Episode 1230

On Dangerous Ground

by: Mike Bloxam


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Theorizing that one could time-travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sebastian LoNigro set out to prove the String Theory that he had co-developed with his former MIT student, Samuel Beckett—an incredibly gifted genius who was destined for greatness.  After Sam’s sudden and untimely murder in 1973, a distraught Doctor LoNigro formed a strong bond with Sam’s older brother, Lieutenant Commander Thomas Beckett, and together, they both strove to ensure that Sam’s theories would not be forgotten. 


Tom quickly rose in the ranks to Captain and eventually aided Doctor LoNigro in the development of a top-secret government project code-named Chrono-Leap, which was based off of a combination of the String Theory, and the work of the late Doctor Alexander Garner and his failed Time Displacer Unit.  During the initial test-run of the experiment, a malfunction occurred that endangered the lives of everyone inside the project.  In a bold attempt to shut it down, Captain Beckett bravely stepped into the Chronoton Accelerator...and vanished.


He awoke to find himself inhabiting someone else’s body in the past, suffering from partial amnesia and facing a mirror image that was not his own.  Fortunately, contact with his own time was maintained through brainwave transmissions with Doctor LoNigro, who became the Project Observer in the wake of the Accelerator incident, appearing in the form of a neurological hologram that only Captain Beckett can see and hear.


Trapped in an alternate timeline, Captain Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong.  All the while, he is subconsciously aware that another leaper exists somewhere, lost in time like himself, who holds the key to restoring reality back to what it once was.  Until that day arrives, Captain Beckett struggles to recall his lost memories of a “World Without Sam Beckett,” hoping each time to alter the hands of fate so that his next leap...will be the leap home.





Captain Thomas Beckett had been traveling through time for over a decade, striving to change history for the better.  In the back of his mind, he always knew that it was his mission to eventually save his younger brother, Sam, from being murdered by a maniacal serial killer on Sam’s twentieth birthday.

Recently, however, Tom had been having two memories of the horrific occasion:  one told him that he was there, seeing his brother being shot by Logan Lanning right before his eyes; the other had him in Elk Ridge, Indiana, back home from the war in Vietnam when his mother answered the telephone to be told the dreadful, unbelievable news.  Tom didn’t know why he had the conflicting memories and he didn’t care how history would be changed if his brother lived – he only cared that Sam should grow up to be the renowned scientist that he had been destined to become.

While Tom remained suspended in the green-yellow nexus that had become the norm between leaps, thoughts firing all about, he could recall each of his leaping assignments and took pride in how he had helped those around the people into whom he had leaped.  It was his staunch determination to save Sam that kept him from going back to his present.  He couldn’t give up.

Suddenly, the familiar pull of an impending landing began to tug at his scattered atoms as Tom’s body reassembled in physical form behind the aura of his newest host.  While his senses began to register the new environs, the Navy captain looked around to find himself alone on a snow-covered hillside with the sun beginning to set in the west.  The trees were all barren and seemed to shudder in the wind. A chill coursed through his bones as the cold wintry air smacked him in the face.  Looking down at his clothing, he immediately recognized that he was in the military, but didn’t know for which division or even for which country his host served.

The rifle carried over his shoulder indicated to Tom that the time period was prior to that in which he had joined the Navy.  He could only hope that he was training or on a peaceful mission as opposed to being thrown into the middle of a violent war.  His experiences in Vietnam were enough to last him a lifetime.

“Hey, Kilner!” a voice suddenly rang out over the howling wind.  Tom looked in the direction of the voice and saw a soldier in similar garb to his own waving his arm.  “The major’s calling everyone in; the Chinese might be on the move!”

“All right,” the leaper responded – though not quite hearing the words – and started toward the other man.  In his haste, he didn’t notice the sudden decline in the snowy rocks and slipped, falling on his backside while the rifle clattered noisily.

Shutting his eyes from embarrassment, Tom muttered, “Ah, geez.”





Kowang-san (Hill 355), Korea

Thursday, October 23, 1952

16:04 KST


Just as Tom was getting back to his feet, the other soldier approached him and grabbed the time traveler’s arm to steady him.  “You all right, Jack?” he asked while Tom tried to brush off his clumsy fall.

“I’m fine, thanks,” Tom answered sheepishly as he stood firmly on the ground, taking note of the chevrons that decorated the other soldier’s coat.  “Now, what’s the problem, Sergeant?”

Tom realized right away that his companion was close to his host from the way he seemed perplexed at the use of his rank.  The sergeant tried to suppress the look of confusion and repeated, “The Chinese might be making their move so Major Wilkins is summoning everyone for a briefing.”

Nodding at the news, Tom started walking alongside his host’s friend, much more carefully this time.  Firstly, he didn’t want to land on his rear end again.  Secondly, the fact that they seemed to be in hostile territory immediately made Tom’s instincts kick into combat mode.  Being a Navy SEAL had taught Captain Beckett much about how to survive the horrors of war and the rigorous training was ingrained in his consciousness.

“Sheesh, we’re here no longer than a day and the enemy’s already breathing down our necks,” the sergeant commented.

“I guess that’s war,” Tom commented almost absent-mindedly, thinking back to the swift action of the Viet Cong that took his company by surprise from time to time.

Shrugging his shoulders, the soldier replied, “Well, I just hope it’s over soon.  Annie’s getting anxious being cooped up at Camp Petawawa,” he said with a chuckle.  “She writes me sayin’, ‘Pete, I can’t wait until we get our own place and start a family.’  Guess I can’t blame her, bein’ surrounded by military wives and kids all the time.”

Tom wasn’t sure how to react to his companion’s comments and simply gave a humoring laugh.  “With any luck, you’ll be home to ’er sooner than later, Pete,” the leaper replied, using the man’s name to make up for addressing him by his rank earlier.  Making the people surrounding his host think that nothing was different had been challenging at times, and on a few occasions had been downright impossible, but was necessary for the success of his missions.

“Yeah,” Pete answered light-heartedly.  The rest of their walk was in silence, giving Tom the chance to soak in the sight of his surroundings while thinking about why he had leaped into Jack Kilner.  A few minutes later they were outside of a makeshift headquarters, which Tom noticed had endured some serious damage to its exterior walls.  They were grey structures with an alphanumeric label painted in white above the entrances.  He had no time to dwell on the camp, however; they entered a building and were met by the sound of multiple conversations going on at once as soldiers idly spoke to each other.

The chatter quickly quieted when a man with a firm build and tall stature, whom Tom assumed was the Major Wilkins that Pete had mentioned, stepped into the room.  “Listen up, men,” the dark-haired soldier said in a gruff voice loud enough for all to hear.  “As you know, when we took over ‘Little Gibraltar’ yesterday, the base had been under continuous attack.  The buildings are damaged, weapons pits have caved in, and worst of all we have no telephone lines.  After a week of bombardment by the enemy, this place is in rough shape and things aren’t lookin’ up.”

The major paused for a moment letting his words sink in with the troops.  He then went on for a few minutes before finishing up with, “The Chinese are likely on the move again.  We have to be alert and ready to defend our positions:  the people of Korea are counting on us.  Dismissed!”

“Korea?” Tom whispered to himself as his mind began putting the pieces together.  ‘I’m in the middle of the Korean War.’

The soldiers began discussing amongst one another again as they dispersed from the large room.  The leaper was disheartened to hear that he was in the middle of a combat zone and hoped that one of his observers, either Bobby LoNigro or his stand-in, Al Calavicci, would show up soon to fill him in on the situation.

“Guess we’d better make sure we’re all geared up, eh?” Pete commented as he slapped Tom on the shoulder.  “We don’t want those Chinks sneakin’ up on us.”

“I guess so,” replied Tom as his stomach rumbled.  He didn’t know what happened to his body between leaps, as he could never remember when he leaped in, but whatever it was usually left him hungry after landing in his host.  “After I grab a quick bite to eat.”

Pete nodded in agreement and grinned.  “I skipped lunch, too.  All right, a quick visit to the mess hall first.”

Glad to have the chance for some more time to mull things over and to settle his angry stomach, Tom followed his newfound companion back out into the shivering cold.  They took the short walk over to the mess hall and Tom’s impression that it was a dangerous area was reinforced.  Like the main building they had just left, all of the other concrete structures at the camp were badly damaged by mortar that appeared to have happened recently.

The two entered the mess hall and, after taking some of the available food, sat down at a vacant table.  Pete stuck his fork into the cold potatoes and picked up a piece.  “This is the best the Canadian Army has to offer?” he questioned rhetorically.

“Hey, these are leftovers from lunch.  Supper isn’t on for another hour,” a fair-haired young soldier from the neighboring table retorted.  “If ya don’t like it, you can starve.”

Obviously not wanting to start an argument, Pete shrugged and ignored the unsolicited comment as he put the piece of potato in his mouth.  Tom did the same, wishing that a microwave were nearby but just grateful to have some nourishment for his hungry stomach.

The rude soldier stood up and clamped his hand down on Pete’s shoulder.  Figuring that his intentions were aggressive, the leaper stood up quickly from his seat, sending the chair clattering to the floor.  He grabbed the young man by the collar with both hands and stared at him coldly.  “Don’t you dare think about doing anything stupid, son,” Tom warned with full authority.  He was on edge and was not about to take any chances.

Widening his eyes in innocence, the soldier raised his hands to demonstrate that he was harmless.  “Yes, sir,” he replied, relief obvious in his expression when Tom slowly released his coat.  Cautiously, the young man turned around and picked up his tray, taking it to the return pile before leaving the hall.

“I don’t think he was gonna do anything, Jack,” Pete said, obviously astounded at his friend’s sudden moves.

“Were you just going to wait around to find out?  Punks like that need to be straightened out and put in their place once in a while,” replied the time traveler as he stood the chair back up and retook his seat.

Pete nodded and then furrowed his brow.  “What’s a ‘punk’?”

Realizing that the colloquial word had yet to be invented as a result of the punk movement in the Seventies, Tom shook his head and smiled nervously.  “Uhhh, something like a troublemaker,” he explained.  “Anyway, I’m famished,” the leaper added and dug into his food, hoping to avoid any more explanations.



Project Quantum Leap (PCL)

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

Friday, April 6, 2007

04:02 MDT


The sound of a woman’s excited giggles emitted from underneath the bed sheets in the darkened room.  “Oh, Al!” she squealed just before a loud klaxon sounded throughout the quarters along with the rest of the complex.

“Albert, I hate to interrupt your extracurricular activities, but Captain Beckett has leaped,” came the silky female voice of ALPHA – or, as Al liked to call it, “Ziggy” – the parallel-hybrid computer that was designed by Professor Sebastian “Bobby” LoNigro and Doctor Irving “Gooshie” Gushman to run Project Quantum Leap, formerly known as Project Chrono-Leap.  Ever since Bobby had discovered the mysterious blue orb in France in the early Eighties, he knew it would be the key to humankind’s ability to travel in time.  Now it lay at the heart of “Ziggy’s” functions.

Letting out an exasperated breath, Al poked his head out from under the sheets.  “I hear ya,” he grumbled at the computer.  Then speaking to his female friend he said, “Guess we’d better get dressed, Tina.”

Tina Martinez-O’Farrell, the Project’s pulse communications technician, threw back the sheets and gathered up her clothing from the floor.  “Uh huh,” she rejoined in understanding as she began to quickly dress herself.  “Tom’s still gotta work on his timing.”

“I’ll be sure to tell him that,” Al said with annoyance at the interruption of their passionate rendezvous.

Within two minutes, both of them were heading out the door and on their way to the Control Room with Tina fixing her hair and straightening her clothing.  “Ziggy, has Beeks talked to the visitor yet?” Al asked toward the ceiling as he and Tina hastily walked down the corridor toward the elevator.

“She is on her way,” cooed Ziggy.  “She, too, was involved in an amorous endeavor when I paged her about Captain Beckett’s landing.”

Tina nearly jabbed her finger through the call button beside the elevator instead of just pressing it gently, shocked at what the computer had just told them.  ZIGGY!” she exclaimed.  “How many times have we told ya t’ keep personal matters per-son-al?!”

“Thirty-five,” the computer replied nonchalantly.

“And how many times will it take to make it stick, you calculator on steroids?” Al shot hotly and sarcastically.  The cabin doors opened and the couple stepped into the lift as Ziggy answered.

“If you find that my reporting skills are overly efficient, perhaps you should ask Doctor Gushman to reprogram me.  Of course, that would affect all other aspects of my programming, including those pertaining to keeping track of Captain Beckett’s travels in time.”

The computer’s haughty, loquacious reply caused Al to roll his eyes.  “Well, maybe Gooshie can teach you something about censorship instead,” the ex-Navy captain muttered, hearing Tina hum as if in thought.  He was about to lecture Ziggy about the consequences of unbridled stating of information before realizing that it would just be number thirty-six on the computer’s list.

“I wonder who Verbena’s seein’,” Tina commented in a half-whisper.

Al narrowed his eyes at his lover.  “It’s none of our business, Tina,” he said in an even tone, although he was quite curious himself.

The elevator stopped its descent and the doors opened on the Control level.  Al and Tina hustled toward the entrance to the Control Room, where they found Gooshie, the chief programmer, and the Project’s acting director, Bobby, already at work.

“What’s up, fellas?” Al inquired as he approached them at the main control board.  “How’d it go in D.C., Bobby?”

“Don’t ask,” Bobby sighed.  “I’ll tell you the details later.”

“The professor and I are still trying to find Captain Beckett’s signature,” the chief programmer replied.  “Doctor Alsterson is on his way to help us.”

“Sometimes I miss when Donna was more involved with the project,” Al said with a tinge of sarcasm.  “She could be a pain in the ass sometimes, but at least she was prompt.  No offense, Bobby.”

Bobby shook his head and smirked at Al’s impatience.  “Don’t worry, Al, I know what you mean.  Sean’s filled Donna’s shoes more than we could’ve anticipated during the past seven years, Al.  You can’t expect everybody to be awake and ready to rush down here as soon as that alarm goes off.  Besides which, my wife has had...more important responsibilities, as you know.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” replied Al.

“How’d you two, like, get down here so quickly, anyways?” Tina questioned.

“We were running scheduled diagnostics and maintenance on Ziggy’s systems,” Gooshie explained.  “When she told us that you were...indisposed, we decided to go ahead on our own.”

Al quirked his eyebrows at the programmer’s hesitation and choice of words.  “‘Indisposed’?” the observer repeated, getting a bad feeling that Ziggy’s indiscretion was at play once again.  “What exactly is ‘indisposed’ supposed to mean?”

“Perhaps an apology is in order,” Ziggy’s voice emanated throughout the Control Room as the sparkling blue orb suspended from the ceiling pulsed.  “I simply reported that Doctor Martinez-O’Farrell was engaged in a romantic situation in Captain Calavicci’s quarters.”

Tina let out an angry breath through her nose as she noticed Al throw his hands up into the air.  “Gooshie, can you come up with some kind of, like, learning algorithm and run it on Ziggy’s judgment subroutines so that she knows to not reveal certain personal information when it isn’t needed?” the technician asked, restraining her fury as she approached the programmer.  “She already told us about Verbena’s private reason for bein’ late to the Waiting Room, which I’d rather not repeat.”

Shrugging, Gooshie pouted his bottom lip and appeared to be in deep thought as he placed a hand into the front pocket of his white lab coat.  “Perhaps after the current leap is over I could look into it,” he answered after a moment, seeing approving nods from the other three people in the room.

“Doctor Beeks has a name,” Ziggy announced suddenly, bringing everyone back to the business at hand.  “Our visitor says he is Staff Sergeant John William Kilner.  He claims that it is everything that he can recall at the present time.”

Tina joined Bobby and Gooshie at the controls as they searched for Tom’s signal and Al sat down at a research station to help Ziggy with the search for John Kilner’s records.  Nobody looked up a few minutes later when the door to the Control Room opened again and four people entered, one of them being Doctor Sean Alsterson.

“Still lookin’ for ’im, then?” Sean asked, his Australian accent standing out, as he approached the control panel to replace Tina.

“You bet,” Bobby answered.  “Verbena managed to get his name, but that’s all we have to go on right now.”

“I’m afraid that I have to correct you, Professor LoNigro,” Ziggy said evenly.  “I have discovered that Staff Sergeant John William Kilner died in combat at Kowang-san in Korea on Thursday, October Twenty-Third, Nineteen Fifty-Two.”

Al turned around at his station and stood up.  “Is Tom there to save his life, Ziggy?” he queried.  It seemed like an obvious question, but it was one that needed to be asked.

“I have not run any scenarios yet, but if we don’t find his signal soon, Captain Beckett will die in the staff sergeant’s place,” replied Ziggy.

“Ah, jeez,” Al murmured.





Kowang-san (Hill 355), Korea

Thursday, October 23, 1952

17:31 KST


Once again, Tom found himself alone on the snowy hillside of Kowang-san.  He had gained the opportunity to do some information gathering before being sent back out on sentry duty.  He knew that the date was October 23 and it was a Thursday – but the year still eluded him – and that he was a member of “B” Company of the Royal Canadian Regiment’s First Battalion.  One Sergeant Ivimey with pay and accounting had shared John “Jack” Kilner’s information with Tom, not knowing that a time traveler from the future was the one really receiving the information.

Although Tom Beckett was used to standing around for long hours, the cold weather was beginning to affect his ability to stay on his feet comfortably...but the blanket of snow wasn’t any more welcoming.  The leaper began to bend his knees in an effort to stretch them out when the holographic form of Al Calavicci suddenly popped into existence beside him.

“Shit, Al!” Tom exclaimed as he jumped straight back up.

“Well, that’s a fine ‘how do you do?’ there, Tom,” Al quipped with a tinge of sarcasm.  “I come back through time fifty-five years just to get cussed at.”

“Can’t you and Bobby make some kind of warning signal before one of you magically appears?  I can’t count the number of times you’ve both scared the bejeezus out of me like that.”  The leaper swallowed and stared at his observer with annoyance.

Al chuckled at Tom’s disposition.  “Of course you can’t count the number of times... your brain is so Swiss-cheesed that you can’t remember them all!”

Releasing a slow, calming breath, Captain Beckett let the comment slide.  “What am I here to do, Al?  I don’t want to be in a war zone any longer than I have to be.”

The hologram poked at a few squares on the multi-colored handlink to make sure that history hadn’t changed during the fifteen minutes he had spent in the swirling tornado of images in the Imaging Chamber while trying to get a lock on Tom’s neurons and mesons.  “According to Ziggy’s records,” he began, “Staff Sergeant John William Kilner, the guy you’ve leaped into, was killed in action during an attack by the Chinese forces on October Twenty-Third, Nineteen Fifty-Two.”

“When does the attack start?” Tom inquired.

“A half-hour from now,” said Al.  “Ziggy says there’s an eighty-seven-percent probability that you’re here to prevent his death.”

“That’s it?”  Tom was surprised that the mission seemed so simple.

“Uh, no, there’s more,” the observer stated.  “Three other soldiers are meant to survive as well, according to the scenarios Ziggy came up with:  Sergeant Peter McKinnon, a member of ‘B’ Company, with a ninety-seven-point-three-percent chance; Lieutenant Ronald Woofenden of ‘A’ Company with an eighty-one-point-five-percent probability; and finally Warrant Officer George Dunn of ‘D’ company with a probability of sixty-eight percent.”

“They’re all in different companies?  How’m I supposed to save all of them?” Tom questioned, aghast.

Al shrugged.  “I didn’t say it’d be easy.  But you know the routine...”

“Yeah, yeah, I can’t leap until I right the wrongs,” the leaper finished.

The two stood in silence for a moment as a brisk wind tore through Tom’s uniform.  “Anything else I should know about?” the captain finally asked of his hologram.

Pressing a button on the handlink, the door that led back to the Control Room opened.  “Yeah, as a matter of fact there is,” said Al mischievously as he stepped through the threshold.  “Tina says you need to work on your timing.”

The white rectangle of light disappeared, leaving Tom baffled as to what his observer meant.



It was a little over a half-hour after Al had left when the first shell hit the mountainside, less than a hundred meters away from Tom.  Tom Beckett’s survival instincts immediately clicked into gear and he dove for cover behind a large rock.  Three more blasts went off in the distance.

“Al!  I need you now!” he hissed.  The information his observer had supplied was next to useless and he was certain that he would not succeed in the mission without the ex-captain’s continuous assistance.

Slowly, Tom raised his head and scanned his surrounding carefully, trying to see from where the enemy was attacking.  It was dark now, and though the heavily forested area’s deciduous trees were without leaves, the evergreens still gave cover to the Chinese forces.

“Did ya miss me, Tommy-boy?” Al inquired cheekily as he stepped into the Imaging Chamber.

“Where are they, Al?” the leaper demanded in a whisper, ignoring the pert name that Al knew got a rise out of him.  “I can’t see them!”

Taking a look around, the observer saw the smoldering hole that laid a good seventy meters to the left of their position.  “I guess the attack’s started, huh?”

Removing the handlink from his pocket, Al pressed a few buttons while Tom looked at him incredulously.  “Ziggy is detecting a large number of life readings at the bottom of the mountain, but they’re moving toward the base.”

“Is it safe for me to go there?” Tom asked.

“Safe?  No,” replied the observer, “but you’ve saved Jack from dying in that mortar blast.  If you keep it up, he’ll live to see another day.”

“What do I do now then?” the former SEAL demanded with frustration.

Poking at the colorful cubes again, the holographic form of Al read the data on the tiny screen.  “The history books say that in less than three months in this period, the Regiment lost one-hundred ninety-five soldiers.  You’re here to make sure that the number drops to one ninety-one, so just wait until my mark.  I’ll tell you when it’s safe.”

Tom was still crouched behind the boulder, staring off into space.  “Tom?” Al said.  “Are you listening to me?  Tom?”

The water was soaking everything from his waist down as they waited in complete silence.  Lieutenant Tom Beckett of the United States Navy had been with his unit ever since he satisfactorily healed from the gunshot wound to his knee.  The only good thing that came from his encounter with “Lethal Logan” was that he got to spend Christmas with his family.  He was grateful enough for Thanksgiving, not knowing if he would ever see his family again.

His mother and father were rightfully worried but proud of him for volunteering to fight in Vietnam.  His younger brother Sam seemed to have reservations but said nothing discouraging.  The youngest of the Beckett children, Katie, didn’t seem to completely understand the risks and consequences of war.  He could still chuckle at his mother’s reaction to the t-shirt that Katie wore to the dinner table during the Thanksgiving holiday.

The SEAL snapped back to reality, shaking the warm memories from his foremost thoughts.  He had to keep his focus on the battle that was bound to ensue.  At least three hours had passed since his unit took up positions, and though he had a watch and wanted to verify his instincts, Tom was concentrating on keeping his rifle ready for the Viet Cong.

An unholy whistling sound began to resonate in the soldier’s eardrums.  “Psst, hey, Tom,” he heard Wally whisper.  “I thought we were getting ready for a gun battle with Charlie!”

Putting his hand up to silence Wally, the unit leader continued to listen as the whistling got louder, bound to be noticeable to everyone by now.  “Take cover!” Tom ordered and heard his soldiers move quickly.  A loud blast sounded to his left and water sprayed everywhere. Two more bombs landed in linear succession, thankfully away from their position.

“Fall back!” Tom cried out.  Looking to the left, he saw the mutilated corpse that had once been Private First Class Walter Brimley.  Choking at the sight, Lieutenant Beckett had to tear himself away and follow his own advice as he and his unit retreated.

Tom!” Al barked.  “Snap out of it!”

Captain Tom Beckett, behind the aura of Staff Sergeant Jack Kilner, shook his head and returned to Nineteen Fifty-Two.  “What happened?” he asked quietly.

“You were in a trance for over two minutes!  Are you all right?”

Nodding, Tom stood up to full height.  “I have to save those men, Al.  I can’t let what happened to Wally happen to them,” the leaper said with determination.

The observer blinked a couple of times and held back his awe, even though he shouldn’t have been surprised.  Tom had just experienced a flashback to Vietnam, probably very similar to those that Al himself had experienced...  and continued to experience.  One night when they had been drinking, Tom told Al about Wally’s demise and how it had been Tom’s first death under his command.  There were just some things from which a soldier could never recover.

“Let’s head back to the base, then,” Al suggested.  “Ziggy’s records show that Sergeant McKinnon will be the first fatality in... less than forty minutes from now.”

Tom agreed and began to carefully walk, in a crouched position, toward the base.  Both men could hear more explosions in the distance as they approached the Army base.  The buildings that Tom noticed before were under attack once again.  It took them about a quarter of an hour to actually see the concrete structures.

“You’re almost there, Tom,” said Al encouragingly.  “Just keep out of sight and make it to Building A3.  The military documents say that McKinnon was the only man in the building when it was destroyed, so you gotta get him outta there.”

The leaper listened to Al’s report as he continued to make his way through the thick snow.  “Which one is A3?” he questioned.

Al shook his head.  “I’m assuming that they’re labelled on the outside.  Ziggy doesn’t have those kind of details.”

“Of course she doesn’t,” Tom grumbled.  The soldier kept his eyes on the base, scanning for any sort of marking.  He was also on the lookout for the enemy, but they were still invisible.

Coming back into the base, Tom saw soldiers rushing about as orders were being shouted.  They were preparing their defensive positions while outer buildings were being hit.  The leaper began to hurry his pace as he looked for the structure with “A3” marked on it, noticing that the mess hall was “C1” and the building where the briefing had been held earlier was “B5.”

There was a group of four buildings sitting behind the mess hall.  Tom passed by C2 and C3 before coming upon them, seeing them marked “A1” through “A4”.  “There it is!” Tom pointed out to Al as he started running toward A3.  “How much longer do I have?”

The observer pressed some of the colorful cubes and received a textual answer from Ziggy.  “Five minutes, or thereabouts,” he reported.  “It seems as though the Chinese are bombing from the outside in.”

Determined to achieve at least the first objective of his leap, Tom charged faster toward A3 and opened the door without hesitation.  Another blast sounded outside as he saw Pete by himself, doubled over in a wooden chair.  As he suspected, the Sergeant Peter McKinnon he was there to save was none other than Jack Kilner’s friend from before.

“C’mon, Pete, you gotta get out of here!” Tom exclaimed.  “This place is gonna be a crater any second now!”

Looking up at the voice that spoke to him, Pete tried to stand but fell back to his seat.  His stomach churned as he pressed his hands to it before feeling its remaining contents rush up his esophagus and out through his mouth.  This was his third expulsion and Tom could hear the vomit hit the floor, and then saw how much Pete had already brought up.  The time traveler bent down to put the ill soldier’s left arm around his shoulders and then stood him up slowly.

“You’re gonna make it, Pete,” Tom urged as he walked the other man toward the exit.  Pete McKinnon could only groan in response.

“Hurry it up, Tom!” Al hollered from the doorway.  He had been silent at seeing the sick sergeant, keeping any immature comments from his thoughts, as he knew the situation was serious.

As quickly as possible, Tom Beckett guided Pete from A3 and out into the darkness, finally resting him against the wall of another building at a safe distance.  Just as the leaper turned to ask Al about Pete, the group of four buildings came under heavy attack and A3 crumbled to the ground.





Kowang-san (Hill 355), Korea

Thursday, October 23, 1952

18:57 KST


Pete stared in awe at the collapsed building.  Quietly he said, “You just saved my life, Jack,” without looking away from the pile of burning rubble that had previously been Building A3.  Its neighbors were still standing but were heavily damaged.  Tom was about to attempt standing up when three Army soldiers rushed to his and Pete’s sides, aiding both men to their feet.

“What happened?” one asked Tom directly when the leaper shook him away.

“I found Sergeant McKinnon violently ill in A3... something told me he wasn’t safe there, so I helped him to safety,” replied Tom, seeing Al quirk his eyebrows when he said “something.”

The two men who were still supporting Pete began walking him away, the older of the two saying they would take him to the medics immediately.

“Wilkins wants both of us on the front lines,” informed the remaining soldier who had helped Tom up.

Although Tom Beckett had been used to being on the front lines in Vietnam, the idea of doing the same in Korea with no experience there frightened him.  Regardless, he disguised his feelings and nodded in understanding, following the other soldier.

“I know what you’re wondering,” Al said as he jogged alongside the leaper.  “Pete goes to the medics and recovers from a severe case of food poisoning.  He gets sent home in three months and goes on to live a happy life as a building inspector.”  Despite himself, the observer chuckled and repeated, “A building inspector.  I guess he doesn’t want anybody else have a roof collapse on them like that one almost did.”

Tom made no response as he blindly followed the soldier back to the hall where the first briefing had taken place.  The time traveler was surprised to find that they were not entering the building as they continued past it.  They rounded a bend and found no less than fifty men aiming mortar cannons and rifles into the darkness.

“You’re in for a tough battle, Tom,” Al stated as Tom took in the scene in front of them.  The artillery shells were still exploding from behind them, some missing and only striking the ground while others further damaged the Army’s buildings.  “Pretty soon the Chinese are going to advance.  ‘B’ Company gets forced back and are overrun.  Just keep yourself alive, okay?”

“What else do you expect me to do?  I’m a soldier by trade,” Tom replied with some acid in his tone, brought on by the tense situation as opposed to Al’s encouraging remarks.

Being former military himself, Al understood the leaper’s response and chose to ignore it.  “I’ll come back after Ziggy’s energy reserves are charged,” he announced as the white rectangle of light appeared behind him.  “Remember to keep an eye out for Lieutenant Woofenden when you meet up with ‘A’ Company; the odds of him having to survive this battle are over ninety percent now.”

“Okay, Al,” Tom replied, and then quietly added, “Thanks.”

The observer wordlessly stepped through the door and closed it, leaving Tom to fend for his life in the violent war zone.

Tom continued toward the defensive line only to have a dark figure yell out his host’s name.  “Kilner!  What are you doing here?”

“He just saved McKinnon’s life, sir,” said the soldier that had led Tom to the area.  “The major instructed me to bring as many personnel away from the camp as possible.”

Though it was dark, Tom saw the commanding officer nod his head in understanding.  There was a sudden silence as the artillery attacks by the enemy suddenly ceased.  The shadowed officer’s radio crackled as a low voice came over it.

“They must be on the move,” Tom whispered to himself.

“You think so?” the other soldier whispered back.

Caught slightly off guard, the time traveler stumbled.  “W-well, why else would they stop?” he reasoned.

Their conversation ceased when the shadowed officer turned off his radio.  “We have no outside communication, so it’s up to us to keep the enemy at bay,” he announced.  “Reconnaissance says they’re advancing their positions.”

A gunshot fired from somewhere and the soldiers began scrambling while orders were being shouted.  Tom readied his rifle and scanned the darkness, hoping that he wouldn’t have to shoot.  Despite the fact that he had killed enemy soldiers in Vietnam, it was never easy to get used to ending a human life.  He was grateful that the Swiss cheese effect that gave him partial amnesia on each leap blocked out certain events and sometimes left just a “ghost” of certain memories.  At that time he only remembered the fact and not the events.

Although there was no more gunfire after the initial shot, everyone was now silent and prepared to defend.  Tom knew from Al that they would have to fall back eventually, but without an exact time he was nearly as clueless as those around him.

As they waited in the silence, Tom Beckett could feel the suspense hanging in the cold, dry air that surrounded him.  It was a familiar feeling that almost gave him comfort, being in an environment similar to his past experiences.  Minutes passed by with the only noise being the wind amongst tree branches before Tom noticed some movement.  Though a thoroughly trained soldier, his enemy was unfamiliar, so Tom didn’t shoot until it was too late.  One of the Chinese troops opened fire upon their line, the sound of a bullet speeding by his head nearly making his heart stop.  In mere seconds the air was thick with gunfire after Tom heard the shadowed officer order, “Fire at will!”  The Canadian soldiers didn’t hesitate, even when men started to fall after being shot by the enemy.

The gun battle continued on for an uncountable number of minutes as Tom Beckett kept his concentration and fired with expert precision.  He counted three direct hits on the enemy forces before the commanding officer shouted another order.

“Fall back!” he hollered over the noise of the rifles.  “Return to base!”

Many soldiers began to repeat the words to ensure that everybody heard the command.  Canadian guns mostly ceased while their owners retreated and the Chinese rifles continued to fire.  The sound of men being hit on both sides was reviving the demons of Vietnam in Tom’s mind, but he attempted to push them away as he proceeded through the rough terrain with the rest of Jack Kilner’s company men.

Tom was bringing up the rear, encouraging the young – compared to him – men to keep up the pace of retreat.  They were obviously outnumbered and the leaper wanted to ensure the safety of everybody involved.  As he took a look back to survey the Chinese pursuit, Tom was struck in the left forearm by a bullet, and he fell to the ground.  The demons he had been fighting so hard to keep away since his earlier flashback to Wally’s death overcame him.

“Tom, you okay?” a panicked voice demanded as Lieutenant Tom Beckett felt himself being lifted back up from the ground.  The searing pain in his right shoulder caused his head to pound, feeling the beating of his heart particularly in both of those areas of his body.

They had come out of nowhere, once again.  Tom was leading his unit deep into the jungle for a scouting mission.  They hadn’t even left dry ground before soldiers of the Viet Cong sprang from behind the trees and opened fire.  Though he wasn’t certain, Tom figured he was the first one hit and hoped that he was the only one.  The men under his command acted swiftly and had eliminated two Viet Cong before Tom was hit and the enemy left them.

The pain was so familiar... he had only been struck by a bullet once prior when he was protecting his younger brother from a serial murderer that had happened upon their small town of Elk Ridge, Indiana.  Though that had only been under a year before, the phantom pain began to act up in his knee.

“I’m fine,” he eventually answered as Private Ritch Martinelli supported his back.  Tom was sitting on the dusty path, bathing in the host sunlight, and the remainder of his unit surrounded him.

“Charlie’s gone, sir.  We’d better get you back to see Bones,” another under Tom’s command, Private Frank Perry, stated.  “The mission can wait ‘til tomorrow.”

The ingrown stubbornness told him that he should go on, but the concerned looks on the faces of his subordinates - plus the pulsating pain in his shoulder - told him that the reasonable thing to do would be to postpone the mission and follow Frank’s logical advice.

“Help me up,” he replied not unkindly as Ritch and Frank supported him.  The walk back to camp was slow going, exasperated by the psychosomatic ache in his knee.  The two men gently placed Tom on an unoccupied bed as the medic, nicknamed after the Star Trek character Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy since his surname was also McCoy, quickly began an examination.

“The bullet isn’t in too deep.  I should be able to remove it without much trouble,” Bones reported.  Wordlessly, Lieutenant Beckett nodded and closed his eyes, just wanting the agony to end.  Though the wound wasn’t bleeding as much as it could have been, Tom was feeling light-headed and didn’t have the energy to speak.  He heard Martinelli and Perry leave and three more of the triage team enter, receiving instructions on what needed to be done.

“Don’t worry, Lieutenant,” Bones said in a hushed tone.  “You’re gonna be just fine.”

Two sets of strong hands brought Tom back to his feet from the snowy ground as he felt himself being dragged along.  “Don’t worry ’bout a thing, Jack,” a voice said encouragingly.  “Doc’ll have you better in no time.”

The leaper didn’t bother responding and focused on making his legs work as two of the “B” Company members aided him along the rocky path back to their base.  The pain in his arm was barely registering since the horrific memories of the past were the main cause of his incapacitation.  Tom made a conscious effort to remember that there were two more lives for him to save otherwise he wouldn’t leap.

The soldiers had apparently outrun the enemy unit and were back to the camps within minutes.  When Tom was taken to the medics, he spotted Pete McKinnon recuperating in a nearby bed.  The doctor gave the time traveler's wound a quick look-over before disinfecting and bandaging the area where Tom was certain the bullet had struck.

“You’re one lucky duck, Sergeant,” the medic said.  “The bullet went clear through your jacket and only grazed the skin.  It’s nothing more than a flesh wound.”

“Am I fit for duty, then?” Tom demanded eagerly.

The doctor nodded and rolled down the sleeve of Tom’s shirt.  “Of course.  Just go a little easy on the arm.”

Nodding quickly, the leaper threw back on his coat and stood up just as the Imaging Chamber door opened between him and the doctor.  Ignoring the holographic form of Al Calavicci for the moment, Tom thanked the doctor and rushed out into the cold while putting on his gloved.  Once outside, Al popped up after re-centering himself on the time-traveling Navy captain.

“Are you okay, Tom?” Al asked concern etched in his face.  He didn’t wait for an answering before adding, “What happened?”

“Just grazed by a bullet,” Tom replied nonchalantly while he continued to walk.  “What do I have to do next?”

The observer noticed the anxiety in his friend’s tone.  “Is something bothering you, Beckett?”

Knowing that he couldn’t evade the question by the manner in which Al used his last name, Tom halted and faced the holographic image.  “This is too much like Vietnam,” he whispered.

Looking around at the contrasting weather – Korea’s snowy mountains versus Vietnam’s humid jungle – Al played dumb.  “I don’t remember there being much snow in Saigon,” he commented with a tinge of sarcasm.

The former SEAL narrowed his eyes.  “That’s not what I mean and you know it,” he spat.  “I’m talking about being in the middle of a war.”

Taking a tough stance that he knew was required to get Tom through the rest of the leap, the observer hardened his tone.  “Well, suck it up, Captain.  You’ve got a job to do here.  Thinking about the past will only lead you to falling flat on your face and cost two brave men their lives.”

Swallowing slowly, Tom tightened his lips and gave a curt nod.  “Just tell me what I have to do, Al.”





Kowang-san (Hill 355), Korea

Thursday, October 23, 1952

21:10 KST


The First Battalion’s “B” Company of the Royal Canadian Regiment was under heavy attack at their base when the order was put out to retreat to the area patrolled by “A” Company.  Though they were not pursued, immediate defensive preparation was made when the two companies encountered one another.  “A” Company was not expecting the arrival of their comrades as “B” Company’s telephone lines had been cut by the enemy.  Tom was getting frustrated after searching for Lieutenant Ronald Woofenden for nearly half an hour.  Al had told him that records only said that he had died defending Hill 355, so Ziggy could not pinpoint the hour or the location.

As Tom Beckett slinked around, asking for the lieutenant whenever he encountered somebody, he tried his hardest to keep his focus on the situation and not relapse into dwelling on events from the war that he had participated in during his own lifetime.  Nobody knew where Ronald was and Tom had stuck with the lie that his commanding officer had sent him out to find the elusive soldier.

The leaper rounded a corner of one of the temporary shelters that protected “A” Company from cold winds and white snow, bumping into the soldier that had brought him to the earlier firefight.

“Jack, what’re you up to?” he asked.  Tom took the opportunity of having a floodlight over them to read the nametag stating the soldier’s surname.

“Nothing, just looking for someone, Oldham,” he replied.

“Well, make it quick.  The battalion commander’s ordered tank and mortar fire on the ground we lost, and we’ll likely be on the front lines,” he informed Tom.  “Speculation has it we’ll be doing the same on Hill 227 and west and north of 355.  Sure is nice to have communication with the outside world again, eh?”

As if on cue, the form of Al appeared beside Oldham.

“I’ll say,” Tom replied.  “See ya in a few minutes.”

Oldham nodded and took off.  “Energetic guy.  I take it you owe him the wound on your arm?” Al questioned.

“He also helped me back to the medics,” answered the leaper.  “Does he have anything to do with Woofenden?”

Al shook his head.  “Nope, but I did get more information.  Turns out his widow was an interviewee in a documentary about the Korean War.  She said he was killed when the tank he was driving was destroyed by Chinese mortars.”

“Which tank?” Tom demanded urgently as he charged toward where he had seen the vehicles of destruction earlier.  Instead of trying to keep up, Al stayed in his place and yelled, “The one called ‘Bethany’!”

The leaper arrived at the tanks and saw troops preparing them.  Each had a name stencilled on the back.  To his utmost relief, Bethany was still there.

Approaching the vehicle, Tom heard Al reappear behind him.  “Keep your eyes peeled,” the observer advised as they both surveyed the soldiers around the tank.  “He’s gotta be around here somewhere.”

“I’m looking for Lieutenant Woofenden,” the leaper announced as he approached two men who were tightening a component for the tracks.  They both looked up and one, about Tom’s height and with a kind face, stood up from his bent position.

“I’m him.  Who’re you?” he asked curiously.

“Cap— er, Staff Sergeant Kilner,” he responded as he saluted, stumbling over the reflex action to give his real identity.  The lieutenant returned the salute before Tom continued.  “I’m part of ‘B’ Company.  I’ve been ordered to replace you in the tank.”

In chorus, Ronald and Al demanded, “What?!”

“You don’t know how to drive a tank, Tom!” Al hollered as he gesticulated with his arms.

“Your company lead said I’m to take your place,” Tom reiterated.

“For what reason?” the lieutenant rightfully asked.

The time traveler shrugged.  “Just following orders, sir.  I wasn’t given an explanation.”

“I’ll give him an explanation:  this guy’s nuts!” the observer interjected, jerking a thumb toward his time-traveling companion.  “Ziggy gives odds that you’ll die instead or get blown higher than I ever flew, not counting when I was an astronaut!”

Pursing his lips, Woofenden nodded and said, “All right, I guess I’ll go see what’s going on around here,” before leaving in a confused state.

Al was madly poking at the handlink as Tom made his way around to the front of the tank.  “The tanks are deployed in two minutes.  Woofenden no longer dies, but if the tank still goes out with you at the controls...  Ziggy says you’re dead meat.  What were you thinking?”  The observer was pacing as he spoke, his hands moving animatedly.

“I was thinking about saving that man’s life,” Tom whispered back, annoyed.

“What about yours?” Al demanded loudly.

“Let me worry about that, okay?”

An alarm sounded for a moment and the soldiers clambered into the large vehicles.  The one who had been helping Ronald boarded and looked at Tom expectantly.  Quickly, the leaper hopped up and climbed to the portal, sliding inside with only a small amount of difficulty.  He settled in at the steering controls as Al walked in through the walls of the tank.  Only the upper half of his body was visible as he slowly floated up to fit as much of his hologram as possible into the cramped space.

“I can give you some advice, but only what Ziggy has in her databanks about this classification of armored vehicle,” the observer grumbled as he read the computer’s words from the small screen of the handlink.

“I don’t need it,” Tom replied quietly as the engine roared to life.

“Would you mind telling me exactly what you have in mind?” asked Al incredulously.

“You’ll see,” the leaper said simply.  The tank moved away with a jolt and started down the snowy slope.  The ride was bumpy and Tom allowed the other tanks to move on ahead out of sight for a number of minutes before he took a hard left toward a group of trees.

The other soldier started to ask what was going on, but his words were overshadowed by ex-Captain Al Calavicci, who had poked his head through the wall of the tank to survey the outside surroundings for himself, peering into the darkness.

“Are you on a kamikaze mission or something?  You’re headed directly for those trees!”

“If we don’t go into battle, we can’t be killed by mortar fire, right?” reasoned Tom as the tank rumbled along.  He then yelled, “Hold on!”

The tank came to a quick halt and shook violently as it became lodged between two old trees.

“What happened?” demanded the other soldier while Tom made a show of trying to get the tank unstuck before turning off the motor.

“Something screwed up with the steering.  I couldn’t stop it,” Captain Beckett answered as he started to clamber out.  The armory soldier followed quickly and inspected the damage, shaking his head as he saw how hopeless it would be to attempt a retrieval of the tank.

“Guess we’re walking back,” he huffed.  “Good thing we weren’t out for too long.”

“Definitely,” Tom rejoined, smirking at the observer.

Rolling his eyes, Al opened the door leading back to the Control Room.  “I’m going to talk to Ziggy.  Gooshie says she never predicted this stunt you pulled and is upset,” he stated as he stepped through the rectangle of light.  “I’ll never figure out why they gave her such a big ego.”

The light disappeared and Tom and his companion were left in the dark.  They began the arduous trek back toward “A” Company’s camp.



The two men returned to a nearly empty camp after over forty minutes of trudging through the snow.  Most of their conversation had revolved around how the tank could have possibly broke down and the reasoning behind Tom replacing the lieutenant at the controls.  The leaper found Sergeant Fred Hall to be a pleasant conversationalist and luckily did not delve deeply into personal histories after Tom glazed over what little he knew of his host’s life.

Once they reached one of the shelters, Fred left while Tom said he was going the opposite way to speak with Major Wilkins.  He was wandering aimlessly when the familiar sound of the Imaging Chamber door opening caused him to turn around and face his observer.

“How’s Ziggy?” Tom asked.

“She’s fine now, no thanks to you,” Al replied playfully.  “Anyway, you’ve saved two of the three men.  Warrant Officer George Dunn of ‘D’ Company is still recorded as being killed in battle later this evening.  The battalion commander has called a counter-attack, which is fought by ‘D’ Company and goes on toward midnight.”

Tom absorbed the information, glad to have a refresher.  Unlike his brother Sam who had had photographic memory, Tom had always needed to hear most things a couple of times before it stuck.  “How am I supposed to find him?” he queried.

“Well, he’s in the left-hand platoon, which meets considerable resistance but goes on to reoccupy the hill,” Al answered.  “I think you’re going to have to sneak in with them.  Since they’re coming through near this camp, it shouldn’t be too hard.”

Looking up at the starry sky for a moment, Tom nodded and asked for guidance.  “Care to lead the way?”

“Of course, Tommy-boy,” Al said with a grin.

They quickly walked away from the camp toward what seemed to be a service road for the Army.  Tom crouched behind some rocks and began to wait.

“What happens to Jack?  I mean, did I get him in trouble by lying about the tank?”

Al consulted the handlink.  “Well, we don’t have access to his service records, so we can’t be sure.  His future seems pretty much normal, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.  At least he survives the war now,” he reported.

“So all I have to do is save this Dunn guy and I can leap?” Tom whispered.

Again poking at the handlink, Al nodded as it made an affirmative whistle.  “Seems that way.”

Letting out a sigh of exhaustion, the leaper slunk down even further and relaxed against the rock wall.  “The leaps never get any easier, do they?” he mused.  Tom had never told Al the driving force that kept him leaping, that he was striving to rescue his little brother while putting right the wrongs for others along the way.

“Each one could be the last, Tom,” replied the observer.  “You know I got your back; so does everyone else here at the Project.”

Tom smiled knowingly, realizing that only he would know when the last leap would be; the one that gave Sam Beckett his life back.  “Yeah, I know,” he said quietly.  The sound of crunching snow resounded in both men’s ears and the holographic observer walked over to the road.

“Looks like ‘D’ Company is on its way,” Al announced.  “I’ll give you the signal.”

The platoon was carefully making its way down the snow-covered access road.  When about half of it had passed, Al waved Tom over and the leaper obeyed with caution.  The troops were keeping a keen lookout and a number of them spotted a figure coming toward them.

“Halt!” one of them yelled in Tom’s direction and many guns were raised in defense.  Tom instinctively raised his hands above his head.  “Identify yourself!”

“Staff Sergeant John Kilner of ‘B’ Company,” he replied.

The guns came down and Tom was beckoned to join them.  “What are you doing out here, Sergeant?” someone asked, a major from what Tom could see in the darkness of night.

“I got lost after my tank was incapacitated,” he explained.  “Permission to come along, sir?”

“Granted,” the major replied.  “Dunn, get the staff sergeant a rifle.”

The name caught the attention of both Tom and Al.  “Yes, Major,” the soldier replied and rummaged through one of the large packs being carried by another troop.  He brought it over to Tom and gave him a respectful nod as he handed it to him.

“Thanks, George,” the leaper whispered, hoping he had the right man.

“How’d you know my name?” Warrant Officer Dunn asked.  “I don’t know you.”

Even though it was dark, Tom could see the confusion on George’s face.  “I think we met before.  This is ‘D’ Company, right?”

“Yeah,” George replied.  “And you’re in ‘B’?”

Tom nodded and let a beat pass before repeating, “I’m pretty sure we met before.”

“If you say so,” the warrant officer chuckled.

Al was pressing keys on the handlink as it made its quirky noises.  “Just stick by him, Tom.  You’re gonna be in another firefight pretty soon,” he advised.  “The Chinese have been advancing their lines.”

Hearing the words but not visibly responding, Tom continued along with George as the platoon progressed.

About twenty minutes of walking through forested territory passed before they were ordered to stop.  Tom wasn’t sure if the crunching of snow under feet that followed was from other soldiers still halting, echoes of their steps, or movement of someone else.  When it didn’t cease, the soldiers all raised their rifles and aimed toward the source of the noise.  It was a tense few moments before the first sight of human figures appeared in the barren area between the trees and the mountainside.

“Is it the Chinese?” Tom mouthed to Al.  The observer, caught up in the moment, nodded slowly and then made a gesture of aiming a gun.  Tom widened his eyes for verification and Al motioned his hands affirmatively.  Raising his rifle, Captain Tom Beckett aimed at one of the figures and prepared to fire.  He heard others around him suddenly do the same.  When there was no objection to aiming, Tom took it upon himself to fire the first shot.  It seemed like slow motion as he pulled the trigger and the explosive sound of the bullet firing down the barrel echoed before his target fell to the ground with a yelp.

“Open fire!” one of the officers ordered as the battle began.  The Canadians began to spread out and take various vantage points while the Chinese tried to get an idea of from where they were being attacked.  Tom saw more shadows fall while ensuring that George Dunn was still beside him.  Two screams of pain came from close by on the platoon’s side and the leaper’s sense of danger enhanced.  Pushing himself in front of George and knocking him to the ground, Tom started firing at random figures against the dark.  Some dodged while others were struck somewhere, enough to cause them to hit the ground.  Al watched in awe at how efficient Tom was.

“What’re you doing?” George asked when the leaper stopped firing.  “I couldn’t see a damn thing!”

“Sorry, I dunno what came over me,” Tom replied.  “I guess—”

Tom stopped when a bullet struck him in the buttocks, causing him to cry out in pain and fall to his side.  George immediately asked what happened.

“I got shot in the ass!” Tom hissed as he tried to keep from writhing in agony.

Al was stifling his laughter after reading the handlink.  “Enjoy it while it lasts,” he said with a chortle.  “You just saved George’s life.”

Warrant Officer Dunn was helping Tom get comfortable when the leaper glared at his observer and said, “If I ever get the chance to let you know how this feels...”

Tom’s sentence was cut off when a green-yellow light enveloped him and he leaped.


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