"Great, we're already wet," Maggie grumbles as she drags herself out of the lake. "New record. Just fantastic."
Remmy laughs. "Hey, at least we didnít hit those rocks over there."
Diana chuckles. "Small favors huh?"
Maggie lets a small smile escape. "Letís go get some new clothes, OK?"
"So long as my ATM card works," Remmy laughs.
We see a single man dressed in armor, most of it draped by a green cloak. A loud beeping is heard as the man gets up from his his throne and goes over to some machinery. He speaks, apparently to himself, in a vaguely European-sounding accent.
"A vortex. Finally. Soon, my rule shall be unchallenged."
He returns to the throne and pushes a button. After a few short seconds the door opens and a large man enters; he would be considered handsome, tall and muscled with dark hair. He bows to the armored man and asks, "What can I do for you, my lord?"
The armored man speaks flatly. "An inter-dimensional wormhole just opened above the lake in San Francisco. I want you to go and find whoever came through... my scanners indicate four people. If they are Kromaggs they will be easy to track down; if not they should still stand out not knowing of our history. Capture them with minimal harm done. I want them alive."
The tall man stands. "Yes, my lord."
As the tall man exits, the armored man speaks again: "I just remembered something. Check out the local hotels; start at the Chandler."
The tall man smiles. "Chandler Hotel, yes my lord."
He bows again and leaves.
At the Chandler...
The Sliders are sporting their new outfits in a fancy room. "This is nice, wonder what the expensive suites are like?" Remmy muses.
Quinn answers "Who knows, who cares? This is perfect. Especially after being on the run for the last few Earths."
Diana laughs a little. "So far we've been on the run practically every world."
Maggie grins, "We do have a habit of getting into trouble."
There is a knock at the door. Quinn opens it to see the large man from earlier. "Hello, I am Peter Rasputin. I'm looking for a man named Mallory."
Quinn looks a little scared. "I'm Quinn Mallory."
Peter smiles a little and confirms, "Quinn, thatís it. Sir Doom wishes an audience with you."
Remmy whispers to Maggie "Sir Doom?"
Peter turns. "Yes, Sir Doom. That proves you are either not from this world as he said, or have been under a rock for the last few years. Now you and your group have two choices, come peacefully and co-operate, or resist and make my job harder on me." He flexes his fingers. "I don't like having to chase after people."
Maggie walks up and touches his chest lightly. "Well big man, hate to disappoint but..." She punches him in the face... and grabs her hand in pain. "OUCH!!"
Peter smiles. "That was pointless. Now can you please come peacefully, I do detest fighting."
Quinn checks on Maggie. "Are you okay?"
Maggie looks pissed, even more so than usual. "Yeah, but it felt like punching a tank."
Peter laughs. "Come along and I can show you how itís done."
Quinn looks around and says "No way! Look, we arenít going anywhere; this is a free country."
Peter laughs loudly. "You really are from another world." He moves to the side of the door. "I am a sporting man, Iíll give you a head start. One minute to get as far as you can."
The sliders look at one another.
They make it out of the Chandler and turn a couple corners, then resume running for their lives. We see Peter coming around the corner with some type of tracking device. He looks up and sees the sliders almost out of view. He sighs and speaks under his breath. "You can run, but you canít hide. Sad really..." He glances back down at the tracker and walks forward at a leisurely pace.
Half an hour later, between two nondescript houses...
Maggie is obviously upset. "Run, hitchhike, run. Why didnít we slip into some gun shop and shoot the guy?"
Remmy, still out of breath says "Did (huff) you see any (pant) gun shops?"
Maggie is briefly confused. "No, I didnít. What, you think guns are illegal on this world?"
We hear Peter's voice. "Yes, only law enforcers have guns here, and most donít even need them."
"Shit!" Diana curses.
Peter smiles. "Fools. You can run for ages, but you can't escape your quantum signature. Once we had a lock, you were ours."
Quinn looks up. "We?"
From behind we hear another voice and see a slightly shorter blond man, with bow and arrow drawn, aimed at the sliders. "Yeah, We. Iím officer Clint Barton; you already met Chief Rasputin. Now come peacefully so we donít have to hurt you."
Quinn looks at the other Sliders sadly and says, "I donít think we have a choice here, guys."
Clint sighs and mutters, "Man, you got a mind like a steel trap."
Peter looks at his watch and smiles. He flips up the lid to reveal a good-looking woman. "Hey Spiral," Peter instructs her, "Teleport for six, to Washington."
She smiles back on the tiny view-screen. "Be there in a" - she abruptly disappears from the screen and reappears in front of him - "millisecond."
Clint favors her with an odd look and says "Showoff freak." Spiral laughs, "One of these days, Barton, we'll have to settle this... until then, we go back to Doom's."
She spins, performing an exquisite dance as a bubble envelops her body and those of the others. They reappear in some sort of castle, but a castle with very high-tech equipment. A young-twenties blond woman sits behind a desk; on their arrival, she smiles and rises to hug Peter. Peter blushes, hugs her back, and puts her down.
"Good to see you too, sister," Peter says smiling at her.
Clint winks at her and asks, "Free this week Illyana?"
She smiles back at him and says, "Are you ready for my big brother to break your bones?"
Clint looks at Peter and looks like heís thinking, then he turns back to Illyana and says, "Maybe next week."
The three laugh. Spiral turns to the Sliders and explains, "They do that every time they come here."
Illyana presses a button and says, "Lord Doom, Peter and Clint have returned, with the 'captives.' She adds a note of sarcasm on the word "captives."
We hear Doom's voice as he says, "Let them enter." The door opens and the group steps inside.
Peter and Clint bow at once. The Sliders donít. Doom becomes outraged immediately, yelling "You dare to stand before Doom and not kneel or bow?!!!"
Quinn quickly throws out the usual excuse; "Weíre from Canada."
Peter stands and says, "Doom rules Canada, and we already know you arenít from this dimension, remember?"
Quinn realizes it and bows before Doom. Remmy and Diana reluctantly do the same. Maggie doesnít.
"BOW!!" Doom bellows.
Maggie returns the yell sharply. "I donít bow to anyone!"
Peter puts one hand on her shoulder and forces her down. He then lets her back up and says, "I did that for your own good. Doom is very benevolent when he wishes to be, but making him mad is like signing your death warrant."
Maggie looks at him steadily. "So heís nuts."
Doom raises one of his armored hands and a blast of energy surges forward pinning Maggie to the wall.
Peter sighs, "Sir, if you hurt her the others may not actually want to help us."
Doom stops the energy flow and Maggie falls to the ground. "It was not my intent to hurt the girl Peter, merely to remind her who is in charge of this world. And, I'm sure, of many others."
Quinn speaks up. "Uh, actually, we've never met a Doom before."
Doom looks at him, his eyes narrowing. "Think of it lad, there are infinite worlds, no matter how long you have been sliding you have yet to see even a percentage of a percent. You may have seen hundreds. But there are googols of googols of worlds. I and my doubles could be ruling trillions of them."
Quinn considers this and affirms, "Theoretically true."
Remmy looks at Diana: "Googols?"
"One million billion trillion."
At last, Doom motions for them to rise. He looks at Quinn. "I trust you are the Quinn Mallory from the earth overrun by the Kromaggs, correct?" Quinn looks shocked. "Uh. Yeah, how didÖ"
Clint speaks up. "How did he know? Boy are you new. Quick history lesson here. Doom is from the royal family of Latveria. While attending college in America, he was trying to contact his dead mother, and it rather much backfired. The device exploded and he built the armor to cover his face. Anyway, he went back to Latveria and ended up taking over the world, democratically to boot. He was voted into office after establishing world peace. Heís kinda like Ghandi, if Ghandi had a bad temper and invincible armor."
Doom turns to Clint. "Barton, I should demote you for that last comment."
Clint smiles and shrugs. "Sorry boss."
Doom turns back to the sliders. "You have met the Kromaggs, correct?"
"Yes," Quinn nods.
Doom pauses. "Then we have a common enemy."
Doom continues. "Although I have mastered a weapon which can kill the Kromaggs, I... I have yet to master the science of recording and tracking wormholes. As much as I am the greatest scientist of this world, I would appreciate any help you can lend. I am a man of my word. Anything I can give would be gladly provided. The Kromaggs are the sole threat to my empire."
Quinn looks worried. "How do we know you won't take over other worlds? Like the Kromaggs did."
Doom looks down on him. "You have my word."
Maggie, who has just gotten up and is still obviously sore from the earlier blast looks outraged. "His WORD? HA! How do we know you'll keep it?"
"You question DOOM's honor? I have never broken my word. Even to my greatest enemies, my word is known as my bond. I make no claims of sainthood, but I never break my word."
Clint speaks, "As much as I hate to admit it, he is telling the truth. The only reason I help him is because before he took over, I was about 90% deaf. He used his science to help me. I can probably hear better than you know."
Maggie was still recalcitrant. "Yeah, and you work for him. How should we know he'll keep his word? We haven't even known him an hour!"
Clint was getting pissed now. "How do you know he won't? You aren't even from this world, Silicone Girl."
Maggie's fists clenched. "WHAT DID YOU CALL ME?!"
"ENOUGH!!!!!!" Doom cried. All turned to him at once. "Listen. Either you help me or you do not. It makes no matter; your help will merely speed my victory. I wish no more than safe rule over this world. There is no need to rule others."
Quinn looks at the others. "I say we help him. We could use the help in beating the Kromaggs."
Remmy steps forward. "Listen... How about this, Doom, we help you track wormholes; you help us by giving us the weapon to beat the Kromaggs. Deal?" Doom placed his chin on his fist, looking almost like a futuristic knight version of Rodin's Thinker. "It is satisfactory to me."
Remmy turns back to the others. "Well?"
Quinn nods. "I guess it'll do."
Doom nods. "Scientists, come with me," he says as he left the room. Quinn and Diana follow.
Remmy turns to Peter. "So what do us civilians do?"
Peter smiles. "What interests you?"
"I was a singer on my world. She's an army brat."
Peter nodded. "Okay. You get to meet Dazzler and she'll meet General Fury."
Quinn and Diana were discussing how to track wormholes with Doom when another voice spoke behind them.
"But of course, I should have figured that out. Simple, really..."
They turned to see a large blue-furred man in a lab-coat. "What are you?" Diana asked bluntly.
"I'm a mutant scientist. Hank McCoy... or, 'Beast'. I tried a formula on myself which accidentally gave me blue fur." He paused. "But at least I don't have an overbite."
Diana was shocked. "WHY I NEVER..."
Beast interrupted. "Maybe you should... once you go blue, you never go back."
Diana was outraged.
"Not much of a sense of humor in you, is there. Sir Doom, I can get the proper adaptations done in a few minutes. Then we simply have to find a world with the alternate race in which to test the weapon."
Doom nodded to Quinn. "Any suggestions? We know it worked on our world, but we wish for a second test. Make sure it works on alternate worlds and not because of some factor unique to our own."
A few hours later...
Remmy and Maggie stroll into the main room of Doom's castle, discussing the day's events. "So, what'd you think of that Fury guy, Maggie?"
"I think we could be related. Similar attitudes, careers... He even wears an eye patch even though Doom could fix his eye; he just likes it as a battle remnant."
"Interesting. Dazzler's a pretty good singer; maybe if we ever get back to Earth Prime I'll find her double... we'd make a great duo."
"Hey, guys," Quinn welcomed them back. "Still a few minutes before we slide so we can test out the weapon. So... where do you want to test it?"
"Well, not home until we know it'll work, so how about the world with the weapon experiments from the Maggs. I want to see how Penny wound up."
"Fair enough. Then we slide home, okay?"
Remmy thinks for a moment. "Yeah, then we look for Wade."
Quinn nods. "Sure, but I want to see home again."
Doom walks up behind them holding a small weapon, which to Quinn resembles nothing more than the infamous Voraton device. Peter and Clint trail Doom at a respectful distance. "So, we head for an earth with mixed human and Kromagg populace. Good. The Kromaggs are my primary enemy now, but I do not wish for my victory to have adverse affects on humans."
"Did it on this world?" Quinn asks.
"No, but every world is different."
"True. Well, here's hoping." Quinn picks up the timer and opens the vortex.
"Whooooah!" Quinn lands, and a moment later Remmy lands on top of him. Wade and Diana land on a step and Doom employs jet boots to land on his feet. Peter falls, catching himself and pushes himself up.
Clint lands, gets up quickly and pulls out four of his arrows. He shoots them in a square formation around the group and some sort of force field pops up, connecting them.
"New field arrows up. Hope they hold out long enough."
Doom looks up at what USED to be the Lincoln monument -- we're in DC, remember -- and raises a gauntlet. He shoots off the faceÖwhich is now that of a Kromagg.
"NOW we test the weapon."
He pulls out the small Voraton device, to Remmy's concern. "Hey, on one world we ran into, that messed up the atmosphere. It was just a little bigger but it still did in the whole planet."
Doom almost looks insulted. "I foresaw that effect before we tested the device and fixed it. This device will have no ill effects on my world."
We see a lot of Maggs coming close, each armed with the radiation weapons we know so well. They start firing but the field stops blocks their shots.
"Let's use the device before they break through. Guys?" Clint asks.
"Yes, we're readyÖ" Doom sets the device up and presses a button, starting the weapon. "It will fire in 15 seconds."
"Uh, should we be standing at Ground Zero here, Doom?"
"When I used it onÖ" The device fires before Doom can finish.
They stand there -- the only living things -- for a moment, then spot a camp in the distance and walk towards it. More victims of the Kromaggs' experiments greet them: humans, altered, some blind or otherwise injured. But alive.
"It worked," Remmy exclaimed. "IT WORKED! I can free home; we can rescue Wade! IT WORKED!!!"
Doom shakes Remmy's hand. "As I said, anything within my power is yours. What do you wish for?"
"Uh, help finding Wade, I guess."
"I will try to find her. She was sliding with you, so is she from any of your worlds?"
"Mine, itís the next one we'll go to."
"Good; I will record the signature of that world and search for any matches. If I find her I will return her to your world, assuming she agrees."
"Thanks. Homeward bound, Q-Ball?"
Quinn smiles. "Yeah," he agrees, and opens the vortex.
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