Al woke up, hung over and desperately wishing he had remembered to pick up aspirin last night. He slogged to the bathroom and swung open the medicine cabinet. No such luck. No aspirin. That figured.
He was slumping on the kitchen table waiting for the coffee maker when his pager went off "***New Leap," it read. Al groaned. So much for an easy day.
Ziggy was euphoric when he greeted Al. "You'll just hate the new guy!" he crowed.
"Why is it you take such pleasure from my troubles?" Al asked wearily. He was not in the mood. "Doesn't sound like their panicking…."
"No, he isn't. He's in the Imaging Chamber."
"Why is he in there?" Al asked sharply.
"We had some trouble confining him. Just go in."
He sighed, chugged the coffee he snagged off the pot, and headed in. Sam's body was waiting. His eyes always looked at him with the same confusion they always showed with every new leap. It always hurt when his best friend's eyes looked at him with no recognition. It never got any easier to step in and explain what he could to who was physically the nation's brightest mind who was, in some cases, now dumber than a rock.
But today, the new Leaper was looking around interestedly, soaking in everything, and taking note of every little detail. Al cleared his throat, and he looked at the admiral.
"Ah! Here's someone! Might I trouble you as to where I am?" Sam's body asked cheerily. It was totally off-setting.
"I can't tell you," Al replied, stunned. He had been ready for a scared, dumb kid huddling in the corner, not this eager energetic intellect taking everything in stride.
"Yes, well, can't blame me for trying," Sam's body smiled. "What's your name? It seems I'm going to be here for a while, and I'm going to need something to call you."
"Call me Al," he replied, and he decided to try the most direct approach. "What's your name?"
"Ah. Call me the Doctor."
"Just the Doctor," the Doctor said with another smile. "Now, is there anything you can tell me?" He looked around again. "Obviously, this serves some kind of special purpose, probably to create a projection of surroundings, judging by the cameras and projectors. But surroundings of what? It probably serves as a communication device."
Al was speechless. In five minutes, this guy had easily deduced the purpose of the Imaging Chamber and was probably mapping out how it worked.
"I'm not actually allowed to tell you anything," Al managed to get out of a mouth trying to flap in the nonexistent breeze.
The Doctor clicked his tongue. "Alright. I will have to make do."
"Why don't we talk about you?" Al asked quickly. "When were you born?"
"Let's see… Oh, my… It's quite hazy…. I believe, in your time-scale, I'm around 650 years old, give or take a decade or so, but don't quote me on that."
Al looked at him incredulously. "650 years old?! Are you yanking my chain?!" Of course he was. There was not way that was true!
The Doctor looked at him gravely. "No, I am not 'yanking your chain.' I come from a very long-lived line, to say the least."
"No kidding. So where were you born?"
The Doctor laughed. "You'd never believe me if I told you."
"Suffice it to say I was born a long way from here."
Al sighed. Great. He was very talkative, but he wasn't saying much. It was going to be a long day.