CHAPTER EIGHT Nicholas, Alexandra, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia were all seated. The women were sewing. Nicholas was reading and Alexei sat on the floor playing with a small, wooden tri-plane. Sam entered the Salon pulling the door closed behind him. The observer made his usual entrance, "Yer know Sam, I just couldn't believe it when we found out that Sammi Jo was your child. Yer know the odds were 50/50." Sam whispered, "Is Abigail still alive?" "She sure is. Married two years after you leapt out." "That's good." The two friends walk over to the group sewing. Sam sat into his now, usual chair. "I'll just go and check out the guard situation. I'll be right back." The observer indicated to Sam. Sam nodded to his friend and he strode towards the Hall. Alexandra glanced over at Sam and smiled, "I trust you have rested doctor." "Indeed so, I am truly refreshed." "We are just sewing in the last few jewels, then we are finished." Anastasia showed Sam her work, "this was a commendable concept of yours, Doctor." "That is good to hear. Thank you." Olga didn't sound so enthusiastic, "An arduous task doctor." Tatiana disagreed with her sister, "But surely well justifying the pains Olga." Olga was disdainful, "Truly." Alexei examined a pair of trousers and a waistcoat, diamonds and jewels concealed in the hems and waistband, "Olga, they are so heavy I shall be weary before breakfast wearing these." Maria turned to Sam, "A splendid concept doctor, what contrived you to aspire of it?" "I have no conception, just a thought, you will be needing the jewels and what better concealment than those, to slip them from place to place, unnoticed." Nicholas touched Alexandra's arm tenderly, "Splendid fellow, Doctor. Not ever could I have come up with such a concept my Sunshine." Alexandra returned the loving touch, "Oh Nicky, ha-ha. You amuse me so." Sam saw his friend as he re-entered the Salon, "The usual six near the front entrance Sam. They're having a wail of a time." Sam looked over to his companion, raised his eyebrows and smiled at him. Alexandra stood, to put her sewing in the chest. Sam stood in respect. "Oh please be seated doctor, are we not all equals in these troubled times." Alexandra waved a delicate hand for Sam to sit. Sam sat down. Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei busy themselves putting away their sewing. Alexandra sighed, "A thankful task finished. Come dearies it is time for us to retire, don't forget children to wear your special clothes from now on." "I shall linger awhile, I have rested enough." Sam wanted to stay and speak with his friend. Alexandra stood but waved Sam to stay put, "God Bless and protect you through these thankless days doctor, I bid you goodnight." Goodnight Ma'am, your Excellency's, Duchesses'. Everyone replied in their usual unison, "Peaceful dreams doctor." The Romanov family almost strolled towards the Dining Room door chatting quietly, they left the Salon. "Sam, come with me downstairs, see if we can check the outside." "Why?" "Because." The observer pointed to the watch on his wrist. "Right." The two companions headed for the Hall and walked down the stairs, they turned left, and left again. The guards chatter noisily and sporadic laughter echoed through the corridors. They continued down dark, empty hallways. The observer pointed in front, "The guards were in this room to the right." The two stop, the observer pointed to an arched Entrance Hall, six guards could be seen clearly in the lamplight. "Try and sneak past this doorway Sam." The observer continued ahead. Sam waited for the right moment, and ran silently past the entrance. The voice of a guard alerted Sam, "Hey Vlad, I saw someone pass the doorway." Two guards stand and run out to the passageway, their riffles raised. Sam heard the voice of a guard behind him, "Dr. Botkin, where are you going this time of night?" The observer prompted Sam, "Tell him you're sick." Sam swallowed and turned to face the guards, "I am not feeling at all well, I need some air." The observer prompted again, "Ask if you can go out on the Terrace for some air." "May I sit on the Terrace awhile? I need some cool air." The guard turned to the other, "What do you think, should we let him?" "He is not going to go far, not in his condition," was the others reply. "Okay Dr. Botkin, I will watch and keep an eye on you. Don't you go running off though, my aim is true," the first guard warned Sam. Sam tried to smile, but it ended up being a nervous smirk, "I will keep in view, I cannot run." He stood and watched Sam walk towards the Terrace, the other guard returned to the others near the Entrance Hall. The observer pointed again, "The cellar's through that door on your left Sam." Sam looked towards the closed door, a shudder ran through Sam's very soul as he thought of the night yet to come. They pass by and walk out onto the Terrace. Sam whispered, "Look at that wall Al, no-one from the out-side can see what's going on in here." "Someone must know Sam, all the to-ings and fro-ings that's been goin' on around here." "They just turn a blind eye to it all." Sam leaned on the railings. The observer walked down the steps Sam shouted a whisper, "Don't be too long Al, it's freezing standing here." "Is it? I hadn't noticed." The friend smiled, mocking Sam. "No, you wouldn't," but his friend was out of earshot. The observer disappeared round a corner out of Sam's view. Sam looked heavenward. "Please God, I need help with this one." Sam closed his eyes. Suddenly a noise from behind Sam made him spin around. Sam's sudden movement had taken the guard by surprise. He had dropped his riffle and stood motionless, the cigarette he had just lit fell from his mouth. Sam could smell the strength of the Russian tobacco, and remembered the distaste he had of his friend's cigars. Sam moved slowly towards the guard. The guard was still motionless, it was as it he were transfixed to the spot. Sam moved closer, forever closer. He could hear his heart beating inside his chest, for the first time he wanted it to stop. If it were much louder the guards would hear it. The guard took a step back. Sam motioned for him to stop. The guard obeyed. Sam was now only inches away from the weapon. He was sure his heartbeat was so loud it would give him away, keeping his eyes on the guard, he stooped and slowly reached out for the riffle, his hand was shaking. He could feel the tremor running up his arm, to his shoulder, his neck. He could feel beads of perspiration being shook from his face, down his back. Soon his whole body would be shaking, would he be able to control it. The tips of his fingers touched the riffle butt he grabbed out at the riffle, it slithered from his grasp. At that moment he did not care for this young adversary, his youth, all he wanted was the weapon. Not daring to look away from his opponent he felt again for the coldness of the steel and found it. This time he thought, he'd take a firmer grip. He found it and held it tightly. The steel was icy in his grip, he could feel the pain run up his arm as he grasped tighter and raised it along with the firearm. Slowly he stood bringing the weapon closer. Sam lifted it and pointed it, he gestured that the guard go outside to the Terrace. The guard obliged and silently Sam followed the him onto the Terrace, down the steps, tracing the path that his friend had taken only moments earlier, but now seemed an age ago. As they turned the corner the observer stood in front of them. "S - A - M! --- NO --- S - A - M! Don't do it! They'll kill you." "I gotta do something Al. They're gonna kill me anyway, tomorrow night. I prayed for help and this is what he gave me." "Not this, he didn't give you this." "Yeah he did, he gave it to me." Sam was gritting his teeth. "He didn't give it to you, he gave it me Al! Me!" The guard turned around to look as Sam, to see who he was talking to. He couldn't see the observer standing in front of him. "Who are you talking to Doctor?" His eyes held terror and he was quivering. "I cannot see anyone." The observer strode cautiously over to Sam, "Take out the bullets and put it down Sam, it's your only chance." He spoke slowly and determined. "There are too many of them. There's three around the corner and five more round the next. You don't stand a chance, that riffle you're carryin' only holds two bullets and you won't have time to reload. Give it up Sam." "No Al! I gotta do somethin' and it's gonna be this!" Sam was still shaking with emotion but his determination was real. "Okay, what's your plan?" The observer looked at Sam, his face stern and rigid. The guard nervously looked around again, seeing only Dr. Botkin, "Who is there? Who are you taking to?" "God," Sam's teeth were gritted together, he returned the glare to his fiend, "he gave me this chance, I'm not gonna give it up." Sam looked down at the riffle, his knuckles whitened as he gripped the weapon tighter, he raised it and aimed it at the guard. "S - A - M." The observer's expression hadn't changed, "your signing your death warrant. Remember who you saw today, remember your promise. You can't do this to them now Sam." Suddenly Sam realised what he was about to do, Sam said something in Russian. Unexpectedly, Sam found he was speaking Russian. The guard ran, not looking back, he tore a panel free from the fence and was gone. "What did you say to him Sam?" the observer was stupefied, "I didn't quite catch it." Sam engaged the safety on the gun, released the lever and removed the bullets and threw them far over the fence, "I told him to go, I don't know what came over me then Al." "For a minute there, I thought Oswald was back." Sam leaned the riffle up against the gap in the fence. The two friends walked back to the Terrace, as they climbed the steps they could hear laughter and cheering echoing through the doorway. As they entered the building the observer turned to Sam, "Do you still think it's Ethos leapin' you around?" Sam turned to the Entrance Hall and waved at the guards, "I'm going back upstairs now." The guard named Vlad, held up a hand, in recognition. He whispered, "I don't know anymore Al, there's no clues coming from anywhere on this one." The two friends head back through the hallways, upstairs. Voices of the guards could still be heard as they walked up stairs, the voices fading as they approached the top. The two friends continue their conversation, neither listening nor responding to each other - each deep in their own thoughts. ".....if only your memory wasn't so full of holes, maybe we could figure a way to get you outta here, perhaps not home, but at least somewhere else....." The observer continued. "There's no way to get out of this one, we can't even get any help from the outside. I can't get out, they can't get in. Only you can Al, but there's nothing you can do." Sam deliberated. Sam and the observer entered the Salon. The two companions were still continuing the conversation. The observer turned to Sam. "Are you listening to me Sam?" Sam looked at his friend, "Yeah, sure I am. What were you saying?" The observer was slightly annoyed, "See, you weren't listening, were you?" They continue through the Salon. "You see pal, my theory is that if we can get your m-mem....ory...." The two friends stop in their tracks, both stare straight ahead. Ethos stood in front of the marble fireplace. "Good evening Mr. Calavicci, Sam." Ethos looked at both men in turn. Sam held up a hand, "Before you say anything I want a few questions answered." "Okay then, ask away." "My leaping here, into er, this time erm, 1918. How did I get here?" The observer walked between Sam and Ethos, "That's a good question Sam." Sam strode in front of the observer and faced him, "Stop interrupting, this is important." "Apart from Quantum Physics, your other greatest passion was the history of the Russian Empire, since you were seven, you've been enthralled in the assassination of the czar and his family. You vowed that when you were older you would stop the assassinations. That's how you got here, you willed yourself here." "I did? I can't remember." "You have a Doctorate in World History." "You do Sam, physics, medicine, ancient languages, music, world history, mathematics and erm..... It's like the seven dwarfs Sam, you can never remember the last one. Erm, Archaeology, that's it." Sam looked over at the observer, annoyed that he'd been disturbed again, the observer placed a finger to his lips. Sam's gaze returned to Ethos, "but that doesn't explain why I've leapt out of my own life-time." "That was your theory when you first started the project, that all changed when you took control over your own leaps. It was you who decided that you could do anything, leap anywhere into any time-frame. You leapt yourself here." "Then can I go home?" "Yes Sam, you can, but not until you have accomplished your mission." The observer interrupted again, "How can Sam get his memory back?" but this time Sam didn't object. Ethos turned to the observer, "There just needs to be a little adjustment to the programming. Go back to your Control Room and I'll see you there." Sam stepped closer to Ethos, "You mean you can return my memory?" "Perhaps, it may take a little time. I'll have to go through your notes first, to see what has to be done." Ethos instantly disappeared. The observer pressed buttons on the hand-link. "Ziggy, retrieve Dr. Beckett's notes on Project Quantum Leap. We're coming in." The hand-link tweeted and spluttered. The Imaging Chamber door opened. "Okay, they're ready. I'll see you later Sam." Sam almost shouted after his friend, "Don't make it too late, there's less than 24 hours left." The observer's voice echoed strangely from within the Imaging Chamber, "I know Sam, that's why we have to try this." The door closed behind the observer.