|"What do we do now?" Mallory had asked.|
Tears were still falling from Maggie's eyes. She had lost her closest friend. She had endured so much pain in the last few years. First she lost her husband, then her world, then Quinn and Colin . . . and now, finally, Rembrandt was gone too. The Seer had promised death to all of them if they made the slide. Of course, there was still a chance Rembrandt was alive. She had to told onto that hope.
Mallory's words were still fresh in Maggie's mind as she wiped the tears away from her eyes and spoke, "Diana fixes the sliding machine and we follow Remmy."
Amanda Mallory pulled herself away from the Seer's limp form. "But you know what the Seer said. If you leave this world, you'll die."
Maggie's demeanor changed. She was determined, full of confidence; her words rang out like the type of speech a commander might give to his troops before they went into battle. "That's a chance we're willing to take. Remmy would never give up on us. I won't give up on him!"
"I don't think you have a choice, Miss Beckett."
The sliders turned in unision to the door to see Claire surrounded by a number of armed guards.
"I guess Mallory should have found a better place to 'stash' us. My guards found us almost immediately. Now, step away from the machinery."
Diana spoke up, "Don't you even care that your father just died?"
Claire smirked. "We all have to go sooner or later. And if you don't step away from the sliding device it'll be a lot sooner for all of you."
The three sliders eyed each other carefully. Abruptly, Maggie kicked a gun out of one of the guards' hands and in one fluid motion had it trained on Claire. "How about you let us go, or I fill you with so much lead that there won't be enough left of you for a paper bag."
The Seer's daughter did not flinch. Without warning, one of the guards grabbed Mrs. Mallory and held a gun to her head.
Claire cast her employee an approving glance, then nodded in the direction of Maggie's gun. "You first."
"Dammit Maggie, put the gun down!" Mallory screamed.
Maggie droped the weapon and eyed Mallory strangely. Where did that come from? she thought to herself. Judging from the dumbfounded look on Diana's face she was thinking the same thing.
Claire smiled broadly. "Since I have your attention now. Here's what we're going to do . . ."Resolutions, Part 2
Written by Chris Deaver (Chaser9)
The streets outside the Seer's former home were lined with mourners. The people could scarcely believe the man who had brought them their inspiration, their hope for a better life through the teachings of the Sliders, was gone.
A stage had been hastily erected outside the building, and the coffin containing Marc LeBeau's body had been placed upon it. Occupying wooden chairs in a semi-circle around the box were Rembrandt, Maggie, Diana, Mallory and Claire; this last rose from her seat and approached the podium.
"My friends, it is indeed a sad day. My father, The Seer, has passed from this existence. His dreams were of a better world, one made possible by the teachings of Slidology. And since the Sliders have decided to remain here on our world, my father can look down from wherever he has gone and see that his dream has not died. And now a few words from Mr. Rembrandt Brown."
Rembrandt stepped to the podium as the crowd cheered. Even in their depressed state, the crowd was still overjoyed to see the unofficial leader of the sliders before them.
"My friends, it is with a heavy heart that I stand before you today. You have lost a great man, but his dreams will live on. We have decided to remain here on your world to ensure that the Seer's dreams become a reality. Slidology will no longer be a myth or idea, but a true way of life. Diana, Maggie, Mallory and myself will do everything in our power to make sure this comes to pass."
The crowd erupted into applause. Maggie, Diana and Mallory stood up and smiled for the audience. The four left the stage along with Claire.
Mallory turned to Rembrandt and applied his usual brand of sarcasm. "Nice speech . . . glad you remembered your lines."
"Well, if your friends would have co-operated, we wouldn't have had to take their places," Maggie snapped.
"Whatever." Mallory's head was pounding. He had had a slight headache for the last few days, but since they arrived on this world . . . since he had seen Quinn's mother, it had slowly grown worse. And was it his imagination, or since Remmy dove into the vortex was it almost like something was clawing at the back of his mind?
Claire led the group into the Seer estate, and down a sparsely furnished hallway ending in an unmarked door. She flung the door to one side and waited for Mallory to enter, but the far away look in his eyes betrayed his obliviousness.
"Mallory!" Claire hissed.
Almost hesitantly he replied, "What? . . . What can I do for you?"
Claire eyed him intently. "Just remember our agreement. You play the part and Mrs. Mallory stays safe."
Mallory answered with a tinge of anger in his voice. "You just make sure nothing happens to her."
Claire and the others left him inside and Mallory's thoughts turned to Maggie and Diana. The real ones, not the doubles that had been chosen to 'play' their parts. He hoped they were all right. He had to figure out a way to free them and get off this world.• • •
Maggie Beckett stared through the cell bars. "Has it really been only three days? It feels like an eternity."
Diana sat in the corner, eyes half-closed. "I know."
Maggie could tell the confined nature of the cell was getting to her companion. She had to figure a way to get them out of here.
"I wonder how Mallory is?" Diana asked.
Maggie forced a smile. "Probably having the time of his life." She knew it was a lie, that he had been forced into the role he was having to play. Mallory didn't have a double on this world. Quinn Mallory in any form had never existed here. That was the only reason he wasn't jailed along with them. And to think Claire had stooped so low as to threaten Amanda's life if Mallory didn't help her. Strange, a woman that wasn't even his mother and he was risking his life to ensure her safety. Maggie couldn't help but wonder it maybe a small part of Quinn were affecting Mallory, but thoughts like that would be of no help. Maggie had to find an escape, a way to get the group off this world, but how?
"Maggie, what are we going to do?" Diana asked. Maggie's response was steady and confident. "We're going to get out of here, slide off this world and find Remmy." A deep breath. "We're just waiting for out shot."
Diana smiled. It was nice to see Maggie taking charge. Someone had to.
Maggie tried to return the smile, but in her mind she could only think, How are we going to get out of this one?• • •
Mallory crept down the halls of the Slidology compound. He knew Amanda was being held somewhere in the complex. If he could only find her and get her away from this place, then Claire would hold no power over him.
What had happened to him? This woman wasn't even his mother, yet he felt as if he had to help her, he had to get her away from this. Was he right? Was there still a part of Quinn inside of him?
Mallory noticed light leaking out from under one of the doors. He looked around to make sure he wasn't being watched. Once he was sure there was no one else around, he slowly turned the knob on the door and opened it.
Amanda Mallory sat in the middle of the room. She was gagged and tied to a chair. The moment she saw Mallory enter her eyes lit up.
Mallory removed the gag and inquired, "Are you okay?"
"I knew you'd come," she beamed.
Mallory smiled as he untied her from the chair. "I couldn't leave you here."
Amanda Mallory knew what he meant. No words had to be said, no explanations given.
"We have to get out of here. As soon as you're safe, I can break Maggie and Diana out. Then we're all leaving this world."
"Qui . . . Mallory. If they discover we're gone, there's no telling what they'll do to Maggie and Diana."
Mallory knew she was right, but what to do?
"Look. If they're keeping them where I think they are, then I can take you to them."
"And that would be?"
"One of the former Kromagg prison centers. They've been abandoned since the Kromaggs left, but if Claire didn't want anyone to find them, it would be the perfect place."
"Then let's go."• • •
Claire stood amongst the doubles of Rembrandt, Maggie and Diana. All was going according to plan. Of course, Mallory was the wild card. The only thing holding him in check was Amanda. Claire wasn't exactly sure how to deal with him, but knew that when the opportunity presented itself she would have to get rid of him. He was too unstable and could ruin all of her plans.
The door to the room opened and a tall man clad in a suit entered. "Claire, we have a problem."
"What is it, James?"
"Both Mallory and Mrs. Mallory are missing."
Claire smiled. She knew exactly where they would be heading. It was the perfect time to deal with the wild card and the others. She turned to the doubles and spoke, "Scratch memorizing those lines. Things are changing. James, get on the phone to the writers and the CGI guys. I have a plan."
James hastened to carry out her wishes. "I'm on it."
Rembrandt's double leaned against the desk. "What's going on?"
"Simple, Rembrandt. Mallory is going to betray the group and all of the principles of Slidology." With these words Claire could not help but smile . . . she had her answer.• • •
Maggie paced the width of the cell, over and over again. She had been trying for hours to formulate an escape plan, but as of yet, nothing had come to her. It was becoming severely frustrating; for all her vaunted military training she couldn't even figure a way out of an ordinary prison.
"Will you stop that, Maggie?"
Maggie turned. "What?"
"Pacing like that." Diana leaned back, shutting her eyes for a few seconds. "You're making me nervous."
"Sorry. Just getting a little stir-crazy." Diana shivered slightly. "I know the feeling. Look, Maggie - there's something that you probably don't realize."
"They took the PDL. And the disc containing our home worlds' co-ordinates was in it. If they've destroyed the PDL . . . None of us may ever see Remmy or our home worlds again."
Maggie's eyes widened. "Wait a second. Are you saying even if we get out of here we can't find Remmy?"
Diana shrugged her shoulders, "I'm not sure. If I can track the wormhole he left in we can follow him, but if I can't . . ."
Maggie sighed and closed off that line of reasoning. "Don't even think that way. We're going to find him, we just have to get out of here . . ."
"Listen," Diana cut in.
The two heard footsteps approaching.
"Diana, it has to be one of the guards bringing food or something. If we can just get the key from him, we can get out of here."
The footsteps grew closer. Maggie prepared herself to jump the guard as soon as he entered the cell.
"Maggie. Diana. Are you down here?"
Although a whisper, Maggie and Diana instantly recognized the voice.
"Mallory!" Maggie explaimed.
Mallory and Amanda stepped into view.
"I'm getting you two outta here."
"What's the plan?" Maggie asked.
Mallory smiled, ignoring the pain in his head. He pulled a small pin from his pocket and fiddled with the cell lock. In a matter of moments, the door slid open. "There's not a lock in the world I can't crack."
Diana and Maggie stepped out from their captivity, Diana offering Mallory a grateful hug. Maggie embraced Amanda and asked, "You coming with us?"
Amanda replied gently, "If you'll have me."
"Of course we will . . . Mom." Maggie's smile grew.
"Okay, we have to get back to the warehouse. Try and use the sliding equipment to find Remmy." Diana said.
"Not so fast." The voice carried its usual glib superiority.
"Claire? How did you find us?" Amanda asked.
Claire snickered. "That was easy. One, I knew exactly where you and Mr. Mallory would be heading. Two . . . have you forgotten, Amanda? You have a Kromagg tracking device inside you, and I have all of the Kromaggs' left over tech. I can find you anywhere. Mallory, didn't you think it was somewhat strange that there were no guards around her room?" She shrugged. "Didn't need them, I'd know almost immediately if she left."
Mallory's head sank. He knew this had been too easy. "What are you gonna do, huh? You can't kill me. It ruins your little plan. I don't have an alternate on this world."
"Oh? I've prepared for this contingency. Too bad you won't be around to see what I've cooked up."
"You won't get away with this, Claire. The people will know something is wrong," Amanda said.
"Oh, shut your hole. The masses are idiots believing whatever I tell them. And you Amanda, have outlived your usefulness."
Claire cocked her gun, aiming it squarely at Amanda.
"Noooooooo!" Maggie and Mallory screamed in unision. Mallory immediately sprinted towards Claire, while Maggie leapt at Amanda.
Mallory reached Claire just as the gun went off. He quickly shoved her to the ground. He looked up just in time to see Maggie push Amanda aside.
Maggie screamed, "Get down!" Amanda fell to the ground as the bullet pierced through Maggie's body. Maggie screamed out in pain.
"Maggie!" Mallory screamed.
Claire tried to rise, but Mallory did the unthinkable. He punched her, knocking her back to the ground and rendering her unconscious.
Mallory and Diana ran to Maggie's side. There was blood gushing from her wound.
"What do we do?" Mallory asked.
"I don't know!" Diana sputtered. "I'm a physicist, not a doctor."
Mallory removed his overshirt and placed it over Maggie's wound. "We have to get her to a hospital."
"There's a tunnel into the city down that way," Amanda advised them. "The resistance forces built it to break prisoners out of the Kromagg system. It's your quickest route. And we all know that Claire's goons are probably looking for you."
"Show us," pressed Diana.
Mallory picked up Maggie's limp form and followed. They came to a dead end and Amanda pushed on a brick; the wall slid open and a tunnel was revealed.
"This is as far as I go." Amanda said.
"What?" Mallory replied.
"You heard Claire. I have a tracking device on me. She could follow you anywhere if I went along. Don't worry, there are other tunnels around here."
"She tried to kill you," Diana insisted.
"She won't bother with me if I get far enough away," Amanda pleaded. I'm not a danger to her 'movement' like you are. Just go."
Mallory took one last look at Amanda. The pain in his head was increasing. "Be careful."
Amanda spoke, "Just save her."
Diana and Mallory walked into the tunnel. Maggie was mumbling. Her injury was getting to her. They had to get her to a hospital or someone who could help.• • •
As they walked along the tunnel, Mallory tried to provide some comfort. "Just hold on Maggie, we're going to get you some help."
"Quinn? Is that you?" Maggie's voice was weak and groggy.
Mallory looked to Diana.
"It's me Maggie. Quinn."
"So much I need to tell you. So much I meant to tell you. Quinn, I'm dying."
"No you're not, Maggie. You're going to be fine."
"Stop fooling yourself. I'm dying. I know I am. I just need to tell you a few things."
Mallory was fighting back tears. "I'm here, tell me."
"Wanted to say thank you. You saved my life, my people, found them a new world."
"I just did what I had to."
"Sure thing, genius." She shivered. "It's getting so dark and cold."
Tears were falling from Mallory's eyes.
"Quinn, always remember . . . I did love you . . ." Maggie's words trailed off. Her body went completely limp.
"Maggie? Maggie?" Mallory shook her a litte. "Talk to me Maggie . . ."
Diana checked for a pulse. She looked to Mallory with tears in her eyes and shook her head.
Mallory laid Maggie's lifeless body on the ground and screamed, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" He sank to the dirt, weeping. "This is my fault . . . I should have been faster . . . I should have stopped Claire!"
Mallory's head felt as if it was about to explode. He fell to the ground and cradled his face in his hands.
Diana tried to wipe the tears away from her eyes. She looked to Mallory and spoke, "Are you okay?"
Mallory was still crouched on the ground holding his head. He began to speak, but his voice had dropped a few octaves. "The Professor . . . Wade . . . Remmy . . . Maggie . . . everything I touch dies!"
Diana looked at him strangely. "Mallory, are you okay?"
"My name is Quinn!" he screamed.
"Of course it is, but-" Diana was cut off.
"No, you don't understand. I am Quinn!"
Mallory raised himself from the ground. His posture seemed different, his facial expressions too and there was something about his eyes.
He studied Diana. "I remember you . . . Geiger's lab. . . you're the one who's responsible for what happened to me and Colin."
The pieces slowly began to fall into place and Diana realized what had happened.
"I don't know. I feel like I've been in the dark for so long. Vague recollections of faces and events . . . Diana isn't it?"
"Yes. I'm a friend. I'm trying to help you, remember?"
Quinn looked to Maggie's lifeless form and spoke, "I should never have let her come along. She would have been better off staying on that world with her people."
"Mal . . . Quinn, we have to keep going."
"And just leave her body here?"
"Well, of course not, but what do you intend to do with it?"
"Give her a proper burial."• • •
It was the wee hours of the moring when Diana and Quinn (or Mallory, neither was sure what to call him) found their way to a seedy hotel in one of the worst parts of the city. They assumed no one would ask questions here. After burying Maggie's body, Quinn was in desperate need of a shower and luckily, there was enough money in Mallory's wallet to pay for a room.
Diana turned on the TV and began to watch an early morning newscast. She was still haunted by Quinn's face as they left the gravesite . . . he had turned to Maggie's final resting place and whispered, "I'm sorry."
She could only surmise that Geiger's attempt at splitting Mallory a couple of worlds ago had had latent consequences . . . like stirring a mixed drink, bits of Quinn's mind had floated back to the surface. The emotional toll of the last few days had cemented the shift.
Quinn stepped out of the shower and dried himself off. He wiped the fog away from the mirror and took a good look. Not his face, Mallory's face. How could the two look so differently and still be doubles?
Quinn walked out of the bathroom with the strangest look on his face.
Diana glanced up. "What's wrong?"
"You have no idea what it's like to look in the mirror and the face staring back at you isn't yours."
"You're right, I don't. But - I have to know . . . where's Mallory?"
"Probably in the same place I was. Locked away in the subconscious. I can't feel him."
Diana tried not to frown. It appeared as if she had lost two friends this day. In an attempt to take her mind off of this, she turned her attention to the TV.
"In other new, it appears as if Quinn Mallory has turned against the sliders and the teachings of the newly formed Slidology."
"What?!" Quinn exclaimed.
"This security footage provided by the Slidological movement clearly shows Mallory breaking into a high-security installation and freeing two Kromaggs."
A scene of Mallory opening a cell and two Kromaggs stepping out is shown.
"When asked how two Kromaggs could still be alive on this Earth, Claire LeBeau had this to say."
The screen shifts to an image of Claire speaking. "This wasn't something we were ready to reveal, but Mallory has forced our hand. A few months ago, a small group of Kromaggs found their way onto this Earth and were completely unaffected by the virus. It appears that the Kromaggs have adapted and are now immune to the disease. Mallory was trying to free them so that they might re-invade our world. This is the time when all followers of Slidology must be strong. If Mallory succeeds in shutting down our slide shield, the Kromaggs could be amongst us again." "Authorities ask if you have any information pertaining to Mallory's whereabouts to please contact them."
"What was that?" Quinn asked.
"Claire's trump card. We can't go anywhere now. If anyone sees your face . . ."
"This isn't my face."
"If anyone sees Mallory's face, we're dead."
Quinn shook his head.
"I won't let her get away with this. She killed Maggie and now she's perverting my invention into some kind of twisted cult. We have to stop her."
Diana sighed. "And how are we going to do that?"
"By giving her exactly what she wants."• • •
Claire's eyes slowly opened. The light leaking in from the window threatened to blind her. Today was the big day. The day it would all fall into place.
"You win, Claire."
Claire looked up to see Mallory and Diana standing next to her bed.
"Don't get up."
"Mallory, you sound different. Bit of a cold?"
"You could say that. Now what is it you want from us?"
Claire smiled, "I want you to be my sacrificial lamb."
"And why is that?" Diana asked.
"These morons will believe anything I tell them. It's too dangerous to have the two of you around. Let them think the Kromaggs could return at any time and let them think one of their former saviors is responsible."
"Fine, name a time and place." Quinn said.
"The Slidology rally this afternoon. Don't try anything stupid before then. Or I will know."
"We'll see you then," Quinn affirmed. She had fallen hook, line and sinker.
Quinn and Diana left the room.
"Did you get all that?" he asked Diana.
"You know the next part. Be ready at the rally."
"I'll be ready. Do you think this'll work?" Diana asked.
"It had better, or I will be the sacrificial lamb."• • •
Later that afternoon, a throng had gathered outside the Slidology building. Once more Claire and the doubles of Rembrandt, Maggie, and Diana were sitting up on the stage.
Unnoticed in the crowd, Diana had found her way to a news van marked 'KKRP.'
A technician poring over a mixer looked up. "What are you . . . wait a second, you're Diana Davis!"
"That's right, and I'm here to offer you an exclusive."• • •
Claire stepped up to the podium and adjusted the microphone. "I would like to thank all of you for coming out today. It fills my heart with joy to see so many who believe in my father's dream. I realize there is much fear in your hearts right now, with the revelation about the Kromaggs, but fear not, Mallory has been brought to justice."
Quinn was dragged to the stage by two guards.
"He's even agreed to come forth and admit to his mistakes before all of you."
The crowd erupted with loud boos and began to throw things at Quinn.
"People, please. Let the traitor say his piece."
Quinn approached the podium and addressed the multitudes. "I realize you all must hate me. I've turned my back on everything you believe, but that's not the truth . . ." Quinn's eyes cut to Claire. She had a look of surprise on her face.
"The truth is, you're all being played for fools, in a deception perpetrated by Claire LeBeau. There are no Kromaggs here and these aren't even the real sliders!"
The crowd seemed to gasp in unison.
"The real Rembrandt Brown slid off world to try to save his home world while Maggie Beckett was murdered by Claire. DIANA! NOW!"
Almost instantly, Claire's words began to blare from speakers on the news van.
"These morons will believe anything I tell them. It's too dangerous to have the two of you around. Let them think the Kromaggs could return at any time and let them think one of their former saviors is responsible."
The crowd became silent. The guards grabbed Quinn. And Claire approached the podium.
"Clearly, this is one of his Kromagg mind-control tricks. You are my people."
The crowd began to cheer Claire.
"Damn," Quinn muttered.
He kicked one of the guards to loosen himself from his grip and ran from the stage at full tilt.
"Diana, come on!" he shouted.
Diana rushed after him.
"After them!" screamed Claire.
The guards prusued, hampered by the crowds clogging the street.• • •
They rounded a corner and slipped into a warehouse. Diana slid the door shut behind them.
"Is this the place?" Quinn asked.
"Yes," Diana panted. "We have to hurry. They're probably right behind us."
Diana and Quinn made their way to the chamber with the Kromagg equipment, only to be met by another armed agent of Slidology.
"Stop right where you are."
Quinn leapt forward and punched the guard, knocking him backwards a step. He then shook his hand and winced: "Why do I do that?"
The guard recovered and moved for his weapon. Suddenly, his eyes went wide and he slumped, insensate. Diana was revealed behind him holding the Kromagg cattle prod. "Nice to see this is still here."
The two walked to the sliding machine.
"First things first." Diana shut down the slide shield. "Now if . . . I can . . . CRAP!"
"What is it?" Quinn asked.
"I don't have the disk."
"The one with the home world co-ordinates on it."
Quinn looked confused.
"Never mind. If I can track Remmy's wormhole, we can follow him."
"Let me take a look."
Quinn stepped to the device and looked it over.
"Dammit! This equipment can't track vortexes!"
Diana looked to Quinn. "How did you . . . never mind, I forgot who I'm dealing with."
Quinn could only smile.
Suddenly, Quinn and Diana heard a familiar sound. At the other end of the warehouse, a vortex flowered into being. It resembled the one they had been sliding in, but smoother and shaded a translucent blue.
They watched as two figures approached the opening, slowed and gently drifted to the ground. They were Rembrandt Brown and Maximillian Arturo.
"What was that?" Rembrandt asked.
"I'm not sure. Some kind of anti-gravity effect I would presume."
"Not sure? You built it!"
"Mr. Brown! Just because I built the device doesn't mean I know why this happened. I had yet to test this particular model of timer. Maybe it was one of the substitute parts I used."
"Yes. Unfortunately I wasn't able to follow Quinn's designs exactly. And Rembrandt . . ." He indicated the figures standing over the Kromagg console. "I believe we are not alone."
Rembrandt recognized them at once, and hurried to meet them.
"Remmy? Is it you?" Diana asked.
"It's me and I've got news to tell." Rembrandt hugged Diana and spoke, "C'mere, Fog Boy!"
Quinn stared. "Fog Boy?"
"Uhh . . . Remmy there's a few things you need to know." Diana said.
"Oh yeah, right. This here is Professor Arturo. Professor, this is Diana Davis and Mallory." A grin split his face. "It's the very same Professor I've been telling you about."
"Then you're not our Remmy. Our Arturo died saving my life," Quinn said.
"What are you talking about Mallory? That was Q-Ball."
"My point exactly, Cryin' Man."
Remmy looked to Diana and back to Mallory. "Diana, what's he talking about?"
"Quinn is in control of Mallory's body. I don't know how, but he's taken control."
"Mr. Mallory! Is it really you?" Arturo asked, incredulous.
"Yes, but like I said, I can't be your Quinn."
"But he is, Q-Ball. We took the wrong one."
"What do you mean, Remmy?"
"Azure Gate Bridge world. We left our Professor, ended up with his double."
Quinn's eyes widened. Was it possible? He looked over the Professor very carefully.
"Yes Mr. Mallory, it is I."
Something about this rang true to Quinn. He knew it was really Arturo.
"What about the Kromaggs?" Diana asked.
"Another long story. Turns out that wasn't my home world. Geiger must have used our quantum signatures to establish our home co-ordinates. Mine took me back to an Earth Prime without Kromaggs."
Quinn's eyes lit up, "But that would mean . . ."
Remmy spoke, "That you're from Earth Prime and Colin is some other Quinn's brother."
"This is a lot to take in." Diana said.
Remmy spoke, "So where's Maggie? She gonna show up anytime soon?"
Quinn looked to Diana. Neither wanted to break it to him.
Quinn spoke, "She's gone, Remmy. Claire tried to kill my mother . . ."
"Maggie's dead?" Rembrandt quavered.
Diana replied, "I'm sorry Rem."
Rembrandt's eyes began to water. "It's never any damn fair. I find out the Professor's still alive but I gotta lose Maggie."
Quinn hugged Remmy and spoke, "It's okay man. From what I understand, she went out a hero. Just like she would have wanted."
"Yeah." He sucked in a deep, unsteady breath. "Yeah."
Arturo hesitantly broke in. "I am sorry for your loss. All of you." He paused. "Is there perhaps someplace we can go until we are able to slide?"
Diana spoke, "That may not be such a good idea."
"And why is that, Miss Davis?" Arturo asked.
"Well for one thing, there's an angry group of Slidologists coming after us."
Quinn explained, "I tried to fix things here and failed."
Arturo tried not to laugh as he spoke, "Mr. Mallory, you can't save every world you land on."
"Nice words from the fat man."
The group turned to see Claire and her omnipresent guards.
"So predictable. And I see the prodigal returned with a friend."
"And you are, madam?" questioned Arturo.
"I'm the leader around here. Now come on, you're coming with us and this time, it's going to be public executions on live TV."
Rembrandt looked over to Arturo. "We need to get out of here. Now."
"If I activate the timer early we both know what will happen."
"Can't you track the wormhole we slid in on?"
"I can try. It looks as though if we stay here, we're dead." Arturo said.
Arturo fiddled with the timer. It went dark for a moment, then lit back up. He opened the vortex and bellowed, "Come on! Hurry!"
The guards gaped, unused to seeing this sort of phenomenon outside of cheesy TV shows.
Arturo was first in. Remmy shot Claire a look of disgust and declared, "You'll pay for what you did to Maggie. I promise." Remmy then dove in, followed by Diana.
Quinn looked Claire dead in the eyes and spoke, "We'll be back, guarantee. By the way, the name's not Mallory. It's Quinn. You figure it out." And Quinn dove into the vortex.
The vortex collapsed and Claire spit out, "Damn!"• • •
The afternoon sun beat down on a city devoid of life. Cars were piled oddly high against shattered buildings, and the only noise was a low, insistent buzzing that permeated the air for miles away . . .
The vortex opened several meters above ground. Arturo, Rembrandt, Diana and Quinn all slowed as they reached the opening - it was almost like sliding through molasses - and floated out in slow motion. Rembrandt was the first to speak. "Man, I could get used to that!"
Diana felt ill at ease. "Anyone notice anything strange?"
"Now that you mention it . . ." Quinn looked around.
To the left of them was a recessed window in the concrete ground. Past that was an asphalt wall with a sidewalk at the base . . . and to the right, the sky extended in all directions.
They were sitting on the side of a building.
"I think I'm going to be sick," complained Diana.
Quinn cautiously stepped to the edge and surveyed the "landscape." Somehow, gravity in this place had been rendered exactly perpendicular to the Earth's surface. Farther "down," several structures had collapsed from the strain of projecting out horizontally.
"Blast!" Arturo exploded.
"What is it Professor?" Remmy replied.
"Well, this obviously isn't Earth Prime," Arturo ground out as he pried of the back off of his timer. "When I activated the gate prematurely, it fried the memory chip and corrupted the data . . . and the wormhole tracking is completely shorted out . . ."
"I think I know what you're about to say," Rembrandt replied.
Arturo looked out at the vertical skyline of a world turned on edge. "We are back to random sliding, Mr. Brown."