Part 3-2-The Book Of David Sam had created paradise here, David felt, and never more so than in the presence of its freely available tree of knowledge, also known as Ziggy. He was afraid the supercomputer would turn him away after asking so many questions, but it never did. He had never been this happy since his 7th summer, before his mother died, when he, his sister, and their cousin Jennifer spent all day and night looking for lost treasure where there was none. He should never have gone to see Jennifer, should have asked Matt for legal advice, should have realized Wilson Fisk would want revenge and have him followed out of New York. Jen had lived, but at a cost David did not like to consider. She said she could live with that choice, and its consequences, but it was another stone on David's back, as far as he was concerned. But oddly, the stone did not feel heavy today, and he was even considering calling his family on the secured lines at Quantum Leap. That is, if he could figure out how to explain a multi-year absence-again. Another obstacle was this paradise's resident serpent, a guy named Al Calavicci, a man who felt deeply the loyalty that Sam always inspired as far back as David could remember. He alone seemed to have a human reaction to the chaos David always brought with him. The others, scientists like himself, were too fascinated with him to be upset. In his heart, Dr. Banner knew he was being "handled" for obvious reasons, but he actually appreciated the effort. No mad scientists operating on society's outcasts here. No mad scientists at all, just a few goofy ones. As he came upon the supercomputer mainframe, Ziggy surprised him with "Hello, Doctor Banner. You're looking well this morning!" "You mean Sam is looking well this morning, dont you, Ziggy?" Ziggy did not even hesitate to respond, "Except for Admiral Calavicci, who has leaped himself, I am the only one who can see beyond the time-distortion. I can see Sam Beckett's face, if I choose. But since I know it quite well, I prefer the face of Dr. David Bruce Banner. Hmm...Was your name meant to be Robert, originally?" He sat back, getting into the conversation, "An old family dispute. My mother's side was Scottish, so Robert Bruce was what they wanted. My father's father was thouroughly anti-Immigrant, and so insisted on a biblical name. He felt he had done his part by allowing Scottish blood in the Banner line in the first place." "How foolish some disputes are" Ziggy said smugly, with just an undertone that spoke 'How silly humans are' in her voice. "Ziggy", David said as he leaned forward, "tell me all about the project. Tell me about its development, and what you've all done with it. It must be"-he stopped-"enrapturing". "Indeed it is, Doctor, but, as the saying goes, you show me yours and I'll show you mine!". David shook his head. "You have all my information, public records, reported Hulk sightings-what more could you need about me?" "Your story, in your words, David. Human narrative isn't a device, it is a power. A great one. Plus there is an aspect of your story I am studying with great fascination." Banner looked up. "My efforts at a cure?!" "No, David, I began analyzing that as soon as you arrived. Too much exchange between yourself and Doctor Beckett for me to accurately scan your DNA, I'm afraid. No, the part that intrigues me will have to remain my fascination alone for the moment." David acquiesced, and began telling his story. It was the story of a boy who couldn't save his mother from illness, of two husbands who couldn't split open a burning car door or degenerative DNA, and of a lover who lost his love to ignorance and a still-mysterious fire. It was the story of 13 hellish years on the run, of a trained physicist who had to learn to wash dishes and read during library hours about labs doing breakthrough work, all while dodging a good but persistent man who believed him a good but dangerous man. It was the story of infinite lies, of fear-driven corrupt strength being broken by rage-driven chaotic strength, of all of humanity and every conceivable occupation under the sun. At least his pursuer, unlike that of another outcast doctor, did not have the law to back him up. Not that it seemed to matter, a lot of times. Finally, it was the story of a foolish group of people who believed themselves quite powerful. People fond of framing others. People fond of tying other people up. People who thought that killing family members made for a good life. People, who, one and all, came to regret their arrogance, as something happened before their eyes that made their minds grateful for the denial mechanism. In the end, their power proved as illusory as David's self-control efforts-and just as spitefully destructive "To be honest, Ziggy, if I never have to flee another burning building, I sometimes think I might just be more accepting of circumstances-but then I remember, my life IS a burning building." "A sad analogy, David, but in my study of your travels, an apt one. Now, I shall" David interrupted, "Before you tell me, did you figure out where Sam was going before my gamma energy drew him in?" Ziggy was completely silent. "Now" ignoring his question," I shall tell you of Quantum Leap." Ziggy had correctly surmised that David already knew where Sam was headed prior to all this-and further correctly surmised that David didn't like that idea one bit. Quantum Leap's story was told by Ziggy in a kind of code that only a top-flight scientist could understand, but given the company, it required no effort to understand. From these equations and probability scans and outcome differentials came a clear picture that made David Bruce Banner outright forget for the first time in 20 years that there was a giant green creature named the Incredible Hulk. Quantum Leap was the story of Al Calavicci, broken by captivity in Vietnam, alienated by his wife's remarriage, and the story of Al Calavicci, broken by captivity in Vietnam, who nearly alienated the wife who had waited for him on a stranger's say-so. It was the story of Tom Beckett, KIA in that same horrible war,and of Tom Beckett, whose disagreements with his brother about the justness of the war kept the Beckett household lively, to say the least. It was the tragic story of a President's children, orphaned that awful day in 1963, and the story of a Presidential widow who raised her children to be worthy of their heritage. It was the story of a project that tabloids and bureaucrats nearly ate alive. Finally, it was the story of a healing presence and lifeforce by the name of Sam Beckett who started everything with this premise: Time, like a loop, gives us our entire lives to travel up and down and all around, stopping along the way to make right that which once went wrong. David Banner took all this in, then said it out loud, the thought he had been holding back; "It was my wife, wasn't it? Sam was going to, somehow, help me get my wife out of that car, so that I never began my hidden-strength experiments, and never...". He dared not complete the thought. The creature suddenly felt a part of him again. Suddenly everything bad did. Somewhere, in the corner, he saw Calavicci laughing at him, which was ridiculous, but he wasn't there anyway. Why he was demonizing Al? The man was a bit gruff, but he wasn't the devil in disguise, after all. So wrapped up in this new wave of misery, David barely heard Ziggy say, "I'm afraid probability estimates do bear that thought out, David." Almost intuitively, David said "What else do the studies say, Ziggy?" Ziggy ignored him once again, "I am narrowing down the possiblities for the fire that killed Dr. Elena Marks and began your fugitive status. It may have something in common with a fire that nearly..." This time David would not be ignored, "DAMN YOU, ZIGGY! I ASKED YOU WHAT ELSE THE STUDIES SAY AND YOU WILL...." Ziggy's response was curt and to the point. "Very well, Doctor. Our studies show that you will become your creature again and make further contact with or travels by Doctor Beckett impossible, indicating the destruction of the project. Once you were brought here, all probablities bent in that direction, and it seems theoretically uavoidable that you will destroy us all." Ziggy paused and then said in a low tone," Do not raise your voice to me again, David ". David Banner stood alone in a stunned and shamed silence. Al had returned from contact with Sam, and the entire project waited outside the holo-projection chamber for his return. Upon exiting, he promptly walked over to David Banner and punched him over the table he was sitting on. David was stunned, but remarkably, felt no twinge of the creature, as though it were out of town. "Banner, you sonova---! Get Up! I want a piece of you AND that green meatball!" Al looked around at the assemblage, pointing his finger, "ANd don't any of you eggheads dare defend him! This is all his-awww, hell, this is all a mess!" Turnning to Banner, almost sobbing, Al spoke: "He's become the Hulk. I saw him change as I completely lost the link. How do we get him back? I'm sorry I punched you, but seeing my best friend like that nearly killed me." David understood only too well. "Calm yourself, first, Al. The creature's not here, maybe because Sam and I are separated as we were not when we first leaped. Second, everyone, I know about the predictions. So STOP dancing around me." One look from a very concerned Donna Eleise-Beckett told David that, because he had unwittingly hurt her husband, the hard truth is all he would get from her. Thrown a bit by the faces, once supportive, now concerned about Sam's metamorphosis, he said "We'll find a way to protect the project, I swear it. I love this place, too." Al was sitting now, and looked at David appreciatively, but said "Maybe it's only right that you destroy our world, Banner. After all-----Sam and I have destroyed yours." David looked at Al. Was this some child's game of gotcha? He destroys them so they destroy him first? No, he could tell, it wasn't that at all. Al continued, "Someone saw your face, saw Sam change, someone---who really, really shouldn't have." David pulled back for a minute, from both Al and the truth, but the truth hit him harder than Al ever could. No, only the Hulk could hit that hard. One word;a name; "McGee". Jack Mcgee had his dogboy trophy, his ticket back to legitamacy, and almost certain murder charges pending for David. After 13 years, Jack Mcgee knew that John Doe was David Bruce Banner and that David Bruce Banner was the Hulk. Despite this circumstance's inevitablity, David still felt a ill humor he had felt 6 times before in his life, at its lowest points. Anger was starting to show on his face, bringing a collective stunned worry to the crew. Just then, Ziggy spoke, "I believe I have isolated the cause of the lab fire that killed Dr. Marks. It seems that.. David Banner, who was not changing into the creature, spoke, both interrupting Ziggy and speaking the last words he would speak before a 12-hour withdrawal: "Oh, BOY!"