Huffing and puffing, Tim made it into camp just in time to see Harris--under the watchful eye of three other people with weapons--laying her gun on the ground.

He heard another marine's angry shouting and his eyes were drawn to the ghoulishly Technicolor blood gushing out between his fingers that were plastered to the side of his head.

"Oh...oh God."

Strangely enough, Tim didn't feel nauseous or dizzy...instead, he felt invigorated; ready for anything...prepared to face whatever dangers might lay ahead in order to help his fellow man.

It was truly, truly weird. He'd left medical school for his true true calling, didn't he?

"The moment that Sampson makes it into camp, have him check both Hall and Harris for anything out of the ordinary."

"I'm here, Doctor Winter!" Tim called, waving an arm and trying to catch his breath properly. "I'll start on sutures right away!"

The geologist turned makeshift medic started towards his patient, grabbing a medkit on the way and dropping down next to Hall, starting immediately to the task at hand.

If he hadn't been feeling so extraordinarily weak, Hall might've winced. As it was, he simply didn't have the strength for it. He didn't like needles just as much as he didn't like physical labor...

But, it was better to be patched up nice and neat than to be sitting here bleeding to death for some unknown reason...

Why was he bleeding so heavily, anyways? Even as the whoever-he-was with a med kit started working on him, he couldn't figure out why two wounds that should have been relatively small were bleeding so impressively...

He felt the pull of delicate medical work being done on his tender ear and this time, he did manage a wince--even a grimace--but he said nothing until he was properly bandaged and being hauled to his feet.

Grim-faced, Jason had made his way to the wounded Lieutenant, waiting until Sampson was done with his work. The man looked pretty beat up, and Jason could almost understand being a little testy under the circumstances.


With a slight, reassuring nod, he spoke to Hall.

"We'll take care of Harris and get this whole thing sorted out, but Winter was right. You and I BOTH know bitching out a commanding officer, no matter how much you really, really want to, is a strict no-no. You deserve a court martial.

Problem is, we're in an odd circumstance. Right now we may have no court higher than ourselves, so we're stuck at a crossroads -- a legal, moral, and logical conflict.

You're compelled by code to take command, but we're in a legal grey area seeing as how you've committed offenses yourself. A Military court of law may or may not see you as unfit giving the circumstances. We're at a moral impasse because both you and Harris acted in probably the worst ways considering the situation, she just happened to be the one with the gun.

Most importantly, we're at a logical impasse. We need every man, woman, and pilot, and we need a strong chain of command -- what chain exists between four people, anyway.

So, the question comes down to letting either of you retain command. Winter already made the decision to relieve Harris, and we've established that the grounds for it falling to you are shaky, but justifiable. So I'm going to make that decision easy on all involved."


Jason struck the Lieutenant clean across the jaw, knocking him down.

He then shot him with the stunner just for good measure.

"Can't take command if you're unconscious," Jason hissed. "Williamson! Mason!"

The two Marines perked up.

"Which one of you is paid more than the other?"

Williamson glanced to Mason, then piped up. "I'm Second Lieutenant."

Jason again nodded. "Good, you're in charge. And by in charge I mean you will obey Winter like she's the very voice of God. Are we clear?"

"As crystal."

"Good," Jason winced and shook his hand out. "Now I'm hungry."


Chris Perkins sat in the darkened Jumper feeling both extremely proud of himself and, at the same time, extremely stupid. Pulling the power crystals, he figured, had been a good idea. Without them, no one could operate the Jumper, regardless of their genetic disposition. And, he figured, a sealed up jumper was probably the safest place in the general vicinity, short of hauling ass through the gate itself.

Thing was, he hadn't really thought ahead, nor had he anticipated the fact that pulling said crystals would reset the whole system. And, like a rebooted computer demanding a password, so did the jumper want someone with the gene. Which he happened to lack. Leaving him stuck in a jumper, locked up tight with no hope of getting out.

Well, there was one way. He clicked his radio.

"Um. Hi out there. This is Perkins... I need a little help."

And as he recited his predicament, he resigned to the fact that he was never, ever going to live this one down.

Jason sighed, rolled his eyes, then rolled his shoulders, and moved in the direction of the Jumper. "I'll be right there, Doc," he called over his radio.

He was down the dunes and beside the Jumper before too long. He walked around to the front, so that he was staring through the windshield into the back of the jumper. Waving his hand to catch the doctor's attention he pointed out a manual release switch near the back of the ship.

"Just pull that, Doc."

Chris pulled the valve and winced sheepishly as the hatch opened. Awkwardly, but it opened and he stepped out into the fading sunlight. He glanced to Campbell.

"Go on. You might as well get it over with."

Walking back around the Jumper and leading the scientist back up the dunes, Jason merely shook his head. "Just... don't do it again, okay?"

Tired, hungry, and with a mood sinking by the minute, Jason strode back into camp. The others, busily trying to put the days events behind them, scurried about camp making what preparations they could.

During all of this, Winter had been trying to get her blood pressure to return to a safer level than it had been mere moments before, Winter rubbed her forehead absently and trudged towards Campbell...

Just in time to see him knock out Hall quite thoroughly.

She smacked her own forehead, rather wishing she could smack Campbell. Was everyone trying to make this harder than it absolutely had to be? Granted, Hall had been out of line--so had Harris--there was no denying they had both acted like complete idiots--and though Hall would have been in charge if he'd still been conscious, there had t be a better way of keeping him from taking command than knocking him silly.

With a sigh, Winter turned away from the scene and strolled over to the nearest tree, sinking down at its base.

There had to be an easier, less destructive and childish way to run a mission...there had to be. She sighed, taking her radio off and rubbing her ear tiredly, missing the exchange between Perkins and his rescuer completely and not sparing another thought to the world outside herself until she spotted Jason walking towards her, running one hand through his hair as he plopped down next to her.

"So, I guess all chance of getting to the post tonight has been shot to Hell."

"I think that's a safe assumption," Winter replied sourly. "I don't know why the powers that be saw to stick me with the most childish crew in the history of mankind...but they did...and something tells me we're all going to suffer for it."

She scrubbed a hand over her face tiredly. "We've got enough rations to last us a couple of days, if we space them out a bit...and if one of our comrades decides to off another, that's a few more rations to go around. Provided we don't decide to cannibalize the body, naturally."

Winter sagged against the tree. "We'll have to try for the trading post tomorrow...but I don't know how in the hell we're going to do it. It's like the old riddle about the guy, the sack of grain, the goose and the fox.

If I take you with me, there's nobody in camp I really trust to keep things in line, and besides that, I don't want to leave Harris and Hall anywhere near each other--therefore, the only way to keep them apart is to take one of 'em with me.

I can't--no, I won't take a madwoman like Harris with me--and Hall is..well, you stunned him. If he wasn't happy with Harris doing whatever it was she did, he's going to be pissed at you for doing there's a reason to keep you away from him, but there again, I have a sinking feeling about leaving Mason or Williamson in charge.

God, I'm giving myself a headache. What do you think we should do, Jay?"

"Well, the way I see it, you go with Hall tomorrow morning -- assuming he's not too self conscious about the welt he's going to have tomorrow morning -- or one of us goes in alone."

Jason scratched his chin, brushing a hand through the stubble that had started to grow in the days away from the city. "Breaking the group up into halfsies might be a thought, but if they're this unruly in private, I'd hate to think how they'd act in public."

Winter nodded. "The last thing we need is to scare off potential allies with their shenanigans...and while Hall may have mouthed off, that's nowhere near the level of unacceptable as shooting somebody. If I take him with us tomorrow though, I may be tempted to do the same...

Maybe halfsies is the way to go. Hall can come with us, just to keep him away from Harris...and hopefully the other Marines will be able to keep everyone in check.

But after the events of this afternoon, I have very little faith in the continued survival of this team. If our highest ranking military officers are going to act like kindergartners with guns, we are completely, totally, royally screwed."

Jason looked at Lydia appraisingly. "So then, who goes with who? You're saying 'us' like you want me with you, but it sounds like you want me and Hall as far from each other as possible. Much as I don't care for his attitude at the moment, I don't doubt his skill with a gun. Or did you want us to burn the post down with the collective force of our testosterone?"

Winter snorted. "As much as I hate to admit this...and as selfish as it may be...I'd like you watching my back too--even if Hall is handy with a weapon. Besides, upon further reflection--a lot of which has to do with that bear-thing I ran out to in the woods out there--I've decided that maybe having a couple of people with military training watching out for me wouldn't be such a bad idea. Especially considering the fact that while we know what's lurking here, we have no idea what'll be waiting for us out there...

So, what'dya say, Jay? You gonna be my gun toting buddy come the morrow?"

"That depends, do I get a little food out of the deal?"

His stomach growled, as if on cue.

"The reigning lord of the Lantean Paintball League does not lend his services on an empty stomach!"

From the other side of the tree, Wolfe--who had apparently managed to get into camp with Sampson without anyone noticing and then sat down to wait out the team drama--muttered loud enough for Jason and Winter to hear, "Rainbow paintballs."

Jason smirked at Wolfe's mumbling. He had to admit a smile felt good after all this frustration.

"Bad experience, I presume?"

"Two things I will never talk about: the gnome incident and the paintball incident. Thank you, you have been listening to the shorter version of the story of my life," Wolfe replied. "Chapter twenty three: Traumatic events from puberty-age 21."

Jason laughed.

"Odd how some of the worst experiences in one's life can happen on the paintball field. On my very first day in the city, I was introduced to the Paintball level deep under the east wing. We were gone so long that Dr. Weir herself came looking for us -- and dang near got shot up like a dummy in a firing range.

Should have heard the tongue lashing she gave the Colonel for that one."

Jason smirked again, but more muted this time. Despite the fondness of the memories, his heart sank to think of all that made that memory so warm and amusing was lost or dead to the cold of space.

The whole reason he'd run away from Earth. Dead.

Noticing how cold it was starting to become, he rubbed his arms and tried to force a smile. Still no luck.

"I'm thinking I might just skip dinner and get some sleep..."

"I'm with you on that one. It's been a trying day for everyone and the faster we all get to sleep, the faster it'll be morning."

Winter's stomach growled. "But I think I'm going to grab something to nosh on first...if you'll excuse me."

She stood up and started across the encampment.

"You two do that. I'll stay here and watch... the sunset." Liana said, smiling innocently as her gaze trailed over to where Tim was approaching Harris.