Maggie had felt good the whole slide. After spending the last two slides simply sitting in the hotel room, she decided to test herself by taking a soft walk in the park.
And she felt fine. She knew, however, that she would need medical help no matter how she felt.
Unfortunately, scouting discovered that this world's medical community wouldn't be much help. It was just as modern as Earth Prime, but Quinn estimated that they would need to land on a futuristic world to get her checked out.
The problem, however, was that they hadn't landed on any futuristic worlds since the timer was reset. So, they'd have to land on one randomly, and everyone knew that could take some time.
Rembrandt and Wade decided to stay with Maggie just in case something happened. And Rembrandt kept her company by telling her the story of what happened while she was on Thomas' world.
"It really was crazy," Rembrandt said. "It was like the weather was controlling them or something."
"That's not what the Professor said!" Wade said. "He said that the government just used the weather to keep the masses under control."
"That's what I said!" Rembrandt said.
The three sliders met up with Quinn and Arturo in the center of the park.
"Are you still talking about that?" Quinn asked. "That was three slides ago!"
"I still haven't heard about it," Maggie said.
"Don't worry," Quinn said. "You're not missing much."
"I thought it was interesting," Rembrandt said, almost offended.
"I'm sorry, Remmy," Quinn said, playfully punching Rembrandt on the arm.
"How much time until the slide?" Wade asked, changing the subject.
"Two minutes," Arturo said.
"Perfect timing," Maggie said.
Maggie had been trying to be cheerful and fun since missing the slide, and Arturo tried to make her feel part of the group. But Quinn wasn't biting.
He didn't agree that they should be bringing her with them, but he went along with it. She definitely needed medical help, and she wouldn't have received the proper care any of the worlds they had been on.
But he didn't think that it was a good idea to bring her along when it was harder for her to pull her weight.
"Okay," Arturo said, opening the vortex. "Let's go."
Quinn and Wade jumped in, and Arturo made sure that someone was staying behind with Maggie before he jumped inside.
"I really wish you would stop worrying about me, Rem," Maggie said. "I don't need you to hold my hand into the vortex."
"I know," Rembrandt said. "But I want to."
"Just go," Maggie said. "I'm right behind you."
"Maggie," Rembrandt sighed. "Just go."
"No," Maggie said, simply shoving Rembrandt into the vortex.
But immediately after doing this, she started to feel strange. She tried to move towards the vortex, hoping it would suck her inside, but she fell to the ground.
"No," Maggie said, reaching for the vortex.
But she collapsed seconds later, and the vortex, again, closed before she jumped inside.
Immediately after, another vortex opened behind her. Three figures emerged, and two of them picked up Maggie's body and carried it inside their vortex. The third figure looked around before jumping inside herself.
The vortex opened, and the four sliders toppled out of the vortex. When Rembrandt fell out, everyone was instantly concerned.
"You jumped in before her?" Quinn asked.
"She pushed me in," Rembrandt said, smiling. "She's right behind me."
"Did you see her behind you in the void?" Quinn asked.
"Uh," Rembrandt said. "Not exactly, but she said she was-."
Before he could finish, the vortex closed. Maggie had been left behind.
"Right behind me," Rembrandt said in astonishment.
"Damn!" Quinn said, turning away from the group. "And look where we are!"
The sliders looked at the skyline of an obviously futuristic San Francisco.
"This was it!" Quinn said, starting to mumble to himself angrily.
"Well," Arturo said. "Luck seems to be with us again because we're only here for two hours."
"Good," Quinn said. "We're going to spend a couple hours here, go back to that world, pick up Maggie, drag her into the damn vortex, and then we're dropping her off here."
"Come on, Quinn!" Rembrandt said. "It's not like she's doing it on purpose. She has an illness."
"Then why bring her with us?" Quinn said. "She's just slowing us down, Remmy. Keeping you from getting home faster. Aren't you angry about that?"
Wade and Arturo sat back, afraid to join in on the argument. But Quinn and Rembrandt looked serious, and it looked like a fist fight might break out.
"No," Rembrandt said. "I want to go home as much as any of you, but I'm not willing to sacrifice Maggie's health to do it. And I don't think you do either."
"I don't," Quinn said. "That's why we're bringing her with us. But I'm just saying that we should part ways when we get back here."
"Why?" Rembrandt asked.
"Why not?" Quinn said. "This is where she could get medical help, and we could get going towards Earth Prime. It's not like she has to come with us. She doesn't even have a home!"
Rembrandt's face turned cold, and he stepped right in Quinn's face.
"You're lucky she's not here, Q-Ball," Rembrandt said. "Because if she had heard that, I would've had to punch you in the face."
"Break it up!" Wade said, getting in between the two. "We have bigger things to do. Let's cool off and meet back for the slide."
Quinn agreed, but he stared down Rembrandt. He knew he was right, and he didn't understand why Rembrandt would be defending Maggie.
To her, she was now excess baggage.
Maggie woke up, expecting to be in the middle of the park, but she woke up in what looked like a hospital.
"Quinn?" Maggie weakly asked.
"Close," the woman on hand said. "Hello, there. We usually wouldn't turn this area into a hospital, but we made an exception for you."
"Who are you?" Maggie asked, struggling to focus her eyes.
"Quinn never told you about me?" the woman asked. "I'm Logan St. Claire."
"Logan St. Claire?" Maggie said, shocked.
"Ah," Logan said. "You have heard of me. Now, I need your help."
"No way," Maggie said. "I've heard what you did."
"Now, Quinn can't still be mad at me, can he?" Logan said. "That guy can't forgive and forget."
"Yeah," Maggie said sarcastically. "He's the one with the personality problem."
"I've moved on," Logan said. "Sure, I was mad when he stranded me out here, but I was given a great opportunity to help people."
"Help people?" Maggie said. "How do you help people?"
"I helped you, for instance," Logan said.
"What?" Maggie asked.
"You collapsed, and I had my doctors look at you," Logan said. "You'll need some additional work, but they've given you a clean bill of health for the moment."
Maggie didn't trust Logan, but for the moment, she seemed genuine.
"What do you need me to do?" Maggie said.
"We're planning a run on a Kromagg world," Logan said.
"You're going to attack the Kromaggs?" Maggie asked.
"Miss Beckett," Logan said. "Attack is such a dirty word that I don't like to touch. Besides, when you attack, there's a risk of casualties, and we've moved beyond that."
"I'm confused," Maggie said.
"We have a beautifully engineered virus that is killing all of the Kromaggs," Logan said.
"If you're using a virus," Maggie said. "What do you want me to do?"
"We need another runner," Logan said.
"Runner?" Maggie asked.
"A carrier of the Kromagg virus," Logan said. "We slide them onto a Kromagg world, and they spread the virus."
"Tell me about the virus," Maggie said, still trying to decide if accepting her offer is a good idea.
"This virus was constructed perfectly to kill Kromaggs," Logan said. "Humans carry it, and as soon as they hit the world, it spreads to the atmosphere. There, it bonds with other molecules and spreads throughout the world in a matter of days."
Logan seemed very proud of the virus and its ability to kill.
"It kills Kromaggs quickly and painlessly," Logan said. "It does both things we need it to do: keeps the Kromaggs from taking human worlds and protects other human worlds."
It sounded like a good idea, Maggie thought. She didn't agree with genocide, but she had discovered that the Kromaggs had to be dealt with before humanity fell.
"As of now," Logan said proudly. "I have twenty-five runners under my leadership."
"Okay," Maggie said. "Let's do this."
"Great," Logan said. "We've got a crew ready to go with you because you're being sent to a world that the Kromaggs aren't giving up without a fight."
Maggie looked concerned.
"Don't worry," Logan said. "We haven't lost a runner yet."
"Okay," Maggie said, accepting her answer. "Let's get this virus ready."
Logan looked embarrassed.
"Yeah," Logan said smiling. "When we were treating you, we injected you with it. We assumed you'd agree because everyone always does."
Maggie felt unsure but decided to go with it. She had to do something to prove herself. Now that Quinn no longer loved her, she felt like taking a risk.
What else was there to live for?
Quinn walked in the park, and he found a bench to sit down on. The rest of the group was going to cool off by exploring the futuristic city, but he had to get his thoughts pulled together.
Two years ago, he was in love with Maggie. Now, after she had done nothing wrong, he couldn't stand her.
Did he love Wade? And if he did, was he only doing it because he regretted ignoring his own Wade? Or was he just trying to focus on getting home first, but if that was the case, would he later regret ignoring Maggie.
It was all very confusing, and he just wanted to sort it out. He would go get Maggie in a couple of hours, get her medical help until the slide, and then they would take her back to this world.
And they'd have to determine what to do with her after that.
An officer brought Maggie an automatic rifle and some clothing. She got ready and met Logan in a large room.
"Ready?" Logan said, appearing to be very excited about going on the assignment.
"Bring it on," Maggie said.
Logan activated a vortex and an orange vortex appeared.
"We don't ordinarily use this type of timer," Logan said. "But I like it this way. Don't you?"
Maggie, Logan, and her two assistants jumped inside the vortex, and they emerged on a world engaged in war.
"Damn!" Logan said whispered. "What are they doing here?"
"Who?" Maggie whispered back.
"The army," Logan said.
"What's wrong with the army," Maggie asked.
"They get in the way," Logan said coldly, walking to find the commander.
An atomizer flew towards the trench, and it started to fall towards a group of soldiers.
"Look out!" Maggie said, pushing two soldiers out of the way.
Logan looked back, impressed, as she met up with the commander of the resistance movement.
"I'm Colonel Lawrence Tate of the battalion 317," the commander said. "We've suffered heavy casualties, and it looks like we're going to have to retreat. Can we slide to wherever you're going?"
"I suppose," Logan said. "We're going to a Running Center, and your men are welcome there."
"When do we leave?" Maggie asked, approaching the pair.
"Right now," Logan said. "They'll celebrate for a day or two, but then they'll wish they were never born."
"So, the virus has already been delivered?" Maggie asked.
"Isn't science great?" Logan asked playfully as she opened the vortex.
Several soldiers were dragged into the vortex, and Maggie was given a weapon to cover the evacuation. But as the last few soldiers entered the vortex, Maggie began to feel strange.
She knew what was happening.
"No!" she screamed, losing control of her body.
Logan's assistants jumped inside, leaving only she, Maggie, and the colonel. Logan saw Maggie shaking on the ground, and she suddenly felt completely disgusted.
"You were lots of help," Logan said under her breath.
"Let's grab her," the colonel said, moving towards Maggie.
"No," Logan said, pointing towards the Kromagg trench, where several atomizers were being fired.
"Go!" Logan said, diving into the vortex.
The colonel looked at Maggie, who was reaching toward him. He mouthed "sorry" and jumped inside before the vortex closed.
Maggie didn't even get to look up to see the atomizer hit the trench, and she certainly didn't feel anything.
But it was time for a new adventure. And based on what had happened to her friends, maybe it was for the best.
Rembrandt, Wade, and Arturo were taking an aerial tour of the city when something suddenly came over Rembrandt.
"Oh God," Rembrandt said as the hovering vehicle passed the floating Alcatraz prison.
"Airsick?" Arturo asked.
"No," Rembrandt said. "Something's wrong. I think it's Maggie."
"What do you mean?" Wade asked.
"I don't know," Rembrandt said. "I just have a feeling that something has happened to Maggie."
"Well," Arturo said. "We shall find out in a few minutes anyway. Just try to relax and enjoy the view because we'll be landing soon."
Rembrandt didn't know it was, but something was telling him that he would never see Maggie again. He just wanted to get to her as quickly as possible to prove himself wrong.
Logan and Tate landed in the lab, and Tate grabbed her arm
"Why'd you just let her die?" he asked.
"Are you questioning my order, Colonel?" Logan asked.
"No, Ma'am, it's just that-," Tate said.
"Because I feel I showed a great deal of humanity when I allowed your sorry group of soldiers to come with me," Logan said. "And I hope you realize that your troops will cause me a great deal of inconvenience for the time being."
And that was it. Tate had been utterly defeated.
"Yes Ma'am," Tate said. "And I thank you, Ma'am."
"Good day, Colonel," Logan said firmly, and the colonel was led to another part of the facility.
Logan walked to her office and sat down in her chair. She was upset that Maggie hadn't pulled her own weight, but she knew that her main objective was still secure.
And that's all that mattered.
The others arrived back at the park with a couple minutes remaining before th slide.
"I'm sorry," Quinn said as Rembrandt approached. "I'm just frustrated, and I didn't mean anything I said."
"It's okay, Q-Ball," Rembrandt said. "Let's just get to Maggie as soon as we can. I think something terrible might've happened to her."
Quinn's face suddenly turned cold. He wasn't going to say anything, but he, too, had a strange feeling that Maggie was dead. In fact, he would be completely surprised to see Maggie alive on the next world.
But he hoped he was wrong.
The intercom buzzed in Logan's office a few minutes later.
"Miss St. Claire?" the female voice on the other end said.
"Yes?" Logan responded.
"We're reading a vortex on the last world the group was on," the voice said. "Initial scans indicate that it is them."
"Excellent," Logan said.
The sliders landed back in the park, and they immediately started to look for Maggie.
"She's not here," Quinn said. "If she really had a seizure, then someone would've taken her to a hospital. Let's go!"
"Wait," Arturo said. "We only have three minutes on this world."
"Three minutes?" Wade asked.
"I'm staying," Rembrandt said. "I'm going to find Maggie, and you all can come back for me once I've found her."
"I'm staying too," Quinn said. "I think I owe it to her."
But before anyone could say anything, an orange vortex opened in front of them. Quinn hadn't seen a vortex like that in a long time, and he had a guess as to who would come out.
Maybe she would have the answers he was looking for.
Like he guessed, Logan St. Claire emerged from the vortex, followed by four large men. She looked at the four sliders, and she looked disappointed. She sighed, turning back towards her assistants.
"Logan," Quinn said. "What are you doing here."
Logan turned around. Something was wrong. All her scans had told her that this should be Quinn, but it didn't look like him.
But if this wasn't Quinn, how did he know her name?
"Who are you?" Logan asked, defensive.
"It's me, Logan," Quinn said. "Quinn Mallory."
"You're not Quinn," Logan said. "I never forget a face."
Quinn was reminded that he had Mallory's face, and he realized that Logan didn't recognize him. But he thought of something that would prove that he was who he said he was.
"Get home?" he asked sarcastically.
Logan was convinced, but she was also immediately angered.
"Did you?" Logan asked coldly.
Quinn had a hunch that Logan knew something about Maggie, and he had to ask.
"Logan," Quinn said, turning to business. "Where's Maggie?"
"Your friend?" Logan said. "I recruited her for a mission, and she was accidentally killed by the Kromaggs. I'm so sorry."
Quinn and Rembrandt's fears were confirmed. Maggie was dead. But something wasn't right.
"What?" Rembrandt and Quinn said simultaneously.
"When she was left behind," Logan said. "I took her to my hospital and had my doctors look at her. When she awoke, she told me she wanted to join my mission to defeat the Kromaggs, and she basically forced me to take her with me. We tried to help her, but they got her before we could do anything."
Quinn and Rembrandt didn't think that made much sense, but they guessed it was possible.
"I know you probably don't believe me," Logan said. "And I know you probably don't need any more bad news, especially from me. But I promise you that it's the truth, and your friend died with honor. She was one of the bravest people I've ever known, and I only knew her for a couple of hours."
"If I find out you had anything to do with her death," Quinn said. "You won't like it, Logan. And you'll need more than four lackeys to protect yourself."
"I'm not like that anymore, Quinn," Logan said. "I was angry when you stranded me out here, but I've changed."
Quinn didn't believe her, and he laughed it off
"But that doesn't matter now," Logan said. "I need your help."
"Wow, Logan," Quinn said. "As much as I'd love to help you seeing that you just got my friend killed, we can't. We're leaving in twenty seconds."
"Then, punch in these coordinates," Logan said. "They'll take you to my lab."
Quinn didn't trust Logan, but for some reason he decided to help her. Maybe he could find out what happened to Maggie, and he felt that he owed that to her.
Quinn added the coordinates, and the two vortices opened next to each other. The two respective groups jumped inside, and the two gateways closed behind them.
Logan brought the four sliders into her office.
"Before I tell you what I need you to do," Logan said. "I want to explain what happened to me since we last saw each other."
"Oh boy," Quinn thought. "This should be fun."
"Let's see," he said. "You were acting completely crazy, firing a gun at Wade."
"Yes," Logan said, embarrassed. "That bullet actually came back and hit me. Lucky for me, I didn't burn up on reentry, but unlucky for me, I landed on a world in the middle of the Renaissance. They were able to keep me alive for a while, but I was going to die if I didn't get some real treatment fast."
"So you almost died from your own bullet," Quinn thought. "Now wouldn't that be poetic justice?"
"A month later," Logan continued. "Salvation came from the strangest source: the Kromaggs. They arrived and quickly enslaved my new home, sending me to a breeding camp. They fixed my wounds, and before I was put into service, my camp was attacked by a group of human resistance fighters. I was freed, and I volunteered to help them in their fight."
"I guess they were impressed by me," she continued. "Because I was quickly given command over my own laboratory, and quickly, I became a major part in the development of the virus that is going to save humanity."
"A virus that defeats the Kromaggs," Rembrandt said. "That's not exactly a new one."
"But this one is perfect," Logan said, excited. "It kills almost instantly, lasts forever, and it is carried by humans. It really is a marvel of modern medical science."
"I'm really impressed," Quinn said sarcastically. "Can we get on with it?"
"We decided to start creating a group of human carriers to send to Kromagg-controled worlds," Logan said. Using these runners, we've taken back over forty worlds from the Kromaggs from this lab alone. And with over fifty labs like our own, we've really scared them; they're retreating all over the place. They've almost stopped attacking other worlds, too, and whenever they do attack, they only do it in small groups."
"Oh," Quinn said.
"That's why they only sent that small group to attack Quinn's world." Rembrandt said.
"And the force at my lab," a voice said.
The sliders looked to the door, and they couldn't believe who was standing there. It was Dr. David Laze.
"Laze!" Arturo exclaimed.
"Yes," Laze said. "Ironically, this is the world you left me on, and I was more than happy to join Logan's family here."
"I can see why you get along," Rembrandt said. "You're both mass murderers."
"Something we're both trying to redeem," Laze said. "And we're doing wonders here that may actually get that done."
"Before we start the tour," Logan said. "We need to get down to business. We need your help, Quinn."
Quinn looked worried. He didn't know what they wanted, but he knew they weren't going to let him go until he helped them.