February 21, 2011
Palm City, State of Franklin
Sam had leaped again. As he breathed in the cool night air, he tried to get his bearings. There was something covering the upper part of his face—must be a mask—but why…? There was a boy a few yards away, holding a comic book, standing next to a woman, the boy’s mother, Sam guessed. She seemed to have just noticed Sam’s presence. Her eyes widened in shock, she clutched the boy to her protectively, and began to scream.
“Trip! Get inside and call 911!” Dana Faraday yelled.
INSERT THEME MUSIC
“Mom!” Trip whined.
“Now, wait just a sec--” Sam began. He really wished he knew what was going on. Who was he supposed to be, some kind of robber?
“You!” Dana whirled on the man playing dress-up. “What do you think you’re doing, talking with my son? Do you realize he just lost his father?” How dare this man play on Trip’s obsession with the comic-book superhero? Who was this creep? And, oh, why hadn’t she paid more attention to Trip when he had said that he had met The Cape?
“I--” Sam paused. He hadn’t known that the boy--Trip--had recently lost his father, but perhaps he was supposed to. Where is Al?
“Mom, you’re embarrassing me!” Trip protested. He turned, apologetically, to his hero. “I’m sorry about this,” the boy said, before addressing his mother again. “Mom, he came to ask you for help!”
“I did?” Sam asked. “I mean, I did.”
May 29, 2011
Project Quantum Leap
Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico
“Admiral Calavicci, please report to the Waiting Room,” Ziggy trilled, sounding more chipper than a parallel-hybrid computer had any right to, in Al’s opinion.
“Already?” Al asked. Stephen Bartowski had just left the Project to head to his son’s rehearsal dinner, after showing Al dozens of pictures of his granddaughter, Clara. Although he had worried that the slideshow would go on forever, Al realized that Sam’s last leap couldn’t have ended more than three hours ago. Well, here we go again, the admiral thought. Verbena Beeks, the Project’s psychologist, opened the door of the Waiting Room for Al, and ushered him in.
“Can’t handle the visitors without me, anymore?” Al asked.
“Al, I had to give this one a mild sedative. He was getting violent!” Verbena exclaimed, as she gestured to the man lying on the bed in the blue room.
“Did he hurt you?” Al asked, frowning.
“Fortunately, no, but…” she trailed off, as she saw the visitor begin to stir. “He’s coming around.”
“Did you get his name?” Al questioned the doctor. She shook her head.
“He wouldn’t tell me his name. He just kept asking about--”
“Dana!” The man’s eyes flew open, and he started to push himself into a sitting position. “Where’s Dana? What have you done with her? I swear, if you hurt her--”
“Calm down. We haven’t taken Dana,” Al assured the man. He did not calm down, however.
“Or--” he stopped himself. The Lich might not know that the woman he’d abducted was Orwell. “What about the young woman you did take?”
Al closed his eyes for a moment. Why couldn’t he have had a rest between leaps this time?
“Look, we didn’t take anyone,” the Project Observer replied. “And no, we didn’t abduct you, either.” Al ignored the disbelief portrayed on the younger man’s face. “Let’s backtrack. Who do you think we are?”
“You work for the Lich, don’t you?” The Visitor paused, uncertain. Then he looked down at his attire. What was he doing in a Fermi suit? Where was his costume? His eyes widened. He wasn’t wearing the cape and--he ran a hand over his face to be sure--he wasn’t wearing his mask, either. Not good.
“No, we don’t work for the Lich,” Al replied, not seeming to notice that the Visitor was starting to panic. “What’s your name?”
“As if you don’t know,” the man scoffed.
“Believe me, we don’t.” The stranger didn’t believe him. He waved a hand over his face.
“I know you’ve taken my mask. So now you know who I am. If you hurt Dana or Trip--”
“We haven’t! Oh, for heavens, sake!” Al turned to Verbena. “’Bena, have you shown this nozzle the mirror, yet?” She shook her head. Together, the two coaxed the guest over to the Waiting Room’s mirror.
Vince gasped as he looked down at his reflection. That was not Vince Faraday’s face in the mirror. The face of an older stranger stared back at him. They must’ve given me the toxin.
“I’m hallucinating,” he said aloud.
“No, you’re not,” Al sighed. “Listen to me. You’re part of a top-secret scientific experiment--”
“What kind of sick, twisted person calls killing half the city a science experiment?” Vince demanded. Al’s eyes’ widened. What on earth is Sam mixed up in, this time?
“I was referring to an experiment in time travel,” Al began to explain Project Quantum Leap.
“That’s impossible,” Vince replied.
“What’s today’s date?” Al asked the visitor, who hesitated a moment before answering. No doubt his memory was somewhat impaired by what Al and Sam had dubbed the ‘Swiss-cheese effect.’
“It’s February 21st.” At the prompting of his captor, Vince added, “2011.” The man entered that into a handheld device that didn’t look like any smart phone Vince had ever seen before correcting him.
“Actually, it’s May 29. You have switched places in time with Dr. Sam Beckett. You saw his reflection in the mirror just now. We see you as him, and others will see Sam as you.” Vince contemplated this information.
“You’re telling me that you have no idea what I look like, or who I am?”
“Not a clue,” Al confirmed, glad that that had sunk in. “So, who are you?”
“I can’t tell you that.”
“Even if you don’t work for the Lich, or for Scales, or for Chess, I can’t give you my name.” The names sounded vaguely familiar to Al, but he hadn’t been following the news that closely.
“Look, I don’t think you understand,” Al said, his patience running low. “My friend Sam has been sent by God, Fate, Time or Whatever to take your place to put right something that went wrong in the past. Until he does that, you’re stuck here, with no way to get home. The sooner you tell me who you are, the sooner we can figure out what it is he’s supposed to fix.” For some reason, the visitor’s eyes’ hardened.
“It wouldn’t matter--Al, was it? --No matter what your friend does, I still won’t be able to go home.”
Vince stared into space. He couldn’t go home for the same reason that he couldn’t tell anyone that his name was Vince Faraday. Not only was he supposed to be dead, but the proclamation would be tantamount to saying he was Chess. Vince snorted inwardly. How ironic that the alterego of The Cape, Palm City’s new hero, had been convicted in the court of public opinion of being his archenemy. If he ever got his hands on Peter Fleming, a.k.a. Chess…
The man had taken everything from him. He couldn’t go back to his job as a police officer, his reputation was ruined, and his family had to live without him. The latter had been too hard for him to swallow, and so he’d brought The Cape, his son’s favorite comic book superhero, to life as a means of staying in touch with Trip. He hadn’t meant to come face-to-face with his wife, Dana, as The Cape, but he’d had no choice tonight because…because…. Shit. What was happening to his memory? He’d known what the problem was just a minute ago, hadn’t he?
After the cryptic remark about being unable to go home, the mystery man had closed down and refused to answer anymore questions. Better go check on Sam, Al thought, heading towards the Imaging Chamber.
Feb. 21, 2011
“Trip, I told you to go call 911!”
Sam acted without thinking, without knowing what he was doing, let alone how he was doing it. His hands grasped the cape that he was wearing and somehow used it to snatch the comic book out of the hands of the ten-year-old, who had still been several yards away from him. In the next instant, he disappeared in a puff of smoke, only to reappear on another corner of the building’s roof. Okay, that was bizarre.
Well, the fact that he’d done something that he didn’t know how to do wasn’t completely unexpected. On several previous leaps, the neurons his host had left behind had allowed Sam to act on instincts that didn’t belong to him. But this--using a cape as a tool, almost like a weapon, not to mention that disappearing trick--that was out of the ordinary. Hmm, maybe he was a magician, rather than a robber? That still didn’t explain what a magician was doing on the roof of an apartment building in the middle of the night, triggering this woman’s instincts to protect her son.
Trip and his mother were gaping at him, or rather at the space he’d disappeared from a moment ago, so Sam cleared his throat to indicate he hadn’t left. Instantly, he regretted not just using the opportunity to make a quick exit. His host may have left enough of himself behind for Sam to have pulled that little stunt, but their minds hadn’t merged enough for him to have any idea why he was here, or what he should do next.
“Cool!” Trip grinned, impressed by The Cape’s theatrics. “Please help him, Mom,” he begged.
“What sort of help do you need?” Dana found herself asking. She wasn’t necessarily going to help, but her curiosity was piqued. More accurately, she was stunned. She hadn’t believed this man was actually the title character from The Cape comic books, but then, she had also thought that Trip was just talking about an imaginary friend, and what she had just seen seemed straight out of a comic book.
“I, uh, you see…” Sam trailed off. He had no idea how to finish that sentence. Relief washed over him as he saw the Imaging Chamber door open and Al appeared. He knew, of course, that Dana and Trip would be unable to see Al. Only Sam was able to see and hear the hologram of his best friend. He cocked his head to the side, looking at the expression on the Observer’s face. Did his outfit really look that ridiculous? Surely, Al had worn worse.
“I don’t believe it, Sam. You’re The Cape.” Al saw the blank expression on his friend’s face. Ah, of course. Sam wasn’t up on current events. Anything that happened after he began leaping through time in the 1990s escaped him, unless he experienced it personally or Al explained it to him.
“Well, that explains why he wouldn’t tell me his name,” Al continued. That complicated things, but they’d find out his name one way or the other during the leap.
“You don’t know who I am?”
“Trip tells me you’re The Cape,” Dana answered, thinking he was speaking to her.
“Not yet,” Al admitted. “But I can tell you that it’s February 21, 2011, and you’re in Palm City.”
“Do you know why I’m here?” Sam inquired.
“You said, ‘Mrs. Faraday, I need your help,’ but you didn’t say what you need me to do.”
“Maybe if you hadn’t freaked out,” Trip spoke up, before his mother hushed him.
“No, we don’t know, yet,” Al replied, as he reached for the hand-link and began tapping buttons. He slapped the squealing device, and then frowned. “Ziggy needs some time to run the numbers, since we only just found out you leaped into The Cape…”
Author’s Note: And, at long last, we have the Quantum Leap/The Cape crossover picking up where “Chuck v. Project Quantum Leap” left off. No, you don’t have to have read that story first. In fact, I’m hoping that I’m including enough about both shows so that readers who are only fans of The Cape or only of Quantum Leap won’t get lost. If anyone is lost, please let me know, so I can try to clear things up.
So, confused? Unsatisfied? Want more? You know the drill.
Ah, and before I forget, let me address the location of Palm City in this crossover. I know that in some of Dragomir’s work Palm City is in California, and that there is a Palm City in Florida, but I have set the fictitious city in the fictitious state brought to you by the Bar Examiners--Franklin, located in the fictitious 15th Circuit. :)