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M1 - Serendipity
by ThomasMalthus

Earth 483978 CCR 2976-5
A Cerellian merchant ship, sent on an expedition to explore parallel worlds for the purpose of colonization and trade, got sidetracked from its mission...and started a brand new one.

The GRT Guraz (a ship equipped for interdimensional as well as some short-range space travel) was exploring an otherwise very peaceful world when they got involved in something they had never seen before. Namely, an interdimensional dogfight.

The ship's crew were amazed. "What the...", or its equivalent in Caraman, was all its captain could make out before the first shots were fired at their ship. The crew honestly had no clue how to respond. Their ship wasn't built for this. It could weather a small meteor shower or something similar to that, but not a full-fledged firefight with weapons they knew nothing about. They were on a peaceful mission and were a generally peaceful people with little experience at largescale warfare. But most of all, they had no orders to tell them what to do in such a situation. The first blast sent their commander flying head first into the viewscreen, which then promptly shattered into small pieces. His neck snapped and he died instantly.

The Cerellians had no clearcut chain of command. There were about three of them who had semilegitimate claims to succession. But none of them cared to draw lots for who would directly succeed now. There simply wasn't time to do anything that involved. As soon as there was some semblance of order on the ship again and the crew were taking preventive measures to keep their ship from getting blasted, one of the fighting ships actually crashed into the Guraz. Sheer chaos ensued. Within a few minutes of more wear and tear on the ship, everyone on board was dead or getting there slowly and painfully.

That whole portion of a larger battle (the Battle of Outpost 9, it would be called by the victors) would have been extremely uneventful, had the navigator of the ship not been holding on to life by a thread. Right before passing out from the pain, he managed to randomly press a set of interdimensional coordinates that had been programmed into the ship's navicomputer a few weeks back. Although the ship itself needed serious repairs, its engines were still running. The force of the slide and the gravitational pull of the Earth helped the ship meet its destination.

One of numerous parallel Earths explored by the Guraz, 2027 A.D.

Quinn Mallory was walking on one of the forgotten pathways. It was worn, and some of the local flora had grown over it, but Quinn could still make out the faint traces of where a thoroughfare used to be. All of the area's immediate resources had been stripped away long ago, so there was no need for anyone to work the fields here every day, no need for miners, no need for people to build permanent settlements. In its day, this place had been a bustling, thriving community. Now it was mostly only visited by people who wanted to say goodbye to the lost, as all that remained of the people who lived there was a graveyard. But the place was still Quinn's favorite to just walk peacefully and think. The grave of his predecessor as President of Moses Colony, George Bergstrom, was a particularly restful sight to a man who had seen his fiftieth birthday a few years before.

His reminiscing that day could have cost him his life, if the ship had veered a little bit to the left. He didn't even really see the thing falling out of the sky, though it would be hard for future generations to believe. They just didn't understand how lost Quinn could become in his thoughts. When it did hit, even though it was a good mile and a half away from him, the surprising force of it knocked him to the ground. The middle-aged man was more than a little startled. Apart from your occasional earthquake (this world's San Andreas fault was for some reason not as active as his native one had been, but it still acted up from time to time), there were few natural disturbances in the people's everyday life. Quinn's thoughts went immediately to what could have caused it. Looking around the horizon, he saw a fire burning brightly about a mile away. He began inquisitively hiking towards it.

Malcolm Brown moved as silently and swiftly as he could through the forest. The group of hunters he led had no great expectations that they could get any significant amount of food to feed their fellow colonists with, but it had become a ritual among the people, and rituals were important in such a fledgling society as theirs. Besides, a stray small lizard or mammal might show up. The mammals had only moved in recently, in response to the sudden decline in the local dinosaur population. Malcolm was around forty and unlike most of the other colonists he had never married nor had children. 'Not that there haven't been opportunities', Malcolm mentally sighed.

Unlike Quinn Mallory, Malcolm Brown and his hunting party had seen the ship descending. They had mistaken it for a meteor, the concept of a spaceship was completely foreign to them, and had immediately wanted to go check it out. Anything new around here was worth checking out, right? Malcolm had to caution them not to. He seemed to recall from his days of 4th grade science class that objects from space could be potentially radioactive. He also remembered that it was something that fell to Earth millions of years ago that supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs on his home earth. He wondered if it would do the same here, for dinosaurs or humans or both. And then he sincerely hoped not. After sending a few people to search out Quinn Mallory and get his permission to investigate, Brown and his group continued to hunt. Once they found out that Quinn himself was supposed to have been not far from where the "meteor" landed, caution was thrown to the wind. Malcolm immediately dispatched a group to search for Quinn, with himself heading it.

Malcolm Brown and the small band of people he assigned to go with him came upon Quinn Mallory, safe and sound. However, this did not excite them nearly as much as what Quinn was looking at. It wasn't a meteor, Malcolm could tell that right away. "Good God!" Malcolm exclaimed. "It's some sort of..."

"Spaceship," Quinn breathed in awe. If it wasn't the most beautiful thing the scientist-turned-colonial-politician had ever seen, it came darn close. Quinn immediately began turning over in his mind all the changes that would come from this landing. One thing was for certain, it would soon dominate the affairs of the Council. Which meant that Quinn needed to take charge of it.

The fires had mostly gone out now (there was really nothing around here to burn) so, despite the warnings of saner heads, Quinn and Malcolm managed to get inside the spaceship. "Are there people in there?" one of Malcolm's scouts called out once the two were inside.

"Not people," Quinn replied, looking down at the corpses of creatures that were small and yellow-green, with large elongated heads and swivel-turreted eyes. "Definitely not people."

Malcolm moved with effort to the back of the ship. "I think we've got a live one here," he cried out. Quinn rushed towards him and saw some slight movement from the being's torso.

"Should I go get Doc Arnold?" one helpful person whose voice Quinn recognized as that of Tom Harden, one of the town's most propserous farmers, cried out from outside the craft.

Although Quinn had no idea what the extremely capable (and extremely overworked) doctor would do with a creature whose physiology he knew nothing about, he decided to give some of the onlookers something constructive to do. "Yeah, Tom, why don't you and some of the others do that? Tell him to bring some sort of stretcher, too." Once they had left, he said partially to himself and partially to Malcolm, "This little guy's not too likely to make it, but he just might shed some light on what this thing is doing here."

"Speaking of, what do we do with all this?" Malcolm inquired.

"Bury these others, I suppose. They deserve that much." Quinn responded. "As for the ship itself," Quinn looked like he had some ideas flashing through his brain, but he kept them to himself for now, "for now, let's just do what we would with any other mechanical device that needs to be fixed...hand it over to Ford."

John Fordham gave a good long whistle. "This is out of my league by a mile, guys. I wouldn't even know where to begin." John "Ford" Fordham was 57 years old, which was older in the average colonial lifespan than it would have been in the old world, although he was in remarkably good shape. His arms and legs were thin, but sinewy, and his face showed grizzled stubble. He was short, but spry and enthusiastic. It came from years and years of work with what few mechanical devices the colony had at its disposal. Now that he had all new sorts of gadgets and gizmos to try out, all he could do was complain. "I can't do anything with this junk. It was all designed by another species! This is light years ahead of most of the tech we use."

Quinn sighed. "I don't want you to start flying the ship and blasting marauders right away, Ford. I want you to figure out what the stuff in there is and what it's used for."

"Hell, no!" Ford replied. Quinn got the look in his eye where Ford knew the scientific genius was getting ready to pull rank on him. "Not even if it's a direct order! I'm not going to risk blowing up all of Moses Colony just to see what all the pretty buttons on some alien spacecraft do!"

"If you won't, I know some people who will," Quinn said, arching his eyebrows.

"You'd let your wife and kids play around with that stuff?!?" Ford asked incredulously, his mouth agape.

"That decision's on your head, Ford," Malcolm replied, recognizing the cleverness of Quinn's (most likely idle) threat. "Either see what you can do with it or the Mallory clan will make this spaceship their latest family project."

"Aw, hell," Ford grimaced. "I guess I can take a look at some of this stuff. Though if I disintegrate half the town, you're going to hear about it from Ted Bergstrom!!"

"No doubt," said Quinn grimly, but then managed a slight chuckle. "Of course, if you need that certain Mallory touch..."

"You'll be the first people I call on. You might want to go ahead and send Mike and Manda on over. They'll probably have a better time with this Buck Rogers crap than I will." His exaggeration was out of pride...in his spare time, Ford taught class at the "school" the townspeople had improvised and Mike and Amanda Mallory were his best students.

"I'm sure they'd jump at the chance," Quinn said with a smile, "but I think I'll let you see what you can do on your own first."

"Suit yourself," Ford replied, and promptly climbed into the interior of the ship to see what he could make of this new technology.

As Quinn Mallory returned home, he saw that everyone seemed so excited about the spaceship. He couldn't blame them. It was easily the most exciting thing to happen to the colony since the first International Commerce Committee had returned. They would probably be even more excited when Quinn told them what he had planned for the ship.

As he walked inside the door of the Mallory house (a log cabin with a little bit of modern building materials mixed in), Quinn immediately saw his wife of twenty-eight years and it took his breath away. When the people there decided to make marriage mandatory, he had known that Maggie would want to marry him. But he couldn't bring himself to return her affection. Although it took awhile for the love that they now shared to grow, Quinn knew that he would have to marry Wade. And he never regretted the decision, not even when he thought about how Maggie ended up.

"Big excitement tonight, huh?" Wade asked from the wooden chair that was her favorite (she claimed it was slightly more comfortable than the other chairs, though Quinn couldn't tell the difference). "I hear that we got attacked by aliens."

"If that was an attack, they're the worse for it," Quinn replied morosely. "Just about the entire crew died. Doc Arnold's looking at the one who's still breathing."

"You mean, this whole thing is for real?!?" Wade replied incredulously. "I thought it was just a bunch of excited townfolk talk, but seriously..."

"We've got a genuine spacecraft in our backyard," Quinn thought aloud with a little bit of wonder in his own eyes. "Now we've just got to figure out what we want to do with it."

"Wow," Wade exclaimed, letting all this information sink in. Then her sense of whimsy returned. "I'll tell you this, it won't be a day before Ted Bergstrom proposes we use it to conquer the world."

Quinn rolled his eyes a little. "Let's be serious about this, Wade."

Wade gave Quinn her standard determined look. "I am being serious. Ted wants your job, Quinn. He'll do anything to get it. He's been flirting with becoming an out-and-out expansionist, because there's a lot of people who think that we should build empires instead of trade alliances." Quinn started to shake his head in the negative. "You don't want to think so, but it's true. People are selfish. It's just in their nature. They see these people all around us whose way of life seems so primitive...people are bound to want to exploit that."

The colonial President sighed. "I wish I could say that won't ever happen. But I will say that I won't allow it as long as I'm in charge."

Wade sat back in her chair. "Hence Ted wanting your job."

"Something big's going to happen soon," Quinn confided to Wade. "It may make Ted's wish come true. Or it could be the best thing that ever happened to the colony."

"Is it about the spaceship?" Amanda Mallory asked as she entered the room. Amanda was 17 years old and looked a great deal like her mother, only a little taller and with that distinctly Mallory nose.

"Actually, yes," Quinn replied to his bright young daughter. "Speaking of that, Mr. Fordham would like you and Mike to help him with the technology he's salvaging from the ship."

"Really?!?" Amanda exclaimed. She and her twin brother Mike were both aspiring scientists who greatly admired their elder brother Robert, currently an engineer-in-residence at Plymouth Colony a few hundred miles from here, and their elder sister Kelly, who was an ambassador in one of the Middle Eastern kingdoms the International Commerce Committee had made contact with. She knew Mike would be just as thrilled as she was to work with all those new gizmos.

"Now, Manda, you might want to let Ford take a crack at it first. He does at least like to enjoy the pretense that he's a better gadgeteer than you and your brother are." Wade smiled at her daughter. It was really a good life they'd lived here. She couldn't have hoped for a better one.

"Yes, ma'am," Amanda mock sulked. In truth, she was glad to indulge the old man.

Night was falling fast. Mike was already in bed, as he had been feeling a little bit under the weather lately. Nothing that closely resembled the ever-dreaded Marauder Plague, thank God, but nothing to dismiss out of hand either. Quinn had insisted the boy enjoy as much bedrest as he could. Quinn, Wade and Amanda Mallory each drifted off to sleep within an hour of their conversation on the topic of the recently-crashed ship.

The ship was the heated topic of discussion at the Council meeting the next morning. Quinn presided over the whole affair wearily. This would not be pretty.

Fred Jefferson, ever the military man, proposed 100% conscription of every man and woman of combat age, as "this whole crash landing could just be a signal of bigger things to come". The farmers, led by Tom Harden, objected angrily. Which started a huge debate, as was wont to happen.

When Ted Bergstrom stood up to make a proposal, Quinn thought he would collapse. But the man made sense for once. "I propose a five-person committee look into potential uses of the spaceship and the technology therein for the colony." The proposal was promptly seconded and easily passed by voice vote. The committee members were also easily chosen: John Fordham, Roberta Evans (resident botanist and one of the most popular politicians of the farmer lobby), Malcolm Brown, Ted Bergstrom, and Wade Mallory, who was unanimously elected as chair.

After a few other mundane aspects of council meetings were taken care of, they adjourned. The whole thing was a lot less painful than Quinn expected. His relief was visible.

"Oh, sure, you're relieved," Wade said while she playfully jabbed Quinn in the ribs. "I've got to make sure John Fordham and Ted Bergstrom don't kill each other on my committee. Not to mention all this spaceship stuff."

Quinn chuckled. Ford actually loathed Ted more than anyone else in the colony, hands down. The feeling was quite obviously mutual. "I don't envy you a bit, hon. But I also know you can handle it. It might not seem like it for the first few meetings, but..."

"Stifle it, Mallory," Wade said, pouting. "I'm only on this committee because you're ineligible. So the way I see it, this is all your fault."

"The one good thing about being Council President," Quinn replied. "But the other part's not true at all. Everybody loves you, Wade. You're Moses Colony's Martha Washington."

Wade grimaced. She had heard the title used to describe her before and didn't like it much. "It doesn't exactly fit with your nickname. Unless that's just a part of American history that gets passed over." Wade stuck her tongue out at Quinn, who only laughed in response. His own nickname, so common among his fervent supporters, was the Colony's Young Thomas Jefferson. Only now he was getting close to the age Jefferson was when he became president. 'If I didn't know Bergstrom would be the next guy in line, I'd step down tomorrow,' Quinn thought to himself. 'There's so much I've missed out on.'

Weeks passed. Ford and the Mallory twins reported to Wade's Committee that the ship carried little technology that would be useful to the colonists and that the vessel itself would be no good to them in its present form. A few of the engines still worked and there was a considerable amount of fuel that survived the crash, but not enough to make the ship operable. One whole side of the ship was severely damaged, however most of this part of the ship was taken up by living quarters. Based on these facts, Mike came up with an idea: build a much smaller ship from the several football field-sized ship that had crashd landed on their world. It would naturally provide for a much smaller crew, but it could still be used by the colonists. But the question remained: should it?

Ford and the Mallorys decided to go ahead and build the new ship while the debate raged on (They had to take an inventory of the basic design of the ship and make sure that those functions were still fulfilled in a miniature capacity. It was no easy feat.) and the three of them took it on a test flight. After that point, the Committee was asked to take a vote. Ford and Wade voted to man and equip the ship for an exploratory journey into the multiverse; Ted and Roberta voted against it. Malcolm was the holdout. Wade couldn't officially influence his decision. But it didn't mean he couldn't be "paid a visit" by the one man in the colony who Malcolm had a great deal of respect for.

Quinn Mallory and Malcolm Brown sat near the lake where Rembrandt had said goodbye to him nearly thirty years ago. The memory was not lost on Malcolm.

"This place isn't the same for you as it is for me," Malcolm said before Quinn could even open his mouth to speak. "People my age, and younger, consider this place their home." Quinn started to speak, and Malcolm cut him off. "I know your kids have always wanted to see their parents' homeworld. With the exciting stories you tell them about sliding, can you blame them for being enthusiastic?"

Rembrandt Brown had turned against the whole concept of sliding not long before he died. He had even got into a confrontation with Quinn, cursed him for ever inventing interdimensional travel and stormed off to live as a hermit. Malcolm hadn't forgotten the fate of his adopted father. Not by a longshot. 'Hell, it's only been a couple of years since then,' Malcolm thought.

As if Quinn read his mind, he replied. "I take it Remmy didn't exactly sing the praises of sliding." Both of them remained silent in contemplation of a life that was so close to both of them. "It's hard to live to seventy around here. It takes a toll on you."

"All the more reason your generation should want some of us to slide out of here. I understand that." Malcolm sighed. "I guess it's just hard for me to think about any of us leaving home. In my heart, this place, these people are my home and family. It doesn't help that my memories of my homeworld aren't all that great either. Not like yours and Wade's."

Quinn looked at Malcolm earnestly. "Not all the worlds out there are like yours."

"No. Most of them are worse," Malcolm stated flatly. Before the elder man could retort, he continued "Look Quinn, I want to vote for exploration, I really do..."

"Then what's keeping you from it?" Quinn queried.

"You're going to send me and put me in charge, aren't you?" Malcolm asked bluntly. "So Bergstrom won't go."

Quinn fumbled. "Well, I, uh, wanted to discuss it with you first, but..." Malcom began to turn away from him. Quinn called after him, "Look, Malcolm, you're the natural choice..."

"You're the natural choice," Malcolm retorted angrily. "But you won't go, because you don't want to give up the presidency."

"That's not..." Quinn started out angrily, but then deflated. "...all of it." He looked Malcolm straight in the eye. "I'm too old, Malcolm. Too old to go out there again. This job, this life...it's aged me more than anything else."

Malcolm chuckled mirthlessly. "If you're going for youth, I'm not exactly the best candidate in that field either. I'm only ten years younger than you, give or take."

Quinn downright pleaded now. "You're still young enough, vigorous enough, to lead this mission, Malcolm. Ted doesn't have the drive or the heart to do it; Wade and I are too old and everybody else just isn't qualified. You've got to do this, Malcolm."

"What do you think would have happened if you hadn't missed the slide here?" Malcolm asked.

Quinn thought about giving some glib answer, but then began to seriously ponder the question. "We would have had a good chance of making it to our homeworld. Maggie wouldn't have died of the plague the Marauders brought with them when they invaded our colony. Remmy might have lived to see his seventy-fifth birthday. Maybe this colony would have been a little worse off for our having slid off this world, but who knows? Maybe things would have worked out better for everyone. We can't know these things." Quinn then tossed Malcolm a small, familiar object. It was one Malcolm hadn't seen in a while.

"It's the timer that brought you here," Malcolm stated. "But when did it start..."

"Counting down again?" Quinn finished for him. "A few weeks ago." When Malcolm shot him a puzzled look, Quinn explained. "The Professor and I hypothesized a long time ago that it would take 29.7 years for the timer to recharge enough for us to slide out again. Looks like we were right." Quinn paused in thought a second. "According to Ford and my kids, the ship's sliding circuitry wasn't damaged in the crash. But all of its stored coordinates are unusable. It's incapable of sliding randomly," he closed in on his point, "but it can track wormholes."

"You want the ship to track a smaller group of sliders?" Malcolm asked, cutting straight to the point.

Quinn nodded in the negative. "Not necessarily. Just the timer."

Malcolm turned away from him for a moment. "Stephanie's group are scheduled to be back in a few days. You gonna send her, too?" Stephanie Beckett, the adopted daughter of the late Maggie, was the leader of Project Johnny Appleseed, where the colonists used domesticated plants and animals to open trade routes with other large Native American groups. Stephanie Beckett was also the woman that Malcolm Brown almost married.

"I damn near asked her to be captain," Quinn chuckled. Malcolm expression turned morose. "Think you can handle it?"

Malcolm paused for only a moment, looking again over the pond and about his life here. "Yeah. You knew I couldn't turn you down. Of course you know Ted's going to have a fit. A 'corrupt bargain' has taken place that will 'sully our colony's future'," he mocked.

Quinn laughed without much joy. In truth, he wondered what he would be getting the people he was sending into the multiverse into. A world of death and destruction, or new opportunities for our people to thrive? He hoped for the latter with all his heart and feared the former intensely.

Once the committee voted to man the ship for an exploratory voyage, several people started lobbying for a place on the ship. Others started coming up with reasons why they couldn't go, and didn't hesitate a bit to send them to Quinn (who had been designated by the committee to name the crew members). Quinn (basically) ignored all the requests and took only a few days to prepare his list. During this time, the crew of Project Johnny Appleseed returned home to great fanfare. Quinn looked carefully at the people who were just returning, making sure that several people he wanted for the crew were there. Luckily, they were. Several of the people who the International Commerce Committee had "acquired" on their journeys, either having bought them as slaves (and then freed them, naturally) or having them come back to one of the colonies as volunteers. Quinn knew he would have to include some of them as well. On the spaceship front, Ford, Mike and Amanda assured the president that it was more than ready for launch and completely safe. They had also stocked the ship with some food and weaponry (what guns were still left from precolonization days and some of the knockoffs they had made since colonization called arquebuses that weren't nearly as sophisticated).

With a few days left before the timer hit zero, Quinn released his list. And gave birth to an era.

"First of all, let me say that the capable crew that have been building the ship tell me it will only hold twelve people. That means I'm not sending anybody who is married and has children." At the surge of protests that started to appear, Quinn held up his hands in his own defense. "I'm not sending only four people who are useful to this mission just so they can be with their families, and I'm not going to have a mutinous homesick crew that wants to turn back and go home at every setback. In fact, with one notable exception, there aren't any married people on this list at all."

"Malcolm Brown will be captain. I'll let him decide what position on the crew the other people will hold. The other crew are as follows. Artakala." She was an seven foot tall warrior of the Yoruba who had volunteered to come to the colonies. She was also unhappily the only lesbian in the colonies. "Stephanie Beckett. Chad and Roberta Evans." Chad Evans was the only one in the colonies who still had a working radio, and it wasn't by accident. Quinn thought he would make a fine communications officer. Roberta was only marginally necessary for the actual voyage, but she would appease the Bergstromites. "John Fordham. Louise Lewis." Louise, short of Doc Arnold, knew the most about medicine of anyone in the colonies. Her husband had died of the Marauder Plague, as had John Fordham's wife. "Dirk Mackay." He was the linguist and diplomat that had accompanied Project Johnny Appleseed. He had gone with every ICC mission and had never had time to marry. "Mike and Amanda Mallory." The 17-year-olds were too young to get married and they would be necessary to maintain the ship. "Orn." Orn was a Norwegian eunuch slave who had been bought by Rembrandt on the first mission of the ICC. He would no more have let Malcolm go on this ship without him than stopped breathing. "Oh, and Spielberg."

The crowd was abuzz. One of them finally spoke up. "Who's Spielberg?" Doc Arnold, who happened to be in the audience, started laughing and explained.

"It's the name we gave the little fella we rescued out of the ship. He's still not doing very well, I'm afraid, but as near as I can tell I don't see that it'll hurt him too much to go on your little trip, Mr. President. Louise can take care of him as well as I can."

The crowd grumbled, but they couldn't really contest the choices. Quinn had worked hard not only to pick the best people, but to appease the rival political factions of the colonies. The silence that followed was a testament to his success.

Two days passed. The timer was down to a few hours now. Quinn and Ford were explaining some of the intricacies of the ship to its crew. As the tour wound down, Quinn made one last observation. "Wade and I even got the navicomputer to speak in English. Gave it a personality and everything. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I will say this...we both thought it was a good idea at the time."

The ship and its crew were ready to set out. They even had dinosaur-skin "spacesuits" that some of the colony's tailors had made especially for them. Everyone came aboard, strapped themselves in with their makeshift "seatbelts" (a wood-hemp blend rope with some old world plastic mixed in).

Even Spielberg had his own makeshift harness to keep him fastened to his seat, even though he was still unconscious. Malcolm Brown sat in the captain's chair and Stephanie Beckett, who he had made commander of the newly commissioned Colonial States Ship Schrodinger, sat to his right.

Mike Mallory sat in the navigator's seat. "Navicomputer, is everything go?"

The voice that came back at the crew seemed oddly familiar only to Malcolm Brown. "Of course it is, you blistering idiot!" came the rather irate English-accented voice.

As the Schrodinger blasted into space, Malcolm said a silent prayer for their safety. Artakala and Orn hadn't converted to Christianity, the religion of most colonists, but prayed to their own deities nonetheless.

Their worries were groundless (no pun intended) as they easily reached the Earth's orbit. Amanda led the countdown. "Five...four...three...two...one..." She pressed the button to activate the timer and shoved it through the vortex it created.

"We can't lose that gizmo, folks," Malcolm announced to the crew. "It's the only thing that guarantees us a trip home. Now, Mike, are we tracking it?"

"We are indeed, Ma...uh, captain," Mike replied awkwardly.

"Ford, are we ready to follow it through?" Stephanie took it upon herself to ask.

"That's affirmative," he said, quietly relishing in being able to use military jargon again.

"Let's do it, people!" Malcolm said more enthusiastically than he intended. But perhaps the enthusiasm was merited. It was an exciting time. The engineering crew (aka Ford, Mike and Amanda) pushed some buttons and opened a large yellow vortex that shimmered like the sun against the black backdrop of space. As the ship glided through it, into the unknown, there was a sense of elation among the crew. It was the beginning of a whole new journey.

Quinn looked up at the ship until he couldn't see it anymore. "Godspeed," the former slider said with a sense of reverence in his voice. "Come back to us safe."

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