Chapter Fourteen Juniel Waters could not understand why she was here. Although she realized it was ridiculous to argue with the Almighty Father who had brought her into this young woman's life, it seemed to her that Sam Beckett was better-prepared for this Leap than she. Every step of the way, it was Sam who had the information, Sam who had the ideas, and _Sam_ who had the wherewithal to accomplish them, with all the marvelous technology his hologram had at his disposal. What was her role (and Dante's), then, other than sidekick? For the first time, she began to feel shades of the resentment that Sam seemed to harbor deep within; the look was clear enough in his deep hazel eyes no matter how he tried to hide it. Even when he was deeply into his work, he still wasn't all the way there, as far as his commitment to Leaping went. Now June could understand where Sam's point of view was coming from. June was lonely. Even her Observer had disappeared to wherever he went when he was not present with her, either wandering around in whatever time June was in, or in some sort of between-reality limbo. He claimed that the time he spent in whatever ethereal realm he retreated to could have the effect of clearing up his visions. A memory of a distant Voice from mid-Leap occurred to her: Do not lose your sense of purpose, Juniel. A universe is riding on this Leap. Remember why you are here . . . It was a futile memory, June thought, because she did not know why she was in this place. Never had she received an outright warning from the mysterious Voice that spoke to her during the Transit, and it had chilled her thoroughly. [Dear God,] she thought, [where are you now?] It was as if the distant guiding force had turned its back, a force which she had so willingly embraced in the time when her life had proceeded in an orderly straight line. She remembered the offer which had presented itself in a half-dream state on the night of her birthday, and now doubted its sincerity. [Now, of all times, when I'm stranded without purpose. Why have you left me?] --Juniel felt as if drawn beyond time, but imperceptibly anchored to reality in the same non-instant as a turquoise light bathed over her, forming a translucent barrier between herself and the world. She feared, despaired, awed, and rejoiced all in one tumultuous emotion, uncomprehending of these new happenings but still innately understanding everthing that was unfolding. There was a presence somewhere in this light, June sensed somehow . . . intuition, or something beyond that? Perhaps the presence _was_ the light--but no, the light was too all-encompassing; the blue light could only be a fraction of its power, a manifestation in a form that June could somewhat understand, though it lay near the very edge of her grasp. --She felt an urge to try and speak to the light. "What . . . what is this?" June heard herself speak the words, and felt her lips shape them, but still, it seemed as if she had half-spoken, half-thought them. Perceptions were clearly altered in this ethereal light. The effect was disconcerting, but she felt as if the light had the situation entirely under control. "Hello?" she called. "Is anyone there?" --She waited a timeless moment, and after this instant eternity, the light reverberated with a sort of Voice felt within whatever substance June had at the time, if any, and resounded all around her with a soundless crash of thunder that she heard nonetheless: Do not be afraid. You have been chosen. --June couldn't help being perplexed at the cryptic non-explanation. "Chosen? Me? For what?" An image of sorts filled her awareness, while still remaining a part of the light. A sense of being within lives, and she felt changes being wrought within time, and somehow she understood the magnificence of what she would undertake should she accept the offer. --You desire more from life, correct? The Voice was so benevolent, so awesome that it seemed to emanate from Juniel herself. Perhaps that was simply her mind's attempt to comprehend this magnificent experience. You wish to give something of yourself to change the lives of others for the better. --"Yes," she answered, forming the word half by a sound, half by a thought. --She knew, she _knew_ that this was her future, her past, her destiny. I will not desert you. Nor will I allow things to degenerate in this timeline. You are ready to Leap. And the light embraced her completely now as all awareness of her home disappeared, of her body, of time. Only her soul and the Voice remained as she felt herself moving through time and space . . . -- If only that sense of well-being would stay long enough for her to make it through this Leap . . .