CHAPTER SIX The Imaging Chamber door opened and Al entered the empty Control Room. Al stormed over to Ziggy, "Ziggy, where's Sammi Jo?" Ziggy's tone of voice was concerned, "What's wrong Admiral? Is something troubling you? You sound rather upset." "Upset! Upset aint the word for it. More like I've been made a damned fool of by-by-by some trumped up future time-traveller." "What has Dr. Beckett said to upset you this time?" "Oh no, no-no it's not Sam that's upset me." "Who then? You mentioned a time-traveller and I assumed...." "That's the trouble with you Ziggy, you are always assuming," Al's voice started to falter and he was almost in tears, "use the facts damn it, use the facts." The external door hissed open and Sammi Jo entered the Control Room. She saw Al's distress and ran over to him. "Al! Al! What's wrong?" Al was still angry, "Geese! Every damned thing, that's what!" Sammi Joe placed a hand on Al's shoulder, "Come on tell me, what's happened Al, what's happened?" Al was nearly in tears again, "I was talkin' to Sam about what I'd thought, yer know. Then all of a sudden a guard came in and somebody leaps into the guard and......" "Hey, slow down Al." Al took a deep breath and paused for a few seconds gaining composure. "It's Sam's Great-Great-whatever Grandson 6 times removed. He just turned up out of the blue. He told Sam just about everything. Everything I'd been keeping from him, stopping him being hurt." Al looked straight into Sammi Jo's eyes. Al became quiet, "and you should've seen it, the way Sam looked at me." Sammi Jo gave him a hug "Oh Al." * * * * * * * * Sam and Ethos were moving towards the Dining Room. "Al didn't tell you then?" Sam stared at Ethos, bewilderment in his eyes, "No, he didn't. I can't believe that he would do anything like that. He's been such a good friend, all these years, he never told me." "I have a feeling I have brought something up that should not have been said." Sam opened the door to the Dining Room. Sam walked over to the table and Ethos followed him. Sam turned quickly to Ethos, "Oh it's not your fault, you didn't know, that I didn't know. Damn it, Al should've told me." Sam banged a fist on the table and flopped into a chair, he looked up and stared at Ethos. "Who's the mother of my daughter.... and my son?" "Well, I can tell you... but I don't know if I should." Ethos started to turn his back on Sam. "You've gotta tell me. I need to know..... now-now that I do know, about them." Sam looked at him confused. A door at the end of the room opened and the three servants came in. Sam looked towards them as they approached. The servant named Demidova spoke first, "Good morning Dr. Botkin, I trust you slept well?" Demidova glanced at Ethos only seeing Tschaikovsky, she then lowered her eyes. "Mr. Tschaikovsky." Ethos nodded to Demidova. "Yes, very well, I thank you for your concern erm, Derma---min---ova." Sam struggled to recall her name. "Demidova, Sir." she replied. Kharitonov spoke next, she was the cook. "I'll be getting along with breakfast, if that is satisfactory with you doctor?" Sam thought she did extremely well in the circumstances, she must have found it very difficult to find something decent to eat in these circumstances. "That will be fine erm, sorry erm, with me, hm." Nagorny was the man-servant of Nicholas and Alexei, Sam thought him to be a bit arrogant. "Doctor." All three servants left the Dining Room, Demidova through the door to the Duchesses' room, Kharitonov and Nagorny through the door to the Salon. Sam turned to Ethos, "Everyone will be getting up soon." A noise fizzled in Ethos' ear, he touched a hand to the back of his ear. "Well, Sam, nice to have met you at long last. I'm being re-called so I'll have to go for now, but I'll be back." Sam was surprised at his words, "You can get home, back to your own time?" "Yes." "So you've finally perfected the retrieval program?" "Yes we have, it took a lot of time and effort but we finally perfected it last year." "What year are you from?" "I'm from the year 2157." "When do you think...." A flash of blue-white light and the crackle of static returned Tschaikovsky back to his own time. He looked a little confused as to where he was. "I feel a little peculiar." Sam was still amazed at Tschaikovsky return, "I think the pressure of this situation is unnerving all of us." "It is very troubling to me." Tschaikovsky looked a little shaky, "It is against my nature to do what I am doing, but I have no choice in the matter." "Can't you just go, leave?" "What and be shot for treachery!" "No, no, of course you could not." "What they are doing to the czar is treachery, but there is nothing I can do to prevent it." The door to the Duchesses' room opened and the servant Demidova entered, followed by Alexandra, Alexei, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, trotting behind was Jemmy. They all nod to Sam as they walk past, towards the Salon door. Demidova opened the door. Alexandra, Alexei, Tatiana and Maria and Anastasia go into the Salon, Demidova following closing the door behind her. Olga stayed behind. Tschaikovsky walked towards the Salon door. Olga turned to Tschaikovsky, "Tschaikovsky please do not leave us, I would like to show you something." Olga walked over to the dresser and opened a drawer, she took out a book and sat down at the table. "I know you think kindly of us Tschaikovsky, I can tell. I want to read this to you. I copied it from this book." Olga opened the book and unfolded a piece of paper, she began to read, PRAYER Send us, Lord, the patience In this year of stormy, gloom-filled days, To suffer popular oppression And the tortures of our hangmen. Give us strength, oh Lord of Justice, Our neighbor's evil to forgive And the Cross so heavy and bloody With Your humility to meet. And in upheaval restless, In days when enemies rob us, To bear the shame and humiliation, Christ our Saviour, help us. Ruler of the world, God of the universe, Bless us with prayer And give our humble soul rest In this unbearable, dreadful hour. At the threshold of the grave Breathe into the lips of Your slaves Inhuman strength - To pray meekly for our enemies. Sam was touched by the words, "That is beautiful." Olga still looking at the book lying on the table replied, "'tis how Papa feels, to forgive, no matter what is done." Tschaikovsky was also affected by the reading, "I shall carry those words in my heart for the rest of my days." Tschaikovsky kissed Olga's hand and she smiled at him, then turned and smiled at Sam. Tschaikovsky's gaze moved from Olga to Sam, "I must leave you now, I have lingered far too long." Tschaikovsky walked to the door and left. Olga replaced the scrap inside the book and put it back into the dresser drawer, she walked backwards to the door. "I too must go, there is much to do with the needle." She closed the door behind her. Sam brushed a weary hand over the top of his head and sighed. Once more the door to the Salon opened. Kharitonov and Nagorny entered. Kharitonov carried a tray of crockery to the table. "I will be with you presently Kharitonov, I will take these in for the czar." Nagorny carrying clothing headed for the Duchesses' door, knocked and entered. Kharitonov was busy smoothing out a cloth she'd already placed onto the table, "You will befit from eating something today Dr. Botkin." "Oh I will Kharitonov, I cannot restrain myself much longer from your delicious cuisine." Sam helped Kharitonov with the tray and she arranged the chairs around the table. Demidova entered, wielding another tray full of dishes of very greasy and cold looking food, she placed the dishes onto the table. Alexandra, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei accompanied by four guards entered the Dining Room, Nicholas and Nagorny emerged from the other room. The family were seated and made comfortable. Almost silently Nicholas said prayers. "Blessed thee oh Lord, deliver thine our retched souls unto thee. Amen." Everyone finished, "Amen." The three servants left leaving everyone to eat, they chatted . Overlooked by the guards. By the stains on their grubby uniforms it looked like they had already eaten. * * * * * * * * Al and Beth sat at the console. A young boy of eight played with a remote controlled car on the floor. Sammi Jo, clipboard in hand, was bent over a large control panel, pressing keys and turning dials, every now and again she checked data from the clipboard. Ziggy emitted beeps and chirps as the data was received. Al whispered to Beth, "What can I do? Sam knows about..." Al nodded towards the small boy, so engrossed in his toy. "....Jimmy. Sam hated me Beth, I saw it in his eyes. But I didn't want him to find out, not this way." Beth stroked Al's cheek lovingly. "Oh Al, you did your best, I know and Sam will realise that you had the best intentions. He'll know." Beth gave Al a big hug. Al's arms went around Beth, and he kissed her nose, "Yeah, you're right we've been friends way too long to let somethin' like that come between us." "You remember how you and Sam first met?" "Yeah sure do, ha-ha." Al moved back from Beth and held her by the shoulders and kissed her cheek. "You and me, we'd had the biggest falling out. I got so drunk that night." "If it wasn't for Sam we wouldn't be together now." Al stood up and started pacing. Beth followed him with her eyes. He turned to face Beth, his head cocked. "Yer know, he said something really weird to me earlier." "What was that honey?" "He said somethin' about when I was in Vietnam. Somethin' about him visiting you and telling you that I was alive in Vietnam and I was coming home." "Yes, I remember that. Jake I think his name was, yes. Ha-ha, I thought he was trying to pick me up, a cop I think, but he was so sweet. I never saw him again after that." Al was thinking, "Hm." "So that was Sam, and I never knew." Al placed both hands on the console in front of Beth and kissed her brow tenderly, "'Cause you didn't know. You didn't know Sam then, how could you have known." "I know, but to think he changed our lives... twice." "I just hope he's gonna forgive me, that's all", he looked deeply into Beth's eyes. "I think he will, it's not in him to hold grudges, and besides he needs you," Beth moved closer to Al and kissed him. "As much as you need him, you are a team and no-one can change that, no-one." "We make a right pair don't we. The Leaper and the Hologram." "Go back and sort this out, talk to him, he'll understand." Then Jimmy crashed the remote controlled car into the legs of Al. A1 bent down and picked up the boy. "I'm gonna go and see your daddy now." Jimmy wriggled, "Can you give daddy this?" Al put him down. He ran over to Sammi Jo and whispered in her ear. Sammi Jo handed him a scrap of paper from her clipboard. He ran back to a kneeling Al and handed him the paper. "Can you?" Al scuffed the hair on Jimmy's head. "Sure I can pal, I'll give it to him." Al looked up toward Beth smiling and then stood looking at the picture drawn on the paper. The drawing Al was holding was of Donna, he showed it to Beth. They look at each other hiding their shock. Jimmy was very proud of his drawing, "It's mom, do you like it?" Al's eyebrow twitched, "Your daddy's gonna love this." Beth glanced at Al and then down at Jimmy, "He sure will Jimmy, this is very good." "Go and play with you car now, I want to talk to Aunt Beth." Jimmy returned to playing with his car, crashing it into anything he could find. Al whispered to Beth, "I can't show this to Sam." "He's gonna find out sooner or later, better it comes from you this time, than from a stranger." Al walked over to Sammi Jo. "Did you know anything about this?" "Yes, I was with him when he drew it yesterday. He said he saw his mom and dad while he was asleep, and he wanted to draw it for his dad so he wouldn't forget her." "I can't cope with this. I've gotta explain to Sam that the woman he loves, and doesn't know he's married to..... and has had a child with..... is dead! Geese I wouldn't wish this job on my worst enemy." "Do you want me to come with you?" "Nah, this is somethin' I've gotta do on my own." Al walked back over to Beth and kissed her. "Wish me luck!" Beth said joking, half-hearted laughter in her voice, "What do you think he's gonna do to you... get one of the Bolshevik's to shoot you?" Al was slightly alarmed at her words, "Don't say that Beth, you don't know what it's like there." "I'm sorry, but I think it's gonna be just fine. You're worrying too much, taking it far too seriously. It'll be okay, you see." Al put the drawing in his pocket, he kissed Beth again. Al walked to the Imaging Chamber door and opened it, turning to Beth he blew a kiss. Al left the Control room, the Imaging Chamber door closing behind him. Nicholas, Alexandra, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei were all seated around the table, with Sam at the far end. The conversation seemed to be light-hearted, interrupted by intermittent bouts of laughter. Sam heard the 'whoosh' of the Imaging Chamber door as the observer nervously stepped out, just as dinner was finishing. Sam turned to see the observer emerge from the door. Sam held up a finger to the observer, indicating for him to wait. The observer responded, "Okay Sam, I'm not going anywhere." The observer walked around the guest filled table, listening to the banter. Anastasia was whispering to Maria, "I have almost finished sewing the diamonds into my bodice." Maria whispered back to Anastasia, "Me too, I only have a few left." Alexandra quietly chatted to Nicholas, "I have today written to Anna Vyrubova, I do hope she receives it, we get precious little time to share thoughts with our dear friends and family." Nicholas replied, "I pray that our plight will soon be over, my sweet sunshine." Alexei spoke to Tatiana, but no so quietly, "I wish I had my balalaika, I could serenade you so that you could sleep better." The observer moved further around the table and leaned over Tatiana's shoulder. She had just finished writing a letter. The observer read out the letter to Sam, "Hey, Sam. Listen to this, lovely hand-writing. Mama, darling angel mine! I pray for you both dearies, the whole time, that God will help you now in this terrible time. I simply can't tell you how awfully sorry I am for you, my beloved ones. I am so sorry I can in no way help you or be useful. In such moments I am sorry I'm not a man. Bless you my own beloved one. Sleep well. I kiss you and Papa dear awfully much. Your own loving and true daughter, Tatiana. ....Beautiful, they really know how to write, not like this er, modern stuff." Sam looked at the observer over the rim of a wine glass, not filled with wine but water. Sam moved his chair backwards and stood. "Please ladies, I must leave you momentarily. Please excuse me." Nicholas made light of the situation as usual, "Of course doctor, you'll be back presently for the brandies I trust, ha-ha." Sam nodded his head to those seated around the table and walked towards the Salon door, the observer followed. Alexandra mused to Nicholas, "Oh, Nicky you are such a tease." Sam opened the door. The two leave for the Salon. The red of the sunset streamed in through the window. Sam closed the door behind him. Sam appearance was worried, "Al where have you been? It's nearly evening, you've been gone since this morning." Observer stammered out the words, "I-I didn't think you wanted me around. Erm, I-I mean, I did keep you in the dark." "Look, you keep me in the dark about a lot of things, remember, you wouldn't even tell me my name, about my brother, Tom." "Well I did tell yer, eventually." "Yes, eventually. I've had a lot of time to think since you went this morning, I reckoned you wouldn't be long, so I shut myself in the dining room for most of the afternoon." "So you're not mad?" "No Al, a little peeved, but I figured that if I needed to know then you'd have told me." "Boy am I glad to here that, you looked as mad as hell this morning." "I was shocked." "I've been talkin' to Beth, she can remember you Sam, from when I was MIA in Vietnam, not as you but that guy, Jake." "You mean I leapt into Jake again when I saw Beth, a couple of days ago." "Nine years ago Sam." "Well it's only been a couple o' days to me. I still can't believe it's been nine years since you last saw me. You've not altered much, a little grayer perhaps and a little more conservative, clothes wise, but still the same Al." "You're lookin' better than you did this mornin' too." Sam whispered, "Tell me about my kids Al." "Well your daughter's quite grown quite grown up 41 I think, that's Sammi Jo and quite a looker, she has a son, Joel he's 16." Sam questioned his friend, "Sammi Jo, she's the quantum physicist?" "Yeah that's right, she's bright and intelligent just like you." "She's 41, how come?" "I'll tell you about that later." "Don't keep it from me Al, not now." "I'm not going to Sam, promise, I'll tell you later, there's something I want to show you before I do." Sam was laughing, "I'm a granddaddy, Al?" "You sure are." "And my son?" "Your son Jimmy's 8, looks just like you, well he could be you when you were his age. He's a very bright kid, he sent you this." The observer nervously took Jimmy's drawing out of his pocket and showed it to Sam. "He's 8 you say, this is brilliant for an 8 year old, it looks just like...." Sam's voice quietened, "..Donna." Sam looked up from the drawing to Al's face. The observer looked at Sam sadly, "Yes Sam, it's Donna she's his mother, your wife, was your wife." Sam gave his friend a quizzical glance, "Was? What do you mean?" The observer swallowed hard, "She died Sam, with Gooshie and Bruce, Sammi Jo's husband." Sam's chin almost fell to the floor, "How? When?" "A car crash, eight years ago. Sammi Jo brought Jimmy up, as her own." Sam flopped heavily into a chair, tears welling up in his eyes. Sam looked up into his companions tear washed eyes, as the tears fell from his own. Sam stared into thin air, "Al, I've lost her."