CHAPTER 6 It was well into the evening when Sam entered his lab, he hastily donned his lab-coat and had barely time to turn around when Al stormed in. Neither noticed Sammi Jo sleeping on the cot. "You didn't have to be so rude!" Al was raging. "He deserved it Al." "What's going on?" Sammi Jo raised her head frowning at the two men. Al turned in the direction of her voice, "Didn't see you there kiddo, it's Sam he's impossible." He turned back to Sam. "I bet you've blown it pal. Sky high along with this precious project of yours. Do you think he's gonna continue the funding after this. Even I couldn't have thought of those names to call him." "So what if I called him a putrid dinosaur," Sam laughed, "an extinct putrid dinosaur would have been better." His mood changed back, "Don't need the computer indeed, I'll give him computer, I'll send him into the next world and beyond." "Sam what's happened?" Sammi Jo looked concerned. "Oh he only wants me to scrap Ziggy, too damned costly." Sam paced across the room, his hand rubbing the back of his head. "Continue the 'time thing' as he called it." He turned and paced back. "He wouldn't have it that we needed Ziggy to continue the 'time thing'. That's all Sammi. Darned fool." Al turned to Sam, "Oh and don't forget Ziggy, to top it all Ziggy's refusing to control the resources, she says she's not gonna monitor the ventilation and heating systems. We're all gonna freeze and suffocate to death. Trust her to take your side in all of this Sam." "Well I don't blame her, how would you like it if I decided to cut off your life support. Ziggy's no ordinary computer, she's alive, she's a living thing. Okay she needs to be plugged in to the power supply, but so are we, we need oxygen that's our supply for life." "It's all well and good Sam, I could've talked him round, but you had to get on your high horse and butt-in. I told you to let me do the talking." "Okay, okay, calm down, the pair of you. Shush." Sammi Jo waited for serenity to take over. "I have something to show you, both of you." She went to the incubator and bought out the piece of casing and placed it beneath the microscope. She held up her bandaged finger, "Take a look at this." Sam an Al looked at each other, confused. She moved out of the way as Sam steadied his eyes before the lens. "Looks like microcosmic-neuronic cells, here Al, take a look." "What do I know about cells Sam, that's your department." Sam looked though the lens again, "They've fused with the agitated-carbon molecules and synthesised with the silicone." He turned the dial on the microscope to improve the magnification. "They've got their own nuclei. Sammy, you've done it, without even trying, you've done it" "Just an accident Sam." Sammi Jo was unruffled in her triumph. She returned the casing to the incubator, closing the portal. "Just like my accident, before Ziggy." "That was no accident Sam. We couldn't prove it, but it was no accident." "Oh I'm not blaming anyone Al, without this," Sam pointed to his left temple, feeling the scar, "we wouldn't be where we are today." "It's getting late we ought to get some rest, I've got some explaining to do to Bebrooks before he leaves tomorrow and besides I've not seen Beth for two days, she'll think I've gotten lost in these caverns. Come on Sam, you too Sammi, let's call it a night." All three left the lab, returning up in the lift to the living quarters. Sam walked towards his own room at the far end, near his door he waited, waited until Al and Sammi Jo had gone inside, closed their doors. He waited for the quiet. Silently he returned to his lab, back to his life-long dream, his project. * * * * * "Hello Doctor, I thought you had retired for the evening?" Sam welcomed Ziggy's calming voice. "Well you know me, if there's somethin' to be done I've gotta do it." Sam sat in his chair and shifted the pile of disheveled papers. "That code Ziggy, remember that code?" "Of course I do Doctor, I memorise everything." "What else was in it, apart from the random date calculation?" "Nothing Doctor, I would not withhold anything from you." "There has to be something, somewhere in this coding," he shuffled through the pages. "Let's start at the beginning, work through these methodically." Classifying each segment of code, he arranged each in a pile of it's own. "I'm looking for anything that will metamorphose my metabolism, anything that can differentiate me from a hologram, anything like that. Do you get my drift Ziggy?" "Yes Doctor I completely comprehend." The glare from the florescent lighting hurt his eyes, his head throbbed from lack of sleep, He ignored the pain, disregarded the fatigue, there would be time for sleep later, time to relax. The hands of the clock moved forward, he looked at the clock, 3:37, he wished he could make the present time stand still, giving him more time, more time until morning. Time ticked on, Sam felt as though he were looking for a needle in a haystack. There were only two piles of paper's left. Two out of so many. Sam stretched and yawned, he was so tired, but he would not give in. He rubbed the back of his neck, stood and walked around to ease his aching muscles. His eyes were dark and drawn but he sat down again and continued with his task. He had to find the code to transform himself from hologram to what he'd had before, in his previous leaps. He didn't want to be a hologram, we wanted to interact, communicate, be a part of the past. He wanted to be able to help as he had done before, wanted to make wrong right. The last two piles of papers had been input and examined, he'd discovered nothing, Ziggy had come up blank. "Ziggy do a comparison search, your existing code with the code we've been checking." "Searching now Doctor." Ziggy's processors whirred into action. Sam stood his shoulders arched from strain, his legs numb from sitting, he stretched and headed for the bathroom. He filled the washbasin with cold water and lowered his face into it. Splashing the refreshing, cold water onto his head and shoulders. Arms straight and head lowered he held onto the basin, drips of water drizzled back into the laden washtub, he shivered as cold water trickled down his back. His thoughts again went to Jessica Olivera and the strange dream, what had happened to her, what was she doing now. Ziggy's voice echoed into his thoughts, "Doctor Beckett, I've found some unusual inconsistencies when comparing the two codes." Sam grabbed the towel and hurried back into the lab, "What are they? What do they do?" Sam rubbed the towel over his dripping hair. "One of the inconsistencies compares variables in the code that was deleted in the retrieval program The other takes those variables and places them into the parallel interdependence overrun. My conjecture is that the variables created in the deleted code are required and should be reinstated but with minor modifications." "What modifications Ziggy?" "Remove randomise from the deleted code and the program should be complete, no more holographic images for you Doctor, unless of course you want them." "You mean I can have either?" "Yes Doctor." "Do what has to be done Ziggy, I'm gonna have a shower." Sam looked at the clock 6:15 am, "Just about enough time before Al and Bebrooks' meeting. I'll see you back down here later, with both of them. They're not gonna shut you down Ziggy, I wont let them." "Thank you Doctor, I'll be your servant for life." "You already are Ziggy." Sam returned to ground level and to his quarters. He turned on the shower and stepped inside. The coolness of the water refreshed his very soul. He massaged life into his aching form and the incense from the bubbling gel invigorated and aroused his senses * * * * * Sam entered the deserted cafeteria and sat down, Bernie approached him and sat in the chair opposite. "What can I get you Doctor Beckett?" Sam's eyes mused over her and thoughts hazed his mind, 'she looks radiant for this hour of the morning'. "Erm. Tea and a full breakfast this morning, Bernie," another thought wiggled into his unconsciousness, 'and a few hours of your time', but he continued, "it's gonna be a long day." She wrote it down in her notebook, "It'll be a few minutes, " he placed a hand on hers but she withdrew it gently, "I must get on." "But it's not busy yet, I'm sure you have time to talk." "I'll just put your order in." "I need some company, and it's Sam, I dislike formalities, please, call me Sam." "I have work to do, er," she looked embarrassed, "Sam." Sam smiled at her and said gently, "Your not gonna get in trouble, if that's what your thinking. Not sounding too conceited, this is my project, no-one would be here if wasn't for me, you wouldn't be here, and erm, I want you to be here." She held up the notebook, "I'll just put this in." She rose and walked over to the counter. "Come back and sit with me, will you?" She turned and smiled, a warm smile, he returned the smile, "please." She disappeared through the doors into the kitchen area. The doors to the cafeteria opened and Al strode in, sitting in the chair that Bernie had vacated. "Where did you get to last night, after we came back up?" Al looked at Sam seriously, "I went to your room but...... Oh I know, you've been doing an all-nighter again, haven't you?" "What makes you think that?" "Oh Sam, you should realise that I know you by now." "Yeah, you know me well enough." Bernie reappeared and walked over to the table, she looked at Sam a little discouraged, "Can I take your order Al?" "Oh thanks, I'll have the same as he's having." She wrote it in her notebook and looked at Sam, he shrugged his shoulders, "We'll have that talk a little later." "Perhaps." She said and walked off. Al looked at Sam, "What you do to her?" "Nothing, that's just it, I did nothing." Sam felt a little deflated, "I asked her to talk with me, and I think she was going to but...." "Then I walked in, okay I get the picture, you want me to sit somewhere else?" "No Al, don't be stupid I don't want you to...." "I don't mind, I'll sit over there." "Al, shut up, there'll be another time." "Ah, talkin' of time, what'd you get up to all night?" "I think I've cracked it, there was a small piece of code that had been entered incorrectly." Sam looked down at his fingers, "What happened to Jessica Olivera Al?" Al was always amazed at Sam, how he could change the subject, and all in one sentence. "What made you think of her?" "I dunno, I had a dream about her, I can't get her out of my head for some reason." "Well she left in 1995, just after you leapt, she continued to work with Dreasney for another year or so, then, erm....." "What Al, did something happen to her?" "She was murdered Sam." Al's eyes looked down at the table, "Yen Hsuieh-lung was somehow involved, even though he was imprisoned for the deaths of William Riizliard and Tony Weyland, and for obtaining top-secret documents illegally." "He had agents all over the place Al, could it have been one of them acting on instructions?" "Those were my thought exactly, and Sam, I'm sure he was involved with your accident too." Bernie bought their orders, Sam tried to get her attention but she walked away, his eyes followed her as she entered the kitchen. Al watched Sam and felt his disappointment. The two men ate in silence.