Still stranded, Diana, Mallory, and Maggie discussed their plans to exit their world. Maggie sat in the corner, looking out the window.
"I still think that we should stay," she said softly.
What had happened to her? Back on her own world, she had never had a problem while in command. Now, she was the leader of this group, and she was falling apart. She just couldn't give the order to the group that they were going to stay.
Why? Was it that she had lost her ability to lead? Or did she know that it was the right move to leave?
"I miss Remmy too," Diana said. "But there's no reason we should wait forever. Using some of the abandoned Kromagg equipment, I was able to construct a crude timer."
"Crude?" Mallory asked.
"Yes," Diana answered. "It won't last forever, but it should last until we land on a world where we can get better supplies. I guess it was a good thing that our old timer broke down so many times because it made it much easier to build one from scratch."
"So when can we leave?" Mallory asked, jumping onto the room's couch.
"In the next couple of days," Diana said, smiling.
Diana was very proud of her work. She didn't feel that she had held her own weight up until now, but she felt that she could lead her friends back to safety.
But she was worried about Maggie. She was torn between wanting to wait for Rembrandt and wanting to leave. She felt she couldn't do both, and it was killing her.
She knew that, if he was alive, Rembrandt would do anything to get back to them. But, if he was coming, where was he?
Inside a plane to Los Angeles, the sliders were living the high life. Arturo's double was a wealthy aristocrat on this world, and he arranged for the trip to be first class the whole way. He was so excited to learn that interdimensional travel was possible that he even arranged their stay in LA to be just as elegant.
"To think," Arturo said. "Countless millions of my doubles have invested countless hours into discovering a way to travel to parallel dimensions with little or no result. And it seems that even the most dimwitted double of Quinn can construct one in his sleep."
"Its all in the genes, Professor," Quinn said, smiling.
He turned up the notch on the massaging chair, and he laid back, looking at the timer. He was postulating in his head what risk they were running. Never before had he met anyone who left the sliding radius. It just seemed to be an unwritten rule that should never be broken. And they were on a course that would answer that question.
But what if it didn't work? Was it worth the risk? Sure, Rembrandt's friends were in Los Angeles, but they could've traveled there after they discovered they were on the right world.
It seemed like an unnecessary risk, but Quinn was curious enough to go along with it.
The plane landed safely at LAX Airport, and the sliders stepped off the plane, admiring the scene. They had all lived in California for the last several years, so the landscape was nothing spectacular.
But, to Wade, Los Angeles was still a magical town where stars were born. Where dreams came true. She had a smile imprinted on her face, even though she knew she wouldn't be doing any sightseeing.
Arturo, however, had a different reaction.
"I hope this plan works, Mr. Brown," Arturo said. "Because I despise this town."
"What happened here, Professor?" Rembrandt asked, finally deciding to ask.
Arturo turned to Rembrandt with a stern look.
"I do not want to talk about it," Arturo said. "And I would appreciate you not asking me again."
As soon as he was done speaking, Rembrandt broke into laughter. Quinn and Wade giggled, but Quinn was more concerned with the timer.
"Now," Quinn said. "According to our theories, we will have to wait the whole limit of the timer before we slide."
"Why?" Wade asked. She really didn't care, but she wanted to be included in the conversation.
"It's probably not a requirement," Quinn said. "But I just want the timer to be fully charged when we do this. Just in case switching the radius takes extra power."
"That seems simple enough," Rembrandt said, smiling.
"Yeah," Wade said, punching Rembrandt in his arm playfully. "Really simple, Mr. Braniac."
"Enough, guys," Quinn said. "Let's get to a hotel. We have a day and a half here."
"I don't know why we didn't just stay with the Professor's double," Wade said.
"That, Ms. Welles, is the most intelligent thing you have said all day," Arturo said, smiling. "Especially with all of the young masseuses he had in that mansion of his."
"Yeah," Rembrandt said, remembering the girls. "Why did we leave so early, Q-Ball?"
"I just wanted to get this over with," Quinn said. "You can get a massage here."
Rembrandt and Arturo looked at each other and smiled. Rembrandt showed the group the Chandler Hotel, where he had spent so many years.
"I like it," Wade said. "It's strangely familiar, but it's also different."
"It's nothing like the Dominion," Quinn said. "But it shall do."
While Quinn and the Professor took the opportunity to rest, Rembrandt took Wade around on a tour of Los Angeles.
"Tell me the story again," Wade said. "How you ended up here."
"Come on, girl," Rembrandt said. "I'm tired of telling old sliding stories!"
"Tell me, Remmy," Wade said, hanging on his arm playfully.
"Well," Rembrandt said. "It all began when we met Logan St. Claire. She ended up being Quinn's female double. She did something with the timer and it stretched out our sliding radius all the way to Los Angeles."
"You must be tired," Wade said. "That's the shortest story you've ever told."
"Sorry," Rembrandt said. "I'm just thinking about Maggie, Diana, and Mallory. I hope they're waiting for me."
"They will," Wade said, looking up at him.
Wade felt bad for Rembrandt. She knew he was hurting, so she decided to try and change the subject.
"So," Wade said. "What was it like to slide here?"
"Well," Rembrandt said. "On one hand, it was painful. I mean, I love San Francisco, and sliding there made me feel closer to home. But, on the other hand, it was a blessing. Because it helped me forget about always trying to get home."
"Forget?" Wade asked.
"Yeah," Rembrandt said. "After the first couple of years, I had this undying dream that we would get home. But as the years passed, I started realizing how hard it was going to be. I didn't give up, but I just wanted to focus on surviving."
Rembrandt was obviously hurting. It had been so long since he was home, and so many of his feelings contradicted each other. Wade decided to alter the conversation completely away from sliding.
"Let's just check out the sites," Wade said. "We'll think about sliding later."
This was it; the moment of truth. Quinn had thought about it over and over, and he was convinced that it was going to work. The timer didn't care about geography; it only dealt with proximity.
"Yes," Quinn thought. "This is definitely going to work."
Arturo opened the vortex, and all four jumped in.
The vortex opened inside a deserted alley. Quinn and Arturo walked out to the street and looked around. Rembrandt, however, was sitting still on a pile of garbage.
"What's wrong, Remmy?" Wade asked.
"I don't know," Rembrandt said. "I have a strange feeling."
"Like what?" Wade asked.
"Like I've been here before," Rembrandt said. "I can't explain it, but I have to take a look around."
Quinn and Arturo came back from the street with big smiles on their faces.
"Good news, guys," Quinn said. "It looks like the plan worked. We're still in LA."
"Yes," Arturo said. "Unfortunately."
"Remmy has good news too," Wade said. "He said he feels like he has been here before."
"Is this the world with Quinn on it?" Arturo asked.
"I don't know," Rembrandt said. "I can't explain it. It may be nothing, but it is worth investigating."
"Let's have a look around," Quinn said enthusiastically.
The group walked around for almost an hour, and Rembrandt still didn't recognize which world he was on.
He was optimistic about the feeling, however. Sure, he had been on countless worlds by now, but this feeling was different. He knew it wasn't the Seer's world because there were no references to slidology. But something told him to keep investigating until he found out what was attracting him.
The quartet was beginning to tire, and they were about to give up when Rembrandt came upon a familiar building. Looking up at it, he smiled and thanked God.
"Guys, I know where we are," Rembrandt said, hugging Wade.
Rembrandt and his fellow sliders looked forward. It was obvious to Rembrandt where they were.
They were standing in front of Diana Davis' laboratory.
A guard approached the sliders when they reached the door.
"Sorry, folks," the guard said. "This place is off-limits for civilians.
As soon as he finished, the guard caught a glimpse of Rembrandt, and his facial tone changed.
"Wait!" the guard screamed. "I know you! You were here a while ago; back before Dr. Davis left."
This was the proof that Rembrandt had been waiting for. This was either Diana's world, or a very close one to it.
"I know you probably can't tell me for security reasons or something," the guard said softly. "But do you know where Dr. Davis is? It's nothing major or anything; I just would like to know she's okay."
"If you let us in," Rembrandt said, smiling. "I can explain everything to you."
As Rembrandt explained everything he could, the guard looked on in amazement. Rembrandt told the guard about the Combine, Dr. Geiger's strange condition, and what had happened to Diana and him.
"I can't believe it," the guard said. "It's all true. Everything I heard about this place is one hundred percent true."
Rembrandt couldn't help but laugh. If someone had told him that story seven years before, he would've felt the same way.
"I mean, I knew that strange things went on here," the guard said. "Who wouldn't after what happened with that Combine thing. But since I don't have the access to the high level areas, I was never able to figure out why."
"But I heard things," the guard continued. "That Dr. Geiger was a ghost and that Dr. Davis sacrificed herself to 'exercise' him. That they were cloning people in there. And I even heard that Geiger was the Devil, and that he was opening a gate to Hell."
"Well," Rembrandt said. "I can promise you that none of that is true."
"I'm glad," the guard said. "I didn't really know Dr. Davis, but she was very nice to me whenever she saw me. I'm glad to know that she's all right."
Rembrandt smiled, and he hoped that this world was the break they were looking for. Because he desperately wanted to help save his friends.
After he finished his conversation with the guard, Rembrandt returned to his friends.
"I was right!" Rembrandt said. "This is Diana and Mallory's world."
"That's great!" Arturo said.
"How so?" Wade asked.
"Wade, we can use the quantum signatures of the people on this world to find Remmy's friends," Quinn said. "All we have to do is stop by home, hook it up to the equipment, and then find the other Quinn!"
"Maybe not, Mr. Mallory," Arturo said, stopping Quinn in his tracks. "I believe this laboratory has the equipment to do all of that."
"And I hope that means what I think it means," Rembrandt said.
"Yes, Mr. Brown," Arturo said. "Our next slide will take us to Quinn!"
"Yeah!" Rembrandt said, finally feeling lucky. "So, how long should this take?"
"It shouldn't take very long to determine this world's signature," Quinn said. "But it should take a while to find your friends. It shouldn't last any longer than forty-eight hours, and we should probably let the timer rest anyway. I'm still not sure what this change will do to the timer, long term."
Suddenly, a man entered the room holding a walkie-talkie.
"Here they are," the man said. "What are you people doing in here?"
"A guard let us in," Quinn answered.
"Who would've done that?" the man said, furious.
"I did, sir," the guard said, returning to the room.
"You're fired, then!" the man screamed. "You're not supposed to allow any unauthorized people in here!"
"Wait," another man said. "I recognize that man."
"Dr. Palmer," the guard said. "You're right about this one. He knew Dr. Davis."
"Ah yes," Palmer said. "That's where I remember you. You were here when Dr. Davis left."
"Yes," Rembrandt said. "And who are you?"
"My name is Dr. Leo Palmer," he answered. "I took over after the disappearance of Dr. Geiger and Dr. Davis. May I ask why you have returned?"
"I'm actually looking to find Dr. Davis, myself," Rembrandt said. "She's lost in the multiverse, and my friends need to use your equipment here to help find her."
"Find Dr. Davis?" Palmer said. "Is she okay?"
"Yes," Rembrandt said. "But we'd like to find her as soon as possible."
"Of course," Palmer said. "I'd do anything to find Diana. Use whatever you need in this lab."
Quinn and Arturo introduced themselves, and they started working on the procedure.
Rembrandt and Wade were walking towards the Chandler Hotel, when Rembrandt came across an old music store.
"You go on ahead," Rembrandt said. "I want to check something out."
Wade knew that Rembrandt was going to check and see if he had made it big on this world.
"You're just torturing yourself," Wade said.
"I know," Rembrandt said, smiling. "But sometimes it's fun to see what could've happened."
"Don't take too long," Wade said, and she walked towards the Chandler.
Rembrandt walked into the store, and he moved towards the new releases section. Nothing. So, he wasn't still big, but he still had to check and see if he had released anything.
He walked towards the "oldies" section. Flipping through the selection, he bumped into a man.
"Oh," Rembrandt said. "Excuse me."
Rembrandt looked up to see who he had bumped into, and he was shocked to see his double in front of him. He looked identical, but it looked as if he had been attacked by a gang of geeks. His double was wearing thick glasses, a flannel shirt, and a large pocket protector.
"Who are you?" the double said.
Remmy thought fast.
"I'm Jimmy Brown," he said, trying to act bothered. "I just want to look at some music."
"No, you're not!" the double exclaimed. "You're my clone! You look exactly like me! You are proof that the government is illegally cloning us! Oh boy, I can't wait to get on the Internet! The chat room is going to freak out!
Rembrandt had to think quickly. He didn't want this to get out of hand. He pulled his double to the corner.
"I'll tell you the truth," Rembrandt said. "But you have to promise to keep it a secret."
"Hey," the man said. "I already know the truth! I have to tell everyone!"
"You think you know everything," Rembrandt said, trying to sound proud. "But you know nothing."
This intrigued his double.
"Wait," he said. "Okay, I won't tell anyone."
"Okay," Rembrandt said softly. "I'm not your clone. I'm your double from another dimension."
His double's eyes lit up when he heard that.
"That's even better!" the double screamed. "I'm not letting you out of my sight!"
"I'm only here for a couple of days," Rembrandt said.
"Then, I guess I only have a couple of days to interview you," the double said. "I have to get this all on tape! This is historic! You have to show me your mechanism! I would bet you my whole dinosaur collection that it looks exactly like the sketches of my laser!"
"Oh boy," Rembrandt thought. "What am I getting myself into? This guy is a complete dork!"
"By the way," the double said. "My name's Rembrandt. Well, you probably know that. But you can call me RB."
Back at the lab, Quinn and Arturo were finishing up the experiment with excellent results.
"Wow," Palmer said, astonished at the machine. "It looks like a completely different piece of machinery."
"Well," Quinn said. "It almost is. We boosted your sensor range by about two hundred percent, and we added a few features that will certainly help you in the future."
"I'm glad to hear that," Palmer said. "We have made leaps and bounds in tracking wormholes and things like that, but we had just about hit a wall with what we could do with this equipment. If it now does what you claim it can do, then we'll be busy for years."
Quinn and Arturo laughed at Palmer's giddiness. It was like he was a kid in a candy store.
"I wish I could help," Palmer said. "But you've advanced far beyond what I've ever dealt with."
"Just leave it to me and the Professor," Quinn said smugly. "We've gotten used to doing this."
At the hotel, both Rembrandts entered the sliders' suite. RB looked ecstatic, and Rembrandt was trying not to look completely annoyed.
"RB," Rembrandt said. "Go into that room, and you can interview me in there. I need to talk to my friend alone, first."
"Sure thing, Captain," RB said moving towards the room.
"What's going on?" Wade asked, looking at Rembrandt's odd-looking double.
"That's my double," Rembrandt said.
"I see that," Wade said, smiling. "What's he doing here?"
"I don't know," Rembrandt said. "He followed me here. He says he wants to interview me about sliding."
"You told him about sliding?" Wade asked, surprised.
"I had to!" Rembrandt said. "He's, like, a big sci-fi fan, and he kept saying he was going tell everyone about us."
"Can't you get rid of him?" Wade asked.
"No," Rembrandt said. "Believe me, I've tried."
Still walking around the room, RB began piece through the hotel items. Wade had only been with him for a couple minutes, and she was already annoyed.
So," RB said. Where is this 'sliding device'?"
"Let's go do this interview," Rembrandt said, noting that Wade was already annoyed.
Rembrandt knew he wasn't getting rid of RB until the slide. He went ahead and went through the interview, answering as many questions as his double threw at him.
After a couple of hours, Rembrandt had answered questions about himself, Earth Prime, his friends, sliding, and he told as much as he knew about the timer. He knew he was probably giving too much information out, but he kept thinking that if he just answered RB's questions, he would finally leave.
But he never did. RB ended up staying the night, unwilling to leave.
In the morning, Rembrandt woke up to the sound of "Star Trek" on the hotel television.
He had hoped that it had all been a bad dream. Even though it would mean a longer journey to find Quinn, RB had been that annoying. And they had only known each other for a few hours.
He walked out to the living area to see RB laying on the folded-out couch, focused on the television. He was also writing something on a sketch pad.
"Hey, buddy," RB said as the station went to a commercial. "Live long and prosper!"
RB gave Rembrandt a "vulcan greeting", but this just fueled his fire.
"Just one more day," he thought.
Against all his best judgment, however, he asked RB a question. It wasn't his fault that he was annoying, and Rembrandt didn't want him to feel bad.
"What are you writing there?" he asked.
"Oh," RB said. "I left my 'Official Trek Log' at home and I had to improvise."
"Official Trek Log?" Rembrandt asked.
"Yeah," RB said. "You don't have a Trek log? Are you sure you're me?"
"I have different passions," Rembrandt said.
It was at this moment that Rembrandt realized what RB was all about. Rembrandt felt the same way about music that RB felt about science fiction. And as annoying as he was, it was good to see a different variation of himself. But the tie to music was still there in RB's profession, so Rembrandt felt a slight connection.
"Well," RB said. "I've seen every episode of the original Star Trek hundreds of times, but the official fan club suggests that you could watch each episode a million times and you wouldn't catch all the things Roddenberry intended to throw in there."
"Ah," Rembrandt said, feigning interest.
"So what's on the syllabus today?" RB said, checking to see if his show was back on.
"Well, we're going to check on our friends," Rembrandt said. "You can stay here and watch your show if you want."
"Great," RB said. "So, we'll leave in about ten minutes."
"Boy," Rembrandt thought. "That sure backfired."
So, Rembrandt and Wade waited until RB's show ended, and then they headed off towards the laboratory.
After starting their scan, there was very little for Quinn, Arturo, and Palmer to do. Quinn had already taught Palmer everything he needed to know, and Arturo had written up some instructions on the new equipment.
But after working hard for several hours, the three scientists fell asleep in the lab. They were still asleep when Rembrandt, Wade, and RB arrived.
Rembrandt entered the area, and he looked over the equipment. He saw some dust on the panel, and he wiped it off with his finger. But as soon as he touched the metal, the equipment began to make a beeping noise.
"Oh no!" Quinn said, awoken by the noise. "Professor, wake up!"
Arturo woke up and looked around, confused.
"What is it?" Arturo said, groggy.
"The power is draining," Quinn said.
Palmer woke, and he rushed to the panel.
"Maybe I can explain that," Palmer said. "We've been hit with a variety of power outages since Dr. Geiger's experiment failed. I knew that it might happen, but I assumed that the backup power would suffice until the scan ended."
Arturo slowly walked up, but it was obvious that he wasn't fully awake.
"How much time do we have?" Quinn asked.
"Based on what I've seen in the past year," Palmer said. "I'd say about three hours."
Rembrandt was concerned about what would happen with the scan.
"Will it take longer than that?" Rembrandt asked, nervous.
"We can't be sure," Quinn said, turning towards Rembrandt. He noticed RB, and he asked who he was.
"This is RB," Rembrandt answered. "He's my double on this world."
As soon as RB realized what was going on, his eyes lit up.
"Hey, I'm RB!" RB said, putting his hand out to Quinn. "So you're Quinn? Is that the timer?"
Quinn already looked like he was annoyed. He didn't even want to ask how Rembrandt's double knew about the timer. But he handed it over for a look anyway.
"Cool!" RB said, treating the timer like a lost artifact. "I was right! It's almost exactly like my drawings at home!"
RB handed the timer back to Quinn.
"So you're the Spock of the group?" RB asked.
"I guess," Quinn said, trying his best to ignore him.
"I'd love to interview you for my website," RB said. "My readers would probably love to hear about interdimensional travel."
"Sorry," Quinn said, not wanting to reveal too much about sliding. "I really need to work on this equipment. Maybe next time we pass through."
A couple hours later, the power began to fluctuate on and off, slowing the progress of the scan.
Quinn began to get worried. After all the work they had put into the equipment, they were looking at starting back at square one. It wouldn't be difficult to restart the scan when the power came back on, but he wanted to get the journey over with.
Palmer reentered the room with a printout.
"How long?" Arturo asked.
"Thirty minutes," Palmer answered. "I was able to transfer some additional power to this section of the lab, and we can get some juice out of the lights if we have to. But we'll be completely dead in an hour no matter what."
As the time quickly passed, the tension rose. Even RB was afraid to break the silence. He just silently looked over his notes.
Arturo was hoping for a miracle. The power was significantly reduced, and he knew the equipment couldn't scan very many more worlds. But they really needed to find the world with Quinn on it as soon as possible. Because the more time that passed, the harder it would be to save Quinn.
But, suddenly, the group heard another noise, and Quinn ran to the machine.
"Yes," Quinn exclaimed. "The computer found something. It's a complete match to the signature from this world, but I can't tell how many I'm reading."
Quinn uploaded the coordinates of the world, prepared to slide to that world no matter what.
"Have you sent anyone out sliding?"
"If Mr. Brown is right about what happened to Dr. Geiger, then the only people from our world should be Dr. Davis and your double," Palmer said.
"Then, we're going to risk it," Quinn said.
"We're going to try?" Rembrandt said, hopeful.
"It's definitely worth a shot," Quinn said. "If it's not them, then we can come back here and try it again.
RB got up, as if he was going with the sliders.
"This is going to be so cool!" he screamed.
Rembrandt had had enough, and he quickly thought of a solution.
"RB," Rembrandt said. "We would let you watch, but when the vortex opens, there is a massive surge of radiation. If you haven't slid before, it could kill you."
"Bummer," RB said, saddened. "I assumed that was going to be the case. Well, I can watch through the cameras, can't I?"
"Of course," Quinn said.
"Good idea!" Rembrandt said enthusiastically.
RB walked out slowly, discouraged. Palmer followed him out to keep the scam alive.
"I'm surprised at you, Remmy!" Wade said.
"Well, he was annoying me!" Rembrandt said. "He's a crazy, Star Trek watching, annoying, little freak!"
"You know, Remmy," Quinn said. "If things had been different, you could've been him."
"I'm trying not to think about that," Rembrandt said, causing the sliders to laugh.
Quinn got ready to activate the vortex.
"And what do you have against Star Trek?" Quinn asked, smiling.
"Don't you start, Q-Ball," Rembrandt said.
Quinn watched as the timer counted down to zero, and he pointed it in the air.
"Let's hope we get lucky on this one," he said, opening the gateway.
"We will," Rembrandt said. "I have a good feeling about this."
"I do too," Arturo said, jumping into the vortex.
Rembrandt jumped in, happy to be leaving his double behind. Wade followed him in. Quinn gave the camera a thumbs up, and he jumped into the vortex before it closed.
Palmer and RB, both still amazed, ran back into the room, and stared at the empty room.
"Did they make it?" RB asked.