the whole complex down." He paused. "I know this game. At least if we cooperate and give them what they ask for, we'll have access to Ziggy." "For how long, though?" Sam thought for a moment, then nodded. "All right, I'll go along with that. No resistance." "Good." Al passed his hand over his forehead. "Now we've got to start getting our case together." "I'll do it," Sam interrupted. "It's my problem. I'll take care of it." "No, it's everyone's problem. Everyone is willing to help." "I said that I'll take care of it," Sam muttered through clenched teeth. He set one clenched fist above the desk and let it drop onto the papers that lay scattered there. "I don't want anyone's help. I don't want anyone getting in the way." Al looked at him and shook his head, then took a step back, confused by Sam's sudden flash of anger. "What's with you? Nobody's gonna get in the way. It's not like you're still leaping. You're not alone in this, you know--" "I said, leave it to me!" he shouted. Al half-closed his eyes. "You can't shut me out, Sam," he said in a low voice. "You can't shut everyone out like you've done to Donna." Sam turned away. "Leave Donna out of this." "What? Like you have? My God, Sam, how many times have you talked to her since you got back? Five? Two? She misses you more now than when you were leaping. How can you act like this to her?" "Oh, I'm supposed to get marriage tips from you?" Sam stood and leaned against the desk, then rubbed his eyes. "She understands." "Yea, that's the worst part," Al replied with an exasperated look. "She loves you. She's coming up with one excuse after another to explain what you're doing to her, did you know that?" "Shut up," he hissed. "You're tearing her apart, Sam!" "Yea?" He spun around. "Well, maybe you ought to worry more about Tina than Donna!" Al blinked in surprise at the sudden shift in the conversation. "Huh?" "Stay out of my personal life." He glared at Al and though he tried not to, Al had to look away to avoid Sam's strange eyes. "Ever since I've known you," Sam continued, "you've always kept your distance. Aside from hearing about your one-night stands, you never told me anything personal until after I leaped. The first time you opened up was when you told me about your sister Trudy. Hell, I couldn't even appreciate it because I was lucky to know my own name then." Al shrugged, his gaze on the wall behind Sam. "That's just the way I am." So why the sudden interest in my life? What do you care what Donna's been up to, or how I've felt?" "Because you haven't 'felt' anything!" Al replied sharply. "Right now, you're looking at me like you don't even know me. It's probably the same look you give donna. No wonder she's afraid of you." Al struggled to meet Sam's gaze. "Donna slept in the lounge last night, on the couch. She said she didn't want to go back to your quarters because she didn't know who you were." Sam's gaze sharpened. "What were you doing there?" "I couldn't sleep. At least I'm trying to help her, and that's more than you're doing." "To help her, or help yourself?" Al caught the accusation and shook his head. "Sam, you know me. I'd never--" "Yea, I know you!" he barked. "I know that you'd love the opportunity to come up, too. Stay away from my wife, Al. You wrecked your marriages, but you're not going to mess up mine. If you want something to do, why don't you go chase Tina out of Gushie's bed?" The room grew silent. Al looked at Sam with a stunned, angry expression in his dark eyes and started to turn away from him. "Damn!" Sam pounded the desk in frustration, then extended one hand towards Al. "Al, I didn't mean that." Al slouched away from him, avoiding contact with Sam's outstretched hand. "You think I didn't know about it?" he mumbled weakly. "Don't you think I'd do something, if I could?" "Al--" "I've got to go," he said as he moved through the doorway. "See you later, Sam." Sam started towards the door, then sighed and sank down on a corner of the desk, his head lowered and his hands over his face. "I didn't mean it, Ziggy. I really didn't." "Of course you did, Doctor Beckett," Ziggy replied. "You wouldn't have brought it up if you didn't. In light of the current situation," Ziggy added, "I think it would be best for you to consult with Doctor Beeks for counseling." "Yea. I've got to get out of here for a while. Level Two, right?" The computer monitor in the corner flashed a room number on its black screen, and Ziggy's voice flowed from the speaker. "That is correct." Chapter Ten The door to Verbeena Beeks' office, unless she had a counseling session, always remained open to members of the Project during the day; an occasional "Gone To Lunch" sign or "Back In Fifteen Minutes" remained the only deviation from this practice. Therefore, when Sam Beckett turned the corner and found Verbeena's door closed and locked without any explanation, it confused him for a minute. "Where is she, Ziggy?" Sam asked the question out loud, then touched his wrist absently as he realized he'd forgotten a com bracelet. Sam looked at the door, puzzled. Where is she, he wondered. Maybe if I hadn't wasted the past hour looking for Al, she would have been here. And where did Al disappear to, anyway? Sam closed his eyes and moaned. The briefing! How could I have forgotten that? Sam rubbed the back of his neck and looked around the empty hallway, then started off in the direction of the lecture hall. As Sam reached the end of the hallway, he heard Gushie's voice echo from around the corner. He took the corner sharply and came nose-to-nose with Don Benettelli, then backed up quickly and smiled to hide his embarrassment. Don jumped a little, too. "Oh, he-hello, Doctor Beckett," he whispered. Sam looked at the half-open lecture hall door, then tilted his head and peered through the opening. "What's going on?" "The visitors are having their c-conference." "A briefing," Sam corrected him. "I know. I was supposed to start it off with a speech, but I forgot about it." Don nodded. "I was s-supposed to speak, too, but..." He shrugged and looked away. "Th-they didn't want me to." Sam placed a hand on Don's shoulder. "Who didn't?" "The rest of the s-staff. They don't have to say it. I can tell by the way they l-look at me." Down on the floor of the lecture hall, Sam watched as Gushie waved his arms to emphasize his speech on Ziggy's programming commands. "But I've heard you," Sam insisted. "On the video for the committee. You've got a great voice." "Not when I stutter." "That's not important. You're a part of this team, too. You've got a right to be down there." Sam pulled open the door and walked over to the top of the stairs, then stopped and observed the sunken room, the seats occupied by the review board members and the Project staff. The staff sat off to the left side of the room in the first row, while the board members had positioned themselves in the middle of the right side, an empty seat between each of them. Gushie concluded his lecture on his duties as Head Programmer and Sam watched as Al replaced Gushie behind the podium. Al glanced up and spotted Sam and Don by the door, then took in a deep breath. "At this time, ladies and gentlemen," he said, "I would like to introduce Doctor Samuel Beckett, who will answer any further questions you may have on the general operations of Quantum Leap." As Sam began his descent to the floor, Al spoke again. "I must remind you that this is an introductory meeting. Your investigation is not the issue here, and we cannot answer any questions--" he gave Sam a steady look, "--on the details of the experiment at this time." Sam nodded to show Al that he understood. In other words, he thought, don't give them any ammunition. Even before Sam reached the bottom of the carpeted stairs, Al slid off to the side to join the rest of the core staff-- Gushie, Tina, Verbeena and Sammi Jo. Al stared at the visitors, his face unemotional and in control, completely ignoring Sam Beckett. Sam looked over the seven people seated before him. He quickly identified the military individuals (all male) by their uniforms; two wore Navy dress whites and the other one had on Air Force attire. The scientists, two men and one woman, wore conservative business suits. Sam deliberately avoided looking at St. John, even though he could feel the man's attention focus on him. "I'd like to apologize for my absence," Sam began. "I hope that my staff has given you a clearer understanding of what goes on here at Project Quantum Leap. We've spent an incredible five years here, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to share our knowledge with you." Sam managed to keep a straight face as a thought occurred to him: can lightning strike this room? "Feel free to ask me any questions," he added. A moment of silence passed before the female scientist, a thin woman with long gray-and-white hair drawn back in a ponytail, raised her hand. She flashed a brief smile and locked her hands together. "Doctor Beckett, my name is Doctor Virginia Mayes. I would like to start off by congratulating you on such an incredible discovery. It's something none of us could've dreamed of, much less achieved." Sam returned her smile. "Well, thank you." "My question is, how did you know that a complete hologram-- voice and picture-- could be transported across time? Did you do some preliminary tests?" "We did perform a few tests with the system before my leap, with positive results. I would be in another room, and the Observer would project his image to me. Kind of like hide and seek." Sam shrugged. "The connection was based on my brain waves, so I naturally assumed that it would extend through time as easily as it did through space." Doctor Mayes nodded and made a few notes as the man next to her, in the Air Force uniform, put his arm up. Sam's expression became more serious. "Yes?" "I've got some questions on the organization of your staff. It seems that you've burdened a few people with a lot of responsibilities." "Well, sir..." The man supplied his name. "Captain Richard Adams." "Captain, I was forced to limit access because this is a top-secret project. The government would only allow a certain number of people to work here due to security and funding reasons. Our original staff did consist of over one hundred, mostly during the construction period, but over the course of the experiment we had to dismiss the majority of the personnel. Prior to this investigation, we had a crew of thirty-seven." Captain Adams sat back in his chair. "So how did you decide in what manner the various jobs would be handled, and by whom?" "Each person here," Sam replied as he gestured to the staff, "represents the head of a department. As people were phased out, these individuals and their staff took up the necessary job assignments according to their particular abilities." One of the naval officers raised his hand. "My name is Admiral Sean Mirosa, Doctor." The slim, dark-haired man placed his hands on his lap and offered up a hesitant smile. "I'm with the NASA space program. I don't believe that Admiral Calavicci remembers me, but we worked in Pensacola at the same time." Sam looked at Al, but Al shook his head and shrugged. "Why did you decide to bring Admiral Calavicci into this project?" Mirosa asked. "I am aware of his outstanding contributions to the United States Navy-- his improvements on the disposal of nuclear waste, his help in eliminating the 'Deep Six' practice and so forth-- but why would you bring him here?" "Admiral Calavicci has an understanding of computer systems that was very helpful in the construction and improvement of Ziggy, our parallel hybrid computer. Also, because of his astronaut training, he can maintain his equilibrium and good judgment in the Imaging Chamber." The male scientist seated at the end of the row instantly brought his hand up. "Doctor, I'm Doctor Avery Steiner. I perform experiments at UCLA concerning the human brain. We're currently working on the nature of the mind, and I can't help but wonder. How is this computer of yours able to link the two of you together for this hologram process? If there isn't a direct physical connection, how can the computer utilize electromagnetic brain waves through time to accomplish this?" Sam watched Al mouth, "Careful, Sam." "I'm afraid that question is a rather involved one at this stage," Sam replied cautiously. "It's a very detailed process which I'll be glad to answer later in your investigation." The final scientist spoke up, his pudgy hand curled around a pen that he held up in the air. "I'm Doctor Mitchell Levin from MIT. I'm aware of the rarity of successful experiments involving field generators, and I wondered if you could tell us how you managed to incorporate them into your experiment?" "And," added the last naval officer, "how you did it without the government's knowledge." In the silence that followed his question, the man gave his name. "Admiral John Peovis." Sam glanced around the room, then settled his gaze back on Doctor Levin. "I know that field generators are unpredictable, but to get the results I needed it was necessary to, uh..." "Sneak them in?" Peovis prodded him. "I was never given specific instructions as to what I could or couldn't use. I simply didn't ask," Sam replied defensively. "All that was asked of me was to get positive results. The methods used to get those results were never discussed." "But how," Levin interrupted, "did you decide the generators were necessary? Couldn't some less dangerous and more stable equipment have sufficed?" Sam heard Al's voice, low and cautious. "Sam..." "Uh, again, that's a question I'll have to address later." Doctor Levin and Admiral Peovis gave Sam matching looks of irritation, but fell silent. Sam sighed with relief and leaned away from the podium. "I'd like to thank you for coming here today and for your questions--" "One last question, please," said another voice. Sam felt a chill run through his body as the words echoed down to him. He turned slowly and held onto the podium for support, then looked up at the patient, smirking face of Edward St. John. "Yes?" he asked in a hoarse voice. St. John sat straight in his chair and gave him a calm, measuring look. "How do you justify changing history," he asked, "in order to straighten out your own troubled life?" Sam took in a sharp breath of surprise. "How--" Al suddenly stood up, made his way across the floor and gently moved Sam aside from the podium. "I think that's enough for today. I'd like to thank you for your time, and we'll be ready for the start of the investigation tomorrow morning. Good night," he said firmly. Al took Sam by the arm, half-leading and half-pulling him towards the stairway and the door. "Don't say anything else," he whispered harshly. "Don't even look at him." Another hand took his other arm, and Sam turned his head to face Don Benettelli. "Let's g-go, Doctor," he muttered in agreement. "I don't get it," Sam heard himself say. "The guy was testing you," Don explained. "Ziggy d-does the same thing to help me stop stuttering. You distract the person with something they d-didn't expect and the person does what you want them to." "He tricked you, Sam." Al gave Sam a grim look. "He didn't know a damned thing. He was bluffing."