Chapter 29

Al had left the meeting with the Senators and the Board. Weitzman had granted 
a stay of funds for only 48 hours. That could be taken as either a good sign 
or a bad one. If they could retrieve Sam within the next 12 hours, then the 
remaining 36 hours were moot. However if Sam leaped first then 48 hours would 
not be enough.

Al had no choice now but to convince Sam to come home. Either that or be lost 
in time forever. The government was tired of pouring money down and empty 
hole, and the risks Sam was taking still did not equal the amount necessary 
to keep the project afloat. The project had gone on as far as it could, and 
with the retrieval odds being so high, Al was being pressured to bring Sam 

Al was backed into a corner this time. He had a very difficult choice to 
make, and no one could make it for him. He hated to do it, but he was going 
to have to bring Sam home, mission unaccomplished. Sam would probably bitch 
and moan, but what choice did Al really have?

He entered the Main Control Room and was greeted with the sight of Verbena 
arguing with Gooshie. They looked up at his entrance and then went back to 
"But Gooshie, you've got to get Ziggy to understand." Verbena was saying. 
"Tell her we aren't going to close the project down."

"Dr. Beeks, please understand, Ziggy isn't listening to me either. She has 
made up her mind and locked all controls out." Gooshie ran his hands through 
his hair making it stick up at odd angles. "I don't know what else to do."

Al stepped in between them. "What's going on now?"

Gooshie tapped a few buttons uselessly then looked to Al. "Ziggy eavesdropped 
on the meeting. Now she has locked out everyone. I think she's afraid the 
project will be closed down and she will be dismantled."

Great. This was all Al needed. With deadlines looming overhead, he definitely 
did not need this. "Ziggy?" He called out.

Only a hum was a response.

"Ziggy unlock the controls so we can run the retrieval program." Al sternly 

"What will become of me?" The computer pouted back to him but did not release 
the controls.

Al chewed on his lip. He looked to Verbena. She just shrugged. He had to 
think for a moment. Outsmarting a supercomputer was not his specialty. "Ziggy 
let us bring Sam home. He would not let you be dismantled. He created you, 
didn't he?"

"Affirmative, Admiral." Still she didn't release the lockout.

Al knew he was walking on eggshells here. He had to be careful that he didn't 
crack any. "Do you think that Dr. Beckett would let his greatest achievement 
be destroyed?"

The room was quiet while Ziggy thought. "I do not believe so, Admiral. 
Lockouts released." A hum and a chirp restored the functions to the main 
board. "You may proceed, Dr. Gushman."

Gooshie looked to Al for what to do next. "Do you want the Imaging Chamber 

"No." Al came to his decision. "We are going to attempt retrieval now."

Verbena gasped lightly. "Al. I wouldn't advise it. You should at least warn 

"No choice, Bena. Time's running out. And if I go back in there, he's only 
going to argue with me." Al stepped up behind Gooshie and watched him bring 
up the updated retrieval formula.

Verbena went to say more, but Al shut her up with a look. Verbena never let 
anyone boss her around and she had put up with a lot of Al's tantrums over 
the years. This time something in his demeanor had changed. He was determined 
to bring Sam home and no one was going to stop him. No one.

"Retrieval program loaded and on-line. We're ready when you are, Admiral." 
Gooshie's voice had a tinge of nervousness in it.

Al stepped up to the viewscreen that showed the Waiting Room. Jessica was 
still curled up on the bed. "I'm sorry." Al whispered to the image. He stood 
up straighter and without turning spoke the words. "Affect retrieval.... 
Now!" His eyes remained glued to the screen.

Come home Sam, come home. Al's thoughts ran over and over in his mind as a 
blue glow took over the form on the bed.


Sam had awoken from his nap to find a strange woman in his room. She was 
sitting on a chair and just watching him sleep. He knew she wasn't a nurse 
from the way she was dressed. He wished Al was here, he really didn't like 
the way they had parted and he hadn't heard nothing from him since. The 
strange woman was still watching him. He didn't know what else to say so.. 

"Shh dear. I'm here now. Rest some more. Is there anything you need?" she 

Yeah, you're name, Sam thought. Out loud he answered her, "No, nothing at 
this time. Why are you here?" He figured that was a safe question.

"I'm here because I have come to a decision. About Kelly." She shifted in her 
chair some. "I figured it would be better to tell you in person."

Ah-ha, Sam thought. This must be Jessica's mother. "And that decision is?" 
Sam prompted.

The woman opened her mouth to speak, but Sam didn't get to hear the words. A 
tingle started at his toes and worked it's way up his entire body.

NO! NO! NO! Sam wanted to shout. NOT YET!! I'M NOT DONE YET!!
The blue-white glow took over and Sam leaped