Chapter  2

It was one thirty-eight a.m. at Project Quantum Leap.  Al, unable to
sleep because of an argument with Tina which had ended in her throwing
him out of her bed, and her quarters, a half hour ago, was the only
occupant of the Project's cafeteria.  He had just raised his cup to take
a sip of the always too strong coffee when Ziggy spoke.  Startled, he
jerked involuntarily, sloshing the hot brew over his fingers.

"OUCH!" he yelped, dropping the cup. "Dammit Ziggy, next time use those
hybrid "brains" of yours and gimme a little warning!"  Reflexively he
put his burned fingers in his mouth.  "Geez, that hurts!" he mumbled
around his fingers. "What is it?"

"Admiral," Ziggy said. "a new visitor has arrived in the Waiting Room
and, Doctor Beckett's life is peril!"

The Project's staff and security personnel had learned years ago to get
out of the way and stay out of the way if they ever saw Admiral
Calavicci racing down the corridors.

"Gangway!" Al now shouted at the lone person walking down the corridor.
Instantly, Ted Brunson, one of the lower ranked computer technicians
just going on duty, flattened himself against the corridor wall.
Wordlessly he watched the Project's Observer, dressed in red and white
candy cane-striped silk pajamas and robe, fly past him as if being
chased by a horde of ex-wives.  Then, without a second thought to the
wild-eyed man who had just flown by him, continued on his way.

"Door!" Al shouted as he rounded the last corner before the Waiting
Room.  As the door slid silently up and he ran into the Waiting Room, a
woman's terrified screams filled the large white room.  The Observer was
used to seeing visitors arrive in countless states of mind and in
various states of dress and occasionally, undress.  But none of that
made it any easier for him to look at the terrified young woman, wearing
Sam's aura, cowering on the floor, shrinking back from the Project
psychiatrist kneeling in front of her, trying to calm her hysteria.

The purple-black flesh around her eyes, the blood running from her nose
and the two deep, bloody splits on her lower lip bore gruesome testimony
to the vicious beating she'd been in the midst of when Samuel Beckett
leaped into her life.  The words she kept screaming kicked the ancient
"fight or flight" instinct in the Observer into overdrive as adrenaline
poured into his bloodstream.

"He's going to kill me," the slender woman cowering on the floor near a
wall screamed over and over.  "Oh, God, please don't let him kill me!
He's insane!"

Listening to his instincts, Al moved carefully forward until he was just
a few feet away from the pair on the floor.  "I need a name, Beeks," he
said in a voice that would brook no opposition.

Verbena, also clad in pajamas and robe, glanced up at him from where she
knelt before the physically abused and terrified new visitor.

"Not right now, Al," she said.  "You'll have to contact Sam without a
name," she said, trying to make herself heard over the unceasing,
terrified screams.  "From what I've been about to make out since she
arrived not quite a minute ago, I think it's her husband who's beating
her.  From her actions, and what's she's screaming, I advise you to tell
Doctor Beckett not to fight back."

"Are you out of your freakin' mind?" Al demanded. "Look at her!  She
looks like she's been beaten with a baseball bat, and you want me to
tell Sam not to fight back?"  He and Verbena started when the visitor
screamed again.

"Oh God, no!  No, Derek!  Please..not the bat! Not the bat!"

The look in the psychiatrist's eyes as she met Al's eyes spoke volumes.

"I'm on my way," Al said grimly, and hurried out of the Waiting Room and
headed toward the Control Room at a flat out run.  "Ziggy, tell Gooshie
to get the Imaging Chamber on line. I'm heading there now," Al said
aloud as he ran.

"The Imaging Chamber is on line, Admiral," Ziggy responded.

In the Control Room door, Al slowed down just enough to grab the
handlink Gooshie held out, then ran up the ramp to the secured outer
door of the Imaging Chamber.  Once inside he barked, "Center me on, Gooshie!  It could mean his life!"

Through the energy of myriad years swirling around him, one thought kept
running through Al's mind. [Please let me get to Sam in time.]  Then,
"We have a lock," Gooshie's voice echoed in the Imaging Chamber.

Punching in the opening code, Al watched the door between the future and
whatever past Sam was in, slide up just in time to see a tall, hard
muscled man grab Sam by the hair and haul him to his feet.  For an
instant Al could only watch as the man, using the strength in just one
arm, took Sam by the throat and slammed him against a wall. Then his
'Nam instincts kicked in, and he rushed out of the Imaging Chamber just
as the enraged man slammed Sam against the wall again, then began
pushing and lifting Sam up against the wall as if his friend was a
ragdoll.  It was at that moment that he caught sight of Sam's right hand
curling into a fist at his side.

"Sam!" Al yelled. "Don't hit him!"