CHAPTER NINE The Imaging Chamber door opened and Al entered the Control Room. Sammi Jo still sitting at the console, the two boys play. Ethos was already there. Al hurried over to Ethos, "Sammi Jo, Where's Beth?" Sammi Jo turned from the console to face Al. "Al, she's there, right next to you. Oh, here's the printout of Sam's notes." Al looked at Ethos. Ethos nodded. When Ethos spoke his lips did not mouth the words. "Don't worry they cannot see me or hear my words." Al whispered, "Why can't they hear you?" "Because I'm transmitting my voice via your mitotic neurons." "So no-one else can hear you, only me?" "That's right." "Won't it look funny if Beth doesn't speak?" "No, to them Beth is still here." "Where's Beth?" "She's in good hands. Al, bring me the notes." Al, fetched the notes from the console and placed them in front of Ethos. Ethos picked them up. "How can you do that? You're a hologram." "I can chose to be either leaper or hologram, depending on the situation." "How come we couldn't touch you before?" "Just a safe bet. I didn't know how Sam would react to my being there." "Sam wouldn't hurt anyone without good cause." "I couldn't be sure of that." "But you must have known, I-I mean you must have Sam's history." "Yes I do, but he is not Sam at the moment, he is Dr. Botkin and we don't have much data on him, now if you please, we don't have much time." Ethos quickly read through the notes. Al watched him read. Ethos flipped through the pages with extraordinary swiftness. Al was astonished at the speed of his reading. "And I thought Sam was a speed-reader. Do you have a photographic memory too?" "It's just a gift that comes naturally to us Beckett's. My Grandfather had it, but regretfully not my father. The genius sometimes skips a generation or two." "Your name's Beckett too?" "Fortunately, there has always been males in the generations to carry on the family trait. It does not happen too often with females. Though I think Sammi Jo is an exception." "Whose lineage do you follow, Joel's or Jimmy's?" "Jimmy is my Great-Great-Great Grandfather." "Do you have any family?" "Alas, I have never married, and am an only child. However, my Uncle's daughter had two boys, Jeremiah and Daniel, His son, one of each, Jonathan and Elisia, so the tradition can continue. I have three nephews and one niece, I used to treat them as my own, but sadly, due to the pressures of this project, I haven't seen them for quite a few years." "Are they Beckett's too?" "The boy and girl are, but the two boys carry their father's name, Archer. Al..." Ethos looked about him, "...can you send Sammi Jo and the children home, I am ready to input the data." "Sure, no problem." Al walked over to Sammi Jo. "It's been a long day, why don't you take the boys home." "Okay, I'm a bit whacked." Sammi Jo turned to the two boys, "Come on you two, time to go we have an early start in the morning." The boys moan, but do not kick up a fuss, they were too tired. Sammi Jo placed an arm around Jimmy's shoulders and the other around Joel's waist. Jimmy rested his head on Sammi Jo's hip. They walk towards the external door, Sammi Jo turned as she opened the door. "See you in the morning, Beth, and don't stay too long Al, we have a very early start." Ethos spoke using Beth's voice, "I'll make sure of that." "Goodnight, kiddo's." Al punched the air, mocking Joel. "See you bright and early Sammi Jo." Together Jimmy and Joel very tired could only just manage to speak, "See you Uncle Al." Sammy Jo and the two boys went through the external door, it hissed closed behind them. Al and Ethos walked over to the console. "Oh that's better I can use my voice now, using neuron transference gets a bit of a strain after a while." "How do you do that, I mean neuron transference?" "Well, I don't think you'll believe this Al, but we still have Ziggy and she's still a character. That's why I can lock on to you, after all you are part of Ziggy too." "You mean Ziggy's still around in your time? "She sure is, we've not come up with anything incomparable, of course the coding is different now, since we started using molecular chips and nuronecular processors." "Don't let Ziggy hear you say that, she's got a big enough ego as it is." "Too late Admiral, I've been monitoring your conversation since you arrived back," Ziggy retorted, "every nanosecond my evolution and metamorphosis is being anticipated and enhanced. You forget Admiral that I am a self-instruct hybrid. Oh and by the way my ego, as you call it, comes from the cells provided by you." "Yeah, yeah Ziggy, very funny." "It is true Admiral, I have it cached right here." Al transferred his attention to Ethos, ignoring Ziggy's last remark, "How long will all this take?" "It will take longer than I anticipated, I did not expect such antiquated equipment." "Ha-ha, antiquated, all this." Al waved a hand around, showing the equipment. "This is the latest technology of the 21st century." Ethos punched keys on the console, Ziggy whirred and whined at each command input. "You should see the developments that have been made to technology over the next 15 decades. In the last decade alone, a transporter has been developed." "Transporter, what's that?" Ethos continued to enter data as he spoke, "Without going into too much detail, it moves an objects or being from one place to another in neo-nanoseconds. Here one second..." Ethos pointed to the ground. "...there." Ethos pointed into the distance. "...the next." "Geese! That sounds interesting." Ethos continued working at the console. "I should have it finished before morning. Take a rest Al, you look worn out." "I think I will, I'm dead-beat." Al moved over to a padded chair as he sat he pressed a button in the chair's arm. With a faint hiss the chair reclined. Al glanced at the clock on the wall it was 2:17 am. * * * * * * Ethos sat at the console he arched his back to relieve the aching muscles, as he did so he caught sight of the clock it was 7:38 am. Al was still sleeping. Al opened his eyes, lifted his head and looked about him. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and stood, stretching. "Boy, I'm aching all over." "I'm not surprised, you've been tossing and turning all the time." Al walked over to Ethos. "How's it going?" "Slowly my friend, very slowly." "How far have you got?" "Another 3 or 4 hours should do it. It's taken me a lot longer than I thought it would." "How come?" "This primitive equipment, I've had to re-write nearly all of the code, modify quite a few of the chips and update the auroraus-nimbus." "auroraus whatus?" "Auroraus-nimbus, it's what we call the light that surrounds Sam when he's leaping, that's what conveys him through time and space." Al. Strode to Ethos, "How does that work?" "In what you call the Accelerator Chamber there are two magnets, when these are activated there are, sort of hydrogen or hydra-sonic wind particles formed, these draw the magnetic field lines toward the centre of the two fields that are separated. Sam is the centre of these." Al looked at Ethos bewildered. "This basically causes a short-circuit and the poles, Sam's head and feet, store the dynamo's energy. When the two magnetic fields meet, electrons and protons make gases of ionised particles which act as conductors. This is where the dynamo's energy is changed to light." Al was nodding, still bewildered. "As this kinetic energy is used up, the poles switch places thus moving Sam's inner body in time and space. To control this movement, there must be magnetic ionic particle impulses sent to each of the poles, this must be done at precisely the right moment, thus controlling where and when Sam's inner body will travel in time." Al was really confused, "Yeah, I really understood that?" "That is the theory behind our current project Quantum Leap. Do you have any questions?" Al shook his head, "No, no," still shaking his head, "really.... no." Al walked away looking very puzzled, he sat in the chair and reclined again. Ethos resumed work at the console. * * * * * * Ethos stood and stretched himself. He looked over to Al who was sleeping. He looked at the clock on wall, it was now 12:56pm. Ethos' voice was slightly raised, "I've finished it Al." Al did not respond, so he spoke louder, "Al?" Al raised his head and looked at Ethos sleepily. "What." "I've finished the modifications." "Wha-what time is it?" Al looked at the clock. "Woha! One! God damn it, why didn't you wake me?" "I've only just finished." Al stood and rushed over to Ethos. "Will it work?" "Only one way to find out, we'll have to run the program." "What'll happen if it doesn't work?" "Nothing, I've fail-safed it. Oh, and, I've added a new feature." "What's that." "I'm not going to tell you, I've given that privilege to Ziggy." "Okay Ziggy, what's this new feature?" Ziggy retorted egotistically, "I'm sorry Admiral, I've promised, I cannot tell you until later." Al looked at Ziggy slightly annoyed, "Ziggy, tell me?" "No, Admiral." Ethos laughed, "Ha-ha, quite a character isn't she?" Al's eyebrows twitched, "You can say that again." "Shall we run the program?" "We have to some time." Ethos tapped a single key on the console. Ziggy whirred and whined, lights flashing. Both run to the Accelerator Chamber. A blue-white light glowed and brightened. Blue lightening flashed, to and from the magnets. Then was gone. "That stage went well, you can go and check on Sam now." Al was nervous at what he might find, "You're sure he'll be okay. I mean, I-I don't want to go in there and find.... argh.... I shudder to think." "No harm has come to Sam, even if the program hasn't worked. Once you're inside the Imaging Chamber, I'll run the rest of the program." "Are you really sure about this?" "One-hundred percent Al." Al walked nervously to the Imaging Chamber door, he turned to Ethos. "Sure?" "Sure." Al opened the Imaging Chamber door and walked in the door sealed to behind him. Sam was looking out of the window, the sky darkening. He heard the observer, Sam turned around to face him. The table stood between Sam and his friend. Sam's face showed signs of relief, "You're here Al, thank God! What took so long?" The observer looked apologetic at his companion, "Oh Sam sorry, it took Ethos longer than he thought. He said the equipment was antiquated, can you believe that?" "Well things must have changed in his time, look at the advances we have made.... At least you're here Al." The observer walked over to Sam, he bumped into the table. "What the....?" "Al, what's wrong?" The observer tried again, the table stopped him again, "I don't know Sam." Sam walked around the table to his companion and knocked on the table. "I thought we might have changed placed again Al." The observer knocked on the table. He touched a button on the hand-link. "Ziggy, what's happening here, I can feel solid objects in here?" The hand-link tweets, the observer looked at it, surprised, "What?" Sam was just as shocked as his friend, "What is it?" "I can't believe this Sam." "Believe what?" "Ethos said he'd programmed something new into Ziggy, but he wouldn't tell me until I was in here. You'll never guess this in a million years Sam." "Guess what?" "Come here pal." The two friends move closer together. The observer placed his arms around Sam's chest and squeezed tightly. "Al! I-I can feel you." "Oh, buddy, how many years has it been since I could...." The observer stepped back and gave Sam a friendly slap on his shoulders. "This is great." Sam slapped his friend on the back, tears in his eyes. "14 years Al, 14 years. The last time was when we celebrated the near-completion of the project in September 1995, in the bar... Al I can remember?" "Go on." Sam spoke quickly, hardly stopping to take a breath, "I went to my quarters, so did you. All that needed to be done was the calibration of molecular nodes on the magnetic field lines. There was a telephone call from the Senate, saying that the Committee were going to cut the funding for the project at the end of the week. I went down to the Control Room. I calibrated the nodes or so I thought. A-and Gooshie walked into the Control Room just as I had stepped into the Accelerator," Sam's speech slowed down as he remembered, "He tried to stop me but," even slower, "I-I leapt anyway, and I woke up in 1956 as Tom Stratton." "You can remember, everything?" "Yes." "I hate to bring this up, but what about Donna?" "I met Donna when she was leaving the Starbright project in 1984, we were married 5 years later in 1989.... Al I really can, I can remember." The two friends hug, so pleased that they were together again. "Hey, this is great, but I um, we er, I have a job to do. What time is it here Al?" The observer clicked a button on the hand-link. "It's nine thirty, we'd better get a move on Sam." The observer moved forward, he felt strange. "Sam! What's happening?" Sam looked at his companion. Sam heard a strange fizzling sound coming from the observer. "Looks like you're shorting out. You're fading away, you're fizzling." Black and white static covered the observers body and faded away to nothing. . "Al are you still there? What's happened? Can you hear me?" Sam stood alone, he looked about him. He could just hear his fiend's voice above the static. The observer's voice was faint and echoing, "I can hardly hear you Sam, something's gone wrong, I'm leaving the Imaging Chamber, I'm going to find Ethos. Hang in there Sam." The observer's voice faded away into oblivion. Sam was alarmed, "Al.... Al." Sam looked hopelessly lost.