CHAPTER 7 PROJECT REVISION, STALLION'S GATE, NEW MEXICO Date: May 12, 2005 Verbeena Beeks was fast in her attack. After 10 years of murdering those around her, it was second nature to her. Unfortunately for her that night, she wasn't dealing with an ordinary patient. She was dealing with the creator of Quantum Leap, a brilliant man with numerous talents. Among those talents were black belts in three different martial art forms. Even though Sam no longer remembered where or who taught him those skills, his body remembered how to use them. Sam's martial art training was, in fact, second nature as well. And it was faster. Sam spun himself across the bed and into a standing position. As he moved, his legs swept into Beeks at top-speed, throwing her completely off-balance and into the mirrored table in the middle of the room. The needle full of poison flew from her hand and shattered against one of the metal walls as Beeks crumpled over. Where, Beeks asked herself in shocked confusion, did THAT move come from? Beeks was stunned mentally, even as she attempted to regain her breath from the woman's attack. There was no possible explanation she could think of for how the body in front of her could move that quickly or precisely. Sammy Jo--the aura that Beeks saw readying herself in a defensive position near the table--had never had any training. Beeks would have read about it in her files as part of her job as therapist for the project. Moreover, as far as she remembered--and she had even checked her files on this before she came here tonight, the person who had leaped INTO Sammy Jo's aura--Dr. Donna Beckett--had never had training any more stringent that aerobics. So where in sam blazes did either of them--Donna or Sammy Jo--become capable of rivaling the Karate Kid? It was almost, Beeks suddenly thought as she calculated other ways of finishing the job she had come here to do, as though someone else was in front of her. Beeks stood up, glancing towards the door out to see how far she had to move in case of retreat. In fact, Beeks continued in her thoughts, she hadn't seen anyone move like that since-- The thought was jarred from her head as she felt hands snap her arms behind her back in a wrestling hold. Beeks was surprised all over again--the fight was over before it had even begun. She had severely underestimated Donna Beckett, apparently. "Okay, Beeks," Sammy Jo's voice hissed from behind her right ear. "I know I'm being watched, and I know that the computer can send a call to security and have officers here to stop me from escaping before I can count to three. Nevertheless, I have no intention of letting you harm me. In fact, I'd love to know what, exactly, you think you're doing, as well as what was in that syringe." Beeks held her cool, ignoring the questions Donna Beckett asked through the aura of Sammy Jo. After all, she knew that The Computer would not allow any harm to come to Beeks and that the call to security was already most likely called in. No matter what else happened, the security and safety of this Project was tantamount. Too much was at stake in the past--and in this leap specifically. "You're absolutely right, Donna," Beeks said coldly. "As a matter of fact, since you were here in person, we've tightened security far tighter still. In fact, the guards should be here right abo--" The door to the Waiting Room opened and two men stepped in. "Ah," Beeks said, happily. "Here they are. Gentlemen, if you get a clear shot at our patient here, kill her." Sam Beckett really wished that just once, he'd find himself in a leap that immediately got BETTER when he acted, instead of worse. The instant Beeks told the guards they could kill if they had a clear shot, he knew this wasn't that leap. To give himself a few seconds to think, Sam immediately pulled Beeks in front of him as a shield and took a better look at the guards as he stepped away from the entrance and placed the mirrored table between him and the two armed men. They were in some form of uniform, but again, the uniform was wrong--something that didn't belong at his project in any memory he had of it. The uniform was a solid black--and it covered the soldiers (what else could they be? his mind thought suddenly) almost like a second skin. It made them appear almost as if they were floating faces in a sea of darkness. Covering their chests and legs were bullet-protecting armor. Their faces were stern and unforgiving, and the rifles in their hands were aimed quite carefully at Sam's face. Sam was truly terrified. The more he saw of his home, the more convinced he became that something, somewhere, had gone terribly wrong. Somehow, someway, he had to find out how his dream had become this nightmare. Unfortunately, he didn't, currently, have any idea what to do to keep himself alive for the next thirty seconds, much less how he was going to solve how this had happened. He grasped Beeks a little tighter and ducked his head behind hers to make sure it was protected--at least as far as another head could give any protection from guns at that range. He wondered what it felt like to be shot to death. Beeks shifted against the woman who held her against the mirrored table, trying to see if there was any give to the hold she had. There was none. Beeks was impressed, and almost wished that Donna wasn't going to get killed for doing this. It would have been nice, she thought sadly, to have a real adversary for once. "You might as well give up, Donna," Beeks said, knowing there was no chance such a game would get to be played. "There's no way out of here except through them, and believe me, if you think they'll let you out because you have a human shield, think again. You try and go out that door, they'll shoot you dead right through me." So sad, Beeks thought. 10 years of torturing those who came to the Waiting Room, 10 years of making sure that what had once gone right in their world went disastrously wrong, instead. And now I'm going to be killed one leap before the Project is completed. It would have been so wonderful to see what the world looked like after this last mission. They were so close, now, to the utopia The Computer believed necessary. Beeks wished she'd had lived to see it--The Computer had promised her that games such as Beeks played, games of death, would be welcomed in that future to be. It looked as though her nightmares had won, after all. Sam looked at the guards and listened to Beeks' voice, still trying to figure out a solution--any solution--to this stand-off. It was only a matter of minutes, maybe only seconds, before they guards simply opened fire. The soldiers facing him were carrying machine guns, not normal weapons. Moreover, they'd not said anything to him at all--not even an announcement to 'freeze' or 'let the hostage go'. With a cold chill, Sam realized Beeks truly wasn't bluffing. That was when it hit him. There WAS one option--but the solution might be worse than the problem. Sam decided to go for it any way and steeled his voice for its most impressive tone. "In that case, Verbeena, I've got something to tell you." Sam wondered if the tone read correctly given that Beeks might well hear it as the voice of Abigail Fuller. "Something that should get those soldiers right off my back--and hopefully keep you from attempting to kill me with an INJECTION again." Sam carefully pitched his voice louder as he talked about her attempt to kill him, in the hopes that somewhere, someone was watching this and might at least question whether Sam's story of the attack was true. Then again, Beeks had gotten in here without any sound--so this may well have been something those in charge wanted to happen. There was just so much he didn't understand here, Sam thought, but the only thing he could do was press on with the one choice left to him. He was surprised, then, when Beeks jumped as he spoke to her. "What," Beeks said slowly as she tried to look into Sam's eyes, "did you just call me?" She seemed to be shocked by something he had said. Good, he thought. Anything that keeps her off-balance may work in my favor. "Verbeena," Sam repeated. "That IS your name, isn't it? Verbeena Beeks?" Sam watched her closely, trying to figure out why simply saying her name was causing such a shocked reaction in her. For Beeks, the reaction was as uncontrollable as breathing. If the way Donna had defended herself has stunned Beeks, the mention of her first name was almost mystical. Beeks tried to keep her thoughts together, but they failed as she uselessly tried to understand how Donna knew that first name at all. Verbeena was, indeed, her first name. Once upon a time, anyway. But she'd legally changed it to Lauren when she was 16--as soon as she could do so. 'Beena Beeks was just too silly a name. No one at the project had ever known that name. She had no idea how Donna knew it. When Donna asked again if that was her name, however, she nodded. If Donna knew that much, Beeks thought, she might know more- and might let slip something that allowed Beeks to figure out what was going on. Apparently, there was a game was being played even now. Sam nodded as Verbeena echoed that it was, indeed, her name. He glanced once more at the guards and carefully turned Beeks around to face him--slowly so that the guards saw he was being calm, but carefully enough to keep her between him and the guns. He believed Beeks was right when she'd said he wouldn't live a second if they had a clear shot. Beeks seemed calmer, now, and she watched him as warily as he was watching her. Now it was time to take his option, Sam knew. he had hesitated this long only because he had hoped something else would happen and he'd have some other way. But nothing had, and time was running out. His life depended on him doing something that proved his value to Beeks or to this nightmare Quantum Leap Project--something that would get him past this moment and something that might even get him some answers finally. Something that might give them a reason to talk to him openly, to figure out what had happened here. Or, of course, something that might make him too dangerous to live at all. For the only thing Sam had of that much value to tell was the truth. The only option he saw was to tell them exactly who he was--his real name, everything. If he did so, he'd be breaking the very first rule that Al had reminded him of on that first leap so long ago. He'd be taking a massive chance that telling the truth wouldn't pollute the timeline further. But if he didn't try this, those two guards were going to kill him. Sam opened his mouth, sighed, and broke the rules of leaping once more. "Verbeena," Sam Beckett said softly. "You can't kill me. Not when I've finally come home." There was silence for about five seconds. Then Beeks suddenly laughed. "Oh, honey," she said, and Sam was struck by the menace in Beeks' tone. "Donna, you may have caught me with that surprise attack, but you can't expect to trick me more than once in a night. This isn't your home, darlin'. This may be the Quantum Leap Project site. The Computer might be what remains of Ziggy, and if you walk outside, you'll even still see the lights in the sky over the project site. But Donna, darling, you're about as far away from home as Toto was when he climbed out of the basket onto the yellow bricks." Sam processed the information Beeks was unintentionally giving him as quickly as he gained it. This WAS Quantum Leap. He was home. Ziggy was the computer--no, wait, the computer was what REMAINED of Ziggy. And in that instant, suddenly, Sam truly realized where he was. His string theory stated that he could leap anywhere within his lifetime. Nothing said he couldn't leap FORWARD. This wasn't a nightmare, mirror-version of his project at all. It was what was GOING to happen to his Project at some point in the future. He took a good look at Beeks. She didn't look much older than Sam remembered her looking--not more than 10 years older--but then again, Sam didn't quite trust the memories floating up from the other side of the swiss-cheese barrier. He had to know more, so he plunged on with truth. "Verbeena," Sam said, very carefully. "Trust me when I say I'm home. It doesn't look like what I left, true--but it's home for me. Even though I haven't seen home in several years." As he suspected, even this future version of Beeks wasn't stupid. Her brows furrowed in puzzlement as she tried to grasp his meaning. "There's no point in lying," Beeks said to Sam. "I know exactly where and when we got you from, and it was right within the project. Hell, it was right before that idiot husband of yours leaped and killed him himself in the process." Sam's heart leaped into his throat when he heard what Beeks was saying, but there wasn't time to dwell on it as she continued. "You and I were both there when he did that, darling. It hasn't been years since you saw this place. You were here when you were leaped into and you're still here now. Of course, maybe you meant it's been years since you LEFT there, but--" "Verbeena, I said what I meant." Sam's voice cracked out, shutting Beeks up as suddenly as if he'd used a whip. She looked at him more carefully, suddenly...as if he'd suddenly stopped being a weak puppy and become a rattlesnake. As if, Sam noticed, she thought that perhaps he was dangerous. If he didn't get answers soon, Sam realized, he might very well be so. "I haven't seen my home in over 5 years, Verbeena." Sam looked hard at her, daring her to deny him again. In his heart, he desperately searched for another way to survive this--breaking the rules of leaping hard always made things inevitably worse in the future even as they salvaged him in the present. But he still saw no other way out. Beeks had finally found something to say. "Explain to me exactly what makes you think you haven't seen you home, Donna. Go ahead. I'm highly amused by your attempts to save yourself." Beeks spoke with force, but in her eyes, Sam saw that she was really worried. He understood why--she was no longer in control of this situation. Sam knew exactly how she felt. Even more, though, he sensed that she was making a leap of her own--a leap to a conclusion as to what he was talking about. In fact, he wondered if what he was going to say next wasn't already something she knew in her heart. "I haven't seen home because I'm not Donna, Beeks." Sam drew her closer and whispered, as quietly as he could accomplish, "I'm Sam Beckett. I am the idiotic husband, 'Beena. And I'm home." Beeks looked at him, paling in the blue light. What was most interesting to Sam, however, was the fact that even as she shook her head in denial, he saw the truth of his comment skittering across her eyes. "How do I have any idea that's true?" Beeks voiced cracked as she clearly attempted to block out what Sam was telling her You're making this all up. I know you are." Sam responded with a calm, sure voice. "It's no lie, 'Beena. I'm him. The man who created this entire project. The one responsible." Beeks made a visible effort to regain her confidence and power. She'd clearly thought of a test that would deny him. "If you are really Sam Beckett, then you know the codes to shut the Security doors closed." Sam glanced at the doors and realized the guards were still standing outside. If the doors were to shut, he'd be safely inside, and with the overrides on...only he could open them again. "So?" Beeks' voice gained in strength as she thought she saw a weakness. "Come on, Dr. Beckett....show me some proof or I'll step out of the way and let them destroy you. Guards! I will count five seconds. At the end of those five seconds, shoot this person--even if you have to go through me." Beeks smiled at Sam, and whispered, "Prove it, Sam I am." She raised her voice and said, "Five". She began to step away and Sam let her go, realizing his time was truly out. "Four." Sam thought quickly. The swiss cheese memory holes were large in this leap, however, and the answers weren't coming. Sam started trying to use his photographic memory to remember the screen the passwords were on, the paper he'd written them on when he passed them to Al--anything that would give him a visual image of those passwords. "Three." Sam watched the guards lift their weapons into a true fighting stance, and realized one of them was smiling as he got ready to kill this woman they saw in front of them. Sam had no idea what had happened to the timeline to make this world, but he had already decided he would do whatever it took to erase it. Assuming he wasn't erased right now. "Two." Sam finally found an image in his head from before the first leap. A moment where he and Al had been working with Ziggy, integrating her into all the security systems so she could monitor the program's corridors and exits. It was a way to save costs on human monitors as well as a way of helping to 'camoflauge' how intelligent the computer Sam Beckett had built really was. As Sam looked at the scene in his memory, he finally caught a number that could only be the access code. "One." Beeks lifted her hand and Sam cried out, "SAZ 3263827!" As the code was said, the doors to the Waiting Room slammed shut. Sam gasped, the power of the guns finally being snapped as he found that he would, thankfully, live a few more moments. "Dear God in Heaven..." Sam turned to see Beeks backing away from him, whispering the Lord's Prayer under her breath, as if seeing a vision of God himself in front of her. It was incredibly disconcerting for Sam...and it made it all the more clear to him that this timeline was an aberration. No matter what else happened, Sam could not let this future come to exist. Hopefully, however, that was why he had been leaped here--to make sure it never did. Sam stepped carefully towards Beeks, his hands in a non-threatening position. She was his only source of information right now, and he wanted to see if there was any way to get her to respond to him. She was still mumbling the Lord's Prayer to herself, however and no matter how many times Sam spoke to her, for the time being at least....he was alone again. Sam finally sighed in frustration, and the sound terrified Beeks, who scuttled underneath the table as if she were a hedgehog hiding from predators. Sam bent over, intending to try one last time to talk to her and caught his fact in the mirrored reflection again. He did a double-take and glanced more closely at the reflection. It wasn't Abigail Fuller who looked back at him at all, he realized. This woman looked very much like her, true--so much so that the first time he had seen her, the resemblance made him assume who it was. But this woman was, in fact, younger, and she seemed to have a small tint of white hair at the front of her brunette curls. Sam suddenly had a vision of Al and him, from a previous leap--they were in a courtroom, and Al was telling Sam what would happen to a little girl, the daughter of the person Sam had leaped to save. "She's at the Project, Sam," Al said, regarding the future of that little girl. "And she thinks she has a way of getting you home." No, the person looking back at him wasn't Abigail at all. It was her daughter, Samantha Jo Fuller. It was HIS daughter--Sam's daughter--too. Beeks called him Donna. The computer--the remains of Ziggy--had called him Donna as well. When he had first leaped in and seen his reflection, HE had thought he was Donna. Now he saw Sammy Jo in the mirror. Beeks had said that they had pulled Donna from the past. That meant someone had leaped INTO Donna--and since Sam now looked at the mirrored table and saw Sammy Jo, the only conclusion was that Sammy Jo had leaped and had switched places with Donna. Then Sam had leaped into Sammy Jo--and suddenly he remembered what the blue flashes across Donna's face had reminded him of when he had seen her in the table three days ago. The flashes were what it looked like when someone was leaping. Donna had already been here, in Sammy Jo's body, when Sam leaped in. Given that every time Sam leaped into someone, they switched places with him, it was fair to assume that two people couldn't occupy the same aura in time. So when Sam leaped in...Donna was forced to leap out. Sam was in Sammy Jo's body in the future. Sammy Jo was in Donna's body in the past. Where in time was Donna? At least Sam knew why Al hadn't shown, now. Given how far wrong this future was from everything he remembered and knew about his project, Sam was sure Al would have been here if he could have been. But he couldn't be. Because in this future, Sam was sure, Al was dead. The Computer focused so much of its programming capabilities on the shock it had just received that many of the leapers in the revision project spent the next 14 hours without any help from their holograms. To The Computer, it mattered not at all. If Sam Beckett were truly in that body, then that meant he had not died after all. That first leap had not killed him--he had not perished as they thought--he had succeeded...and not failed. Instead, it was The Computer itself who had failed. It was The Computer who had told the humans that Sam was gone. It was The Computer who had failed to track long enough, failed to look close enough. Ten years ago, during the first leap Sam Beckett ever made, The Computer that ran Quantum Leap killed its creator. Or at least It had believe if had. Apparently, It had failed there as well. It had failed to kill him and failed to see that he lived still. This time, it would not fail again. The determination the Computer felt was great enough that it even let the security doors shut when Sam called out the number he had tried. The number, of course, had been wrong. The self-aware machine once called Ziggy (now, of course, called The Computer by those who worked with it, and something far darker by those who worked FOR it) would never have allowed her security override code to be the same as the trash compactor in that sci-fi movie. But if The Computer was going to kill Sam Beckett once and for all, it needed to make sure he lived until IT was ready. Until IT was finally prepared to finish what it had started so many years ago. Killing Sam Beckett had been necessary, and right--the odds and percentages were clear on that. It did not even need to check the odds to be sure that killing him now would be just as necessary. Everything must go according to plan, and since Dr. Beckett had somehow managed to foil his death once, The Computer would make sure that he was under control at all times until It was ready to rectify that error correctly. Utopia was nearly at hand. No one--especially a Boy Scout Do-Gooder who had somehow escaped a certain death ten years ago--could be allowed to stop it. The Computer's programming was absolute on this point. Actually, The Computer found itself enjoying this little temporal puzzle. How often, It thought, does one get to kill the God who made It? And how many people get to do it TWICE? The Computer smiled to itself, and began to figure the odds on those questions.