After all they had been through, the sliders were looking for a calm, peaceful world to relax on. They needed to give their bodies and the timer a chance to rest.
But they couldn't catch a break and find a calm world. First, they landed on a world in the middle of a Mardi Gras celebration. Not only could they not rest on that world, but all of the sliders had trouble even staying sober.
Then, they landed on a world in the middle of World War III. Thankfully, nuclear weapons hadn't been created, but San Francisco was in the middle of an all out invasion. Between dodging bombs and running from safe house to safe house, the sliders couldn't get any rest there either.
And now, they had landed on a world where the Mexicans control America. And unluckily for them, they landed in the middle of the Running of the Bulls.
Wade and Quinn were able to immediately jump over a barrier, and Rembrandt ran as fast as he could, making it all the way to the final stadium.
Arturo, however, wasn't so lucky. He tripped from the beginning, and he was gored in his posterior.
"Are you sure you're all right Professor?" Rembrandt asked a noticeably angry Professor.
"Yes, Mr. Brown," Arturo said angrily. "I shall be fine!"
"The doctors say he's fine," Wade said laughing. "His ego is probably more bruised than his butt is!"
Rembrandt and Wade couldn't stop laughing, but Quinn was ready to go. He was exhausted mentally and physically, and he felt he was in the biggest need of a good long rest. He hoped the next would would bring him peace.
Wade and Rembrandt helped Arturo out of the bed.
"Why didn't you tell me the slide was so soon?" Arturo asked a laughing Rembrandt. "Now I have to slide wearing this!"
"It's flattering," Wade said, laughing.
"And besides," Rembrandt said. "It's not like they can see anything. You have a giant bandage covering your butt!"
Rembrandt and Wade laughed as Quinn activated the vortex. The four sliders jumped inside, and they all landed safely on the next world.
Arturo tried to hold his hospital gown down, but the wind created by the vortex sent it flying up in the air.
"Oh my God!" Wade screamed. "I did not need to see that!"
"Yeah," Rembrandt said. "Let's get you to a clothing store as fast as possible."
As Rembrandt and Wade helped Arturo walk towards an intersection to hail a taxi, Quinn stood motionless, staring at the vortex.
"What is it, Q-Ball?" Rembrandt asked.
"Something is wrong," Quinn said. "It's staying open too long."
"You've lost it, Quinn," Rembrandt said. "You need to get some rest."
"I know I do," Quinn said. "Let's go."
But as soon as Quinn turned away, a blood red color enveloped the vortex.
"Wait," Rembrandt said. "I think you were onto something."
Quinn turned back around, and he saw the red vortex. He had only seen one group come out of a red vortex, and he braced for the worst. But he was surprised to see a human emerge from the vortex.
For the first time in well over a year, Quinn was looking at his his brother. He wasn't sure Colin was really his brother, but he loved him nonetheless. They had spent a year together, and they had bonded completely.
A smile was imprinted on Quinn's face, and all the pain and exhaustion from the last few weeks immediately disappeared.
But Colin seemed different; he wasn't smiling. In fact, he wasn't showing any emotion at all.
"Hey Farm Boy," Rembrandt said, running up to Colin.
"Hello, Brother," Colin said coldly, completely ignoring Rembrandt.
Rembrandt was slightly confused at Colin's reaction to the reunion. For someone who had apparently spent over a year looking for his brother, he didn't seem very excited to be seeing him.
And one thing stood out in his mind. How did Colin recognize Quinn if he was still inside Mallory's body?
"What happened to you?" Quinn asked. "How did you get stuck onto a dimension again?"
"We can talk about that later," Colin said, seeming to avoid the question.
"We're going to leave you two to talk," Rembrandt said.
Rembrandt wasn't sure that he should leave Quinn alone with Colin, especially since he was acting so strange, but Quinn didn't seem to see any problem with it.
"Here you go, Remmy," Quinn said, tossing Rembrandt the timer.
"Thanks, Q-Ball," Rembrandt said, catching it.
Rembrandt put the timer in his pocket, and he joined Wade. She and Rembrandt helped move Arturo to a taxi, and they drove off to buy Arturo some clothes.
Left alone, Quinn and Colin walked to the hotel and checked in. Quinn knew that they didn't have much time on this world, but he wanted a nice quiet place to talk with his brother.
Colin, however, seemed in a hurry to talk. And when Quinn started the conversation, he looked agitated.
"Its good to see you, Colin," Quinn said, throwing two bottles of water on the table.
"And you, brother," Colin said, again without emotions.
Quinn wasn't sure what to make of Colin's emotional state, but he assumed that he would explain.
"How did you escape?" Quinn asked, looking for answers.
"Escape?" Colin asked, unsure what Quinn was talking about.
"You were unstuck," Quinn said awkwardly. "You don't remember?"
"Oh, yes," Colin said. "Well, our parents found me right before our last slide, and they brought me to Kromagg Prime and saved me."
"You met our parents?" Quinn asked, intrigued.
"Yes, Quinn, I did," Colin said, showing a hint of a smile.
"Why didn't they come after me?" Quinn asked.
"Our parents lost your signature as soon as they found me," Colin said. "They couldn't find you until recently."
"Yeah!" Quinn said excitedly. "I was merged with one of my fraternal doubles and separated by my friends."
Quinn suddenly remembered that he still had Mallory's face.
"That's why my appearance is different," Quinn said, confused as to how Colin had recognized him.
"I don't understand," Colin said.
Quinn was confused. Why did Colin recognize him?
"I don't look like I looked when we last saw each other," Quinn said. "Are you all right?"
For the first time since they saw each other, Quinn thought this might be the wrong Colin.
"You must forgive me, Brother," Colin said. "The experience has affected my memory. To be honest, I have very little recollection of our times together."
Quinn thought that made sense. After all, almost no one knew the longterm affects of being unstuck.
"It's all right," Quinn said. "So how did you find me?"
"As soon as I arrived," Colin said. "Our parents started an exhausting search to try and find you. After a year, the project was abandoned. But a couple of days ago, I decided to run a quick scan to see if I could find you. And I did, so here I am."
"That's great!" Quinn said. "I guess the separation resurfaced my quantum signature."
"That's a sound theory," Colin said.
Suddenly, Colin put his hand to his ear and stood up.
"Now, you must come with me immediately," Colin said.
"Immediately?" Quinn asked.
"Yes," Colin said. "In a matter of seconds, a vortex is going to appear, and we must pass through it."
"What about my friends?" Quinn asked. "I can't just leave them here."
"There is no time," Colin said, impatient and almost angry. "The Slidecage has made travel to and from Kromagg Prime very difficult. In order to get there, the vortex must be opened from their end. They said they would create one vortex, and we are to pass through it. If it closes, they are going to assume that we were captured, and they will not send for us again."
"But," Quinn said.
"There is no other way," Colin said. "If you want to see your homeworld and be reunited with our parents, you must come with me now."
Quinn didn't know what to do. On one hand, he was very excited at the the prospect of going back home, but there was something very wrong about the way Colin was acting.
But he decided to go with him. If this was a trap, then he would deal with the consequences. But if he was right, then he could get all the answers he was looking for. And that was worth the risk.
"Okay," Quinn said. "Let's go."
Colin smiled, and a red vortex opened behind him.
Quinn wasn't sure, but he had to find out what was on the other end of the vortex. He quickly scribbled a note on the hotel stationary, and he jumped inside the vortex.
Colin smiled for the first time all slide, and he dove in after Quinn
Rembrandt and Wade sat in the waiting room, as Arturo was trying on a new suit. Suddenly, an attendant approached them.
"Excuse me," the attendant said. "Your friend seems to be very upset with the selection."
"What's wrong with it?" Rembrandt asked.
The attendant seemed very nervous.
"He seems upset at the size of the suit we selected," he said, trying to choose his words carefully.
Before Rembrandt could ask, Arturo came crashing into the room.
"This might be the most insulting world we've ever landed on," Arturo said.
"What is it, Professor?" Wade asked.
But as Arturo turned around, they all saw what he was complaining about. The bandage from his wound made it so that his posterior very large.
"That's the not style, is it?" Rembrandt asked, laughing.
"That is not funny," Arturo said. "I would almost prefer the hospital gown to this abomination."
Wade and Rembrandt couldn't help themselves. They both burst out laughing, leaving the attendant nervously laughing in the corner.
"Too late," Rembrandt said laughing. "After seeing your butt, we had it destroyed."
"You're not seriously suggesting that I wear this outside, are you?" Arturo asked.
"We'll take it," Wade said, turning to the attendant.
"I swear, Ms. Welles," Arturo said. "You'll be the end of me."
Inside the vortex, Quinn wondered whether he had made a mistake. The slide was very controlled, and he hadn't seen this kind of control outside of the Kromagg dynasty.
But, then again, his parents were apparently the leaders in sliding technology, and that could explain the ease of the slide.
When he landed, the vortex slowed, and Quinn was able to softly land on his feet. However, he was immediately surrounded by five armed Kromaggs.
"Not again," Quinn thought.
As soon as Colin exited, Quinn stood in front of his brother.
"Take me, but leave him alone," Quinn said, trying to keep his brother out of trouble.
The main Kromagg smiled and nodded his head.
"You're going to be okay," Quinn whispered.
But suddenly, Quinn felt something poke in his back. He knew after a second that it was a gun.
"You're right," Colin said. "But it is you that you should be concerned about."
Quinn shut his eyes. It was a trap.
"You're not my Colin, are you?" Quinn asked.
"Actually, Mr. Mallory, he is," the main Kromagg said. "But we'll get to that later."
Upon further inspection, Quinn noticed that the main Kromagg was the same one that had interrogated him a few weeks back.
"Since I didn't have the chance to introduce myself earlier, I will now," the Kromagg said. "My name is Koliton."
"Pleased to meet you," Quinn said, annoyed. "What in the Hell do you want from me this time?"
"Oh, Mr. Mallory," Koliton said, smiling. "I will explain everything to you in due time."
This was the strangest Kromagg Quinn had ever met. He spoke like a human, and he showed more emotion than any Kromagg he had ever encountered. Even the troops under Koliton seemed annoyed by his actions.
"Now, you are going to help us," Koliton said. "And this time, you're staying."
Colin and Koliton led Quinn into a laboratory. Noting the biological suits the Kromagg scientists were wearing, he guessed that they were working with the human's virus.
"Virus giving you trouble?" Quinn asked sarcastically. He assumed that if he was going to be a prisoner, he might as well have fun before the real pain began.
"As a matter of fact, it is, Mr. Mallory," Koliton said. "It is the first time that you humans have impressed me, but our problem will become your problem if you do not help us."
Quinn didn't like the sound of that.
"What does that mean?" Quinn asked.
"As you might know," Koliton said. "One of your resistance fighters has landed on this world, and the virus has been introduced into this world's atmosphere. Because of that, the Dynasty has quarantined us to this world."
"What do you want me to do about that?" Quinn asked.
"You're going to help us cure the disease, Mr. Mallory," Koliton said. "Or you too will fall victim."
"I hate to break it to you," Quinn said. "But the virus doesn't affect humans. So, you're just going to have to kill me the old fashioned way."
"That's exactly what I plan to do," Koliton said. "Do you see the monitor in the corner? That shows the number of living Kromaggs in this facility. When that number reaches zero, this building will fill with toxic gas."
Quinn looked over at the monitor, displaying that there were 97 Kromaggs in the facility.
"And if you're thinking about trying to escape when enough soldiers have died, forget it," Koliton said. "Like I said, this world has been quarantined. And this facility has been quarantined. You cannot escape the facility, and you cannot escape the world. You're either going to leave alongside us, or you're going to die along side us. Either way, our destinies are interlocked."
Quinn looked back at the monitor, and he noted that the number had already dropped to 95. And when another scientist in the room fell flat on his face, Koliton put his arm on Quinn's shoulder and led him to a desk.
"And you had better hurry, Mr. Mallory," Koliton said. "Your help is dying every second you waste."
With no choice but to help, Quinn began to work.
With Rembrandt and Wade close behind, Arturo walked toward the hotel.
"Do we really have to walk like this?" Rembrandt said. "I know you don't want people to see your tailor-job, but this is embarrassing."
"Yes, Mr. Brown," Arturo said. "I'm sure you're ego is taking a much bigger hit than mine."
"Why should we get punished because we're more agile than you?" Wade asked.
"And smaller targets?" Rembrandt added with a smile.
"That is enough," Arturo said, almost hitting Rembrandt with his larger posterior.
"Watch where you swing that thing," Rembrandt said, breaking back into laughter.
"No more jokes," Arturo said coldly.
"Okay," Rembrandt said. "But honestly, should we be back at the hotel so soon? We've barely given Quinn any time to talk with his brother."
"I know you all see me as a father figure," Arturo said coldly. "And if that is true, then I am making a paternal decision right now. I am returning to the hotel, where I shall remain for as many slides as it takes until I return to my regular size of pants."
Rembrandt was about to crack another joke, but the look in Arturo's eyes made him realize it was ill-advised.
"Now," Arturo said. "I'm sure that Mr. Mallory and his brother have a lot of catching up to do, but I am also sure that he will not mind if we take advantage of our earned rest."
"And if he does?" Wade asked.
"Then he will find that there is plenty of empty space outside of the confines of this hotel," Arturo said, opening the door.
But when they entered, they found no one inside.
"He checked in, right?" Wade asked.
"Yeah," Rembrandt said. "Maybe he took your advice and went somewhere else?"
"No," Arturo said, finding the hastily-written note Quinn had written. "He's gone."
"Gone?" Wade asked.
"He left a note," Arturo said. "He said he has left with his brother to go to 'Kromagg Prime.' He says it was a unique opportunity he had to pursue, and not to worry. He will contact us the first chance he gets."
"He just left?" Wade asked.
"That's what it appears happened," Arturo said. "The note looks like it was written quickly, so maybe something came up where he had to leave immediately." "I have a bad feeling about this, guys," Rembrandt said. "I mean, Colin wasn't acting like his normal self."
"Quinn says not to worry," Arturo said. "So, we won't worry."
The group waited until the slide, but they received no word from Quinn. When it was time to slide, they realized they had to leave.
"We're just going to leave?" Rembrandt said.
"We have no choice," Arturo said. "If Quinn is on the world he claims to be on, he should have no trouble finding us again."
"It just doesn't feel right," Rembrandt said.
"I know," Arturo said. "But it's what he'd do in our shoes."
Rembrandt nodded, and Arturo activated the vortex. It was hard to do, but he knew it was the right thing.
The three sliders jumped inside, and the vortex closed behind them.
In the facility, Quinn was doing all the research he could on the virus. Although it acted like a common virus, it was engineered perfectly to protect itself. It already had the advanced defense mechanisms from other deadly viruses, but the creators of it also threw on a bio-electric shield that made it impossible for the body's defenses to do any damage.
But, in the reflection of the screen, Quinn saw Koliton standing behind him, looking over his shoulder.
"Do you mind?" Quinn asked. "Shouldn't you be doing your fair share of work?"
One of Koliton's guards made a fist, about to hit Quinn. But before he could, Koliton lifted his hands, and the guard backed off.
"I am a leader, Mr. Mallory," Koliton said. "I am not a doctor."
"And I am?" Quinn asked, turning around to look the Kromagg in the face. "I've never taken a medical course in my life, and you expect me to cure a disease that your race can't even understand?"
"No," Koliton said. "I expect your human pride to force you to work against your own species. I expect you to get further than any of our scientists because the disease itself does not affect you. I expect you to give a valiant effort, but no, in the end, I don't expect you to cure a thing in the short time you have left."
Quinn rolled his eyes.
"I expect and want you to die here today," Koliton said. "I want you to give this project everything you have, and then for you to watch the gas enter the vents as soon as we all die. I want you to die, but I want your death to be slow and painful. I want you to feel the pain that many Kromaggs are feeling right now and the pain that many other Kromaggs will face."
Quinn wanted to interrupt, but the guard standing next to him seemed to be waiting for a chance to attack him.
"And as you breathe your last breath," Koliton continued. "I want you to realize that your own people are responsible for that death."
Quinn didn't respond. He just turned back to the computer, running through as much information as possible.
Wade walked through a local street market. Even though this slide was short, she had to take a walk and organize her thoughts.
Even though she knew Quinn was alive, she feared that she would never see him again. But the thing that bothered her was that she had never really had feelings for him until now. Quinn had always been a substitute for her own Quinn. But now she wasn't using Quinn as a substitute. She legitimately missed him.
But what would she do when she was given the chance to return home? Would she fill in for Quinn's Wade, or would she return to her own Quinn?
It was a decision she wasn't looking forward to.
And that's when she saw him. She didn't believe it when she saw it, and she pinched herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming.
It was Quinn. He ran up to Wade, who was speechless with surprise.
"Wade!" Quinn exclaimed. "I'm so glad I found you in time. We'd better hurry, or we're going to be late."
"What?" Wade asked. "The slide's not for another hour!"
Quinn gave her a double take, but he shook it off, dragging Wade by her hand to a waiting limousine.
"Where are we going?" Wade asked, wondering why Quinn had rented a limo.
"To the theater," Quinn said. "Here, you can change into this."
"Why are we going to the theater?" Wade asked.
"We've had these tickets for weeks, Wade," Quinn said, handing her a dress. "How could you forget?"
"Let me out," Wade sighed. "I'm not the one you're supposed to be going with."
"I know we had a fight," Quinn said. "But I thought this would fix everything."
"I'm flattered," Wade said. "But I'm not the person you think I am."
"Of course you are," the Quinn double said. "You're my wife."
"I'm sorry," Wade said. "But I'm not. I wouldn't even know how to explain it, but I'm not. So, just let me out. You need all the time you have left to find your real wife."
Quinn's double was confused, but he ordered the limousine to stop.
"I don't understand," the double said, as Wade opened the door.
"I didn't think you would," Wade said, blowing a kiss.
Glancing at the monitor, Quinn saw that there were only seven Kromaggs left. He had failed.
He never intended on actually curing anything, but he wanted to show some progress, so that the Kromaggs lift the quarantine. If he could somehow take advantage of the weak guards, he could've escaped.
But that possibility was long gone. While he could still work, the seven remaining Kromaggs had abandoned the project. Even if he showed progress, there would be no one to contact the Dynasty.
Even Koliton was too weak to move. He ordered the strongest Kromagg to bring Quinn in to speak with him.
"Mr. Mallory," Koliton said.
"You know you're taking me away from your quest," Quinn said. "Don't you, your highness?"
The guard was obviously angered by this, and he rushed to grab Quinn by the collar of his shirt.
"Human!" the Kromagg said, struggling to act strong. "You will speak to him with dignity and resp..."
Unable to finish his sentence, the Kromagg fell to his knees. He tried to hang on to Quinn's shirt, but he slowly fell to the ground and died. The monitor in the corner dropped to two.
"I see that you have lost, Mr. Mallory," Koliton said. "Once I die..."
Koliton struggled to speak, but he was determined to keep talking.
"You will die," Koliton said, trying desperately to clear his throat.
But his eyes watered, and his head dropped back to the cot.
So, this was it. In a matter of minutes, toxic gas would fill the facility and kill him. And there was nothing he could do about it.
But suddenly, a voice spoke out, startling Quinn.
"Mr. Mallory," the voice cried out. "I need you to do as I say. I can help you, but you need to trust me."
A Kromagg vortex opened in front of Quinn, but he was still unsure.
"Where does it go?" Quinn screamed, but he got no answer back.
He glanced over at Koliton, whose eyes were closed. However, the monitor still read one lifesign in the building. Assuming Koliton was dead, there was a possibility that the voice was telling the truth.
Either way, whatever was on the other side would be a thousand times better than what would come out of the vents in a matter of seconds.
Praying that he wasn't going to make another mistake, he closed his eyes and dove into the vortex.
In the middle of the desert, the remaining three sliders sat in the sun. With only twenty minutes on this world and no signs of civilization, they decided to brace the heat and wait it out.
Rembrandt and Wade were worried that they would never see Quinn again. They trusted that Quinn would contact them if possible, but something wasn't right about the way he left.
Arturo missed Quinn just as much, but he was the most rational of the trio. He realized how little time had passed, and that it wasn't nearly time to start worrying.
And while he agreed that something was wrong, he knew that the group had to focus on the future to stay alive.
"It is time," Arturo said quietly, and the group slowly rose to their feet.
"Are you all right?" Arturo asked Wade, who seemed weaker than the others.
"I'm fine," Wade sighed.
"He'll be back," Arturo said. "He knows what he's doing."
Quinn landed on a desert world. As soon as he realized that he hadn't been taken to another Kromagg-controlled world, he started to assume that he had an ally on the last world.
And if that was an ally, then maybe he sent him to the same world his friends were on. But, then again, there didn't seem to be any signs of civilization or even water, so he thought that this might just be another way for him to die.
But why kill him in the desert when he had already been given his death sentence on the last world.
He desperately looked around, knowing that his friends would be close if they were really there.
And that's when he saw his friends and what appeared to be a vortex. They were sliding without him.
"Professor!" Quinn screamed, running towards the figures as fast as he could.
Wade heard a faint noise, and she turned to see what it was. It looked like a person was running towards them, and it looked a lot like Quinn.
But Wade didn't say anything. She assumed that she was going crazy; seeing Quinn everywhere she looked. She just turned back towards the vortex as Arturo jumped inside.
"What's wrong with their ears?" Quinn thought. "Can't they hear me?"
It wasn't far to the vortex, but the stakes were higher than usual. If he didn't catch up to the others, then he would be given a death sentence on this world. The heat would kill him in a matter of hours.
Wade heard the noise again, and she looked at Rembrandt. The noise from the vortex had deafened his ears, and he couldn't hear anything.
But Wade assumed that he didn't hear anything because the figure running toward him was a mirage. She took one last look, and she convinced herself it was an illusion.
Quinn saw that Wade had looked at him, but she didn't do anything. Could she see him?
"Wade!" Quinn screamed, trying to run faster.
Wade heard the voice again. Both the voice and the image were getting clearer, but she was determined to ignore them.
Eventually, she would get over losing Quinn. But she had to be strong here, or she would be left behind. Taking one last look, she turned toward the vortex and jumped inside.
Now, Wade was gone. It was just him and the vortex. Digging into the ground as hard as he could, he lunged towards the vortex as it began to collapse.
Wade toppled out of the vortex, and she immediately started to cry. Rembrandt ran to her, and he put his hand on her shoulder.
"What is it?" Rembrandt asked.
"I'm going crazy," Wade said. "I'm seeing Quinn everywhere I look. I even saw him running towards the vortex on that last world."
"I know what you're talking about," Rembrandt said. "That's just your mind telling you how much you miss Quinn. It happens to me a lot too, but it will go away eventually."
But as soon as Rembrandt was finished, another figure fell from the vortex. It was Quinn, and he was gasping for air on the grass.
"Quinn?" Wade asked, pinching herself on the leg.
"It's me," Quinn said, trying to catch his breath. "Didn't you see me back there?"
"I thought I did," Wade said. "I mean, I did, but I wasn't sure that it was you."
Not having the right words, Wade decided to run up to Quinn and give him a big hug.
"You'll need to have your ears checked," Quinn said. "All of you."
"Hey!" Wade said. "I heard you! I just didn't believe you."
"So you need to have your brain checked," Quinn said, and he and Wade hugged again.
"You have a lot of explaining to do," Rembrandt said. "Where did you come from, where did you go, and where in the Hell is Colin?"
"I'll explain it all in due time," Quinn said, smiling. "But if you'll excuse me, I'm way overdue for a break."
Rembrandt helped Quinn up, and they embraced.
"That's fine," Rembrandt said with a smile. "I'm just glad to have you back."
"And I'm glad to be back," Quinn said, as the group walked to towards the Dominion.
But something caught Quinn's eye.
"Do I even want to ask?" he asked, staring at the Professor's odd-looking pants.
"I would prefer that you didn't," Arturo said, causing the rest of the group to explode in laughter.
"You're lucky I love you, Professor," Quinn said laughing. "Because I could make a good living out of this."
"I appreciate that, Mr. Mallory," Arturo said. "And I hope you will honor my wishes by staying quiet for the rest of the slide."
Quinn laughed, and the group continued walking to the hotel.