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 Sam...fast, 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!"