Part 2-Sense of control I've had bad leaps. Watching that rapist walk out of court laughing was one. Having my best friend reduced to a memory that only a cigar wrapping could save from oblivion was certainly another. Watching a rural, sweettalking drug dealer pull a gun on an innocent child as though he were a bug to be squashed-Stop. With David's neurons so much a part of me now, I'm obsessing-and growing angry. But with Al's news, that this leap may mean- "Sam, aren't you listening? I said it's the end of everything! Ziggy calculates that in multiple high-end scenarios, Banner's Hulk destroys Quantum Leap!" I looked into my friend's eyes and knew that's what he heard Ziggy tell him, anyway. But "Al, Ziggy is like the Oracle at Delphi-ask the wrong question, and you think"... I'd pushed Al, and he pushed back. "Don't you think, DR. Beckett, that dumb old Al asked Ziggy what was meant by all that! That is between nursemaiding everybody's nutburger instant best friend, David Banner". Al stopped, and looked at me, the exhaustion, and then the apology, evident in his eyes. "You're hardly dumb, Al. You're just upset. Since I knew him starting back in 73, David Banner has always had this effect on people. He charms them, and his joy becomes everyone else's. So does his rage-no one can shake it off. Poor Elena used to write me about it." Straightening himself, Al looked at me "Sam, he may be your friend, but I won't permit him to destroy everything we've built. I'll find a way to kill him, first. Dooon't give me that line about self-fulfilling prophecies, either. We got Verbeena talking to Banner, calming him-introducing calming agents through the air vents-but Ziggy says that, when the time comes, all probable scenarios still end with" I interrupted my nervous holo-partner "With what? What were Ziggy's exact words, Al?" Al, a guy who does NOT have a swiss cheese memory, took a moment to tell me. "Silicon Valerie said, in that MechaStreisand voice you gave her ' The creature will likely rampage, ending our ability to affect Dr. Beckett's sojourns through time-forever. ' The rest was just tributary scenarios that fed into the same ugly river. You'll be lost, Sam!" Al looked down. "Those jackals from Lothos will probably find you-or worse! Don't stare off! Don't you hear me?" I wasn't ignoring Al, but felt something odd about the fact that "Al, Ziggy doesn't use words like "forever". I made the master program capable of linear and non-linear thought, but the concept ofanything immutable should be shunted out of the operating system". "Saaamm"...Al then told me about Ziggy's monotheistic emergence. My response was scholarly, and profound- "Oh, Boy!". I cleared my head of my personal, personable Frankenstein's monster and concentrated on the task at hand. "First priority, Al. Keep either David or myself from changing into the creature. Second, see if we can ride out the doomsday scenario until the probabilities swing our way, find out why I leaped in here... "Sam" Al looked concerned.. "Ziggy thinks that the Gamma Radiation infecting Banner, and now the two of you, drew you in. This leap may not have a purpose." I stared hard at empty air where a mental hologram seemed to be "That, my friend, is BINGO-BANGO-BONGO WRONG! Every leap has a purpose, some more obscure than others, but it's always there!" "Sam, how can you be sure?" I smiled, feeling more of myself than I had in a week. "Al, our computer believes in him. Can we do any less?" Our faith wasn't something Al and I often discussed, but his own smile told me I'd picked the exact right time to bring it up. "Where is David now, Al?", I asked, hoping the answer was sedation. It wasn't. "Your friend is quite the physicist himself, Sam. He's helping to clean up his mess-physically and scientifically. Ziggy fascinates him, and he thinks he can help the theoretical chuck-wagon along to help retrieve you-we haven't told him about the predictions." Good. Self-control for David without a stress-induced mutation had always been a challenge, with it a miracle, and we didn't need to pull away the curtain just yet. "Sam, was there a third priority?" Yes, there was. "Make it happen, Al. Arrange a face-to-face for me with David. There's been enough of an exchange between us for him to use the handlink, with a little tinkering. I have to know what I'm up against-What we're up against-with this creature." "I don't like sharing this, Sam. It's my way of keeping up with you. But I'll do it-" he said, "Here in Arizona" That mischievous, I Got You smile appeared on my friend's face. A kind of clarity drifted over me, and I realized-"Quantum Leap isn't in Arizona. It's in New Mexico! Why did I think.." Al expected this, and caught me, "Because, Sam, Arizona is where you wanted to build, where you told everyone it was your dream to build a time machine..." I picked up the slack, "And that's why we couldn't build it there-top secrecy, no prying eyes. An-AAnd we tell all interested outsiders we are in Arizona, even direct the calls through there. To walk in all that heat.. Al laughed-"And to get lost, to boot. Sam, you crossed into NM hours ago. We're only 60 miles from the work site-tomorrow, that tabloid hack comes and snoops around, nearly fries baby Ziggy-and himself. That's why-" Another breakthrough-"That's why we had to go completely secret, and why those damned hearings nearly finished us." Al smiled "Til there was you, we were at the commitee's tender mercies", the smile faded," and all because Jack Mcgee wanted to go legit again. You know, back when, the fighter pilots in Nam considered him one of them, told it like it was. Now he's harassing nice, nervous scientists with thyroid conditions. How the mighty do fall!" Just then, a car traveling way too fast nearly ran me over. It turned around, not to finish me, but to see if I was all right. Dazed, but otherwise okay, I couldn't hear Al properly, only the driver saying "Are you all.." The man stared, while Al screamed "Gupsem", "Getpsam" "GET UP SAM" "It's Mcgee! He's seen your..." Al turned away, massively upset, speechless. McGee stood over me, his dog boy trophy, in silence. "Well, John Doe, or should I say Doctor Banner, it's been a lot of phone calls and corners and twin gangsters, but, after 13 years, I can pass up a government fraud story and finally get my damned story! I'll testify on your behalf at Elena Marks' murder trial-I know you don't have control over the Hulk's actions". Mcgee seemed concerned about his prey, but I couldn't allow him to stop me and verify David's story. So I ran, with Al trying to keep up through the link. Jack Mcgee liked John Doe, or David Banner, and genuinely wanted to help him in some way. But a reporter's instinct is strong, and I was the story he couldn't let get away again. That at least, is the reason I think he gunned the gas on his rental. "Sam, wha'da we do?!" Al was panicked, and fading badly through the strained link. I continued to run, and said "We don't do anything" "You, Al Calavicci, exit the holo-projection matrix, and find everything you can on the death of Elena Marks! GO, Al! Please!" My friend faded out, reluctantly, with a worried look not on his face, but as his face. It was then that Jack Mcgee's obsession, noble or otherwise, crossed the line. A scream I took for my own, but which was really Mcgee's, overwhelmed me the same time as his car smashed my spine, hurling me facefirst onto skidding pavement. My head was turned, somehow, toward the shiny hood of McGee's car. I could see David's torn face, and his bloodied eyes-except they were mine, and I was in agony. McGee was upset, kept apologizing, and then backed away. I thought, 'so much for his concern', but then I saw, my eyes weren't bloodied after all-they were dilated, and getting worse-I was changing, changing into David's creature, and nothing could stop it. McGee stood mesmerized "I've never actually seen.." Wisely, he got into his car and sped away. Good, because, God in Heaven, I don't want to become a murd..murder..MRRRRRRRRHHH!