Even though it was the middle of the day, all the vortices were blocking out the sun, creating an eerily dark scene.
"This has to be some kind of joke," Michael said, his mouth wide open due to a combination of fear and surprise.
"That's a pretty sick joke," Rembrandt said. But he had seen that kind of vortex before and that kind of ship. These were Kromaggs.
"Get us to the Institute immediately!" Michael told the driver of the car. "And call ahead and tell them to lock that place down as soon as we're in. This has to be a joke, but I want to be careful!"
"This isn't a joke, man!" Rembrandt said. He was going to add something about his knowledge of the Kromaggs before remembering that this man knew the original 'Maggs.
"It has to be!" Michael said. "The Dynasty is in ruins. And even if it isn't, as soon as the virus hits them, they're going to start crashing into things! Step on it!"
As fire started to engulf the San Francisco skyline, everyone in the car realized this was the real deal.
The Institute opened up a small compartment and the vehicle hovered inside onto a kind of floating helipad.
Immediately, a soldier came to the car and greeted Michael.
"What the Hell is happening?" Michael asked, with a hint of fear in his voice.
"We were going to ask you the same thing," the soldier asked. "This looks like a full-fledged Kromagg invasion, but we haven't seen one like this in years."
"No," Quinn's double said from across the room. "We've never seen an invasion like this. The 'Maggs are sending far more ships then they typically do."
"What's happening, Quinn?" Michael asked, now ignoring the soldier.
"We don't know the exact numbers because our satellite systems were knocked out when the attack commenced," Quinn's double said. "But we're talking about a full invasion. Every continent, every country, every major city."
"Are we prepared for this kind of invasion?" Michael said, as sirens started to go off, indicating that the lockdown was complete.
"With the Kromaggs gone," Quinn's double said. "Well, when we thought they were gone, we eased security. People didn't like seeing military personel all over the place. Of course, we have some bases here for riots or minor attacks, but we weren't expecting an invasion like this to ever happen again. Our defenses are almost already exhausted."
"What's happening?" Michael said. "The virus isn't working! Don't the tests say that they should lose pilot control within thirty seconds?"
"Yes," Quinn's double said. "But that's not happening. So, we have two options. Either they've developed a vaccine against the virus, or those are humans piloting those ships."
"I'm going to go with option number two," Michael said. "We did far too many experiments; there's nothing that can stop that thing from latching onto Kromagg physiology. Plus, these people know everything about our security and our defenses. We must have traitors among us."
The group entered a bunker-like room. Wade was angry; she had heard everything, and she didn't like the sound of "experiments." But she wasn't about to complicate the situation with an ethical debate. Now was the time for survival.
"When are we expecting reinforcements?" Michael asked, but no one answered. "Are we expecting reinforcements?"
"That's something we wanted to talk about," Quinn's double said. "We can't open any vortices."
"What are you talking about?" Michael asked sarcastically. "I just saw a hundred of them open up!"
"Before the virus," Quinn's double said, "we got some intelligence that the Kromaggs had developed a device that would prevent outgoing vortices to open during their invasions. We never saw them use it because of the virus, but it appears those reports were true."
"Are we secure here?" Michael asked his son. He was amazed at the perfection of the attack.
"We're not even being attacked," a soldier answered.
"What?" Michael asked, surprised.
"Everything else is," the soldier clarified. "Except for this facility. There isn't a scratch on it."
No one could explain that. Why would a group that had advanced knowledge of this world pull off a perfect invasion and not attack the base of operations?
After receiving many apologies from Michael Mallory for cutting their tour short, the sliders were ushered into a secure room. Michael had to rush off to the command center of the facility in order to take command. Ever since the expulsion of the Kromaggs, he had assumed command of the world and they were looking to him for leadership. Even though Quinn had really done much of the work.
Meanwhile, the sliders were safe, but they had a lot on their minds.
"Are we sure that machine is safe?" Quinn asked.
"That's what the technician told us," Arturo said, a little shaken up by all he had seen.
"Is there any reason we're staying?" Rembrandt said. "I know that we'll add a little to the journey, but we'll eventually make it home anyway, right? So, why don't we just get going now? We can still make it back to that world and slide off with our timer."
"We can't do that," Wade said, surprising the others. "I sorta eavesdropped on their conversation, and they said that a device was activated by the invaders that made it impossible to open a vortex from here."
Quinn pulled out the timer. He knew technology like that existed, but he still didn't believe it. He tried to activate Laze's timer, but it didn't work.
However, the screen on the timer turned on, and there was Laze's face on the monitor.
"So," Laze said. "You finally turned your timer back on. I didn't think you ever would again. Are you home yet?"
Quinn still didn't understand how Laze had pulled this off, but he had no time to be fascinated.
"Not quite," Quinn answered in a sarcastically casual tone. "Actually, we, uh, just might die instead."
"Say again, Mr. Mallory?" Laze asked.
"We're in the middle of a Kromagg invasion," Quinn said. "They're looking for our coordinates now, but even if we had them, we can't get off the world."
Quinn suddenly had an idea. He wasn't sure how Laze was pulling off this communication, but it might help them.
"Hold on," Quinn said, smiling. "You just might have a chance to even up that karma now."
After a few minutes being delayed by several soldiers, Quinn finally was granted access to Michael Mallory.
And while he spoke with Michael, Wade brought something up to the other sliders.
"Did you hear what he said?" Wade asked, already angry.
"It's painfully obvious, Ms. Welles," Arturo said. "That you were the only one who heard of any wrongdoings."
"Well," Wade said. "I definitely did. They said that they had done experiments on the Kromaggs to test their virus."
Neither man said anything.
"Disease experiments on prisoners?!" Wade repeated loudly. "If you recall, that's exactly what the Nazis did. Or did your world have Nazis?"
Wade's comment was sarcastic, and it certainly got her point across.
"Of course," Arturo said. "Our worlds are remarkably similar."
"Is that all you have to say?" Wade said. "It's bad enough they're using it. It's even worse that they're using it on civilians and innocents. But they actually had the audacity to test their killer virus on prisoners?"
"Ironically," Arturo said, reluctantly entering the argument. "That is often times the most humane thing to do. As humane as you can be with a lethal virus."
"How do you mean?" Wade asked
"Let's say that the virus was not tested to kill immediately," Arturo said. "We know from accounts that it does just that. The humans set it on a society of Kromaggs and it does its work. However, it doesn't kill instantly. It attacks the Kromaggs, and all it does is disable them. They lay in constant pain, unable to do anything about it. After days or weeks of this, they finally die. Now, which situation is more humane."
"Neither," Wade said. "The most humane is not to do anything at all."
"I agree," Arturo said, now fully engaged in the argument. "But this is an entirely different argument in itself. Are the Kromaggs human?"
Wade looked confused, and Arturo immediately eased her confusion.
"And when I say 'human', I don't mean it in the literal sense," Arturo said. "Of course Kromaggs aren't humans, but that's the moral question that is often brought up. Are clones human? Are embryos human? Even in science fiction, the question is asked whether cyborgs are human.
"This situation is no different," Arturo continued. "I know that you are not a vegetarian, but the Wade of our world was. And she didn't agree with the killing of any animal. But we both agree that some animals, such as cows, chickens, and pigs, can acceptably be killed in order to eat them."
"But where do you draw the line?" Arturo said. "On both our worlds, the line was drawn at humans. From a religious viewpoint, we are the only beings endowed with souls. From a scientific viewpoint, we are the only beings to display sentience: abstract thought, awareness of consequences. Any other animal, with the exception of those in danger of extinction, can be killed. Even household pets are regularly put to sleep if they do anything malicious. They don't get the same treatment humans get."
Wade knew where this was going, and she felt that she might not be equipped to continue her side of the argument.
"But Kromaggs are an entirely different case," Arturo said. "Despite their demonstrated intelligence, they have done nothing but wage war. At least, in the cases we have seen.
"Since their appearance is closer to a primate's than a man's," Arturo continued. "We tend not to hold them to the same standards we hold humans. Were we engaged in a combat situation with a Kromagg soldier, we wouldn't think twice about shooting him to save our lives."
"But a soldier and a family are two different things," Wade said.
"Of course," Arturo replied. "But you have to admit that you wouldn't feel as bad as if you had shot a human soldier. That is because you do not see the Kromaggs on the same level as humans. You're reacting in the same way that you would if a family of monkeys were being killed."
Arturo had her. He was probably telling the truth. She would feel awful if she shot a human soldier, even one who was shooting at her. But she would kill a Kromagg soldier without a second thought. There was definitely a double standard, but she still felt that she had a point.
"Now," Arturo said. "I do not claim to be an advocate of war. I feel that everything has the ability in itself to survive, but this is a different situation where diplomacy is nearly impossible."
"That doesn't give them the right to commit genocide," Wade said.
"No it doesn't," Arturo said. "But the old expression might fit here. All might be fair in love and war."
"I really hope this is important, Quinn," Michael said. "As you can see, we're really busy in here."
"I think I have a solution," Quinn said, presenting the timer.
"Won't work," Michael said. "The Kromaggs have some device that prevents it. We're trying to find a way around it, but we're coming up empty."
"No," Quinn said, turning on the monitor on the timer. Laze was still staring the camera in the face.
"I've seen timers with built-in TV before," Michael said, unimpressed. "You're really wasting my time."
"One minute," Quinn said, chasing after Michael. "This is way more than that. I don't understand it myself, but this is a two-way communicator."
"What?" Michael said, surprised.
"This is a telephone to a parallel universe," Quinn said, and Laze waved on the timer's monitor.
"That's impossible," Michael said. "In order to do that you'd have to have some sort of stationary satellite inside the..."
"Inside the void," Laze said, interrupting. "That's precisely what I set up. You see, the gateway between two worlds is always open. All we need to access it is a door: the wormhole."
"I understand sliding," Michael said. "But you're still not making any sense."
"I am, sir," Laze replied. "I placed a satellite in the vortex that is traveling at the same speed as the vortex, creating a stationary orbit inside the void. It requires a tremendous amount of energy, but I happen to think it's well worth it."
Laze looked at Quinn and smiled. "You didn't honestly think that it took me millions to build a simple timer."
"Eventually," Laze continued. "It will corrode and disintegrate because of extreme pressure, but not for another week at least. It's merely a test run."
"But you still need a vortex to keep the feed active," Michael said.
"Of course," Laze said. "But we're not talking about the standard vortex. The one that I created is kept open all the time, but just large enough for the signal to pass through. Granted, it will permanently damage the fabric of the world, but if anything, it will only affect your bacteria population."
Michael didn't believe it, but it was the best possibility that they had going for them.
"Are you on a 'connected' world?" Michael said. If the old man didn't understand the question, it was moot.
"Unfortunately, no," Laze answered. "I chose this world because it was out of sight of the human resistance. But I'd be lying if I said that I was completely out of the loop."
"You can get the word out to the resistance that we're under attack?" Michael said, a little frustrated with the man's nebulous speech.
"It will take a couple minutes," Laze said with a smile. "But I certainly can."
"I assume that you know our coordinates," Michael said.
"Absolutely," Laze said. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some work to do."
"Damn it, Quinn," Michael said.
Quinn was confused and surprised.
"Now I owe you another one," Michael said with a smile.
Laze worked as fast as he could, and a second invading force came through less than an hour later.
Quinn and Michael watched from Alcatraz as the human planes and warships entered the atmosphere and began their assault. Oddly enough, all kinds of vehicles were joining the attack.
In the air, planes that ranged from simple jets to modified Manta Ships were arriving. And on the ground, tanks, jeeps, and futuristic rovers were meeting with the land-based Kromagg invaders.
"It looks like they called everyone to help us," Michael said, looking over at his son. Quinn was just getting off his headset radio transmitter.
"Yeah," Quinn said. "I just talked with a commander from Earth 79. He said that the council members worked as fast as they could to bring anything together."
"Well," Michael said. "It seems to be working."
With superior numbers, the humans quickly took control of the battle. Jets armed with missiles and other airships armed with plasma weapons began destroying every Kromagg ship in sight. The Kromaggs did have superior skill and technology, but they were no match for the overwhelming human forces.
In a couple of hours, the battle was declared a victory. Not only that, but most of the architects of the attack had been captured or killed.
The damage had already been done to this world, but at least the humans had retained control. Even as the Kromaggs retreated to the sparsely populated regions, the newly activated satellite system allowed for the fleeing soldiers to be easily found.
The sliders were relieved when it all came together. The facility came out completely unscathed, and the device inside was getting closer to unveiling their home coordinates. In less than an hour, the results would be complete, and they would be on their way back to Earth Prime.
It was definitely time to celebrate.
However, the invasion had not been the actual plan. Of course, the soldiers and peons thought that they were going in to regain their world, but the leaders of the invasion knew that was insane. Kromagg Prime would never be colonized by anyone again.
No, their reason for attacking the capital world of the human resistance was much simpler. In fact, it was the simplest reason for doing anything malicious.
Enjoying some champagne, inside their secure chamber. Inches away sat the machine searching for their home coordinates; their ticket home.
The group all shared what they planned on doing when they returned to Earth Prime. Quinn and Arturo both said that they would continue working on their research of sliding. Arturo specifically said that he would stay away from the vortex, but Quinn suggested that he wouldn't be able to stay away from it.
Rembrandt had a different story.
"As much fun as I have had with you," Rembrandt said with a smile. "I'm keeping as far away from sliding as I can."
"Remember, Remmy," Quinn said. "You never really came to sliding; it came to you."
"Don't remind me," Rembrandt said, laughing. "I think I'm going to try and do a little more recording. If sliding's taught me anything, its that I have the potential to make it really big. And I have a whole lot of material to work with."
Rembrandt suddenly remembered something.
"Including a song for your double, Professor," Rembrandt said, summoning memories of the Professor's double's funeral. "I know he wasn't who we thought he was, but he was still a Hell of a guy."
"Scoundrel," Arturo said mockingly.
The three looked at Wade, who looked hesitant to talk. She didn't want to say anything because she wouldn't be headed home. As far as she was concerned, she had no home world.
But suddenly, she wasn't the center of everyone's attentions. There had been an explosion. It sounded far away, but there was an explosion nonetheless.
The real attack had begun.
Minutes later, the sliders heard activity around them. Everyone looked at Quinn, who stood guarding the machine. Not time yet.
Suddenly, the door opened and Michael Mallory stood in the doorway.
"I apologize for all of this," he said. "I'm here to tell you that you're safe in here."
"It should just be a couple minutes, right?" Michael said.
Quinn nodded as Michael turned to leave, but Rembrandt stopped him.
"What the Devil is going on?" Rembrandt said.
"I don't have a lot of time," Michael said. "I'm expected in the command center. The Kromaggs have us cut off from our own defense systems, but I assure you're perfectly safe."
"We deserve some answers," Wade said.
"You're right," Michael said. "Margaret?"
A woman walked up. Everyone immediately recognized her.
"This is Captain Beckett," Michael said. "She's the military officer in charge of the invading defense forces here. She'll update you, but don't keep her too long."
"Maggie," Quinn said softly.
"What's that, Mr. Mallory?" Margaret said. "My mother called me Maggie. My name is Margaret. But you may refer to me as Captain or Captain Beckett. Either should suffice."
"Yes, Ma'am," Quinn said. This was definitely Maggie's double.
"Now," Margaret started. "Some of the surviving Kromaggs have somehow broken through our defense system. This facility has been in complete lockdown since the invasion, and that means that there is no way in or out. However, the Kromaggs found a way in, and they have taken advantage of the lockdown. We can't get troops in here, so we're going to have to fight them off ourselves."
"And we're not in any danger here?" Arturo asked.
"Not presently," Margaret answered.
"And what about that device that prevented the opening of wormholes?" Quinn asked.
"As far as we know," Margaret answered. "It is still active. This invading party must still have it in their possession. But there is nothing to worry about."
With that, Margaret left the room, and the sliders heard the door lock behind her.
"Nothing to worry about?" Quinn said. "If that device is still active, we can't slide out of here. That sounds like something to worry about."
Quinn contacted Laze again, who looked even older than he did before. He alerted him that they might need an escape vortex just in case.
Another noise came from the door. Since it opened the same way as before, the sliders expected to see Michael or Margaret come through. However, it was neither.
"Quinn Mallory," a female voice said. "Here we are again."
Quinn didn't even have to turn around to know who the voice was. He had dreaded meeting her again for almost a year.
"Logan," Quinn said with a sarcastic smile. "How nice to see you again."
He turned around, and Logan was surrounded by five Kromagg soldiers.
"Particularly at the front of a Kromagg militia," Quinn said.
Suddenly, the machine in the center of the room indicated that it had gone off. The coordinates had been found. Everyone in the room heard the noise.
"What was that?" Logan asked, but none of the sliders answered her.
"It's a tracking system," one of the Kromaggs answered.
"Could it be used to track coordinates?" Logan asked, and the Kromagg nodded in the affirmative. She smiled and said something in Kromagg.
"I didn't know you knew Kromagg," Quinn asked.
"I know," Logan said with a smile of her own. "If only my college French teacher could see me now. Now, Quinn, I'd like you to meet someone. An old friend, apparently."
Out of the group of Kromaggs, Koliton slowly walked inside.
"Good to see you again, Mr. Mallory," Koliton said.
"And you," Quinn said, the smile gone from his face.
"Leave us," Logan said, indicating that she wanted the other sliders to leave as well. Rembrandt and Arturo moved to defend themselves, but Quinn waved them off, showing that the Kromaggs had weapons and it wouldn't be worth it to fight.
The Kromaggs escorted the three sliders outside, leaving Koliton, Logan, and Quinn alone in the room.
"Well," Logan said. "I'll admit, I never could've foreseen that it would come to this."
"Oh, really?" Quinn said sarcastically. "All this time, I was sure you'd end up leading a Kromagg attack force. You didn't see this coming?"
"Enough," Koliton said. "I'm too sick to have any fighting. We've found Mallory for you. Granted, a little faster than we could've possibly hoped, but that just means you need to help us sooner."
"Don't worry, Koliton," Logan said. "You'll get what's coming to you."
Logan quickly pulled out a Kromagg plasma weapon and fired it at the chest of the Kromagg leader.
Quinn jumped at the sound of the shot.
"What's the matter, Quinn?" Logan asked. "Surprised?"
"I shouldn't be," Quinn said. "I've always known you were capable of murder."
"Murder?" Logan said innocently. "No, Quinn. That wasn't murder. That was the sliding equivalent of suicide."
"I know he was my double," Quinn said. "Our double."
"Seems right," Logan said. "He loved to talk about himself."
"So," Quinn asked. "What's next?"
Logan marched over to the device with the Sliders' coordinates. Quinn moved to stop her, but Logan showed the weapon. Quinn knew he could overpower Logan, but he needed to wait for the right time.
But if she was planning on deleting his home coordinates, he didn't have a lot of time. Saving his friends' chances of getting home was definitely worth dying for.
"What are you going to do?" Quinn said. "Why not just kill me now?"
"I'm not going to kill you, Quinn," Logan said. "I'm going to do the same thing you did to me. Throw you into the rapids of the multiverse without a lifeboat."
She started to press buttons on the device. Quinn had to move quickly if he was going to save them.
"A-ha," Logan said. "You have coordinates loaded. Could these be the famed 'home' coordinates. It seems your journey was about to be over. Too bad it's really just begun."
"Let's just get rid of these," Logan said with a laugh. Quinn lunged at her, catching her with her eyes closed.
Logan quickly fired a shot at him, but hitting Quinn forced her to hit the wall. Suddenly, an alarm went off, and the other Kromaggs entered the room with the other sliders.
One of the Kromaggs fired at the two people wrestling on the ground. The smoke coming off the pair indicated that one had been hit.
"Quinn!" Wade screamed. This was it. They had to do something.
Arturo knocked the weapon from the Kromagg's hand, and caught all of the soldiers off guard. Rembrandt and even Wade jumped in on the fight. Although they were vastly outnumbered, the exhausted soldiers couldn't fight the adrenaline-driven sliders.
However, the final Kromagg shot his weapon in the air, stopping the fight. He was one of the "ape" Kromaggs, who had originally captured the sliders, and had wisely stayed behind while the other soldiers stormed the room. He was the only Kromagg left, but the sliders couldn't possibly overtake him.
"No more fighting," the Kromagg, obviously an officer, said. "Miss St. Claire? What do you want me to do with them?"
"Miss St. Claire?" the Kromagg said, turning around. "What do you want to do-"
He saw Quinn standing behind him with a gun in his hand. Logan was behind him, dead. Quinn fired right through the Kromagg's chest, killing him instantly.
"You got the wrong person," Quinn said, and the sliders embraced.
"It's over," Rembrandt said. "After all these years..."
Quinn went over to the device to see what Logan had done.
"Yes!" Quinn said, excited.
"What?" Arturo asked
"Logan didn't delete the coordinates," Quinn said smiling. "I mean, she accidentally loaded three other sets, but this device only holds four. So, all we have to do is set the device to send us to each world, and we'll find out which one's home. It shouldn't take more than a couple hours!"
"That's great news!" Rembrandt said, and he hugged Wade.
Quinn began to bring the coordinates up, when a voice came from the ceiling.
"Quinn," the voice said. It was Michael Mallory. "I'm not sure if you know, but Kromaggs have invaded your area. We have evacuated all of our people but you, only you have the sliding device. Slide out immediately. We've found and destroyed their device that prevented outward sliding, so you can slide out."
"Which you need to do now," Michael continued. "My advisors tell me the best way to deal with this is to self-destruct the "infected" area. But you should have your home coordinates, and you should be able to slide out in the next three minutes. That's how much time you have."
"No!" Quinn screamed. "The Kromaggs have been taken care of!"
Michael continued, as if he didn't hear Quinn. Arturo put his hand on Quinn's shoulder, telling him the obvious.
"Okay," Quinn said. "We'll just use Laze's timer."
He pulled it out, but it had obviously been damaged in the scuffle with Logan.
"It still works," Quinn said. "I'll just transfer all four coordinates over to it and we'll do it that way."
"Let me see," Arturo said, and Quinn handed it over. "This won't work, Quinn, and you know it."
"All we need is four slides!" Quinn screamed. "It'll work!"
"Quinn," Arturo said. "You're letting your emotions get the best of you. This timer has been badly damaged. It could work, but I think we should use this device first."
"Agreed," Quinn said. He walked over to the device, and he tried to upload the coordinates, but it wasn't working.
"Damn it!" Quinn screamed. "The coordinates aren't being entered correctly. Something's wrong."
"Can't you call Laze?" Rembrandt asked, worried.
"No," Quinn said. "The monitor's busted; even the microphone's out."
"So," Wade asked. "What do we do?"
"I guess we just pick one," Quinn said. "And we hope that it's home."
"And if it's not?" Rembrandt asked.
"Then that world will be our home," Arturo said bluntly. Quinn didn't believe that was true, but he didn't feel like arguing at this point.
Quinn rushed to the device, and he started to initiate it. But when he did so, four components, at opposite sides of the device opened up. From each one, a sliding device came out and opened four different blood-red vortices.
"What in the..." Rembrandt said. He looked to Arturo and Quinn for answers, but they seemed as dumbfounded as he did.
"What are we going to..." Rembrandt asked again, unable to finish the sentence.
"I guess the device used all four coordinates," Quinn said.
"What does that mean?" Wade asked.
"It means our home is around the corner," Arturo said. "We just have to choose which corner."
Quinn looked up. He knew what he had to do. At least one of them was going to get home.
"We have to split up," Quinn said. "Each one of us take a vortex. That way, at least one of us will get home."
"Are you crazy?" Rembrandt said. "We can't split up now! Not now!"
"But one of us will get home!" Quinn said.
"And the rest of us will be stranded," Arturo said. "I couldn't live with myself if I were the one to go home, leaving everyone behind. The first thing I would do would be to create a timer to come looking for you, and we'd be back at square one."
"Me too," Rembrandt said. "I wouldn't have a clue how to do it, but I'd give it the best try I have."
"Me too," Wade said, as Rembrandt put his arm around her.
"So," Quinn said. "What do you all want to do?"
"Pick one together," Rembrandt said. "No matter where we go, we'll be together. If the next world is home, then we'll be home together. If its not, then we'll make it a home together."
Quinn looked around, and he saw the same sentiment in the rest of them. But the emotion was broken by the sound of all the doors in the area opening up.
"That can't be good," Wade said.
"They're getting ready to destroy this part of the building," Arturo said. "We must decide now!"
Rembrandt looked up to the ceiling.
"Please let us make the right choice," he said. "We're tired, and we just want to go home."
The rest of the group looked up with similar sentiments. They all looked to be thinking the same thing.
When they all looked down, they were all looking at the same vortex.
"If that's not fate," Rembrandt said with a smile. "I don't know what is."
"So," Wade said. "This is it?"
"Yes, Ms. Welles," Arturo said. "It appears it is."
The four sliders embraced, and they all looked at each other. The alarms in the building started to get louder, so they grabbed each others' hands and jumped inside the void.
Dear Diary, Wade read to herself. I don't know how to classify the last couple months. But its very important to me that I try.
I'm home now. No, not the same Earth that I was born on, but one very much similar. I'm going to have to get used to saying 'Golden Gate Bridge' from now on, but that's the only major difference that I notice. Still, after all those years sliding, I've learned to adapt to that rather quickly.
I think of Quinn often. No, not the Quinn here. Although this Quinn has saved my life in more ways than one, I don't think I'll ever love anyone as much as I loved my original Quinn. They may look the same, but I love both of them in completely different ways.
I often wonder what happened to him. I hope that he's strong enough to continue, and I'm sure that he is. But sometimes I wonder if that bullet killed him. Agent Parker seemed so angry, then. He might've done it, but something in my heart tells me that Quinn's all right.
But I have my own Quinn to worry about now. We're dating now, and I've never been happier. So many times before our final slide, we seemed so close. And our first date happened so fast, its hard to remember exactly what happened.
Our relationship is so strange. We both love each other, but we also each love each other's doubles. Quinn still very much misses my double from his Earth. He understands what happened to her, but he knows that she's with him in his heart. But I think he regrets never getting her home. I hope that I remind him of her enough so that the pain isn't too great.
How do I describe our final slide? It seemed to go in slow motion. We knew this was the end, but no one was willing to admit it. I actually heard Quinn and Arturo debating what would happen on the next world. 'Any world on the database should be slide-capable,' they said. And I didn't doubt them.
But I wanted it to be over. As much fun as sliding was, I wanted to return to a normal life. No matter where I went, I wouldn't truly be home. But as long as I was with the group, I wouldn't feel bad.
We were lucky, though. For the first time in our long journey, we took a risk and came out completely on top. We chose the right vortex and landed on Earth Prime.
Although I think the rest of the group is happiest for Quinn, I feel that Rembrandt is the most excited. Out of all of us, he was the one to slide the longest. And, ironically, he was the most upbeat of everyone. I've never seen him without a smile on his face or a song in his heart. He was ripped from his life without any real reason, and he could've been bitter with us but he wasn't.
The rest of us signed up for this journey, but Remmy didn't. But he never blamed us. Even my Rembrandt was forgiving about what must have been a horrible experience.
The second we landed, we were all very suspicious. Rembrandt had told us that they had landed on our world and were convinced it was theirs. This time, they were going to make sure.
Most nervous seemed to be the Professor. But who could blame him? The last time they thought they were home, he was left behind on our world. It must have been terrible for him, especially when his friends never came back for him. So, he stayed close to us, just in case it happened to him again.
The first place we went was Quinn's house (of course). There, we received a very disheartening welcome. Quinn's mother seemed rather disinterested in our visit. She told us where we could 'stay until the slide,' and went back to work.
Quinn was crushed. His mother didn't know anything about sliding, and that probably meant that we weren't on his Earth. But he followed her into the kitchen, trying to find out if this was really his mother.
After a short question and answer period, there was laughter and joyful screaming from the kitchen.
Apparently, after Quinn slid, the FBI came and investigated the scene. They learned about sliding with the help of an old classmate of his, and Mrs. Mallory became aware of Quinn's situation.
After about a year, a group of sliders came to Earth Prime, and Mrs. Mallory was so happy. Unfortunately, this is how she learned about doubles. Then, more came. And more and more. After a while, she started giving room and board to our doubles as they passed through. So, the sight of Quinn had become a regular thing. But she still missed her son, even though all of his doubles made it a little easier.
We were still skeptical. When they landed on my world, the same thing happened, and they had to be sure. So, we set off on a tour of the city. Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge (still sounds weird to me), Chinatown, Oakland, and every restaurant they'd ever been too. Then, we passed through Golden Gate Park and the Professor's school.
After all that, they were convinced. If they weren't home, this was as close to a carbon copy that could exist.
Once we had determined this, we had to try and adapt back to our regular lives. We decided not to tell anyone the truth about where we had been. Sliding brought too much attention, and we were worried that something bad could happen if people knew the truth.
We all came up with phony stories that could explain where we had gone. None of them were entirely convincing, but I still haven't found too much trouble so far. Friends are just happy to see that we're alive and well.
So, we're just adapting to regular life. Its the strangest for me. We collectively decided that I should fill their Wade's shoes. Rembrandt believes that she's gone, and I certainly can't go back to my world now. So, I just claim to be this world's Wade.
Of course, I told my parents about it. They were saddened when they heard what happened. We didn't tell them everything, because its too horrible. We simply said that their Wade passed away during the slide. They didn't seem too happy with Quinn about it, but they've calmed down. They'll never see me the same way they saw their own daughter, but I'm trying as hard as I can.
I actually got a call from Hurley about my job at Computer Hell, the diary continued. You can imagine what he said when he asked me to return. Now that I've been sliding, I couldn't imagine having to help old ladies use a mouse. I'll probably go and find a job at some point, but for now, I'm content on simply getting used to my new life.
About a week after we arrived, an FBI agent came and gathered us all up. They announced that they knew the truth about our whereabouts. They probably could've been pretty mad at us, but they said that they would help smooth out the settling process.
However, they did ask us a favor in return. Seven years ago, they found the equipment in Quinn's basement, and they started a secret project to start sliding. Much to their surprise, though, unlocking the power of sliding was beyond their capabilities. In seven years, they had made about as much progress as Quinn had made in seven weeks.
So, they asked Quinn to come aboard at a very generous salary. Much more than he ever made at Computer Hell. And he'd be allowed to do what he liked to do.
Amazing, though, he almost turned down the job. After sliding for so long, he almost was sick of it. The FBI, however, offered him the first two months off for R and R, as long as he came to their lab first to point them in the right direction. After that offer, Quinn couldn't refuse.
Arturo decided to try and go back to teaching. The chancellor at California University was very surprised to see him, and he immediately offered him his job back. Apparently, the Science Department had been underachieving since he disappeared, and they really needed him.
Quinn offered him a job in his division at the FBI lab, but he declined it. He assured Quinn that his days studying sliding were not over, but that he wanted to return to a quiet life of teaching for a while. And who could blame him?
But I think his reason for denying the position might be deeper. I think that he has always been a little jealous of Quinn. And I don't think his ego would allow himself to be below Quinn in the chain of command. Even sliding, the Professor was in charge, and Quinn was the young student. In this new job, the roles would be reversed, and I think that might have scared him a little bit.
As for Rembrandt, he went back to the recording studio. He said that he had collected so many new songs in his head, that he was finding it hard to think straight anymore.
The first song that he wrote down and recorded was called 'The River of Life'. This song was dear to his heart because it was dedicated to the people lost on the journey. He told me he based the title on something my double had said at the funeral of the Professor from my world. It's really a great song, and its doing very well on the music charts.
But, even though he's working hard getting back to his music, he has still found time to be with us. He's always been there when we needed him, and he won't even hesitate to drop anything he's doing to come and see us if we call him.
So, in retrospect, we're all doing very well. Like I said, it's strange living on this world, but I'm already getting used to it.
But maybe I'm getting a little too used to it. Every once and a while, I find myself sitting on the couch watching TV, and I think about running from gunfire or seeing the wonders of parallel worlds.
And in a strange way, I miss it. How could I not? Three friends and I just came back from the biggest adventure possible, and we'd be crazy not to miss that at least a little.
But instead of that feeling getting pushed further towards the back of my head, it's actually starting to creep up more and more. I feel that one of these days, I'm going to ask Quinn to take another 'spin around the universe.' I feel that Quinn might be having the same feelings, since we always end up talking about our adventures.
And it will only get worse when he gets serious with the FBI. Because as soon as they build something, they're going to need to test it on someone. And I just have a feeling that in the next few months, we'll be back out there sliding.
But you never know. If there's one thing I've learned on this adventure, it's this:
Anything is possible...