[Author's Notes: A few notes have to go out to my helpers...  First, to
Pat Chachich who helped me work out a few annoying details  (you know, the
plot and all) and to Christina Bartruff who tirelessly went through my
stuff looking for typos when my normal system backfired (that doesn't mean
you can blame her if you still see some...). This will be my last story
for a while (I'm working on another but I'm not sure it will be up in
time) because I'm going to Alaska for a few months. I hope it's worth it!
Thanks, also, to all who wrote me with positive comments on my first
post-MI story, "Off the Beaten Path". I was quite surprised and pleased
that you all took the time to respond. -amkt]

"Basis of Control" - Prologue

October, 1999
Stallions Gate, NM

  Admiral Albert Calavicci marched angrily into his office and threw down
the handlink, simultaneously slamming the door behind him. He was
seething mad. Ziggy had lost contact with Sam for a huge hunk of that
last leap and it had almost cost his friend his life. And what was the
best excuse the techs could give him? 'There's a malfunction in Ziggy's
processing unit.' Putting aside the obvious stupidity of the statement,
it wasn't the answer Al wanted to hear anyhow.
  Excuses about conferences and a getaway with Beth that had to be cut
short served to soothe Sam's ruffled feathers and put his mind at ease
that nothing serious had been going on at the project, but Al's own
emotions were far from sedate. Thankfully, Sam had finally leaped out
twenty minutes before. 
  He shrugged out of his jacket and flung it with uncharacteristic
abandon onto a small leather couch to the right. Al stood in the center
of the room in the harsh light and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath.
It wouldn't do anyone any good to fly into a rage, least of all him. *A
little late for that,* he thought bitterly. Whatever had gone wrong
couldn't be helped now. He just hoped it could be fixed within the next
few days before Sam leaped back in.
  When he opened his eyes again, Al's gaze fell upon his desk and the fax
machine. He had a message. Curious, he crossed the room and sat heavily
in his chair, sliding the paper out and reading it. It only took an
instant to do so.
  "Ziggy?" Silence. Damn that computer, anyway! "Ziggy!" Al snapped, a
little louder this time. "What the hell is this?"
  "A fax."
  Al took several more calming breaths. He was no slow-boil, but at least
he was able to calm down in a relatively short enough time, given the
right circumstances. "I _know_ it's a fax. Where did it come from? And if
you say the fax machine," he warned quickly, "so help me, you'll never
see this handlink again!" Al took the device and held it threateningly at
the ceiling.
  Ziggy seemed to consider this for an instant. "If you are referring to
the origin of the message, I am not certain."
  Al cast a puzzled gaze at the ceiling. "I thought you automatically
traced everything coming in?"
  "Logs indicate I was simply unable to trace it, Admiral."
  Al pressed two fingertips to his right temple and leaned back in his
chair, holding the paper out in front of him as if he was having
difficulty reading it. The two words stared back up at him:
  "It begins."

I'll try and get 1 and 2 up next week sometime.... thanks!
-amkt (sorry this is so short....)