September 2000

Santa Fe, NM

The guard never knew what hit him. He heard the door open and then he felt something slam into the side of his head and he was out cold before he could even form a coherent thought.

Christina gave a grim smile. "Good luck."

Her companion returned the smile, pausing for a concerned look at the fallen man. "You too."

Ingalls walked slowly down the hall, listening intently for any sounds of pursuit. She traveled for a full three minutes before encountering anyone. Hands tensing around the gun she had taken off the guard, she ducked inside a nearby storage closet, thankful that she had on soft-soled shoes. She bit her lip, thinking a fervent prayer until he passed. She wasn't used to handling, let alone using, guns, but there was no way she wasn't going to use it to try and get out of this place.

Finally, having followed the directions Christina had given her, she reached a hall lined with offices, most of which, she hoped, were empty. If she was lucky, no one was working late today and all of the rooms were. Taking a deep breath of the refreshing cool air that she had been denied for some time, she lifted the gun and fired three shots at one of the locked doors. The handle blew off and the hall was suddenly alive with lights and the sound of the security alarm. She dropped the gun and ran.

Elsewhere, Christina listened to Thames, the Head of Security, come over the guard's radio telling them all to abandon their posts and secure the South Wing to trap their prey. He moved to obey and she slipped out the now unguarded exit.

September 2000

Stallions Gate, NM

"Admiral?"

Nothing.

"Admiral?"

A groan. "I'm up! Geez..." Al forced his exhausted body into submission and propped himself up on his elbows. "Sam didn't leap already, did he?"

"Negative."

"Oh...good." Al slumped back into the bed and pulled the covers over his head. Tina rolled over and attached herself to his arm.

"Admiral, you have a phone call."

"Ziggy?" Tina mumbled, raising her head slightly.

"Go back to sleep, hon." Al untangled his arm and wrapped it around her waist. She sighed in contentment. "That's what I plan on doing."

"Admiral..." Ziggy's voice was a warning, like a scolding parent.

"Ziggy, What time is it?"

"Oh-two hundred," she replied sourly. "And you have a phone call."

"From who?" he demanded, his words muffled by the pillow he refused to move off of.

"She wouldn't say."

"What line?"

"She's on line two...in your office."

He rolled his eyes. "And you wouldn't be able to transfer it here because?..."

She sniffed. "With that attitude?"

Al groaned again, but still made no move to get up. "You telling me someone got ahold of my office number in a top secret project, she calls at two in the morning, and she won't say who's calling?"

"That's right." Her tone had changed. Now she sounded smug. Stupid computer. Actually, brilliant computer. And that, Al thought, was the problem.

"Well, go back and tell her that she needs to give her name and one good reason that I should leave this bed to talk to her or she needs to call back at a civil hour." With that, Al pulled himself, if possible, even further into the warm cocoon of blankets.

Silence reigned for a total of two minutes.

"Admiral?"

"What?"

"She says that she will not give her name to anyone but you and that, believe you her, you will want to get up because this is well worth it." He could almost hear the sly grin. "Is this something I should have kept from Tina? I say dump her."

Al sighed. "Why doesn't she..." he fumbled around for a moment. "Why doesn't she just go jump in a lake?" So he was tired...

"I'll ask her," Ziggy replied.

"Ziggy," he warned, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and reaching for his pants.

Moments later, he arrived in his office and picked up the phone with little less than an overworked temper. "Look lady, do you own a watch, because it is way past my bedtime!"

"Admiral Calavicci?" she asked.

"Well who the hell else would I be?" he exploded, dropping himself into his chair and rubbing his eyes.

"Admiral, I do apologize, but this is Dr. Christina Meth."

Suddenly wide-awake, Al sat up and was momentarily at a loss for words. "Dr. Meth?" he confirmed.

"Yes. Admiral, I really need you to meet me someplace right now. I have some information for you and both I and a friend of mine risked our lives to get it to you." She sounded nervous and scared.

He resigned himself to the inevitable. "Where do you want to meet?"

September 2000

Santa Fe, NM

She hoped it had been enough.

In front of her, Senator Franklin smiled. Ideally, it would have been nice for her to get back to the room where she had been held, but she knew her chances for that were a million to one. But if she had done her part well enough, the woman, who's name she didn't even know, would be on her way to talk with, she hoped, Admiral Calavicci. They never actually discussed what information she had or who she was planning to take it to; there hadn't been enough time for that.

Thames stood beside the senator, his height and build seeming to dwarf the other man, had it not been for the fire in his eyes. "And just what," the senator asked slowly, "were you planning to accomplish?"

She stared at him, resisting the urge to spit in his face. Strong hands held her still and she was praying just to get out of this alive. Antagonizing him would not have been a good idea.

He backhanded her anyway and she felt the sharp sting of his knuckles on her cheek. Unable to stop herself, she let out a sharp cry, then fell silent again.

Thames smiled. "What would you like me to do?"

She was glad he had spoken because Franklin then turned his anger on him instead. "First of all, get that dolt of a security officer out of here. Deal with him. Then, I want her tied up this time. I can't believe I didn't do that before. It's a good thing she didn't do any real damage. And put two guards on her door." He turned back to her and she was afraid he would cut loose his rage on her again, but he just glowered and then walked off. "Take care of her. And remember," he looked back at Thames, "I know how much you enjoy interrogations and such but we need her alive, so just bring her straight back down and tie her up. Then I want a full report to make sure no damage was done. Am I making myself clear?"

"Yes, sir," Thames answered with a grin.

Ingalls felt her arm pulled behind her with incredible force and she winced in pain. All she could do was pray that her partner had found the help she'd promised.

September 2000

Just outside of Santa Fe, NM

A coffee shop was the last place Al expected to have a meeting, but he figured if she was out and looking for him, there were probably people after her. Who would think to look in a coffee shop?

He walked slowly down the stairs and opened the door, trying not to jump at the small bell that rang out as it hit the glass door. He let the door shut behind him and scanned the small shop. In the far corner was a woman, bent over some papers. She had long brown hair that tumbled out of the bun it had once been in. She brushed it out of her way impatiently as she studied the forms. Seeing no other women here by themselves, he took a chance and walked over to the table.

"Excuse me," he said, leaning on the chair opposite her.

She jerked her head up, startled. "Admiral?" she asked cautiously.

He shrugged out of his jacket, draping it on the back of the chair and pulled out his wallet, peeling out his identification card and sliding it across the table to her. She picked it up and heaved a sigh of relief.

He sat down and leaned back in his chair while she returned the courtesy. "What information do you have for me?" he asked, deciding to use the direct approach.

"I know where the project is. Well, perhaps we should start at the beginning. You see-"

Al cut her off with a wave of the hand. "I know there's another time travel project."

She looked startled that he even knew that much. "How?"

"Sam's run across them," was all he said.

"Sam Beckett," she murmured. He watched her steadily.

"Do you know the location?" he asked.

She looked up at him. "Yes. And I know the way to shut it down. I-I never meant for this to happen. But before we do that, we have to help a friend get out." Her voice was insistent.

"Who?"

"I...don't know her name," she admitted. "But she helped me get out and she could have died because of it."

"Hold it. Let me get this straight. You are going to help me shut down this project, but before we do you want me to risk everything to go in and help this friend of yours who may be dead?" He laughed uneasily. "Why don't you just expose the project?"

"Senator Franklin isn't a fool," she said tightly. "We expose him, he exposes you."

Al turned that over in his mind and realized she was right. "Okay, well how do we shut them down?"

"First my friend. They are going to use her for the experiment. My experiment. It's all my fault that this is happening, and I need your help to stop it."

"Like Alia," Al murmured, missing the end of her statement.

"Alia?" She moaned. "I didn't even realize that's who they meant. Oh..."

Al was starting to feel bad for the woman and he offered a reassuring smile. "She's with us. At Project Quantum Leap."

"Could I see her?"

"I'm afraid I can't take you there," he said. "Well, let's get your friend out. And how, exactly, do we do this?"

Christina sighed in relief and pulled out the papers she had been reading from under her elbows on the table. As she went over page after page of blueprints and personnel files she had managed to get ahold of over the past year, an idea began to form in Al's mind and the sooner he could implement it, the sooner he could shut down this project once and for all.