The truth behind the Sidewinder incident was that Leonard Church could never shoot straight.

A/N: Seriously, these guys have taken so many of my plotbunnies and attempted to beat them in with a combination of Season 10, "A Shadow of His Former Self," and the popular fanon of naming York "James" that it just doesn't seem physically possible.

He'd always thought that Mickey had been a good kid. The boy had watched out for everyone else on the team, tried to keep the peace, and was a really good shot when things went - no pun intended - completely south. Mickey had earned his trust, and for the longest time, he'd figured that the kid had kept faith. While Mickey wasn't afraid to do whatever was necessary to keep the team safe and get the job done, the boy never took unnecessary risks with himself, his squad mates, or his equipment, thinking before diving in and encouraging the rest to do the same, or at least prepared to cover the backs of those who did test the depths with both feet and pull them back safely.

There was that one incident, but things had been so chaotic that there hadn't been time to wipe Texas from the leader board, so perhaps it was no surprise that Mickey had thought it another intra-team test and chosen to side with the best - against his own little twin sister. That had stung both of them, in their own ways. But now was not the time to be losing more agents, so he let Mickey's story slide so far as it went, but assigned North to tracking down the rogue Project Freelancer elements with South. Either North would prove himself to them both, or South would solve the issue.

Jimmy had always been the kind of guy everyone liked, even him. Even his little girl. Now, he'd taken more pleasure in her ability to break arms than her ability to break hearts, - just like her mother - but every father secretly burst with pride when seeing men fall head over heels for his daughter, and there was a certain security in knowing that there was a reliable partner out there for her who was willing to prove himself again and again - through science. Jimmy had never said anything directly to him, and his daughter was too good to drop any obvious hints on the matter, but he had the feeling that James was just waiting for the right timing, that moment when they returned home and really felt home… Knowing her mother, (and himself, for that matter,) all he could do was wish Jimmy luck. Jimmy had always been a bit of a scamp, but the kid reminded him of when he'd been that age, that way.

"Scamp" did not begin to cover what had happened that day, and it was the closest he had ever come to hating James. There were so many better targets for his anger that it hardly seemed worth the time to focus it upon a pawn, a mere distraction, a clumsy stumbling block on their path to cleaning up the Texas incident, but there was no denying that Jimmy had not just been momentarily deceived in the confusion or unsure about where his loyalties best lay - James had turned on them, and this… all this… was almost as much York's fault as it had been Texas's. Or Maine's. Or Carolina's. Or his own. That was what it came down to, in the end, and so while York was removed from the duty roster - not quite so flagrantly as Florida, but one had to be remembered to be hated, - York was not pursued. It was not worth the resources at this stage in the project.

But there was always time for one more little experiment. It took his mind off other losses, too old or too new to be properly appreciated. The Alpha would need some sort of back-story, no matter how idiotic the other troopers in the canyon were, or how little attention the Command staff in charge of the base paid that particular rocky backwater. Even with its memory all but sheared away, left to start afresh, it would be easier if the story held enough basis in reality to be true, at least from Alpha's point of view. It would be best if the Alpha's history prepared it for the proper responses, in the very unlikely case that it did encounter any Project Freelancer personnel or resources, outside of its overindulgent minder and oblivious Command operator. And in Leonard Church's mind, Mickey and Jimmy were as dead to him as Carolina.

Agent Tex had been removed and re-added to the roster several times; his own files always of the highest security even if he was not officially granted it. Vic didn't look for the differences. A Freelancer was a Freelancer, who cared which one got sent where? Dude was already zeroing in on that base, anyway; the Director probably wanted him there, if the dude in charge told anybody at all what he wanted anymore. Vic was low enough on the totem pole that he didn't expect a hey-o from even so much as Freelancer Command unless the situations in the various bases he played eagle eye on really went past hell to Greenland, let alone the project's vaunted Councilor or Director, and that was before the scuttlebutt declared the Director dead or arrested or chained to his couch or something. As long as Vic's check cleared every month, it was all good. "10-4, Blood Gulch, we will contact Freelancer Tex and have him there posthaste. Command out."

Vic paid no attention to the static-filled moan tacked on to his sign-off; it was just the Blues begging for somebody to fix their tank. The increased radio signal, a perfect siren for the ghosts in the machine, held no interest for him.